LANSING, Mich. (MIRS News) – Michigan will become the first state to ask residents about joining the organ donor registry on its income tax form, under legislation now heading toward the Governor’s desk.

HB 4362, HB 4363 and HB 4364 collectively would allow taxpayers to join the Michigan Organ Donor Registry when filing their annual state income tax return. Being on the registry signals that an individual has opted to donate their acceptable organs and tissues when they die.

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However, according to Gift of Life Michigan, the state’s authorized organ recovery organization, the donor registry’s growth has slowed significantly in recent years.

Among various reasons why that’s so, Gift of Life Michigan pointed to the Secretary of State’s office’s latest online services, redirecting residents from visiting physical offices where, altogether, 95% of new sign-ups take place.

The aforementioned legislation has been titled: “The Check Your Heart Act,” instructing the Michigan Department of Treasury to process registrations with the Department of State. The bills’ sponsors and stakeholders want the legislation to be signed into law in time for the question to appear when residents file for the ongoing 2023 tax year.

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For joint filers, each party interested in joining the registry would need to affirm their willingness separately and complete the donor registry schedule.

As of June 1 of this year, 2,381 Michigan patients are waiting for an organ transplant. More than 1,900 of them are waiting for a kidney, 183 are waiting for a liver and 118 are waiting for a heart.

In 2022, 463 organ donors contributed to 1,050 successful transplants according to Gift of Life Michigan.

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In the Senate today, before the bills were concurred with by the House and sent to the Governor’s desk, bill was approved 30-7.

Sens. Thomas Albert (R-Lowell), Jon Bumstead (R-North Muskegon), Michele Hoitenga (R-Manton), Jonathan Lindsey (R-Brooklyn), Ed McBroom (R-Waucedah Twp.), Jim Runestad (R-White Lake) and Lana Theis (R-Brighton) opposed the legislation.

“State departments have clearly defined roles for a reason. (They have) separate functions based on what is logical and efficient. You can’t simply imagine a state department into something it is not,” Albert said on the Senate floor. “If we’re going to venture into new territory, why limit ourselves to the Treasury? What could be next? Include a mandate that the Department of (Natural) Resources present organ donation sign-up as an option when reserving a state campsite?”

Albert said it makes perfect sense for the Department of State to oversee the donor registry, as someone killed in a sudden accident could likely have their state ID or driver’s license on them, which will present the heart icon if they’re on the registry.

However, he compared today’s legislation to his young children playing with sticks in the backyard, transforming them into swords, magic wands and musical instruments through their imagination.

“It is altogether less amusing to watch adults act in the same manner, us using Michigan state departments in place of sticks,” Albert said.