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Senator Patrick Colbeck’s Newsletter
 

LANSING UPDATE

Michigan's Capitol

In this edition:

- Michigan Public School Employees Retirement System (MPSERS) reform overview
- Legislation promoting veteran employment heads to Senate floor
- Michigan says NO to "Female Genital Mutilation" (FGM)
- "Fireworks Free” State Parks
- Protecting our environment
- "Choose Life" license plate legislation sent to Governor
- Defending 1st Amendment rights
- Shaping the healthcare debate in D.C.
- Plymouth Library offers small business training
- Canton’s own Olympic hero visits Senate floor
- Livonia Spree 2017 is here!

SCHOOL EMPLOYEE RETIREMENT REFORM OVERVIEW

SB 401 received much media attention and was voted upon last week. Regrettably, opponents to the legislation are sharing inaccurate information about the legislation. It is important to note that the legislation does not impact the accrued benefits received by current retirees or current employees. It does not in any way deal with police, fire, or state employee retirements. What it does do is place new school employees into a 401K-style retirement plan rather than further exacerbate the $29B unfunded liabilities associated with the current defined benefit plans. It does however also preserve a hybrid pension option for newly hired employees who wish to opt out of the 401K plan if they choose to put more of their own money towards retirement. Sen. Colbeck supported the legislation because it aligns school employee retirement benefits with 83% of the workforce, protects the benefits of current employees and retirees, and puts the state on a responsible path towards $0 in liabilities.

The 401K plan proposed in SB 401 is the same plan that has been offered to new state employees going back to 1997, and is also the plan that Sen. Colbeck and his legislative staff receive. As such, SB 401’s new 401K provides more parity between newly hired teachers, state employees, and the vast majority of taxpayers who participate in the retirement plans offered to them in the private sector.

Retirees and current school employees with a defined benefit plan would still be able to retain their current pension. The non-partisan Senate Fiscal Analysis for SB 401 can be found here: http://www.legislature.mi.gov/documents/2017-2018/billanalysis/Senate/pdf/2017-SFA-0401-F.pdf

To read Sen. Colbeck’s statement on the legislation and how it will benefit the entire state while maintaining obligations to current and retired employees, please click : "Legislation passed to drive retirement system liabilities down to zero".

LEGISLATION PROMOTING VETERAN EMPLOYMENT HEADS TO THE SENATE FLOOR

Important legislation that would fulfill a promise made to veterans 12 years ago was recently voted out of the Senate Elections and Government Reform Committee.

The legislation, Senate Bill 177, is sponsored by Senator Colbeck and is designed to ensure that the law requiring businesses that are veteran owned or have demonstrated a commitment to hiring veterans are given preference when bidding on work for state contracts and is operating like it is supposed to.

SB 177 is designed to rectify the state’s failure to honor a commitment to ensure that 5 percent of the state’s expenditures would go to service-disabled veteran organizations. The legislation would replace a cap on veteran incentives for service-disabled, veteran-owned businesses with a minimum threshold that is extended to veteran-owned businesses and the number of veterans employed.

In speaking to the legislation, Sen. Colbeck said that “One of the many sacrifices made by our veterans and their families when they serve us is that their private sector career may be stunted. While our veterans were defending our freedom, they were often not able to advance up the corporate ladder or sometimes simply take advantage of job opportunities when they occurred. The best way to mitigate the risk of homeless veterans is to ensure that they have access to jobs, and improved law under SB 177 will clearly demonstrate that veteran employment is a priority for the state of Michigan.”

In addition to the senator, Greg Stachura with the Veteran Owned Business Roundtable also testified in support of the bill. The roundtable played a prominent role in the expansion of the number of veterans who could qualify under the legislation. Stachura discussed how the promise made to veterans 12 years ago in the original 2005 legislation was frequently overlooked by some state departments.

MICHIGAN SAYS NO TO FEMALE GENITAL MUTILATION

In our previous newsletter we detailed the horrible tragedy experienced in Michigan with the news of young girls being subjected to horrific medical practices within our state. Sadly, the Detroit News is now reporting that the number may be as high as 100 over the past several years.

We wanted to update you that legislation is getting closer to the Governor’s desk, including Sen. Colbeck’s own SB 410, which will ensure that any person who performs such procedures in the future would permanently lose their medical license.

Sen. Colbeck is committed to ensuring that Michigan does all it can to make sure this never again happens in Michigan and issued a press release when the bill was voted out of committee.

“Any doctor who performs this procedure is not a doctor in my mind,” Sen. Colbeck said.  “They’re a butcher, and not fit to be called a physician. We’re going to add many more penalties, but we need to make sure no one ever sees them as a patient again.”

If you would like to read the full press release on the legislation you can access it by clicking HERE.

“FIREWORKS FREE” STATE PARKS

We recently mentioned that June is national PTSD month. PTSD is a mental health problem that can occur after someone has been exposed to a single traumatic event or multiple traumatic events, such as sexual or physical assault, natural or man-made disaster, and war-related combat stress. For many of our veterans, fireworks can be a trigger for them. For that reason, the state is creating areas in certain state parks where the holiday can be enjoyed at less risk:

Fireworks Free Fourth

The DNR and the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency have collaborated to offer Fireworks-Free Fourth of July alternative camping options for veterans and other visitors, including pet owners, on July 1-4, 2017. These selected campgrounds are located farther away from traditional community firework displays.

The DNR cannot guarantee that fireworks will not be set off near the state parks. Aerial fireworks such as Roman candles and bottle rockets are not allowed in Michigan state parks at any time, but small, low-impact fireworks such as fountain fireworks, sparklers and ground spinners are allowed.

To check camping availability and make a reservation, visit www.midnrreservations.com or call 1-800-44PARKS (1-800-447-2757).

Click here for a list of parks that will host Fireworks-Free* Fourth of July, July 1-4. 

Senator Colbeck has also introduced SB 351 so that local communities can once again better control how fireworks are used in their neighborhoods. You can find out more about the legislation by reading the article in our most recent legislative update mailer, which can be found either by clicking HERE or on the picture below.

Publications

PROTECTING OUR ENVIRONMENT

Our office has received several inquiries regarding what decision Canada might make regarding their potential placement of nuclear waste near Lake Huron. Despite continual opposition by Sen. Colbeck and others that have made placement near the Great Lakes unlikely, a utility has begun pushing again to place nuclear waste on the Canadian side near Lake Huron.

Ontario Power Generation recently informed the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency that its favored site to deposit nuclear waste is in the Bruce Power Complex near Kincardine, Ontario. Their site assessment rational and criteria can be found in the following 145-page document.

A final decision has yet to be made, and Sen. Colbeck will work with members of Congress to aggressively advocate for a different location.

The office has also received inquiries regarding Arbor Hills Landfill and the Ford vinyl chloride spill in Livonia. Sen. Colbeck continues to be involved with making sure that necessary changes are being made at both locations. Regarding the vinyl chloride spill in particular, the Senator recently met with the DEQ to review progress and to ensure that new monitoring wells were recently installed. Ford is posting its updates on its mitigation work and has made a publicly available webpage on the matter that can be found HERE.

“CHOOSE LIFE” LICENSE PLATE LEGISLATION SENT TO GOVERNOR

The Governor officially received Senate Bill 163 on Monday. If signed into law, the legislation would see Michigan join more than half of the other states in the country that already allow their drivers to purchase a “Choose Life” fundraising license plate.

No tax dollars would go into the fund created for the plate, with charitable proceeds going to support a variety of life-preserving programming.

“People who choose to purchase a ‘Choose Life’ license plate will be able to show their love for helping others in a variety of ways when the plate becomes available,” said Sen. Colbeck. “This bill is not about the political debate surrounding abortion, but like our other fundraising license plates, is a simple way to show support for worthy charitable causes. Money will be used for things like providing prenatal care, helping to prevent suicides, and providing for adoption assistance. This is about demonstrating love and supporting our fellow neighbors.”

Once signed into law, the legislation would go into effect at the end of March 2018. Per statute, the license plates would be newly available to purchase after their design was developed by the Secretary of State, which would be completed no later than June 1, 2018.

DEFENDING FIRST AMENDMENT RIGHTS

While in Lansing on session days, Sen. Colbeck participates in many other meetings and events that go beyond his official duties of voting on the Senate floor. The Senator took part in raising awareness for 1st Amendment issues and his related legislation last week that you may not have read about in the area newspapers.

Sen. Colbeck discussed his recently introduced campus free speech bills as part of his role on a panel discussion regarding free speech issues. The Senator said that government should be taking steps to ensure free speech is not infringed, but pointed to recent examples where government was instead complicit or outright engaged in blocking free speech.
Other panel members for the forum included Jim Manley of the Goldwater Institute, Stanley Kurtz, senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, and Deion Kathawa with the Detroit News.

Sen. Colbeck said many campuses are relegating the ability to voice opinions only at limited, so-called “free speech zones,” or have created so-called “safe zones” where certain groups are free to discuss certain topics but those of other opinions are not allowed. Sen. Colbeck said his legislation, SB 349 and SB 350, was urgently needed because most universities were doing little, if anything, to rectify the problem. For those that did get involved, their policies were more akin to “freedom from speech” instead of “freedom of speech.”

Another unfortunate example of government’s infringement on the 1st Amendment is being perpetrated by the City of East Lansing. The city has prohibited a long term vendor (READ HERE) at their farmers market from attending simply because of religious views they had posted on Facebook. Could a city also bar people from strong views on abortion, the 2nd Amendment, or other issues?

The Senator has discussed the need to introduce legislation to protect people like the Steve and Bridget Tennes family from local government ordinances that go too far in attempting to regulate people’s behaviors that occur outside their city limits. The Senator recently spoke against the policy in Lansing, you can read the Senator’s editorial on the matter by clicking HERE.

SHAPING THE HEALTHCARE DEBATE IN D.C.

Senator Colbeck was invited to speak at two separate Health Care events in Washington, D.C. last week. At the first event hosted by the Heritage Foundation, he spoke on the history of Certificate of Need legislation in Michigan and the prospects for reform. Michigan has implemented Certificate of Need laws since 1972 that restrict the number of hospital beds, number of MRI machines, and the capacity to provide other health care services. Opponents of this law such as the Senator assert that Certificate of Need is a significant factor in the ever-increasing price of health care.

At the second event hosted by the American Association of Family Physicians, the Senator provided a legislator’s perspective on Direct Primary Care Services (DPCS). His Direct Primary Care-based Medicaid Pilot recently passed as part of the FY18 MI State budget and is being viewed as model legislation by other states interested in providing Medicaid enrollees better care while saving taxpayers money.

FREE SMALL BUSINESS CONSULTATIONS AVAILABLE AT THE PLYMOUTH LIBRARY

The Plymouth Library is teaming up with the business mentoring organization “SCORE” this summer. Local entrepreneurs are invited to schedule a free business consultation in the coming months. These sessions will be conducted by area professionals who can give much needed, real-world advice and mentoring. One hour sessions will take place in the late afternoon and early evening on Wednesdays: June 28, July 19 and 26, August 9, 23, and 30, and on Thursdays: June 22 and 29, July 13, and 20, August 10, 17, 24, and 31. Times are filling up fast! To schedule an appointment, contact the library directly at 734-453-0750, ext 4 or go to plymouthlibrary.org or view their calendar by clicking HERE.

In other library news, the Liberty Middle School Library, West Media Center, and East Middle School Library were all recently recognized as part of the 21st Century School Library program by the Library of Michigan. East Middle School Library was selected as the Model 21st Century School Library of the year, and both the West Media Center and Liberty School Library received “exemplary” recognition. You can view the press release for the East Middle School Library at http://www.michigan.gov/SL21

LIVONIA SPREE 2017

Livonia Spree

Now in its 67th year! The Livonia Spree will once again offer a wide variety of activities: midway games, carnival rides, fireworks, and a petting farm. The Spree runs June 20-25 this year. Ford Field, located at the corner of Lyndon Street and Farmington Road will host the Spree. You can read more about the Spree by clicking HERE and HERE.

CANTON’S OWN OLYMPIC HERO VISITS SENATE FLOOR

Allison Schmitt

Sen. Patrick Colbeck, R-Canton, welcomed Olympic gold medal winner Allison Schmitt to the Michigan Capitol as a special floor guest during the June 7, 2017 session in honor of her many Olympic accomplishments.

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THE MICHIGAN STATE SENATE
7th DISTRICT

Michigan’s 7th Senate District
 

The 7th State Senate District proudly serves the following areas: Canton Township, city of Livonia, city or Northville & Northville Township, city of Plymouth & Plymouth Township, and the City of Wayne.

Senator Patrick Colbeck

201 Townsend St., Suite #3400
P.O. Box 30036
Lansing, MI 48909-7536

Phone: (517) 373-7350

Email: SenPColbeck@senate.michigan.gov
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Visit my website at: www.SenatorPatrickColbeck.com
 
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