Sen. Hansen and his dad honor Michigan’s fallen soldiers

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Goeff Hansen and his father, Don Hansen, paid tribute in the Senate Thursday to those who gave their lives defending our country.

Don Hansen was the lawmaker’s guest for the Michigan Senate’s 22nd Annual Memorial Day Service. Each year, the annual ceremony honors the servicemen and women who fought with bravery to defend our nation’s freedom.

“I was blessed to have my dad with me in the Senate,” said Hansen, R-Hart. “My father served his country with honor and made it back home. Sadly, many of his fellow soldiers did not come back. Today we honor their memory.”

Don Hansen was a paratrooper in the United States Army 11th Airborne Division during World War II and was part of the occupation force in Japan after the war.

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Hansen hosts asparagus queen

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Goeff Hansen, R-Hart, welcomed 2015 Asparagus Queen Courtney Kokx and National Asparagus Queen Coordinator Christine Rickard to the Capitol on Wednesday.

Kokx promoted the asparagus industry of Oceana County and provided each senator with a gift of locally grown asparagus.

The National Asparagus Festival hosts an annual pageant in Hart, where the only asparagus queen in the nation is crowned. The visit was one of Kokx’s final appearances of her reign as queen.

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Senate OKs Hansen bill that would improve representation on Grape and Wine Industry Council

Sen. Goeff Hansen

Sen. Goeff Hansen

LANSING, Mich. — The Michigan Senate on Tuesday unanimously passed legislation sponsored by Sen. Goeff Hansen that would change the makeup of the Michigan Grape and Wine Industry Council so that it would more accurately reflect the industry.

Senate Bill 671 would change the name of the council to the “Michigan Grape, Wine, Brewing, and Distilling Industries Council,” and the membership on the council would be expanded from 12 to 17 to include representatives from breweries and distilleries.

“Increased membership is to ensure that everyone who funds the council will be represented and receive support from the council,” said Hansen, R-Hart. “Microbreweries, small distillers, and brewpubs currently help support the Grape and Wine Industry Council through liquor license and renewal fees. This measure provides them a long-overdue seat at the table.”

Under SB 671, membership terms would continue to be three years and the terms would be staggered. New members would include a brewer; a distiller; a beer wholesaler who markets beer; an operator of a retail food establishment who sells Michigan beer or a person who operates a restaurant that holds a Class C license and serves Michigan beer or spirits; and a member representing the interests of the agriculture industry who works with brewers or distillers or both.

“The wine industry has benefitted from council support for research regarding planting, microclimates, marketing, processing, and other areas,” Hansen said. “This bill will extend this support to breweries and distilleries, and Michigan agriculture will benefit.”

Hansen has previously served as chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture. He also has been a strong proponent of agri-business and Michigan’s wine industry, having led the way for small winemakers to sell their wines and provide tastings at farmers markets.

SB 671 now heads to the Michigan House for further consideration.

Senate passes Hansen bill creating parity for oral oncology drugs

Sen. Goeff Hansen

Sen. Goeff Hansen

LANSING, Mich. — The state Senate on Tuesday passed legislation that could save the lives of thousands by reducing the cost of certain chemotherapy treatments.

Senate Bill 625, sponsored by Sen. Goeff Hansen, would ensure that if a health insurance plan covers oral chemotherapy drugs, the medicine must be covered the same way intravenously or injected anticancer treatments are covered.

“SB 625 ensures access to all forms of chemotherapy for patients, regardless of how it is administered,” said Hansen, R-Hart. “Cost should not be a factor when a patient and their physician are determining the best course of treatment.”

Hansen said that certain types of cancer can be treated only by IV chemotherapy while others, such as blood cancers, can be treated only by oral chemotherapy.

“Unfortunately, if a patient requires oral chemotherapy pills and a physician prescribes them, the pills currently are covered as a prescription benefit,” Hansen said. “This method of coverage is expensive, costing up to $5,000 a month. My bill helps ensure access to all necessary treatment options.”

If signed into law, SB 625 would bring Michigan up to speed with 41 other states that have enacted similar oral chemotherapy access laws.

The bill now heads to the state House for further consideration.

Hansen responds to House passage of DPS bills

Sen. Goeff Hansen

Sen. Goeff Hansen

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Goeff Hansen, R-Hart, issued the following statement Thursday regarding the Michigan House of Representatives’ passage of a plan to reform Detroit Public Schools:

“After months of intense negotiation, it was a blessing for Democrats and Republicans in the Senate to partner together and forge a compromise plan that will improve the educational future for the children of Detroit.

“As lead negotiator for the Senate, I worked to incorporate the goals of parents, community leaders, educators, local officials and legislators. The result was a comprehensive, bipartisan, multi-stakeholder plan that will finally address the multitude of financial difficulties facing the Detroit Public Schools system.

“The Senate’s plan maintains education choice and improves choice options for parents and students; avoids a lengthy and costly bankruptcy; returns local control to an elected school board; provides oversight of taxpayer dollars; and manages the opening of new schools so that all areas of the Detroit community have access to quality school options.

“I do have serious concerns with many aspects of the partisan package of bills passed by the House of Representatives. However, we will advance to the next phase of the legislative process and work toward a bipartisan solution that ensures strong, thriving education options for Detroit families. I will continue to recognize the perspectives and viewpoints of each of my legislative partners, but given the complexity of this issue, we must compromise.

“While current external events seek to distract us from our primary mission, my colleagues and I were elected to solve problems, together. That means the focus of our attention must remain on the children of the Detroit Public School system.”

Senator Goeff Hansen, R-Hart, is chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on K-12, School Aid, Education. He serves the residents of the 34th Senate District, representing Muskegon, Newaygo, and Oceana counties.