Schmidt introduces legislation to address taskforce recommendations

Senator Wayne Schmidt

Senator Wayne Schmidt

LANSING, Mich. — State Sen. Wayne Schmidt recently introduced legislation that would codify some of the Michigan’s Unmanned Aircraft Systems Task Force’s recommendations into state statute.

The task force itself was created by legislation that received final approval from the governor earlier this year. The task force’s primary purpose was to develop a statewide policy regarding the operation and regulation of unmanned aircraft such as drones.

“The popularity of drones has surged in recent years,” said Schmidt, R-Traverse City. “As we’re seeing an increase in the use of drones, both commercial and recreational, it is important that we develop a consistent, statewide policy that ensures the safety of Michigan residents.”

The report made several recommendations, including the request for a state law prohibiting drones from interfering around facilities like prisons, bridges and other tourist areas. The report specifically cites Mackinac Island as an area that should be protected because instances of drones startling horses has created a valid safety concern.

Another example references three individuals using a drone to drop contraband over a mid-Michigan prison.

The task force does specifically note, however, that the Federal Aviation Administration has final authority when it comes to regulating airspace. Because of this, the report purposely avoids calling for a ban in those places, but rather a prohibition on drones interfering in those spaces.

“It is important to note that this is not an outright ban,” Schmidt said. “This legislation simply puts consistent guidelines in place and allows local governments to restrict the use of drones when public safety or an interruption in daily operations is at stake.”

Senate Bill 715 has been referred to the Senate Committee on Transportation.

###

Giving Michigan motorists a break

Senator Wayne Schmidt

Senator Wayne Schmidt

Since 2003, Michigan drivers have been subject to state fees that do nothing to improve their driving habits, but if left unpaid, could severely hinder their ability to get to work or lead normal lives.

Driver responsibility fees (DRFs) require Michigan drivers to pay a fee to have their driver’s license reinstated after accumulating a number of points on it or being cited for certain offenses.

The state imposes DRFs on motorists who accumulate seven or more points on their driving record within two years and who are convicted of driving while intoxicated or without a license. Depending on the offense, DRFs range from $100 to $1,000. If a person fails to pay his or her fees after the secretary of state mails two notices of the assessment, the person’s driving privileges are suspended.

This has resulted in many Michigan residents losing their driver’s license and often their job because they cannot afford to pay the fees. Several judges and lawmakers have vocally opposed the fees, saying they punish drivers twice for the same infraction and pile outrageous fees on top of fees already issued by the court. Additionally, the system has proven to be a failure since a large majority of the fees owed are never collected because low-income drivers simply can’t pay them.

The Senate recently approved legislation that would finally get rid of driver responsibility fees and provide relief to millions of drivers across the state.

Senate Bills 609-615 and 624-625 would eliminate DRFs as of Oct. 1, 2018 and forgive any outstanding DRFs older than six years on a rolling basis.

The primary purpose of this legislation is to allow people to get their driver’s licenses back immediately after the bill is signed into law. The bills would also allow drivers who cannot afford to pay the fees to get their license back by performing community service or a workforce training program.

The state of Michigan has roughly 317,000 people without driver’s licenses because of outstanding driver responsibility fees. These fees are an unfair hurdle that can drastically and unduly affect an individual’s ability to maintain a regular schedule.

I would like to see these bills approved and sent to the governor’s desk. Michigan drivers deserve better than this.

Sen. Wayne Schmidt, R-Traverse City, represents the 37th state Senate District, which includes Antrim, Charlevoix, Cheboygan, Chippewa, Emmet, Grand Traverse, Luce and Mackinac counties.

Sen. Schmidt to host December coffee hours

LANSING, Mich. — State Sen. Wayne Schmidt, R-Traverse City, will hold coffee hours with constituents throughout the 37th Senate District during the month of December.

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.

Schmidt’s December coffee hours are as follows:

Saturday, Dec. 9

10 – 11 a.m.

Clyde’s Diner

5324 W. M-80

Kincheloe

1 – 2 p.m.

Timber Charlie’s

110 Newberry Ave.

Newberry

4 – 5 p.m.

Bentley’s B-M-L Cafe

62 N. State St.

St. Ignace

 

Monday, Dec. 18

9 – 10 a.m.

Whirly’s Coffee and Cream

413 W. Main St.

Kingsley

11 a.m. – noon

Toonie’s Fish and Steak House

216 N. Bridge St.

Bellaire

1 – 2 p.m.

Charlevoix City Hall

210 State St.

Charlevoix

3 – 4 p.m.

The Inn Cafe, Inn at Bay Harbor

3600 Village Harbor Drive

Petoskey

5 – 6 p.m.

Audie’s Restaurant

314 S. Nicolet St.

Mackinaw City

###