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ICYMI: Gov. Whitmer Signs Bipartisan Bill to Address Paramedic Shortage, Among Other Legislation

Michigan Business Network
May 30, 2024 6:30 AM

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LANSING, Mich. – Last Wednesday, Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed bipartisan legislation to address Michigan's paramedic shortage by cutting bureaucratic red tape that could reduce time and financial barriers to becoming a paramedic. The legislation allows paramedics to receive accreditation through a state-administered exam instead of only having a national exam option. By expanding accreditation exam options, the State of Michigan is making the cost of paramedic programs more accessible and affordable.    

“Today, we are taking action to address the critical shortage of paramedics in Michigan,” said Governor Whitmer. “By establishing a state-level accreditation exam, we are creating a low-cost alternative to the costly national exam, ensuring prohibitive exam costs don’t keep people away from becoming paramedics. We should keep working together to make it easier for qualified professionals to join our public safety workforce. Getting this done will strengthen our emergency medical services and support our dedicated health care workers apply their hard-earned training on the job.”   

 Senate Bill 249, sponsored by state Senator Kevin Hertel (D-Saint Clair Shores), will help to ensure more paramedics can enter the workforce by giving qualified individuals more opportunity for accreditation. It also updates exams for emergency medical services personnel and requires non-accredited education program sponsors to give specific notices.   

“When someone is facing a medical emergency, a delayed response can have deadly consequences,” said state Senator Kevin Hertel, Chair of the Senate Health Policy Committee. “With nearly a thousand unfilled paramedic roles in our state, too many Michiganders are unable to receive the swift care they need in a moment of crisis. By breaking down financial barriers to becoming a paramedic, we are beginning to address our current shortage and rebuild this critical component of our public health system.”    

“We are grateful for Senator Hertel, the Michigan Legislature and the Governor for signing Senate Bill 249,” said Matt Sahr, President, Michigan Professional Fire Fighters Union. “With the current shortage of paramedics in Michigan, this legislation will give us additional tools to train more paramedics across the state.  When Michigan residents call 911, they expect us to show up, and this legislation will make sure we are able to answer the call.”   

 House Bill 4523, sponsored by state Representative Kara Hope (D-Holt) and House Bill 4525, sponsored by state Representative Graham Filler (R-Duplain Township), provides necessary support and treatment by allowing certain offenders to access mental health and drug treatment courts with judicial and prosecutorial consent, with the aim of reducing incarceration rates and increasing rehabilitation.   

“House Bill 4523 will help more people receive the care and support they need through mental health courts,” said state Representative Kara Hope. “This will help us treat people with mental illness with more respect, reduce the burden on the prison system and give them a chance to turn their life around. This program will help people with mental health issues, making hometowns safer and reducing taxpayer costs.”     

“Treatment courts work,” said state Representative Graham Filler. “This bipartisan legislation will get more people the help they need, will save the state money, and will increase the public safety.”    

“The bills will expand opportunities to individuals to access treatment court services when judges, prosecutors and victims agree safety will not be threatened,” said Kate Hude, Executive Director, Michigan Association of Treatment Court Professionals. “Treatment court programs are proven effective and the more flexibility we can provide to our judiciary will allow for best outcomes and participant success.”   

 House Bill 5103, sponsored by state Representative Donavan McKinney (D-Detroit), allows a qualified individual to receive a drivers license, under certain circumstances, if they have received moving violations before they were issued their initial drivers' license.   

“This legislation becoming law is a big deal for people who’ve been hindered by the system we had in place,” said state Representative Donavan McKinney. “Preventing people who made mistakes on the road from getting a valid driver’s license leads to worse outcomes. Removing the multi-year ban will get Michiganders legally back on the road and removes obstacles like relying on family and friends for rides at the risk of driving illegally, which costs us all more. This is a lifeline to legally drive again for thousands of Michiganders.”   

 House Bill 4596, sponsored by state Representative Denise Mentzer (D-Mt. Clemens), will protect Michigan's infrastructure by requiring disposable wipes to have "do not flush" labels. This measure helps prevent damage to pipes and sewers, saving taxpayers money and preserving our infrastructure. 

“I am grateful for this legislation to be signed into law,” said state Representative Denise Mentzer. “I have gladly been a huge advocate for this ‘Do Not Flush’ bill because it solves a real problem for the people of Michigan and for our infrastructure, not to mention it is environmentally conscious policy. Requiring non-flushable products to be labeled warns people about what should not be put down pipes — thus protecting our infrastructure. Plus, this policy will help save taxpayers money by preserving our pipes and sewers, and that is not just a theoretical statement. In 2015, non-flushable wipes caused a sinkhole in Clinton Township that cost $400 million to fix. Today, we are making a tangible step to avoid such problems going forward.”   

“I commend the Legislature and Gov. Whitmer for establishing labeling standards on disposable wipes packaging,” said Candice S. Miller, Macomb County Public Works Commissioner. “These wipes are wreaking havoc on critical underground infrastructure. This law has to the potential to save millions of dollars that is currently spent to repair the damage these wipes are having on underground systems everywhere.”   

House Bill 4343, sponsored by state Representative Jennifer Conlin (D-Ann Arbor), requires DIFS to submit a report annually to the legislature that details the amount of deferred presentment service transactions activity, also known as payday lending in the state.  This legislation provides transparency and data to legislators     

“I’m proud that we took action to start the process of protecting folks who may not have a bank account or who live paycheck to paycheck. Payday lending can often be a form of financial exploitation, and often, it negatively impacts marginalized groups, especially people of color,” said state Representative Jennifer Conlin. “Unscrupulous payday lenders consistently charge exorbitant interest rates for people often seeking cash in an emergency. This legislation will require the state to study the payday lending industry with the goal of greater transparency and accountability. If we’re going to end some of the worst practices of loan sharks, we need to better understand the practice.”   

House Bill 5534, sponsored by state Representative Kelly Breen (D-Novi), requires the State Court Administrative Office to analyze trial court costs and revenue sources to develop a new statewide court operations funding proposal.    

“Our current court funding model opens the door for a conflict of interest between judges’ impartiality and revenue generation. Working with advocacy groups and the courts, we’ve overcome several hurdles to get this legislation passed, including many that were artificial and politically motivated,” said state Representative Kelly Breen, chair of the House Judiciary Committee. “I’m proud to have played a part in creating a real solution to trial court funding. With Gov. Whitmer’s signature, Michigan will stop funding courts on the backs of Michigan’s most vulnerable, taking a big step towards achieving justice for all.”   





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