Proposed constitutional amendment would empower citizens and rein in executive branch

Senator Patrick Colbeck

Senator Patrick Colbeck

LANSING, Mich. — State Sen. Patrick Colbeck, R-Canton, spoke on Thursday regarding the need for a new constitutional amendment designed to empower citizens and rein in an executive branch that often exceeds legislative intent with their regulations. The introduced measure is Senate Joint Resolution M.

“A properly functioning government is one that is accountable to the people and features a balance between three branches: the legislative, the executive, and the judicial,” Sen. Colbeck said. “But now we have an executive branch that continues to promote regulations that go well beyond expressed legislative intent. That needs to change considering the real world impacts these regulations have upon the people we serve.”

The push to rein in the powers of the executive branch has a renewed sense of urgency in light of proposals to reduce the influence of the legislative branch via a part-time legislature.

Michigan is one of only 12 states that have a full-time legislature. Sen. Colbeck is a strong and long-time supporter of a part-time legislature, but he has also indicated he wants to make sure that any power lost by the legislature goes to the people and not to the executive branch.

“Part-time legislatures work just fine in the majority of other states,” Sen. Colbeck said.  “But one of the keys to success for a part-time legislature is an appreciation for limited government.

“Full-time legislatures are typically found in states known for big government policies where the people depend heavily upon government services. Our challenge in Michigan after decades of big government policies is to restore an appreciation for freedom and the empowerment of our citizens to manage their own lives.”

Sen. Colbeck specifically noted a few of what are many recent examples of administrative overreach, including actions by the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) and the Department of Environmental Quality. In those instances, rules are being made that clearly run counter to legislative intent, and permitting is being required that is not warranted and has never been necessary in the past.

“In one example, the ink is barely dry on our new energy law but the MPSC is already trying to create new rules that would prohibit customers from accessing out-state energy generation when they know that is not what the legislature intended or voted for,” Sen. Colbeck said.

“No matter how clear we as legislators try to be with the letter of the law, and despite assurances from staff attorneys on what the laws that we send to the governor mean, there is all too frequently what can only be described as a willful amnesia and creative interpretation over what some of our laws were explicitly designed to do. We’re now even seeing groups specifically lobby non-elected officials to reinterpret laws, as is the case with Equality Michigan and our civil rights laws.

Colbeck’s proposed legislation would amend Articles IV and V of the Michigan Constitution.  The Article IV changes would improve regulatory oversight by the legislature. The Article V changes would also provide improved transparency regarding executive budget priorities and agency performance.

“Today, the government has more information on the people than the people have about the government and how effectively it spends your hard-earned tax dollars,” Sen. Colbeck said. “We need to right the ship and make sure it goes back to being the other way around.”

If approved by both chambers, SJR M would be subject to a vote of the people before any changes would be made to the Michigan Constitution.

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Sen. Colbeck welcomes Pastor Brown to state Capitol to lead Senate invocation

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Patrick Colbeck, R-Canton, (left) welcomed the Rev. Steve Brown to the Michigan Senate on Tuesday to deliver the invocation at the start of the Senate session. Brown leads the Parkview Baptist Church congregation in Livonia.

Editor’s note: A print-quality version of the above photograph is available by clicking on the image or by selecting Photowire under the Media Center tab, above.

Sens. Colbeck, Schuitmaker urge federal action on immigration

LANSING, Mich. — State Sens. Tonya Schuitmaker and Patrick Colbeck on Tuesday introduced a pair of resolutions urging Congress to cut funding to sanctuary cities and to pass Kate’s Law.

U.S. House Resolution 3004, which is commonly referred to as Kate’s law, increases penalties for those who are deported and caught trying to return to the United States. The legislation is named after Kate Steinle, a San Francisco woman who was killed by a man who had been deported numerous times, but was able to enter the U.S. again. Many attribute Steinle’s death to the city’s sanctuary city status, a term coined for cities that limit cooperation between their workers and federal officials attempting to enforce federal immigration law.

“This man should never have been here and Kate should still be with her loved ones,” said Schuitmaker, R-Lawton. “This was a senseless, devastating crime that could have and should have been prevented. I applaud the House taking action and approving this measure, but the Senate needs to act quickly and get this to the president’s desk before this happens again.”

Michigan Senate Concurrent Resolutions 20, sponsored by Schuitmaker, and 21, sponsored by Colbeck, urge the U.S. Senate to approve Kate’s Law, which was approved by the U.S. House of Representatives in early June. The pair of resolutions also urge the federal government to cut funding to any city that proclaims itself a sanctuary city.

“It makes no sense to financially reward government bodies that try to impede state and city employees from working with federal immigration authorities,” said Colbeck, R-Canton. “It should go without saying that public safety demands our police be allowed to report to immigration authorities and detain people who are here illegally.”

Schuitmaker agreed.

“It baffles me that cities across the U.S. are not only getting away with knowingly violating federal law, but are also advertising their sanctuary city status and encouraging more people to violate the law,” Schuitmaker said. “This is not only a matter of public safety, but a matter of preserving the rule of law. We cannot let local governments decide which federal laws they choose to follow.”

Both resolutions were referred to the Senate Committee on Judiciary for further consideration.

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Sen. Colbeck legislation enables more money for education via Enhanced MESP accounts

Senator Patrick Colbeck

Senator Patrick Colbeck

LANSING, Mich.State Sen. Patrick Colbeck, R-Canton, announced on Thursday that he is joined by Sens. Phil Pavlov, Judy Emmons, and Mike Green in introducing legislation that enables more money for education without raising taxes.

“Many parents, teachers, administrators, and elected officials are seeking to provide additional funding for public schools in Michigan,” Sen. Colbeck said. “Some people say that it is impossible to do so without increasing taxes, but other options do exist. A key to providing more funding for schools without increasing taxes is to see how private schools do so. After all, students who go to private schools in Michigan receive no public funding.  We need to explore the funding innovations practiced by these schools.”

After years of studying the issue with education stakeholders, Sen. Colbeck has introduced a suite of bills that will expand the tax exempt provisions currently leveraged through the Michigan Education Savings Program (MESP) to also include K-12 studies, vocational education and professional development.

During discussions with educators in private schools, Sen. Colbeck discovered the existence of work-study programs at Cornerstone Schools and Detroit Cristo Rey.  Participating employers would provide up to $7,000 per year toward the cost of education for a student participating in the program.  In exchange for five days of work per month during the school year, high school students receive valuable work experience while relieving the financial burden of attending a school that receives no public assistance.  Employers are able to identify promising employees and address the growing issue of staffing gaps in Michigan’s growing economy. In order for these programs to work effectively, funding must be provided via student-specific accounts. These student-specific accounts do not currently exist for public school students as funding is transferred directly from the state to individual school districts.

Work-study programs are just the start. The legislation provides for the pre-tax contributions from any third party source to student-specific accounts which are exempt from Michigan personal income tax. This opens the door to contributions from retailer-based monetized rewards programs, family members and charitable foundations. Federal government support will be required to extend the tax-exemptions to federal income tax.

Under the proposed legislation, the services eligible for payments from the Enhanced MESP accounts would be determined by the Michigan Department of Education in accordance with the constraints of the Michigan Constitution. A likely list of eligible K-12 educational services could include things such as tutoring, band instruments, football uniforms, or out of pocket transportation expenses. Money not used for such K-12 purposes could also be used to help pay for higher education, vocational education, or professional development.

“Learning is a lifelong endeavor,” Sen. Colbeck said. “The proposed Enhanced MESP program is a great way to invest in education through all phases of one’s life. This innovative new program empowers parents and students of all ages to enhance funding for their K-12 education, lower the cost of college, promote skilled trades, and even explore career switches.”

The Enhanced MESP accounts offer a way to introduce thousands of dollars per year of additional funding for lifelong educational needs without raising taxes.

The bill package includes SBs 544-549. It is anticipated that this bill package will be referred to the Senate Education Committee for further consideration.

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*** Media Advisory *** Sen. Colbeck to hold September office hours in Livonia

Senator Patrick Colbeck

Senator Patrick Colbeck

Who:

Sen. Patrick Colbeck, R-Canton; District Manager Penny Crider; and the general public

 

What:

Office hours

 

When and where:

Friday, Sept. 15

11 a.m. – noon

Livonia Civic Park Senior Center

15218 Farmington Road

Livonia

 

Brief:

State Sen. Patrick Colbeck, R-Canton, and District Manager Penny Crider will hold monthly office hours for September in Livonia on Friday, Sept. 15, from 11 a.m. until noon. The office hours will be held at the Livonia Civic Park Senior Center and will be open to the public.

Sen. Colbeck will be on hand to answer questions and respond to concerns any residents of his district may have. No appointment is necessary.

“I encourage anyone who needs help, has questions, or wants to express a viewpoint to stop by,” Sen. Colbeck said. “I’m looking forward to continuing a regular series of office hours throughout the district and hearing directly from constituents about state and pocketbook issues.”

Sen. Colbeck represents the 7th Senate District, which encompasses the cities of Livonia, Northville, Plymouth and Wayne, as well as the townships of Canton, Northville and Plymouth.

For more information or to contact Sen. Colbeck, please visit www.SenatorPatrickColbeck.com or call 517-373-5713.

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Sen. Colbeck: ‘Equality Michigan’ group attempts to unlawfully circumvent the state’s civil rights law

Senator Patrick Colbeck

Senator Patrick Colbeck

LANSING, Mich. — State Senator Patrick Colbeck, R-Canton, commented on Tuesday regarding the scheduled Sept. 18 Michigan Civil Rights Commission meeting, in which the commission plans to address a request made by the group ‘Equality Michigan.’

Equality Michigan’s request effectively asks the commission to bypass the Legislature to change how provisions of the Elliot-Larsen Civil Rights Act would work.

“Regrettably, actions such as these taken by extreme activist groups such as Equality Michigan are becoming more common,” Sen. Colbeck said. “Equality Michigan appears to have decided that if they can’t successfully get a new law passed by the Legislature, they will seek out other government organizations in an attempt to try to reinterpret what the law says. Quite simply put, they are asking the Civil Rights Commission to do something that they cannot legally do.”

Per the Michigan Constitution, changes in laws can only be enacted by duly elected officials, and not by unelected commissioners or bureaucrats.

“The people who write our laws are elected for a reason,” Sen. Colbeck said. “Our citizens can fire them at the ballot box if they do not support the decisions they make.  The citizens would lose their voice should unelected officials define our laws. We cannot afford to let that happen.”

The meeting will take place at 4 p.m. in Lansing on Monday, Sept. 18. More information is available on the website for the Michigan Civil Rights Commission, and public comments are listed at http://www.michigan.gov/mdcr/0,4613,7-138-47782—,00.html.

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*** Media Advisory *** Sen. Colbeck to hold July office hours in Livonia

Senator Patrick Colbeck

Senator Patrick Colbeck

Who:

Sen. Patrick Colbeck, R-Canton; District Manager Penny Crider; and the general public

 

What:

Office hours

 

When and where:

Friday, July 28

11 a.m. – noon

Livonia Civic Park Senior Center

15218 Farmington Road

Livonia

 

Brief:

State Sen. Patrick Colbeck, R-Canton, and District Manager Penny Crider will hold monthly office hours for July in Livonia on Friday, July 28, from 11 a.m. until noon. The office hours will be held at the Livonia Civic Park Senior Center and will be open to the public.

Sen. Colbeck will be on hand to answer questions and respond to concerns any residents of his district may have. No appointment is necessary.

“I encourage anyone who needs help, has questions, or wants to express a viewpoint to stop by,” Sen. Colbeck said. “I’m looking forward to continuing a regular series of office hours throughout the district and hearing directly from constituents about state and pocketbook issues.”

Sen. Colbeck represents the 7th Senate District, which encompasses the cities of Livonia, Northville, Plymouth and Wayne, as well as the townships of Canton, Northville and Plymouth.

For more information or to contact Sen. Colbeck, please visit www.SenatorPatrickColbeck.com or call 517-373-5713.

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Strong measures signed into law to punish those who perform Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)

LANSING, Mich. — State Senator Patrick Colbeck, R-Canton, spoke to his legislation that was signed into law today that would cause doctors to permanently lose their medical license for committing the crime commonly known as “Female Genital Mutilation”, or FGM.

“I’m very pleased to see these laws go onto the books and for things to have moved as quickly as they did,” said Colbeck.  “There is sadly only so much we can do to restore the damaged psyche of these young girls who were forced to live this nightmare, but we’re determined to do all we can to make sure this type of butchery won’t happen again.”

Colbeck’s legislation, SB 410, was part of a larger package of bills that also now specifically prohibits female genital mutilation under state law, creates criminal penalties for offenders, and extends criminal and civil statutes of limitations. News stories now report that over 100 young girls could have had this procedure forced upon them in Michigan, going back over several years.

As a legal term, FGM includes procedures that intentionally alter or cause injury to the genitals of minor aged females for non-medical reasons.  The procedures can lead to psychological problems, as well as to problems urinating and can complicate childbirth later in life.  FGM is sometimes also done in order to make sexual intercourse uncomfortable, and some aspects can never be reversed.

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Colbeck: Governor’s veto of ‘Choose Life’ license plate disgraceful

LANSING, Mich. — Governor Rick Snyder has formally vetoed SB 163, citing a “Choose Life” message as being “too divisive”.  If signed into law, Michigan would have joined more than half of the other states in the country that already allow their drivers to purchase a license plate that contains a simple “Choose Life” message while fundraising for life-affirming charitable purposes.

“I find Governor Snyder’s veto of our ‘Choose Life’ license plate legislation utterly disgraceful,”said Sen. Patrick Colbeck, R-Canton. “Every year, 26,000 babies in a mother’s womb are killed.  Many of the decisions to kill these babies in the womb are based upon women despairing over having insufficient support or resources to raise their child.  SB 163 would have helped provide those resources.  Furthermore, SB 163 would have also provided charitable assistance for suicide prevention programs. Looking just at our veterans alone, there are over 8,000 veterans tragically committing suicide every year.  Prenatal care, suicide prevention, adoption services; these are not divisive issues. A simple ‘Choose Life’ message is not divisive unless one somehow asserts that ‘Choose Death’ is a worthy cause.  It is not…and certainly not for the 65 Representatives, 25 Senators, and the many people of principle who supported this simple but important piece of legislation.”

The “Choose Life” plate would have joined a wide variety of fundraising plates that the Secretary of State currently offers. No tax dollars would have gone into the fund created for the plate, and charitable proceeds would have gone to support the work of a wide variety of life preserving programs.

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***Media Advisory*** Colbeck to hold June office hours in Plymouth

Who:
Sen. Patrick Colbeck, R-Canton; District Manager Penny Crider; and the general public

What:
Office hours

When and where:
Thursday, June 29
6 – 7 p.m.
Plymouth District Library
Board room
223 S. Main St.
Plymouth

Brief:
State Sen. Patrick Colbeck, R-Canton, and District Manager Penny Crider will hold monthly office hours for June in Plymouth on Thursday, June 29, from 6 until 7 p.m. The office hours will be held at the Plymouth District Library and will be open to the public.

Sen. Colbeck will be on hand to answer questions and respond to concerns any residents of his district may have. No appointment is necessary.

“I encourage anyone who needs help, has questions, or wants to express a viewpoint to stop by,” Sen. Colbeck said. “I’m looking forward to continuing a regular series of office hours throughout the district and hearing directly from constituents about state and pocketbook issues.”

Sen. Colbeck represents the 7th Senate District, which encompasses the cities of Livonia, Northville, Plymouth and Wayne, as well as the townships of Canton, Northville and Plymouth.

For more information or to contact Sen. Colbeck, please visit www.SenatorPatrickColbeck.com or call 517-373-5713.

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