Cyberbullying addressed by new Michigan law

Gov. Rick Snyder recently signed nearly two dozen bills focusing on various transportation-and education-related issues across Michigan.

The bills range from fighting cyberbullying to streamlining regulations for professional development to making sure veterans attending community college have access to benefits.

“We’ve already taken great steps to confront the challenges posed by bullying in our schools,” Snyder said. “It’s important that we expand our focus to include the growing problem of cyberbullying to bullying policies.”

A bill sponsored by former state Sen. Glen Anderson strengthens Michigan’s anti-bullying efforts by requiring all Michigan schools to add cyberbullying to their anti-bullying policies.

The legislation requires the Michigan Department of Education to create procedures to report this information to the state.

Another bill sponsored by former state Sen. Bruce Caswell aligns the Revised School Code with the School Aid Act as it pertains to kindergarten age requirements.

The bill also applies the current age requirements to children attending schools out of district. At the same time, Snyder signed legislation sponsored by state Sen. Darwin Booher that loosens investment restrictions for community colleges to provide additional investment options.

The legislation will allow interested community colleges to create a more diversified portfolio, while still requiring specific investment grades to prevent additional financial risk.

Other newly-signed legislation involves:

• Reducing required number of annual fire drills for colleges and universities from eight to three. In addition, the legislation adds reporting and enforcement provisions for all postsecondary institutions.

• Ensuring that veterans receive all opportunities available while attending Michigan’s community colleges. The bills require all community college applications to include a question about military service to help quickly identify veterans for educational assistance. The legislation also ensures veterans receive information on how academic credits may be earned for previous military training.

• Ensuring that nonpublic school teachers in Michigan receive the same credit for professional development as public school teachers. This reform ensures that all teachers in Michigan receive credit for professional development opportunities, regardless of the type of school worked in.

• Giving community colleges more flexibility in paying energy conversation improvements. The legislation increases the financing payback time frame from 10 to 25 years and removes the previous rule that projects could only be done if energy savings would cover the cost of the project.

• Adding provisions ensuring the M-1 RAIL project will receive the same range of powers and legal protections that other railways receive. These provisions will allow the project to move forward without barriers.

• Ensuring that individuals involved in stealing vehicles are not covered by no-fault insurance benefits. The bill clarifies that anyone involved with stealing a vehicle, whether driving or not, is not entitled to personal injury protection benefits.

• Creating a fundraising license plate benefitting Michigan veterans. Benefits from the license plate are designated for county veterans outreach activities, tuition support for members of the Michigan Natural Guard or the Children of Veterans Tuition Grant Program.

• Streamlining the application process for for-hire motor carriers in Michigan. For-hire motor carriers include freight, towing and household moving companies. The legislation eliminates 64 unnecessary steps to help the Motor Carrier Division within the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs issue licenses 67 percent faster.