Coulter Backs Legislation To Add LGBTQ Protections

Coulter Backs Legislation To Add LGBTQ Protections

Coulter Backs Legislation To Add LGBTQ Protections To Elliott Larsen Civil Rights Act

Pontiac, Michigan – Oakland County Executive David Coulter applauds Sen. Jeremy Moss (D-Southfield) and Rep. Laurie Pohutsky (D-Livonia) for introducing bills to expand civil rights protections to the LGBTQ community. As the first openly gay man to be elected to countywide office in Oakland, Coulter noted that the effort to expand the Elliott Larsen Civil Rights Act has been a decades-long struggle that deserves action now:

“It’s past time for the Legislature to include protections for the LGBTQ community into the Elliott Larsen Civil Rights Act,” Coulter said. “The business community has long understood the value to their workforce and Michigan residents have shown widespread support for more inclusion. It’s unacceptable that it’s taken Republicans in the Legislature so long to recognize that it’s just plain wrong that members of the LGBTQ community can still be fired or refused housing just because of who they are and who they love.”

Navy Ship Named in Honor of Local Korean War Veteran

Navy Ship Named in Honor of Local Korean War Veteran

New Navy Ship Named in Honor of Local Korean War Veteran and Medal of Honor Recipient

Robert Simanek wearing medal​Farmington Hills, Michigan – Farmington Hills resident, Korean War veteran and Marine Corps Medal of Honor recipient Robert Simanek, 90, is being further recognized for his bravery in combat by having a new U.S. Navy ship named in his honor.

Secretary of the Navy Kenneth J. Braithwaite recently announced the Expeditionary Sea Base USS Robert E. Simanek, has been ordered, noting it will carry on the Navy’s sacred mission to secure the sea lanes, stand by our allies, and protect the United States against all adversaries.

“Mr. Simanek, a long-time Oakland County resident, is the epitome of an American hero,” said Oakland County Executive David Coulter.  “I’m in awe of his selfless act of bravery nearly 70 years ago and so happy for him and his family today.  Not only did he receive the Medal of Honor for his valor, but now a Navy vessel with his namesake will be supporting Marines across the globe.”

This ship is currently scheduled to be completed in 2024. Weighing 100,000 tons when fully loaded, the USS Robert E. Simanek will perform a variety of missions, including launching helicopters, small boats, unmanned surface vehicles, special operations, troop transportation and maintenance services.

“I didn’t think having a ship named after me would happen,” Simanek said. “I was tickled to death when I found out about it.”

Simanek was a 22-year old Private 1st Class in 1952, when his squad was ambushed by Chinese troops.  Already wounded by shrapnel, he threw himself onto a grenade to absorb the blast and save his fellow soldiers from injury or death. Somehow, he survived while sustaining serious leg wounds.  After a nearly year-long recovery, he was awarded the Medal of Honor by President Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Simanek enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1951.  He joined Company F, 2d Battalion, 5th Marines in 1952 as a rifleman and radioman when needed.  The honor of having a ship named after him this year is but the latest recognition for service to his country.  In addition to the Medal of Honor and Purple Heart, he also was awarded the Korean Service Medal with two bronze stars.

Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 Vaccine Arrives In Oakland County

Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 Vaccine Arrives In Oakland County

Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 Vaccine Arrives In Oakland County Medical Director Says Vaccine Is Safe And Effective

Pontiac, Michigan – Seventy-four hundred doses of Johnson & Johnson single-dose COVID-19 vaccine arrived at Oakland County Health Division today. That’s 700 more doses than the county originally expected to receive.

“With the news that Merck is going to be joining with Johnson & Johnson to manufacture this one dose vaccine, this increased supply of vaccine will help accelerate the end to the pandemic,” Oakland County Executive Dave Coulter said. “We are making steady progress in vaccinating Oakland County residents with nearly one in five having received their first dose.”

Oakland County Health Division will be working with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services to determine the guidance for administering the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. The Health Division will begin scheduling the doses once it receives that guidance.

Oakland County Medical Director Dr. Russell Faust said the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is safe and effective.

“I am confident in the effectiveness of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine,” Oakland County Health Division Medical Director Dr. Russell Faust said. “All three COVID vaccines prevent death and severe illness, which is what most concerns us in public health.”

Editor Note: Photos of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine that arrived at Oakland County Health Division are attached. Please credit Jaime Fenner, Oakland County, who shot the photos at the North Oakland Health Center in Pontiac. You may notice the label says Janssen. This is the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Flags Lowered to Honor Madison Heights Fire Captain Jeffrey Brozich  

Flags Lowered to Honor Madison Heights Fire Captain Jeffrey Brozich  

Governor Gretchen Whitmer Banner - headshot with bridge graphic

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE   

March 4, 2021

Contact: Press@michigan.gov   

 

Gov. Whitmer Lowers Flags to Honor Madison Heights Fire Captain Jeffrey Brozich 

 

LANSING, Mich. – Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has ordered U.S. and Michigan flags within the State Capitol Complex and upon all public buildings and grounds across the state of Michigan to be lowered to half-staff on Friday, March 5, 2021 to honor the life and service of Madison Heights Fire Captain Jeffrey Brozich. The flag honors will coincide with his funeral.

 

“By lowering the flags for Captain Brozich, we recognize and honor his 20 years of service at the Madison Heights Fire Department,” Governor Whitmer said. “Firefighters put their lives on the line each and every shift, and the entire state is grateful for Jeffrey’s dedication and bravery. My thoughts are with his loved ones and the Madison Heights community as they lay him to rest.”

 

Captain Jeffrey Brozich was a 20-year veteran of the Madison Heights Fire Department. Brozich passed away from a medical emergency at the age of 57 years old while on duty on Monday, March 1, 2021.  He is survived by his wife, Lindsay, who is a Madison Heights police officer, and children, Brianna, Lucy, and Milo.

 

The State of Michigan recognizes the duty, honor and selfless service of Captain Jeffrey Brozich by lowering flags to half-staff. Michigan residents, businesses, schools, local governments and other organizations also are encouraged to display the flag at half-staff.

 

To lower flags to half-staff, flags should be hoisted first to the peak for an instant and then lowered to the half-staff position. The process is reversed before the flag is lowered for the day.

 

Flags should be returned to full-staff on Saturday, March 6, 2021.

Michigan Expanding Access to COVID-19 Vaccine Starting Monday

Michigan Expanding Access to COVID-19 Vaccine Starting Monday

Michiganders over age 50 with medical conditions and disabilities and caregivers of children with special health care needs will be eligible March 8; all Michiganders over age 50 eligible March 22

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 3, 2021
Contact: Lynn Sutfin, 517-241-2112

LANSING, MICH. To help reach the state’s goal of vaccinating 70% of Michiganders over age 16 and bring a quicker end to the COVID-19 pandemic in Michigan, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) officials today announced the state is expanding vaccination eligibility beginning Monday, March 8. This change follows the announcement by President Joe Biden that ramped-up production will provide enough doses for 300 million Americans by the end May.

MDHHS is moving forward with the vaccination of Michiganders age 50 and older with medical conditions or disabilities and caregiver family members and guardians who care for children with special health care needs. Beginning Monday, March 22, vaccine eligibility will again expand to include all Michiganders 50 and older. To date, more than 40% of Michiganders age 65 and older have been vaccinated.

“The more people we can get the safe and effective vaccine, the faster we can return to a sense of normalcy,” said Governor Whitmer. “I urge all eligible Michiganders to get one of the three COVID-19 vaccines to protect you, your family and your community. We’ve already administered over 2.3 million doses to Michiganders of all races and backgrounds, and yesterday’s announcement that our national supply will be enough to protect all Americans by the end of May is incredible news. And as always: mask up, practice safe social distancing and avoid large indoor gatherings where COVID-19 can easily spread from person to person. We will eliminate this virus together.”

“Over 2.3 million doses of the safe and effective COVID vaccines have been administered in Michigan, and we know more vaccine is coming into the state,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive and chief deputy for health at MDHHS. “We are pleased to expand eligibility for more people to get vaccinated as we continue to focus on our most vulnerable and those at highest risk of severe illness due to COVID-19. We are well on our way to vaccinating 70% of Michiganders age 16 and up. With three safe and effective vaccines now authorized for use, people should get the first vaccine available to them. These vaccines are the way we are going to end this pandemic.”

All vaccine providers may begin vaccinating the two new priority groups of 50 and older with medical conditions or disabilities and caregiver family members and guardians who care for children with special health care needs by Monday. Those eligible to receive a vaccine should:

  • Check the website of the local health department or hospital to find out their process or for registration forms; or
  • Check additional vaccination sites, such as local pharmacies like MeijerRite Aid or Cardinal Health (U.P. residents); or
  • Residents who don’t have access to the internet or who need assistance navigating the vaccine scheduling process can call the COVID-19 Hotline at 888-535-6136 (press 1), Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday and Sunday, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. or can call 2-1-1.

It is important to note that, while supplies are increasing, there remains a limited amount of vaccine available, so there may be a waitlist for available appointments. As more vaccine becomes available, the state will continue to move more quickly through the priority groups.

Last weekend, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine for adults ages 18 and older. The vaccine is deemed 85% effective in preventing severe disease. Michigan will receive 82,700 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine this week.

All three vaccines in circulation demonstrate high efficacy against COVID-19, particularly with preventing hospitalizations, severe illness and deaths. The vaccines have comparable safety profiles, with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine having the benefit of a single dose.

MDHHS is accelerating vaccination of these individuals due to concern around disparity in life expectancy and in an effort to remove barriers to vaccine access. The state recently launched a COVID-19 vaccination strategy guided by the following guiding principles:

  • All Michiganders have equitable access to vaccines.
  • Vaccine planning and distribution is inclusive, and actively engages state and local government, public and private partners; and draws upon the experience and expertise of leaders from historically marginalized populations.
  • Communications are transparent, accurate, and frequent public communications to build public trust.
  • Data is used to promote equity, track progress and guide decision making.
  • Resource stewardship, efficiency, and continuous quality improvement drive strategic implementation.

MDHHS follows the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations for prioritization of distribution and administration of COVID-19 vaccines. CDC recommendations are based on input from the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, the federal advisory committee made up of medical and public health experts who develop recommendations on the use of vaccines in the United States.

The most recent vaccine prioritization guidance can be found on Michigan’s COVID-19 website.

Even with the increase of COVID-19 vaccinations, Khaldun urges everyone to continue to practice preventative measures such as properly wearing masks, social distancing and frequent handwashing to reduce the spread of the virus until the vast majority of people have been vaccinated.

Michigan residents seeking more information about the COVID-19 vaccine can visit Michigan.gov/COVIDvaccine. Information around this outbreak is changing rapidly. The latest information is available at Michigan.gov/Coronavirus and CDC.gov/Coronavirus.

AG Supporting Schools’ Ability To Protect Students From Bullying 

AG Supporting Schools’ Ability To Protect Students From Bullying 

Attorney General Dana Nessel

Media Contacts:

Ryan Jarvi
(c) 517-599-2746

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Wednesday, March 3, 2021

AG Nessel Joins Coalition Supporting Schools’ Ability To Protect Students From Bullying

Coalition Urges Supreme Court to Permit Schools to Address Harmful Off-Campus Speech that Substantially Disrupts School or Interferes with Students’ Learning 

LANSING – Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel joined a coalition of attorneys general in filing a friend-of-the-court brief urging the Supreme Court to preserve schools’ ability to address cyberbullying and other forms of off-campus bullying that substantially affects students’ education.

The coalition filed the brief in Mahanoy Area School District v. B.L., a case concerning the ability of schools to hold students accountable for off-campus speech, and does not support either party. Because of public schools’ obligation to protect students and promote learning, the Supreme Court has long given them more leeway to regulate student speech under the First Amendment than states have regarding adults’ speech. But the lower court in this case ruled that schools may never regulate students’ off-campus speech.

In their brief, the attorneys general urge the court to reject this rule, arguing that it would undermine state anti-bullying laws and prevent schools from addressing in-person and online bullying that originates off-campus. Instead, the coalition encourages the court to uphold an existing legal standard, which empowers schools to regulate speech that substantially disrupts school or interferes with other students’ ability to learn.

“Regardless of where it originates, bullying can have serious, long-lasting consequences on students and hinder their ability to learn,” Nessel said. “Education offers a wealth of opportunities for students, and we must make every effort to provide the world’s future leaders with the support they need to prepare for the challenges they will face. Schools must also have the ability to use every tool at their disposal to protect those students, and that’s why my colleagues and I urge the court to preserve their abilities to address this issue.”

In Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District, a landmark 1969 decision, the Supreme Court affirmed that students have First Amendment rights in public school settings but also recognized that school officials may regulate student speech that would “materially and substantially disrupt the work and discipline of the school” or interfere with the rights of other students. Every federal appellate court in the country, except the Third Circuit in the case now before the Supreme Court, has applied the Tinker standard to student speech that causes substantial disruption or harm at school, regardless of where the speech originates.

Bullying is a harmful and disruptive form of student behavior—often involving speech—that public schools across the country prohibit. Bullying can take many forms, including physical violence, threats, offensive insults or mocking. It can also take the form of indirect aggression, such as spreading false or harmful rumors or distributing embarrassing images of a targeted student. All 50 states have passed school anti-bullying laws, including laws requiring schools to establish anti-bullying policies and implement procedures to investigate and respond to bullying. More than two-thirds of these laws cover some bullying that occurs or originates off-campus, and most state anti-bullying laws incorporate Tinker’s standard of disruption to the school environment to determine when schools have authority to act.

In their amicus brief filed in Mahanoy Area School District v. B.L., the attorneys general do not take a position on the underlying facts of the case. Instead, they urge the court to treat students’ off-campus speech like any other students’ speech, allowing schools to regulate it when it has substantial effects on the school or other students’ learning, because:

  • Schools have a duty to provide a high-quality education to all students: Millions of school children experience bullying each year, and it oftentimes harms their ability to learn. In addition to making students feel unsafe at school, bullying has been shown to lower both short- and long-term academic performance of victims and perpetrators.
  • The line between on- and off-campus has been blurred by technology: Technology, electronic communications and social media allow students to remain connected to their school communities even outside of school hours and when they are not physically present at school. During the COVID-19 pandemic, virtual learning has further blurred the line between on-campus and off-campus speech.
  • Cyberbullying is a growing problem: Technology has created new opportunities for bullying to occur and a growing number of school-aged children report being bullied by other students online, on their cell phones or on other electronic media. One recent survey found that 59% of teenagers in the United States have personally experienced cyberbullying at some point in their lives. In a 2019 nationally representative survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 15.7% of high school students reported being bullied by another student through texting, Instagram, Facebook or other social media during the past year.
  • Bullying can become disruptive at school regardless of where it originates: Regardless of when and where it occurs, bullying can create a school climate in which student victims feel unsafe and unable to engage in learning. For example, children who are cyberbullied are more likely to report missing school because they feel unsafe at school or when traveling to or from school.
  • Students will lose critical protections from cyberbullying: The laws of 35 states and the District of Columbia require or permit schools to regulate cyberbullying that occurs off-campus, on non-school devices and on non-school online platforms. Students would lose these important protections if the court limits schools’ power to regulate off-campus speech.

Joining Attorney General Nessel in filing this brief are the attorneys general of California, Colorado, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, and Wisconsin.