Saturday Shorts: An academic boost for vets
Gov. Rick Snyder has signed legislation allowing veterans and active duty members of the military working on a bachelor's degree at a Michigan college or university to get credit for military experience that coincides with certain courses.
Snyder says the new law will ensure military personnel get credit for knowledge acquired while serving their country.
This is the latest effort by the governor and the Legislature, who over the past few years have been promoting programs and legislation to help veterans. These include creation of the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency, which assists veterans in obtaining benefits and services.
Laws geared to aiding military personnel include allowing free Recreation Passports for disabled veterans, former POWs and Medal of Honor recipients, as well as exempting the principal residences of disabled veterans, and their surviving spouses, from property taxes.
Veterans face numerous challenges when they return home from active duty. Any help the
state can give them to ease their transition into civilian life is well earned.
With charities, use care
The state's third annual Professional Fundraising Charitable Solicitation report shows that in 2014, charities received only 55 cents for every dollar raised by professional fundraisers licensed in Michigan.
Attorney General Bill Schuette, whose staff compiles and publishes the information, says there's not a lot that can be done. Michigan law requires charities and professional fundraisers to register with the attorney general, who can prosecute those that violate state policies. Law enforcement has no control over how the donated money is spent, so transparency is the best way to inform the public. The fundraisers are legal as long as they don't violate regulations, such as making dishonest or misleading statements.
Individuals need to weigh carefully any calls soliciting donations. They should, as Schuette suggests, check out charities online. If people want to ensure a charity receives 100 percent of their donations, then they should give funds directly to the organization.
Find a real fix for no-fault
Legislators are reviewing a bill that would force the Michigan Catastrophic Claims Association to open its rate-making process and related data to the public.
The association is part of Michigan's no-fault auto insurance system that reimburses auto insurance companies for catastrophic injury claims above $545,000. The association's fund totals more than $17 billion and is financed through fees assessed on auto insurance policies.
The bill is getting mixed reviews. Rep. Derek Miller, D-Warren, a sponsor of the bill, says it's a matter of transparency.
Yet Tom Shield, of the Marketing Resource Group in Lansing, which represents insurance companies, says the public information is already available on the MCCA website. He warns the legislation might also tap into the personal medical records of individuals, which is illegal.
Michigan is the only state that allows unlimited health care benefits for auto accident victims, and that is what's behind the state's high auto insurance costs. If the state wants to reduce premiums in a meaningful way, it needs to cap the unlimited coverage.