“Lansing hates us,…the People love us!!!”

Our 2nd hour discussion today, Monday 1-15-18; MIRS News Service

AG's Office Has 3X More GOP Delegates Than SOS

Attorney General Bill SCHUETTE's department has three times the number of past or present Republican precinct delegates or alternates on staff than that of fellow statewide elected official Secretary of State Ruth JOHNSON, even though Johnson's department has almost three times more employees.

After comparing lists of recent GOP precinct delegates and alternates to staff lists of state agencies, MIRS found at least 24 individuals who have worked in the Department of Attorney General who were also on GOP precinct delegate lists from 2017 and 2015. The Department of State listed at least seven such employees.

Of the 24 identified delegates or alternates in the AG's office, seven appeared on a similar AG staff list from 2010, meaning the rest -- 17 people -- have come on since Schuette took office as AG in 2011.

"It's not unusual that those who defend the Constitution chose to exercise their First Amendment rights of assembly and free speech, on both sides of the aisle," said Schuette spokesperson Andrea BITELY said in a statement today.

While the Executive Office has considerably fewer employees than either of those agencies, MIRS identified eight recent delegates or alternates who are also on staff for either Gov. Rick SNYDERor Lt. Gov. Brian CALLEY.

In Calley's shop, four of the six employees attributed to him also served as GOP delegates or alternates in recent years. MIRS also reviewed former Calley staffers like Jenell LEONARD and Nat FORSTNER and found Leonard was a precinct delegate in 2015 and 2017, and a Calley spokesperson confirmed Forstner was an alternate in 2014.

In an effort to get a better scope of politically involved people who are also working for the four statewide elected officials, MIRS acquired and analyzed the state GOP's 2017 and 2015 delegate and alternate lists along with current staff lists for the offices of Schuette, Johnson, Snyder and Calley.

All four of those elected officials have served as precinct delegates in recent years, and were not included in the final tallies with their staff. Of the statewide officials, three are seeking another office -- Schuette and Calley are both running for governor, while Johnson is seeking a term in the state Senate.

Matt GROSSMANN, director of Michigan State University's Institute for Public Policy and Social Research, said there's a lot of crossover between the types of people who end up being political appointees and those who are valuable in political campaigns.

Still, Grossmann said the matching names aren't necessarily evidence of corruption or politicization of those offices.

The recent staff list for the Department of Attorney General -- pulled from December 2017 -- listed 548 individuals. The staff list for the Department of State, which included the various branch office employees, numbered 1,555 employees.

For that fact alone, Bill BALLENGER, head of The Ballenger Report, said the number of delegates found in the AG's office isn't very significant in his eyes. If being a precinct delegate or alternate delegate is a measure of Republican Party involvement, that means just under 5 percent of people who work in the AG's office fall into that category.

Further, Ballenger theorized that a large number of SOS employees are career types working in the branch offices, and he "doubts these people are political at all." He said it's "conceivable" that the AG's office has more lawyers and others that "could have some avowed interest in politics and government beyond just being bureaucrats, which is what you probably have in the Secretary of State's office."

State employees are not barred from being precinct delegates for any party -- or vice versa -- and they're not allowed to conduct political business on state time. The state constitution bars appointments, promotions, demotions or removals in classified service for partisan considerations, and civil service rules prohibit discrimination based on partisan considerations.

But Schuette in particular has still come under fire from a Detroit Free Press article for a number of hires he's made and of others working on his state staff who also do time on his campaign.

Critics -- ranging from Calley and other gubernatorial candidates to Progress Michigan -- have called on Schuette to pull those campaign staffers off the public payroll (See "Calley Calls On Schuette Over Campaign Staff Issue," 1/5/18).

"Forcing taxpayers to subsidize any officeholder's political ambition is a clear and disturbing breach of the public's trust," Calley said. "Attorney General Schuette should immediately move the gubernatorial campaign field staff exposed in the story off the government payroll and refund the state for all taxpayer funds that were misspent on political purposes."

Democratic Attorney General hopeful Pat MILES has gotten into the act, as well saying Schuette's hiring practices are "outrageous and an enormous breach of trust with the taxpayers . . . The Attorney General is the top law enforcement in the state, and citizens deserve to have an AG whose top priority is protecting and serving the people, not their political career."

Bitely had told the Free Press they've hired people not for their political considerations but because of their qualifications.

The Free Press named several people who work on Schuette's campaign or have been politically active with the GOP. Most, if not all, were also on the GOP precinct or alternate delegate lists that MIRS reviewed.

They include Dennis STARNER, Judith SCHWALBACH and Brandon SINCLAIR, who have received reimbursements from his campaign or had some other role with the campaign.

Typically, most of the delegates or alternates working in the state offices were senior-level staff.

On Schuette's team, for instance, that included folks like long-time Schuette allies and past campaign operatives like Rusty HILLS and John SELLEK -- directors of public affairs and public relations, respectively -- and the same could be said for Johnson's Mike SENYKO or Kieran MARION, the senior chief deputy director and senior policy executive, respectively.

Both Schuette's primary media contact, Bitely, as well as Johnson's media contact, Fred WOODHAMS, were listed as delegates in recent years. Snyder and Calley's media personnel were not found to be delegates.

That high-level staff were the ones showing up as delegates was a significant point for Ballenger, who said, "I'm not going to say is grounds for suspicion, but it's grounds to make a conclusion that it seems that these people are more inclined to be political activists" and are surrounding the state officials they're working for and on behalf of.

Ballenger also said not all precinct delegates are created equal.

Some might not be full-out party activists, rather, just the next-door neighbor of a party chair who needed some help filling out some delegate slots.

Then there are others who are really involved in district and county conventions, with politics being "their meat and potatoes," Ballenger said, making those delegates "a lot more significant."

With the analysis came some caveats. MIRS was not able to contact every matched name between the delegates list and the state staff list to make sure they were the same person.

Not every delegate had listed personal contact info, and state employees are typically directed to steer any media requests to their respective communications offices.

And one of the delegates that came up on the SOS list was Norm SHINKLE, an active GOP operative who is listed as a "per diem employee" as a member of the Board of State Canvassers (BSC), so it's not like he's a full-time employee of the SOS.
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3rd hour discussion today, Friday 1-12-18;

Meet & Greets set up in Northern Michigan for Patrick Colbeck to be Michigan's next Governor!!!

Saturday - Traverse City 5-7 pm at La Senoritas on Garfield (North of Cherry Capital Airport).

Monday - Cheboygan 5-6 pm at Cheboygan County Republican Party's headquarters (215 N. Main Street - across from the Post Office);

www.facebook.com/events/323340514845806/
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Meet & Greet - Patrick Colbeck for Governor!

January 13, 2018, 5:00pm - January 13, 2018, 6:00pm

Michigan's State Senator - Patrick Colbeck will be in Traverse City to meet and greet everyone who would like to hear his policy platform to truly fix Michigan with his "Principled Solutions" as our next Governor!!!

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1st hour discussion today, Friday 1-12-18; MIRS News Service

Personal Exemption Talk Up, Income Tax Cut Talk Down

Senate Finance Committee Chair Jack BRANDENBURG (R-Harrison Twp.) one-upped Gov. Rick SNYDER and Lt. Gov. Brian CALLEY today by proposing a heightened personal property tax exemption of $4,800 by 2021, $300 more than the administration's proposal.

The proposal comes as key legislators and the administration back away from any talk of lowering the state's 4.25 percent income tax in the face of a projected windfall from President Donald TRUMP's federal income tax change because Michigan's sputtering General Fund is showing turtle-slow revenue growth.

Legislative leaders are beginning to resign themselves to the reality that an income tax cut wasn't in the cards last year and it's not in the cards this year.

"I don't think the idea of tax relief is in the forefront of our minds right now," said House Appropriations Committee Chair Laura COX (R-Livonia).

Rather, the focus has moved to the personal income tax exemption, which the Snyder administration fears is going away with the Trump tax plan. He wants to restore it back to $4,300 personal exemption and then increase it to $4,500 (See "Snyder, Calley Team Increase Personal Exemption to $4,500," 1/8/18).

Brandenburg's newly introduced SB 0780 would do the same thing but, in addition, hike the exemption by $100 per-year over the next three years, while remaining tied to inflation.

"Michigan residents have not had any real tax relief over the past 20 years," Brandenburg told reporters on the Senate floor this morning. "I think the Governor is right when he says his cut would mean about $35 more for a family of four. Ours would go past $80 and up to about $100 over the next three years. It's not the greatest thing in the world but it's responsible."

According to information from Brandenburg's office, the possibility that the exemption increase could eventually mean more than nearly $100 for a family of four was based on a different set of numbers than those that have been used by the Governor.

Brandenburg was asked if he thought Gov. Snyder would be supportive of SB 0780.

"I don't know why he'd object," Brandenburg replied.

Reporters then asked Brandenburg if he thought the current push to cut taxes was "playing" into the GOP gubernatorial race.

"I think their plan played into the governor's race," Brandenburg said. "That just gave me the idea to boost it up."

In response to reporter questions concerning theories that the federal tax changes do not zero-out Michigan's tax exemption, Brandenburg said he couldn't figure out what those claims are based on (See "Mitchell Says Calley 'Dead Wrong' On Tax Fix," 1/10/18).

mirsnews.com/capsule.php?gid=5246#52498

"I've heard that argument," Brandenburg said. "I'll tell you this -- our state tax law is very straight-forward, and on exemptions it follows along with what the federal number is."

Reporters asked Senate Majority Leader Arlan MEEKHOF (R-West Olive) to comment on Brandenburg's plan.

"Chairman Brandenburg has worked very hard with his group," Meekhof said. "He's already scheduled a hearing [on the bill] for next Tuesday."

In response to reporters asking how he thought Gov. Snyder would react to Brandenburg's bill, Meekhof said: "I don't know why the Governor would object to giving people back their own money."

Weighing in from the opposite perspective, Gilda JACOBS, president and CEO of the Michigan League for Public Policy, issued a press release today arguing that this is no time for an "irresponsible election year tax cut." Her group supports the Snyder/Calley proposal, opposes any tax cut talk and was silent on Brandenburg's accelerated exemption idea.

"This morning's numbers show that lawmakers need to carefully consider what lies ahead," Jacobs is quoted as saying in the release. "The state's General Fund will be strained over the coming years by potential federal cuts and by funds already committed to roads and tax relief for businesses.

"Some elected officials in Michigan still have tax cut fever in 2018 and are thinking more about the ballot box than balance sheets, but they need to understand that there's no money or political will to do that."

Budget Director Al PSCHOLKA observes that there is "moderate growth" and one of the question marks is taxes and efforts in some circles to rollback the income tax rate.

"Once you start rolling back the income tax rate, you're going to put solid pressure on the General Fund," he warns.

House Tax Policy Chair Jim TEDDER(R-Clarkston) signaled earlier this week that he'd like to take another run at a rate cut (See "Tedder: Use $1.5B For Rollback," 1/10/18).

But Pscholka said he'd prefer to leave the rate along for now.

"Please look at the data," he offered, referring to budget data that suggests the state has other baked-in budget costs that must be met first.

He advised that at the end of the day, the state has to have a "balanced budget."
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3rd hour discussion today, Wednesday 1-10-18; MIRS News Service

Bentivolio Wins Straw Poll Following GOP MI-11 Debate

Former U.S. Rep. Kerry BENTIVOLIO won Monday night's straw poll of attendees at the Michigan Conservative Coalition's (MCC's) Republican 11th Congressional district debate at Novi's Emagine Theater.

Asked for whom they would vote after the night's performance, 33.8 percent selected Bentivolio.

Former state representative Rocky RACZKOWSKI was second with 31.9 percent, and 28.1 percent picked Vesco Oil official Lena EPSTEIN.

Also participating in the debate were small business entrepreneur Kristine BONDS, Plymouth Township Supervisor Kurt HEISE and state Rep. Klint KESTO (R-Commerce Twp.) (See "Immigration, Support For President Top Issues In 11th Congressional Debate," 1/8/18).

Even with the April 24 filing deadline more than three months away, GOP supporters filled the 336-seat theater to capacity, not counting the candidates, questioners and volunteers.

"Tonight's victory told me that experience matters, fighting for conservative values matters, and fighting for America matters," said Bentivolio told the MCC after the results were announced at the candidate post-debate reception. "Tomorrow is another day and there are more battles to fight and win."

Bentivolio hasn't always done well at the ballot box. The "accidental congressman" won his seat in 2012 when then-U.S. Rep. Thad McCOTTER was kicked off the ballot in a petition signature scandal. U.S. Rep. David TROTT (R-Birmingham) took the seat away from him in the next election. Trott's decision not to seek re-election this year is what has set off this high interest race.

In any case, Bentivolio started off the evening Monday with a high point during introductions.

"The hardest part I have is getting people to pronounce my name correctly. You've got to sing it when you say it. Bentivolio. You try," he said, point the microphone at the audience. "I can't hear you, what? . . . Who scored as a congressman the second-most transparent member? . . . Who got a 100 percent rating for cutting spending? . . . "

In all, he got the crowd to shout his name back to him five times. One audience member thought out loud, "very clever."

During the pre-debate schmooze-fest, Bentivolio worked the crowd heavily, walking up and down the aisles of the theater introducing himself and chatting with those he knew.

But the award for most active schmoozer, by reporter observation, would probably go to Epstein. With a large contingent of supporters working the crowd and a table in the center of the lobby area, Epstein spent the warm-up time shaking hands, hugging supporters and posing for photos. When the crowd mostly had entered the theater, she moved in there and continued to work the room.

Raczkowski also had a table and his own contingent in the lobby. He worked the lobby hard and then the theater, shaking hands and greeting supporters.

Kesto was also spotted midway through the prelims working the theater aisles.

Lower on the schmooze ranking would be Heise, who spent most of the warm-up time hanging out in front of the debate stage, staying out of the way of the higher traffic areas like the lobby and hallway into the theater.

Bonds, a newcomer-to-politics, was hard to find. When a reporter had organizers point her out, she was seated in the far corner seat at the front of the theater. After an affable handshake and an attempt engage in chit-chat, one of her handlers shooed the reporter away, asking him to talk to her after the event. She was "preparing for the debate," he said.

Kesto's knowledgeable performance during questioning was marred only slightly during introductions -- the moderator skipped his name. He could only shrug. But Raczkowski played on it later in the evening, pretending to hand the mic past Kesto during questioning.
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1st hour discussion today, Wednesday 1-10-18; MIRS News Service

SOS Widening Net On Prevailing Wage Repeal Signatures

The Bureau of Elections is taking a closer look at the prevailing wage repeal folks' petitions after its preliminary review was inconclusive as to whether they had the signatures needed to make the Nov. 6 ballot.

Of the 535 Protecting Michigan Taxpayers (PMT) signatures the Secretary of State sampled, 370 were found to be valid, fewer than the 373 required by the Board of State Canvassers' statistical model, according to Fred WOODHAMS of the Secretary of State's office.

In response, the Bureau of Elections will go through 4,000 signatures and then recommend whether the petition be approved or denied. There will be no third sample, Woodhams said.

In their second crack at trying to eliminate the state's prevailing wage law through a citizens' initiative, the Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC)-based PMT turned in 380,000 signatures in November (See "Prevailing Wage Repealers Say They've Submitted 380K Signatures," 11/3/17).

PMT President Jeff WIGGINS said he "can't emphasize enough" that the signatures are there to move the question of prevailing wage repeal to the Legislature. If 370 of the 535 sampled signatures were found sufficient, that's 69 percent. If used on the entire 380,000 collected, PMT has 262,803 valid signatures, more than the 252,523 valid signatures needed.

"This is a procedural hurdle," Wiggins said. "I can't argue with their procedure and I can understand why they'd want to be 100 percent sure. I have no qualms about that. But this will show we have the necessary signatures."

Patrick DEVLIN, secretary-treasurer of the Michigan Building and Constructors Trades Association, said his group also saw the types of anomalies the Bureau of Elections flagged that "led us to believe this happened again."

PMT failed to turn in the needed number of signatures in 2015 after an aggressive campaign effort (See "Prevailing Wage Repealers Starting From Scratch On Ballot Initiative," 10/30/15).

This go around, the Builders and Contractors' attorney, John PIRICH, argued that just 303 of the 535 sample signatures were valid (See "Challenge To Prevailing Wage Repeal Again Says They're Short Sigs," 12/28/17).

"I applaud the rigorous efforts of the Secretary of State's office to guard our state's democracy from fly-by-night operations looking to gut our state's skilled workforce by repealing the prevailing wage," said Mike JACKSON, executive secretary-treasurer of the Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters and Millwrights. "Repealing the prevailing wage would be a major setback to attracting and retaining a skilled workforce in Michigan, and I am pleased to see these efforts delayed."

The state's prevailing wage law requires that workers on public infrastructure projects be paid a wage that represents the region's prevailing wage on similar projects. PMT argues repealing the law would save taxpayers money. Organized labor said ditching the law would result in shoddy work done by disinterested out-of-state workers.

The Michigan Building and Construction Trades Council is sponsoring an 8 a.m. rally in front of the Capitol on Wednesday morning, at which Devlin is expecting about 1,000 participants.

The rally in support of the prevailing wage law was originally scheduled on the premise that the Board of State Canvassers would pass the initiative along to the Legislature. Due to today's development, this will not be the case.
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2nd hour discussion today, Monday 1-8-18; MIRS News Service

Sessions Decision Could Open Door To Federal Pot Raids In MI

U.S. Attorney General Jeff SESSIONS' reversal of a Obama-era marijuana policy that kept federal officers away from states that legalized and regulated pot could open the door to federal raids on marijuana businesses deemed legal in Michigan, according to Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) spokesperson Morgan FOX.

Fox said individual U.S. Attorneys will now enforce marijuana laws as "they see fit within their districts," meaning "They could send threatening letters or they could send in SWAT teams."

"Individual U.S. Attorneys could decide intelligently that it is a waste of resources to go after individuals and businesses that are in compliance with state law," Fox explained. "But this is definitely sending a very clear political signal to them that leadership in the Department of Justice (DOJ) and, in particular, Jeff Sessions want them to start going after these businesses. Given that the majority of Americans want marijuana to be legal and that these businesses are creating jobs and paying taxes and keeping a large portion of the marijuana market out of the hands of criminals, I think there is going to be tremendous political backlash."

Josh HOVEY, spokesperson for the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol (CRMLA), said the feds can't crack down on local medical marijuana users or businesses because of a budget amendment, known as the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer Amendment, which prohibits DOJ from spending money to enforce federal prohibitions in states that have legalized, and regulated, medical marijuana.

True enough, according to Fox. But that amendment currently is set to expire in just 15 days.

"Right now, there is actually a spending amendment that prevents the Department of Justice -- it's not a policy guideline, it is binding -- that prevents the Department of Justice from spending any resources to go after medical marijuana patients or providers in states where it is legal," Fox said. "However, those protections are set to expire on Jan. 19 unless Congress includes them again in the fiscal year 2018 spending budget or there is a continuing resolution that continues the current levels of spending for another couple weeks while we keep working on the issue."

Congressional leadership must reauthorize the amendment, according to the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML). The Senate Appropriations Committee has approved it but the House Rules Committee held it and other budget amendments back. House and Senate leadership will decide the issue when they meet to reconcile the appropriations bills.

Since 2013, DOJ has operated under guidance given in a document known as the Cole Memo, which directed U.S. Attorneys to not enforce federal marijuana laws in states where medical marijuana is legal as long as eight public safety criteria are met.

Sessions issued a new directive today, instructing U.S. Attorneys to use their discretion on the matter, essentially rescinding the Cole Memo.

"My guess is they have more pressing issues than going after what is now a pretty tightly controlled medical marijuana industry in Michigan, and what we are proposing will also be very tightly controlled," Hovey said.

Hovey's CRMLA has submitted petitions to put the question of legalizing marijuana for adult recreational use on the ballot in 2018 (See "Marijuana Coalition Submits 365,000 Signatures To Bureau of Elections," 11/20/17).

Meanwhile, the Michigan's Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) has been working to revamp the state medical marijuana licensing program (See "Three Apps Completed On Medical Marijuana Program Opening Day," 12/15/17).

LARA Public Information Officer David HARMS issued statements in reaction to the Sessions announcement.

"As a state, Michigan has recognized and authorized the use of medical marihuana pursuant to the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act (MMMA) and has tasked LARA with administering the registration process for patients and caregivers. We will continue accepting and processing applications for registry identification cards. Any questions regarding enforcement of federal law should be directed to federal authorities," he said.

Regarding facilities, he said: "The Michigan Legislature has authorized the licensing of medical marihuana facilities and has required a rigorous statewide monitoring system to help keep Michigan's citizens safe. LARA . . . will continue to move forward in accepting and processing applications for state operating licenses."
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1st hour discussion today, Monday 1-8-18; MIRS News Service

House, Senate Leaders Name Legislative Priorities For 2018

Getting rid of driver responsibility fees sooner and reforming mental health services in Michigan would count among House Speaker Tom LEONARD's (R-DeWitt) legislative priorities for 2018.

Getting the skilled trades package, which passed through the House just before Christmas, through Senate and paying down long-term debt would round out his list.

Senate Majority Leader Arlan MEEKHOF (R-West Olive) is "focused on continuing the eighth year of a budget done ahead of schedule," according to spokesperson Amber McCANN. Meekhof is also looking at the impact of the new federal tax plan on Michigan taxpayers. He wants to make sure "taxpayers benefit" from any adjustment to Michigan tax code.

Finally, the Senate Leader "would like to reach consensus on the driver responsibility fee legislation."

The Senate and House have competing versions of driver responsibility fee (DRF) elimination bills. The Senate version frees drivers from unpaid DRFs of six or more years. It also allows those with fees issued more recently a chance to keep their driver's licenses if they pay their outstanding fees off.

The House version wipes away all DRFs from all drivers, giving them a clean slate as of Oct. 2018 (See "House Churns Out Its Speed Up Of The Driver Responsibility Fee Phase Out," 11/2/17).

"Something that is near and dear to my heart, I want to see a resolution to this driver responsibility fee situation that we have right now," Leonard said. "We've got over 300,000 of our citizens who are currently driving without a driver's license. It is time we got that addressed."

But opponents of total elimination say that would cost the state budget too much.

"The time is over for excuses," Leonard responded. "Again, we've got 300,000 residents that need to get their driver's licenses back and I believe we have waited long enough. As you have seen, we had nearly $280 million in lapsed dollars from that the last budget cycle. This is something we can afford. It is the right thing to do. We need to get these people their driver's licenses back."

Leonard told reporters at the end of session just before the Christmas break that he's also eager to take up reforms to mental health services.

"I would like to get some bills dropped," he said. "The task force was out for the past several months meeting with interest groups and having their town halls so I would like to see those put into bills."

Referred to as the Community, Access, Resources, Education and Safety (CARES) Task Force and headed up by Rep. Hank VAUPEL (R-Fowlerville) and Rep. Klint KESTO (R-Commerce Twp.), the group held hearings across the state. Vaupel has said there are good mental health services in the state, but that services not consistent and differ in every county. He expects drafts to be submitted shortly (See "Task Force Hears Mental Health Systems Improvement Suggestions" 9/7/17).

Leonard's spokesperson, Gideon D'ASSANDRO, this week added passage of the five bills in the skilled trades package to the list of legislative priorities. Click to add MIRS Bill Hound HB 5141, Click to add MIRS Bill Hound HB 5142, Click to add MIRS Bill Hound HB 5143, Click to add MIRS Bill Hound HB 5144 and Click to add MIRS Bill Hound HB 5145 are intended to boost career tech courses in public schools for students not college bound. The most controversial piece in the package was Click to add MIRS Bill Hound HB 5141, by Rep. Bronna KAHLE(R-Adrian), that would allow licensed professionals to teach courses in their area of expertise without a teaching degree (See "Career Tech Bills Work Their Way Through House," 12/13/17).

"When you look at what the Michigan unemployment rate is right now, we are essentially at full employment," Leonard said. "The problem right now is we don't have enough skilled individuals to take a lot of these skilled trade jobs."

Paying down debt for MPSERS, State Employee Retirement , the State Police and other long-term liabilities counts as another priority, D'Assandro said. Some $8.5 billion has paid down since 2011, he said. About $6.61 billion of that is additional payments the legislature has made to get ahead on the long-term debts.

McCann said another priority for Meekhof in the Senate is "monitoring the proposed laws that may come before the legislature in the form of citizens' initiatives."

So far, three initiative petitions have been submitted for the 2018 ballot regarding legalization of recreational marijuana, redistricting and repeal of the prevailing wage law (See "Marijuana Coalition Submits 365,000 Signatures To Bureau of Elections," 11/20/17).

(See "Supporters Dance, Cheer As They Submit Boxes Of VNP Petitions In The Rain," 12/18/17). mirsnews.com/capsule.php?gid=5233#52335

(See "Challenge To Prevailing Wage Repeal Again Says They're Short Sigs," 12/28/17). mirsnews.com/capsule.php?gid=5239#52407
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1st Hour discussion today, Thursday 1-4-18; MIRS News Service

MDOT Wants Confirmation That Convicted Towing Titan Not Tied To Contract

The state is asking the leader of one of its contractors to verify her business isn't affiliated with her ex-husband, who recently pled guilty to a federal bribery conspiracy charge.

The Dec. 28 letter was sent by the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) to Joan FIORE, who is described as Gasper FIORE's ex-wife in court documents that were sealed but recently made public.

Gasper Fiore - who has owned several tow truck companies in metro Detroit -- recently pled guilty in federal court to a bribery conspiracy charge, according to The Detroit News, stemming from him conspiring to bribe a Clinton Township trustee to obtain a municipal towing contract.

According to MDOT, Joan Fiore stated in an affidavit that she is president and owner of Emergency Road Response, Inc. (ERR), which has a contract with MDOT to provide courtesy patrol service on highways in the metro Detroit area.

MDOT's letter to Joan Fiore referenced an affidavit dated Nov. 2, 2017 that she provided MDOT, in which she stated that she's the president and majority owner of ERR, and that Gasper Fiore does not have any financial, ownership, or shareholder interest in ERR.

She also stated in this affidavit that Gasper Fiore is not employed by ERR, doesn't hold any management positions with ERR or have any responsibilities with ERR, according to the MDOT letter.

MDOT asked for documentation to substantiate all of those claims and to receive it within 14 calendar days. And, MDOT wants to know about Gasper Fiore's role, if any, in procuring the aforementioned contract with MDOT in the form of an affidavit.

From there, MDOT will "assess the impact of this information on any pending or future contract awards" to ERR.

The MDOT contract with ERR was mentioned in a number of court documents that contain wiretapped conversations involving Gasper Fiore, Joan Fiore, and a number of other officials.

The FBI has been wiretapping conversations between the Fiores and others as it investigates Gasper Fiore and others for a number of suspected crimes related to corruption, which is tied to the Macomb County public corruption investigation that has featured trash hauler Rizzo Environmental Services.

According to transcripts of federally wiretapped conversations obtained by MIRS, Gasper Fiore was recorded having conversations with Joan Fiore and a former state House member about the ERR contract and whether they were going to land it.

According to the transcripts, the FBI claimed that Jennifer Fiore -- Gasper's daughter -- was trying to push for an amendment in MDOT's budget that would require companies to pre-qualify showing they had five years' experience, which would apparently eliminate Fiore's competition for the contract that ERR was going for.

In the end, according to the transcripts and media coverage, the amendment idea was dropped because MDOT was going to award the contract to ERR, with final approval from the State Administrative Board (SAB) coming in June 2016.

The released documents also contain conversations involving or mentioning three former or sitting lawmakers. The FBI, in a request to the court to continue wiretapping, listed out a number of "target subjects" that include former Rep. Brian BANKS and former Rep. Alberta TINSLEY-TALABI.

Sen. Tom CASPERSON (R-Escanaba) is also mentioned in the transcripts of the wiretapped conversations, although he is not listed as "target subject."

None of those three have been charged in connection to this investigation.

Other prominent public officials of note that were on "target subjects" list for intercepted communications include Westland Mayor Bill WILD and Wayne County Sheriff Benny NAPOLEON, among others, although those two have also not been charged.

The transcripts of the wiretapped conversations were reported by The Detroit News and Detroit Free Press on Dec. 29 after they were unsealed and then subsequently sealed back up in court. Their release has been described by the court to have been a "clerical mistake" and have had a "rather devastating" effect on people's lives. MIRS also acquired a copy of these wiretapped transcripts, which had been filed in court by an attorney of one of the defendants in the case, according to The Detroit News.

The U.S. Attorney's office, in a statement to The News, said "sensitive investigative documents were inadvertently filed on the public docket by a non-governmental attorney."

In the transcripts, the FBI labels Banks as potentially being "involved in bid-rigging" with Gasper Fiore and allegedly attempting to get aforementioned the MDOT budget amendment passed, but nothing is presented as hard proof that this was the case.

In the transcripts, a conversation between Gasper Fiore and Banks depicted Gasper Fiore trying to offer Banks a "billboard trailer," but Banks declined, saying "they don't allow that over here in this part of the . . . neck of the woods."

Also in the transcripts, an FBI investigator states his belief that Gasper Fiore is trying to set up a rendezvous so he can deliver Banks a "cash bribe." But the investigator is going off Gasper Fiore's use of the word "paperwork," which Banks told MIRS was some old towing receipts Fiore wanted to show him. Outside of the investigator's own stated suspicions, nothing was presented to show the conversation about the "paperwork" was anything illegal.

Banks, in a statement, said it was common for constituents to contact his 1st House District office and for his office to offer assistance, and that Fiore and his family are constituents who reached out to his office.

As for Casperson, his name came up in the transcript when Fiore asked his daughter, Jennifer Fiore, if Casperson had been "helpful," as the Fiores discussed how the proposed MDOT budget amendment was dropped with the award of the contract to ERR.

Casperson -- chair of the Senate's Transportation Committee -- said today that he believes he met Gasper Fiore at a southeast Michigan event while he was running for Congress. He said he later met with Jennifer Fiore, who he said came to him saying MDOT was trying to cut the Fiore company out of the bidding process. Casperson said he would talk to MDOT for them if they needed him to, but he said they never gave him the green light to do that.

But from what he read in the newspaper compared to what he was told in the meeting, Casperson said he was "given completely the opposite scenario" by the Fiores.

The transcripts appear to portray the Fiores as trying to get an amendment passed in MDOT's budget that would potentially cut out its competition on the contract, but then backing off once MDOT awarded the contract to Joan Fiore's ERR.

All this led to Rep. Scott DIANDA (D-Calumet) to call for the department's management -- including MDOT Director Kirk STEUDLE -- to be put on administrative leave and for Gov. Rick SNYDER to get to the bottom of things.

"Right now, the buck stops with the director. I think that this is another case of his incompetence in that department," Dianda said, who also referenced the leased railcar issues from a few years ago (See "Auditor Takes The Latest Swing At MDOT's Unused Railcars," 2/13/15).

Dianda is a former MDOT employee, who once served as president of the Michigan State Employees Association. He called on Steudle to be removed two years ago because he was allegedly "a poor steward of the taxpayers' dollars." Gov. Rick SNYDER's team continued to stick up for Steudle, the only former Gov. Jennifer GRANHOLM cabinet-level appointee who has stayed with Snyder during his entire tenure.
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1st hour discussion today, Wednesday 1-3-18; MIRS News Service

MIRS Breaking News - Young Ends U.S. Senate Bid -- 9:11 a.m.
Wednesday, January 03, 2018

Former Michigan Supreme Court Justice Bob YOUNG Jr., announced this morning on WJR-AM he is ending his U.S. Senate bid, becoming the latest high-profile Republican to pass on a November challenge to three-term incumbent U.S. Sen. Debbie STABENOW (D-Delta Twp.).

"After a lot of discussion with family, friends and supporters, I've decided that I am suspending my campaign to defeat Debbie Stabenow," Young said on the Frank BECKMANN Show, adding that he didn't see himself gathering the "financial support to get me where I need to be."

Young said he still believes Stabenow can be knocked off by a "principled conservative" and that is he is in the best person to do so. However, he said he didn't have enough appeal with the major donors in the Republican Party, despite having a lot of support from small-donor donors.

Young joins Vesco Oil executive Lena EPSTEIN and U.S. Rep. Fred UPTON as high-profile Republicans who have passed on the nomination, leaving Operation Iraqi Freedom veteran John JAMES and business executive Sandy PENSLER as the most high-profile candidates in the race.

Young, 66, entered the race last June at the urging of personal friend and former Gov. John ENGLER after a brief stint in the private sector at the Dickinson Wright law firm (See "Young Announces From Barren Detroit Plot That Used To Be His Home," 6/28/17). Young left the Michigan Supreme Court in April 2017.

His campaign has had it's ups and down, from winning the straw poll at the Michigan Republican Party Mackinac Leadership Conference to his shaky Facebook live video that kicked off his campaign.

However, a couple key problems continuously haunted Young. One was his profile as a former "rule-of-law justice." Despite being a familiar face in Michigan Republican politics and listed as a President Donald TRUMP U.S. Supreme Court justice possibility, Young's resumé didn't connect with voters, according to Target Insyght pollster Ed SARPOLUS.

In November, Sarpolus ran a poll for MIRS that showed a 24 percent plurality of likely Republican voters preferred the profile of Detroit business executive and military veteran John JAMES to that of Young, who only managed 7 percent (See "James Leading In GOP U.S. Senate Race Poll Shows," 11/13/17).

The other was money and visibility. The Sept. 30 federal filings had James raising ($309,154 to $166,193) and having on hand ($216,204 to $102,014) twice that of Young's haul, despite Young's established party connections and having won statewide office in 2000, 2002 and 2010.

Pensler has millions of dollars in personal wealth he has pledged to spend in his U.S. Senate bid. Stabenow had $7 million in the bank as of Sept. 30.

Plus, James has positioned himself as a fresh face and an up-and-comer in Michigan GOP politics during appearances on FOX News and other national outlets. It's exposure that dwarfed Young's biggest grasp for exposure, like his rocker Ted NUGENT endorsement.
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2nd hour discussion today, Tuesday 1-2-18; MIRS News Service

Challenge To Prevailing Wage Repeal Again Says They're Short Signatures

A unions-backed challenge has again surfaced against the signatures submitted for the prevailing wage repeal initiative, and it claims that Protecting Michigan Taxpayers (PMT) falls short of the required number needed for certification.

In the eyes of Protect Michigan Jobs (PMJ) and its attorney John PIRICH, of the 535 random PMT signatures made available by the Bureau of Elections for challenging, just 303 of those signatures were considered valid after PMJ throws out 232 signatures it's challenging for a number of reasons.

PMJ says the Bureau of Elections needs 373 signatures from the sample to stand firm to recommend certification to the Board of State Canvassers (BSC). If there's 339 valid signatures or less, that would require denial of certification, according to the PMJ filing.

That puts the 303 estimated valid signatures below that number, which gets PMJ to its recommendation to the state that certification should be denied to PMT.

Pirich and PMJ filed their challenge to the PMT petition sample Dec. 20, the last day of the challenge period that ran from Dec. 6 to Dec. 20.

But Bureau of Elections spokesperson Fred WOODHAMS said today the petition is still being reviewed and a staff report would be put out to the BSC before its next meeting. It's been estimated the BSC will meet to decide the petition's fate early next month.

If there's any merit to PMJ's challenge and the BSC agrees certification isn't warranted, it would be a mirror image of what happened in 2015.

That was when PMT submitted signatures that were challenged by PMJ, with the same unions group finding enough problems to lead PMT to scrap the petitions (See “Prevailing Wage Repealers Starting From Scratch On Ballot Initiative,” 10/30/15).

That led PMT to scrap its petition-gathering company it used in 2015, which the group also sued and settled with, in favor of a different company for this campaign.

The PMJ challenge filing this year cites a number of specific issues it found in the sampling, including signers who were not registered voters, circulator signatures that were incomplete and invalid, and suspected duplicate signers, among other alleged issues.

All in all, PMJ found 232 of the 535 signatures in the sample worthy of challenge. Each of those 535 signatures in the sample is worth about 711 signatures.

The state requires 252,523 valid signatures for a petition to become certified.

But PMT spokesperson Jeff WIGGINS dismissed the challenge, saying in a statement today, “If these special interests had faith in their own challenge, there would be no need for them to simultaneously be launching a hastily-thrown together petition drive of their own.”

Wiggins is referring to PMJ and the Michigan Prevails coalition and their launch earlier this month of a counter petition drive to keep the prevailing wage (See “Prevailing Wage Backers Want People To Decide,” 12/12/17).

“We firmly believe both the challenge and their supposed petition drive are bogus, and are 100 percent confident the voices of over 380,000 Michigan citizens will be successful in sending this proposal to the Michigan Legislature,” Wiggins said.

PMT has claimed to submit nearly 380,000 signatures in its effort to get a prevailing wage repeal before the Legislature and possibly voters (See “Prevailing Wage Repealers Say They've Submitted 380K Signatures,” 11/3/17).
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1st hour discussion today, Tuesday 1-2-18; MIRS News Service

Leonard, Meekhof Go One-Two As Most Quotable Of `2017

Here at MIRS, we recognize quantity in addition to quality, by also highlighting who nabbed the most Quote of the Day nominations this year.

And when it came to the Legislature's top leaders - House Speaker Tom LEONARD (R-DeWitt) and Senate Majority Leader Arlan MEEKHOF (R-West Olive), both scored on the quantity front.

Leonard and Meekhof finished first and second, respectively, for most Quote of the Day nominations for 2017. Leonard had eight quotes, and Meekhof seven.

Asked for a response to the final tally, Meekhof, via spokesperson Amber McCANN, said, “The House is officially full of more hot air than the Senate."

And Leonard, through his spokesperson Gideon D'ASSANDRO, had this: "Clearly I spent too much time talking to Kyle MELINN (MIRS editor) in 2017. I'll have to make a New Year's resolution to dial that back in 2018."
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1st hour discussion today, Thursday 12-28-17;

"Fellow Defending Father" - Brian Pannebecker joined in to talk about the boycotting of the NFL effort, recalling past grassroots activism of passing "Freedom to Work" in 2012 and helping President Trump winning the state of Michigan in 2016;

www.facebook.com/brian.pannebecker
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1st hour discussion today, Wednesday 12-27-17; MIRS News Service

Michigan's Unemployment Rate Now Tied For 13th Highest

Michigan's 4.6 percent unemployment rate for November is tied with California, Connecticut and Pennsylvania as the nation's 13th highest among the 50 states, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

The placement may be more a statement on how fickle these rankings are than an accurate reflection of Michigan's economy, however. In July, Michigan's 3.7 percent unemployment rate was good for 15th lowest in the country (See "Michigan's Unemployment Rate Tied For 15th Lowest," 8/18/17).

Four months later, Michigan's unemployment rate has risen less than a point, but the Great Lakes State lost 23 spots in the BLS list that compares the states.

Michigan was one of 17 states that had unemployment rates lower than the national average of 4.0 percent. Hawaii's 2.0 percent unemployment rate was the nation's lowest. The rates in Alabama (3.5 percent), California (4.6 percent), Hawaii (2.0), Mississippi (4.8 percent) and Texas (3.8 percent) are the lowest rates recorded by these states since the BLS started keeping these stats in 1976.

Alaska had the highest unemployment rate at 7.2 percent. Other states with higher employment rates include: New Mexico (6.1 percent), West Virginia (4.8) New Jersey (5.1), Nevada (5.0) Illinois (4.9), Mississippi (4.8), Ohio (4.8) Delaware (4.7), Kentucky (4.7), Louisiana (4.7) and New York (4.7).
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1st hour discussion today, Wednesday 12-20-17; MIRS News Service

Yob Poll Shows Calley Down 11 To Schuette
Lt. Gov. Brian CALLEY is gaining on Attorney General Bill SCHUETTE in a presumed showdown between the two Republican gubernatorial candidates, according to a 600-person survey conducted by Calley's consultant, Strategic National.

Strategic National CEO John YOB has Schuette at 30 percent among likely Republican voters to Calley's 19 percent. Sen. Patrick COLBECK (R-Canton) is at 5 percent and Dr. Jim HINES is at 2 percent with 44 percent undecided.

Earlier this year, Yob had Schuette around 33 percent to Calley's 10 percent, roughly a 23-point advantage.

The poll also shows Calley leads Schuette in net favorability rating by a 37 to 32 percent margin, he said.

"Lt. Gov. Brian Calley's support is surging following his formal announcement to continue the Michigan comeback as Governor," Yob said. "The numbers should continue to tighten as Sen. Colbeck takes support from Attorney General Schuette in the months ahead."

Prior to this Dec. 16-17 survey, the last public polling on the 2017 Republican gubernatorial primary came from MIRS and Target Insyght in early November, which showed Schuette with a 24-point lead, 38 to 14 percent (See "Schuette Holding 24-Point Lead In Latest GOP Gubernatorial Poll," 11/14/17). Colbeck was at 5 percent and Hines at 4 percent.
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1st hour discussion today, Tuesday 12-19-17; MIRS News Service

Could Ghosts of Granholm's Past Haunt Dems in 2018?

During the Gov. Jennifer GRANHOLM administration, Michigan began losing population during its single-state recession and the phrase "blown away" took on a uniquely unpleasant connotation. But could the Granholm legacy still negatively impact Democratic chances in the November 2018 Governor's race, even after what will be nearly eight years of Republicans controlling state government?

MIRS asked a panel of political pundits that question today as well as questions concerning the anti-gerrymandering proposal, the race to replace John CONYERS and what level of voter turnout in Detroit next fall would tip the scales in the Democrats' favor.

1. There is speculation, on both sides of the political aisle, that Gretchen WHITMER's gubernatorial chances would suffer in the general election from negative memories of the Granholm years. Is this a realistic possibility?

"She's vulnerable on this, but I also assume her team has developed a satisfactory way to respond," said John TRUSCOTT, President of Truscott Rossman Group. "They know this is coming and should definitely be prepared with a strong response and pivot."

Mark GREBNER, president of Practical Political Consulting, said it might have some negative impact, but not much.

"It'll be a main talking point for Republicans who will feel that it's highly damaging," Grebner said. "Whether it will matter to ticket-splitters and independents, who are the important audience, is another issue. Many of them didn't share the Republican dislike of Granholm, and many more have forgotten her after eight years."

"I suppose it will be a small net negative for Whitmer, but you won't get that impression by talking to the Granholm haters," Grebner concluded.

According to Tom SHIELDS, president of Marketing Resource Group, it will be a problem Whitmer will need to face.

"Whitmer will be branded as Granholm 2.0 and that's a problem in the general election for someone nobody knows," Shields said. "I'm sure the GOP has been digging up the photos."

Ed SARPOLUS, president of Target Insyght, said Whitmer won't be any more vulnerable on allegations concerning the Granholm legacy than Attorney General Bill SCHUETTE will be regarding numerous potential allegations against him.

"Time to be real - Democrats will claim Schutte is an Apostle of Steve BANNON and a founding member of the Trump movement in Michigan," Sarpolus said. "Republicans will accuse Gretchen Whitmer of having been groomed by Granholm and as an Apprentice of Hillary CLINTON. All is fair in love and war."
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1st hour discussion today, Monday 12-18-17; MIRS News Service

Simon Shares Regret, MSU Establishes $10M Fund For Nassar Victims

Michigan State University President Lou Anna K. SIMON today distributed a letter to the Michigan State University (MSU) community weighing in on the recent conviction of former university physician Larry NASSARfor possession of child pornography.

"The sentence for possession of child pornography is the first of what I hope will be many lengthy prison sentences," Simon wrote of Nassar. "Nassar preyed on his victims' dreams and ambitions, changing their lives in terrible ways. Under the guise of medical treatment, he abused his patients for years."

Simon's letter quoted U.S. Attorney Sean LEWIS, in a court filing that said, "underneath this veneer lurked a predator."

Simon has come under fire in recent days for her handling of the Nassar matter, including a call by House Speaker Tom LEONARD (R-DeWitt) for her to resign (See "Leonard Calls On Simon To Resign," 12/11/17).

But Simon offered no resignation in this letter, and the university’s Board of Trustees indicated they wouldn’t be ousting her either today at the meeting. They offered her a $150,000 raise, which she declined, according to The Detroit News.

In her letter today, Simon announced that the MSU Board of Trustees has established a $10 million fund for counseling and mental health services as "part of our commitment to support Nassar's victims."

The action was the first board meeting after mediation ended. "The trustees moved promptly to direct the establishment of the fund, as it was the right thing to do for victims regardless of the legal situation."

Simon said that MSU since the fall of 2016 has engaged "external experts to comprehensively review various programs and recommend changes to strengthen our policies and procedures." The review included a look at the MSU Title IX program, the MSU HealthTeam, and how university medical services are provided to student-athletes.

"While much has been achieved, I understand that strengthening a policy or introducing a new procedure today doesn't change what happened to these women in the past or the pain they feel," Simon wrote.

The MSU president also acknowledged the pending lawsuits the school faces over the situation and noted that there will be allegations against the university that may go largely unchallenged until or unless the cases reach open court "because the university does not litigate in the press."

The letter also repeated the letter Patrick FITZGERALD sent to Attorney General Bill SCHUETTE stating that, "no MSU official believed that Nassar committed sexual abuse prior to newspaper reports in the summer of 2016" (See "MSU's Attorney: Nothing To See Here; Whitmer Wants MSP Investigation," 12/08/17).

Simon concluded by stating, "I want to express my respect and appreciation for the MSU Police who worked tirelessly to help bring Nassar to justice. To the brave young women who came forward about Nassar, you have my deepest thanks, respect and sympathy. I am truly sorry for the abuse you suffered, the pain it caused, and the pain it still causes. I am sorry a physician who called himself a Spartan so utterly betrayed your trust and everything this university stands for."
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1st hour discussion today, Friday 12-15-17; MIRS News Service

County Sells Property Over $8 In Unpaid Taxes For $24,500; Pockets Windfall

Two Oakland County property owners are asking the Michigan Supreme Court to tell local governments they cannot keep profits from the sale of foreclosed properties.

Uri RAFAELI and Andre OHANESSIAN filed an application to appeal the Court of Appeals' Oct. 24 decision that affirmed a lower court's order dismissing their case against Oakland County and its treasurer, Andrew MEISNER, on Dec. 4.

The case is a "matter of profound public importance, affecting thousands of individuals who have lost or will lose their property in tax foreclosures in Michigan," wrote attorney Andrew FINK in a court filing.

A decision on whether the state's highest court will hear the appeal could take months.

According to court documents, Rafaeli owed $8.41 on a Southfield rental property and the amount owed grew to $285 with penalties and interest while Ohanessian, who moved to California in 2011, owed $6,000 on 2.7 acres in Orchard Lake Village. The county foreclosed on both properties, which were later sold for $24,500 and $82,000, respectively.

The two men sued, alleging the General Property Tax Act (GPTA) is unconstitutional because it violates due process guarantees by providing insufficient steps for the government to properly notify the taxpayer of the unpaid taxes. They also argued the GPTA allows "unconstitutional taking" because it mandates governmental entities retain proceeds beyond those required to satisfy the debt.

The appeals court dismissed both arguments.

The appeals court reasoned that Rafaeli paid taxes in August 2012 and January 2013 when he received two deficiency notices, but he failed to pay a third notice and Oakland County had "no reason to doubt that the address" for the property owner was no longer valid. Furthermore, the court noted, the county also left a notice with the tenant as well as the corporation identified as Rafaeli's address, according to court documents.

The appeals court also noted that Ohanessian paid his property taxes for years before moving to California in 2011, and while the county sent notices to Ohanessian and published three foreclosure notices, it did not know he had moved out of state.

The appeals court opinion said Oakland County "obtained the property" of Rafaeli and Ohanessian through a "statutory scheme that did not violate due process."

"The constitution does not require them to compensate plaintiffs for the lawfully-obtained property," the opinion, which was signed by Judges Jane MARKEY and Patrick METER, reads.

Judge Douglas SHAPIRO concurred, but wrote a separate opinion, noting that despite his concurrence in the court's opinion, he recognizes "that plaintiffs' claims call out for relief." Shapiro referenced U.S. District Judge Terrence BERG's June 2015 opinion in a federal lawsuit that Rafaeli filed, which Berg dismissed.

"It cannot be denied that the concept of the state confiscating all of the equity of a citizen's property, worth between $24,500 and $70,000, and selling it and keeping the entire proceeds -- all to collect $8.41 in property taxes and $27.40 in interest and fees, is a manifest injustice that should find redress under the law," Berg wrote.
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3rd hour discussion today, Thursday 12-14-17;

Here is a list of bills reported or moved on Tuesday 12-12-17 in Lansing;

Dear Randy,

Please note that the following legislative actions have been taken.

Senate Bill 478: Ban drivers license renewal if three unpaid parking tickets

Reported in the House on December 12, 2017 With the recommendation that the substitute (H-1) be adopted and that the bill then pass.
View Senate Bill 478

Senate Bill 480: Give honorary road designation

Reported in the House on December 12, 2017 Without amendment and with the recommendation that the bill pass.
View Senate Bill 480

Senate Bill 481: Give honorary road designation

Reported in the Senate on December 12, 2017 With the recommendation that the substitute (S-1) be adopted and that the bill then pass.
View Senate Bill 481

Senate Bill 509: Authorize honorary road designation

Signed by Gov. Rick Snyder on December 5, 2017

Senate Bill 566: Exempt dental prosthetics from use tax

Passed 98 to 11 in the House on December 12, 2017
See Who Voted "Yes" and Who Voted "No"

Senate Bill 567: Exempt dental prosthetics from sales tax

Passed 98 to 11 in the House on December 12, 2017 To exempt dental prosthetics from the state sales tax.
See Who Voted "Yes" and Who Voted "No"

Senate Bill 575: Increase motorcycle operator license fee

Reported in the House on December 12, 2017 Without amendment and with the recommendation that the bill pass.
View Senate Bill 575

Senate Bill 582: Tighten handicap license plate and parking standards and procedures

Reported in the Senate on December 12, 2017 With the recommendation that the bill pass.
View Senate Bill 582

Senate Bill 589: Let police use electric vehicles on sidewalks

Reported in the Senate on December 12, 2017 With the recommendation that the substitute (S-1) be adopted and that the bill then pass.
View Senate Bill 589

Senate Bill 631: Revise nonprofit dental care corporations detail

Reported in the House on December 12, 2017 Without amendment and with the recommendation that the bill pass.
View Senate Bill 631

Senate Bill 645: Create new state mass transit regulation bureau

Passed 38 to 0 in the Senate on December 12, 2017 To create a new bureau in the state Department of Transportation to to supervise and regulate “fixed guideway public transportation systems,” meaning rapid rail, heavy rail, light rail, monorail, trolley, streetcar, inclined plane, funicular, and automated guideway systems.
See Who Voted "Yes" and Who Voted "No"

Senate Bill 660: Accelerate phase-in of chicken and livestock rules

Reported in the Senate on December 12, 2017 With the recommendation that the bill pass.
View Senate Bill 660

Senate Bill 672: Clarify scope of state commercial bus service regulation

Reported in the Senate on December 12, 2017 With the recommendation that the bill pass.
View Senate Bill 672

Senate Bill 673: Revise nonprofit dental care corporations detail

Reported in the House on December 12, 2017 With the recommendation that the substitute (H-1) be adopted and that the bill then pass.
View Senate Bill 673

Senate Bill 686: Establish funding requirements for municipal employee retirement benefits

Passed 38 to 0 in the Senate on December 12, 2017 To concur with the House-passed version of the bill.
See Who Voted "Yes" and Who Voted "No"

Senate Bill 686: Establish funding requirements for municipal employee retirement benefits

Passed 104 to 5 in the House on December 12, 2017 To establish a new state disclosure and oversight regime for pensions and other post-retirement benefits (OPEBs) offered by local governments to their employees, including retiree health insurance benefits. Local governments would have file annual reports on the extent to which the future benefits they have promised are underfunded, using standards the state Department of Treasury would be required to establish. Locals that fail to meet certain funding levels, or that spend more than 12 percent of their budget to prefund benefits (or catch up on past underfunding) would be required to submit a corrective action plan. Provisions authorizing “emergency manager”-type receivership provisions for local governments that fail to meet the standards by specified deadlines were not included in the final version of the bill.
See Who Voted "Yes" and Who Voted "No"

Senate Bill 688: Establish funding requirements for municipal employee retirement benefits

Passed 107 to 2 in the House on December 12, 2017 To revise a law that requires a local government to post online steps it may be taking to decrease unfunded retirement benefit promised to employees, and replace the disclosure requirements in this law with the ones proposed by Senate Bill 686 .
See Who Voted "Yes" and Who Voted "No"

Senate Bill 691: Establish funding requirements for municipal employee retirement benefits

Passed 106 to 3 in the House on December 12, 2017 To revise a law authorizing county commission retirement benefits so that it conforms with the funding disclosure and oversight requirements proposed by Senate Bill 686.
See Who Voted "Yes" and Who Voted "No"

Senate Bill 692: Establish funding requirements for municipal employee retirement benefits

Passed 106 to 3 in the House on December 12, 2017 To revise a law authorizing different forms of county government so that it conforms with the retirement system funding disclosure and oversight requirements proposed by Senate Bill 686.
See Who Voted "Yes" and Who Voted "No"

Senate Bill 694: Establish funding requirements for municipal employee retirement benefits

Passed 105 to 4 in the House on December 12, 2017 To revise a details in a law authorizing municipal employee retirement benefits so that it conforms with the funding disclosure requirements proposed by Senate Bill 686.
See Who Voted "Yes" and Who Voted "No"

Senate Bill 696: Establish funding requirements for municipal employee retirement benefits

Passed 106 to 3 in the House on December 12, 2017 To revise a law authorizing township employee retirement benefits so that it conforms with the funding disclosure requirements proposed by Senate Bill 686.
See Who Voted "Yes" and Who Voted "No"

Senate Bill 699: Establish funding requirements for municipal employee retirement benefits

Passed 107 to 2 in the House on December 12, 2017 To establish that a state “incompatible offices” law would not apply to members of a Local Government Retirement Stability Board that Senate Bill 686 would authorize to oversee underfunded local retirement benefits. This law prescribes positions that appointed or elected government officials are prohibited from serving in simultaneously.
See Who Voted "Yes" and Who Voted "No"

Senate Bill 702: Ban school districts and local governments from discriminating against charter schools

Reported in the Senate on December 13, 2017 With the recommendation that the substitute (S-3) be adopted and that the bill then pass.
View Senate Bill 702

House Bill 4054: Mandate enhanced school bus tail lights

Passed 38 to 0 in the Senate on December 12, 2017 To allow but not require enhanced lighting at the top and bottom of the rear of school buses, and flashing messages that say, "caution," "stopping," "stop" and "do not pass" as the bus slows to pick up or drop off children.
See Who Voted "Yes" and Who Voted "No"

House Bill 4069: Revise requirements for substitute teachers

Passed 64 to 45 in the House on December 12, 2017 To permit an individual to be a substitute teacher in a public school who has earned 60 credit college credit hours at a community college or an associate degree at one. Current law requires 90 credit hours.
See Who Voted "Yes" and Who Voted "No"

House Bill 4176: Let neighborhood watch mount flashing yellow lights

Reported in the House on December 12, 2017 With the recommendation that the substitute (H-2) be adopted and that the bill then pass.
View House Bill 4176

House Bill 4320: Appropriations: 2017-2018 “Omnibus” budget

Reported in the Senate on December 13, 2017 With the recommendation that the substitute (S-3) be adopted and that the bill then pass.
View House Bill 4320

House Bill 4380: Revise free state parks for disabled veterans procedure

Passed 109 to 0 in the House on December 12, 2017 To revise procedural details in a law that waives state park and campground admission fees for totally disabled veterans.
See Who Voted "Yes" and Who Voted "No"

House Bill 4381: Revise free state parks for disabled veterans procedure

Passed 109 to 0 in the House on December 12, 2017 To revise procedural details in a law that waives state park and campground admission fees for totally disabled veterans.
See Who Voted "Yes" and Who Voted "No"

House Bill 4406: Require opioid abuse training in schools

Reported in the Senate on December 13, 2017 With the recommendation that the substitute (S-1) be adopted and that the bill then pass.
View House Bill 4406

House Bill 4407: Require opioid abuse training in schools

Reported in the Senate on December 13, 2017 With the recommendation that the substitute (S-1) be adopted and that the bill then pass.
View House Bill 4407

House Bill 4644: Revise heavy equipment special use permits

Reported in the Senate on December 12, 2017 With the recommendation that the substitute (S-2) be adopted and that the bill then pass.
View House Bill 4644

House Bill 4807: Revise ferry service regulations

Reported in the Senate on December 12, 2017 with the recommendation that the bill pass.
View House Bill 4807

House Bill 4907: Let commercial vehicles use specialty license plates

Passed 38 to 0 in the Senate on December 12, 2017 To allow owners of company-owned vehicles to buy fund-raising specialty license plates. Under current law this is limited to owners of personal vehicles.
See Who Voted "Yes" and Who Voted "No"

House Bill 4940: Revise “dry bean commission” marketing program details

Reported in the Senate on December 13, 2017 With the recommendation that the bill pass.
View House Bill 4940

House Bill 4956: Revise semi-truck trailer regulation detail

Reported in the Senate on December 12, 2017 with the recommendation that the substitute (S-1) be adopted and that the bill then pass.
View House Bill 4956

House Bill 5086: Revise "personal property tax" details

Passed 108 to 1 in the House on December 12, 2017 To revise many details and formulas in a mechanism created by a 2014 legislative package enacted to distribute some state use tax revenue to local governments, which would replace revenue they lose due to reductions in the "personal property tax" imposed on business tools and equipment.
See Who Voted "Yes" and Who Voted "No"

House Bill 5112: Authorize honorary road designation

Reported in the House on December 12, 2017 Without amendment and with the recommendation that the bill pass.
View House Bill 5112

House Bill 5126: Exempt police from school restraint policies

Reported in the Senate on December 12, 2017 With the recommendation that the bill pass.
View House Bill 5126

House Bill 5139: Mandate K-12 public school career development courses

Reported in the House on December 12, 2017 With the recommendation that the substitute (H-1) be adopted and that the bill then pass.
View House Bill 5139

House Bill 5140: Give trade schools and employers access to high school student information

Reported in the House on December 12, 2017 With the recommendation that the substitute (H-1) be adopted and that the bill then pass.
View House Bill 5140

House Bill 5141: Revise teacher certification exceptions

Reported in the House on December 12, 2017 With the recommendation that the substitute (H-1) be adopted and that the bill then pass.
View House Bill 5141

House Bill 5142: Revise teacher certification exceptions

Reported in the House on December 12, 2017 Without amendment and with the recommendation that the bill pass.
View House Bill 5142

House Bill 5145: Authorize substitute for teacher continuing education requirement

Reported in the House on December 12, 2017 With the recommendation that the substitute (H-4) be adopted and that the bill then pass.
View House Bill 5145

House Bill 5164: Exempt dental prosthetics from use tax

Passed 38 to 0 in the Senate on December 12, 2017 To exempt dental prosthetics from the state use tax.
See Who Voted "Yes" and Who Voted "No"

House Bill 5173: Exempt dental prosthetics from sales tax

Passed 38 to 0 in the Senate on December 12, 2017 To exempt dental prosthetics from the state sales tax.
See Who Voted "Yes" and Who Voted "No"

House Bill 5301: Establish funding requirements for municipal employee retirement benefits

Passed 38 to 0 in the Senate on December 12, 2017 To revise a state reciprocal benefits act to align it with the proposal in House Bill 5298 to establish local government retirement system funding standards and reporting requirements. This law allows a former government employee covered by a defined benefit pension system, who goes to work with another government agency, to add the pension credits earned under the previous government employer to those earned under the previous one.
See Who Voted "Yes" and Who Voted "No"

House Bill 5304: Establish funding requirements for municipal employee retirement benefits

Passed 38 to 0 in the Senate on December 12, 2017 To revise a law authorizing charter county employee retirement benefits so that it conforms with the funding disclosure and oversight requirements proposed by House Bill 5298.
See Who Voted "Yes" and Who Voted "No"

House Bill 5304: Establish funding requirements for municipal employee retirement benefits

The amendment passed by voice vote in the Senate on December 12, 2017 To revise the "tie-bars" in the package of bills consisting of House Bills 5298 to 5213, and the identical OPEB funding disclosure package comprised of Senate Bills 686 to 699, so as to make the package "bicameral." Tie-bar means one bill can't become law unless a another bill specified in the provision also becomes law.
View House Bill 5304

House Bill 5306: Establish funding requirements for municipal employee retirement benefits

The amendment passed by voice vote in the Senate on December 12, 2017 To revise the "tie-bars" in the package of bills consisting of House Bills 5298 to 5213, and the identical OPEB funding disclosure package comprised of Senate Bills 686 to 699, so as to make the package "bicameral." Tie-bar means one bill can't become law unless a another bill specified in the provision also becomes law.
View House Bill 5306

House Bill 5306: Establish funding requirements for municipal employee retirement benefits

Passed 38 to 0 in the Senate on December 12, 2017 To revise a law governing fire fighter and police retirement systems so that it conforms with the funding disclosure and oversight requirements proposed by House Bill 5298.
See Who Voted "Yes" and Who Voted "No"

House Bill 5308: Establish funding requirements for municipal employee retirement benefits

Passed 38 to 0 in the Senate on December 12, 2017 To revise a law governing local library employee retirement systems so that it conforms with the funding disclosure and oversight requirements proposed by House Bill 5298.
See Who Voted "Yes" and Who Voted "No"

House Bill 5308: Establish funding requirements for municipal employee retirement benefits

The amendment passed by voice vote in the Senate on December 12, 2017 To revise the "tie-bars" in the package of bills consisting of House Bills 5298 to 5213, and the identical OPEB funding disclosure package comprised of Senate Bills 686 to 699, so as to make the package "bicameral." Tie-bar means one bill can't become law unless a another bill specified in the provision also becomes law.
View House Bill 5308

House Bill 5310: Establish funding requirements for municipal employee retirement benefits

Passed 38 to 0 in the Senate on December 12, 2017 To add a reference to the law authorizing a Municipal Employees Retirement System (MERS) to reflect the funding disclosure and oversight requirements proposed by House Bill 5298.
See Who Voted "Yes" and Who Voted "No"

House Bill 5313: Establish funding requirements for municipal employee retirement benefits

Passed 38 to 0 in the Senate on December 12, 2017 To revise a law authorizing a particular form of city government so that it conforms with the employee retirement benefit funding disclosure and oversight requirements proposed by House Bill 5298.
See Who Voted "Yes" and Who Voted "No"
MichiganVotes.org promotes Government Transparency and Government Accountability. Michigan Votes gives users access to concise, plain language and objective descriptions of every single bill, amendment, and vote that takes place in the Michigan legislature. The MichiganVotes.org website also offers an email subscription, advanced searches, scorecards and legislation from past years.
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1st hour discussion today, Thursay 12-14-17; MIRS News Service

Ryan Duffy from Enbridge joined us to talk about Line 5 Pipeline and the recent agreement with Gov. Snyder;

Enbridge Deal Keeps Line 5 Open In Possible Underwater Tunnel

Gov. Rick SNYDER has reached an agreement with Enbridge Energy to replace the portion of Line 5 under the St. Clair River with a new pipe in a tunnel and to study whether the same should be done with the portion that runs through the Straits of Mackinac.

Three options are under consideration for the straits, according to Guy JARVIS, Enbridge's executive vice president.

"I think the first option would be what a lot of us consider to be a tunnel," Jarvis said. "It won't be of the size where you can drive a car through. In that case, the tunnel would be encased and whatever materials we use to encase the tunnel would be the secondary containment. In the option looking to bury the pipeline, we have not yet identified what the technology would be to provide the secondary containment."

The third option is horizontal directional drilling.

"That straits crossing being four-and-a-half miles wide, it would probably be the longest horizontal directional drill ever in the pipeline industry," Jarvis said. "We're not sure that it's going to work but we do know that horizontal directional drills where you in effect create a tunnel under the straits and then pull the pipe through, would provide a secondary containment element."

Today's agreement includes a decision to shut down Line 5 in the straits during periods of sustained adverse weather "because those conditions do not allow effective response to potential oil spills" and to "implement measures to mitigate a potential vessel anchor strike" because that is considered most serious threat to the safety of Line 5 (See "Report: Risk, Costs Come With Ending Line 5 Crossing Under Straits," 11/20/17).

The agreement is not a final decision by the state regarding Line 5, according to the Governor's announcement. It does lay out a clear schedule of agreement with Enbridge, however. Snyder thought the agreement was a positive step forward, but the agreement drew criticisms from environmentalists.
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1st hour discussion today Wednesday, 12-13-17; MIRS News Service

Prevailing Wage Backers Want People To Decide

In the face of suspected legislative approval of a prevailing wage repeal, a counter-petition to keep the law in place officially launched today, bearing the battle cry of "let the people decide."

The union-backed Michigan Prevails and Protect Michigan Jobs (PMJ) coalition resurfaced to unveil this campaign to collect signatures for initiative legislation that would mirror the current prevailing wage law, although this time it would carry a new title and a $1 million appropriation that would have the effect of making it referendum-proof.

Mike CRAWFORD, executive director of the Michigan Chapter of the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA), and Patrick DEVLIN, secretary-treasurer of the Michigan Building and Construction Trades Council, announced the effort on behalf of the Michigan Prevails and PMJ.

The announcement of the signature-gathering efforts today -- the petition has already been out in the field, Devlin said -- comes after Protecting Michigan Taxpayers (PMT), backers of the prevailing wage repeal effort, have submitted approximately 380,000 signatures on their petition, which is under review by the state Bureau of Elections (See "Prevailing Wage Repealers Say They've Submitted 380K Signatures," 11/3/17).

An early January date is currently projected for that petition to come before the Board of State Canvassers (BSC) for them to decide on whether to certify it and send it to the Legislature.
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3rd hour discussion today, Tuesday 12-12-17; MIRS News Service

Leonard Calls On Simon To Resign

House Speaker Tom LEONARD (R-DeWitt) today called on Michigan State University (MSU) President Lou Ann SIMON to resign for showing a "reprehensible" lack of transparency and disclosure in what school officials knew about complaints against former gymnastic physician and now-convicted sex offender Larry NASSAR.

Reading last week's letter MSU attorney Patrick FITZGERALD sent to Attorney General Bill SCHUETTE that Nassar "fooled everyone" and that nobody knew anything about Nassar's criminal conduct made Leonard's "skin crawl," he said.

For an independent investigation into Nassar's 20-some year relations with MSU to be concluded without a report was "absolutely reprehensible," said Leonard.

The school "botched" its 2014 Title IX investigation and not only kept "this monster" on staff, one of its schools named Nassar as its alumnus of the year in 2012. Meanwhile, multiple women have claimed the university wasn't doing anything about their complaints on Nassar.

And, all the while, neither Simon nor any high MSU official have apologized for not acting on Nassar before former patient complaints were published in the Indianapolis Star in Sept. 2016.

"We have one of the finest universities in this country, whose reputation has been absolutely damaged and until we have a new leader at the top, I don't believe that healing process can begin. Yes, it's time for her to step down," said Leonard to MIRS Monday.

In response, MSU spokesperson Jason CODY referred MIRS to the MSU Board of Trustees' Dec. 3 response to the Lansing State Journal's editorial board call for Simon's resignation, which the Board "vehemently disagreed" with.

"President Simon has proven her commitment to helping the university when it comes to the societal issue of sexual misconduct. She has the complete confidence of the Board of Trustees to lead the university in this and all endeavors," the statement reads.

Leonard, who is running for Attorney General in 2018, asked the Attorney General, Michigan State Police, the U.S. Department of Justice and the FBI to put people under oath and begin an investigation into who knew what regarding Nassar.

As a former Genesee County prosecutor, Leonard said he never saw an incident investigated without report, even one where no charges were produced.

So asked to comment on the Fitzgerald letter, Leonard said. "When I read that, I felt that, at best, for Michigan State University, they had been grossly negligent or incompetent and, worst-case scenario, something is being covered up."

If those investigations aren't done and MSU isn't showing an acceptable amount of transparency, he would recommend looking into the school's state appropriation, which equaled $281 million in Fiscal Year 2018.

"Obviously there are three legs of the stool . . . But as for me, speaking for myself as the Speaker of the House, if there's not an investigation and they don't start giving us answers to these questions and we don't begin the healing process for this university and don't start to seek justice for these dozens of women who were abused, yes, there ought to be consequences in the appropriations process going forward," Leonard said.

Leonard's comments come a week after both Democratic attorney general candidates and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gretchen WHITMER have called for an independent investigation into how MSU handled the Nassar situation (See "Dem AG Candidates Want Independent MSU Probe," 12/7/17 and "MSU's Attorney, Nothing To See Here; Whitmer Wants MSP Investigation," 12/8/17).
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2nd hour discussion today, Tuesday 12-12-17; MIRS News Service

Shri Goes On TV With $115K Buy

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Shri THANEDAR is a "scientist, chemist" who enters the race as the field "most progressive" candidate, according to his 30-second television ad that rolled out today.

The initial $115,000 cable buy includes $107,000 on Detroit cable and $5,000 in Lansing and $3,000 in Flint for Michigan State's appearance in the Holiday Bowl on Dec. 28 and the University of Michigan's Outback Bowl showing on Jan. 1. The ad is "the first in a series of television ads the campaign plans to release into the New Year," according to the campaign.

Thanedar doesn't speak in the "Science" ad. Rather a female voice tells the listener that with a "climate change denier President and an accountant Governor who brought us the Flint water crisis, our next governor should get science."

"Shri worked on cures and medicines that big drug companies ignored, signed a pledge to not take a single penny of corporate special interest money, and took a stand for single payer healthcare," the voice says.

"The only scientist, and the most progressive Democrat running for Governor, Shri Thanedar."

The progressive claim got a swift response from Dr. Abdul EL-SAYED, who has quickly become the darling of the Bernie SANDERS-millennials crowd.

"Just because I call myself an astronaut doesn't mean I've been to space," said El-Sayed spokesperson Adam JOSEPH.

Kelly COLLISON, the chair of the Michigan Democratic Party's Progressive Caucus, said in her conversations with members of the 32-member executive board, El-Sayed's name is the only one that generates excitement.

She said it's hard to say you are the most progressive candidate running while you have no visible support from progressives.

"Abdul seems to walk the walk. Shri . . . I just haven't felt he's as progress as he says he is."

Added Joseph, "Being 'progressive' is not about what any candidate says about themselves. That's for voters to decide. And Abdul has gotten the endorsement of every local progressive organization that has endorsed in this race so far.

"Grassroots, progressive Democrats across Michigan support Abdul because, as a physician, educator, and public servant, he has a record of delivering on real progressive results. That meant screening Detroit Public Schools for lead and fighting for universal vision care for Detroit Public School students. That meant forcing corporations to reduce their emissions of harmful chemicals in Detroit. And that means taking on the wealthy interests that seek to buy and sell our politics and our government."
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1st hour discussion today, Monday 12-11-17;

Damon a listener from the U.P. and business owner (Soo Line Limo and Sault Rental Cars) called in to talk about the costs for license plates on his fleet of 18 rental cars and limo. service vehicles,...$2,700. per YEAR!!!

Call Damon at; 906.635.0427

Trucker had to pay $202 for plates for his 1999 Lincoln Continental, based on it's original price of $39,000!!!
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1st hour discussion today, Friday 12-8-17; MIRS News Service

Lawsuit: EM Law Is 'Narrative of Structural, Strategic Racism'

Several local officials and residents from communities once overseen by state-appointed emergency managers are once again challenging Michigan's emergency management law.

The group -- comprised of officials and residents in Detroit, Pontiac, Flint and Benton Harbor -- allege the law is unconstitutional because it "discriminates against" black communities and continues a "narrative of structural and strategic racism."

"Because historical and structural circumstances have created a form of economic racial apartheid in Michigan, a reference to a community in severe financial distress is functionally a racial reference," reads the complaint, filed last week in U.S. District Court in Detroit. "Consequently, emergency manager legislation as it has been framed in Michigan is facially in violation of the equal protection clause (of the constitution) because the legislation targets communities that, because of their economic condition are believed to be, and are in fact populated by African-descended residents."

Hugh DAVIS, an attorney with Constitutional Litigation Associations, one of five agencies signing the complaint, referred questions to John PHILO of Sugar Law Center for Economic & Social Justice, who wrote and signed the lawsuit. Messages to Philo were not immediately returned Thursday.

Defendants are Gov. Rick SNYDER, state Treasurer Nick KHOURI and former state treasurers Andrew DILLON and R. Kevin CLINTON.

The Local Financial Stability and Choice Act, also known as Public Act 72 of 1990, authorized state officials to intervene when local governments face a financial emergency. This was repealed in 2011, and under the new law, Public Act 4, emergency financial managers were converted to emergency managers, whose role expanded to include powers over nonfinancial matters.

In November 2012, voters overwhelmingly rejected PA 4, but the lame-duck Legislature passed and Snyder signed Public Act 436 in December that year. PA 436 retained the "emergency manager" title and provided the power to act "for and in the place of" municipalities or school district's governing body.

The lawsuit names 14 communities, including Flint, where a PA 436 emergency manager or consent decree has been in place. The suit alleges that 56 percent of the state's African-descended population has seen the suspension of elected, local governance under PA 436 compared to under 3 percent of the state's white population.

Several elected officials and other agencies sued Snyder in 2013 over the emergency manager law. In 2016, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the law doesn't violate the constitution. The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the case in October.

Plaintiffs in the new lawsuit include Detroit Library Commissioner Russ BELLANT, Detroit Public Schools Board Member Lamar LEMMONS and past board members Tawanna SIMPSON and Elena HERRADA; Pontiac City Councilman Kermit WILLIAMS, and former member Donald WATKINS; Benton Harbor Commissioners Duane SEATS, Juanita HENRY and Mary Alice ADAMS; former Flint City Councilman Scott KINCAID, and ministers from Genesee and Wayne counties.
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1st hour discussion today, Thursday 12-7-17; MIRS News Service

Another tax increase in Michigan!!!

6-Cent 9-1-1 Fee Hike Passes Senate

Legislation designed to bring $48.8 million more into the state's 9-1-1 emergency system with higher phone charges passed the Senate today, 30-6.

Proponents of Click to add MIRS Bill Hound SB 0400 argue that without the revenue boost, the state's Emergency Call Center Fund will run out of money within a couple of months (See "Fee Hike Proposed To Prevent Empty 9-1-1 Fund By February," 10/20/17).

Under the bill, which is sponsored by Sen. Rick JONES (R-Grand Ledge) there would be a 6-cent-fee increase on all hardline phone users and cell phone owners. Plus, the fee for those who purchase so-called track phones from a store, would jump from 1.92 percent to 4.19 percent.

"We also put language in the bill that would give the Public Service Commission the ability to investigate some retailers who sell the (track) phones," Sen. Mike NOFS (R-Battle Creek), the chair of the Senate Energy and Tech Committee, told MIRS. "Some of them are apparently collecting the fees on the phones, but not turning the money over to the state. The PSC could ultimately turn cases like that over to the Attorney General if they can't make the retailers pay up."

The no votes came from Sens. Patrick COLBECK (R-Canton), Ken HORN (R-Frankenmuth), Margaret O'BRIEN (R-Portage), Phil PAVLOV (R-St. Clair), Dave ROBERTSON (R-Grand Blanc) and Tory ROCCA (R-Sterling Heights).
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1st hour discussion today, Wednesday 12-6-17; MIRS News Service

Could Trump Be Opening Up New Opportunities For House Rs?

The mid-year election after a presidential is supposed to be bad for the party in power. It happened to the Democrats in 2010 and the Republicans in 2006 most recently.

But if President Donald TRUMP can retain the type of support he received in '16 for Republicans in '18, House Republicans may not only retain their 63-47 seat majority, they could pick up a seat in 2018, based on 2014 and 2016 base numbers supplied by Practical Political Consultants (PPC).

Consider this. The Genesee County-based 48th House District held now by term-limited Rep. Pam FARIS (D-Clio) had a 60.65 percent Democratic base district three years ago. In 2016, it became a 50.27 percent district, a 10.38 percentage point swing and the same number as the Battle Creek-based 62nd District, one of last year's most competitive races.

PPC determines its base numbers by averaging the eight statewide education board races -- two races each for the state Board of Education, Michigan State University Board of Trustees, University of Michigan Board of Regents and Wayne State University Board of Governors.

Michigan election analysts Adrian HEMOND and Brian BEGAN of Grassroots Midwest pointed on MIRS Monday that the House Democrats' road to majority in 2018 isn't happening without a significant wave election and the PPC numbers bear that out.

"For Democrats, the road to majority is going to take a surprise or two," Hemond said.

Most of the competitive seats opening up through term limits and lawmakers running for the Senate have Democratic base numbers from 2016 under 50 percent. Meanwhile, seats that had been competitive in the past became more Republican.
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2nd hour discussion today, Monday 12-4-17;

These are the following bills introduced,...JUST in the month of November, 2017 in both the Senate and the State House;

WE NEED TO GO BACK TO A PART-TIME LEGISLATURE!!!

Senate Bill 661: Let school bus company use buses for other purposes

Introduced by Sen. Tom Casperson (R) on November 28, 2017 To allow a bus company that contracts with a school district to provide transportation for students to also use the yellow-painted school buses it primarily owns for that purpose to use them to provide occasional charter service to the public. Official Text and Analysis.
View Senate Bill 661

Senate Bill 662: Allow limited liquor sales to non-members of club

Introduced by Sen. Rick Jones (R) on November 28, 2017 To allow private clubs that have a limited liquor license allowing them to sell beer, wine and spirits to members for on-premises consumption to also sell to members of an affiliated, subsidiary, or parent organization. Official Text and Analysis.
View Senate Bill 662

Senate Bill 663: Authorize “emotional support animal” certification

Introduced by Sen. Peter MacGregor (R) on November 28, 2017 To expand a law that authorizes criminal penalties for falsely claiming to have a disability that makes a person eligible to have a “certified” service animal, so that it also applies to a bona fide “emotional support animal." The bill would establish procedures and requirements for a person with a disability to get an emotional support animal certification, which among other things would require a health care professional who has been treating the individual for at least six months to attest to the validity of the need. This is all related to a 2015 law that requires the Department of Civil Rights to create an identification card, tag, and vest for a service animal (like a seeing-eye dog), which permits the owner to bring the animal into public accommodations where dogs are usually not allowed. Official Text and Analysis.
View Senate Bill 663

Senate Bill 664: Require notaries to adopt “tamper evident technology”

Introduced by Sen. Peter MacGregor (R) on November 28, 2017 For electronic notarization to revise a law that permits notary publics to perform “notarial acts” by electronic means, by requiring the notary to adopt “tamper evident technology” for this, and requiring the Secretary of State and the Department of Technology, Management, and Budget to review and approve technologies that notaries may use for this. Official Text and Analysis.
View Senate Bill 664

Senate Bill 665: Mandate employee sick leave for sexual assault, domestic violence or stalking

Introduced by Sen. Jim Ananich (D) on November 28, 2017 To require an employer who offers sick leave as a fringe benefit to grant this if requested by an employee for issues arising from sexual assault, domestic violence or stalking in his or her family.. Official Text and Analysis.
View Senate Bill 665

Senate Bill 666: Revise unemployment insurance detail in domestic violence situations

Introduced by Sen. Hoon-Yung Hopgood (D) on November 28, 2017 To exempt domestic violence victims from a disqualification on receiving unemployment insurance benefits that applies to individuals who leave a job voluntarily and without good cause. The employer’s unemployment insurance assessment account would not be charged for this. Official Text and Analysis.
View Senate Bill 666

Senate Bill 667: Ban landlord sanctions for police contact

Introduced by Sen. Curtis Hertel, Jr. (D) on November 28, 2017 To prohibit local governments from sanctioning a tenant, occupant or landlord because of contacts from the address seeking police or emergency assistance. Official Text and Analysis.
View Senate Bill 667

Senate Bill 668: Authorize firearms seizure with personal protection orders

Introduced by Sen. Rebekah Warren (D) on November 28, 2017 To mandate that if an individual who possesses firearms is subject to a personal protection order he or she must turn the guns over to a police agency or sell them to a firearms dealer. Official Text and Analysis.
View Senate Bill 668

Senate Bill 669: Revise Medicaid false claims law detail

Introduced by Sen. Steve Bieda (D) on November 28, 2017 To replace the current civil penalties for making false Medicaid claims with the penalties that are prescribed by federal law. The penalties are currently the same, fines of $5,000 to $10,000 plus triple damages. Official Text and Analysis.
View Senate Bill 669

House Bill 5256: Impose more restrictions on junk and secondhand dealers

Introduced by Rep. Peter Lucido (R) on November 29, 2017 To prohibit a licensed junk and secondhand dealer from selling an item for 15 days, and establish a process by which police could place a longer hold on the sale of an item they believe is stolen. Official Text and Analysis.
View House Bill 5256

House Bill 5257: Make possession of “ransomware” a 10-year felony

Introduced by Rep. Brandt Iden (R) on November 29, 2017 To make it a crime punishable by up to 10 years in prison to possess “ransomware” software with malicious intent. The bill defines ransomware as “a computer or data contaminant, encryption, or lock” that can be placed or introduced without authorization into a computer or network, and that restricts access in a manner that enables the perpetrator “to demand payment of money or other consideration” to remove it. Official Text and Analysis.
View House Bill 5257

House Bill 5258: Make possession of “ransomware” a 10-year felony

Introduced by Rep. James Lower (R) on November 29, 2017 To establish sentencing guidelines for the crime of possessing ransomware with malicious intent proposed by House Bill 5257. Official Text and Analysis.
View House Bill 5258

House Bill 5259: Revise detail of taxi, limo or transportation network licensure

Introduced by Rep. Brandt Iden (R) on November 29, 2017 To establish a preferred format for the display of the 10 digit state license number on a licensed limousine, taxicab or transportation network company vehicle (meaning cars used by Uber and Lyft type services), and permit owners that display the number to also display the signage, emblem, or name of the service or company with which they are affiliated. Official Text and Analysis.
View House Bill 5259

House Bill 5260: Allow limited liquor sales to non-members of club

Introduced by Rep. Tom Barrett (R) on November 29, 2017 To allow private clubs that have a limited liquor license allowing them to sell beer, wine and spirits to members for on-premises consumption to also sell to members of an affiliated, subsidiary, or parent organization. Official Text and Analysis.
View House Bill 5260

House Bill 5261: Modify personal property exemption details

Introduced by Rep. Jim Tedder (R) on November 28, 2017 To modify details some certain procedures, deadlines and penalties in a law that authorizes personal property taxes and exemptions. Official Text and Analysis.
View House Bill 5261

House Bill 5262: Authorize electronic voter registration

Introduced by Rep. Kristy Pagan (D) on November 28, 2017 To specify certain administrative procedures for voter registration applications, and require that the registrant get a receipt indicating the application was accepted. See House Bill 5263, which proposes online voter registration. Official Text and Analysis.
View House Bill 5262

House Bill 5263: Authorize electronic voter registration

Introduced by Rep. Robert Wittenberg (D) on November 28, 2017 To require the Secretary of State to develop a system for online voter registration on its website. Official Text and Analysis.
View House Bill 5263

House Bill 5264: Authorize electronic voter registration

Introduced by Rep. Darrin Camilleri (D) on November 28, 2017 To add references to the state election law to accommodate the proposal in House Bill 5263 to establish an online voter registration system. Official Text and Analysis.
View House Bill 5264

House Bill 5265: Allow voter registration up to 10 days before an election

Introduced by Rep. Robert Wittenberg (D) on November 28, 2017 To change the deadline for voter registration from 30 days to 10 days before an election. Official Text and Analysis.
View House Bill 5265

House Bill 5266: Allow registered-by-mail voter to vote absentee in first election

Introduced by Rep. Darrin Camilleri (D) on November 28, 2017 To allow a person to vote by absentee ballot in the first election after registering by mail to vote in a jurisdiction. Current law requires that such voters show up in person the first time that they vote in the new jurisdiction, but let’s them vote by absentee ballot for all subsequent elections. Official Text and Analysis.
View House Bill 5266

House Bill 5267: Allow registered-by-mail voter to vote absentee in first election

Introduced by Rep. Jeremy Moss (D) on November 28, 2017 To allow a person to vote by absentee ballot in the first election after registering by mail to vote in a jurisdiction. Current law requires that such voters show up in person the first time that they vote in the new jurisdiction, but let’s them vote by absentee ballot for all subsequent elections. Official Text and Analysis.
View House Bill 5267

House Bill 5268: Register driver license and state ID applicants to vote

Introduced by Rep. Sherry Gay-Dagnogo (D) on November 28, 2017 To automatically register to vote a person getting a drivers license or state identification card. Official Text and Analysis.
View House Bill 5268

House Bill 5269: Register state ID applicants to vote

Introduced by Rep. Sherry Gay-Dagnogo (D) on November 28, 2017 To require an applicant for a state identification card to check a declaration of United States citizenship on the application in order to be automatically registered to vote as proposed by House Bill 5268. Official Text and Analysis.
View House Bill 5269

House Bill 5270: Register driver license applicants to vote

Introduced by Rep. Sherry Gay-Dagnogo (D) on November 28, 2017 To require an applicant for a drivers license to check a declaration of United States citizenship on the application in order to be automatically registered to vote as proposed by House Bill 5268. Official Text and Analysis.
View House Bill 5270

House Bill 5271: Ban “price optimization” in auto insurance sales

Introduced by Rep. Jeremy Moss (D) on November 28, 2017 To prohibit the use of “price optimization” in selling auto insurance, defined as “charging each insured the highest price that the market will bear; considering the likelihood that the insured will engage in activities that result in insurance policy turnover; estimating the willingness of the insured to pay a higher premium compared to other insureds;” or setting a price based on a buyer’s ability to pay more. Official Text and Analysis.
View House Bill 5271

House Bill 5272: Mandate insurers submit information for state pricing website

Introduced by Rep. Donna Lasinski (D) on November 28, 2017 To require the state to post auto and home insurance rate comparisons on a website each year, and authorize $100,000 fines on an insurer that provides bad information. Official Text and Analysis.
View House Bill 5272

House Bill 5273: Revise public school youth financial education details

Introduced by Rep. Jeremy Moss (D) on November 28, 2017 To revise the state-approved model programs for the youth financial education that under state law school districts are encouraged to provide, by including instruction on auto insurance, owning or renting residential properties, and taxes imposed at the individual level. Official Text and Analysis.
View House Bill 5273

House Bill 5274: Restrict insurers’ information sharing

Introduced by Rep. Sherry Gay-Dagnogo (D) on November 28, 2017 To require insurance companies to get customer permission through an “opt in” before they may release any nonpublic personal financial information to credit agencies or others. Official Text and Analysis.
View House Bill 5274

House Bill 5275: Require insurers disclose database security breach

Introduced by Rep. Tom Cochran (D) on November 28, 2017 To require insurance companies to disclose any data and information security breach in the annual report they are required to file with the state. Official Text and Analysis.
View House Bill 5275

House Bill 5276: Ban all but nominal campaign contributions

Introduced by Rep. Adam Zemke (D) on November 28, 2017 To prohibit campaign contributions that exceed $1 to candidates for statewide or legislative offices. The bill does not explain how candidates who are not wealthy enough to pay for a campaign out of their own pocket could run for office. Official Text and Analysis.
View House Bill 5276

House Bill 5277: Ban driving with dog on lap

Introduced by Rep. LaTanya Garrett (D) on November 28, 2017 To make it unlawful to drive with a dog on your lap, subject to a $100 fine, and $200 for subsequent offenses. Official Text and Analysis.

View House Bill 5277
MichiganVotes.org promotes Government Transparency and Government Accountability. Michigan Votes gives users access to concise, plain language and objective descriptions of every single bill, amendment, and vote that takes place in the Michigan legislature. The MichiganVotes.org website also offers an email subscription, advanced searches, scorecards and legislation from past years.
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1st hour discussion today, Monday 12-4-17; MIRS News Service

OPEB Bills Rolled Out, Police-Fire Unions Opposed

The Department of Treasury and the Governor could appoint a three-person panel to hammer out an arrangement with a financially struggling local government to insure that its retiree pension and health care obligation are paid, under bills introduced in the Legislature today with police and firefighter union input.

The Senate and House introduced identical 16 bills in each chamber today in what is viewed as the Legislature's main policy reform for the waning days of 2017.

Lawmakers are expected to take testimony on the bills next week with the goal being final passage the second week of December, the last scheduled week of session. However, hopes that the legislation will sail to the Governor's office hit a crosswind when the labor/management coalition of police officer and fire chiefs, sheriffs and deputies came out opposed.

Police and fire officials conceded in a statement that they had agreement with legislative leaders on "conceptual issues," but the bills "goes beyond those concepts."

The Republicans' proposal tracks with Gov. Rick SNYDER's municipal retiree health care task force, which Democrats, police and fire officials support. It requires all local government entities to report their employee and retiree obligation data in a uniform matter.

The issue is the hammer Republicans want used against municipalities unable to fund their retiree health care costs at 30 percent or their pensions at 60 percent. The plan creates a three-person panel that would have the power to sell local property and move money across different funds to properly fund the pensions and other post employment benefits (OPEB).

"For instance, if you've got a local community that values running a city-owned golf course more than funding their police officers' or firefighters' health care, that financial management team would have the ability or the authority to force them to sell assets to insure that health care is properly funded. Again, this is about protecting the benefits that our hardworking first responders have worked so many years for," said House Speaker Tom LEONARD (R-DeWitt).

Rep. James LOWER (R-Cedar Lake), a key sponsor of the bills, said, "the goal of the plan needs to be to solve this problem in the long run. It can't be 'OK, next year it looks a little bit better.' Over a 20-, 30-year look, it has to make sure that these plans are going to be financially solid. Now, if they can't do that or won't do that, in phase five, a new financial management team will come in and basically create that corrective action plan and implement it. So that is this package in a nutshell."

If a resolution isn't worked out with the gubernatorial-appointed, three-person board created for each community, the fund risks falling into a full emergency manager. An emergency manager could cut retiree benefits to make the numbers work, which they are currently allowed to do legally.

Of the approximately 900 individual government retirement plans covered under this bill, it's estimated less than 30 funds are in significant danger, Meekhof said.

"Cutting benefits to first responders will make it more challenging for municipalities to attract the best talent to serve as police officers and fire fighters, which could directly threaten public safety," reads the statement from the labor/management coalition.

Rep. Patrick GREEN (D-Warren), representing the House Democrats, and Sen. Rebekah WARREN (D-Ann Arbor), the Senate Democrats' point on the issue both noted the proposal does not fully codify the Governor's task force report, which presents a problem for them.

"The task force report came out and said this will make sure that everyone has what has been promised to them, and now here we are with something that is completely different," Green said.

Republican legislative leaders and the Governor's office have been working with the firefighter and police unions on the issue in the hopes of garnering their support (See "Legislative Leaders Nearing Deal With Unions On OPEB," 11/29/17). Meekhof wouldn't say there's a "deal" with unions, but that changes the unions requested were incorporated in the draft legislation.

The 16-bill package is Click to add MIRS Bill Hound SB 0686-Click to add MIRS Bill Hound SB 0701 in the Senate with Click to add MIRS Bill Hound SB 0686 and Click to add MIRS Bill Hound SB 0687 being the main bills of the package. The sponsors are Sen. Jim STAMAS (R-Midland), Sen. Mike SHIRKEY (R-ClarkLake), Sen. Dave ROBERTSON (R-Grand Blanc), Sen. Dave HILDENBRAND (R-Lowell) and Sen. Phil PAVLOV (R-St. Clair). The bills

The House bills start with Click to add MIRS Bill Hound HB 5298 and Click to add MIRS Bill Hound HB 5299. The sponsors include Reps. Thomas ALBERT (R-Lowell), Lower, Gary GLENN (R-Midland), Kathy CRAWFORD (R-Novi), Eric LEUTHEUSER (R-Hillsdale), Gary HOWELL (R-North Branch) and Rob [VerHUELEN] (R-Walker).

The Protecting Local Government Retirement and Benefits Act were referred to Shirkey's Michigan Competitive Committee. In the House, they were referred to Rep. Lee CHATFIELD's House Michigan Competitiveness Committee.

The reforms include five steps in addressing pension and municipal retiree health care benefits.

Phase 1: Transparency and reporting requirements. All units will report uniform data to Treasury based on standards set by the department. These standards include, but are not limited to, discount rates, mortality tables, amortization periods.

Phase 2: Treasury identifies underfunded units. For pensions, criteria is less than 60 percent funded and employer contribution are more than 10 percent of unit's revenue. For OPEB, less than 30 percent funded and employer contribution is more than 10 percent of unit's revenue.

Phase 3: Treasury completes review and grants waivers. Waivers are for units that do not need to move on to subsequent phases.

Phase 4: Creation of Corrective Action Plan by the local unit of government negotiated with active employees and retirees. Treasury approves if actuarially sound.

Phase 5: No plan agreement reached. Unit is moved to oversight by Financial Management Team comprised of one individual with 5 years experience working in financial matters; one individual with 5 years experience working in local units of government; one individual who has been a resident of the community affected for at least 5 years.

If no resolution is found, the existing EM law would come into play.
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2nd hour discussion today, Thursday 11-30-17; MIRS News Service

Enbridge Deal Keeps Line 5 Open In Possible Underwater Tunnel

Gov. Rick SNYDER has reached an agreement with Enbridge Energy to replace the portion of Line 5 under the St. Clair River with a new pipe in a tunnel and to study whether the same should be done with the portion that runs through the Straits of Mackinac.

Three options are under consideration for the straits, according to Guy JARVIS, Enbridge's executive vice president.

"I think the first option would be what a lot of us consider to be a tunnel," Jarvis said. "It won't be of the size where you can drive a car through. In that case, the tunnel would be encased and whatever materials we use to encase the tunnel would be the secondary containment. In the option looking to bury the pipeline, we have not yet identified what the technology would be to provide the secondary containment."

The third option is horizontal directional drilling.

"That straits crossing being four-and-a-half miles wide, it would probably be the longest horizontal directional drill ever in the pipeline industry," Jarvis said. "We're not sure that it's going to work but we do know that horizontal directional drills where you in effect create a tunnel under the straits and then pull the pipe through, would provide a secondary containment element."

Today's agreement includes a decision to shut down Line 5 in the straits during periods of sustained adverse weather "because those conditions do not allow effective response to potential oil spills" and to "implement measures to mitigate a potential vessel anchor strike" because that is considered most serious threat to the safety of Line 5 (See "Report: Risk, Costs Come With Ending Line 5 Crossing Under Straits," 11/20/17).

The agreement is not a final decision by the state regarding Line 5, according to the Governor's announcement. It does lay out a clear schedule of agreement with Enbridge, however. Snyder thought the agreement was a positive step forward, but the agreement drew criticisms from environmentalists.

"(Building a tunnel) is not what is best for the residents of Michigan, although it might be the best option for Enbridge Energy's business interests," said Mike SHRIBERG, Regional Executive Director Great Lakes Regional Center National Wildlife Federation. "The solution to that is to decommission Line 5 in this state and get the few services that it provides, a small amount of propane and oil, you can actually achieve that through other means. Putting a tunnel under the straits keeps us in the scenario where we are accepting all the risks with none of the benefits."

Line 5 is a 645-mile pipeline that begins in Superior, Wisconsin, and terminates in Sarnia, Ontario, Canada. Line 5 transports up to 540,000 barrels a day of light crude oil and natural gas liquids.

U.S. Rep. Fred UPTON (R-St. Joseph), chair of the Subcommittee on Energy in the U.S. House, has been working with the state to address concerns about Enbridge operations.

"This issue is not going away until it gets fixed," Upton said. "Zero tolerance for error is the only thing we will accept along with the highest safety standards in place to ensure the Great Lakes will not be at risk.

The agreement includes deadlines for each action. The state will hire its own experts to monitor Enbridge's actions and review and verify the company's data. The agreement requires the company to identify and make available to the state relevant information regarding the operation of Line 5. The full agreement can be found on the Pipeline Safety Advisory Board website.

On Nov. 20, the state released a final alternatives analysis report. The state will be accepting public feedback online and at public meetings in December on what should be done regarding Line 5 in the long term.

"The Line 5 crossing at the Straits of Mackinac continues to be of utmost concern to the DEQ," said C. Heidi GRETHER, director of DEQ. "Our charge is to protect the Great Lakes as demonstrated in this agreement. It is, however, time we start reviewing the potential impact of Line 5 in its entirety throughout Michigan. The stipulations presented in this agreement are steps in the right direction to not only protect the Great Lakes, but to protect all of Michigan's pristine waterways and environment."

A contract for a separate independent risk analysis -- led by top researchers at Michigan Technological University -- is being finalized.

For Love of Water (FLOW), an environmental advocacy group based in Traverse City, also issued a statement regarding the agreement.

"It is imprudent and arbitrary for the Governor to unilaterally sign a deal with Enbridge before the legal processes and evidence, including the opinion of experts on all sides, have been thoroughly reviewed and completed. Gov. Snyder appears to have ignored and violated his own executive order, law, rules and once more ignored his public trust duties toward the Great Lakes, water, public health and safety, and the protection of citizens," the statement said. "While the Governor's agreement with Enbridge imposes some important interim safety measures, these measures should be steps toward the final shutdown -- not replacement -- of the pipelines. It makes no sense to trust Enbridge to abide by a new agreement when it has been flagrantly violating its existing commitments and attempting to conceal those violations.”

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gretchen WHITMER also criticized the agreement, saying she would decommission Line 5 as governor and that "anything short of that is insincere."

"Asking Enbridge for another study is about as effective as asking a fox to guard a hen house. Replacing a fraction of a 645-mile pipe under the St. Clair River means very little to someone whose job depends on the Great Lakes. And there's no weather, including 'sustained adverse weather,' that permits timely response to an oil spill," she wrote.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Abdul EL-SAYED said the deal leaves the future of the Great Lakes "in the hands of a corporation that has called the shots for too long, obfuscated the facts, and played fast and loose with our Great Lakes. Snyder’s deal shows the same failed leadership on the responsibility to protect our State's most important natural resource."

Republican gubernatorial candidate Bill SCHUETTE said "Today's announcement is a good step forward toward fulfilling our responsibilities to protect the Great Lakes and the health of Michigan citizens." Fellow candidate Jim HINES said he supports the agreement to shut down Line 5 during adverse weather and actions that decrease the chances of anchor strikes. "It's about time," he said.
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1st hour discussion today, Thursday 11-30-17; MIRS News Service

Sen. Patrick Colbeck On Lt. Gov. Brian Calley Getting In

Colbeck - the only state senator currently in the gubernatorial race - took today's news with the following comment, "We've got another good candidate to go out there and have some discussions with."

Asked to compare himself to Calley, Colbeck told MIRS, "I'm a little taller and he's much more talented on the piano than I am."

Translated: If the political media thinks it is going to drag the Canton conservative into a nasty back-and-forth with the other GOP candidates, Colbeck will not play. "When it comes to getting into the mud, I don't want to get into that kind of thing," he said.

However, he is more than eager to debate the issues, and on that he does have disagreements with the latest entrant. "We have a different record on taxes" the Senator noted.

Also, Colbeck said "We have (President Donald TRUMP's) back."

Does that mean Colbeck will point out that Calley endorsed and then unendorsed Trump before the election? Voters "should talk to Mr. Calley about that," Colbeck said.

While others believe one of Calley's liabilities is his closeness to the governor, Colbeck said, "I won't go into that. I think we need to focus on what we can best do for the citizens of Michigan."

Reminded that the media may try to drag him into a fight, he smiled and said, "I put on a little weight over Thanksgiving and I'm a little bit more difficult to move."

He pledged to stay on the "high road" and deal with the issues in a "noble, true, and excellent" manner.
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2nd hour discussion today, Tuesday 11-28-17;

Tammy LaBouef joined us to talk about her scholarship event;

The Pies and Presidents Scholarship Fund mission is to foster and reward interest government by local youth.

Four years ago I formed a not-for-profit essay scholarship fund for students in grades 7th through 12th enrolled in an Otsego County school or home schooled within an Otsego County residence.

These amazing young people will provide an essay regarding the first (1st) amendment of the US Constitution, what does it protect and why is it important.

The scholarship recipients will be selected in an objective and non-discriminatory basis. No names are provided to our judges, only numbers.

Our deadline is January 31, 2018 for raising $4,000 for our Fourth Annual Pies and Presidents Scholarship Fund. When you contribute, you are investing in Otsego County’s future.

Not a dime of your contribution will be wasted; One Hundred percent (100%) of all cash donations will go toward the scholarship fund.

All organizers and judges are volunteers.

Your check should be made payable to: Pies and Presidents
Scholarship Fund, 333 E. Felshaw St., Gaylord, MI 49735.

We have a "GoFundMe" account set up at Pies and Presidents Scholarship Fund.

The award event will be 6:30 p.m. on President’s Day, February 19th at the Gaylord Bowling Center, Gaylord, MI.

To keep up-to-date on the latest news: Go to Facebook and search Pies and Presidents Scholarship Fund, don’t forget to like us.

Also you can check out our website at;
PiesAndPresidentsScholarship.myfreesites.net.

Or you can follow us on Twitter at; @piesandpres.

If you have questions about making a donation or participating in
the event, please call Tammy at 989-858-0924.

Tammy LaBouef, Founder
Pies and Presidents Scholarship Fund
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1st hour discussion today, Tuesday 11-28-17; MIRS News Service

MIRS Breaking News - Calley Launches Gubernatorial Campaign -- 7:30 a.m. Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Lt. Gov. Brian CALLEY announced at 5 a.m. that he's running for governor, ending nearly a year of speculation that the nation's youngest lieutenant governor would seek to replace Gov. Rick SNYDER.

The website "briancalley.com" went live this morning with a video announcement that heralds Michigan's economic comeback and state government's flush rainy day fund.

"When Rick and I were first elected, the state had just been through a decade-long financial and economic crisis. Michigan needed bold leadership, and that's exactly what I brought to the table," Calley said in a statement. "We not only fixed it; Michigan is now a model for the nation."

Calley joins Attorney General Bill SCHUETTE, Sen. Patrick COLBECK and Saginaw Dr. Jim HINES in seeking the Republican gubernatorial nomination. The early morning announcement didn't catch his political opponents off guard.

The pro-Schuette "Better Jobs Stronger Families Super PAC" unveiled its "Calley Abandoned Trump" website 15 minutes after Calley's announcement. It's banging the drum about Calley's Oct. 8 statement that he couldn't support Donald TRUMP for president after the Access Hollywood video emerged in which Trump bragged about groping women.

The Michigan Democratic Party (MDP) actually beat Calley to the punch with a 2 a.m. embargoed statement from Chair Brandon DILLON that reads, "In the least anticipated announcement since his last announcement, Brian Calley will try to convince the people of Michigan it's a good idea to let him continue the failed administration he and Rick Snyder started."

Calley's early morning announcement is slated to include several morning interviews that highlight how Michigan recently boasted its lowest unemployment rate in 17 years and a business climate ranking that went from 40th to 12th.

It follows a Monday afternoon press conference in Detroit in which Snyder and Calley appeared together patting their backs about Michigan's economic successes. This fall, he's held a series of lightly attended town hall meetings.

Calley has been politically active this year leading the Clean Michigan Government drive to constitutionally lock the legislature into a session schedule that ends April 15 unless the governor calls an emergency session. He's since passed leadership of that campaign on to state Board of Education member Tom McMILLIN.

Calley also has been an outspoken advocate for children with special needs, most recently highlighting a report that lays out seven ways to reduce a determined $692 million special education funding gap (See "Calley Report Lists 7 Ways To Cut Into $700M Special Ed Funding Gap," 11/22/17).
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1st hour discussion today, Monday 11-27-17; MIRS News Service

MPSC sets charge customers of electric choice suppliers must pay under capacity demonstration rules;

November 21, 2017
LANSING, Mich. – The Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) today set the state reliability mechanism (SRM)
capacity charge that customers of alternative electric suppliers (AES) would have to pay if those suppliers don’t have
enough power to serve their customers’ anticipated needs.

The charge is required in P.A. 341, one of the state’s new energy laws, and applies to AESs serving customers under
the state’s electric choice program. The SRM charge determination and an earlier capacity demonstration ruling by
the PSC are intended to improve resource adequacy throughout the state.

If an AES cannot demonstrate it has enough capacity into the future or chooses not to arrange generating capacity to
meet the new requirements, the law requires that a capacity charge be assessed by the local utility that also serves
the area’s customers.

The Commission ruled today that, starting on June 1, 2018, Consumers Energy Co. (Case No. U-18239) can
implement a capacity charge of $109,714/MW-year, or $300.59/MW-day, for full service customers, and DTE Electric
Co. (Case No. U-18248) can implement a capacity charge of $97,527/MW-year, or $267.20/MW-day.

The capacity charges must be evaluated by the Commission at least once per year.

In a related case, the Commission granted a rehearing (Case No. U-18197) on some of the issues addressed in its
Sept. 15 capacity demonstration ruling. Given the complexity and novelty of the issues involved in ruling, Energy
Michigan, Inc.’s petition was partially approved to clarify some of the issues raised.
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1st hour discussion today, Thursday 11-16-17; MIRS News Service

Five Gubernatorial Candidates Support Recreational Marijuana

(YPSILANTI) -- Five gubernatorial candidates tonight supported marijuana legalization, a dynamic that wouldn't have been seen a few years ago, said Jeffrey HANKS, founder of MILegalize.

That they did tonight at a forum at the Sidetrack Bar & Grill in Ypsilanti shows there has been a cultural shift in attitudes toward marijuana use, Hanks said.

Four Democratic gubernatorial candidates -- Gretchen WHITMER, Abdul EL-SAYED, Shri THANEDAR and Bill COBBS -- were joined by Republican Evan SPACE for the discussion. Hanks said Republican candidate and Attorney General Bill SCHUETTE was invited but did not respond. Lt. Gov. Brian CALLEY was not invited, Hanks said, because he has yet to announce.

The event doubled as a fundraiser for the MILegalize 2018 campaign, which together with the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, are working to put a proposal on the general election ballot next year to legalize adult recreational use of marijuana.

Hanks said the petition drive has "north of 385,000 signatures," well over the amount needed and the coalition is days away from submitting their petition forms.

And the candidates, all supportive of the proposal, predicted passage at the ballot box.

"I see marijuana as no different than drinking a beer, a glass of wine or any other liquor. We went through this before," Cobbs said, referring to Prohibition. "It is time to stop criminalizing behavior that has long term impact on people's lives. As a former member of law enforcement, I saw people get arrested for a thimble of marijuana and have their lives effected by it for years."

Whitmer said it is time to "embrace legalization and use it to grow our economy." She pointed out that she endorsed medical use of cannabis "before it was popular" and noted that there are 300,000 medical marijuana patients in Michigan now, pointing to that as evidence for support of legalization.

"When it comes to medical cannabis, we all know it works," El-Sayed said. He noted the ballot proposal includes $20 million to fund research on medical marijuana, which he said is important to determining how much and how often cannabis should be used to correctly treat illness.

"I already know that we are going to legalize," El-Sayed said.

"This issue has a lot of myth and misunderstanding," Thanedar said. "I'm a scientist. I would make decisions based on science, and the science supports the legalize movement." Not only does science show medical use of marijuana is an effective treatment for some illnesses, Thanedar said the science shows recreational use of cannabis does not lead to crime and traffic accidents often feared from marijuana use.

"I believe that PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) can be cured by the use of medical marijuana," Space told the crowd of about 100, "but if (veterans) use it, they will be pushed aside. It is important to them, they have to know that they are not going to lose their jobs by using medical marijuana."

Space advocated changing Michigan's at-will employment law to protect employees from being fired over medical use.

Whitmer said criminalization of small amounts of marijuana has clogged up the legal system. "But as a mom of two teenagers, I know how important it is that we get it right, because we don't want teens to have access to it," she said. She wants the tax dollars from legalization to be used to boost education funding.

El-Sayed noted that persons of color are disproportionately arrested for small amounts of marijuana and therefore are disproportionately jailed for that offense.

The presumed frontrunner in the Democratic race, Whitmer is the former state Senate Minority Leader and former Prosecutor of Ingham County.

El-Sayed is a physician and the former executive director of the Detroit Health Department.

Thanedar is an Ann Arbor resident and entrepreneur

Cobbs is a former Xerox executive and resides in southeast Michigan

Space, of Grand Rapids, is an entrepreneur.

Use of marijuana for medical purposes was approved by voters back in 2008. State government is currently in the process of revamping the system for supplying marijuana to patients in a way that would work for the operation of dispensaries. Growers and transporters would also be licensed through the system in the coming year (See "LARA Reverses Course Will Let Existing Pot Shops Stay Open Past Dec. 15," 11/1/17).

The petition drive to put legalization on the ballot has said for the last month they were well on their way to getting the necessary signatures and have been working to build a cushion (See "Marijuana Legalization Effort '85 Of The Way To Goal'," 10/2/17).
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1st hour discussion today, Wednesday 11-15-17; MIRS News Service

McMillin On PTL: `I Would Not Be Involved In Something That Failed'

After taking over the reins of the part-time legislature petition drive last week from Lt. Gov. Brian CALLEY, former GOP House member Tom McMILLIN was more forthcoming on how the drive was doing compared to Calley, who continually stonewalled the media on the number of names collected.

With some 9,000 circulators in the field, McMillin said they're roughly halfway to the goal for the group. State law requires 315,654 valid signatures for constitutional amendments, but McMillin is shooting for a cushion of 360,000 by mid-January, and he said the group is roughly halfway to that 360,000 total.

"I'm very confident," the new co-chair told MIRS.

Popular wisdom has it that the deeper the drive goes into the winter months, with potentially lousy weather, the effort will have to collect about 3,000 signatures a day -- and that could be a daunting task.

The Oakland County Republican rejected that popular wisdom.

"A lot of this is done inside and so to some degree it is easier," he said.

As for collecting the same amount of signatures in two months that were collected in four, the co-chair said, "I've done petition drives before. A lot of them come in, in the end. We're not done. There are more pushes to come. We're not going to tell everything that will be happening. We have more resources. It will be a significant push."

Regarding another piece of popular wisdom in town that suggests Calley bailed out because the drive was headed down the tubes, McMillin calls that "dead wrong . . . I would not be involved in something that failed."

Asked if there was a 50-50 chance of doing this, he said it was closer to 70-30.

"We've got a lot of people out there who want to get this done,” he said.

But what about the opposition in the business community, including the Michigan Chamber of Commerce, that tagged Calley with the moniker of "snake oil salesman"?

"Most of the businesses do (support this,)" the new leader reports, while conceding, "there are certain lobbyists that might not. Generally, lobbyists like lawmakers hanging around with nothing to do and they like to get their claws into them."

Assuming they hit the target of 360,000 valid signatures, McMillin thinks the push to pass it begins with over 70 percent support in the electorate and he forecasts a possible advertising budget of between $2 and $3 million for the yes vote.

Part of his confidence in all this may be underscored by the fact that right after the State Board of Education meeting today, he and his dad were heading up north for a little deer hunting. It was unclear if he would take along some petitions into the woods.
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2nd hour discussion today, Tuesday 11-14-17; MIRS News Service

James Leading In GOP U.S. Senate Race Poll Shows

New polling commissioned by MIRS shows political newcomer and Detroit businessman John JAMES out front of declared U.S. Senate candidate and former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Robert YOUNG as well as U.S. Rep. Fred UPTON (R-St. Joseph) who is pondering a run.

In the poll, James was holding the support of 24 percent of likely Republican voters. Coming in next was Upton with 19 percent and Young came in third with the support of 7 percent of voters.

"There is growing attention paid to John James because of his resume," noted Ed SARPOLUS, of Target Insyght which conducted the survey for MIRS. "He's a businessman, a veteran and he fits the mode of what voters are looking for today."

MIRS announced the poll results during the taping of MIRS Monday Podcast with guest Stu SANDLER of Grand River Strategies who's consulting with James.

"The two biggest issues are how to create jobs in this economy and how to keep America safe and I think John encapsulates that," said Sandler.

James only just announced his candidacy in the days leading up to the September Michigan Republican Party Mackinac Leadership Conference. (See "New U.S. Senate Candidate Pledges 100 Videos In 100 Days," 09/21/2017).

Sandler pointed out that the "outsider" status of James combined with his background "as a military veteran and Iraqi war Captain who is Army Ranger qualified, West Point grad and a job creator in the logistics business" combines to create a combination that resonates "very powerfully."

On Thursday, GOP consultant John YOB argued that businessman Sandy PENSLER was the strongest candidate, in that both James and Young, had poor showing on recent campaign finance reports. Sandler said it's too early in James' bid to make that argument.

"First thing, I think it's kind of unfair. John James just announced at the end of September that he's running so there was two weeks in the quarter where he was an official candidate," Sandler said. "But if you look at it again, Sandy Pensler spent a ton of money in the congressional primary in 1992 and didn't win. When you have candidate like John James there is a real message there that resonates."

Sarpolus noted that Young "has been out there almost as long as Gretchen WHITMER, but you don't see him gaining any traction. Fred Upton considering he's not announced, he's got a base to run from, but he'll have to build from that base to get people in Southeast Michigan to support him.

"He's the new kid on the block, he's likeable, he's got a resume and that's paying off for him," Sarpolus added.

The survey was conducted from Nov. 1 through November 6 with a sample of 400. It has a margin of error of plus or minus five percentage points.
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