Sen. Brandenburg District Update

Sen. Brandenburg supports Youth ChalleNGe program for young offenders

The Michigan Youth ChalleNGe Academy has a proven track record in helping young people change the direction of their lives.

I recently supported Senate legislation that would allow judges to expunge the record of certain juvenile offenders if they complete the Michigan Youth ChalleNGe Academy program. The academy is administered by the Michigan National Guard and offers high school dropouts or potential dropouts the opportunity to earn a high-school degree and college credits. With a focus on self-discipline and physical, mental and moral development, the program can help young offenders change their circumstances and behavior.

Senate Bill 471 would give young offenders a second chance and the opportunity to make a future for themselves. The bill has been sent to the House for consideration.

 

Breast Cancer Awareness license plate

Breast cancer is the most frequently diagnosed cancer among Michigan women.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and a good time to remind motorists that the Breast Cancer Awareness license plate is one of several special fundraising plates offered by the state of Michigan. The plate features the Pink Ribbon logo and the message “Early Detection Saves Lives.” Proceeds from sales of the plate help support a state program that provides low-income women access to lifesaving cancer screening services and follow-up care, including cancer treatment if needed. Visit www.michigan.gov/sos and click on “Owning a Vehicle” for more information.

 

Michigan historical markers website
A fall color tour or road trip is a great way for travelers to take in a little Michigan history at the same time!

Since 1955, Michigan’s historical markers — the familiar green and gold signs — have told the stories of significant people, places and events in our state’s history. There are more than 1,700 markers across the state, many at highway rest areas or along scenic byways. There are even a few outside of Michigan, including one in Kentucky at the Perryville Battlefield State Park, honoring the Michigan soldiers who aided the Union in this Civil War battle.

A new, interactive website enables travelers or history buffs to easily find the markers and learn about Michigan’s past. Visit www.michigan.gov/markers and locate these sites by location, theme or word search.

 

Find the perfect hunting spot

Hunters, visit www.mi.gov/mihunt to find public hunting land, as well as private land open to the public for hunting and trapping in Michigan. The mapping tool allows users to see features such as land topography, trails, aerial photography and more. The Mi-HUNT application works on mobile devices for use in the field.

Sen. Brandenburg District Update

Sen. Brandenburg backs bills to improve specialty courts

Michigan has 185 “problem-solving” courts, programs that aim to improve outcomes for offenders and reduce the rate of recidivism.

These specialty courts, including drug treatment, sobriety, mental health and veterans treatment courts, focus on treatment and other services to address an offender’s underlying problems, such as substance abuse or mental health issues, to help them turn their lives around.

I recently supported Senate legislation to improve this system by requiring the specialty courts to follow the same procedures and standards. Under Senate Bills 435-438, the courts would have to be certified by the State Court Administrators Office. Certification would help ensure more consistent outcomes and increase the effectiveness of the courts. The bills have been referred to the House Committee on Law and Justice.

 

Consumer alert addresses Equifax security breach

Millions of Michigan residents may have had their personal information compromised through an alleged security breach at Equifax, one of the country’s major credit reporting agencies. The Michigan attorney general’s office recently released a new consumer alert outlining steps to protect against identity theft, and to request a credit report and freeze, along with links to additional resources. Access the Equifax Breach Consumer Alert at www.michigan.gov/ag.

 

Pure Michigan Fall Travel Guide now available

Autumn in Michigan is a special season! Our state’s waters and woodlands offer postcard-perfect views and countless opportunities for outdoor adventure.

From scenic drives and hikes to weekend getaways to culinary destinations, the 2017 Pure Michigan Fall Travel Guide highlights places to go and sights to see across our great state. Access the digital version and sign up for weekly fall color updates at www.michigan.org or contact my office to receive a free print copy.

 

Hunters hunting outside of Michigan must follow new cervid rules

Michigan has a rich hunting heritage. New cervid importation regulations will help protect the state’s deer population to ensure our hunting tradition stays strong.

To help keep potential cases of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) from unintentionally being brought into Michigan, hunters who harvest a cervid (deer, moose or elk) in any other state or province can only import certain parts, such as hides, deboned meat, quarters, finished taxidermy products, cleaned teeth and antlers.

CWD is a fatal, contagious neurological disease. In 2015, a free ranging deer in mid-Michigan tested positive for CWD. Since that discovery, nine animals have tested positive for the disease. The state has taken aggressive steps, including these new regulations, to help contain this threat. Those hunting in Michigan within areas where CWD has been found must follow specific regulations as well. For more information, visit www.michigan.gov/cwd.

Brandenburg honored with Lifetime Achievement Award from Michigan Library Association

Lansing, MI — State Sen. Jack Brandenburg, R-Harrison Township, was awarded on Friday with the Michigan Library Association Lifetime Achievement Award at the Chesterfield Township Library.

“I think that municipalities and cities need libraries because libraries are essential in educating people,” Brandenburg said. “I’ve made sure throughout my entire time as a public servant that our libraries have had the resources they need. This recognition from the Michigan Library Association is one of the most meaningful honors I have ever received.”

Brandenburg received the first Michigan Library Association Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of his outstanding leadership promoting libraries and their important place in our communities. The award was presented at a reception at the Chesterfield Township Library. In 2015, Brandenburg introduced a package of bills that changed how library special millages were treated by tax capture authorities. This tax capture relief means that libraries now have a say in how their specially-dedicated millages are used by many of these authorities. It means the return of up to $10 million a year to libraries.

“Senator Brandenburg’s unparalleled efforts to see that libraries’ dedicated millages are used to fund libraries and his support for transparency and accountability for voters exemplifies the leadership our library patrons and all Michigan residents can appreciate,” said Steven Bowers, Michigan Library Association Board President. “His efforts have helped to ensure the future of our Michigan libraries.”

“The Harrison Township Public Library could not be more thrilled that Senator Jack Brandenburg was awarded the Michigan Library Association Lifetime Achievement Award,” said Dan Hutchins, Director of the Harrison Township Public Library. “No legislator in Michigan has done more for public libraries than Senator Brandenburg. It was touching that he included his parents in the award ceremony. It was also touching that the senator shared with the audience how proud he is of his home town public library in Harrison Township.”

###

Sen. Brandenburg District Update

Sen. Brandenburg supports bill to improve Safe Delivery of Newborns law

Sometimes parents are unable or unwilling to care for their new baby.

Since 2001, Michigan’s Safe Delivery of Newborns law has provided parents with an option to safely surrender their newborn – within three days of birth – to an emergency service provider. The law offers an anonymous alternative to abandonment and allows for a baby to be placed in a loving, adoptive home.  Michigan recently achieved an important milestone in keeping babies safe and healthy with the news that 200 newborns have now been surrendered.

Earlier this year, the Senate passed legislation to further ensure confidentiality of the surrendering parents. Senate Bill 215 would clarify that the names of the parents can be excluded from the birth certificates of infants surrendered under the law. The legislation has been sent to the House for consideration.

 

Michigan residents can apply for REAL ID-compliant driver’s license or ID card

Michigan motorists now have the option to obtain a driver’s license that complies with a federal mandate designed to strengthen our national safety and security.

Beginning Oct. 1, 2020, Michigan residents must carry a driver’s license or ID card that complies with the federal REAL ID Act, or present a valid U.S. passport, to fly in the United States or visit federal buildings.  The REAL ID security standards were created in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks to help prevent illegal altering of the cards and deter fraud and misuse.

Michigan residents can apply for the REAL ID-compliant license or ID card at any Secretary of State office — applicants will need to bring a certified birth certificate or other approved document. There is no extra cost when renewing your driver’s license or ID card; at any other time, a duplicate card fee will apply.

Find more information, including a list of Frequently Asked Questions, at www.michigan.gov/sos or call the Department of State Information Center with questions at 888-767-6424.

 

West Nile virus confirmed in Michigan

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services recently confirmed four human cases of West Nile virus for 2017. The virus is carried by certain types of mosquitoes.

Most people who become infected will not develop any symptoms of illness or will have a mild illness with fever, though some people may become severely ill. More information, including signs and symptoms, treatment and prevention, is available at www.michigan.gov/westnilevirus.

 

Link to all things Michigan

From job openings to traffic news to hunting information and more, the free MiPage app allows users to search for multiple services all in one place. You can even check out upcoming events in your city! Learn more at www.michigan.gov/mipage.

Sen. Brandenburg District Update

Sen. Brandenburg supports legislation to fight prescription drug abuse

According to an interim report recently released by the president’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis, 142 Americans die every day from a drug overdose. More than six out of 10 drug overdose deaths involve an opioid.

The Michigan Senate passed a package of bills to fight opioid abuse in our state earlier this summer. One provision limits prescriptions for acute pain to seven days to help reduce the chance of unused pills.

Other provisions crack down on “doctor shopping” and “pill mills” by requiring physicians to have a bona fide prescriber-patient relationship and consult the Michigan Automated Prescription System (MAPS) before prescribing certain controlled substances. The legislation also requires someone treating a patient for an opioid overdose to provide them with information on substance use disorder services to address the addiction as well as treatment options. The bills have been sent to the House for consideration.

 

Fighting the threat of Asian carp

Efforts to keep Asian carp out of the Great Lakes are moving ahead on two fronts.

The state recently launched a global search for ways to stop these invasive fish from reaching the Great Lakes. Called the Invasive Carp Challenge, the program is accepting proposals through Oct. 31, 2017 to develop new solutions to this looming threat. One or more solutions will share up to $700,000 in cash awards. Visit www.michigan.gov/carpchallenge for more information.

In addition, the Army Corps of Engineers has now recommended a tentative plan for Brandon Road Lock and Dam in the Chicago Area Waterway system to prevent the inter-basin transfer of aquatic nuisance species. The plan includes nonstructural measures, complex noise, water jets, engineered channel, electric barrier, flushing lock, boat launches and mooring area. Find more information and submit comments online at http://glmris.anl.gov.

 

Mackinac Bridge closed to vehicle traffic Labor Day morning

Thousands of people enjoy great exercise and camaraderie at the annual Labor Day Mackinac Bridge walk. This year — aside from official walk shuttle buses and emergency vehicles — walkers will have the bridge to themselves as safety concerns will close the bridge to car and truck traffic from 6:30 a.m. to noon. More information about this popular event is available at www.mackinacbridge.org.

 

Report fish and wildlife observations on new DNR app 

A new computer application developed by the DNR consolidates 15 separate fish and wildlife observation forms onto one site. The Eyes in the Field app includes forms for reporting diseased wildlife, tagged fish, mammals such as cougars and wolves, fish such as invasive carp and sturgeon, and more. The site does not replace the Report All Poaching (RAP) hotline (800-292-7800) although it provides a link to the web-based RAP complaint form. Check it out at www.michigan.gov/eyesinthefield.

Sen. Brandenburg District Update

Sen. Brandenburg backs new law to protect students

School should be a safe place for students to learn.

I recently supported Senate legislation—now law—to continue a school safety program that helps prevent tragedies before they happen. Public Act 100 of 2017 (Senate Bill 267) extends the OK2SAY program until Oct. 1, 2021. The program encourages students to anonymously report threats to trained authorities without fear of retaliation.  Students can access the 24-hour confidential OK2SAY hotline via mobile text, phone, email and by its website and mobile app.

The prevention-based program has been effective in helping protect students. Since September 2014, more than 7,800 tips have been reported, including tips on bullying, suicide threats, violence and self-harm. Find more information at www.michigan.gov/ok2say.
“In Memory Of” program recognizes Michigan families of Vietnam era

The families of those who serve our country make great sacrifices, especially during times of war.

The United States of America Vietnam War Commemoration offers a new program to recognize the families who have given so much. The “In Memory Of” program honors immediate family members (parents, spouse, children and siblings) of a veteran listed on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. with a certificate of honor and lapel pin. It’s an important way to honor their support and sacrifice.

Family members may contact my office for more information.

 

Free ORV weekend

Michigan residents and visitors have a unique opportunity to explore Pure Michigan during the Free ORV Weekend on Aug. 19-20. ORV enthusiasts can ride DNR-designated routes and trails, including the state’s five scramble areas, without an ORV license or trail permit. All ORV rules and laws still apply.

For more information, including ORV trail maps, a list of ORV-friendly state parks and campgrounds, and a link to the Handbook of Michigan Off-Road Vehicle Laws visit www.michigan.gov/orvinfo.

 

New invasive found in Michigan

The DNR recently reported the discovery of live, non-native red swamp crayfish in two separate areas in Michigan. This invasive presents a serious concern as it competes aggressively with native crayfish species for food and habitat, and can cause damage to infrastructure such as dams, levees and personal property.

Investigators aren’t sure how the crayfish ended up here but as a prohibited species in Michigan, it is unlawful to possess, import or sell them as a live organism. Aquarium hobbyists are also reminded that the release of fish or other aquatic animals into public waterbodies is illegal. For more information about red swamp crayfish and other invasive species, visit www.michigan.gov/invasivespecies.

Sen. Brandenburg District Update

Sen. Brandenburg: August ushers in new state laws
Several important new laws passed earlier in the year take effect in August:

  • Public Acts 24 and 25 of 2017 allow parents and guardians to voluntarily have photographs and fingerprints of their special needs child or adult entered into a statewide system to aid in identifying them and contacting their families more quickly should these vulnerable individuals go missing.

 

  • Public Acts 29 and 30 of 2017 prohibit and provide tough penalties for pointing a laser or similar device at an airplane pilot or train engineer. While this issue is a federal crime, the new state law allows for more consistent prosecution and increased safety.

 

  • Public Act 34 of 2017 expands protections for victims of human trafficking so all victims, including those with prior prostitution-related convictions, are eligible for the discharge and dismissal program if all conditions of probation are met.

 

Jobless rate drops again
Michigan’s unemployment rate declined to 3.8 percent in June, the lowest rate since August 2000!

Statewide unemployment was once again below the national average and a full percentage point below Michigan’s June 2016 rate. Job gains were posted in the professional and business services; trade, transportation and utilities; and financial sectors.

 

Unemployment insurance employer seminars
Michigan employers can learn more about the state’s unemployment insurance system at free seminars in August and September.

The programs offer three one-hour sessions with a 30 minute period for individual questions after each presentation. Each session features general information, including how to navigate the Michigan Web Account Manager system, along with a brief overview of services available to employers to assist in meeting labor force needs. Find more information, dates and locations at www.michigan.gov/uia.

 

Effort to bring back the Arctic Grayling
The Michigan Arctic Grayling Initiative aims to establish self-sustaining populations of Arctic Grayling throughout its historical range in Michigan. The initiative recently released its official action plan in its efforts to reintroduce the fish.

Large populations of the slate-blue fish with the distinctive dorsal fin were once found in many cold water streams throughout the Lower Peninsula of Michigan and in one Upper Peninsula stream. In fact, the historic species was native only to Michigan and Montana in the lower 48 states according to the DNR. The Grayling was valued as both a commercial food fish and a sought-after game fish. However, a variety of factors led to the extirpation of this rare native fish from Michigan by 1936.

To view the Michigan Arctic Grayling Initiative Action Plan, visit www.migrayling.org.

Sen. Brandenburg District Update

Michigan’s state budget — it’s a wrap!

For the seventh year in a row, the Legislature delivered a responsible and balanced budget, several months ahead of the fiscal year deadline.

Our plan focuses on issues important to Michigan families, such as jobs, schools and public safety. Top priorities include:

  • An increase in the School Aid budget by more than $415 million over last year;
  • An investment of more than $12 million to hire 150 new State Police Troopers;
  • Added funds for more staff and training to ensure veterans receive proper care;
  • Increased support for skilled trades training to prepare workers for in-demand jobs; and
  • An increase in transportation funding by more than $231 million.

The budget also strengthens the state’s finances by paying $1.3 billion toward schools’ retirement debt and adding to the state’s Rainy Day Fund.

 

Sen. Brandenburg supports bill to fight credit card fraud

Criminals find any number of ways to steal personal information from consumers.

One method is electronic skimming devices installed on gas pumps. Scammers are able to install skimmers, which copy credit and debit card information and can be sold or used to make counterfeit cards. In fact, nearly 70 credit card skimmers have been found and removed from gas pumps across Michigan since 2015.

The Senate recently passed Senate Bill 415, which would require greater security measures at the pump to restrict unauthorized access of customer payment card information and prevent the use of skimmers.

While many gas stations already have security measures in place, the legislation would ensure all stations provide this consumer protection.

 

MSP adds new canine teams

Some of this summer’s recent graduates go by the names of Rocko, Starsky and Boomer!

They are members of 12 new canine teams, as well as one replacement team, that graduated from the Michigan State Police (MSP) 2017 Basic Canine School. As part of the program, the canine teams covered more than 100 miles on foot and received training in areas including tracking, narcotics detection, building search, property search, obedience and aggression.

The MSP now has 43 canine teams working throughout Michigan. The canine unit handles more than 6,000 requests for service each year, making it one of the largest and busiest in the country.

 

Fall turkey hunting

While the spring season is the traditional time to hunt wild turkey, limited fall hunts are offered in specific areas. Hunting applications are available through Aug. 1. The application fee is $5. Licenses and applications may be purchased at any authorized license agent or online at www.mdnr-elicense.com. Find more information in the Michigan Fall Turkey Digest at www.michigan.gov/dnrdigests.

Sen. Brandenburg District Update

Sen. Brandenburg backs STEM, in-demand jobs bills

Thousands of jobs in Michigan go unfilled due to a shortage of trained workers.

I recently supported legislation that would help close the gap in the number of skilled Michigan workers available to fill in-demand jobs. Many of the high-skilled jobs are in the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields. Senate Bill 344 would allow a student to receive a STEM endorsement as an incentive to take more STEM classes. The endorsement would highlight their accomplishments and give them a competitive advantage in landing a high-paying job.

Senate Bill 343 would require schools to provide students with the most recent available analysis of in-demand jobs in their local region. By providing high school students with information about in-demand jobs and growing careers in their area, students could take the appropriate classes to develop the skills needed in order to qualify for these jobs.

The legislation would provide another important tool to help fill Michigan jobs with Michigan residents. The bills have been sent to the House for consideration.

 

First case of rabies for 2017 confirmed
Michigan’s first case of rabies for 2017 was recently confirmed in a bat from Ingham County. In 2016, there were 41 cases of rabies in Michigan wildlife, consisting of 37 rabid bats and four rabid skunks.

The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development recommends the following precautions to help protect your family and animals from rabies:

  • People should avoid contact with wild animals;
  • If bitten or scratched by an animal, seek medical attention and alert the local health department;
  • If you find a bat in your home, safely confine or collect it and contact your local health department to determine if it should be tested for rabies;
  • Talk to your veterinarian about vaccinating domestic pets and livestock; and
  • If your animal is bitten or scratched by a wild animal, contact your veterinarian.

 

Bike safety on the road
Many people enjoy biking on neighborhood streets and busier roadways during the warm summer months so it’s important that both motorists and bicyclists keep an eye out for safety.

Motorists are reminded that bicyclists are permitted to ride on most roadways in the state. Drivers must take care to “share the road” when driving and exercise caution when approaching bicyclists. And as legal roadway users, bicyclists are required to obey all traffic laws, signs and signals. A bicyclist traveling at less than the existing speed of traffic should ride as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway.

Last year, there were 1,959 reported crashes involving bicyclists in Michigan that resulted in 1,563 injuries and 38 fatalities. According to the Michigan State Police, the number of fatal crashes involving bicyclists is disproportionately high compared to other roadway users.

Find more bicycling information, including “What Every Michigan Driver Should Know About Bike Lanes,” at www.michigan.gov/mdot-biking.

Sen. Brandenburg District Update

Senate community investment bills sent to governor

Many communities across Michigan – in urban, suburban and rural areas – are looking to revitalize blighted, abandoned sites that are too costly to clean up or redevelop. Senate legislation on its way to the governor will help transform these difficult-to-develop properties into large-scale developments that attract investment and jobs, and generate new economic activity.

Senate Bills 111-115 will allow “transformational brownfield plans” to keep part of the new tax revenue they create in order to make the projects fiscally feasible while the rest of the revenue goes to local governments and the state. The legislation requires significant minimum private investment and mandates that projects provide a net fiscal benefit to the state. In addition, the bills cap the amount of the incentives and the overall number of projects to control annual costs.

To ensure the program’s benefits are spread throughout the state and not solely in large, urban areas, the legislation sets a target that 35 percent of approved plans be located in communities with less than 100,000 people. By encouraging economic development where it wouldn’t otherwise happen, communities can create new opportunities for dynamic growth and new tax revenue. The bills sunset in five years.

 

April jobless rate drops
Michigan’s unemployment rate fell for the second consecutive month to 4.7 percent in April. Manufacturing led the April job gains with other increases in leisure and hospitality services, professional and business services and other services. Total employment in Michigan has risen every month in 2017 with an average gain of 17,000 per month. The numbers show continued positive momentum as the average monthly total employment increase in 2016 was just over 8,000 per month.

 

New tip line for reporting fraud
A new toll-free telephone tip line is now available to report scams or fraudulent activity involving Michigan Department of State programs or documents, including those related to Michigan vehicles, identification, or elections. Anyone with knowledge of potential fraud is encouraged to call 1-844-372-8356 to report suspected violations.

 

Michigan’s Summer Free Fishing Weekend is right around the corner
Michigan offers some of the finest freshwater fishing in the world! Why not enjoy this great pastime during the state’s Summer Free Fishing Weekend, June 10-11?

Anglers, both residents and nonresidents alike, can fish without a license on these two days, though all other fishing regulations still apply. Entry into state public boating access sites, state parks and recreation areas is free of charge. Visit www.michigan.gov/freefishing for more information, including details on sponsored and state park events.

In addition, the June 10-11 date marks one of the summer’s Free ORV Weekends, a time off-road enthusiasts can ride DNR-designated routes and trails without buying an ORV license or trail permit. Find out more at www.michigan.gov/orvinfo.