Nofs legislation assisting youths sent to governor

LANSING — Legislation to help improve outcomes for foster care and other at-risk youths by creating a voluntary program for young adults ages 18 to 21 is on its way to the governor, said sponsor Sen. Mike Nofs.

Senate Bills 435-440 would create the “Young Adult Voluntary Foster Care Act,” which would allow 18-year-olds to remain under certain state care until they turn 21. Nofs’ bill would amend the Guardianship Assistance Act to allow youths in the voluntary program to remain in guardianship until age 21.

“My bill is about giving young people the best chance to succeed in life. The optional program will connect these youths with a stable family or adult for three years during an important stage in their life,” said Nofs, R-Battle Creek. “Increasing educational achievement and guidance for at-risk young adults is critical to creating better outcomes. The results are improved lives and reduced costs to taxpayers through less crime, substance abuse, pregnancy and reliance on state assistance programs.”

The federal Fostering Connections Act allows states to draw federal funding to support a voluntary foster care program for youths age 18-21 if the youths are either completing high school, enrolled in post-secondary or vocational school, participating in a program designed to remove barriers to employment, employed for at least 80 hours per month, or incapable of doing any of these activities due to a medical condition.

Senate Bills 435-440 have been sent to the governor to be signed into law.

Nofs’ senior protection bill passed by Senate

LANSING —The state Senate has unanimously approved legislation sponsored by Sen. Mike Nofs to help protect Michigan’s most vulnerable citizens. Senate Bill 454 is part of an 18-bill package designed to help protect Michigan’s seniors, stop elder abuse and prosecute offenders.

“During my 30 years in law enforcement, I saw firsthand the tremendous impact of abuse, neglect and exploitation on our seniors,” said Nofs, R-Battle Creek. “Often elder abuse cases go unreported or unpunished, because many victims feel intimidated or embarrassed to come forward or testify. My bill will help enable these seniors to testify about their case without fear of being physically confronted by their abusers.”

Nofs’ measure would allow victims of alleged vulnerable adult abuse to give testimony via closed-circuit television or a prerecorded video. For constitutional reasons, this would be limited to criminal cases where circumstances meet those required by the U.S. Supreme Court.

“For too long the system has failed our most vulnerable adults who have suffered, often in silence, from the torment of physical and financial abuses,” said Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker, R-Lawton, a lead sponsor of the package. “This senior protection legislation aims to put a spotlight on these criminal acts and bring their perpetrators to justice.”

The Senate-approved package would further protect those who are at risk of being exploited without placing an unmanageable burden on their guardians. Other measures include:

  • Improving coordination between state and local authorities;
  • Enhancing banking, annuity and insurance protections for seniors;
  • Establishing reporting requirements for suspected abuse and neglect or knowledge of abuse and neglect in long-term care facilities; and
  • Creating a senior medical alert for missing seniors, similar to an Amber Alert.

Senate Bills 454-457, 459-468, 604-605, 706 and 777 have been sent to the House of Representatives for further consideration.

Former sheriff and MSP commander team up to end speed traps

LANSING — State Sens. Rick Jones and Mike Nofs, both former law enforcement officials, introduced Senate Bill 795  Wednesday to ensure speed limits posted in Michigan are scientific and safe.

“Studies have shown since 1941 that when speed limits are under-posted, more traffic crashes occur,” said Nofs, R-Battle Creek. “This bill will ensure that the proper safe speeds are posted.”

Jones, R-Grand Ledge, added: “We want the state to be known as ‘Pure Michigan,’ where tourists come to visit, not ‘speed trap’ Michigan. The intent of Public Act 85 in 2006 was to stop under-posting. Some cities have found loopholes. This measure will close those loopholes.”

If enacted, the proposed law would require cities, townships and counties to post speed limits based on scientific standards accepted by the Michigan State Police and the Michigan Department of Transportation.