It’s National Dairy Month!

Got milk? In Michigan, our milk is local. Our nearly 2,000 dairy farms produce more than enough milk to meet our needs and still export milk to other states.

In 2014, dairy cows in Michigan produced approximately 9.6 billion pounds of milk – or more than 1.1 billion gallons!

Michigan now ranks 6th in the nation for milk production and third in milk production per cow.

June is National Dairy Month and is a time to celebrate the contributions our dairy industry. It began in 1937 as National Milk Month, but soon changed its focus to honor all dairy products.

Michigan’s dairy industry is the top-ranking segment of the state’s food and agriculture industry, contributing $14.7 billion to the state’s economy each year.

The Michigan Senate Republicans encourage residents to salute our hard-working dairy farmers and processors for their dedication to building healthy lives and communities.

About 97 percent of Michigan’s dairy farms are family-owned. Each day our family farmers get up before dawn to help provide us with fresh and high-quality milk and other dairy products

Dairy products provide essential nutrients needed to build strong bones and a foundation for a healthy lifestyle. In addition, Michigan dairy farms and processors also provide jobs and contribute billions of dollars to our economy each year.

Giving the Gift of Life

April is National Donate Life Month, a time when we celebrate the lives of those who were saved by a transplant, recognize those who are still in need, honor those who have donated, and thank the ones who are registered organ donors.

Thousands have benefited from organ donation. Last year nearly 30,000 people had their lives changed because someone else donated a life-saving organ or tissue.

Despite that, there are still about 122,000 men, women, and children in the U.S. who need a transplant — and more than 3,500 of them are in Michigan. While tens of thousands of donations happen each year, an average of 8,000 people — or 22 a day — lose their battle while waiting for a transplant. The need for donors continues to rise.

The good news is, more than 121 million Americans are registered organ donors. You may be one of them. While that is a great statistic, about half of U.S. adults aren’t registered donors.

Here in Michigan, we are working to make it easier to register to donate. Senate Republicans led the way in recently approving a bill to help increase the number of registered organ donors in our state.

Lauren’s Law, as it is referred to, would make it easier to become a registered donor by having the secretary of state’s office ask whether a person wishes to be added to the Michigan anatomical gift donor registry when he or she applies for a driver’s license.

Registering to be an organ donor is simple, and it could have a lasting impact: one donor can help more than 50 people.

For information about organ donation or to sign up to become a donor, visit the Gift of Life Michigan website at GiftofLifeMichigan.org.

‘Lauren’s Law’ would help increase organ donations

There are nearly enough people currently in need of a life-saving organ transplant to fill Ford Field in Detroit — twice.

Although 90 percent of Americans say they support organ donation, only about 30 percent of adults nationwide have signed up as donors. While roughly half of Michigan adults are currently registered, it’s not enough to meet the need.

This month, the Michigan Senate unanimously approved Sen. John Proos’ legislation, known as “Lauren’s Law,” which would help increase the number of registered organ donors in the state.

Lauren’s Law is about doing all we can to give the gift of life to those in need of an organ transplant.

According to Donate Life America, more than 120,000 men, women and children nationwide currently need an organ transplant; every 10 minutes another name is added to the national organ transplant waiting list; and an average of 21 people die each day waiting for an available organ.

In Michigan, there are more than 3,500 people currently awaiting a transplant. In many cases, the transplant has the potential to save the recipient’s life.

Senate Bill 541 would require that the secretary of state’s office inquire whether someone wishes to be added to the Michigan anatomical gift donor registry when the individual applies for a driver’s license.

Proos’ measure is named “Lauren’s Law” after Lauren Shields, who at age 9 was placed on life support while waiting for a heart transplant, which she eventually received. She became the public face of organ donation in New York and helped pass a similar law there.

March is National Kidney Month and Proos got involved in this issue at the initiative of John Grinnell, a constituent who received a kidney transplant 29 years ago.

Becoming an organ donor is easy to do, yet it can be the most impactful thing in someone else’s life that any of us ever do.

For information about organ donation or to sign up to become a donor, residents may visit the Gift of Life Michigan website at GiftofLifeMichigan.org.

Celebrating Red Cross Month

For 135 years, the American Red Cross has been one of our country’s most impactful and dedicated humanitarian organizations.

Today, the Red Cross brings help and hope to people in need — every eight minutes!

March is Red Cross Month — a time to honor and celebrate a tremendous organization and the everyday heroes who help it make a huge impact in our communities.

The Senate Republicans are proud to have passed legislation that would give all Michigan residents the opportunity to donate to the Red Cross with a simple check on their state income tax form.

The legislation would create an individual income tax checkoff in support of the American Red Cross in Michigan — allowing taxpayers to choose to make a voluntary donation of $5, $10, or more of their income tax return to the organization. Donations received from the checkoff would be distributed to all of the Michigan chapters of the Red Cross.

The Red Cross is there in times of great need — from helping a single family after a home fire to assisting an entire community after a natural disaster.

In addition to their humanitarian efforts, they’re also is the country’s largest single supplier of blood and blood products and our leading provider of health and safety courses, such as CPR, first aid and lifeguard training.

To schedule a time to donate blood, make a financial donation or learn about other ways you can help support the mission of the American Red Cross, visit www.RedCross.org.

Go Red for Women

Each year, cardiovascular disease claims the lives of nearly one in three women in America. Approximately every 80 seconds, one woman dies from cardiovascular disease, and 90 percent of women have one or more risk factors.

The Michigan Senate and the American Heart Association are once again teaming up to raise awareness about the dangers of heart disease and to educate the public, especially women, about how to recognize warning signs. For the sixth year in a row, Senate Republicans, led by Tonya Schuitmaker, Judy Emmons and Margaret O’Brien, sponsored a resolution recognizing Feb. 5 as “Wear Red Day” in Michigan.

Go Red for Women is a national movement dedicated to increasing awareness of the dangers surrounding heart disease. Up to 80 percent of cardiac events can be prevented with proper education on what to do if an event occurs, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

Most people have been trained to recognize the most common symptom of a heart attack: extreme chest pain. However, women are more likely to experience shortness of breath, nausea, vomiting and back or jaw pain. Other symptoms include dizziness, lightheadedness or fainting, pain in the lower chest or upper abdomen and extreme fatigue.

The best way to decrease your odds is to get regular checkups. Although some risk factors for heart disease (such as age, family health history and race) cannot be avoided, other risks like alcohol consumption, smoking, inactivity and obesity are very manageable.

For more information about Go Red for Women and heart disease, visit www.GoRedForWomen.org.

“Go Red For Women” today, and encourage friends and family to do the same by using the hashtags #GoRedWearRed, #WellWomenVisit, #GoRedForWomen and #GoRed on social media.

Remarking on the 2016 State of the State address

Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof, R-West Olive, commented on Gov. Rick Snyder’s 2016 State of the State address:

“I commend Governor Snyder for his attention to the public health crisis in Flint. As a father and a grandfather, I am dismayed by the failures that resulted in this crisis and the risk it poses to the children of this community. The families of Flint deserve our full attention and the Senate is ready to assist the governor to address these concerns.

“The crisis in Flint demonstrates a need for greater accountability and reforms to our state government systems. Bloated, unresponsive bureaucracy does not meet the needs of our citizens. Over the past few years the Senate Republicans have worked to improve state government, but clearly there is more work to be done. The citizens of Michigan deserve a responsive, competent team of employees and administrators that value accountability, safety and customer service above red tape.

“The job of government at all levels is to respond to constituents. As the customer complaint window for state government, legislative offices hear from citizens day-in and day-out who need help navigating bureaucracy. The Senate Republicans are eager to pursue ways to improve state government and ensure safety and accountability for our citizens. Like many people throughout our state and the country, I look forward to hearing more about a solution for the people of Flint.

“This year, the Senate is poised to tackle reform of our state’s largest school district. The children of Detroit have spent too much time in an education system that does not give them the tools necessary to be successful adults and citizens. The bottom line is, the families in Detroit and across Michigan deserve access to quality education choices.

“The Senate, House, governor, city leadership, elected officials, education professionals, community stakeholders and parents must all share in the responsibility of reforming Detroit Public Schools. While the Legislature can work to resolve the balance sheet, the active participation of the citizens and leaders of Detroit is critical to the long-term success of the students and the vitality of the city’s neighborhoods.

“Detroit’s turnaround will be for not if the children of that great city do not graduate high school, are not prepared for learning at our universities and are not competitive in today’s job market.

“The challenges in Detroit Public Schools are not entirely unique to that district. Many school districts are burdened by financial stress and a changing educational environment. My colleagues and I in the Senate will look more closely at potential reforms related to legacy costs. No student should be short-changed of dollars entering the classroom because of an unsustainable retirement system and mounting debt.

“These major issues bring about larger questions about system failures. The governor has not shied away from tackling the tough issues facing our state and his remarks tonight demonstrate accountability and forward action to help the citizens of Flint and Michigan.

“The Senate Republicans are prepared for another year of working with the governor, our colleagues in the House and members on the other side of the aisle to continue to improve Michigan and reform state government.”

Donating blood = Saving a life

About one of every seven people entering the hospital will need blood. Unfortunately, although nearly 40 percent of Americans are eligible to donate blood, only about 5 percent actually do.

That is why the Michigan Senate Republicans encourage healthy residents to give blood and help maintain a sufficient blood supply for patients.

This month is National Blood Donor Month, which has been observed in January since 1970 to honor blood and platelet donors and also to help increase donations during the winter months — when maintaining a sufficient blood supply for patients is difficult due to weather and seasonal illnesses that often impact donor turnout.

Donating blood takes a very short time. The actual donating process takes less than 10 minutes and the entire visit — from check-in to check-out — lasts 60 minutes or less.

If you do decide to donate, please remember to get plenty of rest beforehand, eat a good meal and avoid alcohol. It is also important to drink plenty of fluids both before and after donating.

Michigan Blood is a nonprofit blood bank that provides blood for more than 50 hospitals throughout the state. For more information or to schedule an appointment to donate, call toll-free 1-866-MIBLOOD or visit their website at: www.MiBlood.org.

The American Red Cross provides about 40 percent of the nation’s blood supply. To donate, call 1-800-RED CROSS or visit www.RedCrossBlood.org. Donors can also use the free Red Cross Blood Donor App, which can be found in app stores or at www.RedCrossBlood.org/bloodapp.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Sens. Margaret O’Brien, R-Portage; Tonya Schuitmaker, R-Lawton; and Judy Emmons, R-Sheridan; remind Michigan families of the importance of learning the risks, symptoms and treatment options in a Breast Cancer Awareness Month public service announcement.

During the month, the Michigan Senate Republicans join in renewing the fight against breast cancer, working to raise awareness and supporting those who are fighting or have survived the disease.