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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*** Media Advisory *** Sen. Colbeck to hold March office hours in Canton

Who:

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

 

What:

Office hours

 

When and where:

Thursday, March 23

6 – 7 p.m.

Canton Public Library

Community Room — left of the entrance

1200 S. Canton Center Road

Canton

 

Brief:

State Sen. Patrick Colbeck, R-Canton, and District Manager Penny Crider will hold monthly office hours for March in Canton on Thursday, March 23, from 6 p.m. until 7 p.m. The office hours will be held at the Canton Library in the Community Room 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.

Sen. Colbeck: Safety and security concerns drive need for smart meter opt-out

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Patrick Colbeck, R-Canton, testified on Tuesday before the House Energy and Technology Committee in support of HB 4220, legislation that would restore consumer protections regarding the type of meters that are installed upon their personal property.

Sen. Colbeck focused his testimony on the safety and security risks inherent with the utilities’ promulgation of smart meter technology. Smart meter technology provides the fundamental building blocks for efforts to make Michigan part of a larger “Smart Grid.”

In 2011, James Woolsey, former CIA director, said, “A so-called ‘Smart Grid’ that is as vulnerable as what we’ve got is not smart at all. It’s a really, really stupid grid.”

In support of his testimony, Sen. Colbeck enlisted the support of Cynthia Ayers. Ayers, a nationally recognized cybersecurity expert who currently serves in part as the deputy to the executive director of the congressionally-sponsored Task Force on National and Homeland Security, provided testimony that cyber threats to our electric infrastructure are not mere conjecture. Other nations have been victimized by cyber-attacks that target critical infrastructure such as the power grid. Ayers conveyed that smart meters increase our security risk because, as integral components in a digital network, hackers can use smart meters to remotely shut down power to one or more consumers.

“One of the ways our citizens can secure their own family from such threats to our power grid is to opt out of so-called smart meters and retain analog meters, which have served us well for decades,” Sen. Colbeck said. “Cybersecurity threats today are very real. In fact, the SEC-10K filings for both Consumers Energy and DTE cite cybersecurity as a significant threat that potential investors need to consider before purchasing stock in these companies. Against this increased risk, there is little to no consumer benefit to the adoption of smart meters. The state is doing an insufficient job of regulating our monopoly utilities on this topic in a manner that truly benefits consumers, especially the safety and security of our electricity consumers. Once passed, HB 4220 would return a measure of respect back to our citizens by improving the provisions of law that govern their ability to truly opt out of smart meters.”

Sen. Colbeck also stressed that right now, even today, people are currently without power because of their simple desire to keep an analog meter for their own home. This includes even the frail and elderly, and even during winter conditions.

“We have entire programs set up, subsidized on everyone’s electric bill, to ensure that people keep power during the winter months even if they have not paid their bill,” Sen. Colbeck said.  “For some strange reason, the state conversely is telling utilities it is ok to shut off power to people who have paid their bills and want to continue to pay their bills, simply because these people want to control what takes place on their own private property. We can’t let that continue, and we must pass HB 4220 both to give consumers true choice with our monopolistic utilities, and to sever any notions that people must choose between new technology they don’t want and being able to keep the power on for their own property.”

The legislation, similar to an amendment that Sen. Colbeck offered on the floor last year, could receive a committee vote in the near future.

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Sen. Colbeck welcomes the Rev. Havermale to state Capitol to lead invocation

LANSING, Mich. Sen. Patrick Colbeck, R-Canton, welcomed the Rev. Mark Allen Havermale (right) of Alpha Baptist Church in Livonia to the Senate on Thursday to lead the invocation before the Senate session.

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Editor’s note: A print-quality version of the above photograph is available by clicking on the image above or by visiting the senator’s website and clicking on “Photowire” on the lower left side of the home page at www.SenatorPatrickColbeck.com.

Sen. Colbeck legislation would provide accountability for road quality

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Patrick Colbeck, R-Canton, introduced transparency legislation on Wednesday that would provide the public with information on road projects throughout the state.

Senate Bill 210 would require the Michigan Department of Transportation to provide the general public with informational profiles of major road projects. These profiles would include the specified design life of the pavement, the load profile assumptions for that design life (that is, how heavy are the trucks), as well as the organizations responsible for the design, construction and inspection of the road. This information would provide more transparency to taxpayers and also provide information necessary to help enforce existing road warranties.

“It is time to get to the bottom of why some roads fail before their design life is over while other roads exceed their design life,” Sen. Colbeck said. “SB 210 will help us to isolate whether or not the root cause of poor quality roads is their design, construction, or that they are being subject to loads that exceed their design specifications.”

The data collected via the legislation would help to better enforce warranties, thereby encouraging a higher quality road system without additional taxpayer expense.

Sen. Colbeck was a vocal opponent of the gas tax and registration fee increases implemented last session. He opposed the legislation and provided a plan to fix our roads without raising taxes or fees. SB 210 would provide the Legislature and citizens at large with the information needed to make sure our current road funds are being used effectively.

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Sen. Colbeck provides testimony on what has worked to turn around failing schools

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Patrick Colbeck, R-Canton, summarized his key takeaways thus far surrounding the potential closure of 38 schools on Tuesday before the Senate Education Committee.

During his testimony, Sen. Colbeck highlighted the requirements cited by education professionals emphasizing the need for local control and student engagement. The Senator invited Seth Mauth from the “5 Star Life Program” to join him and highlight the success that his organization has had turning around troubled schools.

“It is clear from the testimony we have heard that the key to turning around failing schools is a motivated group of teachers, parents and students,” said Sen. Colbeck. “The 5 Star Life Program has demonstrated success by creating an environment where students want to be there and see the value in learning. This in turn reinvigorates teachers and becomes a source of pride for parents.”

The 5 Star Life Program has had success by offering accredited coursework that both engages and empowers students through focusing on the five tenets of Respect, Responsibility, Integrity, Sacrifice, and Courage. The coursework is done in conjunction with local teachers and is designed to also look at workforce readiness, mentoring, and at risk education. Data from the program’s success shows students and teachers who use the program function more as a team, as highlighted by initial success that was shown through marked reductions in disciplinary problems. In the long run, schools can then show other results such as a 75 percent reduction in chronic truancy, with up to 79 percent of students showing at least one form of demonstrable academic improvement.

“Both federal and state legislators are always tempted to ratchet up control measures when faced with poor test scores and low graduation rates,” said Sen. Colbeck. “While these metrics are indeed useful to highlight poor performing schools, it is clear that local control, not state mandates, offer the best opportunity to turn around failing schools. The state provides a valuable monitoring function, but we need to empower students, teachers and parents so that they are able to direct their futures.”

“During my visit on Saturday to the Denby Area Neighborhood, home to three of the 38 schools slated for closure, the clear message that I heard from community members was that they want empowerment, not more state control. The 5 Star Life Program has been proven to empower communities and create thriving learning environments.”

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Editor’s note: For a print-quality version of this and other Sen. Colbeck photos, click the image or visit www.SenatorPatrickColbeck.com and click Photowire on the lower left-hand side of the website.

Photo caption: Senator Patrick Colbeck, R-Canton, and Seth Mauth of the 5 Star Life Program, testify before the Michigan Senate Education Committee on Feb. 28.

Sen. Colbeck pursuing school accountability measures that work

Senator Patrick Colbeck

Senator Patrick Colbeck

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Patrick Colbeck, R-Canton, announced on Monday that representatives from the “5 Star Life” education program would be testifying in the Senate Education Committee on Tuesday, Feb. 28.

“The Senate Education Committee has spent the past several weeks evaluating how schools facing potential closure can find ways to improve their performance instead of simply being shut down,” Sen. Colbeck said. “A common thread we have heard in testimony is that you need to create an environment where students want to be there and see the value in learning. Without that, simply teaching a subject won’t work well for many students. The 5 Star Life Program is an option that many struggling schools have used to great success, and the committee is excited to hear what they have to say.”

The organization has had success by offering accredited coursework that both engages and empowers students through focusing on the five tenets of Respect, Responsibility, Integrity, Sacrifice, and Courage. The coursework is also designed to look at workforce readiness, mentoring, and at-risk education.

“Much of what we have been discussing in committee is to identify to whom our schools are accountable to when they start to fail,” Sen. Colbeck said. “While part of it is accountability to the state and our school systems, ultimately our schools are first accountable to our students, their parents, and teachers. The 5 Star Life Program helps to empower students so that they realize the importance of their schools and their education, and it drives a desire for helping them to want to learn for themselves and not just the sake of government standards. This is an excellent program worth raising awareness of.”

The hearing is open to the public and scheduled for noon in Senate Committee Room 1300 of the Binsfeld Senate Building, 201 Townsend Street in Lansing.

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Sen. Colbeck, Rep. Johnson introduce legislation to ban public funding of abortion clinics

Senator Patrick Colbeck

Senator Patrick Colbeck

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Patrick Colbeck, R-Canton, and Rep. Steve Johnson, R-Wayland, announced on Tuesday the introduction of legislation that would ensure public dollars could not be used for the funding of abortion clinics in Michigan.

“We just recently saw the importance to people of protecting the unborn on full display at the March for Life rally in Washington, D.C.,” said Sen. Colbeck. “Our budget in Michigan should not be used to fund abortion clinics, whether that would be directly through state-generated revenue or indirectly with money we receive from the federal government.”

The bills, Senate Bill 162 and House Bill 4221, would ensure that state law clearly prohibits the use of such public monies, even through indirect methods.

“The sanctity of life is simply too important to allow public dollars to support abortion clinics,” said Rep. Johnson. “Taxpayers need to be assured the money government compels them to pay is not going toward these services.”

Both Rep. Johnson and Sen. Colbeck said they would be asking for quick hearings on the legislation.

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