Shirkey: New specialty plate to aid wildlife management

LANSING, Mich.Sen. Mike Shirkey announced on Tuesday that a new specialty license plate will be available starting next month.

Beginning Dec. 1, the specialty Michigan license plate featuring the common loon will be replaced with an elk plate to commemorate the 100-year anniversary of the reintroduction of elk in Michigan.

“The reintroduction of elk in the state is a great success story,” said Shirkey, R-Clarklake. “We have gone from no elk to a healthy, thriving population. This plate will celebrate this success and help maintain our natural resources.”

Michigan’s native elk disappeared from the state around 1875. In 1918, seven elk were brought in from the western United States and the population grew steadily. A 2014 survey estimated the herd to number 668.

Funds from the sale of the elk license plate will continue to help wildlife management.

For more information on specialty license plates, visit www.michigan.gov/sos. To learn more about Michigan’s elk population, go to www.michigan.gov/elk.

###

Shirkey reminds residents of new hunting guidelines

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Mike Shirkey on Thursday reminded Branch, Hillsdale and Jackson county residents of new cervid importation regulations that will help protect the state’s deer population and safeguard our hunting tradition.

“Hundreds of thousands of people, including our family, will head out deer hunting in Michigan and in neighboring states over the next several weeks,” said Shirkey, R-Clarklake. “Any of us bringing deer in from out of state should keep in mind these guidelines for a successful hunt that will help protect us as well as the deer in our state.”

To help keep potential cases of chronic wasting disease (CWD) from unintentionally being brought into Michigan, hunters who harvest a cervid (deer, moose or elk) in any other state or province can only import certain parts, such as hides, deboned meat, quarters, finished taxidermy products, cleaned teeth and antlers.

“If someone harvests a deer out of state, the best solution, if you want to bring it into Michigan for processing, is to skin and quarter it before taking it to your favorite processor,” Shirkey said.

CWD is a fatal, contagious neurological disease. In 2015, a free-ranging deer in mid-Michigan tested positive for CWD.

Since that discovery, nine animals have tested positive for the disease. The state has taken constructive steps to help contain this threat, with success so far. Those hunting in Michigan within areas where CWD has been found must follow specific regulations as well.

The regular firearm deer hunting season runs from Nov. 15-30. For more information on chronic wasting disease, visit www.michigan.gov/cwd.

Shirkey bill would fix loophole in open-carry law while protecting freedoms

LANSING, Mich. — The state Senate on Wednesday approved Sen. Mike Shirkey’s bill that would close a loophole in Michigan’s open-carry law and protect the rights of concealed pistol license (CPL) holders.

Senate Bill 586, along with SBs 584 and 585, would prohibit CPL holders from open-carrying guns into pistol-free zones such as schools, churches and sports arenas but would allow them to carry a concealed weapon instead.

“This legislation upholds the Constitution, protects the rights of CPL holders and reduces potential disruptions in pistol-free zones,” said Shirkey, R-Clarklake. “Since these zones were established almost 20 years ago, the courts have ruled that CPL holders can legally open-carry weapons but not carry concealed weapons.

“Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have pointed out how disruptive it could be to students and staff if people began exercising their open-carry rights in our schools during instruction time. These bills close the loophole in the law.”

The legislation would still allow schools to prohibit students from carrying concealed guns on school property and to establish their own gun policies regarding school employees.

Shirkey noted cases in which CPL holders have legally walked into schools openly carrying a holstered pistol, after which the schools went into lockdown. SB 584-586 would avoid that unsettling situation by allowing CPL holders to carry a concealed weapon in pistol-free zones with additional training.

Under the bills, CPL holders would be required to complete an additional eight hours of CPL training that would include:

• Classroom and range time;

• A focus on the application of CPL principles to public places;

• The firing of an additional 94 rounds; and

• Completion of the training within the last five years.

In addition, the training instructor must be certified by a state or national firearms training organization.

A CPL holder could forego the training if he or she is certified as a firearms instructor by a state or national firearms training organization.

“These bills strike a balance between honoring the rights of people to defend themselves and helping ensure learning environments are secure and the school day is not interrupted by the sight of a firearm,” Shirkey said.

SBs 584–586 now head to the Michigan House for further consideration.

Shirkey to honor local WWII veteran

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Mike Shirkey announced on Tuesday that he will honor a military veteran during his regular Jackson TV interview this Friday, Nov. 10, at 1 p.m.

Shirkey and Bart Hawley, host of the Bart Hawley Show, will talk with World War II veteran and retired U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Homer Jackson during the show.

“In recognition of Veterans Day this weekend, we wanted to pay tribute to a local veteran,” said Shirkey, R-Clarklake. “Homer Jackson’s military service is emblematic of all those who answered the call to serve their country so we could live in the land of the free. It will be an honor to speak with Homer.”

Jackson enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps (later the U.S. Air Force) in 1942 and saw action beginning in 1943. He flew B-22 and B-29 bombers, and a plane he was flying once came within feet of crashing into Mount Fuji on a dark night.

On another occasion, when their planes were flying at over 400 miles per hour, a kamikaze attacked Jackson’s B-29. The Japanese fighter missed Jackson’s plane but hit another American bomber next to it, killing the entire crew.

After the war, Jackson served in the military reserves until 1983.

“Homer Jackson’s military career was particularly dramatic and heroic,” Shirkey said. “I am grateful to Homer and to the hundreds of thousands of other military veterans in Michigan for sacrificing their own comfort for the sake of their neighbors and their nation. May we all remember to thank a veteran this Saturday on Veterans Day.”

Shirkey is on the Bart Hawley Show every month. During the interviews, Shirkey discusses current events in the state Legislature.

To see Shirkey on this Friday’s show, tune in at 1 p.m. to Comcast channel 90 or AT&T U-verse channel 5380.

Governor signs Shirkey bill aiding local hospital’s transition

LANSING, Mich. — Gov. Rick Snyder on Thursday signed legislation sponsored by Sen. Mike Shirkey that will ease a Coldwater hospital’s upcoming merger.

Senate Bill 450, now Public Act 148 of 2017, will enable the Community Health Center (CHC) of Branch County to become a nonprofit entity and make the transition to ProMedica Health Systems more seamless.

“Bureaucracy had threatened to make a mess of what should be a smooth transition,” said Shirkey, R-Clarklake. “Now the CHC is free to merge with ProMedica and continue to provide its patients with quality care.”

Shirkey said that if nothing had been done, the CHC would have become a new entity under the transaction. This would have required the hospital once again to take the many steps necessary to continue operation, such as re-acquiring all of their licenses, filing a new certificate of need with the state, and enrolling with Medicare and Medicaid and other insurers as a new provider.