March 15, 2012, Introduced by Reps. MacGregor, Lyons, Poleski, Moss, Haines, Roy Schmidt, Haveman, Bumstead, Hooker, Jacobsen, Zorn, MacMaster, Hughes, Outman, Darany, Lori, Jenkins, Shaughnessy, Tyler, Huuki, Damrow, Callton, Rogers, Agema, LeBlanc, Yonker, Heise, Liss, Foster, LaFontaine, Somerville, Hobbs and Greimel and referred to the Committee on Government Operations.


     A bill to create the office of the Michigan veterans' facility


ombudsman; and to prescribe the powers and duties of the office,


the ombudsman, the legislative council, and the department of


military and veterans affairs.




     Sec. 1. As used in this act:


     (a) "Administrative act" includes an action, omission,


decision, recommendation, practice, or other procedure of the




     (b) "Complainant" means a resident veteran, family member of a


resident veteran, or legislator who files a complaint under section




     (c) "Council" means the legislative council established under


section 15 of article IV of the state constitution of 1963.


     (d) "Department" means the department of military and veterans




     (e) "Legislator" means a member of the senate or the house of


representatives of this state.


     (f) "Michigan veterans' facility" or "facility" means a


Michigan veterans' facility established under 1885 PA 152, MCL 36.1


to 36.12.


     (g) "Office" means the office of the Michigan veterans'


facility ombudsman created under this act.


     (h) "Ombudsman" means the Michigan veterans' facility




     (i) "Resident veteran" means a veteran who is a resident of a


Michigan veterans' facility.


     (j) "Veteran" means that term as defined in section 2a of 1885


PA 152, MCL 36.2a.


     Sec. 2. (1) The office of the Michigan veterans' facility


ombudsman is created within the legislative council.


     (2) The principal executive officer of the office is the


Michigan veterans' facility ombudsman, who shall be appointed by


and serve at the pleasure of the council.


     Sec. 3. The council shall establish procedures for approving


the budget of the office, for expending funds of the office, and


for the employment of personnel for the office.


     Sec. 4. (1) The ombudsman may commence an investigation upon


his or her own initiative or upon receipt of a complaint from a


complainant concerning an administrative act or a condition


existing at a facility that is alleged to be contrary to law or


departmental policy or that poses a significant health or safety


issue for which there is no effective administrative remedy.


     (2) Subject to approval of the council, the ombudsman shall


establish procedures for receiving and processing complaints,


conducting investigations, holding hearings, and reporting the


findings resulting from the investigations.


     Sec. 5. (1) Upon request and without the requirement of any


release, the ombudsman shall be given access to all information,


records, and documents in the possession of the department or a


facility that the ombudsman deems necessary in an investigation,


including, but not limited to, resident veteran medical health


records, resident veteran mental health records, and resident


veteran mortality and morbidity records.


     (2) Upon request and without notice, the ombudsman shall be


granted entrance to inspect at any time any Michigan veterans'




     (3) The ombudsman may hold informal hearings and may request


that any person appear before the ombudsman or at a hearing and


give testimony or produce documentary or other evidence that the


ombudsman deems relevant to an investigation.


     Sec. 6. (1) The ombudsman shall advise a complainant to pursue


all administrative remedies open to the complainant. The ombudsman


may request and shall receive from the department or from a


facility a progress report concerning the administrative processing


of a complaint. After administrative action on a complaint, the


ombudsman may conduct further investigation on the request of a


complainant or on his or her own initiative.


     (2) The ombudsman is not required to conduct an investigation


on a complaint brought before the ombudsman. A complainant is not


entitled as a right to be heard by the ombudsman.


     Sec. 7. Upon receiving a complaint under section 4 and


deciding to investigate the complaint, the ombudsman shall notify


the complainant, the resident veteran or resident veterans


affected, and the department. If the ombudsman declines to


investigate, the ombudsman shall notify the complainant, in


writing, and inform the resident veteran or resident veterans


affected of the reasons for the ombudsman's decision.


     Sec. 8. Upon request of the ombudsman, the council may hold a


hearing. The council may administer oaths, subpoena witnesses, and


examine the books and records of the department or of a facility in


a matter that is or was a proper subject of investigation by the




     Sec. 9. (1) Correspondence between the ombudsman and a


complainant is confidential and is privileged communication.


     (2) The ombudsman shall maintain confidentiality regarding all


matters under investigation and the identities of the complainants


or persons from whom information is acquired, except so far as


disclosure is necessary to enable the ombudsman to perform the


duties of the office and to support any recommendations resulting


from an investigation.


     (3) A report prepared and recommendations made by the


ombudsman and submitted to the council under section 10 are exempt


from disclosure under the freedom of information act, 1976 PA 442,


MCL 15.231 to 15.246.


     Sec. 10. (1) The ombudsman shall prepare and submit a report


of the findings of an investigation and make recommendations to the


council within 30 days after completing the investigation if the


ombudsman finds any of the following:


     (a) A matter that should be considered by the department.


     (b) An administrative act that should be modified or canceled.


     (c) A statute or rule that should be altered.


     (d) Administrative acts for which justification is necessary.


     (e) Significant resident veteran health and safety issues as


determined by the council.


     (f) Any other significant concerns as determined by the




     (2) Subject to section 11, the council may forward the report


prepared and submitted under this section to the department, the


resident veteran or resident veterans affected, or the complainant


who requested the report.


     Sec. 11. Before announcing a conclusion or recommendation that


expressly or by implication criticizes a person or facility or the


department, the ombudsman shall consult with that person or


facility or the department. When publishing an opinion adverse to a


person or facility or the department, the ombudsman shall include


in that publication a statement of reasonable length made to the


ombudsman by that person or facility or the department in defense


or mitigation of the finding if that statement is provided within a


reasonable period of time as determined by the council. The


ombudsman may request to be notified by a person or facility or the


department, within a specified time, of any action taken on any


recommendation presented. The ombudsman shall notify the


complainant of the actions taken by the person or facility or by


the department.


     Sec. 12. The ombudsman shall submit to the council and the


legislature an annual report on the conduct of the office.


     Sec. 13. (1) A resident veteran shall not be penalized in any


way by a person or facility or the department as a result of filing


a complaint, complaining to a legislator, or cooperating with the


ombudsman in investigating a complaint.


     (2) A person or facility or the department shall not hinder


the lawful actions of the ombudsman or employees of the office or


willfully refuse to comply with any lawful demand of the office.


     Sec. 14. The authority granted the ombudsman under this act is


in addition to the authority granted under any other act or rule


under which a remedy or right of appeal or objection is provided


for a complainant, or any procedure provided for the inquiry into


or investigation of any matter concerning a facility. The authority


granted the ombudsman under this act shall not be construed to


limit or affect any other remedy or right of appeal or objection


and shall not be deemed to be exclusionary.