Senate approves Nofs bill to strengthen Michigans child protection laws

LANSING —Reforms designed to strengthen the laws concerning the review of cases involving the death of a child were approved Thursday by the Michigan Senate, said Sen. Mike Nofs.

“This is about all branches of government working together to improve the care and safety of children in the foster care system,” said Nofs, R-Battle Creek. “When a tragedy occurs and a child dies while in state care, it is critical that everyone works together to determine what happened and how to prevent it from occurring again.”

Department of Human Services (DHS) Director Maura Corrigan has worked with the Senate for several years to improve collaboration between state agencies on child death reviews, including during her tenure as a Michigan Supreme Court justice.

“My bill would ensure the courts are involved in the process by adding a local or state court representative to the child fatality review team,” Nofs said. “It would require the state team to submit a copy of an annual report on child fatalities to DHS by the end of each year. To improve the system everyone involved must have all the necessary information.”

Nofs’ measure, Senate Bill 229, would also require the Citizen Review Panel to examine each fatality involving a child who was or had been under court jurisdiction because of abuse or neglect.

Other bills in the package would:

  • Require DHS to establish and maintain a publicly accessible central registry, containing non-identifying statistical information regarding children’s deaths;
  • Make certain information available to a court that has jurisdiction in a suspected child abuse or neglect case, in the event of a child’s death; and
  • Require DHS to immediately notify the court with jurisdiction, the children’s ombudsman and the Legislature when a child under court jurisdiction dies.

Senate Bills 226-229 have been sent to the House of Representatives for consideration.

Nofs Supports Tax Reform Bill With Significant Improvements

Lansing – Senator Mike Nofs today voted in favor of House Bill 4361, legislation that makes numerous reforms to Michigan’s business and income tax structure.  Although this legislation included numerous provisions, a majority of the discussion has focused on the modification to the state tax structure.  The version passed by the Senate contains $1 billion in tax relief for small businesses with a significantly modified income tax that will raise $300 million in revenue.  The result is an initial net tax cut of $780 million over the next two years.

“During my campaign I stressed again and again the importance of improving our business climate and doing everything we could to help spur job creation and investment in Michigan.  The Senate has considerably cut the governor’s original pension tax from $900 million to $300 million, while ensuring that small businesses receive much needed tax relief,” Nofs said.  “Structural reforms, tied to reductions in state spending and a firm commitment from governor Snyder to pay down the state’s long-term debt, will put Michigan on the right track to ensure current debts are not passed on to the next generation.”

Small businesses, the employers that create and provide 80 percent of the jobs for Michigan workers will benefit from a lower tax burden.  House Bill 4361 levels the playing field for businesses by offering a consistent collection method that may actually result in larger companies contributing more, rather than an advantage over the small companies that are in our communities and owned by our neighbors.

“By investing in the businesses already struggling to support our local economies, we have invested in the future economic vitality of Michigan.  The tax reforms supported today by the Senate will allow small business owners to devote their resources to their business and employees rather than sending more to Lansing in taxes,” said Nofs.

Changes to the income tax exemption on certain types of retirement and pension income is the other major provision of this bill. Currently, only private pensions and unmatched income on 401(k) plans over $45,120 for an individual or $90,240 for a couple have income tax levied against them. The legislation passed by the Senate makes a number of alterations to what pension and retirement income will now be subject to the income tax (see table below). This tax will also apply to the pensions and retirement income of retired legislators.

“I received input from hundreds of constituents who have strong convictions on both sides of the pension tax issue. Extensive modifications have occurred during Senate debate on this proposal as a result of citizen input.  With citizen concerns in hand, I have lobbied the governor and Senate leadership for common sense amendments to this legislation”, Nofs said. “It is my belief that the improvements we made to the governor’s original plan provide protection for the vast majority of Michigan’s current retirees.  It is up to us to ensure that the current legacy of debt is not passed on to our children and grandchildren.”


Senate approves Nofs bill to combat meth production


LANSING –- The Michigan Senate approved legislation Thursday to help enforce limits on purchasing a key ingredient in the production of methamphetamine, said Sen. Mike Nofs, sponsor of the measure.

Methamphetamine, or meth, is a powerfully-addictive, illegal drug that is commonly manufactured in home labs using ephedrine or pseudoephedrine, which are common ingredients in cold medications.

“Meth is a highly-addictive drug that has devastating impacts on users, their families and communities,” said Nofs, R-Battle Creek. “When buying certain cold or allergy medicines, consumers are already required to show ID that retailers record. My bill would punish criminals who attempt to use a fake ID to circumvent state law and acquire large quantities of these substances for illicit purpose.”

Nofs’ measure, Senate Bill 350, would make it a misdemeanor to use or attempt to use a false identification or that of another person to purchase a product containing ephedrine pseudoephedrine, except in the case of undercover or police operations. This is consistent with state law, which prohibits the use of a false ID to purchase a firearm or for a minor attempting to purchase alcohol.

“Meth production is extremely dangerous, and law enforcement officers put their lives on the line every time they try to close down a lab,” said Nofs, a former state police commander. “I thank my Senate colleagues for helping local and state law enforcement keep our communities safe by approving this important reform.”

SB 350 now heads to the House of Representatives for consideration.

Nofs honors Michigan Youth Challenge Academy cadets

LANSING— Sen. Mike Nofs, R-Battle Creek, presents an honorary tribute to Academy Director Jim Luce and cadets from the Michigan Youth Challenge Academy. The academy was recognized for earning the 2010 Post Residential National Award as well as attaining an 80 percent GED pass rate for cadets taking the exam.

A print-quality version of the above photograph of Nofs, Luce and the cadets is available by clicking on the image or by visiting the senator’s photowire.