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

1 day ago

Your Defending Fathers

We had a power and internet outage this morning. Working to get the music back on 97.7 FM, but NO show for "Your Defending Fathers" this morning. We are working on the problem and hopefully will be back on tomorrow. Thanks for understanding and listening!!! ... See MoreSee Less

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3 days ago

Your Defending Fathers

The BEST College Football game today,...coming up at 3:30 pm on CBS!!!

FREE Your Defending Father's Coffee Cup to anyone who can chat message me the times our TWO (2) TV Commercials air during the game, here in Northern Michigan!!!
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5 days ago

Your Defending Fathers

Michigan State Senators go home til next week,...State Reps. gone til December 3rd, 2019!!! ... See MoreSee Less

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1st hour discussion today, Tuesday 11-5-19; MIRS News Service

Gilchrist Letter Signals Potential Breakthrough In Negotiations

Gov. Gretchen WHITMER and legislative leaders may, at long last, have found their common ground in regards to the elongated back-and-forth over the Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 budget.

Lt. Gov. Garlin GILCHRIST penned a letter today that reads Whitmer is open to allowing the Legislature to insert boilerplate provisions into budgets that would block the Governor from using her administrative board powers to move around money within departments.

This proposal appears to match legislation introduced last week by Rep. Shane HERNANDEZ (R-Port Huron) that would give the Legislature the power to block the Administrative Board transfers (See "Whitmer Offers To Undo 'Certain' Ad Board Transfers; Lawmakers Suggest 'All,'" 10/29/19).

The Gilchrist letter reads, that the Governor would support "Boilerplate language that would reflect the agreement not to use the state administrative board transfer powers, which the governor would agree to follow and not challenge."'

Whitmer would sign a message that would affirm this agreement. She'd also make it part of a negotiated target agreement that would be discussed at a joint press conference. She said she would rescind one or more of the state administrative board transfers.

"We were all sent here by our constituents to work together on their behalf and find pathways through any impasse," Gilchrist wrote. "I know this is possible."

Would Whitmer sign legislation making this agreement permanent, however?

Click to add MIRS Bill Hound HB 5176 simply reads that the state Administrative Board has the authority to transfer money around within departments "unless otherwise provided by law," meaning a budget bill would block a transfer.

If Hernandez's Click to add MIRS Bill Hound HB 5176 is what Whitmer has in mind or can be amended to reflect what she has in mind (a possible sunset?), it could signal a significant breakthrough in the standoff between the two. Whitmer meets with House Speaker Lee CHATFIELD (R-Levering) and Senate Majority Leader Mike SHIRKEY (R-ClarkLake) Tuesday.
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2 weeks ago

Your Defending Fathers

I've been saying the exact same things on my radio show,...just never sat down and put them in writing,...thank you Jason!!! ... See MoreSee Less

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2 weeks ago

Your Defending Fathers

Today's (Wednesday) noon press conference will be streamed live on the Michigan Heartbeat Coalition's Facebook page:


Be sure to tune in!
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2 weeks ago

Your Defending Fathers

AMEN Bob Cushman,...great sign!!! ... See MoreSee Less

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2 weeks ago

Your Defending Fathers

Live: President Trump confirms death of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi ... See MoreSee Less

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3rd hour discussion today Wednesday, 10-23-19;
MIRS News Service

Shirkey, Chatfield Working With VNP On Term-Limit Expansion

Michigan's legislative leaders are working on a legislative term-limit expansion deal with Voters Not Politicians, the grassroots organization that brought the state the new redistricting commission, and the Michigan Chamber of Commerce.

The conceptual plan, which won't be finalized until December, would be that lawmakers could serve a combined 20 years in both the House and Senate before they would be broomed from office.

The length of the combined years is still flexible and would be based on what future polling looks like. As part of the arrangement, House Speaker Lee CHATFIELD (R-Levering) and Senate Majority Leader Mike SHIRKEY (R-Clarklake) would add other ethics reform measure into the mix that VNP members are passionate about.

Other questions on whether the expansion would include currently serving or past members also needs to be fleshed out. Legislative leaders are conscious about not wanting the proposal to appear to be self-serving, but they also don't to run into any legal problems of excluding a certain group of people from the expanded restriction.

Reforms VNP have been interested in pursuing include lame-duck reform, ending the "revolving door" of legislators becoming lobbyists and expanding the Freedom of Information Act to legislators and the executive branch.

"The Senate Majority Leader has a known interest in addressing the issue of term limits and the fact that they have been a failed experiment," said Shirkey spokesperson Amber McCANN. "He and the Speaker have found a willing partner in VNP. They have some reforms that they would like to pursue in conjunction with the issue of term limits changes. We have found some common ground and are moving forward with that consensus."

Shirkey and Chatfield briefed their respective legislative chambers on the development today.

"I have always prioritized greater government transparency, accountability and efficiency," Chatfield said. "I'm glad to be partnering with anyone who is willing to come to the table and work together on a real, responsible plan to make state government better for the people of Michigan."

Reached for comment, Michigan Chamber of Commerce President Rich STUDLEY told MIRS that, yes, there have been recent discussions with "traditional and non-traditional partners" as well as legislators about seeing what proposals the Legislature could enact to strengthen state government and transparency.

While there is no "agreement or proposal," just yet, Studley said the Chamber is open to discussions. The thinking is if those proposals are enacted, it might give the public more confidence and allow the door to be cracked on reforming term limits -- something Studley noted the Chamber has been discussing on and off for years.

In 1992, Michigan voters passed a constitutional amendment that limits Michigan residents to being elected to three two-year terms in the state House and two four-year terms in the state Senate.

A change to the Constitution would require a vote of the people. To put a term-limits amendment on the ballot, the Legislature could either pass a joint concurrent resolution with a two-thirds vote majority or VNP would need to collect 425,059 valid Michigan voter signatures within a six-month window.

To get the amendment on the Nov. 3, 2020 ballot, the signatures would need to be turned in by July 6, 2020.

Today's breakthrough is substantial. Former House Speaker Rick JOHNSON and former Senate Majority Leader Randy RICHARDVILLE are among the many state leaders who have talked about expanding the six-year limitation in the House and eight-year limitation in the Senate.

Each time, however, the proposal collapsed on its weight as internal polls showed any term-limits expansion effort would fail. According to Patrick ANDERSON, CEO of the Anderson Economic Group, who worked for the original term-limits proposal in 1992, the same would happen with this proposal if it ever got off the ground.

All the focus groups and polls in the world won't produce a "faux-populist," "pushmi-pullyu" proposal that would fool the voters, he said.

"The legislature, VNP and the Michigan Chamber all coming together. What could go wrong?" Anderson chuckled. "This is more like a concept for a game show than a plan for government. How are we going to explain this to our kids? And exactly who thought that keeping legislators in office for two decades was a plan for ‘transparency?’"

The efforts have continuously fallen apart amid poor polling data. Working with Voters Not Politicians, who successfully pushed through a petition drive in 2018 to create a new citizen redistricting commission, gives legislative leaders a popular ally to help make reforms.

VNP Executive Director Nancy WANG said earlier this summer that her members were putting together "good government, pro-democracy reforms" for a potential petition drive in 2020 or 2022. Reforming term limits -- either extending or eliminating them -- was among the ideas on the table (See "VNP 'Actively Looking' At Term Limits For Possible Ballot Drive," 7/12/19).

"Today, she said, Voters Not Politicians is committed to advancing reforms that will make our government more transparent and accountable to the people, including ending the revolving door, term limits, opening the Legislature and governor to FOIA, and ethics reforms all aimed at restoring Michigan voters’ faith in our state and democracy.

"We have spoken with many groups, including some lawmakers, who could move these reforms forward, and we will consider taking them to the ballot should that be necessary."

Fifteen states have legislative term limits and only Arkansas has terms as restrictive as Michigan's. California's term limits were modified in 2012 to a 12-year cumulative total, in either or both chambers.
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1st hour discussion today, Wednesday 10-23-19;
MIRS News Service

60% Tell State 'We Have Enough To Fix Roads'

Sixty percent of likely Michigan voters say the state has enough in its coffers to fix the roads while 30% agree with Gov. Gretchen WHITMER that a revenue increase is needed, according to a Denno Research poll released today.

The Governor has argued that $2.5 billion in additional annual revenue is needed to move the state's roads into good condition over a period of time.

The voters also were asked what one piece of advice they would give a graduating high school senior. The plurality picked the option that the young person should earn a certificate for a skilled trade. Another 28% said the teenager should go to a community college. Only 23% would urge the graduate to go to a four-year university.

A final 5% said the youngster should immediately enter the workforce with the possibility of going to school later.

On another question, 87% said they would encourage blue-collar jobs while 8% would discourage them.

This same poll, conducted in conjunction with Vanguard Public Affairs and Public Sector Consulting, showed U.S. Sen. Gary PETERS (D-Bloomfield Twp.) and Republican candidate John JAMES at 39.5% to 39.3% in a head-to-head matchup. In their last survey in May, Peters was up by 5 percentage points, 42% to 37%.

The Michigan voters also were asked to gauge how Gov. Gretchen WHITMER is doing on a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being the best. A total of 26% gave her a 4 or 5. Another 33% gave her a 1 or 2.

President Donald TRUMP was given a 4 or 5 by 39% and a 1 or 2 by 45%.

In the Democratic presidential primary, former Vice President Joe BIDEN continued to lead among likely Democratic voters by 4 points over U.S. Sen. Elizabeth WARREN 27%-23%. U.S. Sen. Bernie SANDERS, who won the Democratic primary in 2016, comes in third at 12%. Tied at 4% are U.S. Sen. Kamala HARRIS and South Bend Mayor Pete BUTTIGIEG.
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3 weeks ago

Your Defending Fathers

3rd hour discussion today, Tuesday 10-22-19;

Rick Warzywak with the Michigan Heartbeat Bill Coalition joined the show to update us on their efforts and to invite folks to join in on a phone conference call tomorrow morning at 8:30 am with State Senator - Ed McBroom;

The call in phone number; 712.770.8002 PIN#; 605097
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3 weeks ago

Your Defending Fathers

2nd hour discussion today, Tuesday 10-22-19;

Ken Borton joined us to talk about the impact Gov. Whitmer's veto of the state budget (as sent to her by the Republicans in the House and Senate), on our local counties.

Also, Ken mentioned his fundraiser event for his election campaign to be elected the next State Representative for the 105th House District (Triston Cole is term limited out next year, 2020) which covers Antrim, Charlevoix, Otsego, Montmorency and Oscoda counties.

His event is this Thursday, 10-24-19 at 5:30 pm at BJ's in Gaylord on Old 27. You can register/RSVP at his campaign website at; kenborton.com
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3 weeks ago

Your Defending Fathers

PUBLIC WELCOME - Antrim County Conservative Union - Come Join Us!!!
October's Monthly Meeting - TOMORROW NIGHT, (3rd Monday)
October 21st, 2019 @ 7:30 pm - 9:00 pm in Bellaire, at the Forest Home Township Hall - 321 N. Bridge Street, Bellaire;

Click on the link below for the agenda, driving directions;

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3rd hour discussion today, Friday, 10-18-19; MIRS News

State To Take Public Assistance Clients At Their Word On Assets

Starting next month, people can have more in the bank account and still be eligible for food and other public assistance, Gov. Gretchen WHITMER and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) announced today.

Whitmer, together with DHHS Director Robert GORDON at a press conference at the Greater Lansing Food Bank, announced $15,000 would be the asset limit for three assistance programs: food assistance, the family independence program and the state emergency relief program. The changes take effect Nov. 1.

DHHS also plans to switch from requiring applicants to document their assets to having them file a statement of their assets, essentially taking people at their word unless there's a reason to question them, Gordon said. That would bring Michigan in line with other states allowing people to self-report their assets, he said.

Currently, the asset limit on food assistance is $5,000. For the family independence program, it's $3,000. And for state emergency relief, it's $500, although DHHS noted it was $50 when Whitmer took office before bumping it up.

Both Whitmer and Gordon said Michigan's asset tests are among the strictest in the nation. According to the Governor's office, 34 states have no asset test for food assistance. Michigan is required by state law to have an asset test, but is allowed to dictate what that is.

The Food Bank Council of Michigan said the state will no longer be punishing the poor, "but now will help our working families and seniors, along with their children and grandchildren, build wealth rather than force them to spend their savings down to abject poverty levels before we would offer assistance."

The family independence program provides cash assistance to families with children, and the state emergency relief program provides immediate help to people facing conditions of extreme hardship or for emergencies threatening health and safety, according to the DHHS.

The requirements for lower income won't change for these programs -- food assistance and state emergency relief call for people to be making a certain amount below the federal poverty level -- but the policy change announced today allows people to have bigger bank accounts to qualify for assistance.

Gordon gave a few examples where the state would force a cash-strapped family to drain a savings account before receiving assistance under the current requirements. For instance, if a family were facing a $100 heating bill and had $150 in the bank, the state would've required the $150 be used first toward the bill.

"There's a long history of making it as hard as possible to get help from our agency," he said.

Also as part of the changes today, the state will not count vehicles toward the asset limit for the food assistance program. Gordon said it takes a lot of work to figure out the value of vehicles and that it slows down the process.

Gordon said he didn't fear an increase in fraud as a result of allowing people to self-report their assets, as there would still be some "back-end" investigation. He also said the DHHS can still request documents when they feel it's needed.

"Right now, if somebody wants to lie, they can lie . . . if you've got a million dollar account, we don't go looking," he said, adding later that many honest people will run around to verify what they have in their bank accounts.

"I think a better system is to say, that in general, for most people who are trying to do the right thing, we will take their word," Gordon said.

He said documentation would be required if people are reporting assets over $10,000, as well as in cases where people previously applied and were over the limit, and then came back and reapplied, "so then we think maybe they're not being honest," he said.

Gordon also said if President Donald TRUMP's administration gets its way on proposed changes to food assistance, what Michigan did to asset limits would snap back, as the federal proposal would take away states' abilities to adopt less restrictive asset limits. But Gordon is expecting those rule changes to take a while to process and could get mired in litigation, as well.

Gordon didn't have projections on how many more people would be eligible based on the new asset limits. He said the DHHS expected the biggest bump to come in the food assistance program, and that's entirely funded by the feds. In the other programs that do require some state funding, he's expecting only "meaningful but modest" increases in caseloads.

The Michigan League for Public Policy (MLPP) called the state's move "significant" in counteracting Michigan policymakers "perpetuating stereotypes and creating unnecessary barriers to services and basic needs for struggling residents," as the state's asset tests have made "it harder for residents and families to utilize benefits and outright punishing families for sound financial management and savings-building."

The Center for Civil Justice predicted the changes would result in less food insecure adults and children, as the state ranks as the 14th highest food insecure state and has more than 338,000 food-insecure children, according to a press release today.

And Progress Michigan said the asset limit change "will have a direct, positive impact in the lives of working people across Michigan."
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4 weeks ago

Your Defending Fathers

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Murphy's Law,...wouldn't you know it!!!??? 1st vacation in 7 years and our studio back in Michigan lost power and needs me there to reset our computers, firewall and routers which I can't do until this weekend.

We are in Kentucky and my Engineers can't reset anything until I get back to manually turn off our security system and manually reset everything.

No Show today or tomorrow,...thanks for your understanding everyone!!! Please share and let everyone know. Thanks!!!
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A tribute to our truly Conservative Patriot Brother,...Norm Hughes.

"I guess it's not what you take when you leave this world behind you,...it's what you leave behind you when you go"!!!

May your family Norm, and We the People of the great State of Michigan take the time to listen to this song and know all the sacrifices you made for us to enrich our lives and our State.

Thank you, Brother, Rest in Peace with our Father in Heaven!!!

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3rd hour discussion today, Wednesday, 10-2-19; Per Shane Trejo - Liberty Conservatives of Michigan;

Patriots,...CALL TO ACTION,...TODAY!!!

The Republicans in Lansing are screwing us again! They are getting ready to push through a re-packaged gas tax.

Just like they passed the last one in 2015, under Governor Rick Snyder.

Freshman State Rep. Jack O’Malley (the next Arlan Meekhof in training) is leading this new round of armed robbery against the unsuspecting taxpayer. O’Malley’s bills would be a nightmare that would create little swamps in every county around the state devising ways to defraud you out of your hard-earned cash!

We need to ring the phones of the transportation committee off the hook to defeat the following three bills that will ultimately lead to higher fuel taxes.

The three rotten bills are:

House Bill 4963 (HB4963), which would empower counties to make ballot initiatives to increase gas taxes.

House Bill 4964 (HB4964), which would empower counties to create ballot initiatives to hike vehicle registration fees.

House Bill 4972 (HB4972), which would allow state bureaucrats to increase license plate taxes for vehicles that get a lower miles-per-gallon rating. It would also permit Regional Transit Authorities to hike registration fees.

Call every member of the House Transportation Committee and demand that they reject HB4963, HB4964, and HB4972. If they are your state rep, tell them they will lose your vote if they approve these abominable bills.

Jack O’Malley (R) Committee Chair, 101st District –
(517) 373-0825
Gary Eisen (R) Majority Vice-Chair, 81st District –
(517) 373-1790
Triston Cole (R), 105th District – 517-373-0829
Jason Sheppard (R), 56th District – 517-373-2617
Julie Alexander (R), 64th District – (517) 373-1795
Joseph Bellino (R), 17th District – (517) 373-1530
Gary Howell (R), 82nd District – 517-373-1800
Lynn Afendoulis (R), 73rd District – (517) 373-0218
Tim Sneller (D) Minority Vice-Chair, 50 District – 517-373-3906
Cara Clemente (D), 14th District – 517-373-0140
Tenisha Yancey (D), 1st District – 517-373-0154
Jim Haadsma (D), 62nd District – 517-373-0555
Nate Shannon (D), 25th District – 517-373-2275

Call House Speaker Lee Chatfield at 517-373-2629 and tell him he must not move these bills forward to a House vote under any circumstances.

Also, give Reps. O’Malley, Howell and Afendoulis a brutal tongue-lashing for sponsoring some of these awful bills. Let them know we are taxed enough already, and this backdoor gas tax hike must not stand!

While you’re at it, call your state house rep and state senator and urge them to vote against HB4963, HB4964, and HB4972 as well. Tell them your vote for their re-election depends upon them opposing all gas tax hikes, whether they are these three bills or any other ones!

Please share my blog on RightMi.com via email, social media, and wherever else to get the word out about how to defeat this abomination.

Shane Trejo
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1 month ago

Your Defending Fathers

James Robison: God Is Using Trump to Usher in 'The Greatest Spiritual Awakening in History' ... See MoreSee Less

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1st hour discussion today, Thursday 9-25-19; MIRS News Service

Shirkey Warns Of 'Fractured' Relationship If Whitmer Rewrites Budgets

The state Supreme Court case was titled Dodak vs. Engler.

When the dust settled, then-Republican Gov. John ENGLER emerged with the power to use the state administrative board to move around money within the department budgets that legislative Democrats gave him and there was nothing they could do about it.

Senate Majority Leader Mike SHIRKEY (R-Clarklake) said he is fully aware that the current Governor can do the same thing. In fact, Shirkey confirmed he talked to Engler about this.

"She could rewrite those budgets using that power," he said. "She has the latitude to do that."

Don't just take his word for it. Attorney Steve LIEDEL took to Twitter on Tuesday to educate his followers on a 2009 Senate Fiscal Agency paper written by late Director Gary OLSON on this subject.

Gov. Gretchen WHITMER has not tipped her hand on whether she will go there, but Sen. Curtis HERTEL, Jr. (D-East Lansing) also confirmed this option, telling MIRS, "That's exactly what the constitution gives her the power to do."

In an interview inside his office today, the Senate leader reflected on the consequences of using that obscure power or as he put it, "pulling the string of the administrative board."

"I don't know if that would be the most prudent thing to do," he began.

"What would be imprudent about that?" he was asked.

"Because I think that would create other concerns within our negotiations going forward."

"Meaning what?"

"I'm going to leave that unaddressed in this interview," he deflected the inquiry.

But when pressed, he finished with this analysis, "The Legislature, at the end of the day, decides how to spend money so you can take that anywhere you want to (while adding) there is no interest in fragmenting or fracturing our relationship going forward. We have a lot of work to do for the next three years."

On the Governor's other budget options, he does not foresee a wholesale veto of entire budgets that could produce some departmental shutdowns.

"There is no reason for a government shutdown," he said and he's not anticipating that action from her. However on line item vetoes, "I would not be surprised," and if there are some, he said he promises to work with her to resolve their differences.

"If she vetoes a few items, we put them into a bucket that I call a future supplemental and we're back at the table negotiating again."

He promised that she would have all the budgets within the next 24 to 36 hours, which fails to meet her original request to have them two weeks before the Oct. 1 deadline.
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3rd hour discussion today, Wednesday 9-25-19;

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2 months ago

Your Defending Fathers

It's TOTALLY OK for "President" Hillary Clinton to fund a TOTALLY FAKE BS dossier against Donald Trump, which led to a TWO (2) year, over $30 Million Taxpayer dollars to fund an investigation into a FAKE Trump-Russia coordinated effort to help him win in 2016, which found NO WRONGDOING BY candidate or President Donald Trump!!!

But it is TOTALLY WRONG for Trump to ask Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden's son, over something HE ACTUALLY DID!!!???

NBC's "Meet the Press" with Chuck Todd needs to put a disclaimer at the beginning of their show;

"This is NOT a truthful reporting News show, but a TOTALLY biased opinionated show to fully support the Communist Party's endorsed candidates, including those in the Democratic Party here in the United States of America".
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2 months ago

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As of tomorrow, Friday, September 20, 2019 at 9:00 am - Noon "Your Defending Fathers" with "Trucker Randy" will be airing on WCHY - 97.7 FM from Cheboygan!!! A new music format will also being airing after the show; "The Super Hits of the 60's, 70's, MoTown and the Roots of Rock and Roll"!!!
Sing along and Share with everyone in Northern Michigan!!!
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2 months ago

Your Defending Fathers

3rd hour yesterday and the 1st hour today, Thursday 9-19-19;

RIP, GARY! We finally have a face for Gary J Willis after multiple failed attempts to get it from the police and coroner. Thanks to his family for posting his image online so we can finally properly honor his life. Gary is the first victim of the Democrat’s anti-constitutional “red flag” gun grab law.

On the morning of Nov 5, 2018, armed police showed up at Gary’s house at 5:30 in the morning, banging on his door, demanding he hand over his guns because someone called and told them he was unstable. Gary refused to comply and was shot in the chest and killed in his doorway.

Police said Gary was shot because he “became irate and resisted,” (saying he grabbed his gun), but I wonder what kind of man WOULDN’T become irate and resist government tyranny like this?!

Gary was not even accused of a crime. He was shot and killed like an animal in his own living room because he resisted government tyranny and would not surrender his gun. IMO his civil rights were violated.

This case should’ve never been swept under the rug. Sadly the NRA has not promoted it because (presumably) they don’t want to piss off the police unions. But we can. Let this man’s death not be in vain. Spread this far and wide. Red flag gun grabs must be repealed.

“Give me liberty or give me death!” Patrick Henry


PS: This is not an anti-cop post, this is an anti-government tyranny post.

Gary’s obit: www.finkfh.com/notices/Gary-Willis

Original story: www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/crime/bs-md-aa-shooting-20181105-story.htmlRIP, GARY! We finally have a face for Gary J Willis after multiple failed attempts to get it from the police and coroner. Thanks to his family for posting his image online so we can finally properly honor his life. Gary is the first victim of the Democrat’s anti constitutional “red flag” gun grab law. On the morning of Nov 5, 2018, armed police showed up at Gary’s house at 5:30 in the morning, banging on his door, demanding he hand over his guns because someone called and told them he was unstable. Gary refused to comply and was shot in the chest and killed in his doorway. Police said Gary was shot because he “became irate and resisted,” (saying he grabbed his gun), but I wonder what kind of man WOULDN’T become irate and resist government tyranny like this?! Gary was not even accused of a crime. He was shot and killed like an animal in his own living room because he resisted government tyranny and would not surrender his gun. IMO his civil rights were violated. This case should’ve never been swept under the rug. Sadly the NRA has not promoted it because (presumably) they don’t want to piss off the police unions. But we can. Let this man’s death not be in vain. Spread this far and wide. Red flag gun grabs must be repealed.

“Give me liberty or give me death!” Patrick Henry


PS: This is not an anti cop post, this is an anti government tyranny post.

Gary’s obit: www.finkfh.com/notices/Gary-Willis

Orig story: www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/crime/bs-md-aa-shooting-20181105-story.html
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2 months ago

Your Defending Fathers

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2 months ago

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2 months ago

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Rescue Me - Fontella Bass (1965) (HD Quality) ... See MoreSee Less

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2 months ago

Your Defending Fathers

What The World Needs Now Is Love Jackie DeShannon STEREO ReMix HiQ Hybrid JARichardsFilm 720p ... See MoreSee Less

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2 months ago

Your Defending Fathers

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1st hour discussion today, Thursday 9-12-19;
MIRS News Service

Budget Negotiations Break Down Over Road Funding

They're not even supposed to be talking about road funding. Yet, budget negotiations between legislative leaders and Gov. Gretchen WHITMER smacked into a pothole after the two sides couldn't agree how much to put in the Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 budget for roads.

Senate Majority Leader Mike SHIRKEY (R-Clarklake) wants to throw another $500 million into road improvements, but Whitmer doesn't want to go over what is statutorily required -- another $130 million as required under the 2015 road package.

She wants to pass next year's budget today and address long-term road funding dollars tomorrow.

The two sides tried to narrow the gap today during negotiations, but after getting to a difference of about $150 million, things fell apart, a source told MIRS

The House and Senate are scheduled to hold joint House-Senate conference committees on six budgets -- Higher Education, Community Colleges, School Aid, Department of Natural Resources, Department of Environmental Quality and State Police -- Thursday afternoon. Another slate of conference committees is slated for next Thursday.

FY 2020 starts in 20 days, Oct. 1.

Shirkey was the first to issue a statement on the development.

"Our sincere efforts to reach consensus on budget targets came to an abrupt end when my governor ended negotiations this afternoon," Shirkey said in the news release. "A negotiation must include parties that put forth genuine effort to compromise and reach consensus. We could not have predicted that our talks would break down over my governor wanting less money to fix the roads, but in the end, we could not accommodate her position.

"As a result, the Senate will proceed with conference committees as scheduled. Our budget will include $500 million more for roads, without raising taxes," Shirkey continued. "We are building upon the promise we made to taxpayers to find money within our existing budget to fund one of our major priorities: roads."

Later, Whitmer issued a statement of her own:

"Let's be very clear. Republicans wasted two months by going on vacation this summer instead of staying in Lansing to negotiate," the Governor said. "That's the only reason we don't have a budget right now. After months of inaction, the best plan they could come up with would steal money from other priorities and doesn't fix the roads.

"This status quo budgeting will only keep our roads the worst in the nation and our schools at the back of the pack. It's not a real solution, and it won't solve the crises our state is facing in education and infrastructure. Our citizens expect government to function, and I remain committed to doing that despite continued Republican actions to the contrary."

The breakdown came just two days after Whitmer made a major concession to Republicans by agreeing to tackle the budget and long-term road funding separately (See "Governor Puts Road Funding Talks On Blocks," 9/9/19).

But on Tuesday and today, the Republicans continued to move forward with work on their own budget and kept saying that: "if negotiations were unsuccessful, they'd send their version to Whitmer in order to meet the constitutional deadline" (See "Stamas Suggests GOP Budget Could Be Used In A Pinch," 9/10/19).

Meanwhile, Whitmer and legislative Democrats were urging the Republicans to hold-off working on their own budget and concentrate on negotiating with the administration.

This morning reporters asked Shirkey about Whitmer wanting Thursday's conference committees, on the points of difference between the House and Senate cancelled.

"You know as well as anybody does that this is a very fluid process," Shirkey said. "We're leaving the conference committees scheduled for tomorrow, but -- who knows -- it could change. It's just a very fluid process. We are talking. That's a very good thing; we are talking."

Perhaps ironically, one of the questions reporters asked Shirkey was if he thought accelerating the road dollars from the 2015 plan should still be part of the budget.

"We should always put as much money as we can in something that's the highest priority for Michigan," Shirkey said. "I think right now we've got a pretty good, broad agreement that 'roads' is such. We've been doing it for a long time, and I think we should continue to do it when we have the ability to do so."

Shirkey's statement on the negotiations breaking down, also included the following about the GOP budget:

"We will increase funding for schools nearly $400 million over current year spending; increasing per pupil funding between $120-$240," he said. "Our budget will include $120 million in drinking water protections and increased funds for public safety to support 85 new state troopers in Michigan.

"The Senate, with our partners in the House, will deliver a budget on time. It is unfortunate that the administration is no longer willing to be part of the budget process, but it will not deter us from funding taxpayer priorities and delivering a sound fiscal plan for Michigan."

Earlier in the day, Whitmer told reporters that until her Budget Office has agreed with target agreements with her administration, the conference committees slated for Thursday should be put on hold.

"Everybody is asking me what about those conference committees. We're in on-going conversations and we are willing to pull them back if progress is being made so the meetings continue," he said.

House Appropriations Committee Chair Shane HERNANDEZ (R-Port Huron) issued a statement this evening that the Legislature is moving ahead with conference committees after Whitmer "spent all summer demanding a $2.5 billion tax increase on Michigan drivers, but now she insists our new budget plan invest no additional money toward roads at all.

"Her position doesn't make any sense."

Hernandez said in order to make sure state government stays open and remains efficient, they are moving forward with a budget plan now.

"The time for humoring nursery room political games is over," said House Majority Floor Leader Triston COLE (R-Mancelona).

The Governor tells reporters she never wanted to shut the government down as some Republican have alleged, but she said, "There was a contractual and ethical" reason for setting the shutdown wheels in motion. "Trust me. I never wanted to shut government down" but, just in case, she reported she had to take these steps.

"We're going to be prepared," she said.
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2 months ago

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1st hour discussion today, Thursday 8-29-19;
MIRS News Service

Leaders Agree To Meet Soon After More Barbs Fly

After checking out from a full day of heated rhetoric over putting more road funding in the Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 budget, Gov. Gretchen WHITMER and Senate Majority Leader Mike SHIRKEY (R-Clarklake) agreed they would restart negotiations as soon as Thursday.

Much like the old Sam the Sheepdog/Ralph Wolf cartoon, Whitmer and Shirkey clocked out this evening from a full day of base-appealing political posturing and agreed to meet to resolve the current impasse as soon as schedules allowed.

The development comes amid rumors that Senate Republicans may introduce Whitmer's 45-cent-a-gallon gas tax, hold it up for a vote and shoot it down. Shirkey said late tonight no such bill would be introduced Thursday.

Of course, any new bill needs to wait five days before it could be acted on. But the mere existence of such legislation creates the temptation for annoyed Republicans to throw it up on the board to watch it fail.

Despite some banter to that effect earlier today, that isn't happening, a key source told MIRS tonight.

So, while Whitmer, Shirkey and House Speaker Lee CHATFIELD (R-Levering) were strong in re-staking out their respective positions today, none of the three broke the glass and violated the confidentiality of their closed-door meetings. Their comments didn't get personal or crossed any line that would seem to have set back negotiations.

In fact, in the midst of today's competing comments, Senate Minority Leader Jim ANANICH (D-Flint) told reporters he wasn't particularly worried about a government shutdown, even though the next fiscal year doesn't start for another 34 days.

"I'm an eternal optimist - until I need not to be," Ananich said. "I think we are a ways off on concepts, but I think we can be the adults in the room and sit down and figure out a way to get an equitable deal that solves it long-term and also makes sure we can have a budget we can agree on and get it done. So, I'm not in a place where I'm that worried."

To the folks at home, though, the words coming from the Governor's 10 a.m. press conference and the responding statements from Shirkey and Chatfield might make you wonder.

What Whitmer Said

Whitmer chastised Republican leaders at the well-attended press conference for not bringing new revenue to the table when discussing how to fix the "damn roads."

She took off the table a proposal to extend teacher retirement payments into the Michigan Public School Employees Retirement System, or MPSERS, but didn't close the door on extending the sales taxes to services.

"I'm not going to sign a budget that does not include a real fix," Whitmer said. "My hope is that the Republican Legislature, who has had this budget for six months, is going to get serious about putting a viable alternative on the table."

Whitmer did not say the Republicans were not negotiating in good faith. She also was careful not to single out specific ideas that weren't "legitimate." Instead, she challenged reporters to ask Republican leaders to show the public their plan as opposed to relying on "rumors" of "snippets" on what they are offering.

Other than answering a direct question on bonding against the teacher retirement system or extending the teacher retirement payments, Whitmer declined multiple attempts by reporters to find out what the Republicans' menu of ideas were that were presented on Thursday.

"It's the same reason Rick SNYDER rejected those ideas. They're fiscally bad ideas. It's taking money out of education to fill potholes. It's not a real solution," she said.

"A legitimate alternative is bringing new revenue to the conversation about how we meet our infrastructure needs," she said. "It can't be at the expense of our education system and our kids or our pensioners, who have worked so hard on the front line."

Whitmer went through four specific examples of bridges that are on the verge of being shutdown or are in such bad repair that they are creating significant and costly detours -- including examples from Dearborn, Ferrysberg and Charlevoix.

"I did not create this problem, it's decades in the making, but I'm dedicated to fixing it," she told reporters.

When asked if residents are excited about paying 45 cents more a gallon in gasoline, Whitmer said, "I don't want to pay a higher gas tax either. I don't want a chunk of concrete flying though my windshield either."

On a report that she was willing to scale back her request for $2.5 billion in new revenue to $1.8 billion, Whitmer said the reporter misunderstood a statement she made and that her desire for $2.5 billion in new revenue stands.

What Shirkey Said

About an hour later, Shirkey accused Whitmer of having "fabricated a crisis" today regarding the state budget and the road funding issue. His assertions were made in a statement to reporters prior to this morning's post-Senate session Q&A scrum with the news media.

"There is no budget crisis," Shirkey insisted. "This is a fabricated crisis by my Governor to try to tie in roads to the budget, which I agreed to try to do at the beginning of the year; and, as we progressed, I said 'I think we should separate the two. But, in the spirit of cooperation we tried all through the summer. We provided multiple options for my Governor to entertain on road funding. All of which included material new revenue. After the revenue, they also included reprioritization of our current spending and a refinancing of certain state debt obligations."

Shirkey said it was "unacceptable" for Whitmer to take the idea of refinancing MPSERS out of the budget-road funding discussion.

"We cannot take MPSERS off the table in this negotiation," Shirkey stressed. "It will be only a matter of a couple of years before all School Aid growth will be absorbed by increases in the obligation of our current stream. So, there is no reason why we shouldn't try to solve two problems at once. Solve the problems with pension-funding and make sure it's secure and can be maintained for the duration -- and free up cash flow for what I believe is my colleagues' and my Governor's highest priority.

"We will supply a budget to the Governor," Shirkey continued. "It will have record spending both for education and additional funding for roads, some of which will be ongoing. But there will be no reason for a continuation budget conversation. She'll have the budget in plenty of time. It will include those elements plus others. It will be a very responsible budget that will have lots of elements that she will like. Then we'll see what happens after that."

"You're saying you'll be sending the Governor a budget without a deal?" a reporter asked.

"We're going to pivot now to work on both budget and roads," Shirkey responded. "I've committed to my Governor that we'll continue to talk. But so far, after four different proposals provided by the legislature all we've gotten from her is: 'unacceptable.' No negotiation – no retort – no offer for changes. So, all I can do now is say: 'I'm willing to continue to talk; but we have to pivot and also progress on a budget because the citizens of Michigan deserve the certainty of the budget being done.'"

"I can assure you there is no reason, other than the desire to create a crisis, for even contemplation of a government shutdown," Shirkey added. "This is going to be a very simple process of providing a budget. Our Approps chairs, in both the Senate and House, have worked out 97 to 98 percent of the differences between those chambers' budgets. Now, we're engaged with the Governor on providing a final budget."

A reporter asked Shirkey if he had placed a gas tax increase in front of the Governor.

"Every proposal that we have offered to the Governor has included new revenue," the Clarklake Republican replied. "Now, I have stopped short of providing how the new revenue was created because I want all the smartest people in the world to give us input on that, but yes the gas tax was part of that contemplation."

MIRS asked if the GOP-controlled Legislature's plan now is basically to send the Governor a budget and dare her to veto it?

"No, absolutely not," Shirkey said. "We're going to do both things. We're pivoting to focus on the budget, because again. . . there's no reason for the State of Michigan to entertain any kind of shutdown. In parallel to that we'll continue to work with my Governor and talk about – I guess - further ideas on roads but it'll have to go both ways. We'll have to get some response to the proposals we put out there."

What Chatfield Said

Then, shortly after noon, Chatfield said the state needs to continue negotiations on the budget, keeping all options on table but at the same time, "we need to keep peoples' household budgets on our priority list.

"We proved months ago that we can deliver a real roads solution that does not raise taxes on every driver in the state. We are calling on the Governor to continue budget negotiations and drop her insistence on a 45-cent gas tax. We cannot hold the budget hostage because of her desire to tax every driver in the state," Chatfield said.

Republicans have presented the Governor with an entire list of options that they believe "meets her in the middle," Chatfield said. But he also explained that he's agreed in those conversations to keep what all is on that list of options confidential.

Asked why by reporters in a scrum on the floor of the House just before session began today, Chatfield said, "You saw with auto no-fault and reducing car insurance rates, it worked because we were all at the table in confidence having good faith negotiations. We can do the exact same thing when it comes to roads, and I'm going to keep my word."

Chatfield said a government shutdown is not an option at this point.

"The Governor seems to be the only person eager to talk about a government shut down. We need to do all we can to continue working with her. That's why I am asking her to continue the budget process and not hold it hostage simply for her 45-cent gas tax," Chatfield said. ". . . The fact is, schools in our state need a budget. Local units of government in our state need a budget. The people of our state deserve a budget. And we need to continue working on that and to talk about roads. She is holding the budget process hostage because of our unwillingness to tax every driver in the state."

Chatfield reiterated his call to make sure every penny paid in taxes at the pump is going to roads.

"The fact is House Republicans showed several months ago that we can dedicate nearly $900 million more annually to our roads without raising taxes. In addition to that, we presented her with a menu of options that we feel can meet in the middle."
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1st hour discussion today, Tuesday 8-27-19;

Recap of Ken Borton's campaign kick off event last night for the 105th House District seat in Gaylord, MI.

Please donate at his campaign's website; www.kenborton.com
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1st hour discussion today, Monday 8-26-19; You are invited, TONIGHT, Monday at 6 pm, at the Otsego Grand Event Center, 610 S. Wisconsin Ave., Gaylord, MI, for the rollout of the Ken Borton for State Representative campaign; ... See MoreSee Less

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3rd/Final Hour of “Your Defending Fathers “ with “Trucker Randy”,
Thursday 8-22-19;

Pray for MIchigan's Speaker of the House, Lee Chatfield,...TODAY!!!


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, Wednesday 8-21-19;
MIRS News Service

Biz Community Keeping Tabs On Who Votes For More Road Money

Most of the state Senate returned to Lansing today for an update on the behind-the-scenes maneuvering on the state budget and additional road funding. The business community took the opportunity to turn up the heat.

With 40 days left until the next fiscal year, Michigan Chamber of Commerce President Rich STUDLEY told lawmakers during a morning press conference that it will be supporting those "who do the right thing" by voting in support of additional road dollars.

"Lawmakers who choose to support the status quo, lawmakers who say there is not a problem, lawmakers who are in favor of bad roads will have a lot of explaining to do back home in the district," Studley said.

Many other groups were at today's Lansing news conference to express "optimism and urgency" that legislators get the "job done sooner than later."

Studley was pressed whether a legislator's "no" vote on new road revenue will come back to haunt them come the next election. He declined to go there.

"No. We're not a one-trick pony. We always look at the entire voting record," the chamber head reported.

The head of Business Leaders for Michigan, Doug ROTHWELL, took a similar approach when asked the same question about punishing no votes.

"Probably not for that one issue," he answered when pressed. "We look at the whole record, but those who support roads also go along with the other things we support."

The leaders argue that good roads are good for their members, reflecting that time is money and time wasted out on bad roads is not good for business. Also participating in the news conference were Brad WILLIAMS from the Detroit Chamber, Andrew JOHNSON from the Grand Rapids Chamber and Monica ACKERSON from the Michigan Road Preservation Association. Standing with the business leaders was Lance BINONIEMI of the Michigan Infrastructure and Transportation Association.

On the reported 20-cent-a-gallon gas tax hike being floated out of the Senate Majority Leader's office (See "House GOP Kicks Around Shirkey Gas Tax Idea," 8/19/19), Rothwell told MIRS, "Anything that gets substantial new revenue is good. It moves us in a positive direction, but it's still not enough. We'll need more than that, but let's get started."

Senate Minority Leader Jim ANANICH (D-Flint) appeared less than joyful over the possibility of a 20-cent increase, saying, "There's no point in raising taxes just enough not to fix the problem . . . It's a starting point but the ending point may come quickly."

Senate Majority Leader Mike SHIRKEY (R-ClarkLake) declined to talk about the 20-cent-a-gallon tax hike suggested to House Speaker Lee CHATFIELD (R-Levering).

Shirkey didn't talk to the media, in general, today. Rather, it was Sen. Wayne SCHMIDT (R-Traverse City), chair of the Senate Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee, who held court with reporters on the Senate floor after today's 34-minute session.

On the 20-cent-a-gallon gas tax idea, Schmidt said, "There are all sorts of things out there being discussed. We've got to make sure that, whatever we decide as a caucus working with the House and Governor, is going to have enough votes to pass -- and that's what we're working on. So, is it going to be a tax increase? Is it not going to be a tax increase? These are things that are all being discussed, but there's no specific plan out there."

Schmidt said his role in the process has been to give Shirkey information and to present the Leader with "good ideas – something that will have enough votes and that (Gov. Gretchen WHITMER) can sign."

While Senate Republicans did not offer a road funding plan that raised $2.5 billion in additional revenue like Whitmer's 45-cent-a-gallon gas tax increase, the Senate's FY 2020 budget shifted $132 million more for roads through the 2015 plan, Schmidt said.

"That's a really good start right there," Schmidt continued. "So, it just takes some time. We continue to negotiate. We're working. We're here."

The Senate is scheduled to be back in town next Wednesday and Thursday and could take some votes. But acting Senate Majority Floor Leader Dan LAUWERS (R-Brockway) today read in motions in such a way that gavel-in-gavel-out sessions next week is a possibility.
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1st hour discussion today Tuesday, 8-13-19;
MIRS News Service, Lansing, MI

James Advisor Says Poll Shows He Is In Dead Heat With Peters

Randy RICHARDVILLE is a close advisor to repeat GOP U.S. Senate candidate John JAMES and said this week he has "heard" of a poll declaring the race with the incumbent Democrat a dead heat.

"I think Washington is excited he is running again," the former state senate GOP leader told the Off the Record panel this week. James has been dubbed a rising star by some in the state Republican Party based in part on his coming closer than expected to unseating U.S. Sen. Debbie STABENOW (D-Delta Twp.) last year.

Richardville reports the poohbahs in the national GOP are looking at that as James reboots to take on Michigan’s junior Senator, U.S. Sen. Gary PETERS (D-Bloomfield Twp.).

D.C. is interested, "even though John lost a campaign. He lost to a 43-year government elected official, 24 years in the U.S. Senate. He got a lot of people's attention; he got crossover votes and independents."

One voting bloc he hoped to corral, he failed to get. James got only 9% of the African American vote in Detroit from whence he and his well-known businessman father reside.-Richardville figures a lot of that has to do with party loyalty to the Democrats.

Some also suggest James' full-throated embrace of President Donald TRUMP didn't help much either with the black community.

The president warmly endorsed the James candidacy and the candidate returned the favor, saying he was “2,000% and then 1,000%” behind the president. Interestingly, this time he has reduced the figure to 100%.

Advisor Richardville refused to bite when asked if his candidate should "ignore" the president.

"You are not going to put words in my mouth," he shot back with a chuckle, but he is suggesting some distance is needed between Trump and James.

"You need to establish yourself as John James, period, not as John James, Trump follower . . . (and) you are also going to have to stand up to him and say no."

Richardville concedes it is known that the president likes James and that the two agree with a lot of his policies, but he quickly adds, you "need to prove to us who John James is, not your relationship to Trump."

As for his rival, ”I like him and he is hard-working, but I don't think he has established himself with the statewide electorate."

Peters is traveling the state meeting the statewide electorate on his motorcycle and was in Grand Ledge Friday.
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3 months ago

Your Defending Fathers

Get your tickets,...TODAY!!! Go to www.eventbrite.com and search for FUN in Central Lake, MI - Saturday, August 24th, 2019. We are going to have a BLAST,...COME JOIN US!!! ... See MoreSee Less

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2nd hour discussion today, Tuesday 8-6-19;
MIRS News Service

Schools & Roads Make Up 82% Of Money On Local Ballots Tuesday (today 8-6-19)

Of the 115 local tax proposals on the ballot across Michigan in Tuesday's election, there's one place where people can vote to approve a decreased tax.

In West Bloomfield Township, voters will be asked to approve a new, combined version of two previous public safety millages that will result in a 5.7306-mill tax, instead of the previously-combined 5.9878 mills spread across two levies.

Other than that, MIRS identified 74 renewal proposals and 40 asks for new money on ballots across the state. See the full spreadsheet here, and look for an updated version Tuesday after the election results.

Public safety measures led the way as far as the number of proposals, with 35 questions dealing with police, fire, EMS or ambulance services, or a combination of those.

After that, 24 school-related questions are up for a vote, as well as 19 roads-related proposals. Other services include ten general operations-related measures, and eight library questions.

The school proposals constitute $170 million in tax dollars at stake among the $330 million total being asked for across local governments, with some of the biggest individual asks coming from districts.

The Washtenaw ISD is requesting a $53.2 million bond from voters in Washtenaw, Jackson, Livingston, Monroe and Wayne counties – that's the biggest proposal in the state aside from Birmingham's $57.4 million bonding request for roads.

Other big-money requests include the Tri County Area Schools asking for a $37 million bond from voters in Kent, Montcalm and Newaygo counties, as well as the $35.2 million road bonding question in Meridian Township (See "We'll Fix The Roads Ourselves," 7/8/19).

There's $101.1 million in total funding at stake in the roads-related proposals, as well as $42.5 million in play related to public safety proposals.
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3 months ago

Your Defending Fathers

Democrats in U.S. Congress,... PLEASE Impeach President Trump!!!The Sixth Amendment of the U. S. Constitution regulates impeachment. If they impeach a sitting President in the House of Representatives, the Senate becomes the trial court and the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court becomes the trial judge.
A President has the same rights as any other American citizen regarding the confrontation clause. Anyone who thinks the current President will just sit with his hands in his pockets and allow the Senate to try him without waging a legal war is in for a rude awakening.

Donald Trump, like him or loathe him, has no quit button. Impeachment is a criminal trial. In a criminal trial, the accused has the following rights: The right to a speedy and public trial, an impartial jury, to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation, to be confronted with the witnesses against him, to have compulsory process power of obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel in his defense.
In the impeachment case of a President, a committee representing the entire Senate will hear the testimony and then refer the case to the full body, or drop the charges.

I suspect that President Trump would be delighted to have: James Comey, Peter Strzok, Lisa Page, Bruce Ohr, Glenn Simpson, Donna Brazille, Eric Holder, Loretta Lynch, Christopher Steele, Hillary Clinton, John Brennan, James Clapper, and a gaggle of other witnesses appear under oath, under penalty of perjury in a public setting, and subject to questioning by his defense counsel. In any criminal proceeding, the accused has the absolute right to call any witness he chooses that may help his defense.
Can you imagine these folks sitting in a witness chair with no word engineered prepared statement to dazzle the uninformed? A Jay Sekulow or Trey Gowdy would grill them, with no five-minute time restriction. That would be worth the price of admission!

If the Senate tries President Trump, two things are certain. The accused will be one of the few Presidents in history who loves a good fight. And it will be the biggest spectacle ever seen in Washington, District of Corruption. As a sidebar, the Republicans control the Senate and they will determine the proceedings. I suspect they would be more than willing to allow most anything that will illuminate the underhanded dealings in the collusion mess. The sweet thing about all this is that the socialists couldn’t do anything but grind their teeth and squirm in their seats while they receive a merciless pounding.

All the aforementioned illuminates why the more intelligent Democrats don’t want to go down the impeachment avenue. It will become a can of worms that the socialists will wish they had never opened.

The most vocal people demanding the Trump impeachment are not the brightest bulbs on the political tree. Cortez, Waters, Jackson-Lee, and others who are demanding impeachment have room temperature intelligence quotients. The other thing they have in common is that they are in districts where a Democrat house cat could run and win. They can afford to reveal their stupidity without fear of reprisal.

Trump’s presidency, besides accomplishing many things, provides an entertainment factor. One thing is certain, this administration is never dull. Here, he would have a group of certifiable idiots to act as straight men and women for our entertainment. Presuming the impeachment fiasco is allowed to run its course, every person in America who has any level of interest will realize just how dirty and underhanded the Washington environment really is. And as a bonus, how the absence of truth was the hallmark of many accusations against Trump. The problem may be that the Republicans in the Senate don’t want the entire truth exposed any more than the socialists.

Grab some popcorn and an adult beverage,...the show may be about to begin.

Bill Shuey is a freelance writer in Buffalo, Wyoming.
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UPDATED STORY; MIRS News Service, Lansing, MI

Chatfield-Shirkey 'Close On Roads;' Legislature Not Coming Back Until Aug. 26

If you miss the House and Senate being in session, you'll be waiting about a few weeks longer.

Amber McCANN, press secretary for Senate Majority Leader Mike SHIRKEY (R-ClarkLake) announced today the Senate does not plan to resume session with attendance and voting until the week of Aug. 26.

Likewise, Senate Majority Floor Leader Triston COLE (R-Mancelona) said, "There really isn't a reason to come back without our partners across the rotunda."

By that point, the hope is that the system renovations in the Senate chambers will be complete and the upper body can meet in its regular room without having to hold session in the House chambers, which it has received permission to do.

Secretary of the Senate Margaret O'BRIEN said crews should be mostly completed by Sept. 3, but there will be some painting that still needs to be done in some construction zones.

"We are on track for construction," O'Brien said. "It's highly likely we will return to chamber in August although it will still be a construction zone. We will have an update on that later this week."

At that point, the Senate Republicans caucus' priorities will be finishing the budget and passing a long-term road funding plan, McCann said. All the details of what the Republicans plan want haven't been rolled out, but is expected to include eliminating the sales tax on gasoline and replacing that tax, penny-for-penny with a roughly 15-cent-a-gallon gas tax so all of the state taxes collected at the pump goes to roads.

To replace the $800 million lost to the School Aid Fund and General Fund from the elimination of the sales tax on gasoline, Republicans would like to bond against the teachers retirement system and stretch out pension payments additional years (See "Bonding Out School Pension Payback Suggested To Free Up $$$," 6/26/19).

Neither chamber may be in session, but a source with close inside ties to the House Republican caucus is indicating that the two GOP legislative leaders are "close" to a final agreement on how to fix the roads. The two are hoping to meet with Whitmer in August to see if they can get agreement on whatever they come up with.

In the meantime, Speaker Lee CHATFIELD's (R-Levering) 10-person working committee, run by House Transportation Committee Chair Jack O'MALLEY (R-Lake Ann), has been charged with finalizing a proposal to take to the caucus next month.

The strategy here is to give the Speaker some support in the decidedly conservative caucus from the gang of 10. They supposedly will have buy-in on the plan they draft. That means the Speaker would not be the only one promoting a solution. He'd get verbal back-up from the committee.

Also included in the talks between the two leaders is the 20% vehicle registration fee hike from 2015. The two leaders may buy into the Governor's willingness to discuss extending by five to 10 years the length of the payoff of the teacher retirement debt.

(There is also some unconfirmed speculation that the Michigan Education Association has not taken off the table the possibility of bonding using the teacher retirement fund, but would be more comfortable if the Lottery and/or Michigan Economic Development Corporation's coffers were used instead.)

A MIRS source reported the GOP goal is to raise $1.2 billion and to couple that with the $1.2 billion adopted by the previous legislature, which would allow the governor to say she got a $2.5 billion package.

There is also reportedly a tacit understanding between Gov. Gretchen WHITMER and the two legislative leaders that she "needs a win" after she gave them a win on no-fault.

The tentative timetable is to perhaps have lawmakers come in for one day in August to vote on the gas tax issue, but that is not set in stone. More likely is a vote on the road package, before the budget, possibly right around Labor Day.

Clearly, the next move is up to Chatfield and Shirkey and that will take a face-to-face meeting, says this source who is also confident the Governor will eventually get new revenue for the roads from the GOP legislature . . . with Democratic support, of course.
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2nd hour discussion today, Wednesday 7-24-19;
MIRS News Service

One Fair Wage Doesn't Embrace Tlaib's Call For $20 Minimum Wage

Fresh off of a victory in the U.S. House -- which voted 231-199 last week to bump the minimum wage to $15 per hour -- U.S. Rep. Rashida TLAIB (D-Detroit) called this week for the pay rate to go even higher.

"When we started it, it should have been $15," she said at an event in support of One Fair Wage, the group that petitioned last year to push Michigan's minimum wage to $12. "Now I think it should be $20, and make sure America Rising hears that. It should be $20 an hour, $18 to $20 an hour. Milk has gone up. Eggs has gone up. Everything has gone up."

America Rising, a Republican political action committee that does opposition research on Democrats, immediately obliged by posting the video on Twitter.

One Fair Wage, the ballot proposal group that successfully led the citizens initiative to create a $12 minimum wage in Michigan last year, didn't embrace the new higher numbers today.

Pete VARGAS, organizing director for Restaurant Opportunities Center Michigan and campaign manager for One Fair Wage, said, "We applaud Congresswoman Tlaib for being a champion for raising the minimum wage." But he said they haven't seen the details of her plan.

Asked by MIRS if his organization would support efforts to push the minimum wage to that level, or whether it is too far too fast, Vargas responded: "This is our response for now, thanks. We have consistently supported efforts to raise the minimum wage and help low-income workers become independent, and we will continue to do so. We commend Rep. Tlaib for her bold leadership on this issue and we look forward to working with her in the future to eliminate the sub-minimum wage and increase the minimum wage for all Michigan workers."

In speaking at a Detroit event, Tlaib criticizing the federal minimum for tipped workers, which is $2.13 per hour.

"People cannot live on those kinds of wages. And I can't allow people to be living off of tips, relying on tip wages or whatever they call it, tip income. It is just not enough to support our families," she said.

Vargas was supportive in reaction today.

"We have supported increasing the minimum wage to $12 in Michigan and the federal push to increase it to $15, and we will continue to support efforts to help low-income families exit poverty by increasing the minimum wage," he said. "However, raising the minimum wage is only one part of the equation. It's vital that whatever solution we come up with also eliminates the sub-minimum wage so we can ensure Michigan workers aren't relying on tips to make ends meet."

Former Lt. Gov. Brian CALLEY, now the president of the Small Business Association of Michigan (SBAM), was not supportive.

"First of all, it would be better for the federal government to stay its own lane, and that includes staying out minimum wage setting," Calley said. He noted there has been a lot of debate over the minimum wage in Michigan in the last several years. (See "Gov. Signs Paid Sick Leave, Minimum Wage Changes," 12/14/18
"Dems Hope To 'Repeal The Steal' And Return Minimum Wage To Petition Levels," 3/7/19 and "Supreme Court Hears Arguments On Adopt-And-Amend Tactic," 7/17/19.)

Calley said such policies "hurt the very people that they are trying to help." He said a $15 minimum wage, much less $20, will put some companies out of business.

"For those who can, what happens is that the hours of people have to be cut back in order to comply. And so the people you are trying to help end up having their hours cut back, and then it can also result in other types of benefit cuts. If you have a law that says, well compensation of a certain type, the hourly wage, has to be at a certain level, then other types of benefits may end up getting eliminated or reduced in order to meet that requirement," Calley contended.

He said the correct way to set pay levels is for employer and employee to negotiate so they get what they want and need.

"The other unintended consequence of these types of policies is that it accelerates automation. We already see a lot of employment that is lost just to automating processes that used to be handled by people. Every time you do something that increases the cost of people, you also increase the value proposition of automating more jobs," Calley said.
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1st hour discussion today, Tuesday 7-23-19; MIRS News Service

From Raccoons To ROI: $87M Spent On State Gov't Advertising In '18

Besides dodging potholes and orange barrels, Michigan drivers this summer may also find themselves encountering several raccoons staring down at them from billboards beside the road.

But these raccoons aren't hawking any particular wares for purchase. They want you to recycle properly. They serve as mascots of a $2 million state ad campaign intended to bolster recycling rates (See "Bits And Tidbits, EGLE's Raccoons To Teach Michigan How To Recycle Better," 6/24/19).

Government spending on advertising isn't anything new or unusual – think the ongoing Pure Michigan tourism campaign, or the occasional health-related public service announcement.

But this year has seen the launch of some visible ad campaigns. Beyond the raccoons, there's also the $3 million state-sponsored campaign to boost skilled trades that has also appeared on billboards (See "'Ambitious' Ads Aim At 'Single Greatest Threat' To MI's Economic Recovery," 5/20/19).

There were enough billboards spotted to prompt a question: How much do the state agencies spend on advertising in a year?

After a survey of nearly every principal state department and other agencies, MIRS was able to identify $87.5 million spent toward advertising in Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 after obtaining data from 24 state agencies. See agency-by-agency totals here.

Lottery and the Michigan Economic Development Corp. (MEDC) were the biggest spenders. Combined, they're roughly 70% of the state spend on advertising. The MEDC, sponsors of Pure Michigan, reported spending the most at $34.1 million, followed by Lottery and its $27.9 million.

Beyond those entities, the amount spent varied widely among the agencies, from the $9.5 million by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), all the way down to the $635 the Michigan Department of Education (MDE) spent to advertise a job position at the Michigan School for the Deaf.

But regardless of the amount, every state agency MIRS obtained data from reported spending some money on advertising, except for the Michigan Civil Service Commission (MCSC) and the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC).

The average spent among the agencies was $3.8 million, but of the 24 agencies, 14 spent something below $1 million for FY 18, not counting the MCSC and MPSC's $0 spent.

Why Does Government Run Ads?

Whether it's promoting "what we have" or informing the public, government advertising is important, said Bob KOLT, professor of practice at Michigan State University, president and CEO of Kolt Communications and a former communication official with Treasury and the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT).

Kolt said from his experience, advertising works. When it comes to spending money to promote tourism, for instance, Kolt said "it really does pay off. " And if anything, government gets criticized if it doesn't share information, he said.

When Kolt worked as a public information officer for Treasury in the '80s, he was asked to do a tax amnesty program, which would waive penalties and interest for people who owe back taxes.

"Back in the '80s, they said, 'Well, what do you need?'" Kolt said. "I said, 'I need $1 million in advertising.'"

Kolt made his pitch, arguing that if penalties and interest would be waived, "you've got to find tax cheats, wherever they are." And he said he would need to advertise on an ongoing basis, particularly all the way up to the deadline.

Kolt said he got what he wanted, and the return on the program ended up at $100 million. The estimated return was $15 to $20 million. They made so much money the Governor and Legislature at the time used the extra funds to help roll back the income tax, he said.

What's The Return On Investment?

State agencies sometimes point to return-on-investment (ROI) data to justify what they get out of ad campaigns.

Lottery spokesperson Jeff HOLYFIELD said the agency's advertising ROI ranges from "2:1 to 34:1" depending on the activity, drawing that from an independent analysis done by Foresight Research in April 2018.

The MEDC also arranges for routine ROI studies on Pure Michigan. The latest edition saw the estimated ROI go from $8.99 to $9.28 for every dollar spent.

But the Pure Michigan ROI has been a longtime point of contention of the Mackinac Center, which has argued the campaign is not worth the tax dollars spent on it (See "Mackinac Center's Bid To Debate Pure MI Merits Rejected," 12/1/16).

And the Office of the Auditor General (OAG) questioned the MEDC leaving out costs of tourism promotion from the ROI equation (See "Auditor: $16.8M In Pure MI Costs Left Out Of Return-On-Investment Study," 12/15/17).

Still, the Mackinac Center isn't outright opposed to all government spending on advertising, said Michael LaFAIVE, senior director of fiscal policy with the center. It depends on the subject and source, he said.

LaFaive said if the state is spending money from the negotiated settlement between the attorneys general and tobacco companies to convince people not to smoke, "I would consider it a much more legitimate use of state dollars" because there's "evidence" that smoking-related illnesses were costing "state treasuries."

He said it's a case-by-case basis as to whether public spending is warranted on advertising. Asked about the skilled trades campaign known as "Going Pro" launched by Michigan Department of Talent and Economic Development (TED) earlier this year, LaFaive was skeptical that was such a case.

"These types of advertisements are nice, but there's a real question as to whether or not they are necessary in and of themselves beyond having these . . . state-subsidized training programs," he said, referencing a recent Mackinac Center report questioning the state's role in funding job training.

LaFaive said the private sector has long done its own training, and people now have "their own private incentive to use Google" and don't need to go beyond their nearest search engine to find training.
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1st hour discussion today, Wednesday 7-17-19; MIRS News Service

Cox: 'Detroit Investigation Needed'; Nessel: 'Already Started'

Michigan Republican Party Chairman Laura COX called on Attorney General Dana NESSEL to investigate Detroit's Office of Development and Grants for the alleged wrongful termination of that office's associate director and the improper deletion of various emails that sniff of an attempted cover-up.

Many of the allegations came to light last week when the former official, Kennedy SHANNON, sued the city for violating the Whistleblower Protection Act.

But Nessel's office says it has already reopened the investigation.

"We definitely reopened," Nessel spokesperson Kelly ROSSMAN-McKINNEY stated in an email this evening. "Not sure what she's talking about, but no one is above the law so . . ."

Republicans, however, believe Nessel has only reopened the case to look at the issue of deleted emails.

"We want to make sure the investigation covers not only the emails but the questions with grants and the wrongful termination, as well," GOP spokesperson Tony ZAMMIT clarified.

Nessel initially deferred the case to the Detroit Office of Inspector General. Then, Shannon filed her suit Thursday alleging she was placed on administrative leave and eventually fired after expressing concerns about the Motor City Match program, a small business assistance program. She took her concerns to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and refused to sign off on the program payments until an audit could be conducted.

According to the suit, in a meeting with Detroit's chief development official Ryan FRIEDRICHS -- who is also married to Secretary of State Jocelyn BENSON -- and Director of Grants Katerli BOUNDS, Shannon was told not signing could be insubordination and she could be terminated for it.

On May 1, she was suspended and, on May 23, terminated. The suit seeks $25,000 in damages.

The lawsuit also alleges staff members were instructed to delete emails regarding fundraising for the private nonprofit Make Your Date after a Freedom of Information Act Request (FOIA) had been submitted about fundraising for the private non-profit group "with deep ties to Detroit Mayor Mike DUGGAN," Cox's statement reads.

"The allegations leveled against Ryan Friedrichs and the Detroit Office of Development and Grants are extremely troubling and warrant a full investigation by the Michigan Attorney General's Office," Cox stated. "Not only have taxpayer resources apparently been wasted, but a cover-up was seemingly launched to hide this impropriety . . . Will the Attorney General's office do their duty or will Attorney General Nessel's friendship with Jocelyn Benson allow this potential cover-up to avoid scrutiny?"
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1st hour discussion today, Tuesday 7-16-19; MIRS News Service

This story from April, 2019 has led to a ruling by the Natural Resources Commission to ban "baiting" deer in three (3) U.P. counties, and the Yoopers are "pxssed off"!!!

Panel Pokes Its Nose In Stopping Deer Baiting Ban

Legislatively scrapping the Lower Peninsula deer baiting ban chewed up 90 minutes of a Senate committee earlier this month, but the panel's chair is expressing questions about whether a bill will gain traction amid the accepted science that shows the bans slows the spread of deadly diseases.

Sen. Curt [VANDERWALL] (R-Ludington) is proposing SB 0037 at the request of local hunters, who told the Senate panel that the Natural Resources Commission's decision to ban carrot and apple piles isn't stopping the spread of disease, like Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD), as it was intended.

Instead, the deer are congregating in cornfields or apple trees, spreading the disease at these locations. All the while, the baiting ban is making it harder for the state's aging hunting population to bag a trophy. That's discouraging participation.

"Deer are in close contact when they yard up for the winter," VanderWall told the Senate Natural Resources Committee. "I ask, 'Where is the sound scientific data that definitely has caused deer to congregate in an unnatural way? Where are the documented cases of deer contracting CWD from baiting or a feeding station?'"

Yet, VanderWall has "some work to do" to earn the support needed to move SB 0037 out of committee, said Chair Ed [McBROOM] (R-Vulcan) due to a large amount of opposition that includes numerous hunters, conservation and environmental groups. Even the Michigan Farm Bureau is against the bill.

"It has a difficult path forward," McBroom said. "I'm not sure we can get there."

For starters, Gov. Gretchen [WHITMER]'s Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is against it, which makes earning her signature on the bill -- even if it were to pass the Senate and House -- difficult.

Last year, the NRC approved a series of deer hunting regulations aimed at slowing the spread of CWD, including a ban on bait piles in a 16-county area around mid-Michigan and West Michigan (See "Bits And Tidbits," 8/9/18).

A driving argument for the move was a "consensus statement" compiled by 30 fish and wildlife veterinarians and disease ecologists. Its No. 1 recommendation on how to slow disease was the elimination of supplemental feeding. The reason is because disease congregate at these piles continuously, allowing the disease-infected saliva and urine to permanently stain the area.

Among those who edited the more than 100-page document was Dr. Kelly STRAKA, the supervisor of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources' Wildlife Health Section.

"That weighed heavily and is something we take seriously," Straka told McBroom's committee on the report.

That wasn't the opinion of Dave WHEELER, owner of Lucky Buck Mineral in Hillsdale County, who argued that baiting with salt piles, along with fruits and vegetables feeds a more "robust, healthier herd" that allows them to fight off disease. Leaving salt piles also keeps the deer away from the roads during the snow melts, when they lick the roadside salt runoff.

He conceded that this rationale may not work on CWD, but it will protect deer from other diseases that could decimate a local population. What would help prevent the spread of CWD is having multiple baiting piles in an area that would discourage deer from traveling great distances for food.

This line of thinking isn't working with the many organized groups that are lining up in opposition. The Michigan Cattleman's Association, the Michigan United Conservation Clubs, the Michigan Quality Deer Management Association (MQDMA), the Michigan Trapper and Predator Callers Association, among many others, turned in cards at the April 10 hearing in opposition.

For one, they don't like the idea of the legislature trumping the authority of the NRC. Second, they are convinced by the science that shows deer slobber and defecate at bait piles. Healthy deer ingest the infected prions left from the sick deer in the contaminated soil and become infected with CWD or Bovine Tuberculosis, as well.
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2nd hour discussion today, Thursday 7-11-19;

Personal, emotional hour (go to our website www.yourdefendingfathers.com and click on Podcast, listen to the 4th one down Hour 2, Segment 1 and then the 3rd one down Hour 2, Segment 2) where I shared some personal information and played this song on the air;

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1st hour discussion today, Thursday 7-11-19;
MIRS News Service

Nessel Blocks LaFave On Twitter . . . But Can She Legally Do It?

Attorney General Dana NESSEL blocked one of her more frequent and colorful critics, Rep. Beau LAFAVE (R-Iron Mountain), from following her on Twitter, but LaFave pointed to a New York U.S. Appellate Court decision from Tuesday that raises the question as to whether she can do it.

Nessel and LaFave have gone a couple rounds on social media since the beginning of the year, but the latest has a national tie-in that's based on President Donald TRUMP also blocking critics on his Twitter account. U.S. Rep. Alexandria OCASIO-CORTEZ is also being sued for blocking critics on Twitter.

LaFave was tweeting at Washington Gov. Jay INSLEE, a presidential candidate, for calling for an end of the Line 5 light crude pipeline under the Mackinac Straits. LaFave attempted to tag Nessel into the post when he realized he wasn't allowed to do it.

It turns out he's been blocked, which comes the day after the U.S. Court of Appeals ruled Trump has been violating the Constitution by blocking critics and trolls from following his Twitter account.

"She's taking plays out of President Trump's playbook and I'm starting to have more respect for her," tweeted LaFave, who added in talking to MIRS, "Clearly, she can't take the heat. Maybe she should go to the U.P. after she shuts down Line 5. Cool down right quick."

Nessel Press Secretary Kelly ROSSMAN-McKINNEY responded by telling MIRS, "He continues to have a career crush on Attorney General Nessel."

For his part, LaFave said he may file for a formal AG's opinion on whether a public official can block anybody from following him or her on social media given the recent federal court opinion.

The two have gone back-and-forth on social media about Nessel's investigation on the Catholic Church and LaFave's contention that the Attorney General is blatantly anti-Catholic (See "Nessel's Office Confirms Grievance Filed Against MSU's Talbot," 4/2/19). He's also slammed her about her desire to shut down Enbridge's Line 5 at the Mackinac Bridge out of concern for a spill. LaFave says the U.P. gets too much of its propane from the pipe to make such a move practical.

LaFave also said Nessel should be committed to a psychiatric asylum, which he later backed away from (See "Shirkey 'Confused' By Nessel's A.G. Opinion Diss," 6/19/19).

In May, LaFave wrote: "Prediction: MI AG @dananessel will soon issue an opinion that I am unconditional." Nessel responded, "Are you trying to spell, "unconstitutional"? Try harder, Beau."
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1st hour discussion today, Wednesday 7-10-19;
MIRS News Service

Enbridge Wasn't Invited To U.P. Propane Panel Party

While Enbridge says it fuels 65% of the propane needed in the Upper Peninsula and Northern Michigan, it won't be lending its voice to the state panel tasked with coming up with propane delivery alternatives outside of Enbridge's Line 5 pipeline.

That's because Enbridge wasn't given a seat at the table of the U.P. Energy Task Force. Asked if leaving Enbridge off of the Gov. Gretchen WHITMER-appointed panel was a mistake, company spokesperson Ryan DUFFY declined to answer.

Instead, Duffy stuck with saying that a previous state-commissioned study showed there is "no viable way of moving the products transported by Line 5 on our other pipelines, competitor pipelines or by rail or truck" (See "Report: Risk, Costs Come With Ending Line 5 Crossing Under Straits," 11/20/17).

Whitmer's U.P. Energy Task Force held its first meeting today in Marquette. The Governor announced she'd form the panel the day after Enbridge went to court, seeking validation of its agreements with the state to build an underground tunnel to house a replacement Line 5 (See "Gov's Task Force Asked To Find Propane Alternatives To Line 5," 6/7/19).

The group has first been charged to submit a plan to Whitmer by March 31, 2020 focusing on alternative ways to supply propane in the "event of a Line 5 shutdown."

The 19-member task force spent about an hour having each member introduce him or herself, and then set its governing rules.

Later in the afternoon, the panel heard two presentations: One from Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) Chair Sally TALBERG on the work of the former Pipeline Safety Advisory Board (PSAB), and another on the recently released statewide energy assessment (See "MPSC Report: January Energy Emergency Response 'A Success Story,'" 7/1/19).

The panel has 12 U.P. residents and seven Lower Peninsula residents, as well as two heads of relevant industry associations and an energy expert (See "Whitmer Appoints 12 Yoopers, 7 Trolls To U.P. Energy Task Force," 6/14/19).

In response to the task force, Duffy said Enbridge believes the Line 5 tunnel proposal is the "best long-term opportunity to secure the energy needs of the state while making an already safe pipeline even safer."
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Your Defending Fathers

Greatest Independence Day celebration,...EVER!!! ... See MoreSee Less

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4 months ago

Your Defending Fathers

SALUTE TO AMERICA: President Trump Hosts July 4th Celebration ... See MoreSee Less

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For my Facebook Friends that don't have cable or satellite TV, here is some extra coverage being broadcast LIVE, over 5 hours BEFORE President Trump's speech at 6:30 pm, today!!!

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2nd half hour of today's discussion, Friday 6-28-19;
MIRS News Service

AG Sues To Shut Down Line 5, Stop Tunnel

Michigan Attorney General - Dana NESSEL filed a lawsuit today in Ingham County Circuit Court seeking to close Enbridge Energy's controversial underwater pipelines in the Straits of Mackinac.

Nessel simultaneously filed a motion to dismiss Enbridge's Court of Claims suit that seeks enforcement of agreements made in the last months of former Gov. Rick SNYDER's administration that allow the Canadian-based oil pipeline company to build a 4.5-mile, $500 million tunnel under the Straits of Mackinac (See "Enbridge Asks State Court To Enforce Line 5 Tunnel Agreements," 6/6/19 and "Snyder Signs Line 5 Tunnel Bill," 12/12/18).

"I have consistently stated that Enbridge's pipelines in the Straits need to be shut down as soon as possible because they present an unacceptable risk to the Great Lakes," Nessel said in a statement.

"Gov. (Gretchen) WHITMER tried her best to reach an agreement that would remove the pipelines from the Straits on an expedited basis, but Enbridge walked away from negotiations and instead filed a lawsuit against the state," she added. "Once that occurred, there was no need for further delay."

Enbridge released a statement expressing disappointment "the state chose not to accept our offer to advance talks on the Straits tunnel." Enbridge says it remains open to discussions with the Governor as it believes the tunnel is the "best way to protect the community and the Great Lakes" while meeting the state's energy needs.

Whitmer expressed support for Nessel's actions in a statement from her office, which also noted Whitmer directed the Department of Natural Resources to review Enbridge's compliance under the 1953 easement agreement that created the terms and conditions Enbridge could operate the dual pipelines on the bottomlands of the Great Lakes. (See "Gov Has Heightened Concerns After Anchor Drop Near Pipeline In Detroit River," 6/20/19.)

The AG's lawsuit, which identifies a potential anchor strike as the most significant risk to Line 5, seeks a declaratory judgment that the 1953 agreement "violates the public trust doctrine and is therefore void."

Nessel's lawsuit also calls the pipeline a public nuisance that is "likely to cause pollution, impairment and destruction of water and other natural resources."

In a video message, Nessel cited the 2018 tugboat anchor that caused more than $1 million in damage when it severed underwater electric power lines and dented Line 5.

Enbridge and power companies have filed lawsuits against the tugboat company. (See "Bits And Tidbits: Consumers Energy Files Suit Against Shipping Company," 7/30/18.)

In its statement, Enbridge says Line 5 "is a critical source of 540,000 barrels per day of propane and crude oil supply for Michigan" and surrounding areas. Shutting it down, they argue, would "lead to serious disruption of the energy market."

The Michigan Environmental Council also praised Nessel's actions, saying it is a step forward in the fight to protect the Great Lakes.

Kate MADIGAN, director of the Michigan Climate Action Network, called Nessel's actions "crucial . . . to protect our Great Lakes from a catastrophic oil spill."

"It is a smart response to the clear science showing we must move off fossil fuels rapidly to address the climate crisis we are in," she said in a statement.

Sen. Jeff IRWIN (D-Ann Arbor) said, "This 66-year-old pipeline must be decommissioned as soon as possible."

Rep. Beau LAFAVE (R-Iron Mountain) said "Gov. Nessel's" "cascade of lawsuits" is preventing Enbridge from entombing Line 5 100 feet below ground and "creating a public nuisance" that would cut off "thousands of Michiganders from affordable energy."

"The Governor is complicit in allowing the Attorney General to run the show on this issue," LaFave said. "When I voted for Bill SCHUETTE for Governor, I didn't expect I would end up with Governor Nessel."
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3rd hour discussion today, Tuesday 6-25-19;
MIRS News Service

'100%' Of House Dems Support $2.5B More For The Roads

She didn't hazard a guess on how many House Democrats would support a 45-cent-a-gallon gas tax hike, but House Minority Leader Christine GREIG (D-Farmington Hills) said 100% of her colleagues would support raising $2.5 billion in additional revenue to fix Michigan's roads.

"I don't know one caucus member who doesn't think this is the problem we are facing," Greig told the MIRS Monday podcast. "When we see all the different options, then I'll have a better feel for which components they'd be supporting."

Greig's House Democratic caucus put a few additional options on the table last Thursday with raising the corporate income tax (CIT) from 6% to 8.5% and creating a new six-cents-a-mile charge on the state's heaviest trucks, being the most high-profile (See "House Dems Road Funding Plan Boosts CIT 2.5%, Higher Fees On Heavy Trucks," 6/20/19).

The bills put on the table, are not -- by themselves -- a plan, Greig said. They are individual bills on how to raise revenue for the roads if Republicans are going to continue to oppose Whitmer's 45-cent-a-gallon gas tax hike.

"This is not competition to the Governor's plan. This is how to get to $2.5 billion," the Leader said, noting that the $400 million fees on heavy trucks "is common sense" given the additional wear and tear they put on the road.

The business community needs to be the No. 1 interest group coming to the table and putting some additional skin into the roads, she said. Michigan needs to invest in its roads and its recruitment process. Having roads that look like 8 Mile on the Detroit boundary line or parts of heavily damaged Interstate 94 isn't an enticing sight to recruits, to put it mildly.

The Michigan Chamber of Commerce called the 42% increase to the CIT and "new tax on small businesses" "dangerous," in that it advances an "anti-business agenda."

"Joining the ranks of California and Illinois in having one of the highest corporate income tax rates in the nation and increasing the tax burden on Michigan's small businesses would take an economic wrecking ball to Michigan's economic competitiveness," said Dan PAPINEAU, director of tax policy and regulatory affairs for the Michigan Chamber. "This is a clear attack on Michigan job providers and the Michigan Chamber is unalterably opposed to these job-killing plans."

House Republican spokesperson Gideon D'ASSANDRO said the $1.2 billion in new revenue House Democrats is putting on the table isn't needed in that the House Republican caucus showed in its budget proposal that "they could raise $850 million in additional road funding every year without raising taxes one cent.

"I don't know why everyone else in Lansing seems so eager to raise taxes on working families."

Greig said if Republicans are not going to support 45 cents, she believes other ideas for generating revenue should be put on the table. She's convinced an additional $2.5 billion in revenue annually is what's needed to get 90% of the state-run roads in "good condition" by 2030.

"Both caucuses can come together and a be part of the solution. Up on Mackinac, I brought it up. At 45 cents, if the Republicans put up half the votes and we can put up half the votes, we can make it happen and that's what's best for the state if we're both supporting the final solution.

"They’ve been pretty quiet. Just like they have been on their own road plan."

The budget-cutting alternatives House Republicans have come up with -- an across the board 3% cut to administrative line-items and a 25% cut across the board to information and technology programs -- is "fiscally irresponsible and lazy" Greig said.

"If you're saying there's fat in the budget, prove where it is," Greig said.
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1st hour discussion today, Tuesday 6-25-19;
MIRS News Service

Delegate: Constitution Intended AG Opinions To Be Advisory, Not Binding

(MACKINAC ISLAND) -- According to one of six living delegates to Michigan's 1961 Constitutional Convention -- delegates intended the opinion of the state's Attorney General to be just that, an opinion lacking the full force of law.

"That was the position of the convention and has been my opinion . . . that the attorney general's opinion is entitled by the courts and it ought to be by the people, to be received with respect, but not to be taken as having the force or effect of law," Eugene G. WANGER said in response to a question from MIRS today.

The issue is one that has been raised from time to time. Recently, Attorney General Dana NESSEL's office told the Michigan Civil Rights Commission to ignore her predecessor's opinion that it didn't have the authority to expand Elliott Larsen Civil Rights protections to the LGBTQ community without legislation action. (See "Nessel To Civil Rights: Disregard Schuette's Elliott-Larsen Opinion," 6/19/19).

Wanger, who was elected from the Lansing area to serve as a Republican constitutional convention delegate, made the remarks during this year's annual meeting of the Michigan Political History Society at the Grand Hotel today.

In expounding on the topic, Wanger noted that there was even question whether an AG opinion was binding on state agencies.

"In fact, there was a question whether it (an AG opinion) was binding as a matter of law on the people of state government," Wanger continued. "But as a practical matter of course, and particularly back then, these extra attorneys were not being hired, you had better think three or four times about going against the opinion of the only lawyer you've got."

The force of an attorney general's opinion is also in the midst of being tested in the matter of the Line 5 tunnel legislation passed during Lame Duck. Recall, that Nessel held that law to be unconstitutional. (See: "Nessel: Line 5 Tunnel Law Unconstitutional; Gov Halts State Action On It," 03/28/2019).

Her finding is currently being challenged before the Michigan Court of Claims by Enbridge, the owner and operator of Line 5. (See: "Enbridge Asks State Court to Enforce Line 5 Tunnel Agreements," 06/06/2019).

Con-Con Left Education Policy To Education Lobby
In other interesting comments, Wanger noted that the delegates weren't particularly interested in or engaged in the topic of education policy, instead largely leaving the writing of those sections of the current constitution to the education community and lobby.

"At the convention, we had a committee on education. It had everybody on it that had anything to do with education," said Wanger. "As it turned out, the education lobby pretty much wrote all the provisions and we delegates were happy they did. First of all, for the delegates, education wasn't an issue that caused any of us to get excited."

Wanger also said the education lobby was so powerful at the time, the delegates figured if they weren't on board, the proposed constitution would go down the drain. "We thought why don't we have this committee and have them write it [education provisions] up. They came up with something we thought was pretty good."

"We had a feeling at the convention that if we had an even number of members of our subsidiary public bodies that that would be a good idea. And it turned out after the convention that both parties were playing real, real hardball."

Romney Struggled To Understand Con-Con Process
Former American Motors chief and then-Gov. George ROMNEY, played a significant role in the constitutional convention, but was a bit out of his element when it started, according to Wanger.

"George did not really understand how the convention actually worked," said Wanger. "I'm serious. Once, he stood up to say something on something or other, he didn't even know what an amendment was. He learned all that latter, but at the time, he came up the hard way through the Mormon background and in American Motors . . . but he didn't know anything about running a convention."

Delegates Were Paid $1,000 A Month
Wanger said at the time of the constitutional convention, the Legislature had appropriated $7,500 to pay each elected delegate to the constitutional convention.

"And guess just how long that convention lasted? Seven and a half months," joked Wanger.
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2nd hour discussion today, Monday 6-24-19;
MIRS News Service

Squeezing Sugar Beet Juice On Icy Roads Pitched As Salt Alternative

Sugar beet juice would be used instead of salt to keep roads from icing over in the winter, under legislation introduced this week by Sen. Roger VICTORY (R-Hudsonville), which follows an identical Rep. Brian ELDER (D-Bay City) bill dropped last week.

The Michigan Department of Transportation would need to implement a three-year pilot program to test the use of sugar beet byproducts to prevent icing and optimize de-icing on roads.

"We need safe roadways and salt works well for handling ice on roads, but it harms Michigan's freshwater ecosystems," Victory told MIRS. "The application of salt contributes to the deterioration of roads and bridges, and to chloride pollution in lakes, rivers and groundwater. In addition, salt corrodes our vehicles. Sugar beet byproducts (sugar beet juice and other organic additives) could provide an alternative to salt-only de-icing that would reduce these problems."

Frankenmuth is using sugar beet byproducts on the roads and Minnesota has a pilot program where it's replacing salt with sugar beet mix. Apparently, the concoction sticks to the roads longer than salt and is better for the environment.

"They decrease the amount reaching water sources and limit the amount of salt required to effectively manage icy conditions," Victory said.

Would the pilot program look into the overall economic impact of adding sugar beet byproducts into the state's winter road-safety mix? MIRS asked.

"Yes, it would," Victory said. "What it might find is that using the sugar beet byproducts would cost a little more up front, but save on the cost over time."

According to Victory, more than 20 million tons of salt are used to help manage icy road conditions across the United States annually.

Would the pilot program look at the potential positive impact the use of sugar beet byproducts for roads could have on Michigan's sugar beet producers? MIRS asked.

"That impact could be significant," Victory said. "But that's not something the pilot program would be looking at."

Elder said cutting down on salt usage for roads for beet juice "will not only make our safety efforts more effective during the tough winters, it will ensure that, come spring, the 'Pure' remains in Pure Michigan."

Click to add MIRS Bill Hound SB 0379 was referred to the Senate Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. Elder's Click to add MIRS Bill Hound HB 4717 was referred to the House Transportation Committee.
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2nd hour discussion today, Wednesday 6-19-19; MIRS News Service

Dire Warnings Made About Great Lakes Fisheries

Amber MAY-PETERSEN, of Petersen's Fisheries, a fourth-generation commercial fishing business in Muskegon, gave a dire warning today to the House Natural Resources and Outdoor Recreation Committee today.

Great Lakes fish populations are out of balance.

"We are trying to get your attention and say, 'Listen, there's a problem going on out there.' And we know it because our livelihood depends on us going out continuously and catching fish and bringing them back in," May-Petersen said. "When we're here saying things like 'there's too much lake trout pushing out the whitefish' and 'there's too much walleye pushing out the perch,' it is because we have seen this before and we know how this story ends."

That was a reference to the collapse of the commercial fishing industry after the arrival of the sea lamprey. Today, she said, there are 13 commercial fishing businesses operating full-time in Michigan.

"In the 1960s or the 1950s, at our peak, at our heyday, there were 1,900 commercial fishermen. We held the power at that time. Commercial fishermen, we ruled. Then things changed very quickly. Sea lamprey came and wiped out the lake trout and the state decided to create a recreational fishery and, like that, we were reduced by 95%. We saw all of our friends go out of business. We saw everything we knew go away," she told the committee.

The committee is considering a three-bill package, which would update commercial fishing regulations for the first time since 1971.

Reps. Jack O'MALLEY (R-Lake Ann), Pauline WENDZEL (R-Watervliet) and Jim LILLY (R-Park Twp.) have proposed the bills to update and modernize the commercial fishing statute (See "Lawmakers Cast Updated Commercial Fishing Regs To Committee," 6/11/19).

Among the changes, the package would make is the creation of a list of species that commercial fishers are allowed to take and a regulation that the DNR cannot approve any species for the list that is already on the game species list. That means commercial fishers would no longer be able to take yellow perch, even as bycatch. Lake trout and walleye also could not be taken by commercial fishers, but they haven't been able to harvest those two species since the 1950s.

May-Petersen said that when Canada sees a decline in its perch populations, it increases the commercial harvest of walleye to balance it out because walleye eat perch.

This is an issue particularly on Saginaw Bay where five commercial fishing businesses still operate and have been taking perch as a part of their catch. The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) estimated last week for the committee that taking perch off the commercial species list would reduce their catch by about 33%. May-Petersen said a reduction by that much would put her family out of business.

Bryan BURROUGHS, of Michigan Trout Unlimited, told the committee that not long ago, Lake Huron's food web collapsed and salmon disappeared. Since then, walleye have rebounded very well in Saginaw Bay but perch have not.

"Saginaw Bay is an incredible walleye fishery right now," he said.

But May-Petersen had a different view.

"From the commercial fisherman's standpoint, what is going on on Saginaw Bay is actually that the perch population would do a lot better if you took out some of the walleye. I mean, walleye eat perch. That is part of their diet. So they are in the bay hunting and you stocked the bay and now they are doing what fish do, they are hunting and eating other fish," she said.

In the meantime, invasive quagga and zebra mussels have made the waters of the bay clearer, which only makes the hunting better for the walleye, May-Petersen explained.

"I don't think commercial fishing is your problem in the bay. I think you are out of balance is what your problem is. And we have a change to the environment and we are not adjusting to that, not adapting," she contended.

Lake Michigan, where her husband Eric PETERSEN fishes, is out of balance too, she said.

"Down in Muskegon and Leland, we are starting to see a lot more lake trout move into our whitefish nets. We are getting to the point now where we are seeing half and half for us in Muskegon if not three quarters. Leland is really, really suffering right now. They are seeing 90 percent lake trout, 80 percent lake trout. The problem with that for us is lake trout and whitefish don't coexist together. When lake trout move in, they push out the whitefish . . . this is hurting us a lot."

DNR officials told the committee last week that the state has emphasized recreational fishing over commercial fishing since the 1960s, largely due to the economic benefits.

Burroughs gave some of the numbers that support that position. He said there are 1.4 million recreational anglers in Michigan and another 300,000 come from out of state. Recreational fishing in Michigan is second only to Florida.

That many fishers spend a collective 25 million days a year fishing, 2 million by non-residents. All told, recreational fishing generates more than $2 billion in spending, supporting 35,000 jobs and generates $227 million in state and local taxes.

Canada did a study on what was generated by recreational fishing and found that the value of every Atlantic salmon caught was $3,000, Burroughs said.

"In Michigan, I'm not sure where we would end up for different species, but if you would just imagine generally that recreation will turn a fish, a 5-pound fish, into $200 or $300. Or you could catch it and sell it for a couple of bucks a pound and turn it into say $20 or $25. That is a public trust resource. You want to maximize that value," he said.

Committee Chair Gary HOWELL (R-North Branch) said the committee won't be able to wrap up work on the package before it breaks for recess, so he is planning to put together a work group to hammer out the details on the bills. He invited May-Petersen to be a part of that work group.
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1st hour discussion today, Wednesday 6-19-19; MIRS News Service

Republicans Undecided On 'The Bus' Or Individual Budgets

The Republican-controlled Senate today passed amended House-passed, individual department budgets for Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 along with two large shell omnibus bills (Click to add MIRS Bill Hound SB 0372 and Click to add MIRS Bill Hound SB 0373), keeping their options open when it comes time to send Gov. Gretchen WHITMER their final spending plan.

MIRS asked Senate Appropriations Committee Chair Jim STAMAS (R-Midland) whether this year's budget would ultimately be done with two big omnibus budget bills or with department-by-department bills.

"We haven't made a decision," Stamas said. "So, we've put in place both the individual and the omnibus budgets. As we move forward, we'll look at it. We just want to make sure we have both in place."

Doing the annual state budget in two huge omnibus bills has become the norm over the past eight years in part because, with both branches of the Legislature and the executive branch in Republicans hands, it was more efficient.

But prior to Rick SNYDER becoming Governor, the old, less efficient individual budget bill process was used. In fact, even after Snyder took office in 2011, some lawmakers were skeptical of the omnibus bill approach (See "Richardville Even Odds On Omnibus Budget," 3/3/11).

The arrival of the Whitmer era, some assumed, meant a return to the pre-Snyder, department-by-department budget method, and that could still be what happens.

MIRS asked Senate Appropriations Committee Minority Vice Chair Curtis HERTEL Jr. (D-East Lansing) if he was surprised to see the omnibus budget bills pop up today.

"No, I wasn't surprised," Hertel said. "I'd always thought we'd use omnibus bills. The way I've looked at it, when we got down to it, we'd reach a deal. It wouldn't really be about this or that within individual budgets. And I still don't think that's what's going to happen.

"I don't see this as some kind of sign or signal that they (the Republicans) are doing something unexpected in any way," Hertel added.

MIRS pointed out that having the option of using the omnibus budget bill route or the department-by-department budget route would give the Republicans a choice as to which might be to their strategic advantage.

"They certainly do have options," Hertel said.

All 15 Senate Democrats who were present today voted against both vehicle omnibus bills Click to add MIRS Bill Hound SB 0372 and Click to add MIRS Bill Hound SB 0373. Neither bill included any spending, but could be substituted to include all general budget and School Aid Fund spending. In accordance with the fact that all budget action taken was procedural in nature, there was no debate and no amendments offered.

Eight of the 16 House budget bills were also taken up, amended to include no spending, passed and sent back to the House. All 15 Senate Democrats voted "no" on passage. The House budget bills are: Click to add MIRS Bill Hound HB 4229, Click to add MIRS Bill Hound HB 4231, Click to add MIRS Bill Hound HB 4232, Click to add MIRS Bill Hound HB 4236, HB4238, Click to add MIRS Bill Hound HB 4239, Click to add MIRS Bill Hound HB 4241, and Click to add MIRS Bill Hound HB 4242.

Stamas was asked what's the next step in the budget process.

"The House will do the same as what we're doing now," the Midland Republican explained. "By the end of the week we'll start conference committees and then we'll start working on targets."

Here's how the budget proposals compare at this point:

- Gov. Whitmer proposed a $60.2 billion budget, 3.5% higher than the current year budget of $58.15 billion.

- The Governor's a General Fund budget of $10.66 billion is 2.2% higher than current year GF spending of $10.42 billion.

- The House proposed a $58.87 billion budget, a 1.24% increase from the current year spending.

- The House's $10.29 billion General Fund suggestion is a $188 million cut (1.8%) in current year spending. The House's General Fund budget is $427 million (4%) less than what the Governor proposed.

- The Senate's $59.39 billion budget is a 2% increase from current year spending. It's $10.48 billion General Fund is $51 million more or .4% higher than current year spending.

- The Senate's General Fund budget is $187 million lower (1.75%) less than what the Governor proposed.
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1st hour discussion today, Tuesday 6-18-19; MIRS News Service

State: Enbridge Can Do Straits Sampling, Not Tunnel Construction

Enbridge said today it received "written confirmation" from the state to conduct work under a previously granted state permit that the company says will advance the company's tunnel project in the Straits of Mackinac.

However, Gov. Gretchen WHITMER's office said it has "not authorized Enbridge to move forward with constructing a tunnel" and the approval in question is an "independent authorization" granted by the state in a permit awarded in January.

Whitmer spokesperson Zack POHL said "any work to achieve that objective is done at the company’s own risk."

In other words, Enbridge has the permission to collect these samples under its permit, but does not have the assurance the state will agree to the tunnel, Whitmer spokesperson Chelsea LEWIS said, given the permit doesn't depend on the state agreeing to a tunnel.

Nevertheless, between the state permit and a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Enbridge said it is now "fully authorized" to begin its "geotechnical program that will gather information to inform the detailed engineering and permit application efforts" related to the underground tunnel the company wants for a replacement Line 5 pipeline.

Enbridge said the state's confirmation preserves the schedule to complete the tunnel at the earliest possible date, which the company has said is 2024.

Scott DEAN, spokesperson for the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) said the January permit was awarded after a 2018 hearing on Enbridge's application to take geotechnical borings to assess the feasibility of the tunnel project.

Dean also said the permit predates Whitmer's directive that ordered state agencies to halt work on the tunnel after Attorney General Dana NESSEL found the law enabling the project to be unconstitutional (See "Nessel: Line 5 Tunnel Law Unconstitutional; Gov Halts State Action On It," 3/28/19).

Pohl said because of Nessel's opinion, "the previous agreements authorizing a tunnel are void," but the EGLE permit from January remains in effect.

Enbridge has filed in court to have its tunnel agreements validated (See "Enbridge Asks State Court To Enforce Line 5 Tunnel Agreements," 6/6/19).

Whitmer has said during discussions with Enbridge that she's working to get the existing Line 5 out of the water as soon as possible.

However, the company said it can't accept what it said was the state's demand to close the existing Line 5 within the next two years, or before Enbridge can complete the planned tunnel, citing concerns over supplying energy to the Upper Peninsula and beyond.
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1st hr. discussion today, Flag Day/President Trump's Birthday/Friday,
6-14-19; MIRS News Service, Lansing, Michigan

House Finishes Work On '20 Budget That Takes Sales Tax Off Gasoline

The House put the final touches today on its $57.7 billion Fiscal Year 2020 spending plan that swaps out the sales tax on gasoline for a higher gas tax so the $850 million a year in play goes entirely to the roads.

The Republican-backed plan uses the $500 million in School Aid Fund money that had been going to fund universities to replace the money lost through the loss of the sales tax on gasoline. To fund universities and local governments, the Republicans are counting on higher Internet sales tax revenue and about $425 million in General Fund cuts from the Governor's proposed budget.

House Speaker Lee CHATFIELD (R-Levering) and House Appropriations Committee Chair Shane HERNANDEZ (R-Port Huron) received a standing ovation as he walked into the caucus room after the passage of the final six budgets this afternoon.

"What we said from day one is that we're going to ensure that every penny that's paid at the pump goes to roads while also increasing funding to our schools, local units of government and higher ed," Chatfield said. "We kept our word. We followed through. We did what we told the people we were going to do and I'm proud of our product."

The main piece of the budget, the Transportation budget (Click to add MIRS Bill Hound HB 4246), passed on a party-line 57-52 vote.

With the exception of a vote here and there on some of the 16 bills that make up the House budget, Democrats held hands and voted against the budget in solidarity. They questioned whether the math worked on a FY '20 spending plan that came in $1.35 billion less than what Gov. Gretchen WHITMER proposed.

"We don't need fake and false promises. Michigan families deserve better," said Rep. Abdullah HAMMOUD (D-Dearborn) of a plan that puts $200 million less into K-12 schools than what Whitmer put on the table. He referred to the Republicans' road plan as "half-baked."

Schools like his in Dearborn will see such a marginal increase under the plan that it won't cover the increased costs of educating kids, necessitating the laying off of some 60 staff. Republicans are spending $15 billion on K-12 education, 1.4% more than what was set aside in the FY '19 budget.

"A real conversation needs to take place about what is the best path forward," Hammoud said.

The Republicans' road plan calls for a two-year phase in of the gas tax swap. The legislation needed to make the technical adjustment was not passed as part of the budget bills that moved out of the House this week.

This week's action by House Republicans now sets the stage for real negotiations involving Senate leaders and Whitmer about what the final Fiscal Year 2020 budget looks like and to what extent a road funding plan is part of the equation. She is proposing a 45-cent-a-gallon gas tax hike that has universally been panned by legislative Republicans.

Senate Majority Leader Mike SHIRKEY (R-Clarklake) has considered the '20 budget and more revenue for roads to be separate discussions. However, Whitmer said on the April 1 edition of MIRS Monday that she would not sign a budget that doesn't include a road-funding fix.

Bollin Gets Ball Rolling On Tolling
The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) has until March 1 to produce a study on the feasibility of using toll roads in Michigan, under a provision Rep. Ann BOLLIN (R-Brighton Twp.) successfully put into the MDOT budget.

The report needs to lay out the process, timeline and costs associated with turning some of the state's interstates into toll roads. Bollin said questions on tolling has come up on numerous occasions from her constituents.

"The opportunity presents itself. We need to do our due diligence and explore what it means to have toll roads in Michigan," she said.

According to MDOT, Michigan nearly had toll roads. In 1951, the Michigan Turnpike Authority was created to build turnpikes between Detroit-Chicago and Toledo-Bay City, but federal funding came in for these roads as part of the freeway construction projects of the 1950s and these roads became Interstate 94 and Interstate 75.

State Urges Prompt Repayment From Canada On Gordie Howe Bridge
Unless Canada promptly repays the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) for any costs it picks up in the course of the Gordie Howe Bridge construction, Michigan will not be opening up its checkbook to cover any costs connected to building the span, under language changed in the Click to add MIRS Bill Hound HB 4246.

As originally written, the administration was concerned that MDOT wouldn't be able to temporarily pay for pieces of the project that would ultimately be reimbursed by Canada. Rep. Matt MADDOCK (R-Milford), chair of the House MDOT Appropriations Subcommittee budget, said he was concerned about Michigan becoming "Canada's credit card."

The Budget Office and the Legislature worked on a new provision that clears up both of their concerns. Today's amendment also requires MDOT to kick over to the Legislature monthly reports on what Gordie Howe Bridge expenses it is temporarily paying for and how quickly Canada is moving to reimburse the state.

"It is encouraging that lawmakers recognize the value of the Gordie Howe International Bridge and the vital benefits to the flow of commerce between Michigan and our largest trading partner," said MDOT spokesperson Jeff CRANSON. "That's why business and labor leaders from across the state have offered their full-throated support for the project."

Upper Peninsula Plane Fight Amendment Grounded
A Rep. Beau LAFAVE (R-Iron Mountain) amendment to the MDOT budget that would have cleared the way for Upper Peninsula lawmakers to use state aircraft as a way to get back and forth to their remote districts failed to make the budget today.

U.P. lawmakers have argued for years that it's cheaper for the state to fly them to Lansing and back to the Upper Peninsula each week than to reimburse them for all the road travel they put on their vehicles (See "Lawmakers Drive Over 1,600 Hours A Year To U.P. Despite 269 State Flights," 4/3/19).
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