Hansen works to expand Healthy Kids Dental program

LANSING—Sen. Goeff Hansen said today that he is working to expand access to the Healthy Kids Dental program in Muskegon, Mason, Newaygo and Oceana counties as lawmakers are poised to complete work on the 2012 state budget.

Hansen said the expansion for the four-county area will cost just under $1.4 million in state funding, and he considers it a wise investment.  In addition to the state funds, federal Medicaid funds will support the program.

“This will improve access to dental care for low-income children in this region,” said Hansen, R-Hart.  “Expanding the program will encourage more dentists to participate and will help ensure that more quality care is available to those who need it most.”

Covered benefits include examinations and diagnostic, preventive, restorative and prosthodontic services.

“Tooth decay is the single most chronic childhood disease, five times more common than asthma,” Hansen said.  “Children who suffer pain from oral health diseases often have difficulty learning in school, eating and sleeping.  By investing early, we can make these children healthier and more productive members of our communities.”

To treat children enrolled in the program, dentists must participate in Delta Dental’s Healthy Kids Dental/MIChild program.  Beneficiaries must be seen by a Healthy Kids Dental/MIChild participating dentist.  Those enrolled in the program are eligible until age 21.

“Oral health is an essential part of overall health and primary care,” Hansen said.  “It’s time that we literally put our money where our mouth is.”

Every day should be a Memorial Day

Each Memorial Day we honor those in the armed forces who have made the ultimate sacrifice for freedom in service to our country. 

This day is important when we recall that right now, brave men and women are fighting for the same cause around the world.  Memorial Day is a time for public display of pride in our country and our nation’s defenders.
We recognize that the freedoms we enjoy could not be possible without the sacrifices made by veterans.

I ask you today to honor our patriots not with just a flag or parade, but by thanking and supporting their comrades who are continuing their work.  We need to be reminded that the struggle for freedom is an ever-present responsibility with a heavy cost.

If there is a silver lining to world conflicts, it may be that now our young people can better understand the true value of freedom.

To repay our veterans for their courage and sacrifice, we must make sure that younger generations recognize the gratitude we owe for the values of our country.  We all must play a role in developing a greater awareness of history and putting in context the sacrifices made by others.

Teachers should invite veterans to elementary schools and university classrooms. Students should interview veterans or retrace the steps of fallen soldiers and their families. Anyone who wore a uniform deserves to be heard. 

Throughout the year, not just on Memorial Day and Veterans Day, civic groups should sponsor oral histories and honor heroes from World War II, Korea, Vietnam, the Persian Gulf and all the other armed conflicts. Media outlets should highlight stories about the remaining sentries to the past. Freedom of the press was another right they died to preserve.

"We have to remember that in the future we will want to keep before our children what this war was really like," said Eleanor Roosevelt after World War II. "It is so easy to forget; and then, for the younger generation, the heroism and the glamour remain, while the dirt, the hardships, the horror of death and the sorrow fade somewhat from their consciousness."

All of our fallen and living defenders deserve the heartfelt appreciation of a grateful nation.

For those survivors who did what they had to do to preserve our hard-won freedoms, and returned to their families and communities, we must always remember to say, “Thank You.”

For those of us who continue down the road of life, we must honor the obligations of freedom. 

Let the true monument to our fallen soldiers be the pride and honor we show those serving and the support we offer to their families.

Sen. Goeff Hansen represents the 34th Senate District.

Hansen works to continue Zephyr cleanup efforts

LANSING—Sen. Goeff Hansen said today that he has received a strong commitment from the Snyder administration that the cleanup effort at the Zephyr site in Muskegon Township will continue in an effort to help protect area residents from enduring additional environmental problems.

Hansen, R-Hart, said up to $6 million has been secured for this vital project.

“It’s important to have detailed testing and mapping of the soil to determine where the sources of contamination are and begin the removal process,” Hansen said.  “I appreciate the governor and his team for listening to the concerns we outlined and making this cleanup a top priority.”

The Muskegon oil boom that began in the 1920s and employed an estimated 1,000 people at its peak has left an environmental catastrophe at the former Zephyr oil refinery site.  According to the 34th District lawmaker, the problems include pollution at Bear Lake, hazardous vapors, potential natural gas explosion and the possibility of contaminated drinking water.

“The former oil wells were not plugged under current acceptable standards and oil has moved up through loose soil into the surrounding groundwater and surface water,” Hansen said.  “Residential neighborhoods, churches and schools have been built on top of a significant number of abandoned wells.  This exposes residents to serious risks such as health problems, fires and explosions.”

Since 2000 the Department of Environmental Quality has been treating the site in a gradual, long-term, state-funded groundwater cleanup.  But in early 2011, the DEQ turned off more than half of the Zephyr’s 65 recovery wells due to budget cutbacks and other complications.

“Because of budget constraints, there was a risk that the entire treatment effort might end,” Hansen said.  “Such an outcome remains undesirable.  With additional funding, we can act swiftly to stop toxic-petroleum contaminates from moving into the Muskegon River, Bear Creek and residential soil.  The quality of life and economic well-being for area residents depends on us remaining diligent.”


Hansen supports reform legislation to strengthen child protection laws

LANSING —Reforms designed to strengthen the laws concerning the review of child death cases was approved by the Michigan Senate Thursday, said Sen. Goeff Hansen, a strong supporter of the legislative package.

“We must remain diligent regarding the supervision of children that are in state care, and our standards must remain extremely high,” said Hansen, R-Hart.  “When a child dies while in state care, everyone must work together to determine what happened, and preventative procedures must be started promptly.”

Hansen said the legislation will allow for a cohesive, yet transparent approach to data related to a child’s death. 

“By approving these reform measures, we are protecting privacy and improving collaboration between all three branches of government,” he said.

Department of Human Services (DHS) Director Maura Corrigan has worked with the Senate for several years to improve collaboration between state agencies on child death reviews, including during her tenure as a Michigan Supreme Court justice.

The legislation would make certain information available to a court that has jurisdiction in a suspected child abuse or neglect case, in the event of a child’s death.

Other bills in the package would:

  • Require DHS to establish and maintain a publicly accessible central registry, containing non-identifying statistical information regarding children’s deaths;
  • Add a court representative to the child death review teams; and
  • Require DHS to immediately notify the court with jurisdiction, the children’s ombudsman and the Legislature when a child under court jurisdiction dies.

Senate Bills 226-229 now head to the House for consideration.