O’Brien Reacts To MSU Settlement With Nassar Survivors

Senator Margaret O'Brien

Senator Margaret O’Brien

LANSING, Mich. — State Senator Margaret O’Brien reacted Wednesday to news that a settlement has been reached between Michigan State University and survivors of Larry Nassar’s crimes.

“I appreciate that Michigan State University recognized the importance of settling with the survivors,” said O’Brien, R-Portage. “While no amount of money will ever compensate for the betrayal, violation, hurt and mental anguish Larry Nassar inflicted on this group of women, it is my hope that this painful chapter can be closed.

“This settlement does not lessen the need for changes in our laws, and Michigan can and must do better to protect our children. These survivors have shown strength and grace while turning this horrendous tragedy into action that will help overcome the past and protect future generations. I thank the many women who have fought to improve our laws in that effort that started with Rachael DenHollander and Sterling Riethman on December 5, 2017. Our state owes them and the many other courageous women a debt of gratitude.”

In March, the Michigan Senate approved legislation that would combat sexual assault and allow survivors to receive important protections in the state of Michigan.

Senate Bills 871-880 would expand numerous existing laws and also create new protections in statute. The bills would update current law to allow prosecutors to bring charges of second-degree criminal sexual conduct (CSC) against a minor at any time after the act occurs, while also allowing charges of third-degree CSC against a minor up to the survivor’s 48th birthday, or within 30 years of the accused being identified by DNA evidence.

The bills would also allow victims of childhood sexual abuse to remain publicly anonymous when bringing a claim in the Michigan Court of Claims.

Additionally, the legislation would expand mandated reporting requirements to include sports coaches, athletic trainers and college professors. If an employee fails to report such crimes, they could face a felony of up to two years imprisonment, up to a $5,000 fine, or both. A volunteer would face a misdemeanor of up to one year in jail, or a $1,000 fine, or both.

The legislation is under consideration in the House of Representatives.

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O’Brien: Address Confidentiality Program for Assault Survivors Passes Senate

Senator Margaret O'Brien

Senator Margaret O’Brien

LANSING, Mich. — Victims of domestic violence and sexual assault would be able to hide their physical address from offenders under legislation approved by the state Senate on Tuesday.

“The address confidentiality program would restore peace of mind to survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault by helping to keep them safe,” said Senator Margaret O’Brien, R-Portage, who sponsored two of the package’s seven bills. “Protecting crime survivors is not a partisan issue. These bills can proactively protect survivors and give their lives back to them.”

The program would enable victims of domestic abuse, sexual assault, stalking or human trafficking to obtain a confidential address for official documents and mail correspondence to help protect them from their past offenders.

“This program would be a preventative tool, as much as it will be a safeguard for those who have been harmed,” said Senator Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge. “This could prevent individuals from becoming victims by allowing them to apply to be program participants if they feel disclosing their address puts them at greater danger of harm.”

The program would also afford children the same address confidentiality if they are at risk of being threatened or physically harmed, or if they or their parents or guardians are victims of domestic violence, stalking, human trafficking, rape or sexual battery. A school would not be allowed to disclose the address of a pupil or a pupil’s parents or guardians if they are program participants.

A program participant’s location would also be made confidential in the state’s Qualified Voter File system and participants would be able to vote absentee instead of going to a polling location, which might reveal their physical address. They would also be exempt from jury duty.

Michigan would join 38 states with similar laws if the plan is enacted.

Senate Bills 655-658 and 954-956 now go to the state House of Representatives for consideration.

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Senator O’Brien Receives Peter Pettalia Memorial Sunshine Award

LANSING, Mich. — State Senator Margaret O’Brien was awarded a 2018 Peter Pettalia Memorial Sunshine Award by the Michigan Press Association (MPA) on Thursday during the association’s annual convention.

The award is named in honor of the former state representative who tragically died in 2016.

“Peter Pettalia was more than a colleague; he was a dear friend,” said O’Brien, R-Portage. “Pete and I shared many things in common, and ensuring that government is open and transparent was important to us. To be recognized with an award in his name for those efforts is an honor. I cherish this award.”

Senator O’Brien was recognized for her strong support of open government, transparency and journalism. She credited investigative journalists for bringing Larry Nassar’s crimes to the public.

O’Brien was one of three legislators to be recognized. In a press release announcing the winners, the MPA said the actions of the three award recipients directly support MPA’s mission of defending free speech, promoting a strong press and fostering an informed citizenry.

The MPA heralded Rep. Pettalia for his advocacy of newspapers and open government. The MPA noted he was one of the first recipients of the award and that this year’s recipients honor those traditions.

“Open government is always good government, and these leaders are examples of doing the people’s business in the open and knowing the value of keeping the public informed,” said MPA President Brad Thompson in the news release.

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Photo caption: State Senator Margaret O’Brien was awarded a 2018 Peter Pettalia Memorial Sunshine Award by the Michigan Press Association on Thursday during the association’s annual convention. Pictured are, from left, MPA Executive Director James Tarrant, O’Brien, and Three Rivers Commercial News Publisher/Editor Dirk Milliman.

O’Brien Receives Legislative Award from Michigan Professional Fire Fighters Union

LANSING, Mich. — State Sen. Margaret O’Brien was honored with a Legislative Award by the Michigan Professional Fire Fighters Union on Wednesday during its 53rd Biennial Convention in Bay City.

Senator O’Brien was recognized for her work last year to protect the promised retirement benefits of retired and active firefighters.

“It is an honor to be recognized by the Michigan Professional Fire Fighters Union for my Legislative work,” said O’Brien, R-Portage. “Firefighters are the embodiment of service and sacrifice, volunteering to place themselves in harm’s way to protect our communities. I look forward to partnering with them and am committed to supporting their mission to keep us all safe.”

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O’Brien Comments on Senate’s Fiscal Year 2019 Budget

Senator Margaret O'Brien

Senator Margaret O’Brien

LANSING, Mich. — State Senator Margaret O’Brien, R-Portage, released the following statement after the Senate approved its fiscal year 2019 budget on Thursday:

“This budget is a ‘win’ for taxpayers that not only makes important investments but also saves more than $230 million. We continue to prioritize our children’s education, and this is the largest investment made in K-12 education funding in state history at $14.7 billion.

“Additionally, since 2017 we have put $2.1 billion into our roads. There is still more to do there, but we have made significant progress toward making our roads better and are committed to improving our state’s infrastructure.

“We have also made an effort to address mental health, especially in our schools. I am proud that we have secured $500,000 more to expand the OK2SAY program throughout the state. This is a great tool for students to anonymously submit tips about safety issues. Finally, we have approved a pilot program to place mental health professionals in schools, because it is important that we are addressing the issues our children face before it turns to violence.”

Audio remarks from Senator O’Brien will be available at http://www.senatormargaretobrien.com/audio.

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Senate’s address confidentiality program for assault victims advances

LANSING, Mich. — The Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday approved legislation introduced last fall to help victims of domestic violence and sexual assault to hide their physical address from offenders, said Sens. Margaret O’Brien and Rick Jones.

The address confidentiality program would enable victims of domestic abuse, sexual assault, stalking or human trafficking to obtain a confidential address for official documents and mail correspondence to protect themselves from their past offenders.

“This legislation will save lives by adding a layer of protection for survivors of these horrific crimes,” said O’Brien, R-Portage, who sponsored two bills in the seven-bill plan. “It only makes sense that Michigan join with 37 other states in empowering survivors with the ability to conceal their addresses from their offenders as they seek to heal from the pain and anxiety of the past.”

A program participant’s unique identifier would also be used in the state’s Qualified Voter File system, so participants would be able to vote absentee instead of going to a polling location, which might reveal their physical address. They would also be exempt from jury duty.

The program would also afford children the same address confidentiality if they are at risk of being threatened or physically harmed or if they or their parents or guardians are victims of domestic violence, stalking, human trafficking, rape or sexual battery. A school would not be allowed to disclose the address of a pupil or a pupil’s parents or guardians if they are program participants.

“Creating the address confidentiality program will help protect those at risk of being found by an assailant,” said Jones, R-Grand Ledge. “With this program we are helping those who have survived domestic and sexual violence, stalking, and human trafficking, and those who are afraid of being harmed by someone, to go about their ordinary day knowing that where they live is hidden.”

Senate Bills 655-658 and 954-956 now advance to the full Senate for consideration.

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Senator Margaret O’Brien Receives Caring Across Generations’ Care Champion Award

LANSING, Mich. — State Senator Margaret O’Brien received the Caring Across Generations’ Care Champion Award on Thursday for her advocacy and legislative work in support of seniors and the elderly. State Representative Jon Hoadley, D-Kalamazoo, also received an award.

Caring Across Generations is a nonprofit organization focused on issues of long-term care for seniors and people with disabilities. It honors legislators from across the country for being strong advocates and champions of care.

The awards presentation was part of the group’s Long-Term Care Study Bill Lobby Day at the Capitol.

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Photo caption: Senator Margaret O’Brien, R-Portage, (second from left) and state Representative Jon Hoadley, D-Kalamazoo, (second from right) pose for a photo with representatives from Caring Across Generations. The legislators were given the organization’s Care Champion Award for advocacy and legislative work in support of seniors.

Senator Margaret O’Brien Given Child Abuse and Neglect Council’s 2018 Child Advocacy Award

 

LANSING, Mich. — State Senator Margaret O’Brien was recognized on Friday, April 13 by Kalamazoo’s Child Abuse and Neglect Council for her work over the past eight years to protect children.

“It is an honor to have been recognized by this prestigious organization,” said O’Brien, R-Portage. “The event was especially meaningful as I previously served on the council’s board when I was a social worker. I value the work of our local staff, board members and volunteers.”

Other award recipients included Dr. Sarah Brown, Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety Detective Kristin Cole, Western Michigan University Deputy Police Chief Carol Dedow and Western Michigan University’s Omega Delta Phi Colony.

“Together,” O’Brien said, “we can protect children.”

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Photo caption 1: Senator Margaret O’Brien, R-Kalamazoo, (right) receives the Child Abuse and Neglect Council’s 2018 Child Advocacy Award from a representative of the council on Friday, April 13 in Kalamazoo.

Photo caption 2: Senator Margaret O’Brien, R-Kalamazoo, (front row, third from right) poses with representatives from the Child Abuse and Neglect Council and fellow Child Advocacy Award recipients on Friday, April 13 in Kalamazoo.

Senate Passes Sexual Assault Legislation

LANSING, Mich. — The Michigan Senate on Wednesday approved legislation that would combat sexual assault and allow survivors to receive important protections in the state of Michigan.

“Our laws must protect those who are most vulnerable, our children” said Sen. Margaret O’Brien, R-Portage. “This legislation should put fear in to the heart of any possible pedophile. Justice will be served.”

Senate Bills 871-880 would expand numerous existing laws and also create new protections in statute. The bills would update current law to allow prosecutors to bring charges of second-degree criminal sexual conduct (CSC) against a minor at any time after the act occurs, while also allowing charges of third-degree CSC against a minor up to the survivor’s 48th birthday, or within 30 years of the accused being identified by DNA evidence.

The bills would also allow victims of childhood sexual abuse to remain publicly anonymous when bringing a claim in the Michigan Court of Claims.

“We must do everything in our power to ensure Michigan’s children are protected,” Sen. O’Brien said. “This legislation ensures we have the necessary legal tools to strike back against those who would threaten our children. I thank the sister survivors who came forward to fight for justice.”

The bills also expanded mandated reporting requirements to include sports coaches, athletic trainers and college professors. If an employee fails to report such crimes, they could face a felony of up to two years imprisonment, up to a $5,000 fine, or both. A volunteer would face a misdemeanor of up to one year in jail, or a $1,000 fine, or both.

The legislation now heads to the House for further consideration.

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Photo caption: Senator Margaret O’Brien, R-Portage, speaks in support of the Protecting Michigan’s Children legislation at the Michigan Senate.

Sen. O’Brien Praises Passage Of Critical Supplemental Funding Bill

Senator Margaret O'Brien

Senator Margaret O’Brien

LANSING, Mich. — State Senator Margaret O’Brien, R-Portage, praised the passage of a supplemental appropriations bill on Thursday that could help provide much-needed funding for flooding recovery in Kalamazoo.

“Kalamazoo, along with many other Michigan communities, has been hit hard by recent flooding,” Sen. O’Brien said. “Roads and houses in low-lying areas have been significantly impacted with high water, and people have been displaced from their homes.”

House Bill 4321 would deliver critical additional funding in the amount of $2 million to the Disaster and Emergency Contingency Fund. These funds could help communities dealing with recent flooding begin to recover. In addition to the funding for the Disaster and Emergency Contingency Fund, $175 million in increased funding for roads was included in the legislation.

“In Kalamazoo, we are just beginning to assess the damage, but I can tell you it will be significant,” Sen. O’Brien said. “As Kalamazoo begins to recover from the receding flood waters, this funding increase could not have been authorized at a better time.”

HB 4321 now heads to the House for further consideration.

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