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Whitmer signs bills reducing deer harvesting fines, enacting rail grade separation funds, and more

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(The Center Square) – Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed 14 bills into law on Tuesday.

The laws range from enacting rail grade separation funds to reducing deer harvesting fines to changing the tribal guardian program.

“Allowing tribal family members to access essential guardian funds will ensure they have the resources they need to care for children they serve as guardians for,” Whitmer said in a statement. “Reducing the penalty for failing to report a deer harvest will lower costs for hunters and ensure no one is put in jail for a simple, easily fixable mistake. And finally, offering conservation officers the same authority as other law enforcement will help them keep people facing mental health crises safe and protect our parks. I was also proud to sign legislation implementing critical reforms to support survivors of abuse and designate a portion of US-127 as Trooper Starr Memorial Highway.”

The rail grade separation bill will authorize the Michigan Department of Transportation to create a local grade separation grant program and fund. The fund can be used by local communities to build overpasses and underpasses, separating vehicle traffic from railroad traffic. Delays caused by trains can slow traffic and endanger cars and pedestrians.

Senate Bill 137 and 138 will expand eligibility for financial assistance to guardians of children whose cases originate in Tribal courts within Michigan. Previously, under the Guardianship Assistant Program, guardians were only eligible for payments if the child’s removal proceedings started in state courts. The bills also amend the state’s GAP so that legal guardians designated by out-of-state or tribal court orders would be eligible for financial assistance. Finally, the bills prescribe certain case service plan requirements and guardianship arrangements for siblings.

SB 52 reduces the penalty for failing to report a deer harvest or retain a deer harvest confirmation number. The new penalty is a one-time fine of $150, reduced from a possible misdemeanor resulting in up to 90 days in jail and a fine of up to $500 paying the costs of prosecution.

SB 59 will expand the definition of a peace officer in the mental health code to include Department of Natural Resources conservation officers, which authorizes conservation officers to temporarily detain someone when confronted with someone exhibiting warning signs or presenting a danger to themselves or others in our state parks.

House Bill 4689 designates a portion of US-127 in Ingham County beginning at the Cedar Street exit and continuing to the I-96 interchange as the “Trooper Starr Memorial Highway.”

SB 66 requires schools to develop and distribute age-appropriate materials on sexual assault and sexual harassment for middle and high school students.

SB 67 prohibits health professionals from engaging in sexual contact under the pretext of medical treatment. SB 68 updates sentencing guidelines under SB 67.

SB 69 and 71 require parental consent and an additional health professional to be present during certain exams of minors and require patients’ records to be updated and retained for 15 years following the exams. SBs 70 and 72 would update sentencing guidelines per the bills.

SB 73 amends FOIA to exempt records that could reveal the identity of someone that anonymously reported being a victim of sexual misconduct.

SB 236 would update the definition of mentally incapacitated in the Michigan Penal Code regarding sexual assault to include any time a person is incapable of controlling their conduct due to the influence of a substance regardless of if the substance was administered with or without their consent.

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