Can rescue bill rescue bipartisanship?

By BECKY McKENDRY
Capital News Service
LANSING – During a spring flood this year in West Michigan, some people took to kayaks and jet skis – despite clear emergency warnings – and some ended up needing rescue. That sparked legislators to draft a bill calling for “grossly negligent” thrill seekers to repay their rescue costs. “The general response from the public and lawmakers was very positive,” said Rep. Brandon Dillon, D– Grand Rapids, the chief sponsor. “A lot of people support the common sense of it and we expect it to pass easily.”
But the bill may serve a higher purpose beyond punishing people who ignore safety warnings. “Clearly, perception of elected officials is not in high regard,” Dillon said.

Bill would replace national school standards with local ones

By YANJIE WANG
Capital News Service
LANSING– Rep. Tom McMillin, R-Rochester Hills, has introduced a bill to throw out a new national set of standards for K-12 education adopted by the State Board of Education in 2010. His bill would replace those standards with local ones. Common Core State Standards (CCSS), a set of standards in English-language arts and mathematics, were developed by the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices and the Council of Chief State School Officers. The national standards aim to give K-12 schoo children the knowledge and skills they need for colleges and careers, and outline expectations for students at each grade level. States could voluntarily adopt the standards, as Michigan and 44 other states did.

Legislators split on added death threat penalties

By SAODAT ASANOVA-TAYLOR
Capital News Service
LANSING – A bill aimed at giving lawmakers additional protection drew high criticism from some legislators. Sen. Darwin Booher, R-Evart, proposed the bill, saying there should be specific laws to protect lawmakers. “When elected officials receive death threats, it affects them, their families, their work and their voting process,” he said. According to Booher, there are laws against intimidation on the federal level and state lawmakers should be protected under the same type of rules. Sen. Tom Casperson, R-Escanaba, agreed, saying,
“It’s unacceptable just to throw around death threats without any responsibility.”
Last year, both Booher and Casperson received several death threats via phone and mail.

Septic waste bill spurs debate

By XINJUAN DENG
Capital News Service
LANSING– Municipal waste facilities would be required to accept all septic waste produced within 25 miles under a bill awaiting action in the Senate. Under current law, local governments can decide whether to allow septic waste to be applied on land. If a locality requires that all septic waste be disposed of in a receiving facility or prohibits land application of septic waste, it must make available a treatment facility. This bill is intended to make it easier to treat the waste that can cause serious health problem, supporters say. Chuck Hersey, environmental programs manager of the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments said, “This is a bit of a chicken-and-egg issue.

Bill would hold big kennels to minimum standard of care

By XINJUAN DENG
Capital News Service
LANSING– A new legislative proposal would regulate large-scale dog breeders who have more than 15 breeding females to ensure their animals receive proper treatment, including adequate food, water, shelter, regular exercise and veterinary care. The bill would prohibit a dog having more than one litter a year. Sen. Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge, a co-sponsor of the bill, said, “Current laws do not outline the proper guidelines of care that large commercial breeding kennels have to administer to the dogs and puppies in their custody to ensure that their lives are protected.”
The bill’s sponsors are Sen. Steven Bieda, D-Warren; Sen. Tory Rocca, R-Sterling Heights; and Sen. Mike Kowall, R-White Lake. Michigan State University law professor David Favre who teaches animal law said, “It is a significant step forward for the welfare of commercially bred dogs in Michigan. If as a society we are going to allow massive breeding operations of between 16 and 50 dogs at one place, then society has a duty to impose those standards that will provide a minimum level and welfare protections.”
Under the proposal, violators of the so-called “Puppy Protection Act” could be jailed for 93 days, fined more than $1,000, and lose their breeding license.

Painting toy guns to look real could be outlawed

BY NICK MCWHERTER
Capital News Service
LANSING- Young teenagers playing with toy guns could have been killed in a mall parking lot a few years ago when police responded to the scene. This close call sparked legislators to develop a bill banning any modification of a toy to make it look more like a real gun. The incident with the toy guns took place in Taylor and could have been dangerous because others in the parking lot, as well as police, thought the guns were real. Lawmakers have proposed legislation to punish those who alter replica and toy guns to make them look more realistic. The bill would also protect those that modify the toys because police that respond are often under the impression that the guns are real.