Schuitmaker legislation removing obstacles to employment for military spouses sent to governor

For Immediate Release:
May 27, 2014

Contact: Derek Sova      

LANSING, Mich.—The Michigan Legislature on Tuesday gave final approval to legislation sponsored by Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker that will make it easier for the spouses of active duty military members to obtain a professional license in Michigan. 

“Yesterday, we honored those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom. Today we are making Michigan a better place to live for our service men and women who made it home,” said Schuitmaker, R-Lawton. “We owe them a great deal and I am committed to making their adjustment to life in Michigan easier.”

The legislation will allow military spouses to obtain a temporary state license by demonstrating that they hold a valid license issued by another state and that they have been assigned to Michigan by the military.

“I’m proud of all that we have already accomplished for our military members and veterans,” Schuitmaker added. “This legislation goes one step further and recognizes the value a military spouse’s experience and education can bring to Michigan.”

Obtaining a new license is often time-consuming and costly, and many spouses make the difficult decision to stop working in their profession rather than navigate a different bureaucracy every time they receive an interstate transfer.

According to the organization “USA 4 Military Families,” more than two-thirds of service members indicated that their spouse’s ability to obtain employment is a significant consideration when deciding whether to continue their service.  

“These families should not be forced to decide between one spouse serving in the armed forces and one spouse pursuing their civilian career,” Schuitmaker said.

Senate Bills 741 and 742, which amend the Public Health Code and Occupational Code, respectively, have been sent to the governor for his signature.


Portage student sings National Anthem at Michigan Senate Memorial Day Ceremony

For Immediate Release:
May 22, 2014

Contact: Derek Sova

LANSING, Mich.—Portage resident Elizabeth Johnson performed the National Anthem at this year’s annual Michigan Senate Memorial Day Service.

Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker heard Elizabeth perform at last year’s Memorial Day service in Portage and invited her to sing at the Senate ceremony.

“When I heard Elizabeth sing, I was amazed at how strong and beautiful her voice was,” said Schuitmaker, R-Lawton. “I was even more amazed that this voice belonged to a 12 year old girl.”

Elizabeth, a student at Portage Middle School, recently finished playing the role of Annie for her school play. In addition to singing, Elizabeth enjoys participating in softball, basketball and cheerleading.

Every year around Memorial Day, the Michigan Senate sets aside one day to pay its respects to the men and women of the armed forces who have lost their lives in defense of their country.

The ceremony included tributes to those who have been lost in combat; the Missing Member Toast offered by veteran David Sokol, an honor guard; and Johnson’s performance of the National Anthem.


Schuitmaker, O’Brien bills give crime victims greater rights at offender sentencing

For Immediate Release:
May 15, 2014

Contact: Derek Sova      

LANSING, Mich.—The Michigan Legislature sent three bills to the governor Wednesday that will give the parents of child victims the opportunity to speak at the sentencing of an offender.

“When a child is the victim of a crime, especially sexual assault, it is traumatic for the whole family,” said Sen. Schuitmaker, R-Lawton, sponsor of Senate Bills 628 and 749. “Even though it can take some time for the offender to be brought to justice, parents have a right to share the experiences and struggles they endured.”

The William Van Regenmorter Crime Victim’s Rights Act gives the victim of a crime the right to make an impact statement at an offenders sentencing. The current definition of ‘victim’ includes the parents or guardians of a victim who is less than 18 years of age. 

There has been some confusion over whether a parent is considered a victim if the child was under 18 at the time the offense occurred, but over 18 at the time of sentencing. Courts in some jurisdictions have been allowing only the now-adult victim or the parent to speak, but not both.  

“Michigan is a leader in standing up for the rights of crime victims,” said Rep. Margaret O’Brien, R-Portage, sponsor of House Bill 5263. “These bills will clarify that victims have rights, no matter how much time has passed.”

The legislation will amend the William Van Regenmorter Crime Victim’s Rights Act to clarify that the term ‘victim’ includes, for the purposes of making a statement at sentencing, the parents of a child who was under 18 at the time of the offense, regardless of the age at the time of sentencing.

SB 628 applies to victims of a felony. SB 749 applies to victims of a crime committed by a juvenile. HB 5263 applies to victims of a serious misdemeanor.

All three bills passed unanimously and will now be sent to the governor for his signature.