State Senator Patrick Colbeck’s Newsletter
Senator Patrick Colbeck

Dear Friend,

It has been a very busy past few months, and we’d like to reflect on some highlights and share new opportunities going forward. In an attempt to better share developments taking place in the Michigan Legislature and in the area of the 7th Senate District, we’re changing our newsletter format just a bit.

Instead of sending our traditional monthly newsletter which includes community highlights, events, and legislative updates, we will now be publishing three newsletters a month, each focusing on a specific topic area. The newsletters will be organized as follows: District Update, Lansing Update, and Good News.

The District Update will highlight events in the 7th Senate District. The Lansing Update will highlight events and legislation occurring in Lansing. The Good News edition will attempt to highlight good things that may be happening in district, in Lansing or across the nation.

This approach will be fully implemented starting in July. Please enjoy this first installment of our new Lansing Update newsletter.

Best regards,

Patrick Colbeck
State Senator
7th District

Sen. Colbeck Restores Local Control of Fireworks through Senate Bill 698

Fireworks displays are a great way to celebrate our freedom. For veterans suffering from PTSD or owners of pets that display severe anxiety, nightly fireworks displays are a significant nuisance and, in some cases, dangerous.

For some communities, this is not a significant concern as there are safe places to light off fireworks that do not disturb anyone. For other communities, this is not the case. In response to community leaders within the 7th Senate District, Senator Colbeck introduced Senate Bill 698 in January 2016 to allow local governments increased control over fireworks usage in their communities, and the ability to reduce unrestricted fireworks displays. Under the provisions of the bill, the 4th of July would be the only day exempt from any local ordinances limiting fireworks usage.

Senate Bill 698 was referred to the Senate Committee on Government Operations on January 13, 2016, but has not seen movement since this time. Nonetheless, Senator Colbeck continues to advocate for local control of fireworks displays and usage.

As we celebrate Independence Day, remember that with freedom comes responsibility. In this light, please be sensitive to neighbors in your community who may suffer from PTSD or own pets subject to significant anxiety during fireworks displays.

Senate Passes Criminal Justice Reform Package

On June 9, the Michigan Senate passed a comprehensive bill package to reform our criminal justice system, lower the rate of recidivism, and improve public safety. Currently, 50 percent of Michigan’s prisoners have been incarcerated previously, which is 20 percent more than the national average. As a way to curtail the prison population in Michigan and save lives, the bill package creates a clear definition of recidivism, implements data collection on recidivism, and creates the Parole Sanction Certainty Act.

One particular bill in this package, Senate Bill 938, was sponsored by Senator Colbeck. The main purpose of this bill is to enact a Criminal Justice Data Collection and Management Act. Through this act, aggregate recidivism data collection would occur 3 years and 5 years after an individual’s release date from prison. By uncovering data on recidivism, it will be possible to see which prison programs are successfully helping individuals reintegrate into society. This data would also be useful to create new programs and change current programs to rehabilitate the prison population.

The bill package, which is comprised of 20 bills, Senate Bills 932-949 and 974-975, now awaits consideration by the House of Representatives.

Sen. Colbeck Works to Ensure Effective Implementation of Direct Primary Care Medicaid Pilot

Despite the setback of not having the original, comprehensive boilerplate of the Direct Primary Care Services (DPCS) Medicaid Pilot included in the FY 2017 State Budget, Senator Colbeck continues his advocacy of the Pilot.

As outlined in its comprehensive form, and included in the Senate version of the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) budget passed on May 17, the Pilot had the potential to save taxpayers almost $3.5 billion once fully implemented, while improving the quality of healthcare for individuals enrolled in the state's Medicaid program. However, under the state omnibus appropriations budget, House Bill 5294, which was passed on June 8, implementing the Pilot is optional.

The decision of implementation now rests with DHHS, and Senator Colbeck continues to share the great benefits the Pilot would provide for state Medicaid patients and taxpayers alike. He maintains that it is a golden opportunity to raise the quality of health care while reducing the cost of care.

Teaching About Genocide Now Required in Michigan Schools

Courtesy of a bill recently signed by Governor Snyder, Michigan students now have the opportunity to learn more about some of the most significant chapters in human history. House Bill 4493, which was signed by Gov. Snyder on June 13, requires that all social studies curriculum for grades 8-12 in school districts and public school academies include instruction on genocide. This includes, but is not limited to, the Holocaust and the Armenian Genocide.

Senator Colbeck and the majority of his Senate colleagues voted in favor of the bill when it was presented for a vote on the Senate Floor. He believes there are many examples of social issues which are covered in our classrooms that do not have anywhere near the impact of genocide. Senator Colbeck maintains that we need to examine the root causes of these genocides and ensure that we never walk down these paths again.

The bill has now become Public Act 170 of 2016.

Sen. Colbeck Participates in Focus Group to Propose State Social Studies Standard Revisions

Through a series of focus group meetings, Senator Colbeck has been working with representatives from the Michigan Department of Education and educators across the state to make recommendations for revising the state’s Social Studies standards. Senator Colbeck’s main objective for the state’s Social Studies standards is to ensure they are politically neutral and accurate.

The new standards proposed by the focus group can be found on Senator Colbeck’s New MI Education Standards webpage. Once finalized, the focus group’s proposal will be presented to the Michigan State Board of Education.

Three focus group meetings have been held to date, with additional meetings expected to follow.

Michigan Moves One Step Closer to Repealing Common Core Standards

Senator Colbeck is the primary sponsor of Senate Bill 826, a bill to repeal Michigan's current Common Core education standards and replace them with the pre-Common Core state of Massachusetts standards.

Since adopting the Common Core Standards for English Language Arts and Math in August 2010, Michigan reading and math proficiency has steadily declined. Currently, only 50 percent of Michigan third graders are proficient in reading. Only 49 percent of Michigan third graders are proficient in math, and proficiency in math drops to 28 percent by eleventh grade.

“It is time to stop the decline and adopt standards that have truly shown evidence of student improvement. The Pre-Common Core Massachusetts Standards were ranked number one in the nation based on student performance and are highly regarded worldwide," said Colbeck.

Senate Bill 826 was reported out of the Senate Education Committee on April 27 and now awaits consideration on the Senate Floor, where it will likely be presented for a vote this Fall.

Sen. Colbeck Focuses on Expanding the Scope of Veterans Courts

Specialty courts have become an effective way of dealing with complex issues in our court system. The unique burdens of service personnel and their families often lead to complex family issues such as child custody battles. Today, many of these issues are addressed in Family Court settings that may or may not have a full appreciation of the unique circumstances that many service families face such as long deployments overseas with limited communication.

Senator Colbeck is investigating whether or not the scope of Veterans Courts should be expanded beyond its current focus upon drug treatment to also address issues currently handled in family courts. Studies have shown that nearly one-third of military suicides are attributed to family issues (i.e. divorce, family court, custody battles). We need to find a better way of addressing such issues. Veterans courts may be an effective way of doing so.


Michigan’s 7th Senate District

The 7th Senate District

The 7th Senate District includes Canton Township, Livonia city, Northville city, Northville Township, Plymouth city, Plymouth Township, and Wayne city.

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Senator Patrick Colbeck
1020 Farnum Bldg.   P.O. Box 30036
Lansing, MI 48909-7536

Phone: (517) 373-7350

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