Booher sponsors bill to stop sex offenders from loitering near child day care centers

LANSING?Sen. Darwin Booher on Thursday introduced legislation in the Michigan Senate to stop child sex offenders from hanging around day care centers.

“We must ensure we are doing everything possible to protect our children from sexual predators,” said Booher, R-Evart. “In 2002, Michigan enacted the Sex Offender Registration Act to help prevent convicted sex offenders from repeating their criminal sexual acts. I introduced these measures to add its protections to child day care centers.”

Senate Bill 76 would amend the Sex Offenders Registration Act (SORA) to prohibit sex offenders who committed an offense against a minor from loitering within 1,000 feet of a licensed child care center.

“Parents rightfully expect that a day care center is a safe place for their child to have fun and play,” Booher said. “The current law already bans loitering within a student safety zone, and extending that protection to child day care centers is the right thing to do to keep all our kids safe.

“Simply put, sex offenders have no business hanging around day care centers.”

SB 77 is a companion measure establishing sentencing guidelines. Under the bill, a first-time violation would be a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in prison, a fine of not more than $1,000 or both. Violators with one or more prior SORA convictions would be guilty of a felony punishable by imprisonment for not more than two years, a fine of up to $2,000 or both.

SB 76 would allow for exceptions only for parents who are transporting their own children to school or going to the school for the purpose of meeting with an employee regarding his or her child’s performance or attendance.

The bills have been referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee for consideration.

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Booher sponsors bill to stop sex offenders from loitering near child day care centers

LANSING?Sen. Darwin Booher on Thursday introduced legislation in the Michigan Senate to stop child sex offenders from hanging around day care centers.

“We must ensure we are doing everything possible to protect our children from sexual predators,” said Booher, R-Evart. “In 2002, Michigan enacted the Sex Offender Registration Act to help prevent convicted sex offenders from repeating their criminal sexual acts. I introduced these measures to add its protections to child day care centers.”

Senate Bill 76 would amend the Sex Offenders Registration Act (SORA) to prohibit sex offenders who committed an offense against a minor from loitering within 1,000 feet of a licensed child care center.

“Parents rightfully expect that a day care center is a safe place for their child to have fun and play,” Booher said. “The current law already bans loitering within a student safety zone, and extending that protection to child day care centers is the right thing to do to keep all our kids safe.

“Simply put, sex offenders have no business hanging around day care centers.”

SB 77 is a companion measure establishing sentencing guidelines. Under the bill, a first-time violation would be a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in prison, a fine of not more than $1,000 or both. Violators with one or more prior SORA convictions would be guilty of a felony punishable by imprisonment for not more than two years, a fine of up to $2,000 or both.

SB 76 would allow for exceptions only for parents who are transporting their own children to school or going to the school for the purpose of meeting with an employee regarding his or her child’s performance or attendance.

The bills have been referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee for consideration.

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Booher welcomes Pastor Wheeler to state Capitol

LANSING— Sen. Darwin Booher, R-Evart, welcomes the Rev. Jerry Wheeler (left) to the Michigan Senate. Wheeler is the pastor at Moddersville Reformed Church in Falmouth and delivered the invocation before Senate session.

A print-quality photograph of Sen. Booher with Pastor Wheeler is available by visiting the senator’s photowire at: http://www.misenategop.com/senators/photowire.asp?District=35.

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Booher introduces bill to allow veterans to designate status on driver’s license

LANSING—Sen. Darwin Booher introduced legislation on Thursday to allow honorably discharged veterans to add a special designation to their Michigan driver’s license.

“Our veterans sacrificed much to protect our freedoms. In appreciation of their dedication, many places offer discounts to veterans and their families,” said Booher, R-Evart. “I introduced this measure to make it easier for veterans to receive these benefits. Instead of having to carry around their discharge forms to prove their service, my reform would allow veterans to have a special insignia appear on their driver’s license verifying their status.”

Senate Bill 82 would require the Michigan secretary of state to develop a designation for driver’s licenses of veterans who provide proof of service like a certificate of release or discharge from active duty, referred to as a DD 214 form.

“This initiative came about after hearing from veterans in my district about finding a simpler way to prove their military service and then looking to see what others states are doing,” Booher said. “Florida is one example of a state that provides this type of designation for veterans. It is working there, and it is just common sense to bring this effective and efficient service to Michigan.”

Booher noted that, under his legislation, the secretary of state’s office would require proof of service status as a veteran, such as a DD 214 form, before providing the designation.

“This is also about helping businesses who generously offer discounts to veterans,” Booher said. “If they see a veterans designation on a driver’s license they will know that the person is a veteran – because an official state agency has already done the verification for them.”

SB 82 has been sent to the Senate Veterans, Military Affairs and Homeland Security Committee for consideration.

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Booher introduces bill to allow veterans to designate status on driver’s license

LANSING—Sen. Darwin Booher introduced legislation on Thursday to allow honorably discharged veterans to add a special designation to their Michigan driver’s license.

“Our veterans sacrificed much to protect our freedoms. In appreciation of their dedication, many places offer discounts to veterans and their families,” said Booher, R-Evart. “I introduced this measure to make it easier for veterans to receive these benefits. Instead of having to carry around their discharge forms to prove their service, my reform would allow veterans to have a special insignia appear on their driver’s license verifying their status.”

Senate Bill 82 would require the Michigan secretary of state to develop a designation for driver’s licenses of veterans who provide proof of service like a certificate of release or discharge from active duty, referred to as a DD 214 form.

“This initiative came about after hearing from veterans in my district about finding a simpler way to prove their military service and then looking to see what others states are doing,” Booher said. “Florida is one example of a state that provides this type of designation for veterans. It is working there, and it is just common sense to bring this effective and efficient service to Michigan.”

Booher noted that, under his legislation, the secretary of state’s office would require proof of service status as a veteran, such as a DD 214 form, before providing the designation.

“This is also about helping businesses who generously offer discounts to veterans,” Booher said. “If they see a veterans designation on a driver’s license they will know that the person is a veteran – because an official state agency has already done the verification for them.”

SB 82 has been sent to the Senate Veterans, Military Affairs and Homeland Security Committee for consideration.

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Sen. Booher welcomes Smith-Olson to state Capitol

LANSING— Sen. Darwin Booher, R-Evart, welcomes Lake-Osceola State Bank Chairman and CEO Deb Smith-Olson, left, to the Michigan Capitol. Smith-Olson was the guest of Booher for Gov. Rick Snyder’s 2013 State of the State address.

During the address, the governor called for creating a new Department of Insurance and Financial Services.

“As a former banker and chair of the Senate Banking and Financial Institutions Committee, I am intrigued with the governor’s idea,” Booher said. “I am hopeful that this new department will benefit both Michigan consumers and the industry with more streamlined oversight and positive advocacy for a sector that is growing and creating good Michigan jobs.”

A print-quality photograph of Booher welcoming Smith-Olson is available by visiting the senator’s website at: www.SenatorDarwinBooher.com. Click on Photowire.

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Booher reacts to the 2013 State of the State address

LANSING?State Sen. Darwin Booher, R-Evart, issued the following statement Wednesday after Gov. Rick Snyder delivered his 2013 State of the State address:

“Governor Snyder reaffirmed his infectious positive outlook about our great state. I share his belief that Michigan is making a comeback and that we are on our way to a strong recovery.

“I see this positivity every day in Northern Michigan, where people see that things are getting better and are encouraged that they can be a part of a re-energized Michigan.

“To ensure that everyone can take part in a brighter Michigan, we must build upon our accomplishments of improving the economic climate, balancing budgets, supporting the agriculture industry and reducing long-term debts.

“Michigan’s GDP is the 6th fastest growing in the nation, and the state saw an increase of $500 million in tourism since 2011. We’ve reduced unemployment and added jobs, but more work remains to be done. One such task is emphasizing career and technical education and training to match workers with available jobs.

“As a former banker and chair of the Senate Banking and Financial Institutions Committee, I am intrigued with the governor’s call for creating a new Department of Insurance and Financial Services. I am hopeful that this new department will benefit both Michigan consumers and the industry with more streamlined oversight and positive advocacy for a sector that is growing and creating good Michigan jobs.

“I am enthusiastic about Michigan’s future and believe that we are on the path to prosperity, but we are not out of the woods yet. While national and international factors could still impact our recovery, I believe that our successes will make Michigan strong for years to come.”

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Editor’s Note – Audio comments by Sen. Booher will be available on the senator’s website at: www.SenatorDarwinBooher.com. Click on Podcasts.

Governor signs PILT payment reforms

LANSING—Legislation to increase payments in lieu of taxes (PILT) to local governments for state-owned land within their boundaries was signed by Gov. Rick Snyder on Wednesday.

Public Acts 603 and 604 of 2012, sponsored by Sens. Tom Casperson and Darwin Booher, address repetitive problems with PILT payments not being paid on time or in full. 

When the state purchases land, that land is removed from the local property tax rolls. To make up for the loss of this property tax revenue, the state is supposed to pay PILT or swamp taxes to the affected local units of government and school districts.

“By the governor signing these reforms, our local governments and schools can expect to receive these important funds on time and in full,” said Casperson, R-Escanaba. “This is critical to our communities who count on these payments to maintain critical services and help provide a quality education for our children. I also sponsored this reform to encourage the state to fully consider the real cost of owning property when looking at buying more land.”

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) owns about 4.6 million acres of land, with the vast majority of that located in the Northern Lower Peninsula or Upper Peninsula. In addition, the federal government owns approximately 3.1 million acres.

“Education and local services are negatively impacted when land transfers from a private owner to the state because the state payments are significantly less,” said Booher, R-Evart. “This reform helps close the difference in revenues by ensuring that our schools and local governments receive timely and fair compensation for property owned by the state. The change was long overdue and desperately needed, especially in areas like Northern Michigan where some counties have had more than half of their land base taken off the tax rolls.”

PAs 603 and 604 increase PILT payments for purchased lands by ensuring payments are based on current taxable values and millage rates and raising the payment rates on tax-reverted land from $2 per acre to $4 per acre. This is the first increase since 1986 and represents a raise due to inflation increase since then. 

“I am very pleased that the Michigan Association of Counties was able to be a part of these common-sense reforms so that counties can count on the state to pay these bills going forward,” said Tim McGuire, executive director of the Michigan Association of Counties. “I am grateful that Senators Casperson and Booher took on this very important issue. Our members in counties with high state land ownership will be better able to provide the services that their residents expect now that these reforms are in place.”

Other highlights of the new laws include:
• Requiring the state to make payments by Feb. 14 to locals that have submitted their information as required; and
• Inserting a penalty on the state for not making payments on time – identical to penalties assessed on landowners who do not pay property taxes.

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Governor signs PILT payment reforms

LANSING—Legislation to increase payments in lieu of taxes (PILT) to local governments for state-owned land within their boundaries was signed by Gov. Rick Snyder on Wednesday.

Public Acts 603 and 604 of 2012, sponsored by Sens. Tom Casperson and Darwin Booher, address repetitive problems with PILT payments not being paid on time or in full. 

When the state purchases land, that land is removed from the local property tax rolls. To make up for the loss of this property tax revenue, the state is supposed to pay PILT or swamp taxes to the affected local units of government and school districts.

“By the governor signing these reforms, our local governments and schools can expect to receive these important funds on time and in full,” said Casperson, R-Escanaba. “This is critical to our communities who count on these payments to maintain critical services and help provide a quality education for our children. I also sponsored this reform to encourage the state to fully consider the real cost of owning property when looking at buying more land.”

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) owns about 4.6 million acres of land, with the vast majority of that located in the Northern Lower Peninsula or Upper Peninsula. In addition, the federal government owns approximately 3.1 million acres.

“Education and local services are negatively impacted when land transfers from a private owner to the state because the state payments are significantly less,” said Booher, R-Evart. “This reform helps close the difference in revenues by ensuring that our schools and local governments receive timely and fair compensation for property owned by the state. The change was long overdue and desperately needed, especially in areas like Northern Michigan where some counties have had more than half of their land base taken off the tax rolls.”

PAs 603 and 604 increase PILT payments for purchased lands by ensuring payments are based on current taxable values and millage rates and raising the payment rates on tax-reverted land from $2 per acre to $4 per acre. This is the first increase since 1986 and represents a raise due to inflation increase since then. 

“I am very pleased that the Michigan Association of Counties was able to be a part of these common-sense reforms so that counties can count on the state to pay these bills going forward,” said Tim McGuire, executive director of the Michigan Association of Counties. “I am grateful that Senators Casperson and Booher took on this very important issue. Our members in counties with high state land ownership will be better able to provide the services that their residents expect now that these reforms are in place.”

Other highlights of the new laws include:
• Requiring the state to make payments by Feb. 14 to locals that have submitted their information as required; and
• Inserting a penalty on the state for not making payments on time – identical to penalties assessed on landowners who do not pay property taxes.

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Booher Natural Resources Trust Fund reform measure signed

LANSING—Sen. Darwin Booher’s legislation to bring more accountability and oversight to the state’s Natural Resources Trust Fund (NRTF) project recommendation and approval process was signed on Wednesday by Gov. Rick Snyder. 

“The Natural Resources Trust Fund uses restricted dollars to provide funds for recreational development projects and acquisitions,” said Booher, R-Evart. “While I am generally supportive of the local development projects, I sponsored this reform measure to bring more accountability and transparency to the process, particularly when state purchases are involved.” 

Senate Bill 1238, now Public Act 619 of 2012, requires the NRTF board to review and score parcels individually and publish bimonthly status reports for each project on its website. 

“This ensures proper legislative oversight of state funds by banning the use of vague ‘ecoregions’ and requiring a submission of a full, detailed list of prospective projects for approval,” Booher said. “I strongly oppose the ecoregions process because it does not specifically identify what land would be purchased and for what cost per project. The state’s request in 2012 was for $4.4 million for such ecoregions – in addition to a total of $7 million sitting in an ecoregions fund – without giving lawmakers the information necessary for us to determine if it was a good use of state resources.”

PA 619 also requires all project and acquisitions to have been approved by the local unit of government through a resolution to ensure there is local support for the project. 

“These reforms will not change the process for local purchases or development projects,” Booher said. “The changes will require a detailed, transparent process for all state purchases by ending the policy of essentially writing blank checks to the state to buy land however it sees fit.

“This is especially important in Northern Michigan, where I continually hear from residents about access issues on public lands and how the state handles land it already owns.” 

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