Proos reminds residents of Oct. 9 voter registration deadline

Senator John Proos

Senator John Proos

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. John Proos is reminding Southwest Michigan residents that the deadline to register to vote for the November general election is next week.

“America was founded on the revolutionary idea that our government doesn’t give us power; our government only has the power that we, the people, choose to give it,” said Proos, R-St. Joseph. “This freedom to choose or reject our leaders makes us the beacon of liberty in the world. I encourage all citizens to exercise their constitutional right to vote, which begins with ensuring that you are registered to vote.”

In Michigan, voters must be registered one month before an election. For the Nov. 6 general election, that means residents need to be registered by Oct. 9.

If you are not registered to vote or if you do not know whether you’re registered, visit the Michigan Voter Information Center at: www.michigan.gov/vote. The site enables you to check your voter registration status, find your local county clerk’s office and follow a step-by-step guide to register to vote. For voters who cannot attend the polls on Nov. 6, the website also includes information about absentee voting.

Residents who are not registered can also pick up a registration form at a secretary of state branch or from their local clerk.

For more information, residents in Berrien County may also contact the county clerk’s office at 269-983-7111 ext. 8264 or by email at elections@berriencounty.org. St. Joseph County residents may contact the county clerk’s office at 269-467-5603 and residents in Cass County should call 269-445-4464.

“Every vote matters and sometimes a single vote can make all the difference,” Proos said. “I am proud that we have an engaged population in Southwest Michigan that turns out to vote.”

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Editor’s note: Audio comments by Proos will be available later at www.SenatorJohnProos.com/audio.

Proos honors the late Cass County Treasurer Linda Pruett

LANSING, Mich. Sen. John Proos on Wednesday gave a memorial tribute on the Senate floor during session in honor of the life and memory of Linda Pruett.

Pruett was serving in her 16th year as Cass County treasurer when she died on July 29.

“In July, Southwest Michigan lost a tireless public servant and community leader when Linda Pruett lost her battle with cancer,” said Proos, R-St. Joseph. “Linda was a straight shooter who loved serving the people of Cass County and excelled at her role as treasurer. She was the perfect person for the job. She loved the people that worked for her, had a great relationship with the township treasurers and the county board, and worked in a cooperative effort with individuals facing foreclosure to ensure they had an opportunity to keep their property.”

Pruett was a lifelong resident of Dowagiac and a graduate of Dowagiac Union High School. She raised her three daughters while working from home during the day and at the Elks Lodge on the weekends. Pruett then worked as the juvenile registrar, where she handled the difficult budget for the Child Care Fund. Pruett’s excellent work in that role led to her appointment as County Cass treasurer in 2002. She was elected and re-elected to four additional terms.

“Beyond being an outstanding public servant, Linda was a frequent volunteer for many community organizations and a giving person who was always willing to help and treated everyone like family,” Proos said. “She will be greatly missed and my thoughts and prayers continue to be with her family.”

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Proos-supported skilled trades training program now law

Senator John Proos

Senator John Proos

LANSING, Mich. — The governor this summer signed legislation cosponsored by Sen. John Proos to fund skilled trades training for Michigan residents.

“We have worked hard to create a positive environment for economic growth and job creation in Michigan, which has resulted in over 500,000 new private sector jobs and a more than 70 percent cut in unemployment,” said Proos, R-St. Joseph. “Michigan’s unemployment rate is the lowest in nearly 18 years, yet thousands of jobs throughout the state and in Southwest Michigan remain unfilled because employers cannot find enough skilled workers.

“I cosponsored the Going Pro Talent Program because it can ensure our workers are ready for successful careers and that job providers will have access to the highly skilled workforce they need to continue Michigan’s comeback.”

Senate Bill 946, now Public Act 260 of 2018, permanently puts the Going Pro Talent Program into state law. The program helps job providers train Michigan workers in an effort to meet demands for talent, enhances productivity and employee retention, and increase the state’s competitiveness for new investment.

“With the recent passage of Public Act 260, Michigan businesses have assurance that critical funding will be available through the Going Pro Talent Fund to provide their workforce the training they need to compete and grow,” said Jeff Hannan, director of business solutions at Kinexus. “During the recent fiscal year, Kinexus assisted 37 companies in receiving $1.3 million in awards of one-time training dollars to train 1,095 individuals. This permanent grant allows employers the additional workforce support to continue reducing the cost of new hire training and the up-skilling of existing staff.”

Since 2014, the program has provided $72.9 million in competitive awards to over 2,000 Michigan companies for training and apprenticeships.

“This legislation builds on my efforts to promote career and technical education, training and opportunities throughout my time in the Legislature,” Proos said. “I have always been a strong supporter of applied learning because it can help prepare all Michigan children for success and also help us meet the workforce needs of a growing economy.”

Proos is a member of the governor’s MiSTEM Advisory Council to promote science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education in Michigan. He sponsored PA 288 of 2014 to connect unfilled jobs with classroom instruction and training. It allows for the sharing of information between schools and businesses with employee needs and provides students and their parents with information on available career and technical education opportunities.

Proos also sponsored PAs 241 and 242 of 2018, which allow Michigan students to receive a STEM certification on their diploma and require schools to provide students with the most recent analysis of in-demand occupations in the school’s region. Michigan is the first state to allow this STEM certification opportunity.

“These initiatives will give students more tools to make informed decisions about their future and give them a competitive advantage in landing a well-paying job,” Proos said.

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Editor’s note: Audio comments by Proos will be available at www.SenatorJohnProos.com/Audio.

Proos highlights National Hunting and Fishing Day

Senator John Proos

Senator John Proos

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. John Proos is reminding Southwest Michigan residents that Saturday is National Hunting and Fishing Day — coinciding with Michigan’s liberty and antlerless deer hunts.

“Hunting and fishing have been rich and storied traditions for area families for longer than Michigan has been a state,” said Proos, R-St. Joseph. “National Hunting and Fishing Day was established in 1972 to celebrate and recognize the tremendous contributions of hunters and anglers to fish and wildlife conservation in an effort to ensure our natural resources are preserved for generations to come.

“Sportsmen and sportswomen support over 72,000 jobs in our state, contribute nearly $5 billion to our economy and generate roughly $90 million to support state conservation efforts.”

National Hunting and Fishing Day is celebrated the fourth Saturday of every September to promote and recognize the science-based, user-pay conservation system that funds state efforts to provide for healthy and sustainable natural resources.

“The weekend is also the first of Michigan’s deer firearm hunting seasons, including the state’s liberty hunt,” Proos said. “The liberty hunt offers access to hunting for those with disabilities and a chance to share the enjoyment of the outdoors with the next generation while helping instill a respect for our natural resources.”

The liberty hunt is Sept. 22-23 on private and public lands in Michigan for firearm deer hunting. It is open to eligible hunters with disabilities and youth hunters age 16 or younger. The bag limit for the liberty hunt is one deer, and all participating hunters must wear hunter orange.

Proos is offering a 2018 Hunting Guide with information on Michigan’s hunting seasons on his website at www.SenatorJohnProos.com/publications.

Hunters can also download the 2018 Michigan Hunting Digest, which includes all current Michigan rules and regulations, at www.michigan.gov/hunting.

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Proos raising awareness of new sexual assault hotline

Senator John Proos

Senator John Proos

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. John Proos is reminding Southwest Michigan residents that a new confidential, 24-hour sexual assault hotline is up and running to provide crisis support and referrals to survivors and their friends and family.

“Sexual assault is a horrific crime that can leave long-lasting emotional and physical scars,” said Proos, R-St. Joseph. “It is critical that all sexual assault survivors have access to the resources they need to heal and have a safe and confidential place to turn to for support. As we continue to work to prevent sexual assaults, we must create an environment where survivors feel free to reach out for help and start the healing process.”

Residents can call the hotline at 1-855-VOICES4.

The hotline is staffed with professional crisis counselors who specialize in crisis intervention, sexual assault, child sexual abuse, victim’s rights, health options and Michigan law. If survivors need additional assistance, the staff can help connect them with local programs that offer counseling, advocacy and support.

Calls are not time limited, and a survivor may call the hotline as many times as needed.

Proos said it is important to note that the hotline is not intended for reporting sexual assaults to law enforcement. Those who wish to file a police report about a sexual assault should call 911 or their local law enforcement.

“Survivors of sexual assault should never feel alone or embarrassed; there are highly trained, supportive professionals who care about them and are ready to listen and help them at any time during their healing journey,” Proos said. “This 24-hour hotline is an important service to provide survivors with counseling and support that can make a world of difference.”

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Proos supports fiscal responsibility measures

Senator John Proos

Senator John Proos

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. John Proos recently supported fiscal accountability measures to continue long-term budget planning and require complete fiscal reports on a bill’s impact.

Senate Bill 1051 would require the governor to submit a budget for the upcoming fiscal year and the following fiscal year that includes anticipated state revenues, estimates of year-end unrestricted fund balances, and line-item details on specific spending categories. It would also require the governor to present a five-year strategic plan for the state’s operations.

“This reform builds on the initiatives that I have fought for throughout my time in public service,” said Proos, R-St. Joseph. “In both the House and Senate, I introduced resolutions to take a long-term approach to spending with multi-year budgeting, which would force future leaders to keep their eyes on the bigger picture: continuing to build a better Michigan.”

In 2016, the governor signed Proos’ bill, SB 292, which requires the governor’s budget plan to include the current unfunded accrued liabilities (UAL) for retiree health care and pensions.

“We have reduced our unfunded liabilities and put Michigan on pace to eliminate that debt,” Proos said. “We must now ensure that future leaders understand the state’s debt situation and how to protect residents’ hard-earned pensions as well as the fiscal health of our state.”

House Bill 4679 would require the House and Senate fiscal agencies to prepare a fiscal note for each bill that is scheduled for a hearing before a standing committee and to update their analysis as necessary as the bill moves through the process. The note would need to include a summary of a bill’s changes to the law, its effect on state taxes or fees, and its potential impact on local governments and on state revenues and expenditures.

“The legislative process can be complex, and this will ensure that lawmakers always have access to the necessary and complete fiscal information on how every bill under consideration impacts state revenues, spending and taxpayers,” Proos said.

“Since 2011, we have made great strides to improve Michigan’s economy and financial situation,” Proos said. “Michigan now has a growing economy that is creating jobs. We also ended annual budget deficits and adopted responsible and balanced budgets that continue to increase our investment in education and roads while paying down debt.

“These reforms are about ensuring that future state leaders continue current best practices and have the vital fiscal information needed to make wise decisions impacting Michigan families.”

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Editor’s note: Audio comments by Proos are available at www.SenatorJohnProos.com/Audio.

Sen. Proos reminds hunters of effort to combat chronic wasting disease

Senator John Proos

Senator John Proos

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. John Proos is reminding Southwest Michigan hunters about new regulations and laws aimed at stopping the spread of chronic wasting disease (CWD) — a deadly neurological disease found in deer, elk and moose.

“Chronic wasting disease poses a serious threat to our deer population and a hunting industry that supports our outdoor recreation operations and contributes roughly $2.3 billion annually to our economy,” said Proos, R-St. Joseph. “There is no cure for CWD, and an infected deer can live with the disease for years and spread it through contact with other animals.”

According to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR), the disease first was discovered in Michigan in a free-ranging deer in 2015. To date, more than 31,000 deer in the state have been tested for CWD, and it has been confirmed in 60 deer.

New rules recently adopted by the Michigan Natural Resources Commission include limits on lures, a ban on baiting and feeding in an expanded CWD Management Zone, restrictions on transporting deer carcasses in some counties and expanded deer hunting in the zone.

The 16-county management zone starts in Hillsdale County and travels north to Calhoun County and the Lansing area and then west to Lake Michigan through Kent and Ottawa counties.

Regular firearm season in Michigan starts on Nov. 15, but people can begin hunting deer in Indiana reduction zones on Sept. 15 and as a part of Michigan’s liberty and early antlerless hunts on Sept. 22-23.

“I want to remind hunters that the law now prohibits hunters from bringing certain parts of a deer carcass into Michigan from out of state,” Proos said. “The law was enacted to guard against exposing our Michigan deer to CWD from out-of-state sources. It exempts certain parts that do not pose a CWD risk, such as hides, deboned meat, finished taxidermy items and antlers.”

Residents can find information on CWD and the new regulations at www.michigan.gov/cwd.

“I also encourage hunters to help stop this devastating disease, preserve our wild game population and protect our hunting heritage by having their deer checked,” Proos said.

Locations for Michigan DNR check stations can be found at www.michigan.gov/deercheck.

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Governor signs bill creating nation’s first STEM diploma certification opportunity

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. John Proos on Thursday joined Gov. Rick Snyder, area economic development leaders, local educators and students as the governor formally signed legislation to provide students with important career outlook information and reward students for taking extra science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) courses.

“Both of these measures will help our students succeed by ensuring they can make the best decisions about their education and career,” said Proos, R-St. Joseph. “Michigan is the first state in the nation to allow a STEM certification that rewards students who complete additional STEM classes. We are also now ensuring that every Michigan high school student receives valuable career information about where jobs currently exist and are they’re expected to be created.”

Senate Bill 343, now Public Act 242 of 2018, requires school districts and public school academies to provide students with the most recent available analysis of in-demand occupations for the economic forecast region in which the school or public school academy is located.

SB 344, now PA 241 of 2018, allows Michigan students to receive a STEM certification on their diploma or transcript as an incentive for taking additional courses in STEM subjects.

“We appreciate the leadership of Senator Proos to help promote the value to STEM education and help us meet the increasing demand for skilled workers,” said Cathy Knapp, Southwest Michigan First director and a certified economic developer. “Our economy continues to grow and create outstanding career opportunities, yet many of our job creators are having a hard time finding the highly skilled workers they need. These innovative solutions will help address that problem and better prepare our students for in-demand careers.”

Chris Machiniak, regional director of career and technical education (CTE) for the Berrien Regional Education Service Agency, said, “The high school graduation rate for Berrien County students in CTE programs is more than 94 percent. It is an example of the determination of our staff and students to achieve at a high level and meet the needs for today’s high-wage, high-skill and high-demand positions. Thanks to Senator Proos’ efforts, we now have additional tools to promote our students’ achievements and prepare them for successful careers.”

To earn the STEM certification, students need to complete at least six credits in mathematics, at least six credits in science, at least a half credit featuring significant coursework involving technology, and at least a half credit featuring significant coursework involving engineering.

“I want to thank Senator Proos for all his work to help career and technical education students succeed in school and in life,” said Parker Lyden, a CTE student at New Tech at Niles High School. “No one else offers this type of certification on our high school diploma. For those of us taking extra STEM classes, it will give us an advantage in landing a great job.”

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Editor’s note: The above photograph is available by clicking on the image or at www.SenatorJohnProos.com/Photowire.

Senate approves evidence-based parole reform

Senator John Proos

Senator John Proos

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. John Proos on Wednesday supported Senate approval of legislation to establish parole standards and require the parole board to make objective decisions when considering releasing a prisoner on parole. The bill is now on its way to the governor’s desk.

“Objective parole continues the hard work of promoting evidence-based criminal justice reform, which is something that I have championed throughout my time in the Legislature,” said Proos, R-St. Joseph. “Since about 90 percent of prisoners in our state will one day return home to our communities, it makes sense to make sure that they are prepared to succeed with clear and objective standards.

“Ensuring that individuals know the standards to which they will be held accountable only increases their chances for success upon their release and will better allow for their successful reintegration back into society.”

House Bill 5377 would establish an objective, evidence-based parole policy in Michigan. The bill would require that denial of parole for a prisoner who has a high probability of parole, as determined by the guidelines, must be for a substantial and compelling objective reason.

Some of the substantial and compelling reasons would include:
• Objective evidence of post-sentencing conduct or a pattern of negative behavior by the prisoner while incarcerated that suggests he would be a substantial risk to public safety;
• Failure of the prisoner to present a sufficient parole plan that addresses the risks and needs of that prisoner to be able to be a successful parolee; or
• The prisoner either refuses to participate in programming to reduce his risk or has not yet completed the programming and it is not available in the community.

The bill also would require an annual report to the Legislature detailing prisoner and parole numbers and reasons for parole denials.

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Editor’s note: Audio comments by Proos are available at www.SenatorJohnProos.com/Audio.

Proos memorializes the late Berrien County Register of Deeds Lori Jarvis

LANSING, Mich. Sen. John Proos on Wednesday gave a memorial tribute on the Senate floor during session in honor of the life and memory of Lori Jarvis.

Jarvis was serving in her fifth term as Berrien County Register of Deeds when she died on June 14 as a result of a car accident.

“Earlier this summer, Southwest Michigan lost not only one of its finest public servants and community leaders, but also a great friend, Lori Jarvis,” said Proos, R-St. Joseph. “As the register of deeds for Berrien County, Lori offered innovative service to ensure accessibility for all county residents. I certainly enjoyed Lori’s passion and bold leadership — whether creating legislation, working together in the community, or visiting at our kids’ soccer games.

“My thoughts and prayers continue to be with her husband Butch and their family.”

Jarvis served as the register of deeds for Berrien County since 2000 and had been reelected four times. She was also very active in the Michigan Association of Register of Deeds — serving as secretary, vice president, and then as president.

“Lori served as chair and co-chair of the association’s legislative committee for 18 years and was the go-to person statewide for all registers with questions about the law,” Proos said. “In recognition of Lori’s tremendous service and leadership, she was also recognized twice as the Register of the Year in 2009 and 2016 — the only register in Michigan to have received that honor twice. Lori was passionately devoted to her family, her community and her state. She will certainly be missed.”

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Editor’s note: Video of Proos’ address is available at: www.SenatorJohnProos.com/Video.