Bills heading to the governor would protect children with special needs

LANSING, Mich. — Legislation sponsored by Sen. Rick Jones and Rep. Ben Frederick to help lost or injured people with special needs will soon be on its way to the governor’s desk.

“This is about ensuring the safety of Michigan’s children with special needs and the peace of mind of their families,” said Jones, R-Grand Ledge. “If children with special needs are injured or wander away, they are often unable to help law enforcement contact their caregivers.

“This legislation would give parents the ability to have photographs and fingerprints of their special needs children entered into a statewide system that could be used by law enforcement officials to reunite families when someone with special needs is unable to assist them.”

House Bill 4137 would allow parents and guardians of special needs children to voluntarily add children with special needs to the Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS) database and the statewide network of agency photos maintained by Michigan State Police.

Senate Bill 38 would allow guardians to make the same requests for adults with special needs under their care.

“This program would be completely voluntary, and there would be no cost to taxpayers,” Jones said. “Caregivers would pay the state police for the costs, and the photographs and fingerprints would be removed from the databases at any time if requested by the parent or caregiver.”

On Wednesday, the Senate approved HB 4137 and the House approved SB 38. The measures now return to their respective chambers to be enrolled and sent to the governor.

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