Sen. Brandenburg District Update

Brandenburg supports legislation promoting safer use of drones 

Drones, or unmanned aerial systems (UAS), have been used for many positive commercial and recreational purposes, including property damage assessments, crop monitoring, aerial photography and more. Yet they’ve also been utilized to smuggle contraband such as drugs and cell phones into prison yards. 

The Senate recently passed a package of bills to provide rules for the safer use of this developing technology. Among other provisions, the legislation: 

  • Strengthens drone restrictions on interfering with emergency services and law enforcement, including corrections officers; 
  • Prohibits drones from being used to interfere with correctional facilities and “key facilities” such as refineries, power plants, water treatment plants, transportation facilities and cell phone tower sites; 
  • Holds a drone operator responsible for any illegal action done by a drone; and 
  • Establishes an office within the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) to provide information and education on drone regulations and restrictions.  

Senate Bills 917, 918, 919, 921 and 922 have been sent to the House for consideration. 

Stay alert for deer! 

According to the Michigan State Police (MSP), there are nearly 50,000 reported vehicle-deer crashes in the state each year. October, November, and December are particularly hazardous months as deer are more active. Most serious crashes occur when drivers swerve to avoid a deer and hit another vehicle, or when their vehicle rolls over. 

The MSP advises drivers to stay alert, especially at dawn and dusk; slow down at the sight of one deer as deer often travel in groups; and watch for deer crossing signs. If a crash is unavoidable, don’t swerve and be sure to brake firmly. Motorists are also reminded to buckle up — seat belts are the best defense in the event of a crash.  

 

New unit designed to fight insurance fraud 

Fraud and deception drive up the cost of insurance. A new anti-fraud unit within the state’s Department of Insurance and Financial Services (DIFS) was recently formed to fight fraudulent activity and help lower costs and better protect consumers. The unit will work with other law enforcement agencies to identify and investigate fraud in the auto insurance, health insurance and banking sectors.  

In related news, DIFS set up a new website earlier this year — www.mi.gov/InsuranceFraud — to offer consumers and the insurance industry a convenient site to report fraud. Since the launch, the agency has received 167 complaints of fraud from consumers and 68 complaints from the industry. 

Special education resource site 

Families of children with disabilities can find up-to-date information about special education and other resources at www.michigan.gov/specialeducation-familymatters 

The Michigan Department of Education (MDE) site provides fact sheets explaining special education laws and practices, along with links to organizations and state agencies that help parents and students who are receiving, or may be eligible for, special education services.  

Sen. Brandenburg District Update

Brandenburg supports Blue Star Families license plate bill    

Our service members make many sacrifices in service to our country. Many times, their families do as well.

I recently supported Senate legislation to create a special license plate recognizing families of active duty military. Senate Bill 821 would create a Blue Star Families license plate available to individualscurrently serving in the U.S. armed forces and their immediate family members. The plate would show the Blue Star Families insignia and “Blue Star Family” beneath the registration number, allowing families to share their pride in their enlisted service member. The bill has been sent to the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure.

A Gold Star Family license plate available to the immediate family of a service member who has died in the line of duty is among current special recognition plates offered by the secretary of state.

 

Brandenburg backs bills to protect judges, law enforcement

Law enforcement and judges who uphold the law must be able to do their jobs without threats or intimidation.

There have been reports about an increasing amount of intimidation and harassment directed at judges and officers, especially on social media. I recently voted in support of Senate legislation to protect public officials from threats intended to interfere with the legal process. Senate Bills 973 and 974 have been sent to the House for consideration.

 

New unclaimed property website

The Michigan Department of Treasury has millions of dollars in lost or forgotten assets from inactive bank accounts, uncashed checks, valuables left in safe deposit boxes and stock certificates.

An updated, state-of-the art website will make it easier to check on lost or abandoned property. People can go to www.michigan.gov/unclaimedproperty to file new claims or check on claims electronically. Previously, claimants had to file paper claims and send documentation through the mail.

Over the last four years, Michigan Unclaimed Property has returned $400 million to owners or their heirs. Along with visiting the website, claimants can also call 517-636-5320 between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. on weekdays.

 

HEARTSafe schools named

More than 200 schools were recently awarded the MI HEARTSafe School designation for the 2018-19 school year. The special designation recognizes schools that are prepared to respond to cardiac emergencies by having:

  • A written medical emergency response plan and team;
  • Current CPR/AED (automated external defibrillator) certification of 10 percent of staff and 50 percent of coaches, including all head varsity coaches and physical education staff;
  • Accessible and maintained AEDs;
  • Annual cardiac emergency response drills; and
  • Pre-participation sports screening of all student athletes.

For more information about the MI HEARTSafe School program, including a list of participating schools, visit Migrc.org/miheartsafe.