Senators applaud Ohio Soo Locks resolution; urge neighboring states to act

LANSING, Mich. – State Senators Wayne Schmidt, Ken Horn and Tom Casperson today applauded the Ohio House of Representatives’ adoption of a resolution urging the U.S. government to upgrade the Soo Locks.

“I appreciate the action taken by Ohio’s legislature calling on the federal government to upgrade the Soo Locks,” said Schmidt, R-Traverse City, who chairs the Senate Commerce Committee. “Ohioans, like Michiganders, understand the locks’ economic importance to our respective states, the Great Lakes region and the United States. Tens of thousands of jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of resources depend on safe and continued travel through the Soo Locks. Now, more than ever, it’s time to modernize this vital trade passage.”

Ohio’s House Resolution 263, much like one adopted by the Michigan Senate last November, calls on the president, the Congress and the U.S. Office of Management and Budget to upgrade the locks, and urges the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to proceed with preparing an economic reevaluation report.

Only one of the four Soo Locks is currently large enough to accommodate the modern vessels that commonly traverse the Great Lakes. Seventy percent of cargo is carried on the large ships that can only pass through the Poe Lock.

“With so much riding, literally, on the single Poe Lock, we’re presented with a potential economic and security disaster should that lock go down for any amount of time,” said Horn, R-Frankenmuth, who chairs the Senate Economic Development and International Investment Committee. “For those reasons and to help our economy grow, we must upgrade the locks. Michigan understands that. Ohio understands that. It’s time for the federal government to stand up and act as well.”

Approximately 10,000 vessels travel through the locks annually, carrying 80 million tons of iron ore, coal, grain, and other cargo. Nearly 80 percent of domestic iron ore, the primary material used to manufacture steel, travels from mines in the Upper Peninsula and neighboring states through the Soo Locks.

The senators called on their colleagues in the legislatures of neighboring Great Lakes states Wisconsin and Minnesota to also adopt a Soo Locks resolution.

“A new lock will provide the secure, redundant, and reliable Soo Lock system vital to Michigan, to other Great Lakes states like Ohio, Wisconsin and Minnesota, and to the nation as a whole,” said Senate Transportation Committee Chairman Casperson, R-Escanaba. “Adopting these resolutions in a joint effort is critical to moving the process forward.”

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Horn joins efforts to cut red tape at Michigan schools

Sen. Ken Horn

Sen. Ken Horn

LANSING, Mich. — State Sen. Ken Horn joined 11 Republican lawmakers on Tuesday to introduce a 14-bill package that would benefit Michigan schools by eliminating unnecessary and redundant reporting requirements and streamlining the reporting process.

“These overly burdensome reporting requirements are taking resources away from improving Michigan’s education system,” said Horn, R-Frankenmuth, sponsor of Senate Bill 761. “The focus has to be on student achievement. Repealing these unnecessary layers that distract school officials from their primary duties of educating our children is common sense policy.”

Michigan school districts are mandated to prepare and submit hundreds of reports to state and federal entities. These reports can be time-consuming and tedious to produce and are often redundant or even archaic by the submission date.

Education reporting requirements are not limited to the state’s education code — they litter Michigan law. Unfortunately, there is no published comprehensive index to easily locate all mandated reports. These reports are costly, often taking a great deal of staff time and resources.

“I was happy to join my colleagues in sponsoring part of this reform,” Horn said. “My bill repeals the Education for the Gifted and/or Academically Talented Act, an old, obsolete law that is no longer funded because the commission completed its recommendations over 40 years ago.”

In addition to Horn, the following senators are sponsors of the bills in the legislative package:

  • Phil Pavlov, R-St. Clair Township (SB 754)
  • Darwin Booher, R-Evart (SBs 756-757)
  • Patrick Colbeck, R-Canton (SB 758)
  • Goeff Hansen, R-Hart (SB 766)
  • Peter MacGregor, R-Rockford (SB 762)
  • Marty Knollenberg, R-Troy (SB 755)
  • Margaret O’Brien, R-Portage (SB 767)
  • Wayne Schmidt, R-Traverse City (SB 763)
  • Mike Shirkey, R-Clarklake (SB 764)
  • Jim Stamas, R-Midland (SBs 759-760)
  • Dale Zorn, R-Ida (SB 765)

SBs 754-767 have been referred to the Senate Education Committee for consideration.

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Horn, Graves announce February office hours in Flushing

Sen. Ken Horn

Sen. Ken Horn

LANSING, Mich. — State Sen. Ken Horn, R-Frankenmuth, announced that February office hours are scheduled for the 32nd Senate District. Horn will be joined by state Rep. Joseph Graves of the 51st District.

Horn and Graves will be available to meet with constituents at the following date, time and location:

Friday, Feb. 19

10 a.m. – noon

Flushing Township Office Board Room

6524 N. Seymour Road

Flushing, MI 48433

Both legislators will be on hand to answer questions and respond to concerns any residents of the districts may have. No appointment is necessary.

For more information or to contact Horn, please visit www.SenatorKenHorn.com or call 517-373-1760.

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Bipartisan bills would crack down on animal abusers

Sen. Ken Horn

Sen. Ken Horn

LANSING, Mich. — The Michigan Senate on Thursday approved legislation that would allow animal control organizations and pet shelters to perform criminal history background checks on potential owners.

“I have always been an animal lover,” said Sen. Ken Horn, R-Frankenmuth. “My wife and I proudly rescued our first dog Riley, and just recently adopted a second named Bo. I was happy to support these bills to help make sure that we are doing everything we can to keep animals out of the hands of convicted animal abusers.”

Senate Bill 220 would allow nonprofit animal shelters and animal control organizations to access the Internet Criminal History Access Tool (ICHAT) database free of charge. The groups could use the ICHAT system to perform a name-based search of an individual’s criminal history when deciding whether to allow the person to adopt an animal.

“This legislation allows nonprofit organizations that adopt out pets, such as animal shelters, to freely access the Michigan State Police database that stores data on animal abusers,” Horn said. Allowing these organizations to see the criminal history of animal abusers gives them a tool to stop an adoption before it is too late.”

Under SB 219, if a person is convicted of animal abuse offenses, the court shall, as a condition of probation, order the offender to not own or possess an animal for a period of time. The court would be required to prohibit repeat offenders from owning or possessing an animal for at least five years after the sentencing date or the date of release from incarceration, whichever is later.

“We need to prevent the easy adoption of dogs and cats from shelters by convicted abusers,” Horn said. “It has been well-documented that a person who abuses animals often later moves onto humans, and we cannot give these people easy access to another victim. I’m proud to have joined the bipartisan effort to protect our four-legged friends.”

The bills, which have come to be known as “Logan’s Law,” have been sent to the House of Representatives for further consideration.

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