Teaming Up with Connect Michigan to Increase Broadband

Connect Michigan has teamed up with local leaders to launch the Southwest Regional Broadband Initiative to help meet the Internet needs of area families and businesses.

This will allow residents to access information and communicate more efficiently – opening a world of opportunities. Most importantly, it can help create jobs and stimulate our economy.

Broadband transcends boundaries by impacting economic development, education, health, transportation and our quality of life. Recognizing the potential positive impacts of high speed internet, the Southwest Michigan Regional Planning Commission is sponsoring this initiative to expand broadband access and use across Berrien, Cass and Van Buren counties.

I recently attended the initiative’s kickoff meeting with more than 30 officials from various economic development organizations, schools and colleges, local governments and internet service providers.

The Southwest Michigan Regional Broadband Initiative team, with support from Connect Michigan, will meet regularly to plan for and address broadband improvements to benefit local residents and businesses.

As the designated entity for broadband mapping and planning in our state, Connect Michigan is a public-private partnership between the Michigan Public Service Commission and Connected Nation.

It works with local governments, businesses and residents to achieve the goal of increasing broadband service in under served areas. For more information about what Connect Michigan is doing to accelerate technology in Michigan, visit http://www.connectmi.org.

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Keeping Dangerous Drugs Out of Southwest Michigan Stores

Synthetic marijuana products are sold as harmless bath salts or incense, but are actually dangerous drugs that are harming Southwest Michigan residents, especially young people.

Many parents and citizens have told me that these substances are still being sold at local stores.

I am proud to say that these products, commonly sold as K2 or Spice, will soon be permanently banned in Michigan after legislation to keep these drugs out of stores was sent to the governor to be signed.

Manufacturers try to get around the current law by continuously changing their compounds ever so slightly.

Once signed, the new laws will allow the state to keep up with producers and punish those who continue to sell the drugs. To achieve this, the Board of Pharmacy and the Department of Community Health will be able to file emergency rules to ban dangerous designer drugs by listing them as controlled substances.

A person who violates the new law would be guilty of a felony punishable by up to 4 years in prison, a fine of up to $20,000 or both.

Chief Randel Pompey of the Coloma Township Police Department said: “These reforms will be a great tool that law enforcement can use to protect our communities from this incredibly dangerous trend.”

These addictive drugs have been linked to several deaths and hospitalizations, yet many teenagers do not understand the real risks of consuming them.

I strongly supported these measures because it is time to once and for all keep our children safe by cracking down on deadly synthetic drugs.

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.

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.

Empowering Students With Information About Health, Concussions

The number of students suffering concussions during an extracurricular athletic activity is rising at an alarming rate and is impacting many students right here in Southwest Michigan.

To help combat this problem, I have introduced a bill to have Michigan join 28 other states in requiring school boards to establish a wellness policy including guidelines to educate coaches, student athletes and parents about the nature and risk of concussions during athletic activity.

A Brown University study showed that from 1997 to 2007, the number of sports-related concussions among student-athletes ages 13-19 tripled from about 7,000 to 22,000. Doctors now estimate that up to 30,000 sports-related concussions occur in the U.S. every year and many of these types of injuries go unreported.

I sponsored this bill to help ensure that everyone has the concussion information they need to help identify the symptoms – which may prevent catastrophic and permanent brain damage that can occur if an athlete takes another impact. 

This reform would also require a school’s wellness policy to include information on proper nutrition and physical activity.

With more than 12 percent of children and 31 percent of adults in Michigan considered obese, our state has become the eighth most overweight state in the nation – costing  Michigan’s economy billions of dollars in annual medical expenses.

This legislation is about being proactive to help turn this tide without burdening schools with increased costs.  Becoming a healthier Michigan will improve our lives and our economy and it starts with promoting healthy habits in our children.

Michigan Gets Fit

The rising cost of health care is a significant challenge facing Southwest Michigan families and job providers today. Two-thirds of Michigan adults are currently overweight or obese, which ends up costing us billions of dollars in annual medical expenses. We must turn this tide or health care costs will continue to strain our economy and pocketbooks.

Becoming a healthier Michigan will enhance the quality of our lives and help our economy by reducing costs.

Gov. Rick Snyder recently presented his “Special Message to the Legislature on Health and Wellness” which contained several recommendations concerning obesity and nutrition.

I thank the governor for making it a priority to improve the health of Michigan residents, and for including increasing healthy food choices and addressing child obesity as key initiatives to achieve this goal.

I co-sponsored the cottage food industry law last year to increase access for families to healthy, locally-grown foods at farmers’ markets and roadside stands, something we have plenty of in Southwest Michigan. It was about eliminating barriers to entrepreneurship and boosting the economy, but it was also about encouraging people to eat healthier.

I know the value of being fit and healthy.  In fact, I have been named Healthiest Legislator for five years running; an honor that is determined by miles walked.  Therefore, I am very excited that the governor is stressing the importance of physical activity for our kids. More than 12 percent of Michigan children are obese—a startling statistic. Throughout my time in the Legislature, I have looked for ways to combat child obesity, and I look forward to working with the governor to address this rising challenge without increasing costs to schools.

National Breast Cancer Awareness Month

October 14, 2010

Women are diagnosed with breast cancer more than any other type of cancer in the United States aside from skin cancer. October is recognized as National Breast Cancer Awareness Month and encourages women to schedule an annual mammogram. Annual mammograms will help detect breast cancer early, ultimately increasing a diagnosed patient’s chance of survival.

According to the National Cancer Institute, women ages 40 and older should have screening mammograms every one to two years. A family history of breast cancer puts someone at a higher risk and should be checked by a physician five years earlier than the cancer diagnosis in a close relative.

Research and science have come a long way in cancer treatment, but much more needs to be achieved. Bringing awareness by educating women will significantly help save lives.

The West Michigan Cancer Center has teamed up with Susan G. Komen for the Cure to offer free mammograms Saturday, Oct. 16, 23, and 30. To qualify, women must be 40 or older and have no insurance. For more information regarding free mammograms call 1-800-873-0649.

October is dedicated to empowering and educating women to help fight against breast cancer. West Michigan Cancer Center offers scheduled mammogram screening and reading as well as treatment and recovery.