September 22, 2017

Columns

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

 

                                   Strengthen your workforce using Michigan’s hidden talent
aric nesbitt column head 02-2015

Our state has had a great turnaround, but to reach our full potential, we need to redefine full employment, ensuring that no one is left behind. We have a tremendous opportunity to continue our economic growth by hiring Michiganders with disabilities. There are more than 500,000 working-age adults with talent and potential. Many are ready and able to get to work. We can make Michigan a leader in creating an inclusive environment where everyone can be successful. All Michiganders deserve to live independent and self-determined lives and giving people opportunities to pursue their chosen career will achieve that.  Michigan Supreme Court Justice Richard Bernstein and I have traveled the state on what we have called the MI Hidden Talent Tour, encouraging businesses to hire people with disabilities. The talent isn’t really hidden; it’s overlooked talent that is eager and capable of joining the workforce. We are helping employers to remove barriers and creating opportunities to benefit businesses and people with disabilities at the same time. Those who have already tapped into this workforce will tell you it is not charity, it just makes good businesses sense.  We recently held a statewide workshop where employers gained best practices from businesses already hiring individuals with disabilities, as well as resources and strategies for accommodations and inclusion. We want to continue to provide businesses with the tools to be intentional about creating an inclusive workforce. Resources are available at www.mihiddentalent.com and Michigan Rehabilitation Services is ready to connect businesses with resources and strategies, as well as talent for job openings. Call 888-271-8337 or visit michigan.gov/mrs to get started.  All Michiganders with disabilities deserve a chance, and once that chance is provided, it will benefit both the employee and the company. Be a part of this effort and change in mentality that benefits everyone.

 

All Michigan residents deserve to live with respect and dignity

news from lansing col head 2-2-06

People with disabilities can often have difficulty protecting themselves.  Sadly, we often hear about someone with a disability being assaulted and even targeted because of their disability. We must crack down on the kind of criminal who would hurt someone with special needs. That is why I co-sponsored bipartisan legislation to increase penalties for assaulting a person with a developmental disability. Senate Bills 1017 and 1018 aim to prevent harm to individuals with disabilities by creating a harsher punishment for those who know of a person’s disability and are guilty of assault or assault and battery on that person. Under the bills, a first offense for someone convicted of assaulting an individual with a developmental disability and knowing that individual has a disability would be guilty of a misdemeanor and face up to one year in jail, a fine of up to $1,000, or both. Subsequent offenses would result in felony charges punishable by up to five years in prison, a fine of up to $5,000, or both. Researchers have found that people with intellectual disabilities have a 4- to 10-times greater chance of becoming victims of crime than those without disabilities. Children with any type of disability are 3.4 times more likely to be abused compared to children without disabilities. It is sickening that someone would knowingly assault a person with special needs. This legislation would not only increase penalties for assault of a person with a disability, but they also help create a culture of respect.

 

Addressing the Opioid Crisis

 The simple truth is tupton col headerhat we’re in the middle of an opioid abuse epidemic. Nearly every 12 minutes, someone in America dies of a drug overdose and the Centers of Disease Control (CDC) reports that more than a quarter billion opioid prescriptions were written in 2012. Abuse of opioids has impacted every community. Here in Michigan, we are enduring 10 times as many deaths today as there were 15 years ago. Sadly, the numbers continue to surge.  We have to address this epidemic head on, and here in the House of Representatives we have taken definitive action.  Two weeks ago, the House of Representatives advanced a “Conference Report” for S. 524, the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act, by a vote of 407-5. I was proud to chair the “Conference Committee” that worked to get the details of this package right – ironing out the differences between the House and Senate packages in an effort to achieve consensus.  What our package will do is attack this public health crisis from all sides; from zeroing in on treatment for addiction and overdoses, to reforming prescribing practices and the delivery of medicines, and working with our law enforcement. We also made a targeted funding authorization of $181 million to help on a wide array of opioid abuse efforts.  Because of our common-sense approach, our package achieved the support of more than 250 of the nation’s leading addiction advocacy groups. Then, last week, the U.S. Senate advanced our package by a vote of 92-2. It now heads to President Obama, who has indicated he would be signing it into law shortly.  Lives are at stake, and this critical legislation will help make a real difference.