Proos Talks MI Kids Dental Plan

WSJM – Radio

State Senator John Proos is praising a program included in the newest Department of Community Health budget that provides dental care to children in rural areas. He says that the spending plan includes expanded funding for the Healthy Kids Dental program. It’s a private-public partnership between the DCH and Delta Dental that ensures Medicaid eligible residents under 21 get things like x rays, cleanings, fillings, and other standard oral work done. Proos says that he’s glad the latest DCH budget expands Healthy Dental a bit to counties like Berrien and Cass.

Doctor Fred Johansen, Berrien County Health Department medical director, also strongly urged the expansion of the program, saying that the “Healthy Kids Dental program has been shown to expand access to children who otherwise would not receive needed dental services.” The budget now goes on to Governor Rick Snyder for his signature.

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We Can Protect Public Safety While Reducing Prison Costs

I believe that we must be innovative in how our state operates, look to see what is working in other states, and bring those proven ideas to Michigan.

That is why I introduced legislation to create a “Swift and Sure” sanctions program in Michigan that will ensure public safety in a more cost-effective manner.

The program is based on a successful Hawaiian initiative that helped reduce crime and drug use by probationers while saving taxpayer dollars.

In one year, probationers in Hawaii’s Honest Opportunity with Probation Enforcement (HOPE) program were 55 percent less likely to be arrested for a new crime, 72 percent less likely to use drugs and 53 percent less likely to have their probation revoked than the control group. As a result, they also averaged 48 percent fewer days behind bars.

I worked to include the program in the current state budget as a pilot project for areas like Berrien County with combined courts or drug courts.

I was also successful in expand it in the recently approved 2013 budget to allow more counties to apply.

My proposal would make the pilot project a permanent program to supervise high-risk probationers and require them to undergo frequent, random drug and alcohol testing.

It is part of my ongoing effort to bring our prison costs in line with our surrounding states. If expanded statewide, the program could save taxpayers $25 million annually, funding that could be used for other priorities, like improving education and spurring job creation.

My goal is a justice system that keeps our communities safe, helps offenders return to productive lives and costs less money. Swift and Sure can be an important component towards accomplishing that objective.

State Legislature Bans Synthetic Marijuana

By Mike Arney

WSJM – Radio

Governor Snyder is expected to sign legislation now headed to his desk to outlaw synthetic marijuana. The state Senate approved the bills today, and Senator John Proos applauded the move.

The substance, sold under trade names like Spice and K2, has been available in stores as a mix of dried herbs and spices sprayed with chemicals. It has been blamed for health problems and violent behavior, especially among young people. Legislation approved Tuesday would crack down on synthetic cannabinoids and products sometimes referred to as bath salts. The bills also allow the Department of Community Health to declare health dangers when other synthetic drugs pop up. Some counties and communities already have acted on their own to ban synthetic marijuana.

Proos Backs Local Tax Collection Reforms

WSJM – Radio

The Michigan Senate this week approved legislation sponsored by John Proos that would help local governments reduce their administrative costs by letting them collect smaller winter taxes during the summer. Proos says that the idea was suggested to him by Saint Joseph City Clerk Deb Koroch, who told him that many winter tax bills are so small that it’s inefficient for a local government to collect them when they could just wrap those amounts up into the larger summer taxes.

The bills from Proos to allow for this tax collection change were supported by the Michigan Association of Counties, and are now on their way to the governor, who is expected to sign the reforms into law.

Michigan’s Summer Free Fishing Weekend Set for June 9-10

The state’s annual Summer Free Fishing Weekend is an excellent time for Southwest Michigan families and out-of-state visitors to get together and enjoy some of the world’s best fishing on both inland and Great Lakes waters.

This year’s weekend is scheduled for June 9-10.

The tradition is also a wonderful chance to introduce the joy of fishing to children and relax with family and friends – at no charge.

Since 1986, Michigan has annually celebrated the Summer Free Fishing Weekend as a way to promote awareness of the state’s vast aquatic resources and the sheer fun of fishing.  During the weekend, all fishing license fees will be waived, but all fishing regulations still apply.

To encourage involvement in the Free Fishing Weekends, organized activities are being scheduled in communities across the state. These activities are coordinated by a variety of organizations, including local and state parks, constituent groups, schools, businesses and others.

For more information on Free Fishing Weekend, including a list of activities across the state, visit www.michigan.gov/freefishing.

Berrien Springs Village President Milt Richter says that the St. Joseph River in Berrien Springs is an ideal fishing location. Stake out a spot near the dam and you will find plenty of salmon and walleye.

With more than 3,000 miles of Great Lakes shoreline, 36,000 miles of rivers and 11,000 inland lakes, Michigan and fishing go hand in hand.

I encourage Southwest Michigan anglers – and those who have never gone fishing – to get out and take part in one of our state’s premier outdoor activities this weekend.

Proos Proposes Help for Beleaguered West Michigan Fruit Growers

WHTC – Radio

It’s not a bailout, but a few Michigan State Senators have proposed a farm aid loan package that would help Michigan fruit growers survive this year’s near total crop loss.State Senator John Proos says even if there is no fruit, the farmers will have to maintain their farms until there is fruit again.

The legislation would establish low interest loans for the farmers and for qualifying producers, which would all have to be paid back. They estimate the crop loss at around 209-million and that’s if it was an average year.

As recently as 2002, the legislature enacted a similar farm relief measure to aid farmers hit hard by weather conditions that year, so it wouldn’t be the first time the state has come to their assistance.