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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Senators Mike Nofs and Margaret O’Brien deliver memorial statements for Rebecca Rocho

LANSING, Mich. — State Sens. Mike Nofs and Margaret O’Brien delivered memorial statements on the sudden death of Rebecca Rocho, the assistant superintendent for legislation and education policy with the Calhoun Intermediate School District.

“Becky Rocho, a 41-year veteran of the Calhoun ISD and statewide expert on education management and the Revised School Code, was a friend and constituent of mine who passed away suddenly and unexpectedly,” said Nofs, R-Battle Creek. “She was an invaluable resource to a lot of policymakers around Lansing and was a staunch supporter of education and children. Becky’s passing is a tremendous loss to the education community and the entire education system of the state of Michigan.”

“During her years in education, Becky Rocho was well-known as an advocate, cheerleader and champion of students,” said O’Brien, R-Portage. “Since Tuesday, there has been an outpouring of emotions from those who knew her and worked with her. While she was not my constituent, I worked with Becky on education issues for my entire legislative career to date. Calhoun County has lost an education giant. To her family, we express our deepest sympathies and they remain in our prayers.”