Sen. Kowall named legislator of the year

LANSING, Mich. — The Michigan Association of Nurse Anesthetists on Tuesday presented Sen. Mike Kowall, R-White Lake, with their 2015 Legislator of the Year Award at their Legislative Day at the Capitol.

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Sen. Kowall welcomes Michigan State Fair Urban and Rural Scholarship Winners

LANSING, Mich. — State Sen. Mike Kowall, R-White Lake, welcomed to the Capitol on Thursday the Michigan State Fair Urban and Rural Scholarship winners.

The Michigan State Fair Urban and Rural Scholarship recognizes young people who are making a difference in cities, towns and villages by clearing, planting and harvesting garden space for their families and neighborhoods. The winners of the scholarships received a total of $30,000 divided between the areas of competition.

The original Michigan State Fair debuted in Detroit in 1849 and was one of the first statewide fair events to take place in the country. It moved to its permanent home at the fairgrounds on Woodward Avenue in 1905 and was staged there until 2009, when it was discontinued due to ongoing budget issues.

Blair Bowman brought the Michigan State Fair back to Novi with Fifth Third Bank as the major sponsor.

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Senate passes Kowall resolution proclaiming Michigan Patriot Week

LANSING, Mich. — The Michigan Senate on Thursday approved a resolution sponsored by Majority Floor Leader Mike Kowall designating Sept. 11 through Sept. 17     as “Michigan Patriot Week.”

“The Legislature recognizes that understanding American history and America’s First Principles are indispensable to the survival of our republic as a free people,” said Kowall, R-White Lake. “I urge citizens, schools, government agencies, municipalities, and other organizations to recognize and participate in Patriot Week so that all may offer the respect that is due to our free republic.”

Senate Resolution 88 states: “In great reverence to the victims of the September 11, 2001, attacks, the Legislature acknowledges that American citizens must take time to honor the First Principles, founders, documents, and symbols of their history.”

Kowall’s guest Thursday was Chris Heisler of the United States Honor Flag.

“It is my honor to have Chris Heisler and the United States Honor Flag here today,” Kowall said. “Since September 2001, the United States Honor Flag has paid tribute to those who have lost their lives in the line of duty protecting our lives, our homes and our country, and also those who currently serve our communities and our nation.

“The Honor Network was founded on the conviction that every person who is committed in service to our communities and country deserves the support of every single American, and that an increase in American patriotism is vital in keeping our great nation united.”

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Spinal Column: Kowall measure to help protect against car-hacking

Sen. Mike Kowall

Sen. Mike Kowall

By Sen. Mike Kowall
15th Senate District

Today’s sophisticated technology provides us access to more information than ever before more quickly than ever before; eases the backbreaking load for workers in many industries; and provides access to cutting-edge medical equipment that can significantly improve our health and quality of life.

These are just some of the benefits of modern technology. The high-tech we encounter everywhere, every day certainly is a blessing. But it is one that comes with responsibility and risk.

While computers double their capabilities every 12 to 18 months and our cellphones are now minicomputers that easily and dramatically outperform the top supercomputers of a generation ago, these devices are vulnerable to hacking and other security threats.

These threats affect more and more of us. It seems like each week brings a new disclosure of either a national or worldwide security breach. We learned in July that Chinese hackers stole the personal identity information of more than 20 million Americans.

This is a risk we have faced in our homes ever since we got online, but since vehicles are increasingly equipped with systems that connect drivers to the information superhighway — the Internet — while they cruise the actual highway, even cars and trucks are now vulnerable to cyberattacks.

This new threat was presented to the auto world recently when writers of a technology magazine revealed that security experts were able to hack into a vehicle and disable some of its functions.

Wired magazine said their experts remotely hacked into a 2014 Jeep Cherokee’s “Uconnect infotainment” system while the jeep was being driven. The “hackers” disabled the SUV’s engine functions and controlled interior features such as air conditioning, locks and the radio.

Computers now often control such vital operations as a car’s acceleration and braking. Cyberattacks on these systems threaten our security and safety. We must make sure we do all we can to protect our cars and trucks from such attacks, including updating the law to address these new crimes.

I will soon be introducing legislation in the state Senate that will increase the penalties for maliciously hacking into a vehicle’s computer technology. Under my bill, the penalty for such a crime will be the same as the penalty for carjacking. A serious crime such as hacking into a motor vehicle deserves serious consequences.

My measure also will make a distinction between “critical” and “noncritical” software systems, enable owners of vehicles to terminate the collection and retention of driving data under “Consumer Control” provisions, and put in place other consumer protections.

Hacking into a vehicle’s computer information system poses a significant threat to the security and safety of the auto’s driver and to the safety of others. We must take this threat seriously and enact laws to help prevent these crimes.

This column first appeared in the Spinal Column newsweekly. Senator Mike Kowall, R-White Lake, is the Michigan Senate majority floor leader. He serves the residents of the 15th Senate District, representing western Oakland County.

Kowall announces Capitol event honoring Vietnam era veterans

Sen. Mike Kowall

Sen. Mike Kowall

LANSING, Mich. — Michigan Senate Majority Floor Leader Mike Kowall on Tuesday announced that he is sponsoring an event honoring veterans of the Vietnam War era on the Capitol lawn on Thursday, Oct. 8. Kowall encouraged his constituents and all interested Michiganders to attend.

“Michigan’s Vietnam veterans, whether drafted or enlisted, served our country with honor. Tragically, too many returned home with little thanks for their service and not much help transitioning to civilian life,” said Kowall, R-White Lake. “In October, we will spend some time thanking and honoring veterans of the Vietnam War era and their families for their service and sacrifice on behalf of the United States.”

Kowall said the event will be held at noon on Thursday, Oct. 8, on the lawn of the Michigan Capitol in Lansing.

The event will highlight the service of the armed forces during the Vietnam War and the contributions of federal agencies and other organizations, and it will pay tribute to the contributions made on the home front by the people of the United States during the war.

A variety of vendor stations related to the Vietnam War era will be located on the north and south lawns of the Capitol. The following are some of the groups scheduled to attend:
•    The Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency (MVAA). An MVAA service officer will answer questions and make follow-up appointments regarding benefits such as disability compensation, pension, dependent indemnity compensation, and others.
•    The United States of America Vietnam War Commemoration. Congress authorized the Commemoration to thank and honor Vietnam veterans and highlight their service, to pay tribute to the contributions made on the home front by ordinary U.S citizens during the war, to highlight the advances in technology, science, and medicine at the time, and to recognize the contributions and sacrifices of the U.S. allies during the war.
The Commemorative Team will be on hand with posters, a wartime map of Vietnam and other giveaways. Volunteers will pin Lapel Pins on veterans who served during the Vietnam War era, between Nov. 1, 1955 and May 15, 1975, regardless of location.
•    The Michigan War Dog Memorial (MWDM). The MWDM is an all-volunteer, nonprofit organization operated and managed by a band of military veterans and K-9 supporters. The organization has come together to restore an abandoned pet cemetery in Lyon Township and convert it into a final resting place, with honors, for military dogs, police dogs and service dogs.
•    Kelly Marie Trudell. Kelly is a professional singer-songwriter who has been performing for more than 35 years. Her Father and eight of his 12 siblings have served our nation, including three who served tours in Vietnam. Kelly travels throughout the U.S. singing for wounded veterans. Kelly was awarded the President’s Lifetime Volunteer Service Award for her work with veterans, soldiers and their families.

“More than nine million Americans served our country during the Vietnam War era,” Kowall said. “Our event is focusing on the more than 237,000 Vietnam era Michiganders who reside here today. We can never fully repay those who served us, but we can say thank you at this event.”

Visit www.MichiganSaysThanks.com for more information and to RSVP for the event.