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

1st hour discussion today, Thursday 4-18-19;
MIRS News Service

Can Michigan Really Shut Down Line 5?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Your Defending Fathers

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

New Lawsuit Challenges Same-Sex Adoption Settlement

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Your Defending Fathers

Great video,...Please Share!!!

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

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

Your Defending Fathers

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Among the TCFC's recommendations are:

- Establish uniform assessments and centralized collections;

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

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

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

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

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

The TCFC is a 14-member commission made up of judges, lawyers and others who are charged with recommending reforms to the trial court system.
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1st hour discussion today, Friday 4-5-19;
MIRS News Service

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nessel's office has said an ethics officer advised there is no conflict, but Stern's court filings include a declaration from University of Michigan professor/special counsel to law school Robert E. HIRSHON, who disagrees.
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3rd hour discussion today, Thursday 4-4-19;
MIRS News Service

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

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

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

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

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

"After the midterm elections, and a lack of innovative policy ideas coming out of Washington, it’s become increasingly clear that we need to design center-right solutions on issues that will improve the lives of Americans," Jo Ann DAVIDSON, former speaker of the Ohio House of Representatives and member of the board of Two Paths America, said in a statement. "America is hungry for some conservative ideas and these respected thought leaders are determined to help find some new and innovative ideas."
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1st hour discussion today, Thursday 4-4-19;
MIRS News Service

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So, what's the alternative?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Your Defending Fathers

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Enbridge, the owners of Line 5, issued a statement tonight that it intends "to seek clarification from the Administration on a path forward. Line 5 will continue to safely operate, as it has for more than 60 years. Numerous independent reviews have concluded that the line is safe."
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2nd hour discussion today, Thursday 3-28-19;
MIRS News Service

Colbeck: State Social Studies Standards Have Swung Left

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

An overview of the standards, including side-by-side comparisons of the current revisions to both the 2018 edition and the currently adopted 2007 edition, are available here.
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1st hour discussion today, Thursday 3-28-19;
MIRS News Service

Whitmer Won't Sign Budget Without Road Funding Fix

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The questions asked were as followed:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The remaining questions were demographic questions.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Catholic Agencies Days In State Foster Care Likely Nearing End

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Senator Aric Nesbitt Sets No Fault Timeline

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

House, Senate GOP Hold Joint Caucus

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Early summer?

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

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

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

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

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

House Votes To Give Libraries Immunity If They Administer Naloxone

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Expanded FOIA Bill Passes House For 3rd Straight Term

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

McCann told reporters that the Senate Majority Leader wants a "specific definition of open records," instead of "painting with a broad brush."
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MIRS News Service

Whitmer Administration Holding Back Support On Gaming Expansion

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Most Democrats voted in favor of the bill today. Their continued support in the process is critical since at least one bill, Click to add MIRS Bill Hound HB 4307, needs three-quarters support on the House and Senate floors to pass, Webber noted.
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MIRS News Service

Shirkey Liking Idea Of Electoral College Votes By Congressional District

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Shirkey Prioritizing Auto Insurance Over Budget

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By model year 2025, passenger car on-road vehicle fuel economy is expected to jump to 45 mpg, which is a 43 percent increase. For trucks, it's expected to go to 31 mpg by that time, a 46 percent increase.
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2nd half hour of 1st hour, Monday 3-11-19; MIRS News Service

Lucido Still A 'No' On Road Funding Absent PA 51 Re-Write

Sen. Pete LUCIDO (R-Shelby Twp.) was a "no" vote on the 2015 roads package in the state House. This week, he said he'll vote "no" on any additional road funding bills in 2019 unless the Legislature agrees to rejigger how the transportation dollars is spent.

The Macomb County lawmakers said roads in his end of town get the short end up of funding stick under the current P.A. 51 arrangement, which basically sends 39 percent to state roads, 39 percent to county roads and 22 percent to city roads.

And even though Gov. Gretchen WHITMER's proposed Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 budget runs new money from her proposed 45-cent gas tax increase through a different funding formula that focuses on the state's most-travelled roads, Lucido said he's still a "no" (See "Gov's New Formula Sends 70% Of New Gas Tax Funds To State Roads," 3/5/19).

"That tells me PA 51 isn't working," said Lucido on Whitmer's new funding scheme. "Why are you going around 51 if it's such a great, great 70-year-old archaic bullshit way of doing business?"

Lucido wants to make two changes to the current law. His Click to add MIRS Bill Hound SB 0027 has all money collected through vehicle registrations return to the county where the vehicle is registered. His Click to add MIRS Bill Hound SB 0028 redirects gas tax money to the county where the fuel was purchased.

Neither one has much of a political pulse at this point and the first-term senator said he thinks he knows why.

"If the leaders would put in chairpeople that have no affinity to the Upper Peninsula and let Southeast Michigan people stand guard on the committees, we would take the bills up and have the discussion," Lucido said. "The bills won't even be taken up. Why not?

"P.A. 51, if anything goes through there, doesn't work. We need to start over, give all the education their piece of the pie without this Betty Crocker mixing of things up."

The bills likely have no future in the Senate, where Senate Transportation Committee Chair Wayne SCHMIDT (R-Traverse City) said, "P.A. 51 works. I think it works for the entire state, but I do recognize that there are some larger projects that need attention."

As then-Gov. Rick SNYDER put $52 million in state money into the Soo Locks to make that project happen, the state does need to sink large investments into the state's main arteries -- such as Interstate 96, I-75, I-94 -- because of their impact on commerce and passenger travel. Passenger rail funding is a statewide investment need, too, Schmidt said.

Senate Appropriations Committee Chair Jim STAMAS (R-Midland) didn't give Lucido's idea a warm embrace when talking with reporters after Thursday's taping of Off The Record.

And over in the House, Lucido's approach has even less chance of passing with both House Speaker Lee CHATFIELD (R-Levering) and House Majority Floor Majority Floor Leader Triston COLE (R-Mancelona) less than supportive.

Asked about P.A. 51 on Thursday, Chatfield said, "I don’t think we have a formula problem in our state, I think we have a road funding problem in our state and the root of that problem is that we have people paying taxes at the pump that are not going to roads."

Meanwhile, Lucido said he has several Southeast Michigan lawmakers on his side and Whitmer, herself, is acknowledging through her actions that P.A. 51 is not getting money to where money needs to go.

"If you’re inclined to make changes and fix the damn roads, then fix Public Act 51 with me," Lucido said. "Because it is a culmination of monies going to different diversions that have been used as stop gaps over the years. It should all be dedicated to roads."
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1st half hour discussion today, Monday 3-11-19;

Now that we have "Sprung Forward",...leave the clocks alone and NEVER change them again!!!
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1 month ago

Your Defending Fathers

1st hour discussion today, Thursday 3-7-19;

Salute to State Rep. - Triston Cole, Majority Floor Leader!!!
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1 month ago

Your Defending Fathers

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

CALL TO ACTION - Call your MI State Rep. AND State Senator TODAY,...tell them to come out publicly AGAINST Gov. Whitmer's budget proposal and NOT TO VOTE FOR IT!!!


The show can be heard LIVE 9 am - Noon, M-F (EST) AND 24/7 online at; www.yourdefendingfathers.com and on your cell phone/tablet via the TuneIn app (download the app and search for WYPV - "We're Your Patriot Voice")!!!
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MIRS Breaking News - Updated: 4:30 p.m.
Monday, March 04, 2019

Gov. Whitmer To Propose Raising Gas Tax By 45 Cents -
(Highest in the Nation)

Gov. Gretchen WHITMER's plan to "fix the damn roads" includes increasing the gas tax by 45 cents as part of an 18-month, three-step process starting Oct. 1 and ending Oct. 1, 2020.

Whitmer is not proposing selling bonds as part of the plan. Instead, she is looking at adding to the state's 26.3-cent-a-gallon gas tax without taking off the existing sales tax on gasoline. Such an increase would raise roughly $2.5 billion for the roads.

The plan to bring Michigan's gas tax to 71.2-cents-a-gallon also includes offsets for low-income individuals in difficult financial situations.

According to the Tax Foundation, Michigan currently collects 44 cents per gallon on roads, when the sales tax is factored into the equation. Adding 45 cents would boast that total to 89 cents a gallon. Pennsylvania's 58.70 cents-a-gallon increase on gasoline is currently the nation's highest tax on gas. California is next at 55.22 cents.

What Whitmer has in mind is in line with what former Senate Majority Leader Ken SIKKEMA and former Senate Minority Leader Bob EMERSON suggested Jan. 31, when they proposed ramping up a 47-cent-a-gallon gas tax by 2028 (See "Former Leaders Support 47-Cent Gas Tax Boost For Roads," 1/31/19).


"We've got to stop this wait narrative,” Sikkema said today. "Gov. (Rick) SNYDER’s 21st Century infrastructure commission two years ago documented that you need $2.6 billion on top of the $1.2 billion (approved in 2015). Stop the wait narrative. It is just getting more and more expensive two years later. I think people need to accept that $2.6 number from two years ago because it was well scrubbed. It was well documented.”

The proposal didn't exactly get a salute from at least one legislative leader.

"Before we ask citizens to spend more on roads, let's prove to them we will give them real money with insurance reform," said Senate Majority Leader Mike SHIRKEY (R-ClarkLake).

Michigan Republican Party (MRP) Chair Laura COX said a $2 billion tax increase will "break many Michiganders' budgets" and comes four years after residents rejected the road funding ballot proposal.

"The people of Michigan deserve real solutions on this critical issue, not a tax and spend solution which places the burden on the states overtaxed families," Cox said.

While this specific proposal was not public earlier today when the Business Leaders for Michigan held its infrastructure policy panel discussion, BLM CEO Doug ROTHWELL did talk about lawmakers needing "air cover" and political public support as they support a gas tax increase to fix Michigan's worsening roads.

“We are not an organization, Business Leaders for Michigan, that likes to talk about raising taxes. We don't take that lightly, at all. But we are on record saying that we need to make a significant increase in investment in our infrastructure and we believe user fees -- which could be a gas tax -- is the best and fairest way to do it," Rothwell said.

Whitmer will unveil her budget plan 11 a.m. Tuesday. The plan is for Whitmer to personally deliver an overview of the budget with Budget Director Chris KOLB getting into the details.
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3rd hour discussion today, Thursday 2-28-19;
MIRS News Service

Amash Challenger Talks Emerging In West Michigan

Mike JURRIANS of Grand Rapids has had enough.

As word of U.S. Rep. Justin AMASH's (R-Cascade Twp.) vote with congressional Democrats on blocking President Donald TRUMP's emergency declaration filtered into the 3rd District, the Grand Rapids resident picked up the phone today and called Amash's office.

"The people in his office told me Trump is trying to make an end-run around Congress," Jurrians said. "I told her that we've been dealing with this issue since Ronald REAGAN. People are coming across the border. They're killing people. Driving drunk on the highways. Drug runners are coming up.

"I told her, 'You lost my vote, my wife's vote and my son's vote. We need to get rid of you.' I was hot. I'm still hot. I've had it with him," he said.

Jurrians and his wife, Chris, helped found what was known as the Tea Party of West Michigan back when Tea Parties were beginning to be a grassroots force in 2009 and 2010.

Chris Jurrians knocked doors for Amash back then, when the then-state House member was in a competitive three-way Republican primary to succeed retiring U.S. Rep. Vern EHLERS. They helped Amash against Democrat Pat MILES in the General Election and even in 2014 when he faced a GOP opponent in Brian ELLIS.

Not anymore. Amash's shine has dulled for Jurrians and several other grassroots conservatives who now classify him as a "never Trumper."

In West Michigan, serious preliminary discussions are taking place among some establishment Republicans and grassroots conservatives about a credible, well-financed conservative to challenge Amash in August 2020, MIRS has learned.

It's not only his opposition to Trump using a national emergency declaration to fund a wall at the U.S.-Mexico border. Amash voted against Kate's Law, which raises penalties for undocumented immigrants who re-enter the United States after being deported. And the socially conservative constituents don't forget that he's lost the support of Right to Life for declining to vote to defund Planned Parenthood.

He declined to endorse Trump in 2016. And he mentioned there may be grounds for a Trump impeachment.

There also are questions about his constituent services. The self-proclaimed Libertarian's limited-government bent is so intense, it's impacting his office's ability to help veterans connect with services and local government's ability to access funding.

With Trump presumably anchoring the Republican ticket in 2020, Amash's perceived antics aren't seen as uniting the party in a year when such unity is vital for any chance of success.

"There's become a pattern," said Joni JONES of the Calhoun County Tea Party Patriots. "He's lost his ability to be objective because of his own personal dislike for our President . . . He's not representing the people who put him into office very well, I'll say that."

Jones is one of them.

She said she's knocked doors and written checks for Amash in years past, but that's come to a screeching halt. Things started going downhill when Amash declined to support Trump against the "deplorable" alternative of Democrat Hillary CLINTON in 2016.

Since then, she sees in Amash a member of Congress who is so lost in his strident ideology that his self-imposed alienation prevents him from being an effective member of Congress.

"You can stand on principle. That's great. But you have to bring people along. You have to win them over to your way of thinking, not turn them off," Jones said.

"There are so many Republicans I've talked to who I would never believe would say this who tell me, 'We're so disgusted with him,'" she added. "Personally, I'll never vote for him again."

Amash won in years past with the support of such high-dollar donors as the DeVos family and former ambassador Peter SECCHIA. In 2014, he managed to raise $1.8 million when he beat Ellis 57.5 to 42.5 percent. In the 2018 election cycle, no sitting Michigan member of Congress raised less than Amash, who pulled together $688,107.

Was that because Amash didn't have a primary challenge or a well-funded Democratic opponent? Was it because he didn't really attempt to raise funds? Private polling shared with MIRS in 2018 had Ellis, Amash's 2014 primary opponent, up on Amash and the incumbent's favorable rating at 43 percent.

Is it possible Amash could be defeated in a primary? "Establishment" Republicans have wanted Amash gone almost since the moment he took office in 2011.

Rumors of a serious Amash challenge has become predictable.

"Just copy and paste the article you wrote two years ago and four years ago," said one GOP consultant when asked to comment about an Amash challenge.

But the 38-year-old rarely, if ever, comes to Michigan Republican Party functions to endear himself to activists who knock on doors and get out the vote. This past weekend, a regular attendee at the 3rd Congressional District caucus said he's seen Amash at a caucus meeting twice in the past 10 years.

Members of Congress such as U.S. Rep. John MOOLENAAR (R-Midland), Jack BERGMAN (R-Watersmeet), Paul MITCHELL (R-Dreyden Twp.), and Tim WALBERG (R-Tipton) took an active role in their caucus meeting Friday. Folks in the 3rd were grumbling about memories of Amash pledging in 2010 to only run three or five terms (depending on the memory) before he vowed to leave office.

Amash is now in his fifth term.

Yes, a likable conservative with credentials who is willing to land some punches could give Amash problems, said Republican consultant Greg McNEILLY, a close confidant of the DeVos family.

"I think his schtick has worn thin," he said. "People expected a certain maturity to come with his time in office and they haven't seen it. They're frustrated with it."

Former Sand Lake Village President Tom NORTON said when his town was looking for help paying for its main street improvements, Amash's staff basically told him, "Good luck."

Norton said he ended up going to U.S. Sen. Gary PETERS' (D-Bloomfield Twp.) office and state Sen. Peter MACGREGOR (R-Rockford) for help. They came through with state and federal money to help make the project happen.

When it came to a National Guard veterans issue, Norton said he again went to MacGregor for help when Amash basically told him, "You're not our problem."

"I'd call Gary Peters' office before I call Amash's for anything and I'm a die-hard Republican who rarely votes for a Democrat," Norton said.

For strong pro-lifers like Byron Township Supervisor Tom HOOKER, Amash's less-than-anti-abortion record is a concern.

"I'm not happy with a lot of the things he does," Hooker said. "He is a perfectionist. It has to be exactly the way he wants it or he won't vote for it. I understand what he's doing to some extent, but . . . it's been a struggle."

While Hooker commended Amash for his visibility on social media and being open in explaining his votes, Hooker isn't convinced his public transparency will be enough next time voters head to the polls, depending on the alternative.

"If another conservative individual who would be a little less detailed oriented ran, (Amash) would be somewhat vulnerable," he said.
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2 months ago

Your Defending Fathers

3rd/Final Hour of “Your Defending Fathers” with “Trucker Randy”, Thursday 2-28-19;

I'm so proud of OUR President Donald Trump,....and screw you Justin Amash!!!


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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2 months ago

Your Defending Fathers

3rd/Final Hour of “Your Defending Fathers” with “Trucker Randy”, Wednesday 2-27-19;

What did Gov. Whitmer talk with Speaker Nancy Pelosi about in Washington D.C. on Sunday?!?!?


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 half hour discussion today, Wednesday 2-27-19;
MIRS News Service

Trump Hand-Picked Whitmer To Sit With Him At State Dinner

Gov. Gretchen WHITMER sat to the immediate left (appropriately enough) of President Donald TRUMP at Sunday's state dinner with several other governors. And as it turns out, it wasn't an accident.

In Washington D.C. for her first National Governors Association (NGA) meeting, Whitmer was among the 48 governors and 1,911 attendees to participate in what turned out to be the second-highest attended annual Washington D.C. meeting in the organization's history.

Whitmer ended up attending the President's ball with her father, former Blue Cross CEO Richard WHITMER, but her first face-to-face meeting with Trump was a highlight.

"He told me, 'I hand-picked who was at this table with me,'" Whitmer said. "I told him, 'It's because Michigan is so important to your re-election, isn't it?' He said, 'You're right.'"

The governors of Ohio, Georgia and Montana also sat with the President as he dined on a slab of well-done beef. Trump and the governors talked about issues, of course. The skills gap, the "infrastructure crisis," tariffs and so forth.

"He did a lot of the talking," said Whitmer. "He was talking about a bit about his most recent trip . . . There were some funny exchanges."

Asked to share some of those, Whitmer, laughed, "I took notes for the book."

The next morning, Trump participated in the morning session with 36 governors before he headed off to Vietnam and the Far East.

The Governors spent time with Trump, Vice President Mike PENCE, cabinet secretaries, and representatives of various countries, including Canada, Mexico, Japan, Vietnam, Australia, South Korea, Germany and the United Kingdom.

As a whole, Whitmer said it was a "really good experience," one that former Gov. Rick SNYDER encouraged her to attended.

"He told me that as the CEO of a state, you don't have a lot of people who understand the kind of responsibilities that come with being governor so it was helpful to talk with other governors and bounce ideas off them," she said. "I found that to be true."

In particular, Whitmer spent time with Ohio Gov. Mike DeWINE, Illinois Gov. J.B. PRITZKER, Wisconsin Gov. Tony EVERS and Minnesota Gov. Tim WALZ as the Midwestern leaders talked about how to join forces around issues involving the Great Lakes.
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2 months ago

Your Defending Fathers

3rd/Final Hour of “Your Defending Fathers” with “Trucker Randy”, Tuesday 2-26-19;

Media,...not reporting the truth; President Trump in Vietnam, SoS Jocelyn Benson worked for the Southern Poverty Law Center and U.S. Senate votes to KILL LIVE BABIES!!!


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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2 months ago

Your Defending Fathers

3rd/Final Hour of “Your Defending Fathers” with “Trucker Randy”, Monday 2-25-19;

Obama's SuperPAC from 2012,...coming after President Trump!!!


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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2 months ago

Your Defending Fathers

Just a regular citizen, who is NOT a member of the NRA, delivers a GREAT speech to a committee of the State House of Rhode Island,...PLEASE SHARE!!!

Whiskey and Rebellion
One of my followers on instagram giving the Rhode Island House of Representatives the fucking business on gun rights in America. Rob, you're the man.
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2 months ago

Your Defending Fathers

3rd/Final Hour of “Your Defending Fathers” with “Trucker Randy”,
Friday 2-22-19;

Every County in Michigan,...needs one of these groups!!!


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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2 months ago

Your Defending Fathers

3rd/Final Hour of “Your Defending Fathers” with “Trucker Randy”, Thursday 2-21-19;

Michigan's Attorney General - Dana Nessel is wasting tax dollars joining a frivolous lawsuit WITHOUT "Legal Standing"!!!


The show can be heard LIVE 9 am - Noon, M-F (EST) AND 24/7 online at; www.yourdefendingfathers.com and on your cell phone/tablet via the TuneIn app (download the app and search for WYPV - "We're Your Patriot Voice")!!!
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1st-hour discussion today, Thursday 2-21-19;
MIRS News Service

Roads, Rights, Reform Of Criminal Justice Top Republican Priority List

Improving infrastructure, protecting constitutional rights and religious freedom, and reforming the criminal justice system were all listed as top priorities for the House Republican caucus today when it unveiled its Action Plan for the 2019-2020 legislative term.

Rep. Aaron MILLER (R-Sturgis), who chaired the House Action Plan Committee that drafted it, called the document titled "Leading the Way For an Even Better Michigan" a roadmap.

"We have to sell Michigan," Miller said. "That's our central goal. We have to sell Michigan as a state. The simple truth is, we are competing with 49 other states, and we have to sell Michigan as the right place to live . . . This plan is the best road map for Michigan carrying us into the future."

Miller said the document drew from all 58 members of the caucus. It included:

- Improving infrastructure, including roads, public water systems and broadband.

- Protecting constitutional rights and religious freedoms.

- "Standing up for the most vulnerable," including the mentally ill and victims of opioid addiction.

- Criminal justice reform, including changes to civil asset forfeiture.

- And "putting more hard-earned money back into the pockets of Michigan taxpayers through lower car insurance rates and tax relief."

House Speaker Lee CHATFIELD (R-Levering) said nothing in the document had been altered in an effort to win consensus with Democrats or Gov. Gretchen WHITMER. He said the Action Plan reflects the priorities of the caucus, but they do understand there may have to be some compromise to win consensus.

"These issues are priorities for us, because these are the significant reforms that will help us stay on that course," Chatfield said. "We are going to focus on the state's most pressing issues and deliver real reforms that will benefit the people of this state and our future generations."

Whitmer just outlined her priorities in the State of the State and promised more details on her roads plan when she submits a budget proposal in the next few weeks (See "Whitmer Calls On Residents To Post Pothole Photos On Social Media," 2/12/19).

Chatfield said the Republican plan on roads is already in operation and is not yet fully implemented.

"The one beautiful thing -- and I remind people of this often who say, 'What are you doing to fix my roads?' -- we have a plan that is actually working right now," Miller said. "It is in action as we speak. It's been in action for the last three and half years. To the end that more road funding is needed in addition to the plan that is already working and will be working for the next couple of years, I think that is going to be a discussion over the next two years."

But Miller said much of what is in the Republican plan are issues that the Governor should agree on.

"A lot of these priorities are the ones she advocated for on the campaign trail, and I don't think that is a bad thing. I think we can agree on a lot of these guiding principles. I would just site a few, as being auto insurance, that issue has taken great prominence in just the last four years that I've been in office. Infrastructure is on there, clean water is something we all agree on," Miller said.
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2 months ago

Your Defending Fathers

3rd/Final Hour of “Your Defending Fathers” with “Trucker Randy Bishop” Tuesday 2-19-19;

Gov. Whitmer wants Michigan to become a "sanctuary State" and AG Dana Nessel wastes Michigan tax dollars on joining a frivolous lawsuit against President Trump.



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 half hour discussion, Monday 2-18-19;
MIRS News Service

Rep. Triston Cole Keeping An Eye On The Road For Hands-Free Legislation

As the driver of a semi-truck for 10 years, Rep. Triston COLE (R-Mancelona) had a vantage point of looking down into vehicles to see what other drivers were doing. Over that time, Cole said he saw drivers did "less and less true driving as they were traveling down the road."

"People were multi-tasking in many ways other than looking down the road. They'd be on an iPad, putting on makeup, eating a sandwich, all at the same time while talking on the phone. They just don't realize how dangerous that is. The human brain can only take in so much information at once and they really should be prioritizing traveling down the road in a safe manner," he said.

Cole and Rep. Jason SHEPPARD (R-Lambertville) introduced bills this week, Click to add MIRS Bill Hound HB 4198 and Click to add MIRS Bill Hound HB 4199, makes viewing or sending messages in a smart phone, tablet or computer illegal while driving a car. The bill also bans being on a social media site while driving.

Although the bills don't use the words "hands-free," as Gov. Gretchen WHITMER suggested in her State of the State address, Cole said that is indeed his intent, to prohibit viewing or sending texts, messages and e-mails, but allowing phone calls if they are made from a hands-free device. (See "Whitmer Calls On Residents To Post Pothole Photos On Social Media," 2/12/19).

Cole said he had been working on the bill well before the speech, and called it "a first approach to solving some of the issues of distracted driving."

Current law bans texting while driving, but doesn't prohibit web browsing or posting to social media. Sheppard's bill would increase fines for violations from $100 to $250 for a first violation and from $200 to $500 for subsequent violations.

Rep. Mari MANOOGIAN (D-Birmingham) one day earlier introduced her own version of a hands-free bill. It appears more detailed. For instance, Manoogian's bill specifically says drivers can't use headphones if both ears are covered and spells out that drivers can't view video while driving. (See "Manoogian Dials Up Hands-Free Device Bill," 2/14/19).

"I really don't want to micro-manage law enforcement out there. And the intent was to put more tools in their hands to keep motorists safe on the highway. The more that we specify, the more detail, the more difficult it is for them to prove that was happening," Cole said, but he agrees drivers shouldn't be watching TV.

"Depending on what you are watching, that can be very distracting. That endangers other motorists on the road," he said.

Cole said he hasn't seen Manoogian's bill, but he's open to the idea of merging or picking up pieces of it.

"I will be looking at that legislation she has introduced and see how it fits with what Rep. Sheppard and I have introduced and have those conversations. I think there is still a lot of bipartisanship that can be done. That is how I will approach that as I go through the committee process," he said.
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2 months ago

Your Defending Fathers


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1st hour discussion today, Wednesday 2-13-19;
MIRS News Service

Legal Challenge To Paid Sick Leave, Min. Wage Changes Imminent

A legal challenge to take down the Legislature's lame duck changes to the state's minimum wage and paid sick leave proposals is coming soon, MIRS has learned.

Leaders of both drives to create a $12-an-hour floor by 2022 and an annual bank of 72 hours of paid sick leave said with "100 percent certainty" something would be done to bring back the original proposals approved by lawmakers last summer before they were changed in December.

Oakland County Commission Chair Dave WOODWARD, who did work for both Time To Care and One Fair Wage, said he could say with "100 percent" certainty that "we're going to improve paid sick time for all workers and we're going to do whatever it takes."

"We're not going to stop," he said. "We're going to keep at this. We're going to keep moving the needle so workers have a chance to climb up that ladder of opportunity."

That could mean going back to the ballot in 2020, but Woodward also said, "I'd like to explore the constitutionality of what (the Legislature) did" when it passed both citizens initiatives in September (See "House, Senate Pass Paid Sick Leave, $12 Minimum Wage," 9/5/18) and then significantly changed both proposals in December (See "House Further Revises, Then Passes Paid Sick Leave, Minimum Wage Bills," 12/4/18).

No lawsuit challenging the amending of the citizens initiatives has been filed, yet, but One Fair Wage and Time to Care, the groups that pushed the proposals, have previously decried the legislative action as being unconstitutional.

Danielle ATKINSON, founder of Mothering Justice in Michigan, also emphasized during a panel discussion at the Michigan Society of Association Executives (MSAE) annual conference that her group isn't letting off the gas.

"Mothering Justice is a momma's agenda. Leave policies are on that agenda. We've been working toward that for six years. We will not stop until all of our proposals are enacted," she said.

Justin WINSLOW, executive director of the Michigan Restaurant Association, and Charlie OWENS, National Federation of Independent Businesses, also shared their perspective during an issue panel.

Under the legislative changes, the $12 minimum wage won't be phased in until 2022 as opposed to 2030. Also, tipped workers won't be brought up to $12, which was in the original proposal. Instead, restaurant staff's pre-tip wage will be 38 percent of the existing minimum wage.

The Legislature's changed paid-sick leave proposal limits the number of impacted businesses to those with more than 50 employees. Instead of 72 hours of paid sick time a year, it would be 40 hours and would only apply to employees with a year of service.

Winslow called the original proposals a "fundamental and existential threat to the restaurant industry," the state's second-largest employer. Polling from 1,700 of his members showed that because of this change, 19 percent will be allowed to stay open.

Another 76 percent said because of the retention of the tip credit, they will be able to grow or retain jobs.

On the issue of whether One Fair Wage and Time to Care will be on the ballot in 2020, Winslow took a pessimistic view that "this will be a perpetual two-year process. There is no end game. Politically speaking, it makes sense to put this on the ballot every two years."

While the straight polling on both issues is strong, Owens said if respondents knew the impact both proposals would have -- a projected 18,000 jobs lost and $3.9 million sucked out of the state's economy -- they would change their minds.

"It is a soul-crushing experience to be a small business owner and have 10 employees and have to walk out to two of them . . . and say 'I'm sorry, we have to let you go' . . . in order to afford this mandated benefit on the remaining eight employees," Owens said.
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TOMORROW - Wednesday, February 13th, 2019,
(3rd Hour 11 am - Noon);
"Trucker Randy's" response to Michigan Governor - Gretchen Whitmer's "State of the State" address tonight;

Listen online at; www.yourdefendingfathers.com
Or, on the TuneIn app (download, open and search for WYPV) and LIVE on Facebook via my personal page;
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1st hour discussion today, Monday 2-11-19;
MIRS News Service

Whitmer Wants 'Legislative Improvements' For Healthy MI Work Requirements

Gov. Gretchen WHITMER wrote to federal officials today that she plans to ask for legislative "improvements" to the Medicaid expansion program Healthy Michigan and the work requirements lawmakers last year added to the program.

The federal government signed off late last year on Michigan adding work requirements to Healthy Michigan beneficiaries (See "Feds Approve Healthy MI Waiver For Another 5 Years," 12/21/18).

While that may be, Whitmer said she's planning to ask the Legislature to "work with me in the coming months on changes to the Healthy Michigan Plan that preserve coverage, promote work, and reduce red tape for Michiganders, while also minimizing administrative cost to the state."

Senate Majority Leader Mike SHIRKEY (R-Clarklake) said today in response that Whitmer "missed a chance to demonstrate her voiced commitment to 'partnering with the legislature' by going public with her intent to likely water down Michigan's unique and thoughtful Medicaid work requirement."

Shirkey said "learning to commit to the disciplines of work is a very key element of fulfilling" the mission of Healthy Michigan, which he said is to remove the health-related obstacles that prevent enrollees from achieving their highest level of personal responsibility.

"I will be an active listener," Shirkey said.

Shirkey sponsored the legislation last year requiring the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) to submit a waiver proposing work requirements for Healthy Michigan (See "Medicaid Work Requirement Bill Signed," 6/22/18).

In the letter to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), Whitmer pointed to Arkansas, where she said 18,000 people lost insurance in the first seven months under similar requirements, with many losing coverage "simply because they had not heard or did not understand how to comply."

The Governor then referenced a study this week projecting anywhere between 61,000 to 183,000 Michiganders could lose health coverage with the work requirements scheduled to be implemented in 2020 (See "Report: 183K Could Lose Medicaid Coverage Under Work Requirement," 2/6/19).

"As in Arkansas, Michigan's new law provides no resources for job training, job search or job supports," Whitmer wrote. "There is no reason to expect better job outcomes."

Michigan League for Public Policy (MLPP) President and CEO Gilda JACOBS today commended Whitmer for acting to keep Healthy Michigan going, while moving to promote change to the work requirements piece.

Jacobs said the law forced Whitmer's hand "by requiring her either to accept the work requirements -- a policy she clearly has concerns with -- or risk eliminating the Healthy Michigan Plan altogether, which puts the care of 680,000 people in jeopardy (See "Pink and Blue Sounded Nice But Did Greenbacks Call the Tune?" 2/4/19).

"It is an unfortunate statement on how this public policy was crafted that the only recourse our state's top elected official currently has is a letter, but we appreciate that Gov. Whitmer is doing what she can to oppose this and protect Michiganders’ healthcare," Jacobs said.

The Michigan Association of Health Plans (MAHP) said in a statement today that while the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) "has raised concerns about a few issues," the MAHP doesn't believe "they create serious disruption for the Healthy Michigan Plan.

"We are prepared to work with Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s administration and the Legislature to refine the Healthy Michigan Plan policies to meet the needs of our state," said Dominick PALLONE, executive director of the MAHP.

The work requirements stipulated by the legislation and reflected in the DHHS waiver were intended to "closely mirror" the current cash and food assistance program work requirements.

The requirements in Healthy Michigan would apply to beneficiaries aged 19 to 62 who aren't already exempt to log an average of 80 hours a month of qualified work activities.

Among those qualified activities include education related to employment, job training, vocation training, internships, participation in a substance abuse disorder treatment program, and community service with a nonprofit, although the community service can only count for three months of work activity in a 12-month period.

There are a number of exemptions to the work requirements, including caretakers of a family member under age 6, pregnant women, beneficiaries of temporary or long-term disability benefits, the medically frail and people who had been incarcerated in the past six months, among other categories.

Beneficiaries would be expected to self-report these hours, and are allowed three months of noncompliance in a 12-month period. After that, the beneficiary's eligibility would be suspended, and if anyone misrepresents his or her compliance with work requirements, they'd be barred from Healthy Michigan for a one-year period.
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