Daily Briefs

Sexual assault evidence tracking and opioid addiction programs get support from Snyder

Over $50 million in additional investments for numerous programs will be available under legislation signed today by Gov. Rick Snyder.

“This additional funding allows several departments and agencies to invest in programs that will continue to improve the lives of Michiganders,” Snyder said. “Supporting a statewide sexual assault evidence kit tracking system is long overdue and will help survivors of these horrific crimes.”

Senate Bill 253, sponsored by state Sen. Dave Hildenbrand, provides supplemental appropriations for fiscal years 2017 and 2018 general aid funds. The bill increases funding for various departments and agencies including a uniform statewide sexual assault evidence kit tracking system, opioid addiction response programs as well as reimbursing the costs incurred by National Guard deployments to aid in hurricane relief. It is now Public Act 158 of 2017.

Snyder also signed two additional bills:

• House Bill 4166, sponsored by state Rep. Mary Whiteford, eliminates preferential hiring practices for special education professionals. It is now PA 159 of 2017.

• HB 4756, sponsored by state Rep. Peter Lucido, enables law enforcement to better track first offense minor in possession charges. It is now PA 160 of 2017.


State advocacy program receives Technology Initiative Grant

The Legal Services Corporation (LSC) announced today that Michigan Advocacy Program will receive a $209,825 Technology Initiative Grant.

Michigan Advocacy Program will use the grant to help self-represented litigants more easily complete confusing legal documents. The grant will support the program’s document assembly platform A2J Author, a free online platform that produces court forms and other legal documents for clients. The platform allows legal aid providers to create plain-language interviews that help clients complete court forms. Improvements to the platform include fixing bugs, adding small feature tools, and increasing accessibility on mobile devices.

Established in 2000, LSC’s Technology Initiative Grant (TIG) program supports projects that develop and replicate technologies to improve efficiency and provide greater access to high-quality legal assistance. A variety of initiatives receive grant funding each year, such as projects enhancing websites to make them more accessible to legal aid clients or adding artificial intelligence tools to online intake processes.

“LSC’s Technology Initiative Grants expand access to justice for millions of Americans who cannot afford a lawyer,” explained LSC President Jim Sandman. “The grants make legal information, court forms, video instruction, and practical tips available to people who otherwise would have to navigate the legal system without any help.”

LSC’s TIG program distributes up to $4 million annually to LSC-funded legal aid organizations. Michigan Advocacy Program is receiving one of 25 technology grants this year.