Michigan & Rookie: Guardians of the Night

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A native of Detroit and Hazel Park, Ms. Kasben is a Michigan State University alumna. She interned with Gongwer in In her time at Gongwer, Ms. Kasben has broken several major stories: investigating sexual harassment at the Capitol, revealing that relatively few eligible to regain their driver's licenses after the end of driver's responsibility fees had applied and breaking several stories out of the House on road funding, teacher pensions, leadership races and the shelving of controversial campaign finance bills in the lame-duck session last year.

Kasben also has unmatched expertise in the covering of House elections and has traveled to Monroe, Portage, Mount Pleasant, Plainwell, Lapeer and too many Oakland and Macomb County suburbs to count to interview candidates and follow them as they go door to door. Posted: July 30, PM. Welcome, political world to Michigan, hours before 20 Democratic presidential candidates debate on national television over the next two nights. By now, the overarching national narrative about Michigan's critical role in deciding the presidential election between President Donald Trump and the eventual Democratic nominee goes something like this:.

Also, Shinola. Also, the Packard Plant. Also, the Lions. The reality is that the outcome in Michigan will be far more complex than what happens in Macomb County. Yes, the swing of 64, votes in Macomb between the victory margin in of President Barack Obama and the victory margin in of Mr. Trump was decisive in Michigan, which Mr. Trump won by 10, votes. I'm not disputing the importance of Macomb.

It is, of course, huge. But when you have an election that close, many factors are decisive, not just the fabled Reagan Democrats in Macomb. And in , many areas will again be decisive. And given that Michigan, along with Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, and possibly Arizona and Iowa, are the states most likely to decide the next president, oversimplifying the outcome does everyone a disservice. Changing the minds of 12, Macomb County residents who voted for Mr. Trump in or convincing 12, more African-American voters in a city that generally casts 95 percent of its votes for Democrats to cast ballots this time around?

Changing minds is very difficult in today's politics. Motivating base voters, less so. In , Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton received about 47, fewer votes than Mr. Obama in But if is any indication, Detroit voters are far more motivated now. Governor Gretchen Whitmer pulled almost 30, more votes out of the city than the Democratic candidate for governor, Mark Schauer. The Democratic candidate doesn't need to get all 47, voters back, she or he just needs a big chunk of them. It doesn't seem like a big lift. Clinton carried Oakland by 8 percentage points in The Democratic nominee will wipe out Mr.

Trump's advantage if she or he can come closer to the point margin Ms. Whitmer put up in the county in The wind should be at the Democrats' backs here. Macomb County north of M is solid Republican territory. The Democrat doesn't need to win Macomb but cutting the margin of defeat would go a long way toward peeling Michigan away from Mr. A Democratic candidate needs to stoke those voters — and take advantage of the new same-day voter registration law. Trump's support in Michigan is along the southern border, in the Thumb, the U. These are the areas full of white working-class voters who voted by eye-popping margins for Mr.

Trump in To make up for a more enthused Democratic base, Mr. Trump must get these voters to come out in even greater numbers in than they did in THE U. Whitmer substantially improved over Mr. But these counties, other than Leelanau, went overwhelmingly for Mr. The Democrat doesn't need to win these counties, but any kind of a significant improvement in margin would be very ominous for Mr. Trump and Ms. The Democrat needs liberal voters who may not be wild about the Democratic nominee to hold their nose and vote Democratic.

Trump and the Republicans will surely make efforts, both overt and shrouded, to discourage Democratic voters who are less likely to turn out about the Democratic candidate. Trump's win was he won or performed well above expectations in counties that generally vote Democratic for presidents and are dominated by white working-class voters, counties like Bay, Calhoun, Genesee, Monroe, Muskegon and Saginaw.

Flipping these voters back will be difficult.

Trump narrowly won Kent County in , running well below the base, and the bottom has since fallen out of the county for the GOP in the onetime Republican bastion. Whitmer improved the Democratic performance in the county by 30 points from Democrats now hold the Grand Rapids state Senate seat for the first time since the s. Then there's Ottawa and Livingston counties, which not long ago would have vied for most Republican county in the state. Trump will still comfortably win both counties, but the Democratic performance improved considerably in both in Trump can ill-afford too much fall-off in counties he won by more than 30 points, but where Ms.

Whitmer vastly improved over Mr. Schauer's performance. Okay, everyone enjoy the debate. Don't forget to keep time with your Shinola watch, enjoy a couple Coney dogs from Lafayette, listen to Eminem and of course lament the Lions and the Tigers and the Red Wings and the Pistons.

Posted: July 23, PM. Embattled Rep. Larry Inman refuses to resign in the face of a federal indictment and repeated calls from House leaders that he quit. And now he faces a recall campaign, which if organizers display minimal competence, would seem to have a strong chance of qualifying for the ballot. At this point, it does not appear the House will seek to expel Mr. Inman R-Williamsburg , though with the trial now delayed indefinitely, any hopes House Speaker Lee Chatfield R-Levering might have had for a quick and tidy trial that ended with conviction and clear grounds for Mr. Inman's ouster are dashed.

It is of course possible that Mr. Inman could win acquittal and serve out his term, rendering all this moot. What is intriguing about all this is that if Mr. Inman faces a recall election or departs office for whatever reason anytime in roughly the next six months, election laws could heavily favor the Democrats flipping this seat in an ensuing special election. Recall that Mr. Inman barely won re-election in , by just votes, or 0. Traverse City has become heavily Democratic with nearby suburbs shifting as well.

Both parties have been looking at this seat, the th House District, which exactly mirrors the county borders, as prime competition in Either would trigger a special election. Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer gets to decide when to schedule it. The governor has almost total discretion in the scheduling of special elections.

Should Mr. Inman leave office by the end of the year, there's an obvious date Democrats would want the special general election to be held: March 10, That's the date of Michigan's presidential primary. Democrats, you may have heard, have a competitive primary with a zillion candidates. Their voters will flood the polls. The electorate on March 10, , will skew heavily Democratic. It should be a layup for the Democratic nominee for the th if there's a special general election on that date. Republicans would surely squawk, but Ms.

Whitmer could counter an expeditious election would assure the th goes a bare minimum of time without representation unlike former Governor Rick Snyder's tendency to let seats remain vacant for almost a year and holding the election on March 10 would mean the state picks up the cost. Holding it on another date would mean the local governments would have to pay.


If Mr. Inman remains in office well into , however, that would take March 10 off the table as an election date, meaning a special election might occur in May or August, a more politically neutral playing field. The good news for the GOP is that by law, the recall election, if it occurs, can only occur in May or August. March 10 is out. The bad news for the GOP is their candidate in a recall election could be Mr. Inman with no way to block him. In , as majority legislative Republicans passed the right-to-work laws and other extremely controversial legislation, they also made sweeping changes to the recall process in a move to protect their members against possible recall retribution.

Republican former Rep. Paul Scott had been recalled in and that was fresh on the party's mind. The major change was to turn the recall from a "yes" or "no" on recalling the elected official, as it had long been, into an election among candidates. And as part of the effort to shield incumbents, one of the new provisions was to make the incumbent targeted by the recall the automatic nominee of their party in the recall election unless they decided to opt out and not run.

In other words, Mr. Inman could decide he will contest the recall and thus he is automatic nominee for the Republican Party in the th and by law there is no Republican primary. Inman would be the GOP nominee. It's hard to imagine how Mr. Inman could survive a recall election embroiled in scandal, assuming the Democrats put forward a credible candidate and back that candidate with the necessary resources. This is no idle matter. A Democratic win would shrink the House GOP's majority to and mean the party needs just three seats for majority in the elections.

Just getting two would probably be good enough because a tie would mean shared power and kill the ability for legislative Republicans to overturn Ms. Whitmer's executive orders and for conservative groups to use the initiative petition as a means to end-run Ms.

Whitmer on their priorities. The universe of competitive seats in is relatively small, so the opportunity to lock in the th for either party the winner of a special election would be the prohibitive favorite to win a full term in November in a special election would be huge.

Posted: July 10, PM. For all the irritation among the west Michigan Republican establishment types and activists about U. Justin Amash 's feuding with President Donald Trump and occasional bucking of the House Republican Conference, he still retained a well of strong support and a strong brand of a libertarian conservative with convictions who would not go along to get along, ask tough questions, always be present to vote and religiously communicate his reasons for those votes to his constituents. Then on May 18, Mr.

Amash declared Mr. Trump's actions as presented met the threshold for impeachment. A drumbeat of candidate announcements began on the Republican side to challenge Mr. Amash for the GOP nomination. That culminated in a declaration from Mr. Amash that raises doubts as to whether he will run at all — his leaving the Republican Party to become an independent.

Amash I-Cascade Township told Michigan Radio he plans to run for re-election as an independent, and that's all well and good, but I have my doubts on his plans. Amash has long conveyed a seriousness and above-the-political-games style, but he announced his decision to leave the Republican Party in a Washington Post column published on Independence Day.

That seems like the kind of tactic one employs to gain national attention, the kind of national attention one might be seeking to stir up interest in a presidential bid, perhaps on the Libertarian ticket. Running for the U. House in Michigan with the presence of straight-ticket voting is an extremely difficult proposition, even for a well-known incumbent.

In fact, Mr. Amash discussed how difficult it is to run in Michigan as an independent at a Grand Rapids town hall following his first impeachment comments.


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One might have expected Mr. Amash to make such a momentous announcement with grave repercussions for a re-election campaign in The Grand Rapids Press or one of the west Michigan network news programs. I had long doubted that Mr. Amash would give up his U. House seat for a guaranteed loss as the Libertarian presidential candidate he declined a bid for an open U. Senate seat in that suggested he was taking a cautious approach to his political future , but that appears totally wrong. Amash is totally sick of partisan politics and Washington as he says he is, then perhaps he wants to go out in a blaze of glory, taking his issues national as the Libertarian presidential nominee.

If you're going to lose, why not go that route instead of risking a humiliating third-place finish in your backyard to the candidates of the two major political parties. Amash does stay in the race, it will be hard to predict. For as much as Mr. Trump has damaged the Republican brand in Grand Rapids and some of its suburbs, this is still a Republican-leaning district, one Democrats have not won since Republican voters are loyal to the GOP cause and most would likely back their party's nominee.

The Democratic candidate would have to hope some Republicans split with the party and stick with Mr. Amash because unless there is a total Republican implosion, there's still not enough Democrats alone to win this seat. Amash is out, Democrats will have to hope that the same forces that propelled now- Sen. The rest of Kent County, most of which is in the 3rd, remains strongly Republican, as does most of the rest of the district -- Barry, Ionia and part of Montcalm counties and all of Calhoun which is and trending GOP. Libertarians will sort out their presidential candidate next spring.

Now that Mr. Amash has left the GOP, the focus will shift to the two parties sorting out crowded primary fields — at least until Mr. Amash rules out running for president as a Libertarian. If he rules it out, that is. Posted: July 2, PM. Around the Capitol, the uttering of the word "shutdown" conjures reactions akin to saying the name "Voldemort" in "Harry Potter" — fear and shivers.

Those who were here in and , when state government went into brief hours-long shutdowns because a governor and Legislature were at odds on whether to raise taxes to balance the budget, recall the agony. It was not those brief shutdowns that were so terrible, though they were a major embarrassment to the state, it was the weeks, even months, of posturing, gridlock and general foolishness that preceded them. Well here we are for the first time since with the completion of the upcoming fiscal year budget nowhere in sight and the September 30 deadline starting to loom before the opening of the fiscal year on October 1.

The Legislature has gone home for the summer, lawmakers readying to march in parades, hold coffee hours with constituents and for those who really understand the job working in some door-to-door work to make sure those constituents, aka voters, remember their name and that they cared enough pound the pavement in the heat of the summer to visit their home.

Oh sure, the House and Senate have scheduled tentative session days throughout the summer, but the odds of legislators returning to session to pass a budget before Labor Day are about as bad as any of Detroit's pro sports teams competing for a championship anytime soon. Reporters are awaiting the daily emails from House and Senate staff on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays advising that the following days sessions will see no attendance and no voting. Perhaps the Legislature will return for a day here or a day there, but grinding it out daily while Republican legislative leaders and Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer hammer out a budget deal?

And assuming that transpires, the pressure will really be on once the Legislature returns after Labor Day, with less than a month for Ms. Whitmer and legislative leaders to reach a deal on a budget and road funding plan and for the Legislature to pass them. And that's what the Legislature heading home after June 20 did — relieve the pressure. And that is presumably true. Staff and key legislators continue to work ideas and Ms. Shirkey speak regularly. But there is a huge difference when those talks take place without legislators in town, awaiting a deal for them to vote on.

There's no real pressure to come to an agreement. And now that Republican lawmakers no longer have a fellow Republican in the Executive Office pestering them to get the budget done before the end of June, as former Governor Rick Snyder did, it's clear they felt no pressure to hew to that schedule.

It's abundantly clear House Republicans want no part of a net tax increase for roads. Senate Republicans seem open to at least some type of tax increase, but how much is unclear. No legislators, Democrats included, seem interested in Ms. Whitmer's proposed cent per gallon tax increase. She and Budget Director Chris Kolb also have made clear half a loaf will not suffice.

For a while, I've been warning people to keep their calendars clear for September 30, that this thing could very well go to the wire, though I did not see a repeat of and when midnight passed and the state went into brief shutdowns. At this point, the relationship between the governor, speaker and Senate majority leader appears healthier than it was in and when then-Governor Jennifer Granholm, then-Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop and then-House Speaker Andy Dillon battled constantly. There's a long way to go, almost three full months.

But assuming the Legislature has deprived us of its company for the remainder of the summer, that time is going to go quickly. And like , passing a budget appears dependent on a tax increase. On auto no-fault, the three sides showed they could yield on some key matters to reach a compromise. Whitmer had to give the most because she had the least leverage as a result of the Dan Gilbert-threatened ballot proposal. The pessimistic view is that Republicans, fresh off the no-fault legislation that was far more to their liking than Democrats, will feel no need to bend and see how far they can press Ms.

Whitmer, who herself cannot afford to have her signature issues — roads and schools — resolved in anything other than a win for her. Whitmer and Republican legislative leaders have been saying Lansing need not resemble the partisan morass that is Washington, D. Resolving the budget and road funding will put that prediction to the test like no other. Posted: June 18, PM. Attorney General Dana Nessel is walking a very fine line in how her office is handling the legal cases emanating from the Flint water crisis.

Nessel's predecessor, former Attorney General Bill Schuette, opted to put himself on the criminal prosecution side while tasking top attorneys in the Department of Attorney General to head up the defense of the state in the many civil lawsuits from Flint residents more than 20, are involved seeking damages from the state.

This was awkward because there was never really anyone to publicly answer for the state's defense strategy in the civil cases. Schuette and his spokesperson were on the criminal side of the conflict wall. That left Governor Rick Snyder, named in the civil cases along with some of his department directors and other state employees, to discuss the civil side, and his team would just offer the usual rote "can't comment on pending litigation" non-response response. But with the civil cases slowly churning, and the state mounting a vigorous defense that wasn't exactly politically appealing, Mr. Schuette's work on the criminal side allowed him to be on the side that was seeking justice.

The eventual problem was the cases seemed thin. The convictions obtained by the prosecution team Mr. Schuette hired led by Todd Flood were almost laughable when juxtaposed against the charges initially issued. The former drinking water chief, Liane Shekter-Smith, was charged with felony involuntary manslaughter and felony misconduct in office but struck a plea deal where she pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor charge of disrupting a public meeting. No one has spent any time in jail. It would be one thing if those plea deals had produced smoking gun-type testimony against the higher-ups like former Health and Human Services Director Nick Lyon, but there was no evidence that occurred.

All that said, the charges had been cheered by Flint residents and activists, especially the charging of Mr. Lyon given his high stature in the Snyder administration compared to relatively unknown state employees. What would have happened had the cases made it to a jury at the Genesee Circuit Court in a Flint courtroom was the subject of great speculation. And one will always wonder in the wake of the decision by the two attorneys to whom Ms. Nessel reassigned the Flint water criminal cases, Solicitor General Fadwa Hammoud and Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy, to drop all the remaining criminal cases and start the Flint water investigation anew.

Nessel first announced she was putting herself on the civil side of the conflict wall and others in charge of the criminal side, there was speculation she did so to get the lawsuits settled and deliver a win to Flint residents in the form of a substantial monetary settlement while those she tasked with the criminal side would wind down the prosecutions and deal with any blowback from residents.

But that's not how it's playing out. While settlement negotiations are taking place, there's no deal yet. And with three years of criminal investigation now essentially flushed, there was considerable blowback from Flint activists toward Ms. Nessel when Ms. Hammoud and Ms. That underlines the reality for Ms. Conflict wall or no conflict wall, she's the one on the line when it comes to all things Flint in her office, not Ms.

Hammoud or Ms. It appeared she and her staff sensed this dynamic when less than 24 hours after Ms. Worthy announced the dropping of the cases and astonishingly said they would answer no questions about their decision for 15 days until holding a "community conversation" in Flint, Ms. This seemed awfully close to poking a hole in the conflict wall, some might even argue eviscerating the wall altogether, even if as Ms.

Nessel tried to assure Flint residents that justice delayed is not necessarily justice denied, she also said she knew as much about the rationale behind the decision to drop the cases as anyone else in the state. She was not part of the decision, she said, though she backed up Ms. Worthy and said if they deemed it the right move, she supported them. Only time will tell if Ms. Nessel made the right call on putting herself on the civil side of the conflict wall. The decision of Ms.

That just puts more pressure on getting those civil cases settled. Posted: June 11, PM. When Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed the legislation on Mackinac Island overhauling how auto insurance covers health care for injuries sustained in a traffic crash, the Democratic leaders declared the bipartisan agreement formed a new mode of operation on how to get things done in Lansing. That was understandable.

For eight years, Democratic lawmakers mostly had little say in what bills became law while Republican Rick Snyder was governor and Republicans held legislative majorities. That the Democratic governor and majority Republican legislative leaders worked together instead of attacking each other is a contrast to today's politics. Whitmer will veto. But the idea that the process that led to the no-fault breakthrough should be replicated to solve other seemingly intractable debates is precarious. For one, there's no Dan Gilbert-type figure looming to push a ballot proposal on roads to force the issue the way he did on auto insurance.

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There's no way to know for sure what would have happened had Mr. Gilbert not vowed to put an initiative petition before the Legislature to overhaul auto insurance in a way that Republicans likely would have supported and Democrats likely would have opposed, but it would have removed a significant source of pressure on Ms. Whitmer and given her veto pen leverage.

The potential for the Legislature to approve the petition with no way for the governor to stop it meant Ms. Whitmer's veto threats rang hollow. Two, while the rushed process of passing the bill prevented the erosion of legislative support that could have occurred had the final bill been given a public airing over several days or weeks and greatly contributed to passage, it also was not actually filed with the Office of the Great Seal until today, nearly two weeks after Ms.

Whitmer signed it. That means it only just now became law. Well, an error in the bill — that's what happens on a rush-job — would have meant an immediate INCREASE in insurance rates despite backers of the bill touting its mandatory rate reductions for personal injury protection. So the bill was filed once the trailer bill to fix the error was signed too this section updated after the bills were filed this afternoon. Insurers already are saying the bill as structured will not lead to the rate-relief Ms.

Whitmer and legislators have said it will provide. Opponents of the law — trial lawyers, health care providers and others — say the bill is full of loopholes. Defenders of the bill will question how anyone can say it was a rush-job given the anguish and debate over the issue for decades. But the reality is the actual content of the bill was only made public less than six hours before it had received final passage from the House and Senate. And if such a substantial error was found so quickly and needing correction, imagine what is going to happen when some of the best attorneys in the state — in insurance, torts and health care — start combing the language.

If there's a new normal-type model, the best one I've seen was the one used by then-Rep. Joe Graves to reform the state's unemployment insurance laws at a time when the Unemployment Insurance Agency was imploding. It was bipartisan with representatives of organized labor and major business organizations that traditionally oppose each other on legislation.

There were subject-matter experts on both the labor and employer side. No one involved in those arduous, marathon, behind-closed-doors negotiations and workgroups would say it was easy.

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  • But in the end, everyone agreed to support every line of every bill in the package, which was public for weeks as it went through the traditional legislative process. There were no amendments, and it received overwhelming bipartisan support in the House and Senate. Some 18 months later, the legislation — combined with administrative-led changes in processes — has greatly improved operations at the Unemployment Insurance Agency. Posted: June 4, PM. Five months and four days into her governorship, there's some angst in various quarters of the Democratic base about decisions made by Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer.

    Suffice it to say that at this early point in Ms. Whitmer's governorship, one would not have expected slings and arrows to be coming from the state's trial lawyers, environmental groups and health care providers. The trial lawyers are furious with Ms. Whitmer for signing SB 1 to end the mandatory unlimited medical coverage in auto insurance. A number of environmental groups are flabbergasted that Ms.

    Whitmer is in talks with Enbridge for a revised deal that would let them relocate the Line 5 oil and gas pipeline along the bottom of the Straits of Mackinac to a tunnel buried beneath the straits, much as former Governor Rick Snyder negotiated. Health care providers are unhappy to angry about the auto insurance bill, and now health and wellness groups are disappointed that Ms.

    Whitmer went against her Department of Health and Human Services and signed bills banning the sale of e-cigarettes to minors instead of insisting on a bill regulating vapes as tobacco. No, there's not a rebellion in the Democratic Party or anything like that. By and large, so far, Ms. Whitmer has governed like a Democrat, and she has enthusiastic support across the party. But the trial lawyers and the environmental activist wings of the party are potent and important.

    And it was jarring to see the Oil and Water Don't Mix coalition, an umbrella group of many environmental organizations devoted to shuttering Line 5, issue a searing statement last week warning Ms. Whitmer that a deal with Enbridge for a tunnel under the straits would make her the "Line 5 oil tunnel governor.

    Less surprising in a short-term context was the fury directed at Ms. Whitmer by the trial lawyers and coalition of health care providers for signing the no-fault bill. Of course, they were furious. Yet to think Ms. Whitmer, an attorney, and the association of trial lawyers have suffered such a severe rupture is very surprising when viewed from 50, feet.

    Last Thursday, after Ms. Whitmer to "express our members' deep disappointment and their palpable outrage" at her decision. Freid said said even with an initiative petition threatened by Dan Gilbert, Ms. Whitmer could have achieved real rate reduction "without sacrificing the entire system, had you forged that path carefully and thoughtfully, instead of rushing to sign 'something. Such are the realities of serving as a chief executive.

    Former Lt. Governor Brian Calley opined on Twitter a couple months ago when word first broke that Ms. Whitmer was open to a tunnel for Line 5 and environmentalists expressed shock and dismay that "it's the part about the job that is hard to explain. Most issues have two or more very different sides. There are always people mad at you.

    If there's a common thread to these three issues, it's that Ms. Whitmer's realist approach is showing itself. As I wrote last week, Ms. Whitmer took the most pragmatic path she could find on the auto insurance legislation. While the governor eventually put a promise on her campaign website to "immediately file to enjoin the easement and begin the legal process for shutting down Line 5," her first comments on that topic as a candidate were to warn about taking action that would lead to protracted litigation.

    Whitmer has clearly reverted to that original position and all her comments about considering the tunnel options are couched in worries about an extended legal conflict that takes longer to resolve than construction of the tunnel. The e-cigarette bills passed easily, by well more than enough votes to override a veto. It's hard to imagine the Republican majorities would have skipped the opportunity to jam the Democrats on a veto override vote, choosing between voting no on banning e-cigarettes to minors a difficult vote to explain and embarrassing the governor by voting to override.

    So, the governor reluctantly signed the bill. Governors inevitably do something to disappoint their supporters. John Engler's decision to abandon his opposition to tax incentives to lure businesses and instead create a massive tax incentive regime dismayed conservatives. Jennifer Granholm's actions on state employee contracts led to huge protests from those unionized and largely Democratic employees on the Capitol lawn, including a sign deriding her as "Governor Jengler. Whitmer now finds herself experiencing the same phenomenon.

    It's not surprising that it happened, but wow, that didn't take long. Posted: May 29, AM. Governor Gretchen Whitmer and her staff celebrated the Legislature's passage Friday of historic auto insurance legislation that ends the requirement for motorists to hold unlimited lifetime medical insurance in favor of coverage choices, installs limits on what health care providers and attendant care workers can charge for care, promises rate reductions and bars the use of many non-driving factors in setting insurance rates.

    We've accomplished more in the last five months than in the last five years. This vote demonstrates that when both parties work together and build bridges, we can solve problems and make life better for the people of Michigan," Ms. Whitmer said in a statement after the vote. It guarantees lower auto insurance rates for eight years, protects people's choice to pick their own insurance and coverage options while preserving the safety net, and bans insurance companies from using discriminatory non-driving factors when setting rates. If the legislation in fact leads to the type of rate reductions promised without unraveling health care for the catastrophically injured, Ms.

    Whitmer has every reason to claim credit and shout it from the top of the Capitol. Michigan's auto insurance rates are the highest in the nation and a major frustration for motorists, and the governor pledged to cut rates during the campaign.

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    Promises made, promises kept. Despite Ms. Whitmer's vow just two days before the final legislative votes she was "not going to be bullied into doing something," it sure looked like the governor was, if not bullied, cornered. Whitmer said that same day she was not pushing for a quick resolution. Two days later, that's what she agreed to do. Eight days before the final votes in the Legislature, Ms.

    Whitmer said any final bill needed to require all motorists to buy into the system, saying a "a complete zero coverage option just shifts the burden onto the taxpayers" via Medicaid, a move that would undermine the state's trauma centers and brain injury clinics. What Ms. Whitmer was asked eight days before the vote about concerns from supporters of the system that once mandatory unlimited medical becomes optional that the entire system would unravel. The bill she will sign lacks the base-level option she said had to be there.

    Whitmer had spoken openly of linking auto insurance legislation to road funding, that the case for a tax increase would become easier to make with a wide-ranging package that cuts auto insurance rates. Forced to choose whether to demand road funding be placed on her desk at the same time as the no-fault legislation, Ms.

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    Whitmer opted not to do so. What the governor did obtain in negotiations was a much more generous fee schedule for health care providers, especially hospitals, than the worker's compensation fee schedule the bills that initially passed the House and Senate contained. Instead, the fee schedule will be roughly double the Medicare rate and more for providers with larger percentages of indigent patients and trauma centers. The governor also has claimed victory on the bill outlawing non-driving factors in setting insurance rates like use of ZIP codes and credit scores though the bill still allows insurers to use "territory" and "credit information.

    Whitmer is claiming is real remains to be seen. So why did Ms. Whitmer go so quickly from issuing veto threats, seeking leverage on the gasoline tax and urging the Legislature to slow down to declaring victory on a bill that had only become public a handful of hours before the Legislature voted, the kind of tactic that Democrats have decried for years? She made a pragmatic decision. The governor had two options. She could issue a politically unpopular veto and lose all say in the process with Dan Gilbert planning an initiative petition that, if it gathered enough signatures, allowed the Legislature to enact a plan Ms.

    Whitmer surely would have found less desirable with no opportunity for her to stop it or she could get involved, secure the best deal she could and prevent a Gilbert petition. Politically, Ms. Whitmer will — assuming this bill takes effect as planned, that it is not waylaid by a lawsuit or referendum — get to claim credit for what could be substantial rate reductions.

    To get there, the governor had to bitterly disappoint some longtime allies. To say the least, the trial lawyers are shocked that one of their own, Ms. Whitmer, is the one who killed the mandatory unlimited medical benefit. Health care providers got a more generous fee schedule but, as several observers put it last week, they accepted amputation when faced with death.

    There are those who contend the governor should have told those cornering her to pound sand and encouraged a rival initiative petition to counter the one from Mr. In , a big part of Ms. Whitmer's campaign message was she was a can-do person with the knowledge and understanding of state government to make the decisions she deemed necessary to improve the state. She vowed to "take on anyone" in her way. The governor may not have been leading the charge on this issue — it was the House and Senate that forced it to the front-burner with their rapid-fire passage of bills earlier in May — but she followed through on that promise.

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    It's safe to say, however, that attorneys, hospitals and other health care providers did not foresee themselves as the ones Ms. Whitmer would take on. Posted: May 21, PM. A lawmaker in trouble with the law. And the situation is vexing a house of the Legislature.

    Larry Inman R-Williamsburg was charged last week with three felonies — extortion, solicitation of bribery and lying to the FBI — in an indictment that alleged he tried to sell his vote on a proposal to repeal the prevailing wage law to trade unions trying to convince him to vote no. The U. There is no indication, so far, that the case involves anyone else other than Mr. Now House Speaker Lee Chatfield R-Levering confronts what all too many legislative leaders have faced — how to deal with a legislator charged with a crime.

    And in this case, it's of the most serious nature because it involves conduct in office, not something outside of a legislator's official duties. Chatfield has called for Mr.

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    Inman to resign. Inman has refused. He's also denied the charges, calling them "crazy bullshit" for good measure. He has asserted there is an explanation for the texts. Chatfield trotted out several other high-ranking House Republicans in the days after the indictment to call for Mr. Inman to resign too. But he hasn't quit yet, and why would he when he's got legal bills aplenty.

    The speaker has steadfastly refused to answer questions from reporters on whether he would initiate expulsion proceedings against Mr. Inman if he refuses to quit. Inman pleads not guilty and takes his case to trial, it will likely take many months for a verdict to arrive. Traditionally, legislative leaders have chosen to let the legal process play out before initiating expulsion proceedings.

    That's what happened with former Sen. Bert Johnson D-Highland Park in He resigned shortly after his conviction, but not until almost a year elapsed from the time he was charged. The Senate never started the expulsion process. In , the House expelled then-Rep. Monte Geralds after he was convicted of a felony but maintained his innocence and refused to resign, also waiting for the courts.

    Sometimes, legislators have exploited this protocol. Former Rep. Keith Stallworth was charged with a pile of felonies in the early s, but maintained his innocence and the House leaders at the time one of whom was Kwame Kilpatrick, cough, cough said he had the right to his day in court and did not start a House investigation. Then shortly after leaving the House because of term limits, Mr. Stallworth struck a plea deal, pleaded guilty and avoided prison. Johnson maintained his innocence too even after damning secret recordings were released by the feds.

    Former Sen. Virgil Smith hung onto his seat for almost a year before he agreed to a plea deal and resigned. The other two modern-day expulsions, Sen. David Jaye in and Rep. Cindy Gamrat in , had little to nothing to do with criminal charges and more to do with their overall conduct as legislators and the general revulsion other members had in having to deal with how they went about their jobs.

    Gamrat was charged with a crime after she was expelled, but a judge ruled there was insufficient evidence for her to stand trial. Jaye was convicted months after his expulsion of a probation violation but acquitted of the assault charge that helped galvanize the move to expel him.

    Then there are the situations where a legislator has been charged, maintained their innocence and been exonerated by the courts. Jim Barcia was charged in by federal authorities in a campaign finance case and maintained his innocence. Prosecutors dropped the charges 14 months later. A few years later, then-Rep. George Cushingberry Jr. In both the Barcia and Cushingberry cases, the Senate and House, respectively, waited for the legal process to conclude before considering expulsion.

    They were exonerated, so they never faced sanctions. Both won re-election. These two latter examples loom large in any consideration of whether to expel a member before she or he has been convicted of a crime. What if they are never convicted? How would that look? And yet, to be clear, innocent until proven guilty is the standard when it comes to convicting someone of a crime and taking away their freedom, not service in the Legislature.

    A two-thirds majority of the House or Senate can expel a member for any reason, as Mr. Jaye and Ms. Gamrat discovered. The House, if it wanted, could simply have the contents of the indictment placed into an expulsion resolution and decide on that basis alone Mr. Inman must go. Of course, if there is a revelation down the road about the texts that backs up Mr. Inman's claim they've been misunderstood and he's exonerated, the voters of the Grand Traverse County would rightfully wonder what right the House had to unseat its elected representative. This is the conundrum a legislative leader faces when a fellow legislator finds themselves taking a seat at the defendant's table in court.

    And it's a big part of the reason why those leaders usually defer acting until the courts do so first. Posted: May 7, PM. Governor Gretchen Whitmer wants a lot more money to fix the roads, this you might have heard. Legislative Republicans want wholesale changes in how auto insurance covers health care for people injured traffic crashes, this you might have heard as well.

    Whitmer proposed a cent per gallon gasoline tax increase. It was essentially dead on arrival in the Legislature. Today, Senate Republicans unveiled and quickly passed an auto insurance bill that will surely end unlimited medical benefits for those injured in traffic crashes, providing motorists with a choice of lower coverage options. She already said she would veto the bill as passed by the Senate. She hasn't said it outright publicly, but she seems to be holding the same position on auto insurance: No road funding, no insurance bill. Publicly, Republicans are Sphinx-like about their long game, but those in and around the process say it is clear that after four months of taking their time and passing on opportunities to jam the governor, they are now embarking on that, path.

    Put an auto insurance bill on Ms. Whitmer's desk and dare her to veto it. Put a budget for the fiscal year on Ms. This is a game of chicken. And much like the game of chicken with tractors in "Footloose," someone is going to be the Ren McCormack celebrating afterward and someone is going to be Chuck Cranston, freaking out at the last second and leaping away in panic into a nearby river, vanquished. The rest of us are Ariel Moore, marveling at the showdown yet with an inner fear at the end this will all go terribly wrong.

    Vetoing a budget that lacks big new funding for roads would start the clock ticking to the September 30 deadline to have a new budget in place in time for the start of the fiscal year. Vetoing an auto insurance bill would give Republicans an opportunity to pound on the governor on an issue that has gotten traction with the public. How Ms. Whitmer responds will depend on what kind of changes the House makes to pass a bill, assuming it can pass a bill.

    Her position gets more politically perilous if the House includes substantial, long-term, mandatory cuts in insurance rates and maintaining some type of option for unlimited coverage. If the Republican tack leads to vetoes, perhaps the back-and-forth sets all issues on a path toward compromise — an eventual budget deal, better roads plus reduced auto insurance rates coupled with coverage that still assures quality of care in the event of a catastrophic injury in a traffic crash.

    Alternatively, Ms. Whitmer and legislative Republicans dig in, leading to a or style budget confrontation and no real long-term answers on roads or auto insurance, leading to the roads getting worse and insurance rates continuing to rise. Posted: May 2, PM. If last week's ruling from a federal three-judge panel stands requiring the redrawing of political maps for most of the state's 14 U. House districts as well as much of the Michigan Senate and Michigan House — and that's the biggest "if" in Michigan politics right now — get ready for one of the wildest periods at the Capitol in some time.

    The Capitol's collective jaw hit the floor last week when that panel not only ordered the redrawing of at least nine U. House and 15 Michigan House districts to repair what it termed an illegal partisan gerrymander drawn by majority Republicans in but also called for redrawing at least 10 Michigan Senate districts and ordered the upper chamber to stand for election in , two years earlier than scheduled. Let's assume for now that this ruling stands, that there are new maps in place and the Senate joins the Michigan House and U.

    House on the ballot in a presidential year for the first time since There's a lot of doubt that will happen, with U. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, long seen as the needed fifth vote for a precedent-setting ruling that partisan gerrymandering is unconstitutional, having retired and been replaced by Justice Brett Kavanaugh, who is not expected to deviate much from conservative orthodoxy on the court, though one never knows. There are two potential impacts: One is on partisan composition of each delegation and the other is on incumbents.

    I'll rate the potential impact on a scale of 1 to 10, 1 being very little impact and 10 being a wholesale change. What's that you say, that you thought Republicans rigged the U. House districts against Democrats and shouldn't a redraw mean big Democratic gains? Well, Republicans did gerrymander these districts in to maximize the Republican delegation remember the former staffer to ex-U.

    Thaddeus McCotter who boasted how the maps "crammed all the Dem garbage" into a handful of districts? House map, which produced a Republican-Democrat delegation in the , and elections before Democrats flipped two seats in to make it There is a pretty easy way to redraw the lines and add a very winnable Democratic district: put together Kalamazoo and Barry counties and roughly the portion of Kent County in the 29th Michigan Senate District Grand Rapids and its southeastern suburbs.

    Whether that can be done without having any of the west Michigan U. House districts among the challenged districts remains to be seen. Dave Wasserman of the Cook Political Report took a shot at a new map today and it should give Democrats the willies, producing six solidly Republican seats, three solidly Democratic seats and five competitive seats. It would be especially problematic for some Democratic incumbents, which leads to why the incumbent impact would be so severe. There are four Democratic members living in Oakland County right now: Rep.

    Brenda Lawrence of Southfield, Rep. Andy Levin of Bloomfield Township, Rep. Elissa Slotkin of Holly and Rep. Haley Stevens of Rochester Hills. That is not going to be sustainable in a new map where incumbent considerations are irrelevant. By law, no one has to move if their residence gets drawn out of their new district but running in a district where you don't live can present complications.

    Slotkin lives in Holly and might need to start scouting real estate in Ingham County, her political base. Under the Cook map, Ms. Stevens would likely have to run against Mr. Levin in a Democratic primary. Dan Kildee D-Flint Township would wind up in a much more competitive district. The plan Republicans drew for the Senate has held up even though the GOP saw Democrats gain five seats in the last election to narrow the gap to Democrats maximized gains in the areas where demographics have shifted but in the white working-class areas where Republicans are strong, the maps make Democratic chances that much more difficult.

    If drawn just right, a Democratic gain of three seats in is entirely possible, something that would give Democrats control of the chamber for the first time since Changes to districts challenged by the plaintiffs in Macomb and Oakland counties as well as the district based in Saginaw County would put three seats in much greater reach of Democrats than they are now.

    That said, those moves would also risk softening up currently solid Democratic seats that could be at risk in a Republican wave if that occurred in a given area. Remember the Trump sweep of Macomb in ? Had the Senate been up then with the districts drawn to show two seats and one solidly GOP seat instead of the current one solid Democratic seat, one leaning GOP seat and one solidly GOP seat, it could be Republicans there now, not The impact on the incumbents is massive.

    Number one, none of them thought they would have to run again until Number two, Michigan's term limits law, depending on how the courts interpret it, could bar senators who already have been elected twice from running in , cutting their service short by two years. If the plaintiffs could have a mulligan, they would surely alter what districts they challenged, a list they developed prior to the elections that recast the landscape of what House seats could be made more competitive with a nonpartisan reapportionment plan but, with the list as it stands, there are probably four districts most susceptible to alteration that could help them flip: seats in suburban Muskegon and suburban Saginaw, a seat in southern Macomb County and a seat in Genesee County.

    Community Reviews. Showing Rating details. More filters. Sort order. Sep 28, Lorena McCarroll rated it it was amazing. This was an excellent read. I started it and did not want to put it down. The spine remains undamaged. Michigan and Rookie by Joaquin Guerrero; Barbara Marshak A copy that has been read, but remains in excellent condition. Buy It Now. Add to cart. Sold by thrift.

    Be the first to write a review About this product. About this product Product Information In Saginaw, Michigan-a city plagued with gang violence-Officer Joaquin Guerrero sensed God's call to work the dangerous night streets with his K9 partner, a ninety-pound German shepherd police dog named Rookie.

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    For seven long days the pair worked "The Pile" with a never-give-up spirit. Michigan and Rookie is a remarkable story of service to community and country. Book jacket. Show More Show Less. Branch was instrumental in bringing Jackie Robinson to the major leagues. He is recognized at the father of American soccer, bringing the World Cup to the U. He was also inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.

    Jon created the Jump the Shark website and book based on its pop culture critique. Join today to help sustain the future of Alumnus and other alumni programs. Visit umalumni. JACK R.