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.
THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF MICHIGAN ENACT:
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
(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
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.