Senator Margaret O’Brien Offers Support of Kalamazoo Vigil for Charleston Victims

LANSING, Mich. – State Senator Margaret O’Brien, R-Portage, issued the following statement on Wednesday in support of a vigil for the victims of last week’s shooting in Charleston, South Carolina that will be held this evening at the Allen Chapel AME Church in Kalamazoo:

“The victims and families of the tragic shooting in Charleston, South Carolina are my in thoughts and prayers,” said O’Brien. “These senseless acts of violence and hate are heartbreaking, and I stand with those in Kalamazoo tonight as we join together in support and remembrance of Charleston.”


O’Brien Joins Fight against Meth with New Legislation

Senator Margaret O'Brien

Senator Margaret O’Brien

LANSING, Mich. – Legislation introduced this week by state Senator Margaret O’Brien would make it a crime to solicit others to purchase pseudoephedrine for the purposes of manufacturing methamphetamine.

“It’s critical we continue the fight against methamphetamine,” said O’Brien, R-Portage. “Meth production is positive for no one and ruins lives and families. I applaud the bipartisan efforts to protect lives as meth production is a serious issue in my community.”

Senate Bill 409 would enhance the existing law that established a felony charge for the organized group purchasing of products containing pseudoephedrine to cook meth – a practice also known as smurfing. O’Brien’s bill would establish a new misdemeanor charge for anyone who attempts to solicit another’s help in acquiring pseudoephedrine products. SB 410, sponsored by Senator Tom Casperson, R-Escanaba, is a companion measure that would revise the sentencing guidelines.

The new misdemeanor offense would carry penalties of not more than one year in prison, or a fine of not more than $1,000 or both. Individuals convicted of this misdemeanor would also be blocked from purchasing any products containing pseudoephedrine without a valid physician’s prescription under the Methamphetamine Abuse Reporting Act.

Meth production and abuse is on the rise in Michigan, and O’Brien said by establishing a new misdemeanor charge, for example, first-time offenders would have a slightly easier time rehabilitating.

Identical versions of the two bills were introduced in the state House by Representative John Kivela.

“I appreciate the opportunity to work with Senator O’Brien on this important issue,” said Kivela, D-Marquette. “This is a serious health issue affecting all corners of the state.”

SBs 409-10 have been referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee for consideration.


Legislation to protect veterans with service dogs passes Senate

Senator Margaret O'Brien

Senator Margaret O’Brien

LANSING, Mich. — Legislation to protect Michigan military veterans who use service dogs to better manage the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injury (TBI) was approved Thursday by the Michigan Senate.

“These bills provide certainty for our military veterans and others who use service dogs to help cope with their injuries and better live their lives,” said Senator Margaret O’Brien, R-Portage, who chairs the Senate Veterans, Military Affairs and Homeland Security Committee. “Too many veterans suffer from invisible wounds. Veterans consider their service dogs an extension of themselves. Service dogs are integral to their lives, but too often they encounter problems because people do not know that the animals are service dogs. By adopting these measures, Michigan can ensure it is fighting for those who fought for us.”

Senate Bill 299, sponsored by O’Brien, would exempt licensing fees for veterans’ service dogs. SB 298, sponsored by Senator David Knezek, aims to expand existing state law to allow for the use of service dogs in Michigan and also would establish penalties for those who may harass or injure a service dog.

Companion measures introduced and passed by the state House of Representatives are currently before O’Brien’s committee for consideration.

House Bill 4521, sponsored by Representative Tom Barrett, would require the Department of Civil Rights to create an identification card, tag and vest for service animals. HB 4527, sponsored by Representative David Rutledge, would expand the range of disabilities eligible for the use of service dogs and would establish 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 measures are compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The Senate bills now go to the House for consideration.


Small Business Association of Michigan Names Senator Margaret O’Brien Legislator of the Year

LANSING, Mich. – State Senator Margaret O’Brien, R-Portage, was named the Small Business Association of Michigan (SBAM) 2015 Legislator of the Year on Thursday during the group’s Annual Meeting and Networking Luncheon in Lansing.

O’Brien was recognized for her support of issues affecting small businesses and was presented the award by SBAM President and CEO Rob Fowler.