Legislation to protect veterans who use service dogs signed into law

LANSING, Mich. — State Senator Margaret O’Brien joined Governor Rick Snyder on Tuesday for a ceremonial bill signing of legislation to protect Michigan military veterans who use service dogs to better manage the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injuries.

“It was an honor to work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to bring awareness to the importance of service animals for veterans who struggle with post-traumatic stress disorder or traumatic brain injuries after returning home,” said O’Brien, R-Portage. “This bill package provides greater standardization across the state and will allow more veterans to use service animals in public places with additional protections.”

Senate Bill 299, now Public Act 145 of 2015, sponsored by O’Brien, exempts licensing fees for veterans’ service dogs. SB 298, now PA 144, sponsored by Senator David Knezek, D-Dearborn Heights, expands existing state law to allow for the use of service dogs in Michigan and also establishes penalties for those who may harass or injure a service dog.

House Bill 4521, now PA 146, sponsored by Representative Tom Barrett, R-Potterville, requires the Department of Civil Rights to create an identification card and tag for service animals. HB 4527, now PA 147, sponsored by Representative David Rutledge, D-Superior Township, expands the range of disabilities eligible for the use of service dogs and establishes criminal penalties of up to 90 days in jail for falsely claiming to have a disability that would enable a person to use a service dog.

All four bills take effect immediately.

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