Zorn, Pavlov introduce anti-poaching bills

LANSING, Mich.— State Sens. Dale Zorn and Phil Pavlov introduced measures on Thursday to increase restitution and toughen penalties for individuals convicted of the illegal killing, possessing, purchasing or selling of certain protected animals in Michigan.

“These bills will send a strong message to poachers that Michigan will not tolerate illegal taking of game,” said Zorn, R-Ida. “Protecting our natural resources, namely the game of this state, is held in high regard.”

Under Senate Bills 245 and 246, sponsored by Zorn, an individual convicted of illegally killing, possessing, purchasing or selling moose or elk would lose their license for 15 calendar years for a first offense and for lifetime for a second offense. If the animal were a bear or antlered white-tailed deer, the individual would lose their license for five calendar years for a first offense and for ten years for a second offense.

SB 244, sponsored by Pavlov, would increase existing fines for these crimes. The new fines would be as follows:
•    Elk: $5,000 per animal (with additional fines for antlered elk);
•    Moose: $5,000 per animal  (with additional fines for antlered moose);
•    Bear: $3,500 per animal;
•    Eagle: $1,500 per animal;
•    Bearded turkey: $1,000 per animal; and
•    Waterfowl: $500 per animal.

“There have been several incidents of poaching in Michigan in recent years,” said Pavlov, R-St. Clair Township, vice chair of the Senate Committee on Natural Resources. “Migratory birds have been shot, clubbed with baseball bats and golf clubs, and run over; bears are being illegally harvested and their parts sold abroad; and elk, moose and other animals are also being targeted.

“This is despicable, and it is harmful not only for the animals but for Michigan sports enthusiasts as well. We must protect and preserve our wild resources, and these bills will do that.”

Matt Evans of the Michigan United Conservation Clubs applauded Zorn’s and Pavlov’s work on the legislation.

“The illegal taking of game and fish is something that should never be tolerated, and Michigan United Conservation Clubs has always strongly supported this notion,” Evans said. “We applaud the efforts of Senators Pavlov and Zorn to curb poaching in Michigan, and we look forward to working with them on their bills.”

SBs 244, 245 and 246 now head to the Senate Committee on Outdoor Recreation and Tourism for further consideration.

Pavlov and area students attend 4-H Capitol Experience Ceremony and Legislative Breakfast

LANSING—State Sen. Phil Pavlov attended the 4-H Capitol Experience Ceremony and Legislative Breakfast on Tuesday to honor several students from the 25th Senate District who participated in the program.

“The 4-H Capitol Experience is an exciting program that educates and energizes young people about state government and public policy,” said Pavlov, R-St. Clair Township. “The students here today from the district are bright and engaging. They are proof that our future is in good hands.”

Capitol Experience is for high school students interested in gaining skills and knowledge to develop their leadership, citizenship and civic engagement skills and apply them in the real world. More than 100 teens from around the state participated in the four-day conference in Lansing to interact with legislators, state agency staff, lobbyists and other resource people to learn how policy is made.

Pavlov welcomed five students from the 25th District: David Fountain, of St. Clair; Riley Good, of Sandusky; Keely Holbrook, of Croswell; Evan Tino, of Sandusky; and Becca Winalis, of New Baltimore.

After breakfast, the students observed the Senate in session and attended committee meetings.

“If your teenage son or daughter is looking for a way to make a difference in civic engagement, have them check out the 4-H Capitol Experience,” said Pavlov. “It is a great way to get involved.”

Note: For a print-quality version of this or other Pavlov photos, click the image or click the Photowire link under the Media Center tab, above.

Lawmakers introduce resolutions urging safe, permanent nuclear spent fuel storage

LANSING—Three Michigan senators introduced resolutions on Thursday calling on the U.S. Congress, the U.S. Department of Energy and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to complete facilities for safely spent nuclear fuel.

Senate Concurrent Resolution 8, sponsored by Sen. Dale Zorn, calls on Congress to appropriate from the Nuclear Waste Fund the money necessary to establish a permanent repository.

Each year, the fund’s balance increases by about $750 million in direct taxpayer payments.

“Over the last 30 years, the nuclear power industry and its customers have paid the federal government billions of dollars to construct a permanent repository for nuclear waste, and yet the federal government has failed to meet its own obligation,” said Zorn, R-Ida. “The Nuclear Waste Fund contains more than enough money to pay for this site, and we urge its completion.”

In 2002, Congress and President Bush approved Yucca Mountain in Nevada as the site of a safe nuclear waste repository for the U.S.

“We are urging the federal government to live up to its responsibility to establish a permanent repository for high-level nuclear waste,” said Proos, R-St. Joseph. “Michigan taxpayers have been assessed $812 million since 1983 for the construction of a permanent site. It is 2015, and a permanent site has still not been built. There is only so long the nation can continue to safely store waste at temporary sites at the cost of hardworking Michigan and U.S. taxpayers.”

Proos’ resolution, SCR 6, compels Congress to return the money collected from Michigan residents if a permanent repository is not built.

SCR 7, sponsored by Sen. Phil Pavlov, calls for a safe and permanent location to store nuclear waste and to require that a proposed facility in Ontario and any nuclear waste repository requested to be built in the Great Lakes basin first be approved by the International Joint Commission.

“Our federal government has identified a safe and scientifically acceptable location, yet refuses to move forward with its funding and implementation. Meanwhile, Canada is pursuing a flawed nuclear waste policy that could result in a permanent storage site on the shores of the Great Lakes,” said Pavlov, R-St. Clair Township. “Leadership is needed to put our national and regional nuclear policy on a better course.”

The Canadian company Ontario Power Generation plans to permanently bury radioactive waste in Kincardine, Ontario, less than a mile from the shores of Lake Huron. Pavlov has been a leading opponent of the company’s plans.

In 1982, Congress passed the Nuclear Waste Policy Act requiring the federal government to follow a strict timeline for building a permanent repository for high-level radioactive waste from the nation’s nuclear power plants. According to the act, the repository should have started accepting waste by 1998.

SCRs 6-8 have been introduced and referred to the Senate Energy and Technology Committee for consideration.

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Editor’s Note – Audio comments by Sens. Pavlov, Proos and Zorn will be available on each senator’s websites at:

Pavlov: www.SenatorPhilPavlov.com. Click on “Audio” in the Media Center.

Proos: www.SenatorJohnProos.com. Click on “Audio” in the Media Center.

Zorn: www.SenatorDaleZorn.com. Click on “Audio” in the Media Center.

Sen. Pavlov welcomes Snover pastor to Michigan Senate

LANSING—State Sen. Phil Pavlov, R-St. Clair Township, welcomed Pastor Don Derby (right) to the Michigan Capitol on Tuesday. Derby, who pastors Heritage United Methodist Church in Snover, delivered the daily invocation before the start of the Senate session.

Note: For a print-quality version of this or other Pavlov photos, click the image or click the Photowire link in the Media Center tab, above.

Pavlov comments on Congresswoman Candice Miller’s announcement to retire

LANSING—The following is a public statement from state Sen. Phil Pavlov, R-St. Clair Township, on the announced retirement of U.S. Congresswoman Candice Miller.

“Candice Miller has been an incredible advocate for the residents of Michigan’s Thumb. She has always been a tough leader on behalf of the people she represents, and we will miss her working for us in Congress. It has been a great honor to work with her. I wish her the very best and offer my sincere thanks for all she has done for our region, our state and our country.”

Pavlov, full Senate approve three Natural Resources Trust Fund projects in St. Clair County

LANSING—The Michigan Senate on Thursday approved legislation allocating $24.7 million from the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund (NRTF) to natural resources improvement projects across the state.

The trust fund is supported by interest earned on funds generated from the development of state-owned mineral rights.

“This funding supports three key projects in St. Clair County that will improve the quality of life for residents and those visiting the area,” said Pavlov, R-St. Clair Township. “These include the redevelopment of Lakeside Park in Port Huron, the Bouvier Bay waterfront acquisition, and the purchase of land on the St. Clair River to help complete Phase 2 of the Blue Water River Walk expansion.”

House Bill 4078 authorizes the trust fund to spend $24.7 million to support 25 acquisition projects and 44 development projects. Matching funds of $9.8 million bring the total investment to more than $34.5 million.

HB 4078 specifically provides $295,900 toward the redevelopment of Lakeside Park in Port Huron. The proposed project will provide universal design and an ADA-accessible beach, concession access, comfort station, splash pad, beachside walkway, pathway accessibility and ADA and universal access compliance.

Two other St. Clair County projects also funded by the measure include:

•    $666,000 toward the Bouvier Bay waterfront acquisition. The approximately 9.15 acres of vacant land on Bouvier Bay at Beaubien Creek off of M-29 will provide universal access to the riverfront for swimming, fishing, paddling and birding, and a rest stop for bicyclists and sightseers.

•    $118,400 toward Phase 2 of the Blue Water River Walk expansion. The money will be used to purchase approximately 2.1 acres of vacant land on the St. Clair River. The fully accessible recreation facilities that will be developed on the parcel will include a children’s playground, small picnic shelter, bike racks, interpretive and information panels, picnic tables and native trees and shrubs.

The NRTF uses constitutionally restricted funds to provide financial assistance to local governments and the Department of Natural Resources to purchase land or rights in land for public recreation or protection of land because of its environmental importance or its scenic beauty. It also assists in the appropriate development of land for public outdoor recreation.

HB 4078 now heads to Gov. Rick Snyder, who is expected to sign the measure.

Michigan lawmakers challenge their colleagues to read to 1,000 students for March is Reading Month

Sen. Phil Pavlov

Sen. Phil Pavlov

From MLive.com

LANSING — It’s possible Michigan students might have a state lawmaker reading to them in the classroom this month.

The leaders of the education committees in the Michigan Legislature are challenging their colleagues to each read to 1,000 Michigan students as a part of March is Reading Month.

Rep. Amanda Price, R-Park Township, and Sen. Phil Pavlov, R-St. Clair Township, issued the challenge to their colleagues last week. If each lawmaker reads to 1,000 children, the legislators would read to a total of 148,000 Michigan school children during March.

Price, the chairwoman of the House Education Committee, said it’s important for lawmakers to encourage children in their districts to read.

“It’s vital to begin building a strong learning foundation at a young age,” Price said in a statement. “Reading to children early in life and encouraging them to become active readers will help build that foundation and give students the tools they need to succeed in their educational endeavors.”

March is Reading Month is an annual push to emphasize reading in the nation’s schools. 

The initiative comes as lawmakers consider Gov. Rick Snyder’s proposed third grade reading initiative. The plan, presented to lawmakers during the unveil of his fiscal year 2016 budget last month, is a $48.6 million proposal — about $25 million of which is state money — to increase reading proficiency scores for third graders.

Third grade reading proficiency is a strong indicator of a student’s academic success in later years, numerous studies show. According to state documents, 30.5 percent of Michigan’s fourth graders read proficiently or better on the 2013 National Assessment of Educational Progress.

About one in six children who don’t read proficiently by the end of third grade don’t graduate from high school on time. That rate is about four times higher than the rate of proficient readers who don’t graduate from high school on time.

Price called the challenge to lawmakers to read in front of students a “wonderful opportunity” to guide students toward proficient reading.

Pavlov agreed and said loving reading is “essential for a balanced and successful life.”

“It is a great joy to go into a classroom and read to kids,” Pavlov said. “I look forward to visiting schools again over the next several weeks and I urge my fellow lawmakers to take up the challenge as well.”