O’Brien: Let’s end child marriage in Michigan

Senator Margaret O'Brien

Senator Margaret O’Brien

LANSING, Mich. — State Senator Margaret O’Brien said on Wednesday that she has requested legislation to prohibit children under the age of 16 from getting married.

O’Brien said the idea stems from a recent WOOD-TV story about a woman who was married at the age of 14 in west Michigan. The report highlighted Michigan law currently permits children younger than 16 to get married with parental consent and judicial approval.

“I was shocked to learn that Michigan law somehow permits the marriage of young girls and boys under the age of 16,” said O’Brien, R-Portage. “While we have made great progress to protect minors from sexual assault, from predators like Larry Nassar and from human traffickers, it is clear that more must be done to ensure the health and safety of our children.”

According to the news report, the latest state data from 2014 indicated there were 116 recorded marriages involving children under 16 in Michigan that year.

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“Great Water, Great Lands” bond would dedicate $2B for Michigan water infrastructure, clean-up

Senator Margaret O'Brien

Senator Margaret O’Brien

LANSING, Mich.—Legislation introduced in the state Senate on Wednesday would establish the Great Water, Great Lands bond, a $2 billion fund for water infrastructure, contaminant cleanup and lead abatement throughout the state, announced Senator Margaret O’Brien.

“It’s important to establish a long-term plan to clean contaminated sites and to protect our drinking water,” said Senator O’Brien, R-Portage. “We must ensure these funds are protected and are not diverted for other uses. Michigan citizens have supported previous bonds.”

Specifically, Senate Bill 1109 would create the bond and allow the state to borrow $2 billion. The bill also sets spending categories including financing infrastructure projects for drinking water systems, sewage systems, stormwater systems and drainage systems, and financing the cleanup of environmental contamination and the abatement of lead hazards.

According to Senator O’Brien, total proceeds of the bond would be allocated as follows:

  • $100 million to the state drinking water revolving fund;
  • $825 million into the Stormwater, Asset Management, and Wastewater Program;
  • $150 million to address drain infrastructure needs;
  • $900 million for the clean-up of environmental contamination, and
  • $25 million for the abatement of lead hazards.

Senator O’Brien said additional bills would be needed to determine where and how the bonded money would be allocated and if any new programs would be required once the bond passed.

To enact bonding legislation, a ballot question would need to be approved by voters in the next General Election in November 2020.

SB 1109 was referred to the Senate Government Operations Committee for consideration.

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Senate adopts O’Brien resolution honoring U.S. Senator John McCain

Senator Margaret O'Brien

Senator Margaret O’Brien

LANSING, Mich. — The State Senate on Wednesday adopted a resolution recognizing the life and achievements of U.S. Senator John McCain.

“America lost a national treasure with the passing of Senator John McCain,” said Senator Margaret O’Brien, R-Portage, who sponsored Senate Resolution 176. “Throughout his life and careers in the military and Congress, Senator McCain served with dignity — personifying the honor, courage and commitment that we should all strive to uphold. While he will be greatly missed, his legacy will endure as an example for us all to follow.”

The resolution may be read in its entirety online.

Video of Senator O’Brien’s remarks on the resolution are available here: https://youtu.be/iROno0a-c3c.

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Senator O’Brien To Present Check To Local Community Development Organization As Part Of National Night Out

LANSING, Mich. — State Senator Margaret O’Brien on Tuesday will present a check for $100,000 to the Northside Association for Community Development as part of National Night Out.

“The Northside Association for Community Development has served Kalamazoo for more than 30 years, and I am proud to deliver this check to support their efforts to make our community a better place to live, work and raise a family,” said O’Brien, R-Portage.

The Kalamazoo-based nonprofit advocates for a healthier environment, job creation, financial independence, safety and neighborhood revitalization. The funds will support the association’s work on entrepreneurship and economic development.

National Night Out is an annual event and celebration to foster better relationships among neighbors and law enforcement to help build better communities. Find more at https://natw.org/about.

The check presentation will take place at 6:30 p.m. during the Northside Association for Community Development’s National Night Out event, located at 612 N. Park St. in Kalamazoo.

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Senator O’Brien Monitoring PFAS Situation in Richland

Senator Margaret O'Brien

Senator Margaret O’Brien

LANSING, Mich.—State Senator Margaret O’Brien said on Thursday that her office is closely monitoring the developing PFAS (perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances) situation in Richland, and is in close contact with affected residents and state and local officials as the situation evolves.

“Protecting our environment and ensuring clean drinking water are of critical importance to me and the citizens of Richland,” said O’Brien, R-Portage. “I am committed to working with the residents and ensuring the contamination is removed.”

PFAS are compounds used in many consumer products that have been discovered in groundwater throughout the state and nation.

The state Department of Environmental Quality recently disclosed PFAS sampling results from a location known as the North 34th Street site in Richland. DEQ sampling identified three residential wells and one Type II public water supply exceeded the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Lifetime Health Advisory level of 70 parts per trillion. The affected locations have been supplied with bottled water, and filters will be distributed to anyone with wells found to have dangerous PFAS levels.

O’Brien and her staff are monitoring the issue closely and are concerned a 2012 report regarding PFAS was not released publicly. She and her staff are working with residents and encourage anyone with concerns or questions to contact her office via email at SenMOBrien@senate.michigan.gov, by phone toll-free at 855-347-8020 or at her Kalamazoo office located inside the Comerica Building at 151 S. Rose St., Suite 104.

O’Brien has supported efforts to better address PFAS issues throughout the state, including voting for a budget supplemental last year to dedicate $23.2 million toward PFAS response and mitigation efforts, laboratory and testing equipment, and water sampling. She also voted for the recently approved fiscal year 2019 state budget that included $4.75 million for public health departments to better deal with emerging health needs like PFAS.

“PFAS is a serious and emerging issue for our state and nation, and we need to continue to focus our efforts on furthering research and implementing a strategic response to additional contaminated sites,” O’Brien said.

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O’Brien Applauds Incentives For Projects In Kalamazoo And Portage

Senator Margaret O'Brien

Senator Margaret O’Brien

LANSING, Mich. — Senator Margaret O’Brien announced on Tuesday that the cities of Kalamazoo and Portage will see more than $10 million in development money thanks to recently approved state incentives.

“I am excited to see the continued investment of local job providers and these incentives from the state,” said O’Brien, R-Portage. “This money will yield benefits for all of us in these communities.”

In Kalamazoo, 400 Rose, LLC received a $4.4 million Michigan Community Revitalization Program performance-based loan participation for their plans to redevelop vacant land and a surface parking lot located at 400 S. Rose St. downtown.

The completed project, which is expected to generate a total capital investment of $25.5 million and create seven full-time equivalent jobs, will be a four-story, mixed-use infill development that will include residential units, commercial space and parking.

The project will bring much-needed residential space to the area and will reactivate a long-vacant, blighted property into an inviting and attractive community asset. In addition, the City of Kalamazoo Brownfield Redevelopment Authority received Michigan Strategic Fund approval of $3.6 million in local and school tax capture to alleviate brownfield conditions at the site.

Stryker Corporation plans to invest nearly $110 million and create 260 jobs by 2025 at its facility in Portage. As a result, Stryker has been awarded a $2.6 million Michigan Business Development Program performance-based grant.

Michigan was selected over competing sites in other locations, and the city of Portage has offered a 50-percent property tax abatement in support of the project.

“These projects will create good-paying jobs and increase their investment into our community,” O’Brien said. “Thank you to Stryker and Rose LLC for your continued support of Kalamazoo County.”