Senate passes Billy’s Law; awaits House vote
Last month the Senate approved Senate Bill 80, which would establish Billy’s Law in Michigan. It would help empower law enforcement by closing a loophole that prevents them from administering drug tests or from obtaining drug test results on at-fault motorists in traffic accidents that lead to serious injury or death.
I introduced SB 80 to improve existing law to imply consent for at-fault drivers in such accidents to allow a blood or urine test to be given, and to make urine test results subject to a search warrant in addition to blood tests.
Billy’s Law is named after Billy Kochis, who was from the Traverse City area. He and his colleague John Pomeroy were killed tragically in a highway accident near Grand Rapids in 2013. A man who was suspected of being under the influence of drugs when he hit their car, because of this loophole, got off with a relatively minor conviction and a weak sentence – in fact he is already out of jail. That is unacceptable. Simply put, criminals should be held accountable for their crimes, and for the sake of public safety, we must act to ensure that law enforcement has the tools they need to do their jobs.
Billy’s and John’s story is what has driven me over the years to continue to fight for this bill, and while it unfortunately can’t bring justice to their families, it could help others in the future.
For more information on Billy’s Law, visit facebook.com/billykochislaw
. Bill to combat credit card fraud introduced
Earlier this month, I introduced Senate Bill 228 as a way to combat the increasing threat of credit card skimming devices.
Under the bill, gas stations would have the option of installing any of the following on their pumps to help improve security: tamper proof security tape with logo; a device to render the pump or scanning device inoperable with unauthorized access; encryption of credit card information; or any other security measure approved by the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.
Identity theft is on the rise, and credit card skimming devices are a primary way criminals obtain individuals’ information. Approximately 70 credit card skimmers were found and removed from gas pumps in Michigan in just the last year, according to MDARD
. Many gas stations throughout the state have been proactive in taking steps to improve security at their pumps, which has helped protect customers. With my bill, we are officially putting these criminals on notice that, for them, Michigan is not open for business. Phone scams on the rise during tax season
Speaking of identity theft, during tax season, there’s an increase in scam phone calls from criminals claiming to be tax officials asking for cash payments through a wire transfer or prepaid debit card. The Michigan Department of Treasury reminds taxpayers that the agency will never:
• Initiate a phone call to ask for personal information;
• Call to demand immediate payment from a prepaid debit card, wire transfer or gift card;
• Threaten to immediately arrest the taxpayer;
• Demand that taxes be paid without an opportunity to question or appeal the amount owed; or
• Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.
Taxpayers who receive a call from a scammer should report the case to the IRS by calling 800-366-4484. Soo Locks update
Michigan’s economy relies heavily on the Soo Locks, and the need to upgrade the locks remains. This is an issue that I continue to fight for, and I recently had the opportunity to meet with a like-minded professor from Michigan State University.
Professor Peter Kakela came to my office to discuss his paper, “The Economic Value of Iron Ore Transiting the Soo Locks,” the pressing need to upgrade the locks, and the work we have done in the Senate in urging the federal government to act. Kakela submitted his research to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Department of Homeland Security, joining our effort in demonstrating the need for action. MDOT 2017 construction map now available
The 2017 Paving the Way
state construction map is now available online at www.michigan.gov/mdotmaps
. The map details the major road repairs scheduled this season on state highways and trunklines, along with the construction dates.
State construction information and up-to-date traffic information is also available on the Mi Drive website at www.michigan.gov/drive
, as well as the Mi Drive mobile app, available on iTunes and Google Play. Renew your boat registration online
With spring on its way, it’s never been easier to renew your watercraft registration! All watercraft, unless exempt, must be registered with the Michigan Secretary of State. Visit www.ExpressSOS.com
to renew, or renew by mail or at a Secretary of State branch office. Registrations are issued for three years and expire on March 31 of the third year.
Money from boat registration fees helps fund Michigan’s 82 public harbors and more than 1,300 public boat launches. Michigan is the third largest marine market in the country with more than 900,000 registered watercraft. March and April Coffee Hours