Sen. Brandenburg District Update

Brandenburg backs legislation to ban marijuana-infused alcohol 

Several states that allow the recreational use of marijuana have seen a rise in popularity of marijuana-infused alcohol products, especially in Colorado and California. 

I recently supported legislation now signed into law that pre-emptively prohibits the sale and use of marijuana-infused beer, wine and spirits. Under Public Act 346 of 2018, violators are guilty of a misdemeanor. Adding marijuana to alcoholic beverages makes it more difficult for law enforcement and others to judge when someone is intoxicated and could lead to more traffic safety problems.  

The new law also applies to nonalcoholic beverages such as nonalcoholic beer or wine.  

New website provides resources on opioid epidemic 

The opioid epidemic has touched communities across our state, claiming the lives of more than 6,000 Michigan residents in the past four years. A new website featuring information and resources was recently launched to help stop this tragic crisis. 

The new site —  — makes it easier for people to find help and access information more quickly. It includes maps showing where licensed treatment centers and takeback sites to dispose of unneeded medication are located. Along with information to find and get help, the website provides information on prescription data of controlled substances for prescribers and pharmacists. A special section includes legislation enacted into law to better protect Michiganders, with a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) information sheet on Michigan opioid laws.  

Firearm deer season opens Nov. 15 

Hunting is a valued way of life in Michigan. Hunters play an important role in wildlife conservation and management while contributing more than $2 billion to the state economy and supporting 25,500 direct jobs. 

More than 90 percent of hunters purchase a deer license. Last year, nearly 575,000 deer hunters harvested about 376,000 deer. Good luck, hunters, and stay safe! 

Firewood: Buy it local, burn it local 

Hunters and other outdoors enthusiasts planning to camp or enjoy a bonfire this fall are reminded to burn only certified firewood or buy it where you burn it. Aged or seasoned wood can still harbor invasive species, moving pests from one location to another. Wood that looks clean can have insect eggs or fungi spores that could lead to a new infestation.  

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) reports that invasive insects and diseases have killed millions of trees in Michigan, often after hitching a ride on firewood. 

Prepare for hazardous winter weather 

With winter weather upon us, the Michigan State Police (MSP) advises Michigan residents to plan for hazardous conditions. Severe weather can mean freezing pipes, power outages and stranded vehicles. Safety planning tips include:  

  • Installing carbon monoxide detectors near sleeping areas; 
  • Having your fireplace and furnace cleaned and inspected; and 
  • Preparing an emergency kit for both your house and your car. 

Find more information, including the publication, How to Prepare for a Winter Storm, at

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 — — 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 

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 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

Sen. Brandenburg District Update

Brandenburg notes new state laws

Several new laws affecting children, young drivers and veterans that passed earlier in the year take effect in September, including:

Public Act 282 of 2018 allows for the use of courtroom support dogs to comfort witnesses, including a child under age 16 or a vulnerable adult. Therapy dogs can calm witnesses, particularly children, helping them overcome their fears to deliver their testimony.

Public Act 276 of 2018 requires driver’s education to include information on what to do and how to interact with law enforcement during a traffic stop. The training will help make this situation safer and less stressful for young drivers.

Public Act 211 of 2018 prohibits what is often called “pension poaching” to better protect veterans from fraud and predatory financial abuse.The new law will prevent individuals or agencies from profiting off veterans benefit services that are offered at no cost through the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).


Service helps recover lost life insurance money

A free service offered by the Michigan Department of Insurance and Financial Services (DIFS) has helped consumers recover more than $6.3 million in death benefits since 2016.

The Life Insurance and Annuity Search Service (LIAS) was created to help beneficiaries locate a deceased family member’s life insurance policy or annuity contract that was purchased in Michigan. Each month, the agency forwards consumer requests to Michigan licensed life insurance and annuity companies to try to locate lost policies. During the last two years, over 2,000 requests have been submitted to participating insurance companies. Insurance companies contact the beneficiary directly if a policy match is found. They will not contact anyone who is not a beneficiary or legally authorized to receive the policy information. Find more information, including a search request form, at


Pure Michigan hunt offers exciting hunting opportunity

The start of fall hunting season is a good time to remind outdoorsmen and outdoorswomen about the annual Pure Michigan Hunt opportunity. This “hunt of a lifetime” offers three winners the chance to obtain licenses for antlerless deer, bear, elk and spring and fall turkey, and first pick at a managed waterfowl hunt area, along with a prize package valued at over $4,000!

Applications for the 2019 drawing are $5 each and available at license agent locations and online at www.mdnr-elicense.comuntil Dec. 31. Revenue helps fund Michigan’s wildlife habitat restoration and management. More information is available at


Organ donor registry surpasses 5 million

The secretary of state’s office recently reported that more than 5 million residents have now joined the Michigan Organ Donor Registry! Senate legislation signed into law has helped increase the number of registered organ donors. Public Act 451 of 2016 — Lauren’s Law — requires the secretary of state’s office to ask whether someone would like to sign up on the organ donor registry when they apply for a driver’s license.

Anyone can join the registry, regardless of age or medical history. Visit, call 866-500-5801 or stop by any secretary of state office to sign up.

Sen. Brandenburg District Update

Brandenburg supports new laws to aid students on career track

Senate legislation recently signed into law will help high school students make informed decisions as they plan for their future.

Public Act 242 of 2018 (Senate Bill 343) requires schools to provide students with the most recent available analysis of in-demand jobs in their local region. The new law allows schools to provide the career outlook information electronically.

Public Act 241 of 2018 (Senate Bill 344) allows a student to receive a STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) endorsement on their diploma as an incentive to take more STEM classes. Many of the high-skilled and high-paying jobs are in the STEM field.  Michigan is the first state in the country to offer the STEM certification opportunity. The endorsement will help give students a competitive advantage in the job market.


Work requirements reinstated for food assistance

Michigan’s improved unemployment rate has prompted the reinstatement of federal work requirements for able-bodied adults receiving food assistance beginning Oct. 1.  Work requirements were previously reinstated in 14 counties; the requirements are now reinstated in all other counties in Michigan.

Able-bodied adults are recipients ages 18 to 49 with no dependents. There are exemptions for people who are physically or mentally unable to work for 20 hours, are pregnant or care for a child under age 6 or those who are incapacitated. Recipients can contact their Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) case specialist with questions or go to more information.


Final highway cleanup date set

Michigan’s highway roadsides will be spruced up Sept. 22-30 as volunteer groups remove litter and trash as part of the final 2018 Adopt-A-Highway pickup.

Three times a year, volunteer crews collect debris to help keep the state’s highway roadsides clean, attractive and safe. About 2,800 groups clean 6,300 miles of highway each year, including two-lane roads and business routes. Since 1990, these volunteers have collected more than one million bags of trash! Sections of highway are still available to adopt. Find more information at


Pure Michigan Fall Travel Guide now available

With more than 100 varieties of trees, four Great Lakes and thousands of sparkling inland lakes and waterways, autumn in Michigan is spectacular!

The 2018 Pure Michigan Fall Travel Guidefeatures articles on scenic drives, fall foliage hikes and family getaways along with postcard-worthy photographs. The publication also includes a directory of state parks and campgrounds and a fall calendar of events. Access the digital version and sign up for weekly fall color updates at contact my office to receive a print copy.


Check out fall family activities at state parks

Michigan state parks offer plenty of family fun and adventure beyond the summer season. More than 30 state parks host fall harvest festivals in September and October. Selected parks feature hay rides, pumpkin carving, trick-or-treating, even haunted trails!  Activities in state park campgrounds are typically open to registered campers only. Find out about upcoming events at

Sen. Brandenburg District Update

Brandenburg backs Fostering Futures tax checkoff bills

Many teens in Michigan’s foster care system want to attend college but don’t have the resources to do so when they age out of the system. In fact, less than 10 percent who graduate from high school actually enroll in college.

I supported Senate legislation, now signed into law, to help our state’s foster youth attend college. Public Acts 252 and 253 of 2018 add a state income tax checkoff for taxpayers to contribute to the Fostering Futures Scholarship Trust Fund. This fund provides some help with college expenses such as tuition, room and board, and books based on need and any other financial aid the student is receiving.

More than $1.1 million has been raised through individual and group donations and other fundraising events since 2012.

New taxpayer donations will provide more funds and allow the program to assist more students.


Skilled trades get permanent funding with new law

A new law permanently puts Michigan’s popular skilled trades training program in state statute to ensure its continuation. Senate Bill 946, now Public Act 260 of 2018, also renames the program the Going Pro Talent Program.

The program provides training opportunities to in-state employers. Workforce development efforts benefit all involved — workers obtain new skills to advance their careers and employers gain qualified and highly trained employees. Since 2014, the program has provided nearly $73 million in competitive awards to more than 2,200 Michigan companies. More information is available at


Confidential sexual assault hotline now open

Survivors of sexual assault have an important new resource to help in the healing process. A confidential, 24-hour sexual assault hotline — 1-855-VOICES4— is now up and running to provide support and referrals.

The hotline is staffed by professional crisis counselors with specialized training in crisis intervention, sexual assault, child sexual abuse, victim’s rights, health options and Michigan law. Counselors can connect victims with sexual assault programs that offer additional counseling, advocacy and support as well as other services such as Crime Victims Compensation and the Michigan Victim Information and Notification Everyday (MI-VINE), an electronic victim notification service.


Pure Michigan Trail and Trail Town designation

As the Trails State, Michigan offers thousands of miles of scenic outdoor adventure for hikers, bicyclists, ORV riders, snowmobilers and cross-country skiers. A new Pure Michigan designation will help showcase some of the best trails across the state and their neighboring towns. More information on the new program, including the application process, criteria, frequently asked questions, a handbook and more — can be found at


OK2SAY school safety program

As students return to the classroom for a new school year, it’s a good time to share contact information for Michigan’s 24-hour confidential OK2SAY hotline. The student safety program encourages students to anonymously report potential threats or harm to trained technicians.

Tips can be submitted by e-mail at, by text at 652729 (OK2SAY), by phone at 1-855-565-2729 (1-8-555-OK2SAY), or online at More than 14,500 tips have been received since the program launched in 2014, including tips on bullying, self-harm, suicide threats and drugs.

Sen. Brandenburg District Update

New tax checkoff to help fund World War II memorial

Michigan answered our nation’s call to duty during World War II. More than 620,000 residents served in the armed forces and countless others worked in industry as part of America’s “Arsenal of Democracy.”

Senate legislation now signed into law will help honor the Michigan residents who served in military roles and on the home front and pay tribute to the 15,458 service members who lost their lives. Public Acts 256 and 257 of 2018 add an income tax checkoff for taxpayers to contribute to the Michigan World War II Legacy Memorial Fund. The memorial, to be built with voluntary donations in Southeast Michigan, will also educate future generations about Michigan’s unique story during the Second World War.


Brandenburg backs new law to improve veteran services

I recently supported legislation — now signed into law — to provide Michigan veterans with better access to services and benefits.  Public Act 210 of 2018 creates a state fund to help counties establish and maintain veteran services offices. The fund will help ensure counties have the resources to provide support to our state’s veterans.

Over 600,000 veterans call Michigan home and many look to their local government for assistance in obtaining their veteran benefits.


Out-of-state online retailers to pay sales tax

Following a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision, mail order and online retailers located outside of Michigan must pay the 6 percent sales tax on taxable sales into the state. Previously, consumers were required to track and report uncollected taxes on their state income tax form.

Under the state Treasury Department’s new rule, all applicable retailers must pay state sales tax and file tax returns for taxable sales made after Sept. 30, 2018. Individuals and businesses can learn more about Michigan’s sales tax requirements at


School safety grants

To help keep our children safe at school, the Michigan Legislature recently appropriated $25 million to the Michigan State Police for school safety grants. The grants are intended to improve the safety and security of school buildings through the purchase of technology and equipment, as well as by conducting school building safety assessments. Applications for the fiscal year 2018 Competitive School Safety Grant Program are due by noon on Sept. 13. Find more information, including application and instructions, at,4643,7-123-72297_34040_75045—,00.html.


West Nile virus case confirmed

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) recently confirmed the first human West Nile virus infection for 2018. The virus is carried by certain types of mosquitoes in Michigan.

Most people who become infected with West Nile virus will not develop any symptoms. Others will have a mild illness that may include fever, headache and body aches, though some people may become more seriously ill. To help protect against mosquito bites, people should use insect repellent, drain standing water around the home and patch window screens to help keep mosquitoes outside. Last year, 40 residents were diagnosed with West Nile virus in Michigan with one death reported. Visit for more information, along with maps of current activity by county.

Sen. Brandenburg District Update

Brandenburg supports new law to help patients

A Michigan law recently took effect to strengthen efforts to fight the opioid epidemic.

Senate Bill 274 — now Public Act 251 — limits an acute pain prescription of an opioid to a seven-day supply within a seven-day period. Acute pain is described as pain associated with procedures or trauma, such as a sprained ankle or having wisdom teeth removed, that lasts a limited amount of time.

Statistics indicate that one in four patients who are prescribed prescription opioids long term struggle with overdose. The new law will limit exposure to potentially addictive medications and reduce the potential for overdose. Other reforms already in place require doctors to consult the Michigan Automated Prescription System (MAPS) and counsel patients on the risks of opioids before prescribing.

Brandenburg backs driver safety law

New drivers will learn the proper procedure to follow if they are pulled over during a traffic stop under legislation recently signed into law.

Public Act 276 of 2018 requires driver’s education to include information on what to do and how to interact with law enforcement during a traffic stop. The training will promote driver safety and prepare young, inexperienced drivers for a potentially stressful situation.

Free ORV Weekend

Michigan residents and out-of-state visitors can ride DNR-designated routes and trails Aug. 18-19 without an ORV license or trail permit during the second Free ORV Weekend of the year.

The weekend event includes nearly 3,700 miles of off-road trails and the state’s five scramble areas — St. Helen’s Motorsport Area, Black Lake Scramble Area, Silver Lake State Park, Bull Gap and The Mounds. All other ORV rules and laws still apply and a Recreation Passport is required where applicable. Find more information, including ORV trail maps and a link to the Handbook of Michigan Off-Road Vehicle Laws, at

Take an Adult Fishing Day coming up

Fishing is a great way for families to spend a summer day!

The second annual Take an Adult Fishing day on Aug. 4 encourages kids and their parents to plan a fishing trip for time together in Michigan’s great outdoors. Visit to learn more about this special event and find fishing locations by searching the Family Friendly Fishing Waters website or checking out the state parks that offer instruction on how to fish through the Hook, Line and Sinker program.

Electric customers to see savings from federal tax cut

The Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) recently approved nearly $270 million in savings for electric customers of Consumers Energy Co. and DTE Electric Co. from the new, lower federal corporate tax rate.

The move means rate reductions for Michigan customers of nine of the 10 rate-regulated utilities impacted by the federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA). Residential bills are projected to decline by an average of $1.95 a month.

Sen. Brandenburg District Update

Brandenburg supports budget funds to build police memorial
We owe so much to the police officers who put their lives on the line to serve and protect our neighborhoods and communities.

The Legislature recently allotted $1.2 million in the state budget to help build a memorial to those who have died in the line of duty. The Michigan Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Monument will pay tribute to the fallen and honor their courage, dedication and commitment to keeping Michigan safe.

The monument will be located near the Michigan Vietnam Veterans Memorial adjacent to the Hall of Justice in Lansing. More information is available at

New law to create fundraising plates for sports teams’ charities

Michigan motorists will have a new way to show their support for their favorite home state professional sports team!

Senate legislation recently signed into law directs the secretary of state’s office to develop and issue fundraising license plates recognizing the Detroit Pistons, Detroit Red Wings, Detroit Lions and Detroit Tigers. Revenues from the sales of the plates will be distributed to the charitable foundations associated with the teams. The charities support various youth, educational, and healthy living causes.

The secretary of state must establish the new license plates and have them available to be issued by Aug. 1, 2019.

Hunters: Apply for fall turkey hunting and antlerless deer licenses

While spring is the traditional time to hunt wild turkey, some areas in Michigan are open to fall turkey hunting. The fall turkey license application period runs until Aug. 1. Find more information and buy an application online at

In addition, the antlerless deer license application period runs from July 15 to Aug. 15. For more details and to buy an application online, visit

Protect families and pets from rabies

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) reports there has been an increase in the number of bats testing positive for rabies compared to the same time last year.

The following precautions are recommended to help protect your family and pets from rabies:

  • Avoid contact with wild animals;
  • If bitten or scratched by an animal, seek immediate 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 see if it should be tested for rabies, or hire a bat/wildlife removal service;
  • Vaccinate your pets against rabies; and
  • If your animal is bitten or scratched by a wild animal, contact your veterinarian.

In 2017, there were 38 cases of rabies in animals in Michigan, including 35 bats, two skunks and one cat.  More information, including a map of rabies-positive animals in Michigan, is available at

Sen. Brandenburg District Update

Brandenburg backs bills to prepare students for careers

Michigan will have more than 800,000 career openings to fill through 2024 in fields that are facing a talent shortage, such as manufacturing, information technology, health care and the professional trades.

I recently supported legislation to help ensure our students can develop the skills they need to find a high-paying, in-demand technology job in one of these career fields. Senate Bills 941 and 942 will invest $100 million in scholarships, education programs, workforce development and teacher support through partnerships with schools and businesses.

Called the “Marshall Plan for Talent,” the initiative will expand current efforts to close the talent gap and better prepare our high school students for career opportunities, college or both.

Brandenburg supports road safety bills

Now that summer weather is here, many bicyclists are sharing the road with other drivers.  I recently supported legislation to help increase safety for all motorists and cyclists on Michigan’s roads.

The legislation requires drivers to maintain a safe distance of at least three feet or, if that distance is not practical, a safe distance at a safe speed when passing bicyclists. Another provision requires driver education classroom instruction to include at least one hour of training on the laws regarding bicycles, motorcycles and other vulnerable roadway users.

Michigan bicycle fatalities doubled from 2012 to 2016, with about a quarter of the accidents occurring when the driver was passing the bicycle. If signed into law, Michigan would join nearly 40 other states with similar safe passing laws.

Fishing in Michigan

If your summer plans include taking the kids or grandkids fishing, be sure to check out the Family Friendly Fishing Waters website.

The water bodies are identified as family friendly based on ease of access, amenities (such as restrooms!) and high likelihood of success in catching fish. Other information includes driving directions, hours of operation, species of fish available, typical bait used and more. Access the site at

Anglers under age 17 may fish without a license but they are required to observe all fishing rules and regulations. A fishing license isn’t necessary to help someone under the age of 17 fish as long as the young angler is an active participant. Adults can help bait the hook, set up the fishing rod, fix tangles or snags, cast the line, land the fish and unhook the fish.

Pet-friendly parks

Many families enjoy time in the great outdoors together, including those with furry family members!

Pets are welcome on a 6-foot leash in Michigan state parks, park campgrounds, state forests and the majority of trails. In addition, pet-friendly lodging is available at several state parks. A number of parks offer sections of pet-friendly shorelines as well, although pets must be kept on a 6-foot leash even if they are in the water.

Find more information, including rules that apply at all locations, at; click Places to Go and then Parks and Recreation Areas.