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

2 days ago

Your Defending Fathers

3rd/Final Hour of “Your Defending Fathers” with “Trucker Randy”, Friday 5-24-19;
PLEASE SHARE THIS VIDEO!!!

"We have a deal",...No-Fault Auto Insurance Reform will be passed in Lansing, TODAY!!!

***PLEASE SHARE THIS VIDEO on your Facebook page and ON GROUPS ACROSS MICHIGAN!!!.***

The show can be heard LIVE 9 am - Noon, M-F (EST) AND 24/7 online at; www.yourdefendingfathers.com and on your cell phone/tablet via the TuneIn app (download the app and search for WYPV - "We're Your Patriot Voice")!!!
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MIRS Breaking News - House & Senate Returning At 8 a.m. Friday -- Thursday, May 23, 2019 5:47 p.m.

The House and Senate will meet for a rare 8 a.m. Friday morning session tomorrow with the intent of wrapping up a no-fault insurance bill. Senate spokesperson Amber McCANN emphasized to reporters there is no deal with Gov. Gretchen WHITMER, but talks haven't fallen apart either.

The Legislative Service Bureau (LSB) is on standby to write up any substitute legislation that may be needed. The Senate and House have both adjourned for the day.

TuneIn to my radio show tomorrow at 9:00am - Noon to get updates from Lansing; www.yourdefendingfathers.com
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3 days ago

Your Defending Fathers

Randy
3rd/Final Hour of “Your Defending Fathers” with “Trucker Randy”, Thursday 5-23-19;

Last day to vote for car insurance reform, before Mackinaw Conference next week!!!

***PLEASE SHARE THIS VIDEO on your Facebook page and ON GROUPS ACROSS MICHIGAN!!!.***

The show can be heard LIVE 9 am - Noon, M-F (EST) AND 24/7 online at; www.yourdefendingfathers.com and on your cell phone/tablet via the TuneIn app (download the app and search for WYPV - "We're Your Patriot Voice")!!!
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5 days ago

Your Defending Fathers

3rd/Final Hour of "Your Defending Fathers" with "Trucker Randy", Tuesday 5-21-19;

Randy
3rd/Final Hour of “Your Defending Fathers” with “Trucker Randy”, Tuesday 5-21-19;

A car insurance reform deal,...will be done this week,....thanks to Dan Gilbert!!!

***PLEASE SHARE THIS VIDEO on your Facebook page and ON GROUPS ACROSS MICHIGAN!!!.***

The show can be heard LIVE 9 am - Noon, M-F (EST) AND 24/7 online at; www.yourdefendingfathers.com and on your cell phone/tablet via the TuneIn app (download the app and search for WYPV - "We're Your Patriot Voice")!!!
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1st hour discussion today, Tuesday 5-21-19;
MIRS News Service

Progress Made On No-Fault Discussions Amid Gilbert Initiative Pledge

Gov. Gretchen WHITMER met with legislative leaders again today on finding a compromise on automobile no-fault reform and the possibility of a deal coming together this week isn't out of the question, MIRS has learned.

Whitmer Communications Director Zack POHL said today, "We are pleased that the lines of communication are open among all parties and that talks are progressing. There has been more progress in the last four days than the last four years.

"Discussions are ongoing and the governor remains committed to auto insurance reform that protects Michigan motorists and provides financial relief."

The momentum toward a compromise was pushed over the weekend by news that Detroit-area developer Dan GILBERT is preparing to launch as soon as this week a citizens' initiative effort that would put before the legislature a no-fault auto insurance proposal that closely mirrors what the House and Senate already passed.

With Whitmer needing legislative support to raise money to "fix the damn roads" or achieve any number other priorities the next two years, the Governor already has appeared to concede on a key historical sticking point -- consumer choice in personal injury protection.

The ballot question committee has hired National Petition Management to collect the 340,047 valid signatures needed to put before the Legislature a proposal, that if passed, does not need the Governor's signature to become law.

It has hired the Dykema law firm to craft the ballot language.

The group is also willing to spend the money needed to get the signatures. The signature-gathering firm in question has a 100% success rate in Michigan in gathering the necessary number of valid signatures for whatever effort.

A source told MIRS on Saturday that the language for the proposal has been drafted and will be turned into the Secretary of State's office as soon as this week if negotiations over the current auto reform bill between lawmakers and Gov. Gretchen WHITMER stall.

"One way or the other, there will be reform," the source said.

As was done last year with the prevailing wage repeal, the minimum wage increase and the paid sick leave proposal, citizen groups can gather signatures to create a citizens' initiated law. Groups have within a 180-day window to gather the valid signatures from a number of registered voters that is equal to 8% of those who voted for governor in the last election.

Once the signatures are verified by the Secretary of State's office, the Legislature has 40 days to either approve, disapprove or do nothing with the proposal. If lawmakers do nothing or disapprove a proposal, it goes on the next general election ballot. If they approve, it becomes law without the Governor's signature.
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1 week ago

Your Defending Fathers

1st half hour discussion today, Friday 5-17-19;
MIRS News Service, Thursday, May 16, 2019

House Holds Off On No-Fault ‘In Good Faith’ In Talks With Governor

House Speaker Lee CHATFIELD (R-Levering) and Senate Majority Leader Mike SHIRKEY (R-Clarklake) announced they have had “productive conversations” on auto no-fault reform with Gov. Gretchen WHITMER and so, “in good faith,” will not vote on the legislation today.

In a joint scrum on the floor of the House this afternoon, Shirkey said he expected negotiations to continue over the weekend. He said, “Fine wine takes time, and this is a very fine wine for the people of the state of Michigan."

“We feel we are one step closer to finding real consensus to drive down car insurance rates. Because of those ongoing conversations and productive conversations, we’ve decided not to move on a bill today,” Chatfield said.

“The governor has finally, with her team, presented some things to us that actually move in a direction that we can have some optimism that we can get to a bill signing in the not too distant future,” Shirkey said. “I am more optimistic today than I have been in the last two weeks that we can accomplish that.”

Shirkey said he had seen some movement toward personal injury protection (PIP) choice and “they’ve backed away from basing fees on charges and they’re basing fees now on actual cost-controlled elements that we can all predict.”

Wednesday, the contents of HB 4397 were substituted into SB 0001 by the House's Select Committee on Reducing Car Insurance Rates and reported to the House floor.
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1st half hour discussion today, Friday 5-17-19;
MIRS News Service, Thursday, May 16, 2019

House Holds Off On No-Fault ‘In Good Faith’ In Talks With Governor

House Speaker Lee CHATFIELD (R-Levering) and Senate Majority Leader Mike SHIRKEY (R-Clarklake) announced they have had “productive conversations” on auto no-fault reform with Gov. Gretchen WHITMER and so, “in good faith,” will not vote on the legislation today.

In a joint scrum on the floor of the House this afternoon, Shirkey said he expected negotiations to continue over the weekend. He said, “Fine wine takes time, and this is a very fine wine for the people of the state of Michigan."

“We feel we are one step closer to finding real consensus to drive down car insurance rates. Because of those ongoing conversations and productive conversations, we’ve decided not to move on a bill today,” Chatfield said.

“The governor has finally, with her team, presented some things to us that actually move in a direction that we can have some optimism that we can get to a bill signing in the not too distant future,” Shirkey said. “I am more optimistic today than I have been in the last two weeks that we can accomplish that.”

Shirkey said he had seen some movement toward personal injury protection (PIP) choice and “they’ve backed away from basing fees on charges and they’re basing fees now on actual cost-controlled elements that we can all predict.”

Wednesday, the contents of HB 4397 were substituted into SB 0001 by the House's Select Committee on Reducing Car Insurance Rates and reported to the House floor.
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1 week ago

Your Defending Fathers

3rd hour discussion today, Thursday 5-16-19;

www.facebook.com/truckerrandybishop/videos/2217987035181328/

Randy
3rd/Final Hour of “Your Defending Fathers” with “Trucker Randy”,
Thursday 5-16-19;

Citizen's Initiative will happen in Michigan!!!
Volunteer at this website; miheartbeat.org/

***PLEASE SHARE THIS VIDEO on your Facebook page and ON GROUPS ACROSS MICHIGAN!!!.***

The show can be heard LIVE 9 am - Noon, M-F (EST) AND 24/7 online at; www.yourdefendingfathers.com and on your cell phone/tablet via the TuneIn app (download the app and search for WYPV - "We're Your Patriot Voice")!!!
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1st hour discussion today, Thursday 5-16-19;
MIRS News Service

Rep. Inman Indicted On Extortion, Bribery Charges

Rep. Larry INMAN (R-Williamsburg) was indicted today on attempted extortion and bribery for allegedly offering his "no" vote on the prevailing wage citizens initiative for $30,000 in campaign contributions, according to the indictment filed in the U.S. District Court's Western Division.

The term-limited House member proclaimed he's innocent of the charges, which stem from text messages that appear to show him trying to coordinate campaign money for 12 other members who could vote against the measure last June.

An indictment handed down Tuesday and filed today in U.S. District Court's Western Division alleges the Grand Traverse County lawmaker solicited contributions from the Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters and Millwrights (MRCCM) union, who opposed the initiative. His arraignment is May 23 and he faces up to 20 years in prison if he is convicted as charged.

"I am innocent of these charges. I have never compromised the integrity of my vote," Inman said in a statement released around 3 p.m. today. "I have always represented my constituency honestly and legally. I intend on vigorously fighting these charges and defending my reputation."
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2 weeks ago

Your Defending Fathers

Speaker of the House - Lee Stephanie Chatfield delivers a great summation prior to the vote of No-Fault Auto Insurance Reform Bill H4397, which passed with bi-partisan support 61-49,...Good Job Lee!!!

Lee Chatfield
CAR INSURANCE UPDATE

This week the House of Representatives, in a historic vote, passed a bi-partisan solution to fix Michigan's broken car insurance system and lower rates for everyone in the state!

The House solution:

- Guarantees lower rates for all drivers, no matter what choice of coverage they decide
- Offers drivers choice on coverage and no longer requires that you purchase unlimited, lifetime health benefits
- Stops price gouging on medical services for accident victims by capping what can be charged for health services
- Combats fraudulent claims to help lower costs

Over 7 million Michigan drivers are fed up with paying the highest cost of car insurance in the nation, and it's about time the legislature and governor stopped being part of the problem and are finally part of the solution. Making car insurance more affordable is a top priority for the House, and we will continue working together to get this done for the people of our state!

Though the Governor has threatened to veto this bill that would lower rates, we will hopefully reach a consensus. The time for playing games with this issue is over. It’s time to solve the problem. The people of our state deserve it.
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1st hour discussion today, Tuesday 5-14-19;
MIRS News Service

No No-Fault Vote On Tuesday

A sure sign that talks have broken down on the inter-party differences over no-fault car insurance would have been a quick Senate vote on Tuesday to accept the House version that was adopted in the middle of the night last week.

MIRS has learned that will not happen Tuesday, which means the Governor, House Speaker Lee CHATFIELD (R-Levering) and the Senate Majority Leader Mike SHIRKEY (R-Clarklake) still have a shot at finding a middle ground to avoid Gov. Gretchen WHITMER's not-so-thinly-veiled veto threat.

The Governor told reporters in Detroit today that there were no face-to-face talks over the weekend with the two GOP leaders and "none were scheduled for today" with the Governor reporting, "I enjoyed my Mother's Day."

However, there are strong indications that there will be some face-to-face contact sometime on Tuesday.

The Governor was quizzed on the GOP comments that the House plan addressed many of the issues the Democrats and the Governor had raised, but she remained on message countering that "there were too many loopholes" over any cost savings for motorists. The R's disagree.

Some in town have suggested that the Republicans are poised to send her a plan and let her veto it, but it appears that is not the number one strategy at this read as the trio has an opportunity to iron something out in their private talks between now and Thursday when the possibility of a Senate vote is real.

Meanwhile, House Democrats, who were deeply divided last Thursday with some of them ready to vote for the GOP plan, have some worries of their own.

If she eventually vetoes any GOP package, they may have to run for re-election in 2020 and then try to explain why they did not vote for rate relief when they had a chance.
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2 weeks ago

Your Defending Fathers

What happened in Lansing this week? Today's show, Friday 5-10-19;
MIRS News Service

Whitmer To GOP: 'Let's Talk;' Shirkey: 'I'd Be Delighted'

Complaining that the Republicans' no-fault auto insurance reform package does not contain real rate relief, Gov. Gretchen WHITMER is raising the veto card in one hand while reaching out to Republican leaders with the others.

Nine hours after the House vote (See "House Passes Insurance Reform With Mandated Rate Rollbacks," 5/8/18), the Governor opened up negotiations on bills that provide personal injury (PIP) choice for auto insurance ratepayers and create a fee schedule for hospitals and other health providers.

Whitmer told reporters that she's concerned the PIP choice in Click to add MIRS Bill Hound SB 0001 or Click to add MIRS Bill Hound HB 4397 won't guarantee ratepayers will pay substantially less for their insurance.

"I'm done playing games," the Governor said. "People deserve lower rates . . . I'm not here to dress windows."

Standing about 6 feet away from the Governor at a bill signing on an unrelated issue was House Speaker Lee CHATFIELD (R-Levering) who told reporters afterwards, "I'm disappointed to see opposition to our bills, but I'm optimistic we're going to find consensus on setting rates."

The Governor is all in on chatting with the R's.

"If they are serious about getting this done let's negotiate and set the politics aside," she suggested.

Chatfield hinted that, perhaps, she was the one playing politics.

There's private Democratic speculation that the Republicans may want to set the Governor up -- send her a bill knowing she will nix it and then tell the public she had a chance to save them money, but she did not.

Senate Majority Leader Mike SHIRKEY (R-Clarklake) pleads not guilty. "There is no bone in my body that's trying to do that."

That aside, the two GOP leaders appear willing to talk with her. "I'd be delighted to talk with the Governor," Shirkey said in response to a reporter’s question about possibly getting Whitmer’s input on the legislation. "I'm would be willing to talk to her about any changes she might recommend," offered Shirkey who quickly added, "But there's no guarantee that that (the changes) will happen for heaven's sake. That's part of the process."

The Speaker explained, "We'll continue to negotiate in private, frankly, and have conversations and we can deliver real reform," he optimistically suggested while repeating, "There are savings in this package. There's rate guarantees for all drivers."

To which the Governor warns, "I'm not going to sign a bill that preserves a corrupt system, where insurance companies are allowed to unfairly discriminate in setting rates . . . I'm only going to sign a bill that protects drivers and these bills do not do that. There's no guarantee of savings."What happened in Lansing this week? Today's show, Friday 5-10-19;
MIRS News Service

Whitmer To GOP: 'Let's Talk;' Shirkey: 'I'd Be Delighted'

Complaining that the Republicans' no-fault auto insurance reform package does not contain real rate relief, Gov. Gretchen WHITMER is raising the veto card in one hand while reaching out to Republican leaders with the others.

Nine hours after the House vote (See "House Passes Insurance Reform With Mandated Rate Rollbacks," 5/8/18), the Governor opened up negotiations on bills that provide personal injury (PIP) choice for auto insurance ratepayers and create a fee schedule for hospitals and other health providers.

Whitmer told reporters that she's concerned the PIP choice in Click to add MIRS Bill Hound SB 0001 or Click to add MIRS Bill Hound HB 4397 won't guarantee ratepayers will pay substantially less for their insurance.

"I'm done playing games," the Governor said. "People deserve lower rates . . . I'm not here to dress windows."

Standing about 6 feet away from the Governor at a bill signing on an unrelated issue was House Speaker Lee CHATFIELD (R-Levering) who told reporters afterwards, "I'm disappointed to see opposition to our bills, but I'm optimistic we're going to find consensus on setting rates."

The Governor is all in on chatting with the R's.

"If they are serious about getting this done let's negotiate and set the politics aside," she suggested.

Chatfield hinted that, perhaps, she was the one playing politics.

There's private Democratic speculation that the Republicans may want to set the Governor up -- send her a bill knowing she will nix it and then tell the public she had a chance to save them money, but she did not.

Senate Majority Leader Mike SHIRKEY (R-Clarklake) pleads not guilty. "There is no bone in my body that's trying to do that."

That aside, the two GOP leaders appear willing to talk with her. "I'd be delighted to talk with the Governor," Shirkey said in response to a reporter’s question about possibly getting Whitmer’s input on the legislation. "I'm would be willing to talk to her about any changes she might recommend," offered Shirkey who quickly added, "But there's no guarantee that that (the changes) will happen for heaven's sake. That's part of the process."

The Speaker explained, "We'll continue to negotiate in private, frankly, and have conversations and we can deliver real reform," he optimistically suggested while repeating, "There are savings in this package. There's rate guarantees for all drivers."

To which the Governor warns, "I'm not going to sign a bill that preserves a corrupt system, where insurance companies are allowed to unfairly discriminate in setting rates . . . I'm only going to sign a bill that protects drivers and these bills do not do that. There's no guarantee of savings."
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What happened in Lansing this week? Today's show, Friday 5-10-19;
MIRS News Service

Whitmer To GOP: 'Let's Talk;' Shirkey: 'I'd Be Delighted'

Complaining that the Republicans' no-fault auto insurance reform package does not contain real rate relief, Gov. Gretchen WHITMER is raising the veto card in one hand while reaching out to Republican leaders with the others.

Nine hours after the House vote (See "House Passes Insurance Reform With Mandated Rate Rollbacks," 5/8/18), the Governor opened up negotiations on bills that provide personal injury (PIP) choice for auto insurance ratepayers and create a fee schedule for hospitals and other health providers.

Whitmer told reporters that she's concerned the PIP choice in Click to add MIRS Bill Hound SB 0001 or Click to add MIRS Bill Hound HB 4397 won't guarantee ratepayers will pay substantially less for their insurance.

"I'm done playing games," the Governor said. "People deserve lower rates . . . I'm not here to dress windows."

Standing about 6 feet away from the Governor at a bill signing on an unrelated issue was House Speaker Lee CHATFIELD (R-Levering) who told reporters afterwards, "I'm disappointed to see opposition to our bills, but I'm optimistic we're going to find consensus on setting rates."

The Governor is all in on chatting with the R's.

"If they are serious about getting this done let's negotiate and set the politics aside," she suggested.

Chatfield hinted that, perhaps, she was the one playing politics.

There's private Democratic speculation that the Republicans may want to set the Governor up -- send her a bill knowing she will nix it and then tell the public she had a chance to save them money, but she did not.

Senate Majority Leader Mike SHIRKEY (R-Clarklake) pleads not guilty. "There is no bone in my body that's trying to do that."

That aside, the two GOP leaders appear willing to talk with her. "I'd be delighted to talk with the Governor," Shirkey said in response to a reporter’s question about possibly getting Whitmer’s input on the legislation. "I'm would be willing to talk to her about any changes she might recommend," offered Shirkey who quickly added, "But there's no guarantee that that (the changes) will happen for heaven's sake. That's part of the process."

The Speaker explained, "We'll continue to negotiate in private, frankly, and have conversations and we can deliver real reform," he optimistically suggested while repeating, "There are savings in this package. There's rate guarantees for all drivers."

To which the Governor warns, "I'm not going to sign a bill that preserves a corrupt system, where insurance companies are allowed to unfairly discriminate in setting rates . . . I'm only going to sign a bill that protects drivers and these bills do not do that. There's no guarantee of savings."
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3 weeks ago

Your Defending Fathers

1st hour discussion today, Monday 5-6-19;
MIRS News Service

Hornberger Describes 'Dismemberment Abortion' In Detail For Committee

Rep. Pamela HORNBERGER (R-Chesterfield Twp.) described to a committee today in detail what happens during a "dismemberment abortion" as she proposed legislation to outlaw the procedure and make it a 2-year felony in Michigan.

The second-term House member told the House Families, Children and Seniors Committee that dilation and evacuation abortions, commonly referred to as a D&E, is a "gruesome, horrific, and cruel abortion procedure whereby a tiny baby in its mother's womb is literally ripped apart," Hornberger told the committee. "Dismemberment abortions are typically used on babies that are between 13 and 24 weeks gestation."

She explained her Click to add MIRS Bill Hound HB 4320 would outlaw D&E abortions, one of the common methods used for second-trimester abortions. That's as opposed to a dilation and curettage (D&C) procedure, typically used for a first-trimester abortion or after a miscarriage.

Click to add MIRS Bill Hound HB 4321, by Rep. Lynn AFENDOULIS (R-Grand Rapids), would set the penalties. An abortion would carry a two-year felony penalty with a $50,000 fine for the physician, the same penalty for partial-birth abortion.

"Where in any norm, or practice, or law is it acceptable to torture and dismember a living thing?" Afendoulis asked. "This practice is barbaric. It is agonizing. It is outrageous and it must stop."

"We are here because the lies have to stop," Amanda WEST, of Planned Parenthood, told the committee. "We must call these bills what they are, nothing more than an orchestrated national strategy by anti-abortion politicians to restrict abortion. Since 2010, anti-abortion politicians nationwide have quietly passed more than 400 medically unnecessary and politically motivated restrictions, putting a web of barriers that push safe and affordable abortions out of reach. In 2019 alone, more than 250 bills restricting abortion have been filed in 41 states."

West said that the number of bills indicates anti-abortion politicians are hoping to put a law before the U.S. Supreme Court in the hopes it will overturn Roe v. Wade.

Hornberger denied that as a motivation, asking if West thought such a bill would get past Gov. Gretchen WHITMER. She said she introduced the bill hoping Whitmer might consider it, but she no longer believes Whitmer will.

Rep. Kathy CRAWFORD (R-Novi) also said it is not her intent to take a law to the Supreme Court. She thinks the bills are just good public policy, and she plans to call a vote on the bills in the coming week. If reported, the bills would move to the Judiciary Committee for second review, Crawford said.

The committee testimony came from witnesses on both sides of the debate, but one exchange brought the issue to focus.

William WAGONER, who describes himself as a professor of ethics, told the committee that the abortion-rights witnesses "are talking about ways to kill an unborn living child."

"Ethically speaking, do you believe that women have a right to choose?" asked Rep. Cynthia A. JOHNSON (D-Detroit). She pressed him for a yes or no answer.

"We are divided in this country because the art of politics is the art of compromise, but to compromise, you have to agree on what the issue is," Wagoner said. "So, if the question for abortion, as you raise it, is is there a woman's right to make decisions over her body without government getting involved? Is that the question? Or is the question whether an unborn child has a beating heart that can feel pain? Is that child's life worthy of government protection? Neither one of us wants to ask the other question."

She pressed again: "Do you believe she has the right to choose?"

Wagoner: "I'll answer that question if you'll answer mine."

Attorney and pro-life speaker Rebecca KIESSLING told the committee she owed her life to anti-abortion legislators. Her mother had been raped and was looking for an abortion, back before Roe v. Wade, when abortion was still illegal. She contends her mother backed out of the abortion because it was illegal at the time and it was too expensive to go to New York.

Lauren OWENS, of the Michigan College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, spoke against the bills.

"We are alarmed at this potential restriction to access to women's health care and right to privacy. This ban would prevent physicians like me from providing safe, evidence-based health care to women in the state of Michigan," Owen said. "These bills create a dangerous environment for women by denying them access to evidence-based, medically preferred care.

"In some cases, these restrictions would jeopardize a woman's health and future fertility. Furthermore, these bills would impose felony criminal penalties on Michigan physicians who follow best practices for providing abortion care in the second trimester. This would place physicians in the uncomfortable position of having to deny a woman evidence-based, compassionate care that results in fewer complications."
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1st hour discussion today, Monday 5-6-19;
MIRS News Service

Hornberger Describes 'Dismemberment Abortion' In Detail For Committee

Rep. Pamela HORNBERGER (R-Chesterfield Twp.) described to a committee today in detail what happens during a "dismemberment abortion" as she proposed legislation to outlaw the procedure and make it a 2-year felony in Michigan.

The second-term House member told the House Families, Children and Seniors Committee that dilation and evacuation abortions, commonly referred to as a D&E, is a "gruesome, horrific, and cruel abortion procedure whereby a tiny baby in its mother's womb is literally ripped apart," Hornberger told the committee. "Dismemberment abortions are typically used on babies that are between 13 and 24 weeks gestation."

She explained her Click to add MIRS Bill Hound HB 4320 would outlaw D&E abortions, one of the common methods used for second-trimester abortions. That's as opposed to a dilation and curettage (D&C) procedure, typically used for a first-trimester abortion or after a miscarriage.

Click to add MIRS Bill Hound HB 4321, by Rep. Lynn AFENDOULIS (R-Grand Rapids), would set the penalties. An abortion would carry a two-year felony penalty with a $50,000 fine for the physician, the same penalty for partial-birth abortion.

"Where in any norm, or practice, or law is it acceptable to torture and dismember a living thing?" Afendoulis asked. "This practice is barbaric. It is agonizing. It is outrageous and it must stop."

"We are here because the lies have to stop," Amanda WEST, of Planned Parenthood, told the committee. "We must call these bills what they are, nothing more than an orchestrated national strategy by anti-abortion politicians to restrict abortion. Since 2010, anti-abortion politicians nationwide have quietly passed more than 400 medically unnecessary and politically motivated restrictions, putting a web of barriers that push safe and affordable abortions out of reach. In 2019 alone, more than 250 bills restricting abortion have been filed in 41 states."

West said that the number of bills indicates anti-abortion politicians are hoping to put a law before the U.S. Supreme Court in the hopes it will overturn Roe v. Wade.

Hornberger denied that as a motivation, asking if West thought such a bill would get past Gov. Gretchen WHITMER. She said she introduced the bill hoping Whitmer might consider it, but she no longer believes Whitmer will.

Rep. Kathy CRAWFORD (R-Novi) also said it is not her intent to take a law to the Supreme Court. She thinks the bills are just good public policy, and she plans to call a vote on the bills in the coming week. If reported, the bills would move to the Judiciary Committee for second review, Crawford said.

The committee testimony came from witnesses on both sides of the debate, but one exchange brought the issue to focus.

William WAGONER, who describes himself as a professor of ethics, told the committee that the abortion-rights witnesses "are talking about ways to kill an unborn living child."

"Ethically speaking, do you believe that women have a right to choose?" asked Rep. Cynthia A. JOHNSON (D-Detroit). She pressed him for a yes or no answer.

"We are divided in this country because the art of politics is the art of compromise, but to compromise, you have to agree on what the issue is," Wagoner said. "So, if the question for abortion, as you raise it, is is there a woman's right to make decisions over her body without government getting involved? Is that the question? Or is the question whether an unborn child has a beating heart that can feel pain? Is that child's life worthy of government protection? Neither one of us wants to ask the other question."

She pressed again: "Do you believe she has the right to choose?"

Wagoner: "I'll answer that question if you'll answer mine."

Attorney and pro-life speaker Rebecca KIESSLING told the committee she owed her life to anti-abortion legislators. Her mother had been raped and was looking for an abortion, back before Roe v. Wade, when abortion was still illegal. She contends her mother backed out of the abortion because it was illegal at the time and it was too expensive to go to New York.

Lauren OWENS, of the Michigan College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, spoke against the bills.

"We are alarmed at this potential restriction to access to women's health care and right to privacy. This ban would prevent physicians like me from providing safe, evidence-based health care to women in the state of Michigan," Owen said. "These bills create a dangerous environment for women by denying them access to evidence-based, medically preferred care.

"In some cases, these restrictions would jeopardize a woman's health and future fertility. Furthermore, these bills would impose felony criminal penalties on Michigan physicians who follow best practices for providing abortion care in the second trimester. This would place physicians in the uncomfortable position of having to deny a woman evidence-based, compassionate care that results in fewer complications."
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3rd hour discussion Thursday, 5-2-19;
MIRS News Service

Senate No-Fault Proposal Expected Next Week

Senate Republicans are expected to roll out their version of a no-fault car insurance cost-saving proposal as early as next Tuesday after eight hearings in the Senate Insurance and Banking Committee on ways to lower rates.

Senate Majority Leader Mike SHIRKEY (R-ClarkLake) told reporters today that the issue is "progressing exactly as I hoped it would."

"Soon, you will see some movement on it," Shirkey said. "You can measure that in days, not weeks, probably. So, that's all I'm going to say."

As it stands today, the plan is to make the reveal on Tuesday, but that could change. Whenever it comes out, it's almost certain to face stiff Democratic opposition. Most of what the D's want isn't found in the GOP blueprint.

Democrats want a guarantee that cost savings in the system are passed onto drivers.

The GOP proposal has no such guarantee.

Democrats, Oakland County Executive L. Brooks PATTERSON and others want to keep the mandatory catastrophic health care coverage, but the Senate Republicans are opting for consumer choice instead.

A fee schedule on what providers are allowed to charge car accident victims is expected to be a part of the Republicans' proposal. Shirkey is expected to brief his caucus on it Thursday

House Minority Leader Christine GREIG (D-Farmington Hills) tells MIRS the cost guarantee provision is necessary. "We should have some kind of guarantee."

Does she trust the insurance industry to pass along any savings?

"I do not," Greig said. "They don't have a great track record. When we've negotiated in the past, they found loopholes to get out of the guarantee."

Sen. Aric NESBITT (R-Lawton), the sponsor of the auto insurance reform bill, Click to add MIRS Bill Hound SB 0001, prefers to let competition in the free-market system produce the savings and Rep. Triston COLE (R-Mancelona) concurs.

"By mandating rates, we're going to get one number, but if we let the private sector work this out through competition, we actually could get a larger number," Cole said.

On the fee schedule issue, Detroit Mayor Mike DUGGAN told Senate Insurance and Banking that the price spread for hospital services under the no-fault system is significantly higher than non-no fault health care plans. Hence, he and others favor a fee schedule to level out those gaps.

Earlier this year, Shirkey said doesn't like fee schedules, but, "I'm not afraid to do so if there is no right progress."

Patterson, privately, believes he has the House votes to again kill the choice option on catastrophic coverage, even though the Senate Republicans poised to make a run at.

Rep. Graham FILLER (R-DeWitt) said, "Brooks Patterson says a lot of things" and on this one, "I do not" think he is right.

"This works in tons of other states," he said.

One special interest lobbyist deeply involved in the issue is all but conceding the Senate will pass this. The real battle will be in the House.
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MIRS News Service

Conservative Leader Files Against Amash In MI-3rd CD

Former Sand Lake Village President Tom NORTON filed Friday to run against U.S. Rep. Justin AMASH (R-Cascade Twp.) in the 3rd Congressional District Republican primary in 2020. Since then, he's hired a professional campaign staff, began raising money and received endorsements from former Rep. Kevin GREEN and 2016 gubernatorial candidate Patrick COLBECK.

A 36-year-old Afghanistan War veteran, Norton has run for state representative and other posts before, but this is the first time he said he not running to make a point or advance a cause.

"I'm running to win because the people of the 3rd Congressional District deserve the type of representation that is responsive to veterans and the people of West Michigan," Norton said.

The Ada man said he's been humbled by the support he's received from the conservative grassroots, President Donald TRUMP supporters and establishment Republicans as he takes on the five-term incumbent whose stringent ideology has yielded some unpopular votes (See "Amash Challenger Talks Emerging In West Michigan," 2/27/19).

The votes aren't what is spurring the married father of three into the race. He said he's agitated that Amash and his staff do painfully little to help struggling veterans connect with federal services.

He said Rep. Bill HUIZENGA (R-Zeeland), U.S. Sen. Gary PETERS (D-Bloomfield Twp.) and U.S. Sen. Debbie STABENOW (D-Delta Twp.) all have staff that's responsive to constituents. For the limited government-minded Amash, from everything Norton said he's has experienced, it's just not a priority.

Norton said he had hoped to recruit someone else to run Amash, but "every single candidate" had either voted to support a gas tax hike or was weak on illegal immigration.

"I was shopping. I wasn't shopping or me," said Norton, a former Legion post commander. "But the more I talked with people, the more I had folks encourage me to do it."

The home improvement sales executive said he doesn't need a job. He figures that, in terms of pay, switching to be a U.S representative would be a lateral financial move. He loves his current job and running for Congress may be a bigger "headache."

But Norton said his work with West Michigan Veterans Ranch -- a network of individuals who help troubled who feel they've run out of options -- has inspired him to go to bat in Washington D.C. for those who fought for their country overseas and are hurting.

The support he said he's received so far from the Conservative Political Action Conference and the Kent County Republican Party has been "overwhelming," he said, as volunteers and contributors keep rolling in, he said.

"We're not playing around," he said. "If I have to sell my house (a rental property he still owns in Sand Lake) to represent the people the way they need to be treated, I'll do it."
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MIRS News Service

Lawmakers File Notice To Appeal Gerrymandering Decision

Michigan lawmakers filed today their notice of intent to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court a federal judge's ruling that said Republican-led redistricting maps are gerrymandered.

U.S. Circuit Judge Eric CLAY's 146-page opinion released April 25 says every challenged district violates the plaintiff's First Amendment rights to associate with a political party, and ordered Secretary of State Jocelyn BENSON to conduct special elections in 2020 (See "Court Orders New Political District Maps; Special Elections In 2020," 4/25/19).

Clay also provided the Legislature the opportunity to come up with remedial maps, which must be passed by both chambers and signed into law by the Governor on or before Aug. 1.

The suit, filed in December 2017 on behalf of the League of Women Voters against then-Republican SOS Ruth JOHNSON, who has been replaced by Benson, a Democrat, alleges the redistricting maps are an "egregious example of party gerrymandering" (See "Suit: Republican-Led Legislature's District Maps Are Party Gerrymandering," 12/26/17).

Political observers questioned whether Clay's decision will ultimately stand (See "Gerrymandering Case To Be Tossed?" 4/29/19).

The country's highest court has already heard arguments in gerrymandering cases from Maryland and North Carolina, and a ruling is expected before the end of the current term. That decision could affect the Michigan case (See "Dems See Court's Gerrymandering Decision A 'Gift Two Years Early,'" 4/26/19).

Senate Majority Leader Mike SHIRKEY (R-Clarklake) told reporters today that Senate plans for possibly starting up a new redistricting process to comply with the federal court in the League of Women Voters gerrymandering case are "still under process" (See "Court Orders New Political District Maps; Special Elections In 2020," 4/25/19).

His remarks were in response to a reporter's question as to whether Senate leadership planned to start creating redistricting committees in response to the decision.

"The entire strategy for redistricting to comply with the federal court's ruling is still under process," Shirkey said. "(Creating committees or a committee) may be an option, but we're still working on how to properly respond."

A reporter asked what impact the court's decision would have on the Senate's attempt to tackle the budget, no-fault auto insurance reform and road funding in the months to come.

"It's a shiny object that we have to train ourselves to not pay attention to," Shirkey said. "But right now, it's kind of limbo. Until the United States Supreme Court makes their ruling, we'll proceed to follow the ruling the district court issued last week. That's going to take us weeks to put together. And we'll want to see what happens in the Supreme Court."

A reporter asked Shirkey what he thought of the district court's ruling.

"It wasn't the best surprise I've ever received," the Senate Majority Leader admitted.

Shirkey was then asked about the possible impact the court decision would have regarding term limits -- primarily the uncertainty as to whether state senators currently serving their second term would be eligible to run for reelection in 2020.

"That's one of the unknowns related to the ruling," Shirkey said. "As soon as we have some clarity as to what the Supreme Court's going to do; that will be the next question we'll have to finalize."
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MIRS News Service

3% Cut For State Departments In House Budgets

House Republicans cut the spending plans for three state budgets by 3 percent today as the lower chamber began moving its Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 budget out of subcommittee.

Agriculture, Licensing and Regulatory, and the Judiciary all took a combined $1.9 million General Fund cut from the prior year, which the House subcommittees asked the departments to find in "administrative efficiencies."

The Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) and the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) took 25 percent slices in their information technology line. Judiciary's IT budget was cut 12 percent. Combined the cuts were $1.24 million out of the General Fund.

"The people of Michigan trust their representatives to be diligent with their budgets and that what they put together is efficient and effective," said Gideon D'ASSANDRO, press secretary for the House Republican caucus.

Many House Democrats withheld their support for the budgets, which came in at a combined $7.155 million in General Fund spending lighter than what Gov. Gretchen WHITMER recommended.
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MIRS News Service

AG, SOS, Civil Rights Get 10% Administrative Cut In Senate Budget

The Attorney General, Department of Civil Rights, and Secretary of State were among the departments to see 10-percent cuts to their administrative lines as part of a General Government budget that moved out of a Senate subcommittee this afternoon.

The cuts, along with the Senate's plan to scale back a Rainy Day Fund deposit from the $150 million Gov. Gretchen WHITMER proposed to $50 million, is part of an effort to put more General Fund money in the roads while also freeing up education spending.

All told, with the Rainy Day Fund deposit included, the General Government budget spends roughly $175 million less than what the Governor recommended.

The Senate General Government Appropriations Subcommittee's $912 million proposed Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 budget for various state departments in Click to add MIRS Bill Hound SB 0138 also leaves statutory revenue sharing at FY '19 levels. The Governor's proposal ultimately gave the locals a funding level that equaled 103% of their current-year levels.

"Our focus will continue to be moving the roads forward. In addition, we're going to be investing into early childhood education," said Subcommittee Chair Jim STAMAS (R-Midland).

With the department cuts, Stamas said he understands that some may question whether the department cuts are political, but he insists that "is not the intent." The intent is to find General Fund money for the roads and early childhood.

In the Secretary of State's budget, the subcommittee cut General Fund money to various divisions to get to the $4.62 million needed to implement the new Redistricting Commission voters adopted as part of Proposal 2 last year. The Executive Operations, Property Management, Legal Services, Branch Offices, and Election Regulations were all given a whack to get to that number.

Sen. Jeff IRWIN (D-Ann Arbor) voted against Click to add MIRS Bill Hound SB 0138 advancing to the full Senate Appropriations Committee on the argument that the cuts weren't necessary.

The Secretary of State is a "forward-facing department" that works with the public on a daily basis and he's concerned that the cuts will hurt residents with longer lines at branch offices and slower responses when it comes to campaign finance and elections issues.

As it relates to implementing Proposal 2 and Proposal 3, "The Secretary of State really needs these resources to manage this transition seamlessly for the citizens."

When asked if he thought the cuts were political, Irwin said he's not ready to prescribe motives to what Stamas did. The chair is trying to pass a budget "that works" and Irwin just can't support Stamas' direction at this time.
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MIRS News Service

Senate Fully Implements 2015 Road Plan Without Whitmer's Gas Tax Increase

Exactly $0 of Gov. Gretchen WHITMER's proposed gas tax hike was funded in the transportation budget that moved out of a Senate appropriations subcommittee today.

However, the panel is fully implementing the 2015 roads plan a year early by putting into the roads the full $600 million of General Fund (GF) money, when the original plan for FY '20 was $325 million in GF.

Whitmer, in her Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 budget, had proposed raising the gas tax 45 cents over two years to generate a total of $2.5 billion in revenue, with $2.1 billion going into a new road fund with a new formula, according to the State Budget Office (See "Gov's New Formula Sends 70% Of New Gas Tax Funds To State Roads," 3/5/19).

In its version of the FY 2020 budget, the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation included none of that.

The budget bill, Click to add MIRS Bill Hound SB 0149, was reported out today on a party-line vote, with both Democrats -- Sens. Adam HOLLIER (D-Detroit) and Rosemary BAYER (D-Beverly Hills) -- voting no.

Whitmer, in reaction today, threatened a veto if the Senate bill for the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) budget ever reached her desk in its current form.

"Doing nothing is not an option," Whitmer spokesperson Tiffany BROWN said in a statement. "The governor is ready to work with the legislature, but the Senate GOP roads budget that passed today is not a real solution. It won't do anything to actually fix the roads."

A trio of groups -- the Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce, Michigan Agri-Business Association and Tri-County Alliance for Public Education -- issued statements today criticizing Senate Republicans for not addressing "Michigan's crumbling infrastructure."

Bayer pointed out the Senate budget didn't include the Governor's $2.5 billion and raised concern over further deterioration of roads without further investment. Hollier asked committee chair Sen. Wayne SCHMIDT (R-Traverse City) to hold off voting on the MDOT budget today, but Schmidt said he wanted to move the process along.

Asked about Whitmer's proposal, Schmidt said new road revenues are a separate discussion, and that his job today was to provide a balanced budget with the money that's available now.

"Those discussions will be had . . . at a future date," Schmidt said, when asked about considering a smaller gas tax as an option.

Whether a road-funding fix is entwined with the FY 2020 budget or not has been a point of contention between Whitmer and Senate Majority Leader Mike SHIRKEY (R-Clarklake) (See "Senate R's To Keep Roads And Budget Separate," 3/19/19).

Schmidt contended they were accelerating what was planned in the 2015 plan by funding the full $1.2 billion this year. According to the 2015 legislation, the plan was to use $325 million from the GF starting in FY 2020 and $600 million starting in FY 2021.

As part of the acceleration, the Senate put up $132 million in one-time funding, with roughly $84 million going to counties, and $47 million to cities and villages.

Republicans portray Whitmer's gas tax proposal as actually funding roads at an additional net $1.9 billion, as the Governor's proposal backs out roughly $600 million in GF dollars planned as part of the 2015 road funding plan.

The Governor's gas tax would have generated $834 million in new revenue for roads in FY 2020, according to the Senate Fiscal Agency (SFA) analysis of Click to add MIRS Bill Hound SB 0149.

Otherwise in the MDOT budget, the panel chose to continue what's called the "Wayfair Earmark," which is the $143 million for roads as a result of increased online sales tax revenues resulting from the Wayfair court decision (See "House Reluctantly Goes Along With Fund Shift For Clean-Up, Roads," 12/21/18).

The Senate GOP also chose to divvy up increased revenue flowing into Comprehensive Transportation Fund (CTF) differently than what Whitmer wanted, including $1 million toward demolition costs for the Carbide docks and Soo Locks project, and another $16 million for freight rail economic development.

But otherwise, the Senate MDOT budget went along with many other provisions suggested by the Governor, including another $205 million in revenue increases to road and bridges, as well as the $58 million proposed for maintenance and maintenance materials increases.
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MIRS News Service

Nessel: 'It's About Enforcing The Law, Not Monitoring Speech'

Attorney General Dana NESSEL told the Senate Oversight Committee Tuesday that the 'Hate Crime Unit' she's created within her department is not building a database of various people's opinions and statements. She also asserted that the unit is all about enforcing the law.

"It is a law enforcement unit designed to ensure that victims of crime can access and receive the justice they deserve. "Nessel said. "Because I believe the denial of justice to even one person threatens justice for all people."

Creation of that Hate Crime Unit was precisely the reason Committee Chair, Sen. Ed McBROOM (R-Vulcan), had asked Nessel to appear at today's hearing. During her testimony, the Attorney General shared the microphone table with Sunita DODDAMANI, the assistant Attorney General who is the lead prosecutor for the Unit.

After opening her testimony by calling attention to a commemoration of holocaust victims and pointing out that many members of her family in Eastern Europe had been directly affected by it, Nessel methodically described what she said seemed to be misconceptions lawmakers had about the unit.

"First -- It is not policing thought or words," she asserted, and then quoted Oliver Wendel HOLMES saying: "If there is a principle of the Constitution that more imperatively calls for attachment than any other it is the principle of free thought -- not free thought for those who agree with us, but freedom for the thought that we hate."

"Second -- The Department of Attorney General does not have a database where we log statements or opinions of people with whom we disagree," Nessel continued. "The department is a law enforcement agency and our mission is to protect the citizens of this state from harm and our efforts are directed to doing whatever is necessary to achieve that objective."

"Third -- Anyone can be a victim of a hate crime," she summed, pointing out two recent events: the massacre of Muslims in the Mosque in New Zealand and the even more recent example of the killing of Christians at churches in Sri Lanka.

"Two different religions in two different countries, separated by thousands of miles," Nessel observed. "But now, inextricably linked together as victims of acts of terror."

"We will not allow outside organizations to determine who we will, or who we will not investigate," Nessel continued. "We will investigate all credible allegations of criminal conduct."

"How do you define what is or is not a hate crime?" McBroom asked. "And how do you do that without considering their thoughts?"

"I have prosecuted countless cases under the Intimidation Act, generally speaking." Nessel responded. "What you do is; that you look at the committed offense and then the other factors surrounding the offense. Often, you'll have a person who just straight-out says, you know . . . makes a derogatory remark about somebody based on their race or ethnicity or gender or so forth."

"I can't tell you how many cases I had where we listened to jail tapes," Nessel continued. "Defendants will speak openly about the reason for their attack. So, in probably thousands of ethnic intimidations in the state of Michigan over the course of 30 years; that (whether it's a hate crime or not) is rarely an issue. And if it becomes an issue, of course, that's the burden of proof upon the prosecutor that they have to prove."

Sen. Peter LUCIDO (R-Shelby Twp.) took a different line of questioning.

"We've got 30 percent more hate crimes, Michigan ranks fifth highest in the country," he said, repeating information brought out earlier in the hearing. "We've got a host of these on the books about assault, aggravated assault and stalking and everything else. What kind of new hate crimes are we going to come up with?"

"There aren't new hate crimes, there are just hate crimes," Nessel answered.

"I've got an assault, now is it a hate crime that I assaulted somebody?" Lucido asked rhetorically. "The answer is 'no.' How do we tie it to a hate crime?"

"Any crime, Senator, that is motivated by bias . . ." Doddamani started to explain.

Lucido then asked if there was any data breaking down who was committing hate crimes in Michigan by age group and what has been the conviction rate for those charged with hate crimes.

Doddamani explained that the data was collected by the Michigan State Police, and following a brief back and forth exchange, she promised to get him data on the conviction rate.

"It was good to hear they're not intending to keep a database or lists at the state level," McBroom told reporters following the hearing. "I'm somebody who is very nervous about any database kept of people who have not been convicted of a crime. So, that was reassuring. I'd like to have more assurances that they're not going to be going over to the Department of Civil Rights and taking the list they (the Civil Rights dept.) say they're compiling."

"So, I still need some more assurances in that regard," he continued. "But it was reassuring that they're not compiling one."
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MIRS News Service, Lansing, MI

Senate Roads Budget Funds $0 Of Whitmer's Gas Tax; Fully Implements '2015 Road Plan

Exactly $0 of Gov. Gretchen WHITMER's proposed gas tax hike was funded in the transportation budget that moved out of a Senate appropriations subcommittee today. However, the panel is fully implementing the 2015 roads plan a year early by putting into the roads the full $600 million of General Fund (GF) money, when the original plan for FY '20 was $325 million in GF.

Whitmer, in her Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 budget, had proposed raising the gas tax 45 cents over two years to generate a total of $2.5 billion in revenue, with $2.1 billion going into a new road fund with a new formula, according to the State Budget Office.

In its version of the budget, the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation included none of that.

The bill, SB 0149, was reported out today on a party-line vote, with both Democrats -- Sens. Adam HOLLIER (D-Detroit) and Rosemary BAYER (D-Beverly Hills) -- voting no.

Republicans contend Whitmer's proposal actually funds roads at an additional net $1.9 billion, as the Governor's proposal backs out roughly $600 million in General Fund dollars planned as part of the 2015 road funding plan.

Hollier had asked committee chair Sen. Wayne SCHMIDT (R-Traverse City) to hold off voting on the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) budget today. Schmidt said he wanted to move the process along.

Asked about Whitmer's proposal, Schmidt said new road revenues are a separate discussion, and that his job today was to provide a balanced budget with the money that's available now.

Schmidt contended they were accelerating what was planned in the 2015 plan by funding the full $1.2 billion this year. According to the 2015 legislation, the plan was to use $325 million from the General Fund starting in FY 2020 and $600 million starting in FY 2021.

Whitmer's gas tax would have generated $834 million in new revenue for roads in FY 2020, according to the Senate Fiscal Agency (SFA) analysis of SB 0149.
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1 month ago

Your Defending Fathers

3rd/Final Hour of “Your Defending Fathers” with “Trucker Randy”, Monday 4-22-19;

CALL TO ACTION; Tuesday, 4-23-19 12 Noon - Steps of the Capitol in Lansing,...ALL HANDS ON DECK!!!

***PLEASE SHARE THIS VIDEO on your Facebook page and ON GROUPS ACROSS MICHIGAN!!!.***

The show can be heard LIVE 9 am - Noon, M-F (EST) AND 24/7 online at; www.yourdefendingfathers.com and on your cell phone/tablet via the TuneIn app (download the app and search for WYPV - "We're Your Patriot Voice")!!!
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Bill Allocates Electors By Congressional District For President - MIRS News Service

Rep. Beau LAFAVE (R-Iron Mountain) would eliminate the winner-take-all approach to allocating electoral votes in presidential elections in Michigan and award 13 electors on a congressional district-by-district basis.

His HB 4484, introduced this week, would award two electors at large to the candidate who wins the popular vote here.

"Anyone seeking the job of leader of the free world should have to earn votes from every area of our state," LaFave said. "The current system unfairly encourages presidential campaigns to focus solely on population centers like Detroit and Grand Rapids. People can completely ignore the U.P. and still win all of Michigan's electoral votes.

"Making this change would encourage candidates to campaign throughout our entire state, which will in turn encourage more people to get involved and improve voter turnout," LaFave said.

The idea is one that has some support among Republicans, who tend to only rarely win in Michigan, and little support among Democrats, who tend to do much better.

"Please tell Rep. LaFave to start over and next time show his work," responded Paul KANAN, spokesperson for the Michigan Democratic Party.

Senate Majority Leader Mike SHIRKEY (R-Clarklake), on the other hand, is already on board with the idea, going on record in March as saying it is a better option than the National Popular Vote movement. (See "Shirkey Liking Idea Of Electoral College Votes By Congressional District," 3/14/19).

HB 4484 has been referred to the House Elections and Ethics Committee for review. Rep. Vanessa GUERRA (D-Saginaw), minority vice chair of that committee, opposes the idea, noting that many believe the congressional district lines have been gerrymandered, so this proposal shouldn't be considered before the new lines are drawn after the 2020 census.

Guerra said she still wouldn't favor the idea even after those districts are drawn. She's more interested in the National Popular Vote movement, which would essentially do away with the electoral college altogether.

Under the bill, each political party would choose candidates for presidential electors during its state convention, just like under current law. One presidential elector would be chosen from each congressional district, and two electors at large.

Michigan has 15 electoral college votes in the 2020 election, but that is expected to drop to 14 after 2021 after the 2020 census is completed and the new lines are drawn.
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MIRS News Service

Can Michigan Really Shut Down Line 5?

Whether Gov. Gretchen WHITMER and Attorney General Dana NESSEL ultimately plan to decommission Line 5 is one question.

But another question is: Can they? According to retired environmental consultant Alex SAGADY, they can't.

Whether that's why Whitmer told The Detroit News on Tuesday she's reopened talks with Line 5 owner Enbridge isn't clear. But she is.

It raises the question about whether she's working with Enbridge now because, in part, she's doesn't want to drag a potential Line 5 removal suit through the courts, where the state could lose. Pragmatically, working with Enbridge to entomb Line 5 gets the light crude pipeline out of the water and doesn't come with a hefty legal bill.

Sagady -- who listed clients such as the Sierra Club and the Michigan Environmental Council, among others -- cited a federal law saying states cannot enforce "safety standards for interstate pipeline facilities or interstate pipeline transportation."

That's 49 U.S. Code 60104 (c), for those of you following along at home.

Sagady said Enbridge's Line 5 is an interstate pipeline. And he said any aspect of the state's 1953 easement to Enbridge having to do with safety and operation standards aren't enforceable because of this federal law.

Liz KIRKWOOD, executive director of For Love of Water (FLOW) and advocating for the state to initiate a shutdown, has a different view.

She said the feds and the state have a "dual role" in looking after Line 5: The feds' role relates to the safety and maintenance to the pipeline itself, while Michigan's relationship is "like that of a landlord-tenant relationship."

While the feds have primacy when it comes to safety regulations, the Line 5 pipeline issue deals with the public trust bottomlands in the Straits, Kirkwood said. The state is the "sovereign" and holds "the title to the land," making Enbridge "a mere tenant," she said.

"The pipeline cannot even exist in the Straits of Mackinac without the . . . authorization of the state," Kirkwood said ". . . It is a proprietary interest that the state has . . . which supersedes the regulatory authority that is limited to the federal government."

Sagady said this issue has been litigated, pointing to a 2006 federal case out in Washington state where the city of Seattle tried to compel pipeline operator Olympic to follow a city list of safety standards after a section of the company's pipeline exploded in a town 88 miles north of Seattle and killed three people.

The pipeline company won its case at the district court level – which determined that Seattle's regulatory efforts were pre-empted by the federal law – and the federal circuit court of appeals affirmed.

Sagady argued if Whitmer and Nessel tried to file against Line 5 in state courts, it wouldn't be long before Enbridge moved to have it transferred to federal court, where he would expect the pipeline company to succeed.

"They would file in state court, but it would never be heard in state court," Sagady said.

Yet, Kirkwood said that case is distinct from what's playing out here.

While she said Seattle's safety regulations violated federal primacy, over here in Michigan, "We're talking about state-owned public trust bottomlands, versus an effort to impose safety standards -- that's not what the state of Michigan is doing."

Environmental groups today continued to urge Whitmer to shutter Line 5, after Whitmer told The Detroit News editorial board that, when it comes to the prospect of a tunnel, "If it can help me get the pipeline out of the water earlier, that's something that is worth talking about."

The News ran a story with her comments today, prompting environmental groups to urge Whitmer to drop the tunnel idea.

"A tunnel to carry Enbridge's Canadian oil is not a solution that is good for Michigan and Enbridge cannot be trusted to honor its agreements or the law," said Sean McBREARTY, coordinator for the Oil & Water Don't Mix coalition, in a statement. "A tunnel would prolong the risk of an oil spill along 400 inland waters and Lake Michigan shoreline along which Line 5 runs in Michigan . . . Allowing Enbridge to build a tunnel and extend the life of Line 5 is the very opposite of what our state should be doing in dealing with climate change."

"State government's efforts should first and foremost be devoted to shutting the pipeline down, not negotiating its continued operation while a tunnel is explored and possibly built," Kirkwood said in a statement today.

The Governor said previously that her position is that she wants "the oil out of the water" and that she hasn't weighed in on the tunnel (See "Whitmer: I Didn't Weigh In On Line 5 Tunnel," 4/3/19).

Sagady pointed out that while environmental groups don't like the tunnel, labor unions support the tunnel construction and the jobs it would create, putting Whitmer between two key Democratic constituencies.

"They're going to disappoint someone," he said.

The Governor's office wouldn't weigh in today on Sagady's view of the Line 5 legal situation when asked. But Whitmer spokesperson Tiffany BROWN said that as "discussions with Enbridge and stakeholders are ongoing," the Governor is "committed to a solution that protects the Great Lakes, removes the pipelines from the Straits as soon as possible, and provides for the Upper Peninsula's energy needs."

Whitmer told MIRS after an event today, "I think that the paramount goal is to get the oil out of the water. And, if it's possible that we can negotiate something that gets it out faster and avoids litigation that is something I am open to pursuing, so we're having conversations."

Nessel said today she is "coordinating with the Governor and her team and making assessments about Line 5. Personally, the sooner Line 5 is decommissioned, the better."

A few House Republicans reacted today by casting Whitmer as being late to the tunnel party.

"It seems the Governor knows good policy when she sees it but has been too busy placating her political base to do the right thing -- until now," Rep. Triston COLE (R-Mancelona) said in a statement.
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1 month ago

Your Defending Fathers

1961, private citizen - Ronald Reagan speaks out against National Health Insurance/ Socialized Medicine,...listen and LEARN SOMETHING!
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Final half hour of Hour #3 of today show, Tuesday 4-16-19
MIRS News Service, Lansing, MI;

New Lawsuit Challenges Same-Sex Adoption Settlement

A former foster child, an adoptive mother and a faith-based adoption agency have banded together to challenge the Attorney General's settlement that bans state-contracted foster and adoption agencies from refusing to work with same-sex couples.

Holt mother Melissa BUCK said she and her husband could not have adopted their five special-needs children without St. Vincent Catholic Charities' support.

"They were with us every step of the journey," she said in a conference call announcing the lawsuit bearing her name that was filed today in U.S. District Court's Western District.

"All of my children will graduate from high school," Buck added. "They have broken the cycle. Their children won't have to know domestic violence or imprisonment."

The lawsuit also lists former foster child Shamber FLORE and St. Vincent's as plaintiffs and named defendants are Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) and its director, Robert GORDON; Michigan Children's Services Agency Executive Director Herman McCALL; U.S. DHHS Secretary Alex AZAR and AG Dana NESSEL.

The lawsuit asks the court to issue an injunction on the AG's settlement with the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan (ACLU) that requires the state to stop contracting with agencies that refuse to work with same-sex couples based on religious beliefs. (See "Is Adoption Settlement 'Lawsuit-Proof' At The State Level," 4/11/19 and "State Won't Let Religious Adoption Agencies Say No To Same-Sex Couples," 3/22/19.)

AG spokeswoman Kelly ROSSMAN-McKINNEY said the department hasn't had a chance to review the complaint, but based on the information provided during the plaintiffs' counsel's press conference call "it appears that the plaintiffs' attorneys do not understand the settlement agreement."

Rossman-McKinney said the agreement gives agencies the "sole discretion to decide whether to accept" a DHHS referral to provide foster care case management or adoption services, "and the state cannot take adverse action against an agency that rejects a referral" based on its "sincerely held religious beliefs."

Mark RIENZI, president of Becket, a nonprofit, public-interest legal institute representing the plaintiffs, said in a statement that Nessel's actions "do nothing but harm the thousands of at-risk children in desperate need of loving homes."

Becket attorney Nick REAVES said St. Vincent had to file the new lawsuit because the settlement is between the ACLU and AG's office and was not court-sanctioned. His client, he noted, would be forced to close its doors if the settlement stands.

Reaves said St. Vincent has 18 employees who work in the adoption/foster care arena and in 2016-17 the agency finalized more than 70 adoptions.

"The lawsuit is a necessity to ensure that these regulations would not be a reason for the state to stop working with agencies," he said.
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Michigan's Medicaid Program Has Paid For 47 Abortions Since '2014

It's been said taxpayer dollars aren't supposed to go toward abortions. But that's not exactly the case.

The Michigan Medicaid program has paid for 47 abortions between Fiscal Years (FY) 2014 and 2018, according to data provided by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).

Of those 47 abortions, the state was able to show $7,350.44 spent on nine of those abortions via the federally reported fee-for-service expenditures.

The rest were paid for individuals in Medicaid health plans, which does not list itemized abortion-related expenditures, but rather are paid by the program on a per-member, per-month capitated payment basis, said DHHS spokesperson Lynn SUTFIN.

Federal law prohibits federal funding for abortions in "most circumstances," according to the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) in a recent report.

And Michigan, at least for the past few years, has carried a budget boilerplate limiting certain state funds from paying for abortion services. The most recent version for FY 2019 bars the state from contracting with organizations providing abortion services that are to be funded with state restricted or state general fund dollars.

But state Medicaid programs are required by the feds to cover abortions in limited circumstances – that is, if it's been determined the pregnancy endangers the life of the mother or if the pregnancy was the result of a rape or incest.

Chris GAST, spokesperson for Right to Life of Michigan, said Michigan has been under a state ban for Medicaid-funded abortions since 1989, and while it does not have a rape or incest exception, the state is "forced to follow" the federal rape and incest exceptions by court order.

Sutfin said the Medicaid program requires medical provider certification that stipulates, "in the provider's professional opinion, the pregnancy endangers the life of the Medicaid beneficiary, or is a result of rape or incest."

Of those 47 abortions in Michigan, "to save the life of the mother" was the rationale used most often, or 41 times. There was one abortion approved for Medicaid funding due to incest, and the other five were because of rape.

The Medicaid data covered FYs 2014 to 2018. Between FY 2014 and 2017, there were anywhere between 26,395 to 27,629 total abortions reported to the state on an annual basis.

Gast said the abortion debate usually revolves around those exceptions, but the Medicaid data "highlight how few abortions there are for cases of rape, incest, or if the mother’s life is at risk," and the "the vast majority of abortions are for entirely social or economic reasons."

Asked for a comment on this story, Amanda WEST, director of government affairs for Planned Parenthood Advocates of Michigan, said in a statement, "Our focus will always be to provide and expand access to ensure that all women, no matter their insurance status or income, can get the reproductive health care they need -- no matter what."
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1 month ago

Your Defending Fathers

Great video,...Please Share!!!

Donald J. Trump
Where will you be November 3, 2020?
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We are Back Up,...thank you Devin Lawrence,...best Engineer ever!!! Repeating Thursday's show til Monday morning at 9 am,...have a GREAT weekend everybody!!! ... See MoreSee Less

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We lost power last night,...it came back on at 1 am. But, our studio is still without power. Weird, we have surge protectors on everything,...praying that we didn't fry all 14 computers in our studio!!! PLEASE SHARE THIS POST?
Thanks, God Bless
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1 month ago

Your Defending Fathers

3rd/Final Hour of “Your Defending Fathers” with “Trucker Randy” Thursday 4-11-19;

Hey Lansing,...this is what needs to be passed to LOWER Car Insurance in Michigan!!!

***PLEASE SHARE THIS VIDEO on your Facebook page and ON GROUPS ACROSS MICHIGAN!!!.***

The show can be heard LIVE 9 am - Noon, M-F (EST) AND 24/7 online at; www.yourdefendingfathers.com and on your cell phone/tablet via the TuneIn app (download the app and search for WYPV - "We're Your Patriot Voice")!!!
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1st hour discussion today, Tuesday 4-9-19;
MIRS News Service

Report: Funding Michigan's Trial Courts Is 'Broken'

Michigan's funding for trial courts is "broken," according to a report today from the Trial Court Funding Commission (TCFC).

Milton MACK, a TCFC member and state court administrator for Michigan Supreme Court (MSC), said the bottom line is summarized in the report's opening statement: "Michigan residents going to court should not face a judge who needs money from a defendant to satisfy demands for court operating expenses."

"After extensive review and evaluation, the commission has unanimously concluded that the existing system is broken, and it is imperative to create a stable and consistent funding source for Michigan trial courts that removes trial court judges from the role of raising money for the operation of the courts," the report concluded.

A possible solution: A partnership between the state and local governments.

"It's to have the state step up and fund a more equitable share of the judiciary and to stop using the judiciary to fill gaps in the general fund, which is what's been happening at the state level as well," Mack added.

The TCFC recommends creating a Trial Court Fund and funding all court technology needs, which Mack said would "dramatically improve" service for Michigan residents by unburdening the local communities from the expense of technology and collecting the money.

If established, the Fund would receive all trial court collections and then distribute monies to local governments to fund operations. The funds, the report noted, "must not be redirected to non-court expenses."

Mack said the Department of Treasury could easily provide that role, which would save time and expense for local courts who currently have to get defendants into court through a "show-cause" hearing. He said Minnesota did this and "revenues increased."

The report says it costs up to $1.44 billion a year to run Michigan's court system -- outside of the MSC and Court of Appeals.

The District Courts are the funders for the local courts, essentially raising revenue with court fees and tickets, Mack said. In 2017, the courts collected more than $57 million, he added.

The MSC ruled in 2014 that courts "may impose costs in a criminal case only if those costs are authorized by statute," which prompted the Legislature to pass a law that year allowing courts to charge defendants for personnel and operating expenses related to their case. That law expires in October 2020. (See "House Approves Fix-It Bill To Allow Courts Charges," 9/18/14 and "Counties Struggle After Losing Court Revenue," 9/12/14.)

The MSC also heard arguments in November in People v. Shawn Cameron, a Washtenaw County man who challenged the $1,611 court costs assessed in his criminal case. (See "Supremes Hear Arguments On Whether Court Costs Are A Tax," 11/19/18 and "Supreme Court Could Decide Whether Court Fees Are Taxes," 3/13/18.)

The report notes that if the MSC finds the court costs are unconstitutional, Michigan's trial courts could face the "possibility of a financial emergency."

However, the report doesn't offer alternative funding solutions, instead leaving it to the Legislature to appropriate "funds necessary to meet this shortfall."

Among the TCFC's recommendations are:

- Establish uniform assessments and centralized collections;

- Move toward a uniform employment system in which judicial salaries and benefits are equal; and

- Establish a transition plan for the new court funding model.

Stephan CURRIE, executive director of the Michigan Association of Counties (MAC), called the report a "solid beginning" for reform, but said the challenge of "finding a stable, comprehensive funding system" for the state's court system remains a "central challenge."

MAC, he noted, is "eager to get to work with lawmakers on a permanent funding fix."

Mack said the Legislature should consider the issue this session, but individual lawmakers, who were on spring break last week, have yet to reach out to the commission showing support. He said the report was sent to the Governor's office on Friday, but no response had been received as of today.

The TCFC is a 14-member commission made up of judges, lawyers and others who are charged with recommending reforms to the trial court system.
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MIRS News Service

Attorney: AG's Office Has Conflict Of Interest In Flint Water Cases

A New York attorney representing Flint residents injured from the water crisis is asking a Genesee County Circuit Court judge to disqualify the Michigan Attorney General's (AG) office from "water litigation matters."

New York-based attorney Corey M. STERN, whose firm represents more than 2,500 individual Flint children, filed the motion March 29, alleging AG Dana NESSEL created a conflict of interest when she replaced the private attorney in the civil cases arising from the Flint water crisis.

Stern's court filing also noted that the state created "irreconcilable conflicts of interest" by assigning the same four assistant attorneys general to both defend state officials and represent city residents in a civil lawsuit against engineering firms that performed work in the city.

Dan OLSEN, a spokesman with the AG's office, said today that the AG has received Stern's motion and is "reviewing it."

Court records do not show a date has been set for Chief Judge Richard YUILLE to hear the motion.

Nessel terminated special assistant attorney general Noah HALL's services and announced that she would work the civil side of the Flint cases while Solicitor General Fadwa HAMMOUD handled the criminal side. (See "Nessel: Schuette's Flood Move 'Bizarre,'" 2/21/19.)

Special Prosecutor Todd FLOOD was appointed by Nessel's predecessor, Bill SCHUETTE, to handle the criminal side and he remains part of the current prosecution team, but now reports to Hammoud.

Schuette's team had said Hall and Flood's hirings were to avoid potential conflicts of interest.

Nessel's office has said an ethics officer advised there is no conflict, but Stern's court filings include a declaration from University of Michigan professor/special counsel to law school Robert E. HIRSHON, who disagrees.
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MIRS News Service

Snyder Joins Kasich, Schwarzenegger Advising 'Center-Right Solutions' Group

Former Gov. Rick SNYDER has been named to a national advisory committee for a nonprofit that says it's promoting "center-right solutions to some of the major issues facing our nation."

Also on the advisory committee for the group known as Two Paths America is former Ohio Gov. John KASICH and former California Gov. Arnold SCHWARZENEGGER, among others.

Two Paths America, according to its website, was created to "promote reasonable and proven solutions to America’s challenges," particularly encouraging the addition of a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution, the need for a "strong national defense," a "forward-looking national energy plan," as well as a "renewal of a national sense of community and exemplary citizenship."

The group said it would support this agenda with staff, list management, social media, public relations, and educational events.

"After the midterm elections, and a lack of innovative policy ideas coming out of Washington, it’s become increasingly clear that we need to design center-right solutions on issues that will improve the lives of Americans," Jo Ann DAVIDSON, former speaker of the Ohio House of Representatives and member of the board of Two Paths America, said in a statement. "America is hungry for some conservative ideas and these respected thought leaders are determined to help find some new and innovative ideas."
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MIRS News Service

Lawmakers Drive Over 1,600 Hours A Year To U.P. Despite 269 State Flights last year

The four Michigan lawmakers exclusively representing the Upper Peninsula spend a combined 1,600 hours a year behind the wheel driving to Lansing and back, all while the state has officials flying into the Upper Peninsula 269 times a year - often in planes at half capacity or less.

According to the lawmakers, the ability to utilize some of those empty seats could make a huge impact for their constituents, not to mention their families.

"The few opportunities I have had to catch a plane, mean more constituent meetings and spending more time with my family," Sen. Ed MCBROOM (R-Vulcan) said. "If there was a commercial option that flew direct from the U.P. to Lansing, I'd probably already be using it, but there isn't."

Taken over the course of an entire year in which the Legislature meets for 32 weeks, that amounts to 1,696 hours behind the wheel or 53 hours a week for the four U.P. lawmakers.

According to Apple maps, the lawmaker with the longest drive is Rep. Greg MARKKANEN (R-Hancock). His drive time from home to the Capitol clocks in at 7 hours and 42 minutes.

Coming in a close second is Rep. Beau LAFAVE (R-Iron Mountain) who has a one-way drive of 6 hours and 30 minutes. McBroom has the third longest drive of the four lawmakers with his clocking in at 6 hours and 15 minutes. Rep. Sara CAMBENSY's (D-Marquette) commute clocks in at 5 hours and 54 minutes.

On a mileage basis, if the four lawmakers drive separately, they're clocking an astounding 3,478 miles per week. For that 32 weeks of session referenced earlier, the four lawmakers are watching their odometers click through 111,296 miles.

The longest drive just one way is Markkanen's at 496 miles. That's followed by LaFave at 430 miles, McBroom at 417 miles ,and Cambensy at 396 miles.

For a point of reference, it's quicker to drive to Pittsburgh from Michigan's capital than it is to drive to any one of these four lawmakers' homes.

Using the rate the Legislature allows lawmakers to seek reimbursement for, that 111,296 miles cost state taxpayers $64,551.68 each year. If you add what the lawmaker is being paid for those hours, ($34.46 per hour), the cost of these four lawmakers driving rises another $58.44 to a total of $122,995.84.

So, what's the alternative?

The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) has an air fleet that makes frequent flights to the Upper Peninsula. The MDOT planes are scheduled upon request by state agencies and universities and don't fly on a schedule, per se. (See: "Who Flies On State Planes More: Snyder, Izzo or Dantonio?" 05/12/2017).

According to a MIRS review of flight logs from the last fiscal year (2017-2018), while not scheduled, U.P. flights are frequent. For the past fiscal year, the state flew into the Upper Peninsula 269 times utilizing five different planes.

The state's largest aircraft -- two Beechcraft King Air planes -- for the fiscal year (one has since been sold), hold seven to nine passengers.

The logs show that often the planes were half full on any given flight. In the first quarter of the fiscal year alone, each of the 13 flights the larger planes took to the U.P. had empty seats. Sometimes, there were two seats empty, sometimes there were as many as seven seats empty.

The state also has two Beechcraft Barons that have the capacity to carry four passengers. A review of the first quarter flights from Fiscal Year 2018 on these two planes show that 42 flights were made into the U.P. and of those 42 flights, 41 list one or two passengers, in other words, they were flying half full or less.

The fifth plane in the fleet is a Cessna that seats six passengers and according to MDOT is restricted to flights by inspectors, although many of those flights were with one or two passengers as well.

Currently, boilerplate language in the budget restricts lawmaker use of state aircraft. According to MDOT, lawmakers can be "transported, if on an existing flight, and with approval from their leadership."

According to MDOT spokesperson Tim FISCHER, "this restriction comes from the Legislature and we adhere to the budget appropriation language."

McBroom said House leadership in the past told him they would OK U.P. lawmakers jumping on those state planes, but only if all the U.P. lawmakers would or could take advantage of the opportunity.

According to LaFave, the language dates back to the administration of Gov. John ENGLER.

"My understanding is it takes an act of the Legislature . . . to take action in the budget," LaFave told MIRS. "It was in there until John Engler several decades ago, took it out."

John TRUSCOTT, former press secretary for Engler, said as he recalled it, the flights were curbed as a way to save money, although some in the U.P. contend a lawmaker abused the privilege and Engler took the flight option for U.P. lawmakers off the table, although MIRS couldn't confirm that story.

A former U.P. lawmaker told MIRS the option fell into question following a scandal involving a corporate plane and lawmakers, not a state plane.

"There could be a savings if we could coordinate and take the state plane down, if not every week, but many weeks," Cambensy said. "We absolutely could save the state money."
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UNBELIEVABLE,...another over 14% increase in the MCCA fund!!!

MCCA Increases Assessment To $28 More A Car; Whitmer Calls For Audit

Auto insurance policyholders will pay another $28 a year for their unlimited lifetime catastrophic coverage, the association charged with setting these rates announced today and Gov. Gretchen WHITMER isn't happy.

The Michigan Catastrophic Claims Association (MCCA) today set the new rate for July 1, 2019, to June 30, 2020, at $220 per insured vehicle, up from the 2018-19 assessment of $192. The charge will cover $177 for anticipated new claims and $43 to start working down a $3.9 billion estimated deficit related to existing claims.

Still, Whitmer said drivers will pay an MCCA fee in 2019 that is double what it was in 2008. The fee paid to cover catastrophic medical claims increased 6.3 percent in 2017, 13 percent in 2018 and 14.5 percent in 2019. Whitmer told the Department of Insurance and Financial Services (DIFS) to audit the MCCA to conduct an "accelerated financial examination into the MCCA."

"Today, we told the MCCA that we were concerned and strongly urged them to provide more information so the public can understand the basis for this fee increase," said DIFS Director Anita FOX, who sits at MCCA meetings. "To provide greater transparency, we welcome Governor Whitmer's direction to conduct a financial examination into the association's operations."

The MCCA is a private non-profit association made up of insurance company executives that provides unlimited lifetime coverage for medical expenses of more than $555,000 that result from auto accidents.

Senate Insurance and Banking Committee Chair Lana THEIS (R-Brighton) said today's announcement regarding the "record-breaking" rate "makes it even more clear how desperately broken and unsustainable our auto insurance system is." Theis and her House counterpart, Rep. Jason WENTWORTH (R-Clare), are holding concurrent but separate meetings on why Michigan's auto insurance rates are the nation's highest.

Wentworth said the new rate shows on "out-of-control" the system is.

"Just look at how absurd these numbers are," he said. "The very first per-insured-vehicle assessment issued by the MCCA in 1978 was $3. Over the next 30 years, it reached $104.58 in 2008. Within the last decade, it's risen to $220 – an increase of 110 percent. This is becoming an exponential financial burden for Michigan motorists and is symptomatic of the underlying problems with the no-fault system. Special interests continue to profit off the status quo while hard-working families and seniors on fixed incomes continue to be sapped.

"Skyrocketing costs have made car insurance unaffordable in 97 percent of Michigan’s ZIP codes. Over 20 percent of Michigan motorists are illegally operating uninsured, and this MCCA fee increase makes matters worse," Wentworth said. "This on top of the governor’s lazy 45-cent gas tax proposal is going to drive residents out of the state and hurt Michigan’s economy."

The Insurance Alliance of Michigan (IIM) also issued a statement urging reform. The Michigan Coalition to Protect Auto No-Fault (CPAN) pointed to the $20 billion in the association's reserves, which is there to cover the costs of future claims.

"Every year it asks for more money, yet it refuses to show us the rate-making data it uses to determine its financial health and set its annual assessment," said CPAN President John CORNACK. "This is yet another example of the auto insurance industry not being held accountable due to a lack of strong consumer protections in Michigan. We need to bring full transparency to the MCCA as part of any no-fault reform package."
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AMAZING, YOU MUST WATCH THIS VIDEO,...last year Sen. Peter Lucido was calling for the MCCA to open their books,...now they want to raise their annual fee again by $220 (over a 14% increase) and Gov. Whitmer has now ordered a flimsy audit, which won't give us the TRUTH about this Ponzi scheme in Michigan!!!

Peter J. Lucido YOUR State Legislator
This a farce! This is un-American and uncivilized in today's society. We shouldn't be paying for this. We need to have those books open and we have to know how much people are making in this fund and where that money is. This ought to be open to the public and not declared "private" and "proprietary."

Please watch this 3 minute video and SHARE, SHARE, SHARE with others who think that the Michigan Catastrophic Claims Association should open their books!
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2 months ago

Your Defending Fathers

TODAY - FRIDAY MARCH 29TH, 2019 (4:00 PM - 8:00 PM)
TOMORROW - SATURDAY MARCH 30TH, 2019 (9:00 AM - 5:00 PM)

"Best Gun Show in Northern Michigan,...JUST GO"!!! ~ "Trucker Randy"Gun Show

Our annual gun show is this Friday, 4-8, and Saturday, 9-5.

VERY IMPORTANT -

We need help setting up and tearing down.
Setup - Friday 11 am.
Tear down - Saturday 5 pm.
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1st hour discussion today, Friday 3-29-19;
MIRS News Service

Nessel: Line 5 Tunnel Law Unconstitutional; Gov Halts State Action On It

Attorney General Dana NESSEL opined today the Line 5 tunnel law is unconstitutional, saying its provisions go beyond the scope of what was disclosed in its title, according to a press release issued by her office today.

Gov. Gretchen WHITMER had requested Nessel's opinion on the law on her first day in the office this year. After reviewing what Nessel said, the Governor today issued an executive directive barring state departments and agencies from doing anything more related to the law.

"I agree with the conclusion reached by Attorney General Nessel," the Governor said. "The Great Lakes are our most precious resource in Michigan, and because of their significance, I’ve instructed state departments and agencies to halt any actions in furtherance of this law."

Whitmer had asked Nessel six questions on the law, Public Act (PA) 359 of 2018 (See "Gov Asks Nessel To Opine On Line 5 Tunnel Law," 1/2/19).

Nessel said the law violates the state constitution's title-object clause, specifically citing those provisions transferring all authorities related to a utility tunnel from the Mackinac Bridge Authority to the Straits Corridor Authority and requiring the Corridor Authority to enter into an agreement for the construction of a tunnel if a proposed agreement was presented by a specific date and met listed criteria.

The AG argued in the opinion the "amended title does not provide 'fair notice' of an imminent tunnel agreement authorizing the construction of a utility tunnel." Nessel argues later that the three sections of law she deemed unconstitutional aren't severable from the rest of the law, because "doing so would be inconsistent with the intent of the Legislature."

The opinion concludes that any "court determination that Act 359 is unconstitutional would likely apply that decision retroactively, and conclude that the Mackinac Straits Corridor Authority, its Board, and any action taken by the Board are void from their inception."

Nessel's opinion contrasts with one issued by a Court of Claims judge earlier this month, which had upheld most of the law (See "Judge Upholds Line 5 Authority But Strikes Down Board's Term," 3/11/19).

Environmental groups that have questioned housing Line 5 in a tunnel -- or allowing the pipeline to continue operating at all – approved of today's developments, and some called for Whitmer and company to go further and decommission Line 5.

The Michigan Environmental Council and the Michigan League of Conservation Voters said the move "opens the door" for a Line 5 shutdown, according to a joint press release. For Love of Water (FLOW) called Nessel's opinion a "major step toward restoring the rule of law."

"We applaud Attorney General Nessel for clearly recognizing the legislative overreach, restoring the rule of law, and stopping the attack on the Great Lakes and the state Constitution, which demands that the state’s air, water, and natural resources are treated and protected as 'paramount,'" said Liz KIRKWOOD, executive director of FLOW, in a statement.

Oil & Water Don't Mix, Clean Water Action, Sierra Club, and the National Wildlife Federation were other groups that supported the news today.

Yet, Rep. Triston COLE (R-Mancelona) today called Nessel's opinion "flimsy," arguing construction of the tunnel would mean jobs for northern Michiganders and "lowered their out-of-control energy rates."

"I will not allow the well-being of hardworking Michiganders to be put in jeopardy while the attorney general splits legal hairs for political brownie points," Cole said in a statement. "This is more of the same blatant disregard for the needs of Michigan families outside of the state’s major cities. I will not stand for it."

Former Gov. Rick SNYDER's administration ultimately moved to embrace the idea of putting a replacement Line 5 pipeline in a tunnel buried deep beneath the Straits of Mackinac, and started moving to seal the deal with pipeline operator Enbridge (See "Line 5 Put Into Tunnel Under 'Historic' Snyder-Enbridge Deal," 10/3/18).

Legislation was needed in lame duck to create a separate government authority to oversee the construction and operation of the tunnel, which was to be completed and paid for by Enbridge. After the bill lumbered through the Legislature and onto Snyder's desk, his administration got the board appointed and a deal sent to the new authority for their approval, all before Snyder left office in December (See "Enbridge Sets 2024 Goal For Straits Tunnel After Board OKs Deal," 12/19/18).

Enbridge, the owners of Line 5, issued a statement tonight that it intends "to seek clarification from the Administration on a path forward. Line 5 will continue to safely operate, as it has for more than 60 years. Numerous independent reviews have concluded that the line is safe."
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MIRS News Service

Colbeck: State Social Studies Standards Have Swung Left

The latest draft of the state social studies standards are out, and former Sen. Patrick COLBECK, now the executive director of the Michigan Freedom Center, said this version has veered too far to the left.

"Unfortunately, what I see in these standards continues progressive indoctrination in a lot of key areas," said Colbeck, who was involved in providing feedback on the 2018 edition of the standards that have now since been revised.

And Tom McMILLIN, a GOP member of the State Board of Education (SBE), hadn't taken a deep dive into the standards today, but said he wasn't planning to be "quiet on this issue" if the standards went too far left, which he suspects it has from what he has seen so far.

The standards have been under construction at the Michigan Department of Education (MDE) since 2014. MDE spokesperson Martin ACKLEY said 20,000 hours have been devoted to developing and revising them.

The SBE has requested additional feedback on the standards on multiple occasions, as the board has gone from a 6-2 Democratic majority to a 4-4 party split and now back to a 6-2 Democratic majority in that time period.

One of those iterations caught the eye of Colbeck and other GOP lawmakers in 2015, who saw what they said was too much political bias in the standards (See "Colbeck, Other Lawmakers Allege `Political Bias' In Social Studies Standards," 10/26/15).

But after another revision process, the 2018 version of the standards was blasted by Democrats and others who blamed Colbeck and other conservatives for asserting too much influence (See "Democrats Fire At Colbeck For Role In Social Studies Re-Write," 6/13/19).

Now, MDE is ready to present a revised set of standards to the SBE. The standards are up for review at the SBE's April meeting but aren't scheduled for a potential final vote until June.

MDE officials said today it didn't take into account people's political persuasions in garnering feedback during this most recent round, but Colbeck said he wasn't involved and was "specifically, by name, excluded" although he said he applied to take part in the process.

Now, Colbeck has qualms with language in the revised standards about the gay rights movement, saying it's not balanced with a discussion on religious liberty rights. He also sees the standards as "promoting Islam to the exclusion of Christianity."

"Whenever they talk about progressive policies, they talk about it as a reform, and then they refuse to highlight that there are conservative perspectives on how to approach those policies, as well," he said.

Colbeck said he originally got involved with the process to make sure the standards were "politically neutral and accurate" which he said meant that if the standards "promote a contentious progressive worldview, then you balance it with a discussion of what the conservative viewpoint is."

McMillin said he's concerned about how climate change will be treated in the standards, saying the topic needs to be taught as a "theory and not as a fact."

McMillin acknowledged social studies standards "are a tough area" and a "very political area." He suggested making it "lighter" where the standards focus on the most important things but leave the rest to local control.

An overview of the standards, including side-by-side comparisons of the current revisions to both the 2018 edition and the currently adopted 2007 edition, are available here.
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MIRS News Service

Whitmer Won't Sign Budget Without Road Funding Fix

Gov. Gretchen WHITMER said today she will not sign any Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 spending plan that doesn't include a road-funding piece, a response to House and Senate Republicans ranking road funding third on their 2019 session priority list behind auto-insurance reform and the budget (See "House, Senate GOP Hold Joint Caucus," 3/21/19).

Senate Majority Leader Mike SHIRKEY (R-Clarklake) said last week that the road funding issue and the budget process are separate, as far as the Senate Republicans are concerned (See "Senate R's To Keep Roads And Budget Separate," 3/19/19).

Speaking during the recording of next week's MIRS Monday podcast, Whitmer said holding out for additional road funding will mean "It'll be a long summer."

"People need to prepare to work here and stay here until the job is done because that budget is absolutely interlinked," Whitmer said. "Our ability to fund our education system, to clean up drinking water is linked with our ability to rebuild roads in this state. So, I'm not signing anything until it's all done together."

Asked if this meant this could put state government into a potential shutdown-like situation, Whitmer said, "We're not going to shut down because we're going to stay working here all summer long to get this done.

"I am serious about it. The people of the state elected me because I believe they want me to fix the damn roads. They want honesty in budgeting. They want real solutions, not half measures and shell games and that's exactly what I put on the table."

An answer doesn't have to be a 45-cent-a-gallon gas tax, she repeated. If their alternative gets the state $2.5 billion in additional funding on a yearly basis for the next 10 years, "I'm all ears. But until then, let's get serious about talking about my budget and getting it passed to fix these problems."

The scenario Whitmer is trying to head off is the Republicans sending her an FY 2020 spending plan with possibly some additional road-funding dollars, but nothing close to $2.5 billion. Under the 2015 road-funding plan, the state is required to put in $325 million in additional income tax money into the roads.

Shirkey responded to Whitmer's remarks by writing to MIRS, "We would never think of advancing a budget sans $$ for roads."

His Press Secretary, Amber McCANN added, "She's in luck. There's an entire Department of Transportation portion of the budget."

MIRS followed up with the Governor to make sure the Legislature simply passing a budget with the expected level of transportation funding wouldn't be good enough. Her response was that she isn't signing a budget that depends on a fix for road funding coming later. It must be "one proposal and one solution."

Over in the House, the press secretary for Speaker Lee CHATFIELD (R-Levering) noted, "We'd all be a lot further down the road on this issue if the Governor had delivered a workable plan, or least a realistic starting point. Unfortunately, that didn't happen. As it is, conversations are continuing now."

Chatfield responded, "We are currently spending a record amount on roads and are serious about further investing the right amount to fix the problem. But if that doesn't qualify as a fix, I could put her gas tax hike on the board and watch it fail."

The full 8-minute conversation with the Governor will be released during the next edition of the MIRS Monday podcast.
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1st hour discussion today, Wednesday 3-27-19;
MIRS News Service

Polling On Whitmer's Budget, No-Fault Reform In The Field

A polling firm identified as CM Research is in the field for an unknown client to test likely 2020 voter reaction to Gov. Gretchen WHITMER's budget, potential auto insurance reforms, prevailing wage and the prospects of a prescription drug consumer protection board.

A live operator contacted MIRS looking for a former employee. When MIRS' editor picked up the phone, they asked if they could poll him instead. The conversation took nearly 14 minutes, all of which was recorded.

The operator said CM Research is based in the Midwest, but not Michigan. She was not able to say who paid for the poll. Calls to Whitmer's office, the House Republicans, Senate Republicans, the Michigan Democratic Party, the Freedom Fund and the Business Leaders for Michigan yielded denials from each that they were behind the survey.

The questions asked were as followed:

- I know it's a ways off but in 2020 there will be elections in Michigan for President, U.S. Senate and U.S. Congress. As things stand now, how likely are you that you'll vote in the November 2020 election?

- What do you feel is the most important issue or problem that the Governor and state Legislature should make a top priority?

- When you think about election for the state Legislature, are you more likely to vote for Republican candidates or Democratic candidates.

- Now I'd like to ask your perception of people and groups. As I read each one, tell me whether you have a favorable or unfavorable opinion of each. Donald TRUMP? Gretchen Whitmer? Gary PETERS? The Michigan state Legislature? Democrats in the state Legislature? Republicans in the state Legislature?

- I know it's a far away off, but in the 2020 election for president, if the election were held today, would you for vote for the Republican, Donald Trump, or the Democratic candidate?

- In the November 2020 election for U.S. Senate, if it were held today and the candidates were John JAMES, a Republican, and Gary Peters, a Democrat, who would you vote for?

- I know it's early, but how would you rate the job Gretchen Whitmer is doing so far as governor? Excellent, good, not so good or poor?

- How would you rate the job Gary Peters is doing as U.S. senator? Excellent, good, not so good or poor?

- As you may know, Gretchen Whitmer released her plan for the state budget last week, how much have you heard of her proposals? A lot, some, a little, or nothing?

- From what you know, do you think the proposed budget will move the state in the right direction or the wrong direction?

- Here are some of the proposals that were in the Whitmer budget plan. For each one, tell me if you favor or oppose the proposal. Fix state and local roads paid for by raising the gas tax 45 cents?

- Eliminating the state tax on retirement income paid for by making business owners pay the same tax rate as all companies and individuals?

- Investing in skilled training to get kids and adults on a path to better-paying jobs at a cost of $20 million?

- Making community college free for any Michigan high school graduate, as long as they keep their grades up, at a cost of $20 million?

- A full four-year scholarship for any Michigander who gets a B or better in high school, as long as they keep their grades up, at a cost of $20 million?

- Adding $507 million of school funding for each year to rely less on property taxes and make funding more equal for each community?

- Adding $120 million in funding to remove lead pipes and clean up toxic chemicals in local drinking water?

- Doubling the earned income tax credit for low-income Michiganders, saving them an average of $30 a month?

- After hearing this information do you think the proposed budget will move the state in the right direction or the wrong direction?

- When thinking about Gretchen Whitmer's state budget plan, which of the following proposals should be the top priority for her and the Legislature? (the options given were the previous eight budget topics mentioned).

- Which should be the next important priority? (again, the eight budget topics were provided as options).

- Now I'm going to read you two statements about Gretchen Whitmer's proposed state budget plan. Please tell me which statement you agree with more even if neither is exactly right. The state budget plan imposes to many taxes on everyday people. The state budget plan is a good start to making taxes fairer for everyday people.

- Now I'm going to read you two statements about Gretchen Whitmer's proposed state budget plan, please tell which statement you agree with more even if neither is exactly right. The state of Michigan cannot afford to increase spending this much. The state of Michigan cannot afford to not fix our roads, water and education system.

- Now I'm going to read you some additional proposals people have made for Michigan. Tell me you support or oppose each proposal: Guarantee that for any construction project funded by taxpayer dollars, contractors have to pay their workers at least a prevailing wage or at least the average pay for that job in the area. Establish a prescription drug consumer protection board comprised primarily of consumer advocates to protect Michigan consumers from unjustified price increases of prescription drugs.

- Require corporate polluters to clean up toxic pollution from Michigan's drinking water sources like lakes, rivers and groundwater. Expand access to affordable health care and protect Medicaid funding for low-income Michiganders.

- Michigan's legislators is discussing how to lower auto insurance rates for Michiganders, especially the residents of Detroit, who pay some of the highest rates of the nation. For each one of the following changes to auto insurance rules please tell me if you think it will lower insurance rates a great deal, some or not at all.

- Eliminating the requirement that auto insurers must provide lifetime medical benefits for catastrophic injuries.

- Allowing the insurance commissioner to require the insurance companies to defend their rates and block unreasonable increases.

- Limiting what health care providers can charge insurance companies, similar to how Medicare works now. Ending the process of setting rates based on non-driving risks like credit scores, ZIP codes and education levels.

- If the Michigan state Legislature allowed insurance companies to stop paying for lifetime medical benefits without requiring them to lower rates, do you believe insurance companies will lower rates or will insurance companies raise rates anyway?

The remaining questions were demographic questions.

- In what year were you born? Do you consider yourself a Republican, Democrat or independent? Lean more to the Republicans or the Democrats. Educational achievement, white color or blue color, labor union member, race? Did you vote for Trump or Hillary CLINTON in 2016? Did you vote for Whitmer or Bill SCHUETTE in 2018?
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2nd hour discussion today, Tuesday 3-26-19;
MIRS News Service

Is It Obvious Yet That The Budget Won't Get Done By June or July?

Michigan lawmakers have been able to tear themselves away from beautiful downtown Lansing for the better part of eight consecutive summers.

The reason? Because they've been able to get the annual budget wrapped up by about July 1 or sooner. Looking back over the decades, however, these past eight years were the exception, not the rule. From a more traditional viewpoint, banging out a budget has been a multi-month pursuit usually culminating in early autumn.

This year the budget is just one of three major issues on the legislative table. Fixing the "damn roads" and reforming the state's auto no-fault insurance system are also in the spotlight. Gov. Gretchen WHITMER has proposed a budget that intertwines with fixing the "damn roads." Meanwhile, legislative Republicans insist reforming the auto insurance system is Priority No. 1 to them.

If that wasn't enough of a complication, last week Senate Majority Leader Mike SHIRKEY (R-Clarklake) told reporters Senate Republicans will treat the budget and fixing the "damn roads" as separate issues. Isn't that enough to make visions of the upcoming summer look more like sessions, all-nighters and bartering instead of soda, pretzels and beer?

That's basically what MIRS asked a panel of political pundits. Have we reached a point where the logical default prediction should be that finding the fix for the "damn roads" and finally hammering out a budget will be post-Labor Day events?

Q. Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey told reporters last week that Senate Republicans are treating the budget and road funding as separate issues. Does that virtually assure that neither will get done until September?

"Divided government and the gulf between the Governor's ambition to make this Year Zero and pretend the last eight years either didn't happen or that everything that happened in Lansing since Jennifer GRANHOLM left was chaos means that September is the earliest anything will happen," said David FORSMARK of Winning Strategies.
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1st hour discussion today, Tuesday 3-26-19;
MIRS News Service

Catholic Agencies Days In State Foster Care Likely Nearing End

It is "highly unlikely" Catholic agencies will partner with the state on adoption and foster care services if the state "forces the Church to choose between its religious mission and staying 'in business,'" a spokesperson for the Michigan Catholic Conference (MCC) said today.

"Prior to such a determination being made, and considering the impact such a decision would have on children and families across Michigan, we are [hopeful] that a more reasonable outcome will present itself than what the Attorney General announced last week," said MCC spokesperson David MALUCHNIK, who also added that faith-based agencies facilitate 25 to 30 percent of foster care adoptions in Michigan.

Maluchnik noted that in other states in which similar decisions were made, the Catholic service provider pulled out of providing adoption services for that state entity.

On Friday, Attorney General Dana NESSEL announced a settlement in Dumont v. Gordon that would require state-contracted agencies to accept all qualified families -- including same-sex couples -- who are interested in foster care or adoption (See "State Won't Let Religious Adoption Agencies Say No To Same-Sex Couples," 3/22/19).

The decision only impacts adoptions the Christians charities provide for children in foster care on behalf of the state of Michigan. Private adoptions are not impacted by the settlement.

The various Catholic Charities of Michigan and Bethany Christian Services handle roughly 12.1 percent of the children in the state foster care system through their contracts with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) as of mid-February.

And St. Vincent Catholic Charities – the mid-Michigan branch of Catholic Charities -- and Bethany were the two organizations cited as refusing to work with the same-sex couples who filed suit in 2017 (See "ACLU Suit: Same-Sex Couples Face Bias In Adoption," 9/20/17).

Bethany was responsible for 1,159 of the 13,489 children under state care as of mid-February, according to DHHS data. St. Vincent and the other Catholic charities across Michigan were collectively responsible for 484 of those children.

The remaining 11,800 or so cases are handled by DHHS or other private agencies that are not Bethany or Catholic Charities, said DHHS spokesperson Bob WHEATON.

The state doesn't track or classify agencies on the basis of faith, so a list of other agencies with state contracts the DHHS provided today didn't immediately indicate what other faith-based organizations may be affected by the Friday settlement.

Becket Law, which represented St. Vincent as an intervening defendant in the case, issued a statement today saying it's still evaluating "how the State and the ACLU's settlement language might affect St. Vincent's rights and those of the families and children it serves."

"St. Vincent's policies are consistent with its religious beliefs, State law [and] the First Amendment," said Lori WINDHAM, senior counsel at Becket, who added that St. Vincent's mission "focuses on hard to place kids and the neediest in this space."

According to the U.S Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), when placing children with couples, Catholic Charities "ensures those children enjoy the advantage of having a mother and a father who are married."

The Catholic Church teaches that marriage can only exist between a man and a woman, because, in part, "only a union of male and female can express the sexual complementarity willed by God for marriage," according to the USCCB, and a same-sex union is not the same as marriage because, "it is not based on the natural complementarity of male and female; it cannot cooperate with God to create new life; and the natural purpose of sexual union cannot be achieved by a same-sex union."

A Bethany spokesperson said today the organization is "currently reviewing the announced settlement in Dumont v. Gordon. As always, our focus is on the children and families that we serve."

Plaintiffs Kristy and Dana DUMONT, along with the ACLU, had filed suit against the DHHS for its contracts with agencies that don't provide services involving same-sex couples.

The settlement reached by Nessel on behalf of the DHHS, which took effect Friday, requires the state to enforce the non-discrimination provisions of foster care and adoption contracts, including termination, if a state contracted-agency "discriminates against same-sex couples or LGBTQ individuals that may otherwise be qualified foster care or adoptive parents," according to a summary of the settlement struck by Nessel and the plaintiffs.

The DHHS contracts with foster care and adoption agencies prohibit discrimination against any individual or group based on, in part, "sexual orientation, gender identity or expression," according to the settlement summary.

Asked when the state may take enforcement action against providers that don't comply with the settlement, Wheaton said, "we're not in a position to answer" at this point.
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2nd hour discussion today, Monday 3-25-19;

From the movie Agenda, Grinding America Down (WATCH IT)!!!
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1st hour discussion today, Monday 3-25-19;
MIRS News Service, Lansing, MI

State Won't Let Religious Adoption Agencies Say No To Same-Sex Couples

State-contracted child welfare agencies must comply with the state's non-discrimination requirements and accept all qualified families -- including same-sex couples -- interested in foster care or adoption.

The announcement came today as part of a negotiated settlement in Dumont v. Gordon, a federal lawsuit challenging the state's practice of allowing state-funded child-placing agencies to use religious standards to turn away same sex-couples (See "ACLU Suit: Same-Sex Couples Face Bias In Adoption," 9/20/17).

"Discrimination in the provision of foster care case management and adoption services is illegal, no matter the rationale," Attorney General Dana NESSEL said today on the settlement. "Limiting the opportunity for a child to be adopted or fostered by a loving home not only goes against the state's goal of finding a home for every child, it is a direct violation of the contract every child-placing agency enters into with the state."

Lori WINDHAM, senior counsel at Becket Law, the Washington, D.C.-based law firm representing St. Vincent Catholic Charities, said the AG and ACLU's efforts are "trying to stop the state from working with faith-based adoption agencies" and the result will be "tragic."

"This settlement violates the state law protecting religious adoption agencies," she said in a statement. "This harms children and families waiting for forever homes and limits access for couples who chose to partner with those agencies."

In a tweet, Michigan Catholic Conference echoed Windham's sentiments, saying it does nothing to protect foster children looking for loving homes, but the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which represented the plaintiffs, called it a "victory for the nearly 12,000 children in foster care."

Plaintiffs Kristy DUMONT and Dana DUMONT, of Dimondale, praised the settlement agreement.

According to Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), each agency provided foster care case management or adoption services for one or more children referred to them by DHHS.

Because the plaintiffs were not seeking direct-placement or private adoption services and because they were not referred to the agencies through MDHHS, the agencies could not reject them under existing state law, Nessel said, noting that she and legal experts determined DHHS could be subject to liability on the plaintiffs' claims.

The settlement agreement calls for DHHS to maintain non-discriminatory provisions in its foster care and adoption agency contracts.

DHHS also agrees to enforce the non-discrimination provisions up to and including termination when a state-contracted agency discriminates against same-sex couples or LGBTQ individuals that may otherwise be qualified foster care or adoptive parents for any child accepted by the agency for services under contract with DHHS. The agreement also specifies that DHHS is not required to take adverse action against an agency on the basis that the agency has decided not to accept a referral from DHHS.

MDHHS has established an online complaint form for individuals who believe they’ve been a victim of illegal practices by an adoption facility, agency or provider.

The Dumont couple and another couple, Erin BUSK-SUTTON and Rebecca BUSK-SUTTON, filed their complaint in September 2017, alleging they approached St. Vincent Catholic Charities and Bethany Christian Services directly to adopt children the agencies had accepted through referrals from DHHS.

The plaintiffs claimed the agencies refused to work with them in violation of the non-discrimination provisions in the agencies’ contracts with DHHS.

The settlement has already sparked criticism with the Republican-led Legislature, which passed a 2015 law allowing adoption agencies to refuse to work with members of the LGBTQ community (See "Faith-Based Adoption Bills Signed Into Law," 6/11/15).

Senate Majority Leader Mike SHIRKEY (R-Clarklake) disagreed with the settlement, saying Nessel has shown "she cares little for the Constitution and even less for the vulnerable" children who need forever homes.

"Nessel's actions make it clear that she sought the office of attorney general to further her own personal political agenda," he said. "The Legislature wrote and passed a law regarding adoption practices in Michigan to both protect religious freedom and guard against discrimination."
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2 months ago

Your Defending Fathers

My first take to be airing soon on TV here in Northern Michigan!!!

Please SHARE,..."We LOVE our WellConnect"!!!

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3rd hour discussion today, Friday 3-22-19;
MIRS News Service

Senator Aric Nesbitt Sets No Fault Timeline

House and Senate Republicans have legislation designed to lower car insurance rates their top priority, but up until now no one has ventured in to say when the job will be done.

Enter the fray Sen. Aric NESBITT (R-Lawton), the sponsor of Click to add MIRS Bill Hound SB 0001, with a goal to get "something on the Governor's desk before summer." The Senate is expected to break for summer recess around June 13, but has tentative session dates going until June 27. It gives Nesbitt and company April, May and June to deliver something.

MIRS has learned that the Senate will go first on the issue as both the Senate Insurance and Banking Committee and the House's Select Committee on Reducing Car Insurance Rates continue to take public testimony on the subject.

So far, nobody has seen an actual document containing all of the elements of a cost-reduction plan, but a bill that returns Michigan back to a tort liability system hasn't been ruled out. Rep. Jason SHEPPARD (R-Temperance) introduced a bill that would do just that Tuesday.

Asked what he felt the two critical issues for reform were, Nesbitt said, "It's all about competition and choice."

He says everything is on the table, including a fee structure to bring down some of the hospital costs under no-fault. Earlier this week the Senate Majority Leader Mike SHIRKEY (R-ClarkLake) said, "I don't like fee schedules at all," but he did add that if talks did not progress, "I'm not afraid to do so." (See "Shirkey Not Wild About Fee Schedules, Mandates," 3/19/19).

Nesbitt is all in on allowing the marketplace to bring down the costs without a state mandate that cost savings be shared with motorists.

"Those costs will go down if we provide power to the individual drivers to have choice . . . if you believe in the free market there will be a cost savings, absolutely," he promised.

Senate Minority Leader Jim ANANICH (D-Flint) said last week that any no-fault auto insurance reform ideas that don't include a 100 percent guarantee of a rate reduction a non-starter (See "Senate D's Want Guaranteed No-Fault Rate Relief; Senate R's Want SAF For Higher Ed," 3/14/19).

Nesbitt said he is mindful of the possible statewide petition drive by developer Dan GILBERT if lawmakers don't act.

"I think the possibility of a ballot initiative for a full repeal of no-fault is legitimate. I'd rather see legislative action," Nesbitt said. He concluded if lawmakers don't, "That shows a failure of the legislative process."

Nesbitt has the support of the Detroit Mayor Mike DUGGAN on the choice front. The lawmaker says Michigan's "one size fits all" mandate for lifelong and unlimited catastrophic insurance does not work, which is why this state is the only one to have it.
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1st half hour discussion, Friday 3-22-19;
MIRS News Service

House, Senate GOP Hold Joint Caucus

House and Senate Republicans met in the House's caucus room for about 20 minutes before this afternoon's session, marking likely the first of-its-kind meeting in about 10 years.

Nearly all of the Senate Republicans emerged from the caucus room at about 12:25 p.m. after what numerous sources described as a congenial, albeit-packed, gathering.

"We are partners," smiled Senate Majority Leader Mike SHIRKEY (R-ClarkLake). "Get used to it. It's a new day."

The meeting was the joint idea of Shirkey and House Speaker Lee CHATFIELD (R-Levering), who have enjoyed an infinitely more productive relationship than the prior Republican leaders, which is due, in part, to the fact they are working with a Democratic governor.

"Leader Shirkey and I have developed a very strong and healthy relationship heading into this term and we wanted to make sure our caucuses were on the same page and understood that relationship," Chatfield said. "We are going to continue the work we began a couple months ago."

Chatfield said "there are certain benefits" to the caucuses working together and partnering with Gov. Gretchen WHITMER to make sure "we're moving the state in the right direction."

Neither Shirkey nor former House Speaker Jase BOLGER said they remembered a similar joint meeting during the former Gov. Rick SNYDER administration. Former Senate Majority Leader Randy RICHARDVILLE said he remembers getting together a joint caucus in the 2007-08 term when former Democratic Gov. Jennifer GRANHOLM was in office.

"This is a great sign the current leaders are working together very well," Bolger said. "As a unified Legislature they can lead the policy of the state. As a divided Legislature, the Governor would have the upper hand."

Shirkey and Chatfield have enjoyed a strong relationship since the beginning of the year. They meet or speak regularly and have attended functions like the Michigan Republican Party convention together.

It helps both caucuses are on the same page as far as their immediate priorities. Both have made reducing auto insurance rates -- be through a reform of the auto no-fault system or a return to tort liability in car insurance -- their top priority, even before the completion of the Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 budget.

Coming up with additional road dollars would be the third priority, with the expansion of the 2015 roads funding package being seen as a potential alternative.

Neither the House nor the Senate are supporting Whitmer's 45-cent gas tax increase proposal. It's possible either chamber could put a resolution denouncing the measure on the voting board to see where their Democratic colleagues stand on it.

Legislative Democrats, up to now, have been reluctant to give full-throated support to the gas tax proposal, in part because they don't see value in getting behind something so controversial when they know Republicans won't seriously consider it.

"I support raising $2.5 billion," said House Minority Leader Christine GREIG (D-Farmington Hills) when asked if she supports the 45-cent gas tax. Her constituents are telling her they agree that more revenue needs to be raised and aren't opposed to paying more at the pump to do it.

"We're going to talk about it as a caucus, but we're still gathering information from our constituents," she said.

Rep. Donna LASINSKI (D-Scio Twp.) said her constituents are telling her the same thing -- basically, they're fine paying more in gas taxes as long as 100 percent of it goes to the roads.

House Minority Floor Leader Yousef RABHI (D-Ann Arbor) said he'd seriously consider voting for 45 cents if it were put on the board.

But since it's not on the board, Democrats are being creative with their responses.

"I'll vote for it . . . in 2022," smiled Rep. Sheldon NEELEY (D-Flint), who is term-limited after the current term.
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2nd hour discussion today, Thursday 3-21-19; MIRS News Service

MML, Detroit Chamber Support Whitmer's 45-Cent Tax Increase

The Michigan Municipal League and the Detroit Chamber of Commerce each came out in support of raising Michigan's gas tax 45 cents if that's what it took to raise an additional $2.5 billion to fix the roads.

Gov. Gretchen WHITMER learned of the 19-member MML Board's unanimous decision on Tuesday before speaking the organization's members at its annual legislative conference in downtown Lansing. The Detroit Chamber announcement came today.

"The Detroit Regional Chamber supports the Governor's proposal to address Michigan’s road funding crisis by generating $2.5 billion annually in new funding with the preferred source being a gas tax or other user fee," said Detroit Regional Chamber President and CEO Sandy BARUAH. "The Chamber looks forward to working with the Governor and the Legislature to finalize the mechanism and timing to achieve this goal.”

Lawmakers are not exactly jumping up and down about the proposal.

Today in the House Appropriations Committee, Rep. Tom ALBERT (R-Lowell) doublechecked with House Fiscal Agency Director Mary Ann CLEARY how much a gas tax increase would need to be to raise $1.9 billion, assuming the remaining $600 million came out of the General Fund. The answer is between 34 and 35 cents.

Still the Governor's press secretary said the Governor is pleased to see "growing, bipartisan leadership and support for the Governor's budget."

"They understand the challenges facing our state and recognize that the Governor has put forth a budget with real solutions -- to fix the roads, clean up drinking water, and make sure every Michigander has a path to a high wage career -- to solve problems that will make a difference in people’s lives right now," said Whitmer Press Secretary Tiffany BROWN. "As you’ve heard her say many times before, the Governor is willing to work with anyone who is willing to work with her on real solutions."

Meanwhile, the Senate Majority Leader is getting some Democratic push back on his line-in-the-sand stance that the Governor's road package should be a separated from the budget debate.

"I don't understand how you can write the budget without dealing with the road package because roads effect the budget . . . there are (budget) decisions" linked to that. That's the opinion from Sen. Curtis HERTEL Jr. (D-East Lansing).

While he is suggesting that, he and other Democrats are telling the Republicans if you don't like Whitmer's road blue print, "show us your plan."

House Speaker Lee CHATFIELD (R-Levering) and Senate Majority Leader Mike SHIRKEY (R-Clarklake) have not, but Shirkey promised to have his package in "early summer."

Early summer?

Hertel countered, "that seems like a long time," but he is still pleased that the other side has conceded that "their original road plan did not work."

On another front, Sen. Tom BARRETT (R-Potterville) is telling MIRS that if the governor's 45 cent a gallon gas tax hike was so good, how come no Democrat has introduced the measure?

"They ought to put up or shut up," the new Eaton County GOP Senator asserted. "Not a single one of my colleagues on the Democratic side is willing to put their name on this proposal," which he concludes only goes to show that the Governor's tax hike doesn't have backing in the Democratic ranks.

Hertel checking in on that, countering, "I think Tom knows he's being facetious . . . He knows how the budget process works (so) that charge is not fair." He adds it takes time for bill drafting and he conceded if Mr. Barrett "had a bill and wanted it out in two weeks," he could probably get the Legislative Service Bureau to do that, but that's not the case with a Democratic proposal.

Meanwhile, adding a touch of intrigue to the back and forth, a source indicates there has been some chatter in the House GOP ranks about running the governor's tax hike and letting the chips fall where they may with the Republicans hopes being that it would go down in flames.
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1st hour discussion today, Thursday 3-21-19; MIRS News Service

House Votes To Give Libraries Immunity If They Administer Naloxone

Libraries and their employees would be able to purchase, possess and use opioid antagonists without fear of criminal or civil repercussions, under a pair of bills approved today by the House in unanimous votes.

Click to add MIRS Bill Hound HB 4366 and Click to add MIRS Bill Hound HB 4367, sponsored by Rep. Jason SHEPPARD (R-Lambertville), would provide criminal and civil immunity if a librarian has to administer such a drug, like naloxone hydrochloride, Narcan or Evzio, which rapidly reverse the effects of an opioid overdose.

The bills would treat libraries similar to what schools, explained Gail MADZIER, executive director of the Michigan Library Association. Without that immunity, she explained, some library attorneys had been recommending against libraries having the overdose drug.

"It is unfortunate that libraries are put in this situation, but libraries are open to all. They offer relative anonymity. They allow patrons to stay as long as the like and that makes them vulnerable to those seeking a place to use drugs at times. Nobody wants them to be in the position to have to administer this drug, but those librarians are on the front line dealing with the issue on a regular basis," Madzier said.

Sheppard said that emergency personnel are very good at responding to overdoses and, when administered to an individual whose breathing has slowed or stopped due to overdosing on heroin or a prescription opioid, naloxone can very quickly restore normal breathing.

But there might be circumstances when emergency personnel can't get to the scene quite fast enough. Sheppard said his Government Operations Committee, which took testimony on the bills Tuesday, heard of one overdose death in a library that might have been preventable if the library had the drug.

"We have been fortunate that most of the overdoses have been close enough that first responders have been able to get there, but our concern is there is going to be time when a first responder isn't going to get there in time, or it is in a more rural area, or it is some place that doesn't have a close first responder, and then the library is going to be in the situation to have to provide that," Madziar said.

Sheppard noted that the bills do not require libraries to have naloxone, it is strictly voluntary. But library employees, if trained in how to property administer the drug, would be allowed to have it.

Sheppard called the bills "sensible legislation" and he hopes the 106-0 votes on the bills today will convince the Senate to quickly take them up.
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2nd half hour today, Wednesday 3-20-19; MIRS News Service

Expanded FOIA Bill Passes House For 3rd Straight Term

The governor's office would be subject to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and the Legislature would fall under a new, similar open records law starting with records created Jan. 1, 2020, under legislation that unanimously passed the House this afternoon.

The 10-bill package led by Rep. Daire RENDON's (R-Lake City) Click to add MIRS Bill Hound HB 4007 is virtually identical to a FOIA-related legislation that overwhelmingly passed the House last year, but died in the Senate due to Senate Majority Leader Arlan MEEKHOF's reluctance to release future constituent communications.

These bills do shield certain documents: Non-lobbyist constituent letters, medical information, information pertaining to an internal investigation, trade secrets and attorney-client communications.

Documents that would be open to disclosure would be staff calendars and policy information obtained by a legislator. One of the bills, Click to add MIRS Bill Hound HB 4014, sponsored by Rep. Andrea SCHROEDER (R-Independence Twp.), did not move as she recovers from an illness.

"Government exists to work for the people, and residents can’t have faith in their government if it fails to set an example of openness and honesty," said Rep. Ryan BERMAN (R-Commerce Twp.). "We must make sure people have all of the information they need to hold us accountable."

The current Senate Majority Leader, Sen. Mike SHIRKEY (R-Clarklake), is not supportive of the bills as they came out of the House, but does want to get something done on the FOIA issue this term, according to Shirkey Press Secretary Amber McCANN.

Gov. Gretchen WHITMER campaigned on expanding FOIA to cover the Legislature and the Governor's Office, not on creating a special disclosure law for the legislative branch.

"The Governor appreciates the hard work that has gone into this package of bills. She's committed to transparency, which these bills achieve. While not everything she wanted, this package is a considerable step forward and she supports it," said Whitmer Press Secretary Tiffany BROWN.

Today's vote marks the third straight session the House overwhelmingly passed the reform and the second straight term the bills moved without a single no vote (See "Open Records Bills Breeze Through House; Face Headwinds In Senate," 3/16/17 and See "FOIA Reform Bills Pass House," 9/21/16).

Reps. Daire RENDON (R-Lake City), Padma KUPPA (D-Troy), Darrin CAMILLERI (D-Brownstown Twp.) and Donna LASINSKI (D-Scio Twp.) each spoke on the floor on the importance of the legislation.

"The people in my district know first-hand that corruption is allowed to exist when a public body is allowed to operate in the darkness," Kuppa said. "This is actual, over-due change."

"We live in a world where so much knowledge is at our fingertips, yet the average person still can't access basic information about how their state government operate or how their tax dollars are being spent," Camilleri said. "I was subject to open records law while I was a teacher and when I served as a local parks and recreation commissioner, but those same transparency measures aren't in place for something as consequential as out state government."

Click to add MIRS Bill Hound HB 4007, Click to add MIRS Bill Hound HB 4008, Click to add MIRS Bill Hound HB 4009, Click to add MIRS Bill Hound HB 4010, Click to add MIRS Bill Hound HB 4011, Click to add MIRS Bill Hound HB 4012, Click to add MIRS Bill Hound HB 4013, Click to add MIRS Bill Hound HB 4014, Click to add MIRS Bill Hound HB 4015 and Click to add MIRS Bill Hound HB 4016 create a Legislative Open Records Act that operates separate from FOIA. The main difference is that those denied an open record would appeal to the Legislative Council administrator as opposed to the courts. A further appeal could be made to the Legislative Council.

A legislative record fee couldn't be more than $75 and if an administrator believes that someone has "arbitrarily and capriciously violated" the LORA law in denying a request, disciplinary action can be recommended.

The House Fiscal Agency (HFA) estimates that hiring three more legislative staff and an additional gubernatorial worker would cost the state $381,000 in Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 and $508,000 in FY '21.

"We'll get it over here and we'll process it," Shirkey told reporters regarding the House-passed legislation. "We're not going to do 'nothing.' We will do something, but it probably won't be exactly like what the House is sending over here."

Shirkey said he has spoken with House Speaker Lee CHATFIELD (R-Levering) "at length" about the FOIA issue. He repeated that his concerns about FOIA reform are to "make sure any changes won't impair the natural flow of negotiations or risk personal communications with social media and electronic transmission.

"We're probably going to propose something very specific," Shirkey continued. "It will likely be very different than what comes out of the House."

MIRS asked if the Senate Republicans would be looking at what other states have done regarding FOIA.

"That is already being looked at," Shirkey responded.

McCann told reporters that the Senate Majority Leader wants a "specific definition of open records," instead of "painting with a broad brush."
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1st half hour discussion today, Wednesday 3-20-19;
MIRS News Service

Whitmer Administration Holding Back Support On Gaming Expansion

Gaming expansion bills similar to what former Gov. Rick SNYDER vetoed last term were reported out of a House committee this morning overwhelmingly, but without the Gov. Gretchen WHITMER administration's support.

Lottery, Treasury and the state Budget Office all submitted cards before the House Regulatory Reform Committee voted to move Click to add MIRS Bill Hound HB 4307, Click to add MIRS Bill Hound HB 4308, Click to add MIRS Bill Hound HB 4309, Click to add MIRS Bill Hound HB 4310, Click to add MIRS Bill Hound HB 4311, Click to add MIRS Bill Hound HB 4312 and Click to add MIRS Bill Hound HB 4323. Officials wrote they were willing to work with legislators on the package, but they opposed the bills at this time.

"As written, the fiscal implication is concerning; however, we are open to further discussion regarding this legislation," said Whitmer Press Secretary Tiffany BROWN.

Legislation legalizing in-state internet gambling, remote horse race betting, fantasy sports regulation and looser charitable gaming regulations may be getting some administrative pushback out of concerns that it would chip away at Lottery's clientele and suck away School Aid Fund (SAF) money.

The Michigan Association of School Boards was among the education-related groups that opposed the bills under the premise laid out in a House Fiscal Agency (HFA) analysis that for every $1 bet that's lost on an online internet game as opposed to being lost on a brick-and-mortar casino, there's a 7.8-cent loss to the School Aid Fund.

The reason is this: brick-and-mortar Detroit casinos are taxed at 19 percent with 42.6 percent of that money going to the SAF. Rep. Brandt IDEN's (R-Oshtemo Twp.) Click to add MIRS Bill Hound HB 4311 taxes internet casinos at 8 percent with 5 percent of that money going into the SAF.

Theoretically, if the Detroit casinos lost 1 percent of their revenue from internet gaming, the hit to SAF would be $1.17 million. In order to make up that revenue from internet gaming, the wagers would need to total $2.44 billion, according to the HFA.

Overall, the HFA estimates the bills would cut state and city of Detroit revenues because of the lower 8 percent state taxes attached to internet gaming as opposed to the 19 percent tax attached to the physical casino locations. A rough estimate on the revenue loss, however, wasn't offered.

Still, the committee overwhelming moved the bills to Iden's Ways and Means Committee with Rep. Frank LIBERATI (D-Allen Park) being the lone consistent no vote.

"There's an addicting factor," Liberati said. "It tears families apart."

House Regulatory Reform Committee Chair Mike WEBBER (R-Rochester) said he understands the administration has concerns and expressed faith that Iden would continue the conversation with the Whitmer administration through his Ways and Means Committee.

"This is a long process, but this was a good first step," Webber said.

Rep. Alex GARZA (D-Taylor) proposed ramping up the tax rate from 8 to 16 percent from now until 2023, but the Republican-led committee voted down the idea.

Most Democrats voted in favor of the bill today. Their continued support in the process is critical since at least one bill, Click to add MIRS Bill Hound HB 4307, needs three-quarters support on the House and Senate floors to pass, Webber noted.
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2nd half hour in Hour 1 discussion, today Monday 3-18-19;
MIRS News Service

Shirkey Liking Idea Of Electoral College Votes By Congressional District

Having states select its Electoral College votes by congressional district would be a way to avoid a national effort to elect presidents by popular vote ends while not "disenfranchising" "whole states, Senate Majority Leader Mike SHIRKEY (R-ClarkLake) said this week.

Asked if he supports the National Popular Vote -- in which states making up 270 electoral votes sign a compact to throw their Electoral College votes to the winner of the national popular vote -- the Senate leader said he didn't see the movement as a "viable solution" to what he sees as a growing concern.

"At one time, I considered NPV an option worthy of debate," he said. "As the move towards urbanization continues, we run the very real risk, within states, of disenfranchising a significant portion of non-urban citizens.

"My opinion is we (the states) need to apply the concept of 'federalism' within our states as it relates to allocation of electoral college votes."

One way to do, that, Shirkey argued, would be to change state laws so that Electoral College vote allocation would be done by congressional district.

"This would keep every part of every state engaged in presidential races, which should be the goal," he said.

Currently, Nebraska and New Hampshire are the only states that divide up their electoral college votes in this way.

Shirkey's comments come as the Delaware House passed a measure today that would include it into the National Popular Vote compact. The bill now goes to the state's governor for his expected signature. The vote comes two days after the New Mexico Senate passed legislation to the join the compact.

Colorado is an expected gubernatorial signature away from signing up, as well.

If all three states join the compact, it will include 15 states representing 189 electoral college votes. The compact needs enough states to make up 270 electoral college votes before it would have the effect of giving the presidency in the next election to the candidate who receives the most votes nationally.

Don't expect Michigan to be joining the list any time soon.

Saul ANUZIS, the former Michigan Republican Party chair who is working this issue nationally, conceded on Michigan's Big Show this morning that Michigan is still "a year or two away" from a vote on the concept.

"This is one of those things that's a long process," he said. "It usually takes about three to five years to pass a bill because you have to talk about it with the various parties. That activists need to get educated on it."

A majority of state senators supported the measure last year, but a bill that would have added Michigan to the compact died after then-House Speaker Tom LEONARD (R-DeWitt) made it clear he didn't like the idea (See "Union Decertification And A Few Other Bills That Died In The Senate," 12/13/18).

Conservative grassroots groups have argued that as long as Republican President Donald TRUMP needs Michigan to win the Electoral College vote, it makes sense to keep the current presidential selection process in place. National money and attention will continue to flow into the state to boost other Republican candidates.

This may be great for Michigan in those cases in which the Republican presidential nominee is playing here. But Anuzis argues that when that nominee is engaged, the money dries up fast and Republicans can face a rough election season, as was the case in 2008 when John McCAIN pulled out of Michigan with a month left in the campaign.

Over in the House, Speaker Lee CHATFIELD (R-Levering) isn't spending time on the issue at the moment because "It's not something that's being discussed right now" in Michigan, said press secretary Gideon D'ASSANDRO.
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2nd hour discussion today, Tuesday 3-12-19;
MIRS News Service

Shirkey Prioritizing Auto Insurance Over Budget

It's early March in the state capital, which means it's typically "all things budget" from here until it's finished.

But this year, Senate Majority Leader Mike SHIRKEY (R-ClarkLake) is prioritizing auto no-fault insurance reform over the budget. In short, the Senate leader wants to tell ratepayers that real relief is on the way before even asking residents to reach into their pockets for any more state investment, said Press Secretary Amber McCANN.

With Michigan having the nation's high car insurance rates, Shirkey wants to show residents the state is serious about making life easier for them. What that looks like, is still not crystal clear.

Gov. Gretchen WHITMER's proposed 45-cent-a-gallon gas tax increase isn't going to move through the Legislature, but Shirkey and other Republicans are reluctantly signaling that some increase in revenue to pay for Michigan's roads is likely (See "Stamas: 1% Chance On Gas Tax; Chatfield: 0%," 3/7/19).

"The Senate Majority Leader is very focused on not linking any policy to the completion of the budget," McCann said. "Car insurance reform is a complex issue by itself and locking it to the budget, which is complex in itself, would make it all very difficult to resolve."

Senate Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee Chair Wayne SCHMIDT (R-Traverse City) is on board with the timing of saving drivers money on their auto insurance at about same time as asking for more money for the roads.

"That's ultimately the goal. To make sure we have some kind of reduction in the auto insurance rates and part of that reduction is going toward fixing the roads," he said. "In order to have safe roads we're going to need some more money."

Of course, if there is enough money for the roads, the Governor's gas tax would not be needed to which the Traverse City senator opines, "that would be nice."

It's unclear what dollar amounts are in this plan since all of the interest groups involved in the auto no-fault debate are point to each other as the reason for the state's sky-high rates (See "No Timeline On Senate No-Fault Reform; Hearings Continue," 3/1/19).

"I don't know the exact amounts that would be reasonable," said Schmidt, but he contends there is an extra bonus for motorists. If there are better roads, "that would help auto insurance claims costs," he added.

To this general idea, Sen. Curtis HERTEL Jr. (D-East Lansing) said, "I am more than willing to have any conversation possible. Obviously, I have an enormous amount of respect for the majority leader and I'll look forward to what the actual puzzle looks like."

In the meantime, minus the "devil in the details," he said, "the concept is a fair thing to talk about and sounds like a balanced approach, but only if the details are there and I don't know what those look like."

Schmidt says it could be a couple of weeks before all this comes together, but with the whole package riding on special interests chipping in on no-fault, there may be some who doubt it can happen (See "No-Fault Committee Discussions Nearing Boiling Point," 2/27/19).
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1st half hour discussion today, Tuesday 3-12-19;
MIRS News Service

Gas Usage Could Decline 12% By 2025, And Tax Revenue With It

A federal study projects that U.S. vehicle gas usage could decrease 12 percent by 2025, and one expert said that could mean a 12 percent decline in gas tax revenue by that time, as well.

As debate over Gov. Gretchen WHITMER's plan to fix the roads takes shape with her proposal to hike the state's gas tax by 45 cents, one objection raised to the approach is this: With vehicles getting more fuel-efficient, relying on gas taxes to pay for roads results in relying on a declining revenue source over the long-term.

It's a point both House Speaker Lee CHATFIELD (R-Levering) and Senate Minority Leader Jim ANANICH (D-Flint) made in responding to another proposal to raise the gas taxes by 47 cents (See "Adopting An Early Budget Is Not Chatfield's Highest Priority," 2/12/19).

Reacting to the 47-cent proposal from former lawmakers Bob EMERSON and Ken SIKKEMA, Senate Majority Leader Mike SHIRKEY (R-Clarklake) called it an "unsustainable funding source." Ananich said that day, as well, "There is no question that a gas tax is not the most sustainable way."

While it's generally stated that vehicles are getting more fuel efficient, a 2017 analysis issued by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) -- part of the U.S. Department of Energy – puts a number to what this may mean for gas usage in the future.

The analysis pegs anticipated changes in energy consumption -- which is primarily gasoline -- by light-duty vehicles on two factors: The amount of travel and the fuel economy of vehicles.

According to the study, the average on-road fuel economy -- which the EIA deemed more relevant for estimating energy consumption -- for new passenger vehicles during model year 2015 averaged about 31 miles per gallon (mpg) for cars, and 21 mpg for light trucks

By model year 2025, passenger car on-road vehicle fuel economy is expected to jump to 45 mpg, which is a 43 percent increase. For trucks, it's expected to go to 31 mpg by that time, a 46 percent increase.
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