Snyder signs bill to create Public Threat Alert System

Michigan residents can receive alerts regarding serious public safety emergencies, under legislation signed last week by Gov. Rick Snyder.

"Leveraging current technology to quickly warn Michiganders of imminent threats will be valuable for preventing greater harm during dangerous incidents and senseless acts of violence," Snyder said.

Senate Bill 976 and House Bills 5442 and 5567, sponsored by state Sen. Mike Nofs and state Reps. Brandt Iden and David Maturen, respectively, establishes a Public Threat Alert System that would rapidly disseminate information about emergencies to radio, television stations and wireless devices.

The bills were drafted in response to the February mass shootings in Kalamazoo County, where a man opened fire in multiple locations, killing six people and injuring two others. Following this tragedy, many Kalamazoo residents called for a warning system that could quickly inform the public of dangerous situations.

The measures also create criminal penalties for anyone who makes a false report, and require offenders to reimburse local agencies for the cost of responding to false reports. They are now Public Acts 234-236 of 2016.

Snyder also signed 12 additional bills:

SBs 690-694, sponsored by state Sens. David Robertson, Marty Knollenberg, Dale Zorn, and Margaret O'Brien, respectively, removes terms that may be considered offensive to the deaf, deafblind and hard of hearing community in Michigan laws. The bill also requires telephone companies to provide text telephone devices to those who are deaf, deafblind or hard of hearing. It is now PAs 237-241.

SBs 207 and 434, sponsored by state Sens. Rick Jones and Tom Casperson, respectively, create a one-year pilot program that will allow law enforcement officers trained as Drug Recognition Experts (DREs) to administer a saliva test to drivers suspected of being under the influence of drugs. The saliva test would be in addition to the drug recognition 12-step evaluation currently used by DREs. The five-county pilot program will be used to help determine accuracy and reliability of the tests. The bills are now PAs 242 and 243.

SB 878, sponsored by state Sen. Mike Shirkey, gives business owners more time to install phone systems that would provide specific location information of a 9-1-1 call, as required by law. The measure extends the previous installation deadline of Dec. 31, 2016 to Dec. 31, 2019. It is now PA 244.

HB 5701, sponsored by state Rep. Larry Inman, would allow local road agencies to purchase surplus equipment from the Michigan Department of Transportation, before it is donated, disposed of or sold at a public auction. It is now PA 245.

SB 105, sponsored by state Sen. Mike Green, would help cover the cost of operating movable bridges and wetland mitigation related to road projects. The bill annually allocates $2 million to the Local Agency Wetland Mitigation Bank Fund and $5 million to the Movable Bridge Fund. It is now PA 246.

SB 523, sponsored by state Sen. Wayne Schmidt, helps highlight and preserve Native American history in Michigan through the creation of a Native Heritage Master Plan. The bill requires the Michigan Department of Natural Resources to work with tribal governments and other agencies to review, plan, and implement a master plan to promote and preserve the history of Native Americans in this state. In addition the bill calls for the department to sponsor commemorations, identify significant heritage sites statewide and set a strategy for promoting those sites. It is now PA 247.

HB 5631, sponsored by state Rep. Al Pscholka, redirects $3 million from the Forest Development Fund to the First Responder Presumed Coverage Fund to provide support to Michigan firefighters who develop cancer on the job. The money would be used to help fund worker's compensation benefits to eligible firefighters who have been diagnosed with cancer and do not have access to disability pension benefits. It is now PA 248.

Published: Mon, Jun 27, 2016