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Reforms introduced to modernize, secure state’s elections

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Sweeping reforms to improve voting access in Michigan, ensure election integrity and restore trust in the outcome of a system vital to democracy in the state were recently introduced in the Senate. The 39-bill election reform package would make improvements in five areas ­— making it easier to vote, protecting the vote, election day operations, increased transparency, and absentee voting.

I proudly sponsored four bills in the plan.

Senate Bill 286 would require all absentee ballots cast on Election Day to be turned in to clerks directly so as not to delay the collection from numerous boxes after 8 p.m. on election night and the hours of processing and delivery to tabulators that ensues.

SB 296 would expand the size of boards of canvassers in counties with larger populations. The board in counties with a population over 200,000 would be expanded to six members, while boards in counties with a population over 750,000 would expand to eight members.

SB 297 would always require that at least one canvasser from each political party be present during the canvass and require that anyone hired by a political party to assist canvassing to first be approved by the board of canvassers.

SB 298 would expand the timeframe canvassers have to certify election results from 14 days to 21 days.

A healthy and vibrant republic requires free, fair, and honest elections. In order for an election to be fair, it should be simple for every registered voter to cast a ballot, the process must be honest, and the result must be true. Every Michiganian, regardless of political ideology, must be able to trust the execution and result of every election, every time, and the reforms we have introduced will help us accomplish that.

Transparency bills shine light on need for reform

Legislation I co-sponsored that would increase transparency in state government was recently approved by the Oversight Committee.

Senate Bills 232-241 would add the offices of governor and lieutenant governor to the Michigan Freedom of Information Act, as well as create the Legislative Open Records Act (LORA). LORA would allow residents to request legislative records from the House and Senate but would only apply to records created after Jan. 1, 2022. The legislation also would provide for certain exemptions — mostly limited to personal information — including:

o All constituent communications.
o Personal records that would result in an unwarranted invasion of privacy, including Human Resources files and internet use records.
o Advisory communications preliminary to a final policy determination or action.
o Communications with Michigan Legislative Service Bureau bill drafters.
o Records exclusively maintained by the majority or minority caucuses

The Center for Public Integrity ranked Michigan dead last in government accountability and integrity in their 2015 report. The state failed 10 out of 13 possible categories, including “public access to information, executive accountability, lobbying disclosure, and political financing.” Michigan is also one of two states that don’t subject their legislatures, governor’s office, or both to FOIA.

A functional republic needs citizens to have confidence in their government. In these times, when so much of that confidence is eroded by lack of transparency in government, real corruption, and those spreading malicious conspiracies, we should make every effort to build back trust by shining a bright light of accountability on even the mundane work of our elected leaders.

U.P. lawmakers react to state’s latest attack on Line 5

My fellow Upper Peninsula lawmakers and I recently commented on state officials’ latest attack on Line 5 with their so-called MI Propane Security Plan:

Environmentalists within state bureaucracy continued the campaign of misinformation against Line 5 — a vital source of energy and jobs to the U.P. and the state of Michigan. More astounding than the misrepresentation that is this so-called security plan, is the state’s demonstrable ignorance about Line 5 and all that it supports.

Of particular importance to the U.P., this plan will cost taxpayers significantly, while limiting the free market and competition and, at the same time, ignoring a $500 million viable solution currently on the table that would address problems and be completely paid for by the pipeline operator. The rehashed plan seems to contain all previously discussed ideas that have been shown not to work besides the call for price gouging checks. Further, nothing in this plan truly assures our small, family-owned propane businesses that they will be able to continue to operate and won’t be usurped through state control.

Lastly, the plan also leaves completely unclear whether Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is going to accept the popular Line 5 tunnel. At a time when truth and honesty are in short supply, she continues to play coy with the people of Michigan. So, in addition to strongly denouncing this MI Propane Security Plan, we also call on the governor to stake out her position on the Line 5 tunnel, because we can’t have it both ways.

To follow this issue more closely, be sure to keep an eye on the Senate Energy and Technology Committee:

Senate urges new wolf hunt for 2021

The Senate earlier in March adopted resolutions I sponsored urging the state to authorize wolf hunting and trapping this year.

Allowing a managed wolf hunt is good science and good economics. It would be a viable means of ensuring stable wolf population numbers, allowing the population to be kept at levels that ensure its overall survival. Not only that, doing so would also limit increasing wolf-human conflicts and impacts on other wildlife, such as the deer herd.

Click the following links for Senate Concurrent Resolution 7 and Senate Resolution 15 to read them in full.

U.P. law enforcement join me to support security transport officer legislation

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My bill to enable communities to establish an alternative way of transporting individuals with severe mental illness for involuntary hospitalization was recently considered by a Senate

Senate Bill 101 would enable communities to transport severely mentally ill individuals through the use of security transport officers instead of the police.

The measure would allow a county to create a panel consisting of a member of law enforcement, the county administrator, a judge and a mental health professional that could ultimately recommend the use of a private company that the county board of commissioners could contract with to transport such individuals. The panels would be required to ensure that the selected companies meet certain professional and community standards.

Under the bill, the contracted security transport officers may only transport an individual to or from a hospital, a mental health screening unit, or other mental health treatment center pursuant to a court order and would not be permitted to arrest or take an individual into protective custody.

I was honored to have been joined at the committee by Delta County Sheriff Edward Oswald and Escanaba Chief of Police Rob LaMarche, who both testified remotely.

“I am grateful to have this legislation introduced and see movement on this issue as it has been an outstanding problem for us for many years,” said LaMarche. “There are many logistical issues that we have to work through when we transport an individual, and I feel strongly that a private security company could provide suitable and safe services.”

Oswald added: “It is certainly possible to provide the standards of care that would need to be implemented by a private transporter so that these individuals will not have to travel 450 miles, in some cases, in the back of a police car. I am confident that they would have a more comfortable trip and the attention they deserve.”

Michigan Department of Education to hold education workforce job fairs

In the coming months, the Michigan Department of Education will be hosting virtual education workforce job fairs. The virtual job fairs are open to individuals seeking to work in the education field and to employers of educators and educational support staff.

The education workforce job fairs will take place on June 16 and Aug. 4.

To register, and for more information, job seekers and employers should visit:

Free veteran presentations available for all schools

The Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency is now offering free presentations to all schools, public and private, about the lives and service of Michigan’s 550,000 veterans. The school presentations, which can be tailored to the grade level of any K-12 classroom, will introduce students to the vital role veterans play in serving and safeguarding our nation and their transition back home to Michigan.

Presentations are available to schools in-person or virtually. The length of presentations will vary based on grade level and can accommodate 20 to 300 students per assembly. Visit for additional information or to request a presentation.

Permits available for fuelwood

As of March 1, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources is offering free permits to cut fuelwood from dead and downed trees in approved areas of Michigan’s state forests. To download a free fuelwood permit or for fuelwood maps, please visit Forms can be completed online and printed immediately.

Senate introduces education recovery plan

Senate Republicans recently introduced a comprehensive plan to begin helping the state’s K-12 education system recover from a year of academic losses brought on by COVID-19.

The plan provides tools and resources to help parents, teachers and administrators get students back on track and implements changes to improve the state’s educational system.

To help students recover academically, the plan requires school districts to offer individual academic assessment and recovery plans by May 15. Schools would leverage existing benchmark assessment data and compare students’ current year academic performance against where they are expected to be. Individual plans would then be developed to help students get back to where they need to be — teachers would be asked to develop learning recovery plans for students in every subject for parental review no later than Aug. 14.

To help teachers and administrators, the plan makes significant changes to the evaluation process, recognizing the incredible challenge every Michigan educator has had to take on this academic year. Tracking student growth would be simplified for this year and it would not count as much toward a teacher’s or administrator’s overall performance rating.

Additionally, districts would have greater flexibility in hiring substitute teachers to help ensure more students receive in-person instruction in classrooms more often from now until the end of the summer.

The legislation also would provide parents the express authority to retain a child to retake this year’s grade next year. The plan would require certain benchmark data to be made public to help improve transparency and accountability and improve academic performance.

The 11-bill Senate Republican plan was referred to the Senate Education and Career Readiness Committee for consideration.

State awards $3.6 million for invasive species prevention and management projects

The state of Michigan announced a total of $3.6 million in grants for 29 projects to combat invasive species to be awarded through the Michigan Invasive Species Grant Program.

The program — which was initiated by the state Legislature in 2014 and is implemented by the Michigan departments of Agriculture and Rural Development; Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy; and Natural Resources — addresses prevention, detection, eradication and control of aquatic (water-based) and terrestrial (land-based) invasive species in Michigan through four key objectives:

• Preventing the introduction of new invasive species.
• Strengthening the statewide invasive species early detection and response network.
• Limiting the spread of recently confirmed invasive species.
• Managing and controlling widespread, established invasive species.

To date, more than $25 million has been awarded to support 173 projects by units of government, nonprofits and institutions. Because of Michigan’s Invasive Species Grant Program:

• More than 494,000 acres of land and water have been surveyed for invasive species.
• More than 38,500 acres have been treated for invasive terrestrial and aquatic plants.
• 206,000 people have been provided with information about invasive species through direct contact, including face-to-face interactions at boat washes, workshops, trainings and other events.
• An additional 23,221,000 people were reached through grantees’ indirect outreach efforts, including mail, newspapers, social media and handouts.

The full list of grant recipients, project descriptions and award amounts is available on the Michigan Invasive Species Grant Program website at

Meet Up and Eat Up program offers flexible options for sponsors

Meet Up and Eat Up, also known as the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP), is a federally funded, state-administered program serving free healthy meals and snacks to children and teens in low-income areas. In Michigan, the Michigan Department of Education works with local program sponsors to provide healthy food throughout the summer months.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is extending several waivers to allow children to continue to receive nutritious meals this summer when schools are out of session. Waivers, available through Sept. 30, will provide local program operators with clarity and certainty for the summer months, when many children cannot access the school meals they depend on during the academic year.

The waivers allow for safe meal distribution sites that serve all children for free, regardless of income. In addition, the waivers:

• Allow meals served through the Summer Food Service Program and Seamless Summer Option (SSO) — collectively known as “summer meal programs” — to be made available in all areas at no cost;
• Allow meals to be served outside of the normally required group settings and meal times; and
• Allow parents and guardians to pick up meals for their children, including bulk pickup to cover multiple days of feeding children.

To find an SFSP site in your community, visit the Meet Up and Eat Up SFSP Site Locator Map at Information regarding mealtimes, days open and serving dates is updated regularly.

Michigan's 38th Senate District

The 38th State Senate District includes the counties of Alger, Baraga, Delta, Dickinson, Gogebic, Houghton, Iron, Keweenaw, Marquette, Menominee, Ontonagon, and Schoolcraft in Michigan’s beautiful Upper Peninsula.

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Thank you for subscribing to my electronic newsletter! I am honored to represent you in the state Senate. As always, please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions or concerns. Please feel free to forward this on to others who may be interested in receiving the 38th District E-news. You may sign up for it also at my website.

Senator Ed McBroom
7200 Connie B. Binsfeld Office Building
P.O. Box 30036
Lansing, MI 48909-7536

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