Autonomous vehicle legislation clears Senate committee

LANSING, Mich. — The Senate Committee on Economic Development and International Investment on Wednesday approved a package of bills aimed at modernizing guidelines for driverless vehicle research and operation within state law.

Senate Bills 995-998 would update Michigan’s current laws regarding autonomous vehicle testing to allow “real world” testing and operation to determine the technology needed to safely introduce these vehicles into the marketplace.

“Michigan, for much of its history, has been known throughout the world as the home of the automobile, and it is only appropriate that we continue to be a pioneer in the industry,” said Sen. Ken Horn, R-Frankenmuth, who chairs the committee and was the sponsor of SB 998. “Data shows that more than 90 percent of auto accidents are caused because of human error. If we can remain an integral part of the development of technology to reduce these errors, I think it will be a great move for our state.”

The bills go on to specify that as technology emerges, companies will be able to operate a driverless vehicle on public roads so long as an operator is able to supervise and control the vehicle. The legislation also establishes standards that these vehicles must adhere to. These include requirements for data collection and feedback from crashes from autonomous vehicles that are members of a fleet so that information can be used to further advance the technology and ensure that they are safe for consumer use.

Additionally, the bills authorize the creation of the American Center for Mobility at the abandoned Willow Run facility. The repurposed 300-acre lot is expected to serve a vital role in Michigan’s research and development surrounding autonomous vehicles. The redevelopment is expected to be a boost for the economies of surrounding communities.

Leading technology and ridesharing companies are working with Michigan’s Big Three and other automakers to develop driverless technology. Seven other states along with Washington D.C. have a policy or have introduced a policy regarding autonomous vehicles, and the widespread message across the Senate panel as well as those who came to testify was that Michigan must remain a leader in the industry.

State Sen. Mike Kowall, sponsor of SBs 995 and 996, has remained at the forefront of legislative efforts pertaining to autonomous vehicles for some time. Kowall added that Michigan is on a fast track to get these bills passed and remain competitive with the rest of the nation.

“This legislation will help ensure Michigan remains the worldwide leader in automotive research and development,” said Kowall, R-White Lake. “We have sent a strong signal today that we are ready to partner with the companies that are producing this remarkable technology.”

Horn agreed.

“I believe we are making great technological and economic strides for our state while keeping drivers and their passengers safe on the road,” Horn said. “I want to thank the other bill sponsors, the members of this committee and those who came to testify for coming to my district — and a special thanks to Nexteer Automotive for hosting this special hearing here in our community.”

SBs 995-998 were approved by the committee with bipartisan support and will now go before the full Senate for consideration.

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Oakland Press: Make wise choices for a successful school year

Sen. Mike Kowall

Sen. Mike Kowall

By Sen. Mike Kowall
15th Senate District

School soon will be back in session. This can be welcome news both to parents and their children. For students, going back to school means catching up with old friends and adjusting to the routine of getting up earlier and doing homework.

There are some important things we all should remember for the new school year.

The first priority — for parents, students and drivers — is that our students make it safely to and from school.

For kids riding the bus there are three main points to remember: 1) Wait until the bus has come to a complete stop and the doors are open before stepping into the roadway; 2) never put your head, arms or hands out of the bus window; and 3) when crossing the street, STOP, look left, then right and then left again before crossing.

For all drivers, remember two critical rules when around a school bus: 1) If the yellow overhead lights are flashing, be prepared to stop; and 2) if the red lights are flashing, STOP, and remain stopped until the red flashing lights are turned off and the school bus begins moving.

Once safety has been established, children are ready to learn.

You may be surprised to learn that neither a family’s income nor social status is the most accurate predictor of how well a student does in school. Rather, success depends on other factors in the home. First, parents must create a home environment that encourages learning. Second, they should communicate high, yet reasonable, expectations for their children’s achievement and future careers. And finally, parents need to be involved in their children’s education at school and in the community.

If you are the parent of an elementary school student, talk frequently to your child’s teacher. Ask about your child’s progress and ask for ideas on what you can do to assist in ensuring your child’s success. Read to your child every day, or have your child read to you.

If you are the parent of an older student, encourage your child to get involved in extracurricular activities (sports, music, drama, and many others). Make sure you attend the events! Support mentoring, career exploration and career shadowing. Use technology resources to monitor your child’s grades and assignments.

I urge all parents in the 15th District to try to make time to help and support their young students. For further assistance in this area, the Michigan Department of Education has many useful resources available on its website at www.michigan.gov/mde. The “Parent Engagement” section offers numerous links and information that can be tremendously helpful.

Ensure your child gets plenty of sleep, arrives to school on time, completes homework and eats healthy meals. Build up your child’s self-confidence with positive reinforcement and encouragement. These foundations are as essential as anything else in ensuring a child’s academic success.

Keep in mind that the choices that we as parents make — as well as the ones our kids make — are the most important factors in determining success in school. So make the right choices, and have a fantastic school year!

This column first appeared in the Oakland Press. 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.

REMINDER: Kowall and Marleau honoring Vietnam era veterans at Oxford event

LANSING, Mich. — Michigan Senate Majority Floor Leader Mike Kowall and Sen. Jim Marleau on Wednesday reminded interested parties of a Vietnam veteran lapel-pinning ceremony this Saturday, Aug. 27 in commemoration of the 50-year anniversary of the war.

Kowall, R-White Lake, and Marleau, R-Lake Orion, are hosting the “Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Event to Thank and Honor Vietnam Veterans and Their Families” to give long-overdue recognition to Vietnam War era veterans and their families as part of a Veterans picnic in Oxford. They encourage all interested residents and veterans to join them to pay tribute to the men and women who were too often forgotten when they returned home.

Kowall said the event, made possible in part by the United States of America Vietnam War Commemoration (VWC), will include a formal lapel pinning ceremony beginning at 1 p.m. at Christ the King Church, 1550 W. Drahner Road, in Oxford. The Christ the King Veterans Ministry and Vietnam Veterans of America Post 133 are also helping sponsor the event. The lapel pinning ceremony will follow a picnic at the church at 11 a.m.

The lawmakers will provide a Vietnam War Commemorative Lapel Pin to U.S. veterans who served on active duty at any time from Nov. 1, 1955 – May 15, 1975, regardless of location.

Pastor Andrea Holt of Christ the King Church will sing the National Anthem to open the ceremony. Sgt. Mark Johnson of the Oakland County Sheriff’s Department will be the guest speaker, and the Presentation of Colors will be by the VFW Post #334 Honor Guard.

Kowall has held numerous lapel-pinning ceremonies, both in Lansing and throughout the state. The ceremonies are held in a variety of locations, including Veterans of Foreign Wars/American Legion posts, veteran memorial parks and banquet halls. Kowall often partners with the senator of the district where the event is being held.

Information regarding the United States of America Vietnam War Commemoration can be found at www.vietnamwar50th.com.

More than 200 veterans attend Vietnam era pinning celebration

Originally published in the News Herald

Veterans of Foreign Wars Post No. 9283 in Southgate hosted a pinning ceremony for Vietnam-era veterans and their families Aug. 13. More than 200 families showed up for the service.

The event, was officially called “Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Event to Thank and Honor Vietnam Veterans and Their Families,” was sponsored by state Senate Majority leader Mike Kowall (R-White Lake).

“It was humbling to have the distinct honor to  recognize and thank the Vietnam veterans and their families on behalf of our nation,” Kowall said.  “The post commander, auxiliary members, and the veterans present were very gracious and welcoming.  I enjoyed seeing Mayor Joseph Kuspa pay tribute to the Vietnam veterans in his community”.

Kowal has been hosting similar events across the state in recent months.

“It is always a moving time for me when I am able to present the lapel pins and personally thank each veteran for their service,” Kowall said.

VFW Post 9283 Commander Bill Ainsworth was also happy to be honoring so many veterans .

“As I looked across the crowd and saw 200 veterans waiting to get recognition after 50 years, it made me feel proud to be an American.   The veterans who attended were not only there for themselves, but for the 58,000 who never came home and the thousands buried across the nation who didn’t live to see the day”.

The U.S. involvement in Vietnam stretched from November 1955 to April 1975.

Kowell said the event will be geared toward giving veterans from that era “long-overdue” recognition for their service to the country.

The commemoration was authorized by Congress and established under the secretary of defense and launched in 2012. It was designed to thank and honor Vietnam veterans and their families in hometown America, in light of the 50th anniversary of the war.

Information regarding the United States of America Vietnam War Commemoration can be found at www.vietnamwar50th.com.

Spinal Column: August is the time to play, watch golf in Oakland County, beyond

Sen. Mike Kowall

Sen. Mike Kowall

By Sen. Mike Kowall
15th Senate District

With the arrival of August comes the time to celebrate one of American’s favorite pastimes. August is National Golf Month.

Golf in Michigan is special. We are home to more than 800 public golf courses and the fourth-highest number of courses in the nation. Time and again, we are considered one of the top states for playing the game.

This is no doubt due in large part to Michigan’s incredible natural resources — our woods and streams, hills and valleys, and of course our Great Lakes and sand dunes — which have helped create beautiful and award-winning golf courses throughout the state.

You can participate in National Golf Month in several ways. You may want to plan a golf trip with your friends. You could spend a week or more touring just one area of the state, playing the game.

I also encourage you to get out and play golf with your family. This may mean that you, or your kids, or your entire family, will first need to take lessons. It is remarkable what some instruction by a pro can do for your golf game. And the memories you make walking the golf course with your family will last a lifetime.

One of the premier golf courses in the nation is located right here in Oakland County: Oakland Hills Country Club. Oakland Hills, which turns 100 this year, has a rich and significant history.

The club’s first head professional was legendary golfer Walter Hagen, who was a five-time PGA Champion. The South Course at Oakland Hills is known as “The Monster” and has hosted 16 Major Championships. Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Ben Hogan and Gary Player — among the best to ever play the game — have all won on the South Course.

Like many of my fellow residents of Oakland County, I am delighted that the United States Golf Association has selected Oakland Hills Country Club as the site of the 2016 U.S. Amateur Championship, which will run beginning next week, from Monday, Aug. 15 through Sunday, Aug. 21.

The U.S. Amateur Championship, like similar major national sporting events, can produce considerable economic investment for the areas surrounding it. The Michigan Liquor Control Commission had been permitted to issue up to 40 special liquor licenses for certain sporting events. These special liquor licenses help ensure the success both of the events themselves and the myriad other tourism and promotional activities that accompany them.

Unfortunately, the U.S. Amateur Championship was not on the list of events for which the MLCC could issue a license. That is why I sponsored Senate Bill 901, now Public Act 180 of 2016. This law adds the U.S. Amateur Championship to this list.

SB 901 received overwhelming support in both the Senate and the House. My colleagues and I recognize the significance economic impact of the U.S. Amateur Championship to Oakland County and Southeast Michigan.

Take some time to watch the U.S. Amateur Championship next week. And take some time during National Golf Month to head outdoors and enjoy this wonderful game.

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 Oxford 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 a Vietnam veteran lapel-pinning ceremony on Saturday, Aug. 27 in commemoration of the 50-year anniversary of the war.

Kowall, R-White Lake, is hosting the “Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Event to Thank and Honor Vietnam Veterans and Their Families” in Oxford to give long-overdue recognition to Vietnam War era veterans and their families. He encourages all interested residents and veterans to join him to pay tribute to the men and women who were too often forgotten when they returned home.

Kowall said the event, made possible in part by the United States of America Vietnam War Commemoration (VWC), will begin at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Aug. 27, at Christ the King Church, 1550 W. Drahner Road, in Oxford. The Christ the King Veterans Ministry and Vietnam Veterans of America Post 133 are also helping sponsor the event.

The formal lapel pinning ceremony will begin at 1 p.m. The senator will provide a Vietnam War Commemorative Lapel Pin to U.S. veterans who served on active duty at any time from Nov. 1, 1955 – May 15, 1975, regardless of location. The symbolism attached to the lapel pin is significant, Kowall said.

“The Commemoration honors all Vietnam veterans, whether they served in-country, in-theater, or were stationed elsewhere during the Vietnam War period,” he said. “All were called to serve and the overwhelming majority of these veterans served honorably and admirably.”

Kowall said approximately 150 veterans from various Detroit-area shelters will be transported to the event. The event also will include:
•    Michigan Vietnam Memorial Moving Wall compliments of Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 154;
•    Free hog roast and family picnic to honor all veterans and their families;
•    DJ and live band; and
•    Raffle prizes.

Kowall said the event will occur rain or shine and no RSVP is required. Anyone who is interested in more information can contact Christ the King Veterans Ministry Leader Bob ten Bosch at (248) 417-2451.

The Commemoration was authorized by Congress and established under the secretary of defense and launched in 2012. It was designed to thank and honor Vietnam veterans and their families in hometown America, in light of the 50th anniversary of the war. Recognition is given to these heroes when commemorative partners, such as Kowall, hold events that thank and honor the veterans and their families.

“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,” Kowall said. “This lapel-pinning ceremony is a way to thank and honor veterans of the Vietnam War era and their families for their service and sacrifice on behalf of a grateful nation and the Michigan Legislature.”

Information regarding the United States of America Vietnam War Commemoration can be found at www.vietnamwar50th.com.

Kowall has held numerous lapel-pinning ceremonies, both in Lansing and throughout the state. The ceremonies are held in a variety of locations, including Veterans of Foreign Wars/American Legion posts, veteran memorial parks and banquet halls. Kowall often partners with the senator of the district where the event is being held.

“It is always a moving time for me when I am able to present the lapel pins and personally thank each veteran for their service,” Kowall said.

The senator said he particularly enjoys when veterans gather for a group photo and personally announce their name, branch of service and dates served.

REMINDER: Kowall honoring Vietnam era veterans at Southgate event

LANSING, Mich. — Michigan Senate Majority Floor Leader Mike Kowall on Monday reminded interested parties of a Vietnam veteran lapel-pinning ceremony this Saturday, Aug. 13 in commemoration of the 50-year anniversary of the war.

Kowall, R-White Lake, is hosting the “Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Event to Thank and Honor Vietnam Veterans and Their Families” to give long-overdue recognition to Vietnam War era veterans and their families. He encourages all interested residents and veterans to join him to pay tribute to the men and women who were too often forgotten when they returned home.

Kowall said the event, made possible in part by the United States of America Vietnam War Commemoration (VWC), will be held at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 13, at VFW Post 9283, 16200 Dix Toledo Road, in Southgate.

Those planning to attend should RSVP to Southgate VFW Commander Bill Ainsworth at commander9283@gmail.com.

The senator will provide a Vietnam War Commemorative Lapel Pin to U.S. veterans who served on active duty at any time from Nov. 1, 1955 – May 15, 1975, regardless of location. The symbolism attached to the lapel pin is significant, Kowall said.

“The Commemoration honors all Vietnam veterans, whether they served in-country, in-theater, or were stationed elsewhere during the Vietnam War period,” he said. “All were called to serve and the overwhelming majority of these veterans served honorably and admirably.”

The Commemoration was authorized by Congress and established under the secretary of defense and launched in 2012. It was designed to thank and honor Vietnam veterans and their families in hometown America, in light of the 50th anniversary of the war. Recognition is given to these heroes when commemorative partners, such as Kowall, hold events that thank and honor the veterans and their families.

“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,” Kowall said. “This lapel-pinning ceremony is a way to thank and honor veterans of the Vietnam War era and their families for their service and sacrifice on behalf of a grateful nation and the Michigan Legislature.”

The guest speaker for the event will be Rich Bame, a former engine room repair apprentice in the U.S. Navy who was captured by North Korea in 1968 while serving on the U.S. Pueblo. Bame was a prisoner of war for nearly one year.

The American Legion Riders of Michigan motorcycle procession will open the ceremony. The staging area will be the Veterans Memorial Library in the Southgate City Complex at 12:30 p.m.  All bikes are welcome. Contact American Legion Post Commander Jim Austin at JAustin1961@hotmail.com for more details.

The Presentation of Colors will be by the Veterans of Foreign Wars District 4 Honor Guard. Hot dogs and beer will be served immediately following the ceremony.

Kowall has held numerous lapel-pinning ceremonies, both in Lansing and throughout the state. The ceremonies are held in a variety of locations, including Veterans of Foreign Wars/American Legion posts, veteran memorial parks and banquet halls. Kowall often partners with the senator of the district where the event is being held.

“It is always a moving time for me when I am able to present the lapel pins and personally thank each veteran for their service,” Kowall said.

The senator said he particularly enjoys when veterans gather for a group photo and personally announce their name, branch of service and dates served.

Information regarding the United States of America Vietnam War Commemoration can be found at www.vietnamwar50th.com.