Kowall presents certificates to State Fair scholarship winners

LANSING, Mich. — Senate Majority Floor Leader Mike Kowall, R-White Lake, (rostrum, far left) on Thursday presented certificates of appreciation and gave a tour of the Senate floor to Fifth Third Bank Michigan State Fair Gold Ribbon Urban and Rural Youth Scholarship winners.

Judging for the scholarships ran during the Michigan State Fair throughout Labor Day week. The certificates of appreciation were signed by Kowall, state Rep. Kathy Crawford and Gov. Rick Snyder.

Pictured standing at the rostrum from left are Kowall, State Fair Volunteer Coordinator Kimberlee Bowman, Crawford, State Fair Manager Blair Bowman and Urban and Agriculture Scholarship Chairperson Kent Roberts. Also in the photo are Urban Agriculture Coordinator and Liaison Jerry Hebron; Agricultural, Livestock, and Home Arts Directors Jackie and L.C. Scramlin; Media Alchemy Owner Nancy Pharisee; and State Fair Executive Director Steve Masters.

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Spinal Column: Michigan closer to becoming autonomous vehicle capital

By Sen. Mike Kowall
15th Senate District

Legislation designed to keep Michigan at the cutting edge of automobile technology innovation, growth and design is moving closer to becoming law.

At the end of August, the Senate Committee on Economic Development and International Investment approved Senate Bills 995 – 998, the legislative package that would update our state’s autonomous vehicles law to provide safer transportation, better mobility and a stronger economy.

Just last week, the full Senate passed these bills and sent them on to the House.

These latest bills are necessary to keep Michigan at the forefront of the industry. In 2013, I sponsored legislation that became the current autonomous vehicles law in our state. Unfortunately, current law is becoming more outdated day by day as technology advances and other states seek the new automotive industry for themselves.

Michigan’s dominance in auto research and development is under attack from several states and countries who desire to supplant our leadership in transportation.

I will do everything I can to prevent that from happening. That is why I was the lead sponsor of SBs 995 – 998 back in May, the same week that Google announced that the company will be opening a self-driving test center in Novi.

Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) Director Kirk Steudle testified at the Senate Committee on Economic Development and International Investment hearing in August in support of the legislation.

“For more than three decades, MDOT’s mission statement has remained the same: We strive to provide integrated transportation services for economic benefit and quality of life,” Steudle said. “Developing autonomous and connected vehicle technology is a big piece of economic development, and we are happy to support the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and private industry in their efforts to help Michigan remain a leader. Thanks to Senator Kowall for taking the lead on these bills, and to Chairman Horn for bringing them to a successful vote.”

Sen. Ken Horn, who chairs the committee, is the sponsor of SB 998.

“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 Horn, R-Frankenmuth. “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.”

SBs 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.

The bills would also 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 would establish standards that these vehicles must adhere to, and it would 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.

The legislative package strikes the proper balance between oversight and innovation. The role of government is first to protect the health, safety and welfare of the general public. With that in mind, we also must make room for the automotive and high-tech industries to grow at their own rate without being hobbled by government watching every move they make.

Gov. Rick Snyder is supportive of our efforts to support innovation in the industry. With SBs 995 – 998 now before the Michigan House, it is my hope that the bills are enacted into law by Jan. 1, 2017, before the start of the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

That would send a strong signal that Michigan remains a viable, welcoming place for automotive companies and other high-tech industries.

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.

Reminder: Kowall and Robertson honoring Vietnam era veterans at Holly event

LANSING, Mich. — Michigan Senate Majority Floor Leader Mike Kowall and Sen. Dave Robertson on Monday reminded interested parties of a Vietnam veteran lapel-pinning ceremony this Friday, Sept. 16 in commemoration of the 50-year anniversary of the war.

Kowall, R-White Lake, and Robertson, R-Grand Blanc, are hosting the “Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Event to Thank and Honor Vietnam Veterans and Their Families” in Holly to give long-overdue recognition to Vietnam War era veterans and their families. 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. U.S. Congressman Mike Bishop (MI-08) will join Kowall and Robertson.

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 Friday, Sept. 16, at the Holly Area Veterans Resource Center (HAVRC) in the Karl Richter Community Center, 300 East St., in Holly. For more information, contact HAVRC Chairman Joe Mishler at 810-348-9960 or JMM1967@comcast.net.

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. Speakers will include Tim Driscoll of the Michigan Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) State Council, Steve Toth of VVA Chapter 133 and Ina Golden of the U.S. Navy and the Holly Area Veterans Resource Center.

The event also will include Veterans of Foreign Wars State Chaplain Jennifer Smith and the Holly High School Main Street Show Choir. The American Legion Post 149 Color Guard will present the colors.

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.

Save the Date: Kowall and Hopgood announce Romulus event honoring Vietnam era veterans

LANSING, Mich. — Michigan Senate Majority Floor Leader Mike Kowall and Sen. Hoon-Yung Hopgood on Friday announced they are sponsoring a Vietnam veteran lapel-pinning ceremony on Saturday, Oct. 8 in commemoration of the 50-year anniversary of the war.

Kowall, R-White Lake, and Hopgood, D-Taylor, are hosting the “Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Event to Thank and Honor Vietnam Veterans and Their Families” in Romulus to give long-overdue recognition to Vietnam War era veterans and their families. 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, will be held at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 8, at Romulus VFW Post 9568, 39270 W. Huron River Drive, in Romulus.

Those interested in attending should RVSP to past Post Commander Ron Allen at RCADDA@SBCGlobal.net.

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. 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.”

Hopgood agreed.

“Hosting a special recognition ceremony for our Vietnam veterans is something I am extremely honored and proud to be a part of,” Hopgood said. “I hope the community comes to support our service men and women, and I also hope this becomes an annual tradition because it’s the least we can do to thank them for their service to our country.”

During the ceremony, Donna Rekuta will perform the national anthem and God Bless America, and Romulus VFW Post 9568 Honor Guard will present the colors. The Romulus Auxiliary will provide snacks.

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.

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

Save the Date: Kowall and Robertson announce Holly event honoring Vietnam era veterans

LANSING, Mich. — Michigan Senate Majority Floor Leader Mike Kowall and Sen. Dave Robertson on Thursday announced they are sponsoring a Vietnam veteran lapel-pinning ceremony on Friday, Sept. 16 in commemoration of the 50-year anniversary of the war.

Kowall, R-White Lake, and Robertson, R-Grand Blanc, are hosting the “Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Event to Thank and Honor Vietnam Veterans and Their Families” in Holly to give long-overdue recognition to Vietnam War era veterans and their families. 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. U.S. Congressman Mike Bishop (MI-08) will join Kowall and Robertson.

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 Friday, Sept. 16, at the Holly Area Veterans Resource Center (HAVRC) in the Karl Richter Community Center, 300 East St., in Holly. For more information, contact HAVRC Chairman Joe Mishler at 810-348-9960 or JMM1967@comcast.net.

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. 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.”

Robertson agreed.

“We as Americans are forever indebted to those who answered our nation’s call during the Vietnam War,” Robertson said. “Freedom isn’t free, and our veterans know that better than anyone. For generations, military personnel and their families have made unimaginable sacrifices on a daily basis. Our objectives are to recognize those sacrifices, honor their service and show these individuals the respect they’ve earned.”

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.

Bishop hosted a similar event for Vietnam War veterans living in his congressional district in March with more than 160 veterans in attendance from Oakland, Livingston and Ingham counties.

“Our Vietnam War veterans’ service during our nation’s longest war was selfless and courageous,” Bishop said. “Years later, our nation still owes them a debt of gratitude that they were wrongfully denied when they returned home. We must also do our part to reach out to every single one of our local veterans with the proper care and assistance they deserve. We have a duty to serve and honor our American heroes — not just today, but every day.”

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

“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,” he said.

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