Senate committee approves Patty Birkholz tribute bill

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LANSING, Mich. — The Senate Outdoor Recreation and Tourism Committee on Wednesday approved Sen. Rick Jones’ legislation to honor the service and legacy of the late Sen. Patty Birkholz by renaming the state’s recreation passport fee in her name.

Birkholz died in May after a short battle with cancer.

“Whether you have 10 inches of snow or 10 days of summer sun, enjoying Michigan’s great outdoors is part of what makes our state such a great place to live — and no one understood that more than Patty Birkholz,” said Jones, R-Grand Ledge. “Senator Birkholz was a fierce advocate for our natural resources and environment, and I can’t think of a better tribute to her lifetime of work and dedication to our outdoors than to name the program that engages people with Michigan’s natural beauty in her honor.”

Senate Bill 1141 would rename the current Michigan Recreation Passport Fee the “Senator Patty Birkholz Recreation Passport Fee” as a testament to Birkholz’s efforts to protect Michigan’s natural resources and ensure Michigan’s state parks were safe and accessible for generations to come.

Birkholz was first elected to the Michigan Legislature in 1996. She served in the House from 1997 to 2002 and in the Senate from 2003 to 2010.

Upon leaving the Senate, Birkholz was appointed director of the Office of the Great Lakes by Gov. Rick Snyder and as the Michigan representative to the Great Lakes Commission.

“It will be hard for anyone to match Patty’s contributions to our state,” Jones said. “In addition to the state parks passport program, she led the effort to have Michigan join the Great Lakes basin compact and enact significant laws to protect our waters — including ballast water standards to prevent the spread of invasive species in the Great Lakes.”

SB 1141 now heads to the full Senate for consideration.