Archive for the ‘Jennifer Granholm’ Category

Michigan Legislature Needs to Get to Work on Permanent Budget

October 5, 2009

Last week, Michigan saw its second government shutdown in the state’s history.  In the history of this country, only two other states have had government shutdowns because of a budget crisis, and Michigan is the only state to have more than one shutdown.  What’s even more sad is that the 2 shutdowns came only 2 years apart.

I ended up watching most of the late-night sessions last week, as I followed the budget crisis, and while there were some humorous segments (such as “I can count!” coming from the chairman of the Senate), most of what I saw was just sad – it’s sad that the Michigan legislature can’t pass a budget on time.

So why does Michigan have problems passing a budget?  There has been a fundamental failure in leadership, as well as the overall impacts of having the state in such a poor economic state.

Michigan is essentially the same position as it was for the 2007 shutdown: a Democratic Governor with terrible economic policies, a Democratic-controlled House of Representatives with Andy Dillon (D-Redford) as Speaker of the House waiting until it is too late to work on the budget, and a Republican-controlled Senate who tried to get the budget done on time, but was unable to overcome the incompetency of the House.

In both the 2007 and 2009 shutdowns, work on the budget started too late, and many legislators (including Republicans) weren’t committed to finishing the budget on time.

While portions of the budget were being passed by the Senate late Tuesday night, the House had already recessed for the day.  We saw the same thing in 2007: Andy Dillon would go would only have the House in session once or twice a week over the summer, and he even took a five-day weekend trip to Mackinac Island after acknowledging that the state was facing a budget crisis.

Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop (R-Rochester) had been getting Senate budget bills passed and sent over to the House faster than House bills were coming to the Senate.

But this isn’t to say that all Republicans were trying to finish the budget on time or that all Democrats were uninterested in finishing on time.  While the Senate Republicans seemed to generally work harder as the deadline got closer, NOBODY was working hard enough in the month and weeks beforehand.  Instead of passing a budget 2 hours into the government shutdown, the legislature should be passing a budget weeks or even months beforehand.

Representative Tim Bledsoe (D-Grosse Pointe) has suggested that the Michigan Constitution be amended to require the budget be done by July 1st, and legislators wouldn’t get paid after that date until a budget was passed.  Bledsoe told the Detroit Free Press, “We’ve had every opportunity to get this work done earlier in the year.  There’s no excuse to be moving the budget as late as we did.”

Senator Hansen Clark (D-Detroit) has suggested fining legislators $1,000 a day for each day after the fiscal year that a budget isn’t completed, with the Speaker of the House and Senate Majority Leaders paying $3,000.  He told reporters, “Even though many of us work long hours, we don’t have the same incentives as other sectors of the work force.  Typically, our incentive would be to do a good job so we can get re-elected, but apparently that’s not enough. … The leaders have to be accountable for results.  If you don’t perform the core mission of your job, and that’s to enact a balanced budget … there should be a penalty.”

Former Majority Leader Ken Sikkema (R) said that the problems run deeper than just legislators not cracking down in time: “The gap between revenue and spending is so large that there isn’t any structural issue that can compensate for it.  It’s a much deeper issue that legislators don’t want to deal with.  Michigan as a state can’t continue the level of spending it’s enjoyed for many years.  The economy has downsized underneath it.  Until you change the tax structure and the spending process, this kind of paralysis is likely to continue.  There is no process change that is going to make this a rational, timely, decision-making process.  Until there are fundamental changes, you can’t avoid this kind of chaos.”

And in part, I would agree with that.  The Democrats in the legislature have refused to accept that spending cuts are an inevitable result of the state’s deficit.  Taxes can only be raised so many times and only to a certain level, and when you’ve exhausted that option, you have to cut spending.  Michigan is not in a position to raise taxes.  Businesses won’t come to Michigan if we raise taxes, and we’ve even seen film companies come to Michigan now that we have a tax credit for film companies.  Raising taxes is only going to hurt the economy more and drive more people out of the state.

Fortunately, an interim budget was passed and signed by Governor Granholm only 2 hours into this year’s shutdown, but we aren’t in the clear yet.  The legislature gavels into session tomorrow, and a permanent budget still needs to be passed for the new fiscal year.  Unless legislators understand that spending cuts are not and option, but a necessity, and that they have to start cracking down and getting to work, we will wind up seeing a full government shutdown when the interim budget expires.

And we need to learn from our mistakes – this cannot happen in 2010.  It’s just unacceptable.  Fortunately, 2010 is an election year, and lawmakers will be trying to pass a budget on time so that they can get reelected, but unless things change, we will see ourselves back in this same position in 2011.

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican

Terri Land Ends Bid for Michigan Governor & Endorses Mike Bouchard

June 25, 2009

Earlier today Michigan Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land (R) held a press conference where she was expected to announce her intentions to run for Governor in 2010.  Instead, she announced that she was putting and end to her exploratory committee and was endorsing Oakland County Sheriff Mike Bouchard.

The following is an excerpt from her comments during the press conference:

I have decided to withdraw my name from consideration as a Republican candidate for Governor in 2010.  To my colleagues seeking the nomination, I wish you the best of luck.  The challenges ahead are great.  I believe Michigan needs a leader like Mike Bouchard.  I’ve worked with Mike for many years.  I have always been impressed with his ability to make tough decisions.  And I also appreciate his resourcefulness and grit: Mike is a real bulldog who won’t let challenges go unmet.

We’re both worried that our kids will be forced to leave Michigan to find jobs.

Mike realizes that it took a long time – and a lot of bad decisions – for our state to get here.  He knows that there aren’t any easy fixes or simple solutions to turn things around. Mike will do what’s right rather than what is popular.  And that’s the kind of leader we need to get Michigan working again.

And here’s some of what Bouchard said:

I’m really happy to have Terri’s support – it means a lot to me and my campaign.  Terri’s well respected across the state.  She’s a consensus builder who isn’t afraid to make the touch choices.  From day one as Secretary of State, she looked to cut costs and make her department more efficient.  We need more leaders like Terri who are working to turn our state around.

Terri’s endorsement is another big step forward for my campaign.  She is respected across the state as a true leader.  As Governor, I know that by working with leaders like Terri, we will fix Lansing so Michigan can get back to work. 

When asked “Where will you look for a Lieutenant Governor?”

Bouchard responded, “One [candidate] who would be and should be on anyone’s short list is standing here,” as he nodded toward Land.

The two also released the following video:

If you would’ve asked me who I honestly thought would win the race, I would’ve said Terri Land, so this comes as a shock to me.

But I think I may see where she’s coming from – a lot of people have said that as a woman, she’d be disadvantaged in the race, since she’d be running right after Granholm, who’s seriously screwed up the state.  Personally, I don’t think people will blame the state’s problems on electing a woman governor, but I may be putting too much faith in Michigan voters.

I think this move does tell us one thing though: Mike Bouchard has most likely picked a running mate, and I’m willing to bet that that running mate is Terri Land.

I was still undecided as to who I was supporting, but Land was up toward the top for me, and now that both her and L. Brooks Patterson have dropped out, I’m pretty much back to square one for figuring out who I’ll be backing.

I’ll continue to cover the race up until Election Day in 2010.

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican

Live Analysis of Governor Granholm’s Michigan State of the State Address

February 3, 2009

The Michigan State of the State address is about to begin.  I will be live blogging the event, giving my analysis (so my apologies for any spelling errors – I’ll fix them eventually).

Alright, she’s entering the chamber (I’m not sure if this is the House or Senate – probably House since  it’s bigger).

Oh – my roommate (Democrat) just about made me die of laughter – he said, “Where is she?”  I said, “Right there.”  And he goes, “Oh, I thought that was a dude.”

Alright – she’s making her way up to the podium – about half the room is still clapping – probably the Democrats.  There’s Lt. Governor John Cherry up in his chair.

There’s Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop (R) and Speaker of the House Andy Dillon (D).

She’s saying welcome and thank you.  She’s welcoming and congratulating the new representatives.

She’s now welcoming Supreme Court Justice Dianne Hathaway, elected this year.  And she’s congratulating the longest serving president of the State Board of Education.

Now thanking the servicemen and women from Michigan as well as the first responders.

We just gave a moment of silence for those who lost their lives defending this country and state overseas.

“I will not sugar-coat the crisis facing this state. … Our auto companies fought for their very existence, and as the bottom fell out of the national economy” Michigan “went from bad to worse.”  She’s absolutely right about that.  “Any honest assessment of our state’s economy must recognize that things are likely to get worse before they get better. … Things will get better … because Michigan citizens are resilient … because our battle plan is focused on the three things that matter most: fighting for more good paying jobs in Michigan, educating and training people to fill those good paying jobs, and protecting out people.”

“This is not time for pet projects or special interests.”

Now talking about Michigan now having “a friend in the White House who now shares our agenda.  I say this based on pragmatism, not upon partisanship.”  BULL CRAP!

She’s talking about him being focused on energy jobs, education, and protecting people.  COME ON Madame Governor, the Republicans are interested in all of those things too!

“We’ve made many tough choices in our budget.”  True, but you could have done a lot more to fix the state, but you didn’t, and that’s why we’re as bad as we are now.

“I have a veto pen, and I will use it. … The President’s economic plan is a one-time opportunity.”  Really?  Because so far, I count THREE bailout bills.  What’s to stop three more?

She’s saying that our problems will be here after the economic stimulus money is gone.  Lt. Governor Cherry will be in charge of downsizing government, reducing number of departments from 18 to 8.

Something about we can’t have “9-5 government in a 24/7 world.”  Good point there – I’ll give her that one.

Her and Cherry are reducing salaries of all elected state officials in Michigan by 10%.  That’s a good move – I COMMEND HER on that, but I don’t really see how she can directly do that.

“Already, I’ve cut more than any other Governor in Michigan.”

She’s saying that a national survey showed that MI has done more to cut spending than other state in the country.  I’d like to see the details of the survey, but if it’s all true, I commend her on that.

She’s cutting funding for the state fair – because it’s not essential to government.  GOOD CALL!

Talking about preserving our wetlands.

Talking about reducing corrections spending.  We’re going to close 3 more facilities in the coming months.  Reinvest in more law enforcement on the street.  More law enforcement is good, but I’m not too keen on closing 3 facilities – that means more criminals on the streets, since our prisons are already TOO FULL!

Funding for roads, bridges, and transit systems – um, we’ve needed that for the past FEW years!

We can focus on jobs when we spend within our means.

We need to diversify, but that doesn’t mean sacrificing our number one industry, the auto industry.  When pundits and ill-informed politicians take cheap shots at the auto industry and its workers, we (she’s saying this) will defend the auto industry.

Talking about the green auto industry being great.

Hundreds of thousands of jobs being lost since 2000.  “These losses have fueled our determination to bring new industry to Michigan.”  Good – we can’t JUST depend on the auto industry anymore.

Talking about film and TV project coming to Michigan after the tax breaks to film companies.

Three major announcements:

  • Wonderstruck Animation Studios – $86 million in Detroit.
  • Stardock Systems (digital gaming) – build in Plymouth
  • Motown Motion Pictures – $54 million in Pontiac (former GM plant)

Motown MP alone will create 3,600 jobs.  That’s great news – especially for the Pontiac area.

“But our success with the film industry is not an isolated example.”  Talking about renewable energy industry – solar panel production companies are building here in Michigan.

Just like the auto industry “it creates all kinds of jobs for all kinds of people.”  And that’s a good thing – I am VERY enthusiastic about renewable energy, as long as it’s not expensively forced on the people.

She’s talking about wind turbines (and wind power is something I have always been really excited about – that  and nuclear power).

Jobs for manufacturers and engineers – for solar panels and electric car batteries.

She’s getting really intense about this.  “The fact that these jobs are in Michigan is no accident.”

We bring them here by beating out other states and countries.

We passed incentives to make sure those batteries are made in Michigan.  Within weeks of passage, GM said that they’d make batteries for the Volt automobile will be made here in Michigan.  5 million electric car batteries to be made a year, creating 14,000 jobs.

She’s saying that we want electric cars researched and designed here as well as all kinds of renewable energy companies.

She set a goal for becoming more dependent on renewable energy.

  • 3 wind turbine manufactures to expand in Michigan.
  • Unisolar to build solar panel factory in Battle Creek.
  • HSC – $1 billion for solar panel expansion
  • Dow-Corning – more solar panels.
  • Great Lakes Turbine to build in Monroe (where my roommate’s from!)

“We all know that  we need more jobs – a lot more.”  I agree with you there.

President Obama has demanded more use of renewable energy.  This will increase jobs in Michigan.

“By 2020, Michigan will reduce our reliance on fossil fuels for generating electricity by 45%. … We’ll do it through increased renewable energy and gains in energy efficiency.”  Sounds like a good idea to me, but I think 45% is high.  I have no problem with it as long as it doesn’t jack up prices.  But if it makes energy unaffordable, don’t do it.

Instead of importing coal, we’ll spend energy money on Michigan wind turbines and solar panels and energy efficiency devices, all installed by Michigan workers.

Ask Legislatures to allow for Michigan homeowners to become entrepreneurs by installing solar panels on roofs and selling money back to power company.  Sounds good to me – it’s giving people the choice to do this, and enables people to eventually make that money back.

Asking utility companies to invest in energy efficient products.  Good.

Unlike the coal we buy right now, the money that we will spend on energy efficiency will create jobs in Michigan.

Create Michigan Energy Corps - creating jobs and turning natural resources into renewable fuels and weatherizing houses.

Saying that we’ll need less coal power  plants here in Michigan.

I’m kinda mad that she hasn’t said anything about more nuclear here in Michigan.

Talking about how she’ll bring new jobs to Michigan – that she’s gone all over the world to get jobs.  Yeah, well you haven’t been too successful so far.  You can go places to bring jobs here, but that doesn’t matter until you bring some here.

Saying she’ll require (I think it was universities) to buy Michigan.  I have a problem with that though, because she wants a tuition freeze in order for universities to get stimulus money.  How can they do that if you FORCE them to buy Michigan-made (more expensive at times).

Saying people should buy Michigan products.  Buy everything from Ford to Faygo.

Talking about the Michigan $4,000 putting college in the reach of all students.  Um, $4,000 really doesn’t do that much.

Michigan will be the first state to replicate the Kalamazoo promise on a large scale.  Something about free education, and I missed the rest.

#2 in the country for well qualified teachers in the classroom.  How are we #2 with the Detroit Public School system?

No Worker Left Behind: Talking about free college tuition – $5,000 per year for 2 years.  Training people for jobs, such as nurses, electricians, computer technicians.  52,000 people.  Helping us to remake Michigan.

Added more resources to the unemployment system – THAT’s what we need – to allow more people to rely on welfare!

Asking universities and colleges to freeze tuition for the next year.  The problem with that is, what if THEY can’t afford it?

Give people 90 days without the fear of foreclosure.  That’s absolutely insane.  If people buy a house that they can’t afford, then they should lose it.

Talking about asking auto insurance companies to freeze rates on auto insurance.  Sure, if they want to, but don’t make it mandatory.

She’s saying we’ll use every administrative tool to ensure that affordable rates are given to consumers.  That should be up to the companies, not the government.

Saying that we shouldn’t strip people of health coverage in order to reduce spending.  We shouldn’t HAVE state sponsored health care!  She’s saying we should protect those whom people of faith often call “the least of these.”  Well, people of faith need to step up and help the poor.  That’s their duty as good Christians (as it is my duty), NOT the governments.  When did Jesus ever say that the government should help the poor?  He didn’t!  He said his followers should – that’s why it makes me angry when people give that as a reason that Jesus would be a Democrat!

And wouldn’t “the least of these” refer to the unborn babies as well?  I don’t see you protecting them, Madame Governor!

“Is it harder to balance the state budget or the budget of a family who went from 2 paychecks to 1?”  Talking about the harships of family being much greater than the hardships of politicians as leaders.

She’s now giving an example of a guy on unemployment who used No Worker Left Behind to go to a university and now he’s working for Dow Corning.

Sorry – my news station just stopped covering it – ABC needed to go back to “regular scheduled programming.”

OK – I’m back.

Talking about hope and strength.  “We together will build a better Michigan.  God bless you all, and God bless the great state of Michigan.”

Tim Skubik is on now – saying that “Doom and Gloom” only got 2 paragraphs.  He’s right – I think she could’ve shown that things are bad more than she did instead of just saying, “This is what we WILL do,” since she’s been saying that for YEARS now.

She never really said exactly how much she wanted to cut out of the government.  I will commend her for some of her pro-energy efficient plans, but I think she may wind up driving up costs at a time that we can’t afford it.  Allowing people to sell back energy from solar panels is a GOOD thing, because it gives individuals the choice to do it, instead of  mandating it.

And now Mike Bishop’s response:

He’s saying that “we all want what’s best for our state.”

“Each one of us has felt the effects of this economy.”

Saying that the Governor wants to use federal funds to fix the state, but a quick infusion of money “will never be the antidote. … You can’t increase spending and debt and somehow hope to resolve a serious budget crisis.”  The Republicans will submit a plan in the next 45 days for instant stimulus – it incentives job providers instead of increasing spending.

The House must pass Senate Bill 1.  Get rid of the 22% business surcharge.

Talking about manufacturing complexes and other companies coming in due to tax cuts, proving that business tax cuts DO work.

The second part of the plan would bring property taxes in line with home values.  Third, a tax credit for purchases of new homes will be created.  This would spur the housing market.  And he’s absolutely right – that was one of the things my parents looked into was the huge jump in taxes we would’ve payed if we moved this past summer.

Review each item in the state budget and find savings – good!

We must “be certain that state resources are used efficiently.”  Absolutely!

Talking about opportunities coming with adversity – leaders need to rise up and “take the reins that will lead us back to prosperity. … Time for us to fix Michigan. … Thank you … God bless you, our families, and our great state of Michigan.”

Alright – I’m off to a meeting – I’ll spell check this and finish my analysis when I get back.

Done Reporting,

Ranting Republican
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South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford: “Don’t Bail Out My State”

November 22, 2008

mark-sanfordThe following in South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford’s (R) editorial that was posted in the Wall Street Journal, with my thoughts and analysis spread throughout:

I find myself in a lonely position. While many states and local governments are lining up for a bailout from Congress, I went to Washington recently to oppose such bailouts. I may be the only governor to do so.

You’re better than my governor, Governor Jennifer Granholm, one of the people leading the charge for the auto bailout right now.

But I suspect I’m not entirely alone, as there are a lot of taxpayers who aren’t pleased with Christmas coming early for politicians. And I hope these taxpayers make their voices heard before Democrats load up the next bailout train for states with budget deficits.

Several questions led me to oppose bailing out the states. They are worth asking, even if you supported bailing out Wall Street.

Who bails out the “bail-outor”?

Washington is short on cash these days and will borrow every dime of the $150 billion to $300 billion for the “stimulus” bill now being worked on. Federal appetites may know no bounds. But the federal government’s ability to borrow is not limitless. Already, our nation’s unfunded liabilities total $52 trillion — about $450,000 per household. There’s something very strange about issuing debt to solve a problem caused by too much debt.

A very good question.  The answer, in my opinion, is eventually the taxpayers.  If we keep this set of bailouts going, we’ll ultimately just crumble the economy and economic infrastructure.  Heck, there may not even be a United States to bail out any more if we keep this up.  We’re entering dangerous territory economically, and if we aren’t careful, it may cost us permanently.

Do you now have to be a financial “bad boy” to win?

Community bankers tell me that they are now at a competitive disadvantage for being careful about who to lend to, because others that were less disciplined will get a federal bailout. This is also true for states. Those that have been fiscally responsible will pay for or lose out to the big spenders. California increased spending 95% over the past 10 years (federal spending went up 71% over the same period). To bail out California now seems unfair to fiscally prudent states.

But this has been the whole mindset since the beginning.  “I’ll take the risk, and if I suffer, they’ll HAVE to bail me out.”  I’ve been warning about this from the beginning!  But economically/fiscally dumb and irresponsible lawmakers in Washington have given in and now think, “If __________ fails, the whole economy will suffer, and we can’t let the economy suffer.”  Let companies go bankrupt.  Let people lose their homes.  It’s called a free market.  Companies and people never should’ve bought more than they could afford or taken risks that they couldn’t handle.

Was the economist Herb Stein wrong when he said that if something cannot go on forever, it won’t?

Medicaid grew 9.5% annually over the past 10 years. That’s unsustainable. But if Congress opens the checkbook now, there will be no reform.

Isn’t government intervention supposed to be the last resort and come only when it can make a difference?

EXACTLY!  And even then, in my opinion, the government probably shouldn’t intervene.  But it’s visible in the proposed auto bailout: Some in Congress are saying that the auto companies shouldn’t try bankruptcy first (even Represesntative Joe Knollenberg [R-MI9] said this!).

In 2008 bailouts became the first resort. Over the past year the federal government has committed itself to $2.3 trillion (including the tax rebate “stimulus” checks of last February) to “improve” the economy. I don’t see how another $150 billion now will make a difference in a global slowdown. We’ve already unloaded truckloads of sugar in a vain attempt to sweeten a lake. Tossing in a Twinkie will not make the difference.

That’s a really good analogy.

However, there is something Congress can do: free states from federal mandates. South Carolina will spend about $425 million next year meeting federal unfunded mandates. The increase in the minimum wage alone will cost the state $2.6 million and meeting Homeland Security’s REAL ID requirements will cost $8.9 million.

Based on what I saw in Washington, the bailout train is being loaded up. Taxpayers will have to speak up now to change its freight, tab or departure.

I feel that it may already be too late.  While Congress won’t give in to everybody who asks for a bailout, I think they’re going to give in to a lot of them, and who knows how detrimentally that will affect our economy.

Mr. Sanford, a Republican, is the governor of South Carolina.

So, there you have it.  Governor Sanford’s op/ed.  I couldn’t agree more with what the Governor said.  We need more people like him (although I don’t agree with all of his stances, I think he’s absolutely right when it comes to this issue).

If we continue these reckless bailouts, we’re all going to suffer.  And we may not be able to recover.

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican
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A Michigander’s Perspective: The Goverment Should Not Bail Out the Auto Industry

November 13, 2008

As rumors fly that a $25 billion bailout of the auto industry may actually come to a vote in the Congress, I figured that I, a citizen of Metro Detroit and Michigan should weigh in.

First, the facts:

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has called for “emergency and limited financial assistance” for General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler where legislation would be passed that would make the automakers eligible for financial support under the $700 billion bailout bill that was passed in October.

This comes after a $25-billion loan program bill specifically for automakers that was passed in September.  The problem with that program was intended to loan money to the Big 3 only to help refit plants across the country in order to assist automakers in making tougher fuel economy standards.  Now the automakers are saying that they need loans just to keep overall operations continuing.

Republicans in Congress are expected to push for the restrictions on the $25 billion to be dropped, before any other optionss are considered.  Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has already started advocating for this plan; however, it is expected that Democrats will oppose dropping any of the restrictions on the $25 billion.

Now, what is my opinion?

Well, I have a lot to gain if the auto industry bounces back.  I have 2,500 shares of Delphi, an auto parts supplier for General Motors.  If it goes back up to $10 a share, I’ll have made a little under around $24,650 on my investment.

Plus, it’ll bring jobs back to Michigan if the automakers do bounce back.  And that’ll help the economy of my state, which is in a pretty sad condition right now.

But, I still oppose the bailout.

First, I’m tired of Michiganders saying, “I support the bailout because it’ll bring jobs back to Michigan.”  Well, my fellow Michiganders, when it’s YOUR tax dollars being spent outside of the state, would you support a bailout?

If the technology sector all of a sudden began failing, would you support a bailout of Silicon Valley companies such as Google, Adobe, Atari, Microsoft, Sony, Cisco, Hewlett-Packard, Intel, etc…?  I wouldn’t!  And as Governor Granholm is advocating for this bailout, mayors of major cities all over the nation are asking for their piece of the bailout?  And did I not predict that as we bail out more companies, more people would ask for their piece of the bailout pie?

This attitude is the same attitude as many people have with earmarks.  Ask most voters and they’ll tell you that they oppose earmarks, but then they’ll go and vote for the Representative “who brought so much money back to the district” through earmarks.  Examples of this are my representative, Carolyn Kilpatrick (D-MI13), who brags about the earmarked money she’s brought to the Detroit area, and more famously, Representative John Murtha (D-PA12) and Senator Ted Stevens (R-AK).

Second, the fact that the United Auto Worker’s Union (UAW) is backing this bailout scares me.  A LARGE PORTION OF THIS PROBLEM IS THE UAW’s FAULT!  The UAW bullied GM, Delphi, and Chrysler into giving workers benefits and wages that the companies couldn’t afford.  How?  By threatening to strike when the companies were suffering.  (I don’t remember the UAW ever threatening Ford with a strike in recent years, but I could be wrong).  Let me give the UAW a little lesson in business management: When your company is losing money, the LAST thing you want to do is cost your company more money by not showing up to work and going on strike.  If the government is going to step in and do anything about the auto industry crisis, it should be to reduce the choke-hold that the UAW has had on auto companies.  Instead of complaining about getting your benefits or wages cut, be thankful that you have JOBS.  Because when you go on strike, that means products aren’t being made, which means that less products will be sold, which means that less money comes in to the company, which means that either A) you lose your job or B) you lose wages/benefits.  Striking during a time of CRISIS only furthers the problem, and the fact that the UAW leadership (and at least 51% of the membership) refuses to acknowledge this (or are just too stupid to realize it), really angers me.  Obviously you can’t see me right now, but I’m actually getting angry just talking about the sheer stupidity of the UAW (and a lot of unions, such as the unions that struck during Northwest Airline’s financial problems and eventual bankruptcy).

And that leads me to my next point: Bankruptcy court.  We have them for a reason folks.  Let the automakers use them.  We shouldn’t be looking at bailouts at all until the companies file for Chapter 11 (and even after that, I will still be opposed to bailouts).

Lastly: I don’t think that the bailouts will work with the auto industry.  Some have cited (as they did for the bailout bill passed in October) that the government successfully bailed out Chrysler in the 1970s by guaranteeing a $1.5 billion loan.  The problem with equating the 2 situations is that in the 1970s, we weren’t establishing a pattern of bailing out company after company who came to the government looking for help.  In addition, that was a bailout of one company, not the auto industry.  Honestly, if one of the Big 3 fail, that will probably be enough to give the other 2 enough business to recover.  It’s not ideal, or anywhere CLOSE to ideal (heck, I have friends and family members who work in all 3 companies), but it’s better than this general industry bailout plan.  I think that an industry bailout will help the Big 3 for a while, but that won’t be enough for them to recover, so 1 or 2 of them may fail (I honestly think GM would be the first to go, and I don’t see Ford going under).

It’s not a good situation, but a bailout will only make it worse.  Michiganders and Detroiters need to stop being selfish and start thinking about the good of the country as a whole.

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican
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Obama Advised on Economic Issues by Governor of the State with One of the Worst Economies in the Nation

November 7, 2008

Today, my governor, Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm met with Senators Obama and Biden, as well as a host of panelists to provide insight on the economy in order to ease the transition between President Bush and President-Elect Obama.

Granholm released a statement saying, “Unfortunately, our nation’s current and unprecedented economic challenges come at a time when the domestic auto industry has undertaken billions of dollars in investments to retool and accelerate new technology initiatives to transform its business and to strengthen its competitiveness.  These third-quarter results make it increasingly clear that under these extraordinary conditions, the industry cannot continue its progress alone.  We must support a historic pillar of our nation’s economy and help the industry bridge this period until our economy stabilizes.”

Clearly, the auto industry will be (actually, “was” would be more applicable now) a major part of what she discussed with Senator Obama (who I’m actually listening to right now, as he’s giving a press conference).

But, Mr. Obama, why on earth would you take advice from the Governor from the state with the WORST ECONOMY IN THE NATION (or 2ndworst, depending on who you ask.  I’ve heard people who claim that it’s Rhode Island, and I’ve heard others say Michigan).

I just hope Obama doesn’t do to the nation what has happened in Michigan (and I’m not blaming it all on Governor Granholm, but shse has played a major part in our economy going down the drain).  Still, I wouldn’t have her advising me on economic issues.  I used the analogy, “That’s like having President Bush give you speech lessons.”

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican
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Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick’s Guilty Plea Postponed Until Tomorrow Morning

September 3, 2008

This is developing news coming out of Detroit right now.  Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick had been expected to plead guilty to charges in the original text message scandal case at 5:15 P.M. EDT today before Judge Edward Ewell Jr., the presiding judge of the Criminal Division of Wayne County Circuit Court.  Apparently the details of the plea deal hadn’t been completely ironed out by 5:15, so the decision was made to postpone the court appearance until 9:00 A.M. tomorrow, where he’ll appear in front of Judge David Groner.

At this point in time, I have to say that this has not been confirmed.  All that we know for sure is that Kilpatrick will be in court tomorrow morning.  One of Kilpatrick’s defense lawyers, Joseph Niskar, told reporters, “I can tell you it’s a not a bond motion.  We’ll see.”  He specifically did not answer the question of whether or not Kilpatrick will be taking a guilty plea.

After reporters headed over to the Wayne County court due to rumors that a plea deal was to be made around 5:00, Maria Miler, a spokeswoman for Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy told reporters, “We believed a plea was imminent. … We believe it may take place [Thursday].”

Kilpatrick’s attorney, James Thomas, told reporters, “It is apparent that they are close” to a plea deal.  Thomas had been at forfeiture hearings that Governor Jennifer Granholm had been holding today to possibly remove Kilpatrick from office.

Now, I fail to see why a guilty plea is even being offered here.  It’s CLEAR that he perjured before.  I see no reason that we should let him off easy.  I say take it to court and if he pleads guilty, then he pleads guilty, but I wouldn’t be offering a plea bargain here.  I think there’s enough evidence to avoid this.  Of course, I don’t know ALL of the facts, but just from what’s been released, I don’t think any jury could find REASONABLE doubt to not find him guilty.  Then again, weirder things have happened in Detroit.

I’ll keep you updated as anything more develops (and if I get time, I’ll try to get some transcripts from today’s hearing by Governor Granholm).

Done Reporting,

Ranting Republican
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Don’t Put Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick In Jail for Violating His Bond …

August 10, 2008

… because it’s just too dang funny to watch him violate his bond over and over again.  But seriously, I would rather have him out of jail and committing more crimes, than kept in jail where he can’t commit any, and here’s why: I don’t trust Detroiters to remove him from office yet.  Normally I’d say throw him in jail, but I’ll make an exception for this case.  The more crimes he commits, the more likely it is that he gets the boot, and as long as he’s not harming anybody right now, I say let him continue to violate his bond.

I brought you the first story of his bond violation, but accusations have come out today that he talked to his sister, Ayanna Kilpatrick, and that violated his bond because he was banned from talking to any witnesses for his assault case (it was her house where he shoved the cop off the porch).

The more times he commits these bond violations, the more felonies he will get charged with, and that means he’ll (hopefully) be removed from office, whether that’s through the City Council, Governor Granholm, or the people of Detroit.

Keep him out to kick him out!

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican
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Sharon McPhail, Aide to Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick Gets into Verbal Scuffle as She Ardently (and Obnoxiously) Defends Mayor

August 8, 2008

You know, every blogger at on point or another sees a story unfolding before him/her and thinks, “This is gonna make an incredible blog post,” and the news interview I saw today was exactly that.  Watch the following interview between WDIV’s (NBC-4) Devin Scillian and former Councilwoman turned Mayoral candidate turned Mayoral aide:

http://www.clickondetroit.com/video/17138172/index.html

I haven’t seen that much bull crap since – heck – I can’t figure out when I’ve seen that much bull crap.

That interview was so hilarious (yet sad) that I called my grandma (a hard-core liberal, but anti-Kwame advocate) halfway through the interview and said, “Grandma, turn on Channel 4.  Sharon McPhail’s making an idiot out of herself.”

Let’s look at some of what McPhail said:

  • Arguing that Windsor is “across the street” and should be treated as part of this country!  Come on – he broke the terms of his bond.  There’s no way that you can say he was justified in going to Windsor. (3:45)
  • Saying that a “bar member means nothing.”  Bull crap – he should’ve known better.  He DID know better.  If you can’t tell the legal difference between Windsor and Detroit, you shouldn’t have passed the bar.
  • On to my favorite part, the exchange about this being the media’s fault:
    Scillian: “Detroit is being splattered all over the headlines in very bad terms.  We’ve got a mayor whose spent the night in jail, the first time in 300 years that this city’s been in existence that that’s happened.”
    McPhail: “Here’s a thought: stop printing those headlines.”
    Scillian: “Ignore the truth?”
    McPhail: “No, I didn’t say ignore the truth, I said, “stop printing the headlines.’  I would really love it if people stopped ignoring the truth.”
    Scillian: “I’m confused.  Are you blaming the messenger?”
    McPhail: “You are, and that’s exactly the point. … you do not have to take the position that everybody else is wrong and you are right, because usually that’s not true.”
    Now, I’ve been one to criticize the media, and say they need to be put in their place every once in a while, but this was just crazy.
  • Arguing that the cops intentionally went to the mayor’s sister’s house to serve the subpoena on Ferguson.  They saw the vehicle, and hoped he was there.  Even IF they did it knowing whose house it was, that’s not illegal.
  • Scillian: “Sharon McPhail, it is always an experience talking to you.”

What a cocky, stubborn idiot.  I mean, the level of support for the mayor there is just incredibly sad.  Even after all he’s done, she supports him!  And her arguments are just incredibly stupid as well.  She really has come a long way from once running against the mayor.  The way she defends him, she’s acting like she’s sleeping with him too!

So, hopefully that provided you non-Detroiters some entertainment.  For you Detroiters, I’m sorry that you have to live with that.  I pray that this ends for you soon (hopefully our Governor will act on this – there’s a hearing coming up, I THINK next week).

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican
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Michigan Senate Passes Ban on Smoking in Restaurants, Bars, and Casinos

May 18, 2008

On Thursday, May 8th, the Michigan Senate voted on House Bill 4163, sponsored by Brenda Clack (D-Flint).  I first brought you a story on the smoking ban back in December.  The bill, entitled, “Public health code” would ban smoking in restaurants, bars, and casinos.  The Senate version of the bill, sponsored by my Senator, Ray Basham (D-Taylor), is a stronger bill than the original House bill, which did not include a ban in Detroit’s 3 casinos, bingo halls, or cigar bars (that I just find ironic and completely stupid).

Here’s a copy of the bill that the Senate voted on: http://www.legislature.mi.gov/documents/2007-2008/billengrossed/House/pdf/2007-HEBS-4163.pdf, and here is where you can get all of the information on the bill: http://www.legislature.mi.gov/(S(ctxoevbltnhsnf55zebx5duh))/mileg.aspx?page=getObject&objectName=2007-HB-4163.

Here’s an excerpt from the Senate Journal:

Third Reading of Bills

Senator Cropsey moved that the rules be suspended and that the following bill, now on the order of Third Reading of Bills, be placed on its immediate passage at the head of the Third Reading of Bills calendar:

House Bill No. 4163

The motion prevailed, a majority of the members serving voting therefor.

The following bill was read a third time:

House Bill No. 4163, entitled

A bill to amend 1978 PA 368, entitled “Public health code,” by amending the heading of part 129 and sections 12601, 12603, 12611, 12613, 12614, 12905, and 12915 (MCL 333.12601, 333.12603, 333.12611, 333.12613, 333.12614, 333.12905, and 333.12915), sections 12601 and 12613 as amended by 1988 PA 315, sections 12603 and 12611 as amended by 1993 PA 217, section 12614 as added by 1988 PA 296, section 12905 as amended by 1993 PA 242, and section 12915 as amended by 1982 PA 526, and by adding section 12606; and to repeal acts and parts of acts.

The President, Lieutenant Governor Cherry, assumed the Chair.

The question being on the passage of the bill,

The bill was passed, a majority of the members serving voting therefor, as follows:

Roll Call No. 298                                 Yeas—25

Anderson Clark-Coleman Jelinek Prusi
Basham Clarke Kahn Schauer
Birkholz George McManus Scott
Brater Gleason Olshove Switalski
Brown Hunter Pappageorge Thomas
Cassis Jacobs Patterson Whitmer
Cherry

Nays—12

Allen Cropsey Jansen Sanborn
Barcia Garcia Kuipers Stamas
Bishop Gilbert Richardville Van Woerkom

Excused—1

Hardiman

Not Voting—0

In The Chair: President

Pursuant to Joint Rule 20, the full title of the act shall be inserted to read as follows:

“An act to protect and promote the public health; to codify, revise, consolidate, classify, and add to the laws relating to public health; to provide for the prevention and control of diseases and disabilities; to provide for the classification, administration, regulation, financing, and maintenance of personal, environmental, and other health services and activities; to create or continue, and prescribe the powers and duties of, departments, boards, commissions, councils, committees, task forces, and other agencies; to prescribe the powers and duties of governmental entities and officials; to regulate occupations, facilities, and agencies affecting the public health; to regulate health maintenance organizations and certain third party administrators and insurers; to provide for the imposition of a regulatory fee; to provide for the levy of taxes against certain health facilities or agencies; to promote the efficient and economical delivery of health care services, to provide for the appropriate utilization of health care facilities and services, and to provide for the closure of hospitals or consolidation of hospitals or services; to provide for the collection and use of data and information; to provide for the transfer of property; to provide certain immunity from liability; to regulate and prohibit the sale and offering for sale of drug paraphernalia under certain circumstances; to provide for the implementation of federal law; to provide for penalties and remedies; to provide for sanctions for violations of this act and local ordinances; to provide for an appropriation and supplements; to repeal certain acts and parts of acts; to repeal certain parts of this act; and to repeal certain parts of this act on specific dates,”.

The Senate agreed to the full title.

Protests

Senators Cropsey and Garcia, under their constitutional right of protest (Art. 4, Sec. 18), protested against the passage of House Bill No. 4163.

Senator Cropsey moved that the statement he made during the discussion of the bill be printed as his reasons for voting “no.”

The motion prevailed.

Senator Cropsey’s statement is as follows:

I’m not going to vote for this legislation, this substitute at this point. I want to give my explanation why. First of all, I think it’s very interesting that this is the United States of America, supposedly a free nation. By the way, I don’t smoke. My wife doesn’t smoke. None of my kids smoke. My parents don’t smoke. I don’t know of any of my brothers or sisters who smoke. We grew up non-smoking, and I hope we always stay non-smoking. We grew non-drinking, and I hope we always stay non-drinking—of alcoholic beverages.

But this is America. What we are talking about is a legal substance that people take for enjoyment knowing full well that it has health consequences. And we have restaurants and bars in this state where they have put up “No Smoking” signs because the owners of that restaurant or that bar say they are not going to allow smoking in this restaurant or bar. Why is that? Because there are people like myself who say we don’t want to go to a restaurant where there’s smoking. So we don’t frequent restaurants where there is smoking. And there are more and more restaurants that are going non-smoking because people are realizing the hazards of smoking. But that is a decision that we have made.

Once again, tobacco is a legal substance and smoking of tobacco is a legal way to take that substance. So I think from a philosophical standpoint, I have a problem with that.

The other part of this is we did have some amendments up that talked about what about the Indian casinos. I have the largest Indian casino or Native American casino in the state of Michigan in my district, and what’s going to happen? Just recently, I had a restaurant that had been a local landmark in Mount Pleasant. It’s been a landmark there for 50 years and has closed down, for whatever reason. Competition is tough in the restaurant business. What we are going to be doing by telling folks that, you know, all the restaurants and bars in Isabella County are going to be going smoke-free. However, the one at the Native American casino is not going to be regulated at all by the state. So guess where all the smokers are going to go when they want a nice meal or when they want a drink? They are going to go to the Native America casino. Now what is that going to do?

We are sending a currently tax-paying citizen of the state of Michigan and telling them, “You go to the casino where no taxes are being paid—no sales tax.” No property tax, no taxes are being paid-and we are going to be telling all the other restaurants in Mount Pleasant, “Sorry, you’re at a competitive disadvantage,” and more of them will go out of business. And what will happen then? Property values become depressed. Fewer sales taxes. And then you are going be coming back and asking me, as one of the members of Appropriations, we’re spending too much on the Department of Corrections because we don’t have enough money.

This is just amazing to me that we would be doing this without giving these restaurants and bars some mechanism whereby they can cater to people who wish to smoke, especially in areas where there is going to be very severe competition for their food dollars and for their cigarette dollar.

So I would hope that at this point, we would turn down this substitute. I do know the Majority Leader has a substitute that he is willing to offer that would allow a restaurant or bar to post that they are a smoking restaurant or bar. And why is that important? Because then, as a non-smoker, you know you don’t want to go into that place. But, as a smoker, you know that you’re welcome.

And what do we do? We’ll keep those taxes going that will be coming into the state of Michigan. And you let the free market work in that situation. Say, if you want to go to a smoking restaurant or bar, fine. If you don’t want to, fine, you don’t need to. But it’s not big-nanny government telling you what you are going to do and what you aren’t going to do. And, furthermore, purely from a state point of view, you aren’t shipping or forcing or encouraging our taxpayers to go somewhere else where you can’t tax them.

So for those reasons, I’m going to vote “no.” If this is sent back to General Orders and the Majority Leader’s substitute is adopted on General Orders, then I do plan on voting for this legislation. But at this point, I plan on voting against it.

Senator Garcia’s statement is as follows:

I opposed this bill not because I smoke because I don’t, but I believe this is a business decision best made by the business owners. People have a choice as to whether or not to frequent an establishment that allows smoking. They can choose to spend their money there. They can choose to work there. I’ve heard it said that we have a duty to protect the public health, but if it is our constitutional duty to protect the public health, then where do we stop? Let’s ban fast food. Let’s ban smoking. Let’s ban the use of alcohol. We have proof that all of these items harm the health of people. So why don’t we ban them? We don’t. We all know the answer to that. Just follow the money.

I respect those who have opposing views, but, again, I go back to the point that I think it’s a business decision; it’s a personal decision. People can choose whether or not to frequent those establishments.

Senators Basham, George, Schauer, Jacobs, Patterson, Gleason, Scott, Allen, Anderson, Bishop, Sanborn, Cassis and Pappageorge asked and were granted unanimous consent to make statements and moved that the statements be printed in the Journal.

The motion prevailed.

Senator Basham’s statement is as follows:

I know a lot has been said about this issue, so I won’t go down that road. I would just like to thank my colleagues on both sides of the aisle for protecting patrons and workers from secondhand smoke again.

Senator George’s statement is as follows:

I want to add my remarks to those of the previous speaker. I just want to put in a little context as to how we got to this point. My own position has evolved on this issue, say, in the last few years. I think the reason we are here is because of the change in the body of evidence related to the hazards of secondhand smoke. It was in 1986 that the Surgeon General issued a first report on the potential hazards of involuntary spoke exposure—1986. But since that time, there has been, literally, hundreds of peer-reviewed medical studies and several additional major reports that make the solid, scientific case that secondhand smoke is dangerous and is a leading cause of death in our country and in Michigan. It was two years ago that Surgeon General Richard Carmona issued a very definitive study showing that secondhand smoke causes heart disease and lung cancer in adults and sudden infant death syndrome and respiratory problems in children.

So I am pleased that we are at this point today. Thousands of Michigan residents have their health placed at risk by exposure to secondhand smoke, and we now have an opportunity to reduce this risk. Some will say that the government has no interest in this, but we do. We have made laws ensuring that food is properly cooked, that equipment is properly cleaned, and that employees must wash their hands. We take these laws as being second nature today, and it is the same way regarding secondhand smoke. It is something that we will take as second nature in the future.

Secondhand smoke is a real hazard, and eliminating exposure in workplaces, restaurants, and bars is consentient with our constitutional duty to protect the health of the citizens of Michigan.

Senator Schauer’s statement is as follows:

I rise to thank Senator Basham for his leadership on this issue. This is a House bill introduced by Representative Clack, but we know that the Senator from the 8th District is the one who has led on this issue for many, many, many years. I would also like to thank the Senate Majority Leader, Mike Bishop, for allowing this vote to happen today. This is an issue that has certainly had some division in this state, and we know that there are some groups that don’t support a smoking ban in workplaces.

I want to thank the advocacy community, that has really helped educate us here in this chamber, which I think really reflects the interest, by and large, of the people in this state. This may be the single, most important thing we can do to improve health status in this state, so I am proud of this chamber today and the debate that we have had on a very important health issue, and I rise in support.

Senator Jacobs’ statement is as follows:

Although I have about six pages of talking points and statistics on my desk, I just really rise today to say that I am going to be taking this vote in memory of my father who died from lung cancer a number of years ago. Today we are going to take action that will hopefully prevent many other deaths from cancer for our loved ones and the people who live in our districts.

You know, I hope that what we do today will allow people to see their grandchildren married and their great-grandchildren born, which is something that up until today’s action, we didn’t actually have any control over it in this state. So I really want to really thank my colleague I know we are not supposed to use Ray Basham’s name, but from the 8th District for being so tenacious and so dogged on this issue. We are really going to be giving an incredible gift to the people of Michigan today, and I really want to thank everybody for voting for this as we go forward to pressing our buttons.

Senator Patterson’s statement is as follows:

I would like to join today in the remarks of my colleague from the 20th District. I would also like to reiterate the position that I took was one of change not evolution. It came about because of the evidence becoming incontrovertible.

I owe my colleague from the 8th District enormous amount of gratitude for his dogged determination and commitment to this issue to do the right thing. He has, in fact, been courageous, and there are times when it pains me to think that he has been, but I must admit it on this occasion.

Senator Gleason’s statement is as follows:

I would add my voice to those who congratulate Senator Basham. I would offer this unique perspective. When you have issues which are not visible, when you go to work and visit businesses across this state, sometimes people do not understand that you are in a compromised situation. I know as an individual, as I’ve mentioned on several occasions, someone who has had a major surgery, a transplant, we have autoimmune issues. When we are put in these situations, whether it’s out at a restaurant or at work, it’s not readily visible that we have these particular concerns. So I would like to thank Senator Basham on a personal level.

But also I would like to further state that we all watched this process come out of the House. I think we lost many of the advantages that we can offer citizens and workers of Michigan by not carrying out particular interest groups for this legislation. When I was watching the process in the House, when favor, when exceptions, when advantages were given to special groups, it seemed like the impetus for the bill itself fell apart.

I would be tremendously remiss if I didn’t thank Representative Clack from Flint, Michigan, for joining her efforts with Senator Basham. This is not an issue that finds lines of demarcation easily. I would like to thank the Senator and

the Representative who led this effort. These were trying times, and yet, it wasn’t necessarily for themselves that they advanced this cause, but for all of the citizens of Michigan.

We were late to the party. Other states have done this. It’s nice to add Michigan to that list. We know the concerns that we have when we were involved with the package last week about health insurance reform. One of our main causes for the rise in the cost of health insurance is secondhand smoke. There will be collateral gains to this legislation. We are only touching on the surface of what benefits this will be offering to our state.

So I would congratulate all of those who saw that this was important for the state of Michigan.

Senator Scott’s statement is as follows:

I rise in support of this bill. You know, we talk about healthy Michigan, and this lets us know that we care about the health of our constituents in this state. I belong to a number of women’s groups nationally and one of the issues that we deal with is health. This is a great step in the right direction.

I certainly want to thank the Senator from District 8 for being real steadfast in this because that’s what it’s about. You have a passion for something and believe in it. You have to keep standing, and I’m glad that my colleague kept standing. I’m glad that we had a Representative over in the House who authored this bill; that they could work together on it. I certainly do hope this bill remains as we have passed it in the Senate today.

There are a number of our young people who are smoking, even in middle schools now. So this sends a message to them that smoking is not good for you. It is not healthy. I want to thank my colleagues on the other side of the aisle, that we came together, bipartisan to support what will make Michigan healthier. We’ve done it in big states, bigger than Michigan, and they are surviving, and we will survive too. We’ll survive better because we’ll be healthier.

So, again, I thank everyone who supported this bill. It’s a step in the right direction. It certainly gives me hope that one day my bills will pass too. Ray kept his back straight, and I’m going to keep mine straight. So thank you everyone. This is wonderful.

Senator Allen’s statement is as follows:

I also rise in opposition to this substitute on a straight philosophical level. How much more mandate do we need to put on the citizens of our state? How many more regulatory environments do we need to put forward? And what is the actual role of government? I respect the lively and broad-based debate that has occurred, but I feel that restaurateurs and local businesses can make the best decisions in regards to what is the appropriate way to control smoking. I hail from Northern Michigan and we have one of the largest voluntary compliance of smoke-free restaurants in the state of Michigan.

Where do we draw the line? Do we draw the line with restaurant smoking? How about food and the amount of calories that need to be consumed? What do we do in ergonomics standards? What do we do on more licensing and regulations on the citizens of this state?

I respect the process and will be voting against this substitute. More licensure. More regulation. Where do we draw the line on the citizens of this state?

This is a controlled substance. It’s perfectly well to be regulated by individuals. We have good laws already in place.

Senator Anderson’s statement is as follows:

Members, we have reached a point here—and I know a number of members have already thanked the Senator from the 8th District for his efforts on this issue—and I did want to add a couple of comments now for his dogged determination in getting this legislation through. We would not be at this point today in history—and I do say in history—because I think this is probably one of the most important issues that we will debate in the entire year in this Legislature and in this Senate.

I believe that it is such an issue that sometimes we overlook some of the other peripheral things and the other people who are affected. I know we are talking about, in many cases, the consumers and the citizens of Michigan who go into these establishments who are exposed to the secondhand smoke. We also, I think, tend to forget those folks who are working as waiters and servers and our children, in some cases, our grandchildren, our brothers and sisters, and our direct family members, wives and husbands. Those folks don’t have a choice whether or not they are working in that restaurant. It’s a choice between income or their health. They should not be forced to make that decision.

I believe that it is the right thing to do, and this is the time to do it. Folks, if we do anything this year that makes a difference to the state of Michigan, this is the issue. I would urge everyone to support it, and I thank my good friend Senator Basham.

Senator Bishop’s statement is as follows:

First, I want to express my appreciation for the way in which the body handled this issue and the way that we were able to conduct a civil debate on the subject, an issue that seems to be growing in popularity as the day goes on. But as an individual member of this legislative body, I rise today to express my opposition to the present proposal. I have two specific objections, and these have been made earlier by other members, but I want to reiterate.

First, this legislation is simply incompatible with the free-market principles that I and many of my colleagues hold dear.

Second, this is a blatant overage by government into the private business environment and into the individual freedoms of our citizens. It is an absolute breach of what I have always believed to be the role of government. That is my personal opinion. The free-market principles which are at the root of our country and our nation’s economy have always been unique in the world. Historically, throughout our nation’s history, we trust our citizens and our businesses with the freedom to establish an environment that is mutually beneficial to both the business and the consumer. In the case before us today, we see a growing trend and it is nationwide. I will admit, to snuff out the use of tobacco, that, to me, is a noble cause as we can stipulate the harmful effects to secondhand smoke and the tragic toll smoking has had on so many of our citizens for so long. In fact, I think all of us can relate to a certain extent to the impact of secondhand smoke and cigarette smoke.

We understand the facts, all of us do, but so does the free market. Here in Michigan is a great example of businesses across the state reacting to market pressures. They have to because that is what a business does. In this case, as you know, business is not going quite well these days. In a difficult economy and a competitive environment—the business environment—the number of non-smoking business establishments has grown dramatically over recent years. It has done so as business owners recognize the opportunity to capitalize on those citizens who prefer smoke-free environments.

The market naturally reacts to business trends, and if it doesn’t, our strong-willed Michiganders will find a new place to spend their money. And in the case of the campaign for a smoke-free environment, the market has worked, as citizens continue to vote with their feet and businesses adapt to the demands of the citizens.

And I would note that all of this is happening without a single bit of effort, without a single bit of intervention by the government. There is no question that government does have a right to intervene in certain circumstances. That is not in dispute, but I think we all agree at some point in time we have to draw the line somewhere, which leads me to my concern about the role of government and its slow creep in to our everyday private lives.

Government, in this case, began with regulation of smoking. Then in its infinite wisdom began to mercilessly tax the product, and now government moves to ban its use entirely. This is a consistent pattern of government. It slowly intrudes into the private lives of individuals and businesses and ultimately attempts to govern every aspect of our lives. In effect, government is trying to protect us from ourselves.

As a non-smoker, I understand and appreciate the concern about the smoke and its hazardous impact. I sincerely do, and my heart goes out to all of you who have had relatives who have been impacted directly. But I want you to know that even though I respect the sponsor’s intent, he is a dear friend and I have been on the receiving end of a lot of his internal lobbying—as we would like to call it—over the years, having had the opportunity to sit next to him for so many years. I want you to know, I, as a father, as a husband, over the years make choices every day—personal choices. It is my responsibility to take control of my own life. In this case, I oftentimes choose smoke-free environments if my family chooses to go out. There are plenty out there—plenty. In fact, if you go to smokefreemichigan.org, you will see that there are over 5,000 smoke-free establishments—bars and restaurants—out there for you to choose from, and that list continues to grow at a rapid rate.

I think we have to ask the questions, the obvious questions: When will it stop? How much control do you want? And when will people have to stop thinking for themselves entirely? I personally believe enough is enough. Let’s get back to the fundamentals of government.

Clearly, we have a lot of issues facing this state. Let the free market work. Trust people to make the right decision for themselves, and all the while, control the growth of government. That is our responsibility.

If you agree with me and you do not agree with this proposal in front of you today, I want you to know that I have a proposal that I am prepared to offer after the conclusion of the vote on this to keep this issue alive, to address a proposal that would be a ban across the board but would restore free-market principles. If that is something that you are looking to support, I urge you to join with me today and defeat this bill before you now.

Senator Sanborn’s statement is as follows:

I do want to echo the comments made by the Majority Leader. I think he has done a great job of articulating the position as to how the free market works, and it does, in fact, work. More and more restaurants, by their own choice, are going smoke-free on an even daily basis here in Michigan.

Please forgive me for playing the role of the great Senator Harry Gast, who would have said exactly what was on his mind, but I feel compelled to do so. This is another case of government stepping in and sticking their nose where it doesn’t belong. It’s one more case why I love my country, but, God, some days I fear my government.

Senator Cassis’ statement is as follows:

Truly, I think today our Senate has passed legislation with enormous impact on our residents here today and our children and our grandchildren in the future. I want to thank the work of Senator Basham and the fine comments of Senator Jacobs. While I truly respect that some would advocate for protection of a minority of smokers over our well-being and the health of the majority, it is important to recognize some statistics and anecdotal feedback from restaurants around the state show that initially there may be a short downturn, due to smokers who temporarily don’t patronize their

facility—their favorite establishment—but they do come back. Importantly—and I guess I have to say ironically—tobacco has become a tax aphrodisiac in our state to continue spending and not strictly for smoking cessation efforts.

Questions have been raised: What’s the role of government? Well, I remember when I first raised my hand to become a member of the Novi City Council, I did so with great respect for the health, safety, and general welfare of all our citizens. In that regard, since I’ve been a legislator, we’ve looked at helmets—you’ve got to wear a helmet in Michigan if you are on a motorcycle, seatbelts, requiring children to be in safety car seats and booster seats.

So again, on the respect to health, safety, and general welfare, I do believe and I doubt sincerely that today will be the last attempt to uphold health, safety, and general welfare in our state.

Senator Pappageorge’s statement is as follows:

You know, no law is perfect. Certainly, this one isn’t and we spent a lot of time on the Indian casinos which proves that point. The concern always before we do our final vote is to understand and identify as soon as we can the unintended consequences that go with that law. I give you an example. Do we want to put cigar bars out of business? Do we want to end that industry, small as it is? So I would like to see what this substitute is that our Majority Leader spoke about.

Now, procedurally, that’s tough to do because we have to vote “no” on this one to find out what else we might try and do without violating what we’re trying to do here, which is ban smoking in as many places as possible. So I think all of us will be torn on this vote. Do you vote “no” so you can see what the substitute looks like, or do you vote “yes” and never find out if the substitute might have taken care of some unintended consequences? So I would ask you to consider that when you vote.

So, the bill will be passed on to the House.  As of the 14th, it had been tabled for the next session.

Here are some quotes on the bill:

  • “This is a historic opportunity to concur with the Senate and become the 34thstate to protect the public’s health and stimulate the economy.  The Senate took a momentous step today, and I congratulate their leadership.” ~~ Representative Andy Meisner (D-Ferndale)
  • “We’re going to need every Democratic vote, and I’m not sure we have it.” ~~Representative Paul Condino (D-Southfield).  I disagree.  I’m pretty confident that it will pass the House.
  • “I used to be on the wrong side of the issue.  Now I’m on the right side.” ~~Bruce Patterson (R-Canton)
  • “This is overreaching by government into businesses and the lives of individuals.” ~~Majority Leader Mike Bishop (R-Rochester), who said that he allowed the bill to come up for a vote even though he opposed it because it was an issue that the public cared about.
  • The fact that the Senate passed the bill “sends a strong message across Michigan and the nation that we place a high priority on the health of our citizens.” ~~Governor Jennifer Granholm (Democrat)
  • “What’s appropriate in an office building wouldn’t necessarily be appropriate in a bowling alley or a bar.  Those in the hospitality industry need to be responsive to the desires of their customers.” ~~Rich Studley, Executive Vice President of the Michigan Chamber of Commerce.  He thinks the legislation is “unnecessary.”
  •  “This country was founded on freedom of choice. To ban everything you don’t like is wrong.” ~~Gerry Schaultz (Ferndale)
  • “I’m all for the ban. Secondhand smoke is a serious health risk.” ~~Corey Davis (Detroit)

Personally, I am with Mike Bishop – this is no place for the government to step in.  If they want to band smoking in parks and sidewalks, go right ahead.  That’s public air, and people shouldn’t have to breathe other people’s smoke, but we’re talking about the government reaching in to PRIVATE businesses and telling them what to allow their customers to do or not do.

And the cigar bar thing is just ridiculous.

I am disappointed in the 9 Republicans who crossed over.  I don’t like smoke either, but I still CHOOSE to go to restaurants where people smoke.  If you don’t want to breathe smoke, don’t go to restaurants where there’s smoking.  Complain to the management and see if they’ll change it, but don’t have the government stick its nose in private businesses.

I’ll keep you updated as the bill continues.

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican

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