Legislation that would remove the term ‘policewoman’ from state statute signed into law

Lansing, Mich. — Gov. Rick Snyder has signed into law Public Act 12 of 2016, which eliminates the antiquated title of “policewoman,” and updates the officer grades to reflect current Michigan State Police policy.

“The men and women who serve our state as members of the Michigan State Police place their lives in danger to help protect our communities and keep our loved ones safe,” said Schuitmaker, R-Lawton. “Updating our state law is one way we can recognize the work of our law enforcement officers with the respect and dignity they deserve.”


Senators O’Brien, Schuitmaker issue statement on Kalamazoo shooting

LANSING, Mich. — State Senators Margaret O’Brien, R-Portage, and Tonya Schuitmaker, R-Lawton, released the following statement on Sunday in response to a shooting in Kalamazoo on Saturday that killed six people and injured two others:

“Like all Kalamazoo area residents today, our hearts break for the victims of this unspeakable act and for their families. Our families continue to keep them in our prayers during this time of mourning.

“We also would like to express our gratitude and appreciation for our communities’ public safety officers who acted quickly and professionally, and put their lives on the line to save others.

“Our communities are strong and we will come together to help our fellow Kalamazoo area residents to overcome this tragedy.”

The senators said that resources are available for residents who are in need. They should dial 2-1-1 if they need help. Additionally, a prayer vigil will be held Sunday evening at 7 p.m. at Centerpoint Church, located at 2345 N. 10th St. in Kalamazoo.


Schuitmaker bills aiming to reduce drunk driving offenses, protect motorists head to governor’s desk

Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker

Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker

LANSING, Mich. — The Michigan Senate on Thursday approved legislation aimed at reducing drunk driving offenses by creating oversight and accountability for manufacturers and those who service breath alcohol interlock ignition devices (BAIID).

A BAIID is a type of breathalyzer installed on a vehicle’s ignition panel that the driver must blow into in order to start the vehicle. The driver’s blood alcohol content is measured and the ignition signal will be killed if the level is above the minimum threshold. In order to ensure the operator stays sober, tests are also administered throughout the drive.

“Our current laws lack a clear framework for the Michigan Department of State to resolve problems arising from manufacturer compliance, device malfunction, or complaints from motorists,” said State Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker, R-Lawton. “Creating a uniform code that allows the department to hold those who are guilty of misusing the devices accountable will increase the integrity and effectiveness of the program.”

Certain court mandates may require a driver to have a BAIID installed on their vehicle as a condition of keeping driving privileges after conviction of various alcohol-related crimes. However, there is currently limited oversight for those who install or manufacture these devices. Additionally, there is no way to sanction any individuals guilty of improperly using BAIIDs.

Senate Bills 176 and 357, sponsored by Schuitmaker, would ensure that any service to the device must be done by a licensed auto repair facility, and an annual certification process through the Michigan Department of State would increase accountability for those manufacturing, installing and servicing these devices.

“I have heard several stories regarding the misuse of these devices,” Schuitmaker said. “An installation performed by someone with little or no experience often results in an interlock device that doesn’t function properly and can even cause damage to the vehicle. There have even been cases of installers offering advice on how to get around the system for an additional fee.

“This is not only an issue of increasing the effectiveness of the program, but keeping our roadways and communities safe.”

SBs 176, and 357 were recently approved by the Michigan House of Representatives and concurred by the Senate Thursday morning. The bills will now go to Gov. Snyder for consideration.



Schuitmaker sponsors MADD license plate

Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker

Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker

LANSING, Mich. — Legislation introduced on Wednesday in the Michigan Senate to create a Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) license plate that would raise funds to assist in raising awareness about the dangers of drinking and driving, as well as supporting the families and victims of drunk driving accidents.

“No one should have to suffer the devastation of losing a loved one because someone decided to drive under the influence,” said Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker, R-Lawton. “This is a senseless, fatal crime that costs thousands of lives each year. I have had several opportunities to work with MADD to strengthen our laws against drunk drivers and I am confident their efforts will be aided by the funds raised through this license plate.”

Founded more than 35 years ago by a mother whose daughter was killed by a drunk driver, MADD has evolved into one of the nation’s largest and one of the most influential organizations in America. Over the years, their mission has remained the same – to provide aid to the victims of drunk or drugged driving, and to increase public awareness of these crimes.

Senate Bill 808 would allow the secretary of state to create a MADD fundraising license plate and assign all proceeds from the sale of these plates to assist MADD in carrying out its mission.

“The funds raised by this license plate will help continue spreading an important, life-saving message,” Schuitmaker said. “Throughout my service in the Legislature, I have sponsored and supported several pieces of legislation aimed at cracking down on drinking and driving. I think it is critically important that we continue to increase the pressure on offenders in order to keep our loved ones safe on the road.”

SB 808 has been referred to the Senate Committee on Transportation for further consideration.



Schuitmaker legislation to improve government efficiency moves back to Senate

Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker

Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker

LANSING, Mich. — The Michigan House of Representatives on Wednesday approved legislation sponsored by Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker that will make government more streamlined, efficient and responsive.

In Michigan, certain professions must complete continuing education to maintain their licensure with the state. Professions required to complete continuing education include doctors, nurses and dentists, as well as builders, engineers, electricians, and many others. This legislation will reduce the burdens associated with tracking continuing education requirements by using modern technology to track licensees’ continuing education in real time.

“The purpose of continuing education is to make sure licensees stay up-to-date on modern developments in their fields,” said Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker, R-Lawton. “However, the outdated processes used by the state to verify completion of these requirements is paperwork-intensive and burdensome, often causing licensees to get bogged down with forms and red tape.”

Senate Bills 554 and 555 aim to reduce these burdens by allowing the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) to contract with a third party that is able to electronically track the continuing education of Michigan’s professionals. This would replace the outdated process that LARA currently relies on.

“There are providers who offer these services at no cost to either the state or the licensee,” said Schuitmaker. “Allowing the state to contract with these services would remove the headache for consumers without adding any financial burden.

“Since I first took office more than 10 years ago, it has been my priority to make government more efficient. This legislation will improve the outdated continuing education verification procedure and make the process less burdensome for Michigan residents.”

SBs 554 and 555 will now return to the Senate for a concurrence vote.


Sen. Schuitmaker welcomes the Rev. Tiffany McCafferty to state Capitol

LANSING, Mich. — State Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker, R-Lawton, welcomed the Rev. Tiffany McCafferty to the Michigan Capitol on Tuesday. McCafferty serves as senior pastor at Paw Paw First Presbyterian Church and delivered the invocation before Senate session.

Editor’s note: A print-quality version of the above photo is available by clicking on the image or by visiting the senator’s website at: www.SenatorTonyaSchuitmaker.com. Click “Photowire” under the Media Center tab.



Schuitmaker legislation honors fallen veterans

Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker

Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker

LANSING, Mich. — State Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker on Thursday introduced legislation that would designate the Honor and Remember Flag as the state’s official emblem representing the service and sacrifice of the men and women in the United States Military.

“We as Americans owe our freedoms and opportunities to the sacrifices made by veterans and their families,” said Schuitmaker, R-Lawton. “I am beyond thankful for our veterans and I think the Honor and Remember Flag beautifully symbolizes their service.”

George Lutz established Honor and Remember in 2008 after he lost his son Tony to a sniper in Fallujah, Iraq. In the months following Tony’s funeral, Lutz visited several families who had lost loved ones in the Iraq war. What he found was that most families simply wanted the comfort of knowing their sacrifice would not be forgotten. In honor of his son and others who have fallen, Lutz formed the Honor and Remember Flag as a universally recognized symbol acknowledging the American service men and women who never made it home.

“Honor and Remember was established to ensure that as a nation we never forget those who paid the ultimate sacrifice while serving our country,” said Lutz. “Our organization is working diligently to have the flag recognized by every state in the union, and on behalf of the state’s families of military fallen, we are honored that Michigan Senator Schuitmaker has introduced this bill.”

Senate Bill 780 would officially designate the flag as Michigan’s official emblem recognizing the service and sacrifice made by those in the armed forces and their families.

Schuitmaker also introduced SB 781, which would create a state of Michigan license plate displaying the Honor and Remember Flag. This is not a fundraising license plate and would not require individuals to provide documentation such as service papers or Blue Star Mother designation in order to obtain it.

“These are true heroes who deserve to be remembered,” Schuitmaker said. “They have given so much, and in some cases, all that they can. These individuals and their families should know just how grateful we are for the sacrifices they have made on our behalf.”

SB 780 has been referred to the Senate Committee on Veterans, Military Affairs and Homeland Security and SB 781 has been referred to the Senate Committee on Transportation.



Schuitmaker, Forlini bills allow pharmacies to dispense lifesaving drug

Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker

Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker

LANSING, Mich. — State Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker and state Rep. Anthony Forlini have introduced legislation that would increase a pharmacy’s ability to dispense Naloxone, a medication used to reverse the side effects of an opioid overdose.

“Opioid addiction has affected every community across our entire state,” said Schuitmaker, R-Lawton. “Especially in recent years, prescription drug and heroin overdoses have surged, and this legislation seeks to curb the problem by making Naloxone more widely accessible to those who need it.”

Senate Bill 778 and House Bill 5326 would allow pharmacies in the state of Michigan to dispense Naloxone in a similar fashion to that of decongestants containing pseudoephedrine. Under Michigan law, those who purchase these medications, such as Sudafed, must show proper identification and have their names entered into a Michigan State Police database.

“The overdose death rate in Michigan is nearly double that of the national level,” Schuitmaker said. “Last year, I introduced legislation that allows emergency personnel and family members of an at-risk individual to possess and administer Naloxone, which has been proven to rapidly reverse the effects of an overdose. Allowing pharmacies the ability to prescribe this medicine to friends and family members of those suffering from addiction will assist our efforts to combat this epidemic and help save lives.”

SB 778 and HB 5326 were introduced as a result of the recommendations released by the Governor’s Prescription Drug and Opioid Abuse Task Force. The task force was responsible for holding public hearings and gathering input from experts involved with the growing problem of prescription drug and opioid abuse in Michigan.

“Every one of us has a family member, neighbor or friend that has seen the effects of addiction,” said Forlini, R-Harrison Township. “In my lifetime this is the worst it’s ever been, and it cuts across every social, cultural, and economic corner of our society.”

SB 778 and HB 5326 have each been referred to the Health Policy Committee of their respective chamber.



Schuitmaker bills aimed at combatting opioid epidemic

LANSING, Mich. — State Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker introduced two bills in a four-bill package on Tuesday to implement the recommendations from the Prescription Drug and Opioid Abuse Task Force.

“Across the country, the number of prescription drug overdose deaths has doubled since 1999. Unfortunately, Michigan’s overdose death rate has nearly quadrupled in that time period,” said Schuitmaker, R-Lawton. “Every community in our state has been affected by opioid addiction and we must do more to end this cycle of addiction and save lives.”

Senate Bills 769 and 770, sponsored by Schuitmaker, would require doctors to check the Michigan Automated Prescription System, or MAPS, before prescribing medications to new patients. MAPS is used to identify and prevent drug diversion at all levels, from the prescribing physician, to the pharmacy, and finally to the patient, by collecting prescriptions for schedule two to schedule five controlled substances.

Under SB 770, failure to consult MAPS prior to the prescription being finalized would require the violating physician to complete remedial continuing medical education, or CME.

“MAPS can be an effective tool in our fight against opioid addiction,” Schuitmaker said. “While these drugs play an important role in the care of many patients, medical professionals should be on the lookout for doctor shopping, a practice in which patients may go to several doctors in an effort to get multiple prescriptions.”

SBs 771 and 772, introduced by state Sen. Margaret O’Brien, R-Portage, would increase penalties for physicians who overprescribe the specified controlled substances. Currently a misdemeanor punishable by two years, this legislation would increase the penalty to a felony, punishable by up to 15 years in prison.

“This legislation seeks to eliminate any illicit collusion between pharmacies and physicians. Commonly referred to as a ‘pill mill,’ these operations often have an illegitimate doctor- pharmacy relationship with a doctor or clinic prescribing certain narcotics, and a pharmacy dispensing them, both lacking a legitimate medical purpose,” O’Brien said.

SBs 769-772 have been referred to the Senate Committee on Health Policy.