Physicians who perform Female Genital Mutilation would lose their license under Sen. Colbeck legislation

Senator Patrick Colbeck

Senator Patrick Colbeck

LANSING, Mich. — State Senator Patrick Colbeck, R-Canton, introduced legislation on Wednesday that would cause doctors to permanently lose their medical license for committing the crime commonly known as “Female Genital Mutilation,” or FGM. As a legal term, FGM includes procedures that intentionally alter or cause injury to the genitals of minor aged females for non-medical reasons.

“We want to make sure we send a very clear message that this practice is not acceptable anywhere, but even more clearly never again in Michigan,” Sen. Colbeck said.

Tragic events that occurred earlier this year in Livonia, where little girls as young as 6 years old were mutilated by a local physician, have led to the introduction of several measures to combat the problem. New laws were drafted to make ensure that FGM can be prosecuted as a state-level crime, and to also punish co-conspirators. The Sen. Colbeck legislation would also lead to permanent loss of license.

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.

Sen. Colbeck had previously introduced legislation ensuring the procedure could be considered a state crime, and several of the bills have already been voted out of committee with more expected to follow. The latest piece of legislation in the package is Senate Bill 410.

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Sen. Colbeck supports passage of provisional Concealed Pistol License for 18-20-year-olds

Senator Patrick Colbeck

Senator Patrick Colbeck

LANSING, Mich.State Sen. Patrick Colbeck, R-Canton, supported passage of Senate Bill 366 in the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, which would create a provisional Concealed Pistol License (CPL) for 18-20-year-olds who already meet all of the requirements to possess a firearm, but that are under the age of 21 so would not currently be able to carry a concealed pistol.

“As a strong supporter for people being able to defend themselves, this bill will allow legal aged adults in Michigan the full ability to exercise their right to carry a concealed pistol as many other states currently allow,” Sen. Colbeck said. “It’s important that the Senate passes this legislation that ensures adults who are of legal age to vote, serve in our nations armed forces, and own a gun can also enjoy the protection that comes with being able to carry a concealed pistol.”

The legislation is the result of current Michigan law, where Michigan has reciprocity agreements with several other states that allow concealed carry of firearms but do so at different ages. As an example, Michigan currently requires that a person be 21 years old to obtain a CPL, but West Virginia, a state with which Michigan has a reciprocity agreement, allows 18-year-olds to obtain a CPL. The legislation would create an equal standard among the states that Michigan has reciprocity agreements with.

“Young women in particular need to be able to carry concealed to better defend themselves should the unthinkable happen,” Sen. Colbeck said. “It makes no sense that a 125 pound, 20-year-old woman, for example, may be able to purchase and own a firearm if she is being stalked and feels threatened, yet would be forced to choose between ‘open carry’ or ‘no carry’ under today’s laws. We need to be able to fix that.”

SB 366 now heads to the full Senate for consideration.

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Campus free speech legislation receives committee hearing

Senator Patrick Colbeck

Senator Patrick Colbeck

LANSING, Mich.State Sen. Patrick Colbeck, R-Canton, testified on Tuesday before the Senate Judiciary Committee regarding his proposed “campus free speech” legislation, Senate Bills 349 and 350.

“Our public universities used to be where we encouraged free speech and debate,” Sen. Colbeck said. “They are now too frequently areas where free speech activities can only take place in special “free speech zones,” written materials include the use of “trigger warnings,” and campus administrators actively allow the bullying of speakers in a manner that has converted our freedom of speech into freedom from speech.”

During the committee hearing, Sen. Colbeck cited two recent instances among many of this type of behavior at Michigan universities. The first instance featured the arrest of a nursing student attending Grand Valley State University. According to testimony, her “offense” was for handing out a pocket Constitution booklet.

The second instance took place at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor at a debate hosted by the Michigan Political Union. At the debate over one hundred protesters pushed their way into the debate hall and proceeded to shout down the debate for an hour using obscenities, chanting and intimidation, effectively prohibiting the presenters from being able to speak and denying the ability of other attendees to be able to hear.

Administrators and campus police were in attendance at the debate. The administrators asked the student moderator to read a statement at the beginning of the debate notifying attendees that if demonstrators interfered unduly with the freedom of expression of the speakers, they would be removed from the building.

Despite these words, the administrators and campus police took no action at the event. Nor did they take any disciplinary action afterwards or even issue a statement condemning the actions of the protestors. Since then, students at the University of Michigan have been much more cautious about choosing which subjects to debate, effectively shutting down free speech.

In spite of these specific examples, Dan Hurley, representing the universities, stated during the committee hearing that the legislation was a “solution in search of a problem.”

“Clearly, the universities are in denial about the very real infringements of free speech rights on our campuses,” Sen. Colbeck said. “If universities are not willing to defend our constitutional right to free speech, the Legislature must take action to do so.”

Sen. Colbeck’s legislation calls for the adoption of university and college policies that prioritize both the dissemination of knowledge and the importance of peaceful free expression. While illegal speech such as defamation, sexual harassment, and true threats of violence would still not be allowed, clear policies would need to be put in place to ensure free intellectual debate, the ability to voice divergent opinions, and the right to peaceful spontaneous assembly.

Also testifying in support of the legislation was Dr. Stanley Kurtz, a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, D.C., who commented that even when universities have policies designed to discipline students who “shout down” visiting speakers that they only selectively enforce them. “The campus free-speech crisis will never be solved until schools discipline students who are purposefully silencing others with these aggressive actions,” said Kurtz. “Universities are clearly failing to enforce free speech on their own.”

Several other organizations, including student groups, also testified and shared stories from Michigan campuses where certain speech was relegated to so-called “free speech zones,” people were threatened with trespass, or students were limited to lawsuits as their only recourse because schools knew most students wouldn’t have the time or money to pursue them in court.

The principal points of contention cited during committee testimony pertained to a perceived immunity on the part of public higher education institutions from legislative oversight of free speech rights on college campuses and whether or not fair enforcement provisions are warranted in the legislation. The legislation now awaits further action by the Senate Judiciary Committee as Sen. Colbeck addresses these points of contention with stakeholders.

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*** Media Advisory *** Sen. Colbeck to hold May office hours in Northville

Who:

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

 

What:

Office Hours

 

When:

Wednesday, May 24

6 – 7 p.m.

 

Where:

Northville District Library

212 W. Cady St.

Northville

 

Brief:

State Sen. Patrick Colbeck and District Manager Penny Crider will conduct monthly office hours for May in Northville on Wednesday, May 24. The office hours will be at the Northville 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. All are welcome, and no appointment is necessary.

“I’m looking forward to continuing our regular series of office hours throughout the district in Northville,” Sen. Colbeck said. “I encourage anyone who needs help or wants to express a viewpoint to attend. I believe it is very important to hear 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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Michigan Senate to hold 23rd Annual Memorial Day Service at the Capitol

LANSING, Mich. — State Sen. Patrick Colbeck, R-Canton, and the Michigan Senate will conduct a special ceremony honoring members of our military from Michigan who have lost their lives during the past year.

“All the freedoms we so vigorously protect, to be passed on to our future generations, are a direct result of the sacrifices of our fallen military members,” Sen. Colbeck said. “There is never a way to completely honor their memories and truly thank their families enough, and we must ensure that this national day of remembrance never devolves into just another routine holiday.”

This year’s ceremony will mark the Michigan Senate’s 23rd Annual Memorial Day Service. The tradition was started by the initiative of former U.S. congressman, and then state senator, Mike Rogers. Sen. Colbeck, who has organized the event for the past several years, said it is his hope that the Senate tradition will continue indefinitely.

The service will be conducted on May 25, beginning at 10 a.m. Seating within the Senate chamber is reserved for the families of the fallen and for other military members who are directly participating in the event. The Capitol’s main common areas will be open for members of the general public who are interested in coming to Lansing to show their support for the families of the fallen.

A video preview for the service can be viewed by clicking on the video preview screen below:

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Sen. Colbeck introduces “campus free speech” legislation

Senator Patrick Colbeck

Senator Patrick Colbeck

LANSING, Mich.Sen. Patrick Colbeck, R-Canton, introduced legislation Thursday that would create the “campus free speech act” in an effort to ensure that intellectual debate is allowed, encouraged and protected at our universities and community colleges. The measures are Senate Bills 349 and 350.

“The concept of free speech under the First Amendment is one of our core values as Americans,” Sen. Colbeck said. “The right to free speech at our schools is a particularly important piece of the fabric of our country. It is at this time that many of our younger citizens first start to realize the true importance of both their individual voice and the ability to learn from the differences of others.”

The legislation calls for the adoption of university and college policies that prioritize both the dissemination of knowledge and the importance of peaceful free expression. While illegal speech such as defamation, sexual harassment, and true threats of violence would not be allowed, clear policies would also need to be put in place to ensure free intellectual debate, the ability to voice divergent opinions, and the right to peaceful spontaneous assembly.

“Constitutional experts agree that the litmus test for when free speech should be barred has little to do with whether others believe it is objectionable,” Sen. Colbeck said. “In fact, that is why we need the First Amendment. We do not need a First Amendment to protect against the speech we agree with. Groupthink is the last thing we want to see on our campuses.”

The legislation would require policies to ensure that campuses not bar or ban any speaker whom students, student groups, or faculty members have invited and who can otherwise legally be allowed on campus. All public areas on campus would also be considered as areas for potential public forums that would be equally open on the same terms to any speaker.

“Our colleges and universities need to be areas where intellectual freedom is pervasive, and not limited by campus policies that seek to determine what views or values are better than others. If campus leaders believe some speech creates a safety concern because of unruly audience members wishing to use violence, they must police those who would break the law in order to stifle free speech, and not punish speakers by taking away their voice. Intellectual freedom on our campuses must not be bullied into silence.”

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Horrific Livonia incident spurs introduction of state legislation to criminalize female genital mutilation

Senator Patrick Colbeck

Senator Patrick Colbeck

LANSING, Mich.Sen. Patrick Colbeck, R-Canton, introduced Senate Bill 347 on Thursday that would make the crime commonly known as “female genital mutilation” (FGM) a felony under state law.

While FGM is currently a federal crime, Michigan doesn’t have a specific FGM law on the books. For that reason, the state would have to rely either solely on federal action or see local prosecutors attempt to press charges under broader state laws that may increase the likelihood of a perpetrator going free.

“When you see people coming in from other states to have their young girls subjected to this barbaric procedure, it begs the question as to why Michigan would be an attractive place to have these unconscionable practices done,” Sen. Colbeck said. “In order to increase the chance of successful prosecution, to ensure that we don’t have to rely solely on federal attorneys, and to make sure perceived leniency doesn’t encourage others to come here, justice requires that we pass a state law as quickly as possible.”

FGM as defined in the bill would include procedures that intentionally alter or cause injury to the genitals of minor-aged females for non-medical reasons. The procedures can lead to problems urinating, can complicate childbirth later in life, and are often designed to make sexual intercourse unpleasant.

“We have all sadly heard about the tragic events that occurred recently in Livonia where little girls as young as 6 years old were mutilated by a local physician,” Sen. Colbeck said. “It is a tragedy that 200 million women worldwide have been victims of this procedure, and this type of violence against women has no place in our state or society.”

The legislation, sponsored by Sen. Colbeck, would make FGM a felony under state law, punishable by six years in prison and/or a $250,000 fine to mutilate young girls in this manner. The $250,000 fine is substantially higher than the federal punishment.

“Because there are many instances where jail time can be avoided in our criminal justice system today, we want to make sure that the fine amount can really hurt these people financially as well,” Sen. Colbeck said. “The federal fine is capped much too low, so our Michigan law will set a $250,000 fine to serve as a real deterrent even if these people feel they can hire slick lawyers to avoid jail time.”

Sen. Judy Emmons introduced Senate Bill 348, a companion bill that would create the sentencing guidelines to reflect the new crime.

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Sen. Colbeck introduces legislation to halt bureaucratic overreach on vaccination rules

 

LANSING, Mich. Sen. Patrick Colbeck, R-Canton, introduced legislation on Thursday to halt excessive rule-making regarding what parents must do to opt their children out of certain vaccinations.

While current law states that parents may opt their children out for religious or other reasons by simply submitting a written statement to their child’s school, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) created new rules in a manner that goes beyond what legislators envisioned and allowed for.

“The rules enacted by DHHS pertaining to parents who wish to opt out of vaccinations for their children go beyond the intent of the current law, which was to inform parents of potential consequences of their choices, but now seems to have a punitive intent,” Sen. Colbeck said. “Whenever a department promulgates rules that go beyond the intent of the legislation, it is then the role of the Legislature to make sure those rules are reined back in. It was never the intention of the Legislature to see a vaccination opt-out procedure put into place that essentially mandates that parents have to take time off of work to meet with specific people, view videos, or sign inflammatory forms to exert a right they should be able to exercise more simply.

“State legislators are increasingly concerned about departments implementing rules that go beyond legislative intent. There is a strong desire to reform the administrative rule-making process across the board, thereby limiting the need for retroactive correction.”

Senate Bills 299 and 300 are similar to bills regarding regulatory authority that have been recently introduced in the Michigan House.

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Sen. Colbeck introduces bill to protect First Amendment rights of religious leaders

Senator Patrick Colbeck

Senator Patrick Colbeck

LANSING, Mich.Sen. Patrick Colbeck, R-Canton, introduced Senate Bill 269 last week to remove an antiquated section of Michigan election law that criminally penalizes religious leaders for speaking on election-related topics, whether they do so inside or outside the church.

Under current law, religious leaders are guilty of a misdemeanor subject to a $500 fine and/or 90 days in jail for such actions. Religious leaders are the only people singled out under state law (MCL 168.931) for speaking out on such topics, meaning they can go to jail for saying things everyone else can say without consequence

“Our current law violates three provisions of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution,” Sen. Colbeck said. “It violates freedom of religion. It violates freedom of speech. It violates freedom of assembly. It is a disgrace upon our state government that it was ever passed into law in the first place.”

The current law has been challenged in the past by Dr. Levon Yuille, pastor of The Bible Church in Ypsilanti. Pastor Yuille is also the national director of the National Black Pro-Life Congress and the former chairman of the Michigan Black Republican Council of Southern Michigan. In 2012, the American Freedom Law Center (AFLC) filed a federal civil rights lawsuit in the U.S. District Court in Detroit, challenging this provision of Michigan’s election law and asking for an injunction to be issued on the law. The Sixth Circuit denied AFLC’s petition requesting a full court review.

“I find it shameful that religious leaders have been singled out for such prohibitions. The so-called ‘Separation of Church and State’ as embodied within our Constitution was instituted to protect churches from the state, and not muzzle their rights to free speech. There is no law ‘respecting the establishment’ of any specific religion at issue in this bill. What is at issue is the clear attempt to ‘restrict the free exercise thereof.’ It is time to restore respect for our church leaders, people of faith, and for our Constitution. It is time to pass SB 269 and remove this blemish from the compiled laws of our state.”

SB 269 has been referred to the Senate Elections and Government Reform Committee for further consideration.

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Hearing held to allow Michigan drivers to purchase ‘Choose Life’ license plates

LANSING, Mich.Sen. Patrick Colbeck, R-Canton, provided testimony in the Senate Transportation Committee Thursday on his bill that would allow Michigan motorists to purchase license plates for their vehicles to help show their support for life-affirming choices.

More than half of the states in the country allow such plates, which are also offered to drivers who live in the capital district of Washington D.C.

“If passed into law, this legislation would allow the residents of Michigan to choose a ‘Choose Life’ license plate,” Sen. Colbeck said. “The plate would cost people who choose the design $35 in addition to their vehicle registration fees. Twenty-five dollars of this fee would go toward eligible nonprofit organizations and projects, while $10 would cover the cost of the plate.”

Senate Bill 163 would use funds raised from the sale of the plates to support organizations and projects that support life-affirming choices, such as counseling and abortion alternatives for at-risk mothers, adoption assistance, and suicide prevention services for veterans and others. Sen. Colbeck said assisting pregnant women through these services was especially important.

“The proceeds from the license plates enabled under this legislation would help satisfy the material needs of the mother such as diapers, gas money, or shelter, all within a loving environment that seeks what is best for the mother as well as the child in her womb,” Sen. Colbeck said. “But, we can go beyond that. We all know that the baby in the mother’s womb is not the only vulnerable life that is impacted by an unwanted pregnancy. The mother is also vulnerable: vulnerable to fear, vulnerable to financial hardships, vulnerable to a sense that they are all alone. They do not need to face these challenges by themselves, and funds from these plate sales will go toward helping them.”

A vote is expected on the legislation in the near future.

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