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Bipartisan action needed to prevent violence

In less than one week, our nation witnessed three more mass shootings and the loss of 34 lives in Texas, Ohio and California. This must end. Enough is enough.

Make no mistake: The bloodshed we saw in Gilroy, and again in El Paso and Dayton in the span of 48 hours was the price of inaction.

In Lansing and in Washington, D.C., legislators from both parties need to reach across the aisle and work on common-sense solutions that will keep the children and families of our state safe now.

We know that tougher gun laws won’t stop all gun violence, but we need to have the courage to begin. We can start on common ground. In Michigan, we need to have committee hearings on "Red Flag" bills that were introduced months ago and sponsored by Reps. Julie Brixie, D-Meridian Township, Jon Hoadley, D-Kalamazoo, and Robert Wittenberg, D-Huntington Woods, in the House, and Sens. Rosemary Bayer, D-Beverly Hills, Erika Geiss, D-Taylor, and Mallory McMorrow, D-Royal Oak, in the Senate.

This package of bills includes a measure to allow families or police to request an extreme risk protection order to temporarily prevent someone in crisis from buying or possessing a gun, while respecting our Constitutional rights.

Seventeen other states and the District of Columbia have already enacted common-sense gun reforms to stem the rising tide of gun violence, and a 2018 poll found that 85% of registered voters support some form of Red Flag laws.

The legislation would also:

  • Prevent a person who poses a risk to themselves or others from buying firearms;
  • Provide families a tool to help loved ones in a time of crisis;
  • Require a court hearing within 14 days so a person can appeal to get their firearms back; and,
  • Institute penalties for false reporting.

Red Flag laws are a reasonable first step to preventing violence. We believe we can find common ground with our legislative colleagues on this issue.

We can’t wait for the next mass shooting to mull over an answer. Gun violence can happen at any of our schools, grocery stores, places of worship or movie theaters in small towns and big cities alike.

Rep. Robert Wittenberg, chair

Sen. Rosemary Bayer, vice-chair

Michigan Gun Violence Prevention Caucus

Protect Michigan patients from surprise medical billing

Congress should do everything in its power to lower health care costs here in Michigan and nationwide. A good place to start would be ending the unfair practice of surprise medical billing, which just increases the stress and financial burdens facing patients and their families. 

While there are multiple approaches being discussed in Congress, some could actually create more problems for patients than it solves. A government-mandated benchmarking approach to resolving out-of-network payments would have serious adverse consequences, limiting access and increasing costs, particularly for rural Michiganians. 

Instead, Congress should pass legislation that includes Independent Dispute Resolution, which would facilitate open, transparent negotiations between providers and insurers, protecting patients while ensuring fair payments that help keep Michigan hospitals and ER strong. Sens. Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters should do everything in their power to make sure IDR — and not benchmarking — is included in congressional legislation to end surprise billing.

Michael Radtke

Sterling Heights City Council

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