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New law addresses doctor shortage, makes health care more accessible

Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2011

LANSING, Mich. - Gov. Rick Snyder today signed legislation aimed at helping alleviate Michigan's growing doctor shortage by authorizing physician assistants to take on more responsibility for patient care.

Senate Bill 384, sponsored by state Sen. Jim Marleau, makes health care more accessible by authorizing licensed physician assistants under the close supervision of a doctor to prescribe controlled substances, except for Schedule I narcotics.  Physician assistants are already authorized to prescribe seven days worth of Schedule II medications and deliver other medical services such as conducting physical exams, obtaining medical histories and ordering tests.  By expanding the services they can provide, doctors will be able to focus their time on patients in the most need.  Doctors will still have to sign off on every prescription written.  The bill is now Public Act 210 of 2011. 

The governor also signed four other bills into law today.

House Bill 4071, sponsored by state Rep. Matt Lori, a former sheriff, gives county jails more flexibility to deal with prisoner overcrowding issues by revising criteria for sharing cells.  In recent years, jails have been forced to release prisoners early due to overcrowding.  In addition to avoiding early release of prisoners, this change will also save taxpayers money by allowing counties to use jail facilities more efficiently.  The legislation is now P.A. 211.

S.B. 361, sponsored by state Sen. Steve Bieda, extends the deadline for convicted felons to request DNA testing of biological material discovered during an investigation, and a new trial based on the results.  The current deadline is Jan. 1, 2012.  By extending the deadline, the legislation will help ensure individuals who were wrongly convicted and imprisoned will have access to the courts to attempt to prove their innocence in cases where DNA evidence was not previously available or test results were inconclusive. It is now P.A. 212.

H.B. 4888, sponsored by state Rep. Ed McBroom, designates the bridge on US-141 that spans the Menominee River the "Veterans Memorial Bridge."  The bridge is located in Dickinson County between Breitung Township and the city of Niagara, WIS.  The bill is now P.A. 213. 

H.B. 4914, sponsored by state Rep. Eileen Kowall, excludes non-metallic minerals such as gypsum, limestone, sandstone and shale from mining regulations outlined in the Reclamation of Mining Lands section of the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act.  The legislation is in response to a request from the Department of Environmental Quality to remove these minerals from specific mining regulations.  Other environmental regulations, such as wetlands preservation and air and water quality regulations, still apply.  The bill is now P.A. 214.

Detailed descriptions of individual bills may be found online at