NEWS FROM AROUND THE STATE
Issue 106, November 2004

Table of Contents

  1. Michigan.gov Gets Facelift, New Themes Unveiled
  2. State Offers Air Quality News by E-Mail
  3. Search for Unclaimed Property On-Line
  4. Depository Services Consultant Coming Soon to Library of Michigan
  5. Michigan Notary Public Database
  6. Granholm Receives Mental Health Commission Report
  7. Task Force to Eliminate Childhood Lead Poisoning Final Report Released
  8. FIA To Be Renamed Michigan Department of Human Services


(1) Michigan.gov Gets Facelift, New Themes Unveiled

The Michigan Department of Information Technology (MDIT) today announced the release of a new and improved web site for the State of Michigan. The Michigan.gov portal, found at http://www.michigan.gov/, has a new look and feel that will be more appealing to users. In addition, information has been categorized into new themes for complete ease of use, allowing citizens to find the information they need faster and find the services they need more easily.

“Access to Michigan government has never been easier,” commented Teri Takai, Director of the Michigan Department of Information Technology. “Michigan has been ranked number one in the country when it comes to digital government. We have to keep pushing to be the very best.”

State services that are offered electronically can now be found in the “Online Services” area. Examples include: Statewide Road and Lane Closures, Internet Criminal History Access Tool, License Plate Renewals, Cemetery Sources Database, Ask a Librarian, Census and Statistical Data, Unclaimed Property Search, Career Exploration, Michigan Talent Bank, Elementary School Ratings, Offender Tracking Information System, Certificates for Birth, Death, Marriage, and Divorce, and much, much more.

“We continue to partner with all of the state agencies and the Governor’s office to expand the number of online services that are available to our citizens,” concluded Takai. “As time goes by, you’ ll see more and more services available online.”

When visiting Michigan.gov, the front page will provide citizens with the top stories of the day in Michigan government. Links to all of the state web sites, including the legislature and courts, are also provided. All of the information surrounding Governor Granholm’s destination for a 21st century economy can also be found on the site. Development of the new site is the direct result of collaboration between state departments and the assigned theme managers. Each themed area is filled with useful information pertaining to that particular theme.

Information on the site is now themed into the following categories:

  1. Michigan Government
  2. Health
  3. Education and Children’s Services
  4. Careers, Colleges, & Training
  5. Business & Economic Growth
  6. Safety & Security
  7. Travel & Recreation
  8. About Michigan
Source: Kurt Weiss, Michigan Newswire, Oct. 27, 2004.

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(2) State Offers Air Quality News by E-Mail

Daily air quality forecasts -- crucial to asthmatics and others at risk from airborne pollution -- are available for metro Detroiters through a state e-mail alert.

As part of a pilot program created by the Environmental Protection Agency and administered by the Department of Environmental Quality, alerts for high levels of smog-like ground-level ozone and fine particulate pollution can be transmitted directly from the state's Department of Environmental Quality to subscriber's e-mail addresses.

To register for the e-mail alerts, go to http://www.michigan.gov/deqair and click on "Air Monitoring" and then the "EnviroFlash" graphic.

Source: Hugh McDonald, Jr., Detroit Free Press, Oct. 27, 2004, p.4B.

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(3) Search for Unclaimed Property On-Line

The Michigan Department of Treasury recently added more than 314,000 new accounts to its Unclaimed Property database… and one or more could be yours! To find out, search on-line at http://www.michigan.gov/unclaimedproperty.

Pursuant to the Uniform Unclaimed Property Act, Michigan companies, banks, insurance companies, local units of government, and other entities are required to turn over abandoned or unclaimed property to the State of Michigan each year. The Unclaimed Property Division then works to reunite assets such as uncashed checks, stock certificates, insurance claim payments, and other properties, with their owners. Over the last three years, the number of paid claims has nearly doubled, to a record 35,600 in Fiscal Year 2004. As a result, nearly $35 million was returned to individuals last year alone.

Checking to see if you have unclaimed property is as easy as logging onto http://www.michigan.gov/unclaimedproperty from home or your local library, and clicking on the "Michigan's Money Quest" link. Unlike years past, Treasury will not be publishing a statewide list of recent additions to the database. "By fully utilizing today's technology, we will save about $800,000 this fiscal year alone," said State Treasurer Jay B. Rising. "At the same time, Michigan citizens will have easy access to the entire Unclaimed Property database, as well as other national searches, by simply going on-line."

Individuals who do not have access to the Internet can call the Unclaimed Property Division at (517) 636-5320, Monday through Friday, between 10:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.

Source: Terry Stanton, Michigan Newswire, October 29, 2004.

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(4) Depository Services Consultant Coming Soon to Library of Michigan

Keep your fingers crossed. A Depository Services Consultant at the Library of Michigan is one step closer according to a recent release by GPO.

"As you know, GPO is transforming the depository inspection program into one of consultation, education, and training with GPO employees physically located in the field.

The depository services consultants will facilitate communication with GPO, assess depository operations in a consultative spirit, and serve as training assets in the field for depository libraries. Regional libraries are expected to be closely involved with the activities of any consultant placed in their region, although it is not a requirement that a regional library serve as the host institution.

On Friday (Oct. 15th?) I signed the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Library of Michigan that will let us place the first depository services consultant out into the community to provide training and work directly with local depository libraries....

These will be GPO employees, and their salaries, benefits, and travel expenses will be paid by GPO, but we are hoping each consultant will have a sponsoring depository that will provide office space and other support, as the Library of Michigan is doing."

Source: Remarks of the Superintendent of Documents Judith C. Russell, made during the 2004 Fall Federal Depository Library Conference held in Washington DC on October 18, 2004, are now available online at http://www.gpoaccess.gov/about/speeches/DLCFall2004.pdf.

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(5) Michigan Notary Public Database

Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land has unveiled two tools to ensure the authenticity of notary public commissions and protect Michigan’s business environment against fraud.

First, Land announced the online listing of Michigan’s more than 130,000 notaries public. The searchable database can be accessed at http://www.michigan.gov/sos/0,1607,7-127-1638-85862--,00.html.

Second, Land said the format of the notary certificates of commission have been changed to a size more convenient for the customers. The new certificates can be easily carried by notaries in a wallet or purse as proof of their commissions and are less costly to produce and mail. Together, these improvements aid in attesting to the legitimacy of a notary’s commission, which further enhances the validity of important documents.

"Establishing the identity of those who sign documents is a fundamental requirement of the notary," Land said. "These improvements provide a double-check. We’ve enhanced the signer’s ability to ensure that a Michigan notary public's commission is valid, and added another level of protection against document fraud."

The new database and certificates of commission complete the update of Michigan’s notary processes, one of the Land administration’s early goals. By working with lawmakers and county clerks, Land spearheaded the passage of the Michigan Notary Public Act (PA 238 of 2003). The Act is considered the most comprehensive change in Michigan notary law since it was first enacted in 1846.

The names of all active Michigan notaries public will be included in the online list along with the dates and county of commission. Searches may be done by name or by county of commission. The list will not be purged when a notary’s commission expires. This will eventually create an archive so that the legitimacy of notarizations on older documents can be checked.

The new, credit card-sized certificates of commission will be issued to new notaries, and to those who reapply, or apply for a duplicate certificate. There is a $10 fee for a duplicate certificate.

A notary public is an officer appointed by the Michigan Secretary of State to attest to the authenticity of a person's signature, to administer oaths, and to witness acknowledgements. Notarization on a document certifies that the person named on it appeared before the notary, displayed valid identification, and signed the document in the physical presence of the notary.

For more information on the Michigan Notary Public Act, visit the Secretary of State Web site, http://www.Michigan.gov/sos.

Source: Michigan Newswire, Nov. 12, 2004.

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(6) Granholm Receives Mental Health Commission Report

Governor Jennifer M. Granholm formally accepted the Michigan’s Mental Health Commission’s final report today (October 25) during a meeting with members in Lansing.

Final Report: Part 1; Part 2, Appendices.

“Members of the Mental Health Commission have tirelessly worked over the course of the last 10 months to create a new vision for supporting citizens with mental illness in our state,” Granholm said. “I deeply appreciate their efforts and am anxious to review the Commission’s vision to restructure Michigan’s mental health system.”

Michigan Department of Community Health Director Janet Olszewski said her department will review the Commission's report and present an implementation plan for the recommendations to the Governor sometime soon.

"The work of the Commission is absolutely vital as we focus on delivering high quality mental health services to the citizens of Michigan," Olszewski said. "The report is a wonderful starting point toward a better destination for people with mental illness."

Some of the substantive recommendations from the commission include:

  • Continue to use state resources to support best practice and evidence-based research
  • Identify children with disabilities and risk factors proactively in education and health care environments
  • Increase recipient rights protection by strengthening accountability
  • Convene leaders from both the private and public sectors to develop and launch a public education campaign for mental illness awareness
  • Develop uniform guidelines for determining eligibility for mental health services
  • Integrate mental health treatment with physical health
  • Actively involve individuals with developmental disabilities, individuals with mental illness, and children with emotional disturbance by requiring community mental health boards to have adequate representation from these groups.

    “The Commission specifically authored its final report to the Governor to include both short-term strategies to improve the quality of care, as well as solutions that will benefit generations of Michigan’s citizens,” said Patrick Babcock, Mental Health Commission Chairman.

    The Commission’s work was driven by seven key goals to transform Michigan’s mental health system, including:

  • The public knows that mental illness and emotional disturbance are treatable, recovery is possible, and people with mental illness lead productive lives
  • The public mental health system will define clearly those persons it will serve and will address the needs of those persons at the earliest time possible
  • A full array of high-quality mental health treatment, services, and supports is accessible to improve the quality of life for individuals with mental illness and their families
  • No one enters the juvenile and criminal justice systems because of inadequate mental health care
  • Michigan’s mental health system is structured and funded so that high-quality care is delivered effectively and efficiently by accountable providers.
  • Recovery is supported by access to integrated mental and physical health care, and housing, education, and employment services
  • Consumers and families are actively involved in service planning, delivery, and monitoring at all level of the public mental health system.

    A final copy of the report is available at http://www.michigan.gov/mentalhealth.

    Source: Michigan Newswire, October 25, 2004.

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    (7) Task Force to Eliminate Childhood Lead Poisoning Final Report Released

    Final Report of the Task Force to Eliminate Childhood Lead Poisoning
    http://www.michigan.gov/documents/lead_108767_7.pdf
    100 recommendations and strategies to eliminate lead poisoning among Michigan's children by 2010 Michigan Department of Community Health. June 2004. 84p.

    State officials today (Nov. 16th) unveiled a new policy direction for the prevention and eventual elimination of childhood lead poisoning throughout Michigan at Children’s Hospital in Detroit, one of the state’s premier facilities for lead treatment.

    Governor Jennifer M. Granholm commissioned the Report of the Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Task Force to eliminate childhood lead poisoning. The Governor praised the Task Force’s work.

    “Over the last year, hundreds of individuals worked tirelessly to find new ways to prevent and eliminate lead poisoning in our children, and I am extremely proud of their effort,” Granholm said. “This report represents a huge leap forward in protecting our children from the effects of lead poisoning.”

    The main goal of the task force’s comprehensive report is to eliminate childhood lead poisoning in Michigan by 2010.

    For Fiscal Year 2005, Granholm, through the Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH), has committed more than $1 million to address lead prevention in the state.

    “Childhood lead poisoning represents a significant health threat to thousands of children across the state, and these new recommendations represent our best efforts to move Michigan forward and reduce lead poisoning statewide,” said Janet Olszewski, MDCH Director. “Legislators, in a bi-partisan manner, continue to work together to pass laws implementing these recommendations.”

    The 170-member Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Task Force presented several concrete recommendations for future policy direction, including:

    “We believe lead poisoning may already affect as many as 20,000 children,” said Dr. Kimberlydawn Wisdom, Michigan’s Surgeon General. “Every year we wait to address these critical issues is another year that thousands more children in Michigan are placed at-risk needlessly."

    Two major pieces of legislation, Public Act 55, which requires Medicaid providers to test 80 percent of all children enrolled in the program by 2006, and Public Act 54, which mandates state electronic reporting of blood lead tests were signed into law by Governor Granholm earlier this year.

    Other legislation, which creates penalties for rental property owners who knowingly rent dwellings with lead hazards, a “lead-safe” housing registry, and an establishment of the Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention and Control Commission, is in the final stages of House and Senate approval.

    “It is clear that Governor Granholm has made the elimination of lead poisoning in children no less than a moral imperative,” said Steve Chester, Director of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality. “Following the task force’s seven major recommendations as a roadmap will be extremely important in our joint effort.”

    In 2003, more than 3,100 children tested for blood lead status were found to be unacceptable levels of lead in their bloodstreams. Lead-based paint was in common use for homes built prior to 1950. Between 1950 and 1978, the percentage of lead in paint used in housing gradually decreased, but it was not until 1978 that lead-based paint was banned.

    "Our Children's Hospital of Michigan has been a leader in the public education and elimination efforts of lead poisoning in Michigan’s kids. The Governor's effort to help eliminate this problem for our state's children is critically important," said Mike Duggan, president and CEO of the Detroit Medical Center.

    Although lead paint was banned for residential use, lead remained a gasoline additive until the late 1980s and can still be found in soil and dust from gasoline exhaust.

    Source: Michigan Newswire, November 16, 2004.

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    (8) FIA To Be Renamed Michigan Department of Human Services

    Governor Jennifer M. Granholm today (Nov. 12) signed Executive Order 2004-35 creating the Michigan Department of Human Services. The order renames the Family Independence Agency to more accurately reflect the department’s current mission.

    “This executive order renames one of our largest and most progressive departments of state government," said Granholm. "It better reflects this administration’s commitment to reach out to all of those in Michigan who need a helping hand.”

    Department of Human Services director Marianne Udow said the name change has been under consideration for many months and was made only after careful deliberation.

    “Our new name better reflects the comprehensive range of programs we provide,” said Udow. “The name also better represents our mission to reduce poverty, give every child a great start in life, and help our clients achieve their full potential.”

    “Changing the name of our agency is the result of our ongoing strategic planning effort,” Udow added. “In this months-long effort, we involved our staff, local communities, our partners outside government and many inside government to evaluate our direction and the way we do business.”

    Udow said there will be no direct administrative costs related to changing department products such as new letterhead, business card templates, forms, etc., since these items are managed on-line. The department will phase-in new office signs on an ongoing basis, as funds are available.

    The Department of Human Services employs about 10,300 people in more than 100 offices across the state and provides assistance to nearly 1.5 million Michigan citizens every year. The department offers a broad range of assistance to adults and children including:

    The department was known as the Department of Social Services from 1965-96, when the state Legislature renamed it the Family Independence Agency. It was known as the State Welfare Department from 1939-65. The order changing the name takes effect on January 30, 2005 unless rejected by both houses of the Michigan Legislature.

    Source: Michigan Newswire, November 12, 2004

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