Help for rape victims
The Michigan Senate has passed a number of bills that would allow sexual assault victims to access information about the status of their rape kits — evidence immediately collected after an attack.
These no-brainer laws should be passed quickly by the House and then lawmakers need to continue to address the problems associated with the kits.
The status bills are part of the Sexual Assault Kit Evidence Submission Act, which establishes time periods for sexual assault evidence collection kits to be retrieved by the investigating law enforcement agency, submitted to forensic laboratories and analyzed for forensic evidence.
Such legislative action became necessary when more than 10,000 rape kits in Detroit were found untested — some of them dating back two decades. This is an injustice to the victims of sexual assault.
Evidence from the kits is used to prosecute rapists. Letting the kits sit on shelves keeps predators on the street instead of in prison.
A fix for court costs dilemma
The Michigan Legislature has passed legislation allowing courts to charge administrative costs to defendants who are convicted or plead guilty.
Although such costs had been levied for years, a Supreme Court decision in June said they were illegal because state law didn't specifically give courts the right to impose such fines.
Considering the high cost of any judicial action, having convicted individuals help cover such expenses is reasonable.
But the Legislature's work is not finished. The new law has a 36-month sunset period intended to be an incentive for lawmakers to address all of the issues of court funding. Clarifying and updating the court costs laws is a prudent action that should be pursued.
In the meantime, the new law also calls for more transparency. It requires courts to release more information about fines and costs to not only defendants and their attorneys but also the public.
Transparency should be a top priority in government, whether for the administrative, legislative or judicial branches.
An avenue of tech success
Automation Alley is observing its 15th anniversary and has much to celebrate. The association formed in Oakland County to promote high-tech businesses has grown to include other counties in southeast Michigan and is being credited with helping establish the region as a tech center.
Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson deserves credit for founding the group in 1999, and the association has grown from around 40 initial members to almost 1,000 today.
Particularly noteworthy is that much of the growth occurred during the Great Recession.
By helping companies retain and hire more qualified employees, Automation Alley has had a strong impact on the region's economy. In the past six years, association companies have created 4,400 jobs.
The future looks bright. The region ranks in the middle of the nation's 15 technology hubs, according to data compiled this year by Lansing-based Anderson Economic Group for Automation Alley's annual Technology Industry Report. Because of its past success, Automation Alley expects the region to move up in that ranking.