Senate votes to improve government efficiency by eliminating some reporting requirements

Senator Margaret O'Brien

Senator Margaret O’Brien

LANSING, Mich. — The Senate unanimously approved a 12-bill package to repeal 29 obsolete, burdensome or duplicative bureaucratic reporting requirements.

“More than 40,000 people work within state government and many hours and dollars are spent producing reports that are simply unnecessary,” said Senator Margaret O’Brien, R-Portage. “By eliminating these reports, we can help cut unneeded regulatory burdens, save tax dollars and make government more efficient and effective.”

O’Brien said much of the information contained in the to-be-repealed reports is already available online with no need to be compiled and sent as a public report for the governor or Legislature.

O’Brien sponsored Senate Bill 1008 in the plan. It would delete an unnecessary requirement of the state Department of Agriculture and Rural Development to report on a liming material analysis. The department has not done any analysis of liming materials in more than 15 years.

Senate Bill 1000 is the most comprehensive bill in the Senate package. It would repeal 16 reporting requirements in the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act.

A total of 41 reports would be repealed should the Senate bills and companion House bills all be enacted.

“Removing these reporting requirements will help ensure that state employees spend their time at work more constructively, to improve the delivery of public services,” O’Brien said.

SBs 1000-1011 now head to the House of Representatives for consideration. 

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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 https://www.senatormargaretobrien.com/audio.

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