Lawmakers push for schools to have AEDs

LANSING — Life-saving legislation requiring schools to have an automated external defibrillator (AED) was introduced Thursday in the Michigan Senate, said sponsors Sen. Rick Jones and Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker.

“Again and again, we keep reading about the tragic and untimely deaths of students in our schools,” said Jones, R-Grand Ledge. “Plain and simple, this measure will help save lives. Every school should have one of these life-saving machines. I’m proud to sponsor this important measure.”

If signed into law, Senate Bill 801 would specify that all public schools have an AED device present and accessible to students and staff. Schuitmaker has also sponsored Senate Resolution 74, which urges school districts throughout Michigan to install an AED at all athletic and community-sponsored events.

Both SB 801 and SR 74 were prompted by the tragic events last year in Fennville when star basketball player Wes Leonard suffered cardiac arrest and died after scoring the winning basket at a state tournament playoff game.

“AEDs are relatively inexpensive and easy to use. If having an AED in every public school across the state saves only one life, then it is well worth it,” said Schuitmaker, R-Lawton. “I look forward to seeing this bill become state law and help prevent future tragedies.”

Sudden cardiac arrest affects even the most physically fit and active among the population and can happen at any time; its symptoms often go unannounced until it’s too late. Having AED devices on location can help save lives, as immediate medical intervention is often a matter of life and death.

The lawmakers are also working with the Michigan Association of School Administrators to help set up AED training in schools.

Schuitmaker: Senate approves senior protection legislation

LANSING, Mich. —The state Senate approved an 18-bill legislative package Thursday to help protect Michigan’s seniors, encourage increased reporting of elder abuse and strengthen penalties for those convicted of abusing a senior.

“For too long the system has failed our most vulnerable adults as nearly 80,000 seniors have suffered, often in silence, from the torment of physical and financial abuses,” said Schuitmaker, R-Lawton. “This senior protection legislation aims to put a spotlight on these criminal acts and bring their perpetrators to justice.”

Included in the package are Senate Bills 461, 464 and 466, sponsored by Schuitmaker. SB 461 would prohibit anyone who feloniously and intentionally kills a person from inheriting from their victim, and it adds abuse, neglect and exploitation as crimes, voiding an individual’s ability to inherit. SB 464 charges the state Department of Human Services, Michigan State Police, the Michigan attorney general, and the state Department of Services to the Aging to develop a model protocol for investigating vulnerable adult abuse within one year of enactment. SB 466 would create a senior medical alert for missing seniors, similar to an Amber Alert.

“Elder abuse is the fastest-growing crime in Michigan and current laws, frankly, do not do enough to protect seniors,” Gov. Rick Snyder said.  “I want to thank Republican and Democrat lawmakers in the Senate for working together to give law enforcement agencies the tools they need to protect seniors from financial and physical abuse.”

Other measures include:
• Improving coordination between state and local authorities;
• Enhancing banking, annuity and insurance protections for seniors;
• Allowing vulnerable adults special witness protection when testifying against their abuser;
• Enhancing penalties for criminals who embezzle funds from a vulnerable adult;
• Establishing reporting requirements for suspected abuse and neglect or knowledge of abuse and neglect in long-term care facilities; and
• Allowing victims to give testimony via closed-circuit television or a prerecorded video.

Senate Bills 454-457, 459-468, 604-605, 706 and 777 have been sent to the House of Representatives for further consideration.

Senators to discuss passage of senior protection measures at Thursday press conference

LANSING, Mich.—State Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker and Senate colleagues will hold a press conference on Thursday, Nov. 3 to discuss the passage of reforms to help increase the reporting of elder abuse in Michigan and strengthen penalties for those convicted of abuse.

The event will be held at 12:30 p.m. in room 402/403 of the Michigan Capitol.

The senior protection package addresses a serious and often unrecognized issue of elder abuse, which has affected nearly 80,000 Michigan residents.

The legislation was initially unveiled in conjunction with the observance of Older Michiganians Day last June.

What:  A press conference to discuss passage of legislation addressing the grave and growing threat of elder abuse in Michigan.

Who:   State Sens. Tonya Schuitmaker, R-Lawton, Judy Emmons, R-Sheridan, Goeff Hansen, R-Hart, Mike Kowall, R-White Lake, and Mike Nofs, R-Battle Creek; senior groups.        

When: Thursday, Nov. 3
12:30 p.m.

Where: Michigan Capitol
Room 402/403

Schuitmaker: Bloomberg study ranking Michigan second-best shows reforms effective

LANSING, Mich.—A national evaluation of the states released today by Bloomberg ranked Michigan second-best in economic health. The Bloomberg Economic Evaluation of States considered indicators such as personal income, tax revenue, employment and housing prices in its analysis, placing Michigan second only to North Dakota, a state in the midst of an oil boom.

State Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker, R-Lawton, released the following statement in response.

“Today’s Bloomberg economic evaluation should give Michigan residents optimism that the bold reforms we have taken to help turn around our state’s economy are working. By lowering the tax burden on the small businesses that employ the vast majority of workers and providing for a stable, long-term budgeting process, we’re helping to create an environment where job providers are confident in the future and eager to grow here. I share in the optimism and will continue to pursue reforms that will help reinvent Michigan.”

The Bloomberg study follows the Fitch Ratings agency upgrade to Michigan’s bond rating outlook last summer.