News affecting you from Charlevoix to Lansing

This week’s news briefs include the latest on laws and measures regarding mushroom picking, ORV trails, pediatric services, maple syrup, the congressional art competition and much more.

The morel authority
State Rep. Triston Cole has introduced legislation that will remove regulations for morel mushroom enthusiasts to obtain a mandatory certification to be able to pick and sell morels to local businesses.
House Bill 5532 will remove morel mushrooms from the food code that requires harvesters to be certified to sell.
HB 5532 was referred to the House Agriculture Committee.

ORV could use forest roads
Michigan House of Representatives approved legislation sponsored by state Rep. Triston Cole recently to increase recreational opportunities in Michigan by giving off-road vehicle (ORV) users right to utilize any forest road that currently sees motor vehicle traffic that is not marked closed.
The forest roads will be audited by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) which may result in closure of roads that were never intended to be within our current forest roads system. Some connector pieces may be added to the system as well.
House Bill 5275 will also allow an individual to retrieve legally harvested big game from state land with an ORV, pack or saddle animal providing that the individual uses the most direct route.
HB 5275 now moves to the Senate for consideration.

Cancer Institute ACR Accreditation
The Karmanos Cancer Institute of McLaren Northern Michigan recently earned a three-year accreditation in radiation oncology from the American College of Radiology (ACR).
An ACR accreditation represents the highest level of quality and patient safety. Facility staff, equipment, treatment-planning and treatment records are assessed through a third-party impartial peer review. An additional evaluation was performed on all patient-safety policies and quality control.

E-Z Road loans
The Senate unanimously approved legislation sponsored by state Sen. Wayne Schmidt that would allow the state’s county road commissions to loan money to townships for road construction projects.
Senate Bill 729 would authorize a county board of commissioners to loan funds to a township in the county for the purpose of funding a road construction project or providing matching funds for a joint project between the county and the township.
SB 729 now goes to the state House of Representatives for consideration.

Improving pediatric services
The Health Department of Northwest Michigan has partnered with pediatric and primary care providers across Charlevoix and Emmet counties to implement a new program—the Michigan Children’s Healthcare Access Program (CHAP).
CHAP aims to make it easier for families to connect the resources they need to keep their children healthy.
CHAP, which serves youth ages 17 and younger, acts as a coordinator of children’s health care services. The mission of CHAP is to improve health outcomes among children on Medicaid, while better utilizing existing resources and decreasing healthcare costs. Patients will receive needed services, education, and assistance navigating the healthcare system. Current CHAP participants include Petoskey Pediatrics, Community Health Center of Northern Michigan, Charlevoix Pediatrics, Pine River Medical, EJ Family Health Center, and Dental Clinics North-East Jordan.
More info at or (800) 432-4121.

East Jordan fire training
The East Jordan Fire Department, along with personnel from Charlevoix Township, Banks Township, Otsego Township and the City of Charlevoix Fire Departments were at the site of a training burn at 102 John St. in East Jordan on Sunday March 20.
Several training sessions had taken place before the burn on Sunday and several were conducted the day of the burn at the two story house to further hone the skills of these firefighters.
The house, owned by Crossroads Ecumenical Resale Shop, was burned to make way for additional parking for customers and staff in conjunction with an addition construction project.
A roadway connecting Jordan Street and John Street will allow for easier drop off of donations and picking up of larger purchased items once the 4,500-square-foot addition is completed.

Gov. Snyder signs new laws
Local governments will have the option to maintain property tax assessments electronically, making these records more accessible and saving costs, under legislation signed by Gov. Rick Snyder
“Electronic data is more easily searched and stored, and is a move toward continuing to modernize government operations while reducing the strain on taxpayer funding,” Snyder said.
• House Bill 4888, sponsored by state Rep. Holly Hughes, allows local tax assessors to maintain electronic assessment rolls. The bill also establishes appropriate security practices, requires the creation of an electronic backup file and requires local units using electronic files to provide a computer for public use and viewing of the files.
The bill is now Public Act 25 of 2016.
Snyder signed an additional three bills:
• Senate Bill 503, sponsored by state Sen. Judy Emmons, updates provisions related to parental rights of American Indian children in Michigan. The bill ensures Michigan is in compliance with federal law. It is now PA 26.
• HB 4758, sponsored by state Rep. Al Pscholka, allows local communities to have access to additional funding options for financing infrastructure improvement projects. This will decrease borrowing costs for drain projects. It is now PA 27.
• HB 4727, sponsored by state Rep. Triston Cole, requires new meteorological evaluation towers to be properly identified, bringing Michigan’s record keeping practices in line with federal standards. Under the bill, tower owners will provide detailed height, location and installation date information to the Michigan Aeronautics Commission. It is now PA 28.

New Coast Guard Cutter
The Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2015 authorizes design and construction of a new Coast Guard heavy icebreaker vessel to enhance icebreaking capability on the Great Lakes.
The Great Lakes have seen record levels of ice cover over recent winters, limiting commercial shipping and other economic activity in Michigan’s waterways.
Last winter, ice cover on the Great Lakes contributed to an estimated 3.2 million ton decrease in cargo, costing nearly $355 million in lost revenue and 2,000 lost jobs.
The Coast Guard currently operates a Great Lakes fleet that includes only nine icebreaking-capable cutters, some of which were commissioned in the 1970s. The USCGC MACKINAW, commissioned in 2006, is the only heavy icebreaker operating on the Great Lakes.

A sticky situation
Maple syrup producers would be able to transport sap from the field to the farm without worry of exceeding Michigan’s seasonal weight restrictions under a bill approved by the Senate.
“Maple syrup production is an important part of Michigan’s agriculture industry, contributing $2.5 million to our state’s economy annually,” said Sen. Wayne Schmidt, R-Traverse City. “While maple sap is the first crop to be harvested each year, from February through April, it is not included on the list of agriculture products that are exempt from seasonal weight restrictions.”
Michigan ranks sixth in the U.S. for maple syrup production. SB 314 now goes to the state House for consideration.

School Art Competition
First District Congressman Dan Benishek announced his office is accepting submissions for the 2016 Congressional Art Competition.
All high school students who are residents of the 1st District of Michigan are encouraged to participate.
The winning entry will be displayed in the United States Capitol building in Washington, D.C. Interested students and teachers should visit or call 906-273-2074 for more information and the full guidelines to submit entries. All artwork must be submitted by Friday April 15; the winner will be chosen by the end of the month.