Senate committees to hold joint hearing on Soo Locks at LSSU

LANSING, Mich. — The Senate Commerce, Transportation, and Economic Development and International Investment committees are set to hold a rare joint hearing on the campus of Lake Superior State University on Monday, Nov. 2.

The committees will meet to consider and take public testimony on Senate Resolution 105, which urges the federal government to upgrade the aging locks. 

Who:

State Sen. Wayne Schmidt, R-Traverse City, Commerce Committee chairman;
State Sen. Tom Casperson, R-Escanaba, Transportation Committee chairman;
State Sen. Ken Horn, R-Frankenmuth, Economic Development and International Investment Committee chairman;
Members of the committees;
John Loftus, executive director of the Wayne Port Authority;
Tom Rayburn, director of Environmental & Regulatory Affairs for Lakes Carriers Association;
Members of the public.

What:

A joint hearing of the Senate Commerce, Transportation, and Economic Development and International Investment committees. 

When:

Monday, Nov. 2 at 10:15 a.m.

Hearing Location:

The Cisler Center — Superior Room
Lake Superior State University
650 W. Easterday Ave.
Sault Ste. Marie, MI

 Streaming info:

The hearing will be live-streamed at UStream.tv/Channel/MISenate.

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Sen. Schmidt announces additional October coffee hours

Sen. Wayne Schmidt

Sen. Wayne Schmidt

LANSING, Mich. — State Sen. Wayne Schmidt announced he will hold additional coffee hours in the 37th District this month.

The senator will be available to answer questions and provide information and assistance, as well as take suggestions on issues affecting communities and businesses in the district. No appointment is necessary.

For more information or to contact Schmidt, please visit SenatorWayneSchmidt.com or call 517-373-2413.

Sen. Schmidt’s additional October coffee hours are as follows:

Monday, Oct. 26
1 – 2 p.m.
Grand Traverse Pie Co. (Across the street from the fire station)
525 W. Front St.
Traverse City

Friday, Oct. 30
2:30 – 3:30 p.m.
Cup of the Day
406 Ashmun St.
Sault Ste. Marie

4:30 – 5:30 p.m.
Big D’s Diner
7830 N. M-129
Pickford

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Building the future in northern Michigan

Sen. Wayne Schmidt

Sen. Wayne Schmidt

Northern Michigan is blessed with great educational institutions that provide our residents with the knowledge, skills and abilities to lead successful careers.

I had the great fortune of visiting one of the many located in the 37th Senate District in August – the Great Lakes Boat Building School (GLBBS) in the Les Cheneaux Islands off the coast of the eastern Upper Peninsula. The school operates out of a modern 12,000 square foot facility, designed, as the school notes, specifically for the teaching of woodworking, basic design, traditional and modern boat building, and yacht joinery. Indeed this is an excellent program with excellent people focused on continuing Michigan’s great maritime heritage.

GLBBS is world-renowned and the only one of its kind in Michigan, teaching students unparalleled wooden boat building and craftsmanship skills. I think it speaks volumes that graduates from the school have a 100 percent job placement rate.

The school is part of a career technical education renaissance in our state, offering those students for whom a traditional four year university is not the best option a great opportunity to learn a skill that can make for a great career.

Gov. Rick Snyder has made it an emphasis, and I fully agree, to make a concerted effort to expand Michigan’s career and technical education programs. Not only do they provide attendees with a great education, but they also promote economic growth throughout our region and state by producing workers with the necessary skills to fill an increasingly long list of job openings. I continue to hear from job providers that their businesses are doing great but what is limiting their growth is a lack of skilled workers. CTE programs are doing a great job of resolving this barrier to economic growth.

Another way to promote this growth is by focusing on K-12 science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education. Building that solid foundation at an early age not only better prepares them for future educational opportunities, but also can spark an interest in pursuing a highly skilled profession.

It’s great to know that northern Michigan has such a vibrant and successful CTE program like GLBBS working to prepare the next generation of Michiganders for the workforce.

For more information, visit www.glbbs.org.

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Senate passes Billy’s Law

LANSING, Mich. — The Senate on Thursday approved Billy’s Law to empower law enforcement to administer drug tests and obtain drug test results conducted on at-fault motorists in traffic accidents that lead to serious injury or death.

“This bill strikes an important balance between the need to preserve constitutional rights with our efforts to allow scientific evidence to be used in the investigation of the most serious traffic accidents,” said John Collins, former director of forensic science for the Michigan State Police, and cousin of the bill’s namesake, Billy Kochis.

Senate Bill 153 changes existing law to imply consent for at-fault drivers to allow a blood or urine test be given, and would also make urine test results subject to a search warrant in addition to blood tests.

“Billy’s Law closes a loophole that has delayed or denied justice from crime victims and their families,” said Sen. Wayne Schmidt, R-Traverse City, the bill sponsor.

Billy’s Law stems from a 2013 case when Traverse City residents Kochis and John Pomeroy died from injuries suffered in a traffic accident on U.S. 131 near Grand Rapids. The driver of the vehicle that struck the vehicle of Kochis and Pomeroy was suspected of driving under the influence, but because police officers were unable to perform a blood test without the driver’s consent and because a county magistrate failed to issue a search warrant, no blood test was conducted. However, a urinalysis performed later at a hospital indicated cocaine and opiates were in the driver’s system, but that information was impermissible in legal proceedings.

As such, prosecutors were unable to tie the drugs to the deadly accident. The accused was later sentenced after pleading guilty to misdemeanor charges and was released from jail after serving only nine months.

“While Billy’s Law may not be able to deliver justice for families who have already been affected by this loophole, enacting it can ensure future criminals receive punishments that fit their crimes and help keep drugged drivers off Michigan roads,” said Schmidt.

SB 153 now goes to the state House of Representatives for consideration.

For more information on Billy’s Law, visit facebook.com/billykochislaw.

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