GOP moves to dilute power of governor, AG, secretary of state

November 29, 2018

By Beth LeBlanc & Jonathan Oosting, The Detroit News

Lansing — With Democrats set to take over top statewide offices next year, Michigan Republicans are considering proposals that would allow the Legislature to intervene in legal battles and shift oversight of the state’s campaign finance law to a new commission.

The lame-duck power plays would limit the power of Gov.-elect Gretchen Whitmer, Attorney General Dana Nessel and Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson. Democrats have not held all three posts since 1990.

A House bill introduced Thursday by state Rep. Rob VerHeulen, R-Walker, and quickly praised by Republican leaders seeks to guarantee the GOP-led Legislature could intervene in legal battles involving state laws that Democrats may be hesitant to defend.

A separate proposal from Sen. Dave Robertson, R-Grand Blanc, would shift oversight of the Michigan Campaign Finance Act from the Secretary of State’s Office to a newly proposed “fair political practices commission.”

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Gerrymandering 101: How voters favor Dems, but GOP keeps Michigan Legislature

November 29, 2018

By Mike Wilkinson & Riley Beggin, Bridge Magazine

Republicans will keep power in Michigan’s Legislature next year, even though Democrats got more votes statewide and dramatically slashed margins in safe GOP seats, a Bridge Magazine analysis shows.

Although Democrats flipped six House seats (and lost one) and five Senate seats, they couldn’t overcome built-in advantages from political districts drawn by Republican mapmakers in 2011.

But Michigan’s legislative districts are recognized by experts as among the most gerrymandered in the country. By law, the party in control of Lansing after the decennial Census redraws districts –  and that’s been Republicans in 2001 and again in 2011.

“The lines were drawn to withstand a significant change in public opinion,” said John McGlennon, a government and public policy professor at William and Mary, a public university in Virginia, and an expert in redistricting.

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Michigan Senate guts minimum wage hike, paid sick leave

November 28, 2018

By Kathleen Gray, Detroit Free Press

LANSING – Republicans in the state Senate voted Wednesday to gut two initiatives that would raise the minimum wage to $12 per hour and require employers to provide paid sick time to employees.

The Senate passed the bills on a mostly party-line vote of 26-12 after the Senate Government Operations committee earlier in the day made significant changes to the measures on 3-2 party-line vote.

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Sparks fly over Line 5 tunnel legislation

November 28, 2018

By Jonathan Oosting, The Detroit News

Lansing — Michigan's Republican-led Senate on Wednesday delayed a planned vote on legislation that would facilitate plans for Enbridge to move its controversial oil pipeline from the Straits of Mackinac to a tunnel beneath the lake bed.

A Senate panel approved the proposal Wednesday morning in a 3-2 vote, but Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof said he expects changes after hearing "quite a bit of criticism" about the bill, which would task the Mackinac Bridge Authority with overseeing the new tunnel. 

The legislation would make clear that the Bridge Authority has the power to acquire, construct, operate, maintain, improve, repair and manage the utility tunnel, which could also house telecommunications cables and other infrastructure.

The proposal advanced out of committee after less than one hour of testimony, frustrating former Mackinac Bridge Authority Chairman Bill Gnodtke, who told Meekhof he was “insulted” that he was only allowed two minutes to speak.

“You used 30 seconds to complain, so now you only have one-and-a-half minutes,” Meekhof fired back, inviting Gnodtke to submit written testimony after the vote.

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Don't let governor, Legislature push Line 5 tunnel through lame duck session

November 23, 2018

By Kate Madigan, Member-Michigan Environmental Council & Director-Michigan Climate Action Network

The Snyder administration has been laying the groundwork to let Enbridge build a new oil tunnel in the Straits of Mackinac for some time. This deal would allow the existing dented, corroded, damaged 65-year-old pipeline to keep operating in the Great Lakes waters for at least seven more years until a tunnel could be completed.

The newest twist to the Governor’s plan is the unexpected body that will oversee this tunnel project — the Mackinac Bridge Authority. Hundreds of people showed up at a recent Bridge Authority meeting last week in St. Ignace, including the outgoing Bridge Authority Chair, to oppose this tunnel.

The same day, the Legislature introduced a bill to allow the tunnel and they will try to ram it through in its lame duck session. This is all one big elaborate scheme to give the Canadian oil transport company what they want even though it runs counter to the needs of our state and will of the people.

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Can Michigan Senate's new leader be a grown-up?

November 20, 2018

By Brian Dickerson, Detroit Free Press

Sixteen newly elected Democratic Michigan state senators learned last week that they're in line to get half the number of staff, and about 60% as much money to provide constituent services, as their Republican colleagues.

Per Michigan law, each of the 38 state senators elected to four-year terms last week represents approximately 238,000 Michigan residents. Each gets an annual salary of about $72,000 a year, plus expenses to staff and operate an office.   

But that's where the golden rule —  you know, the one ordaining that whoever owns the most gold makes the rules — comes in.

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Women set new record in state legislatures

November 15, 2018

By Reid Wilson, The Hill

More than 2,000 women will take office next year in state legislatures across the country, a number that smashes the previous record for women who have held legislative seats.

A tally by the Center for American Women in Government at Rutgers University shows at least 1,743 women won state legislative seats in last week's midterm elections. That number will grow; 185 races with at least one woman still in the running have yet to be called.

Those who win will join the 276 women who hold seats that were not up for election on Tuesday.

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Oakland County the 'epicenter' of Michigan's blue wave in midterm elections

November 15, 2018

By John Counts, MLive

The once-reliable Republican enclave of Oakland County turned blue on election night.

Democrats there won four congressional races, flipped four seats in the Michigan Legislature and gained a majority on the Oakland County Board of Commissioners for the first time in 40 years.

"They won everything," said Oakland University political science professor David Dulio. "Nationally there was no blue wave but there was a lot of localized flooding. That localized flooding was really significant here in Michigan and I think you could say Oakland County was the epicenter of that."

From activist to senator

The victory of Rosemary Bayer to the state senate is emblematic of what happened in Michigan's wealthiest county on election night. It's the story of a woman who had never held office before toppling a member of the Republican establishment.

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General Election Results – Nov. 6, 2018

November 15, 2018

By James Newell, The Lake Orion Review

State Senate – 12th District
Democrat Rosemary Bayer won the 12th District seat with 59,297 votes (49.34 percent), defeating Republican Michael McCready, who had 58,362 votes (48.56 percent). Libertarian Jeff Pittel received 2,403 votes (2 percent) and there were 111 unassigned write-in votes.

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No ‘Blue Wave’ in Oxford or Addison

November 15, 2018

By CJ Carnacchio, Oxford Leader

The ‘Blue Wave’ hit Michigan hard in the Nov. 6 general election as Democrats were elected to all the major state offices and the U.S. Congress. But in Oxford and Addison townships, there was no ‘Blue Wave’ as most voters cast their ballots for Republican candidates.

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Republicans keep majorities in Michigan’s House and Senate, despite Democrats’ gain

November 11, 2018

From the Arab American News

LANSING — Michigan Republicans will retain majorities in the Michigan House and Senate despite losing seats to Democrats in Tuesday’s election, stopping a blue wave that swept the state’s highest offices and setting the stage for a divided government that will be led by Democratic Governor-elect Gretchen Whitmer.

Senate pickups included the Seventh District, where Democrat Dayna Polehanki of Livonia defeated Republican state Rep. Laura Cox (R-Livonia), and the 20th Senate District, where former Rep. Sean McCann of Kalamazoo unseated incumbent Sen. Margaret O’Brien (R-Portage).

Democrats also gained Senate seats in Oakland County’s 13th District, where challenger Mallory McMorrow of Royal Oak defeated incumbent Sen. Marty Knollenberg of Troy; the 12th District where Rosemary Bayer of Beverly Hills beat GOP Rep. Mike McCready of Bloomfield Township and the 29th District, where Rep. Winnie Brinks of Grand Rapids thwarted Rep. Chris Afendoulis of Grand Rapids Township.

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Oakland County's highest voter turnout in Rochester Hills and Huntington Woods among others

November 09, 2018

By Mark Cavitt, The Oakland Press

Oakland County saw a record number of people vote in Tuesday's mid-term election. Over 64 percent of the registered voters in the county showed up to cast a ballot, a record turnout for a mid-term election. In total, 609,099 of the county's 948,863 registered voters exercised their right. 

On Tuesday, the county precincts with the lowest turnouts, those under 35 percent, were all in Pontiac, which is usually the case no matter what election cycle we're in. The precinct with the lowest turnout was precinct 18 with 20.45 percent turnout with 345 of the 1,687 registered voters casting a ballot. 

On the other end of the spectrum, the precincts with the highest turnout, above 77 percent, were scattered across the county including Huntington Woods, Rochester Hills, Novi, Orion Township, Troy, Bloomfield Township, Royal Oak, and Southfield Township. 

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Pink wave hits Michigan from gov's office to Congress to Legislature

November 08, 2018

By Jonathan Oosting, The Detroit News

Detroit — The pink wave hit Michigan with force as female candidates swept statewide offices at the top of the ticket, flipped two U.S. House races, won both seats on the state Supreme Court and filled a record number of legislative seats.

Democrats helped build the wave by recruiting a roster of high-qualified female candidates and rode it to key victories in a midterm election marked by suburban female frustration with Republican President Donald Trump.

Michigan voters elected a record 53 women to the state Legislature. The previous high mark was 37, according to the MIRS subscription news service. Democrats will send 26 women to the state House, and Republicans 16. Eleven women will serve in the 38-member state Senate, including eight Democrats and three Republicans.

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Longtime Republican office holders Marty Knollenberg, Michael McCready lose election to Democratic political newcomers

November 07, 2018

By Anne Runkle, The Oakland Press

Two longtime Republican office holders lost their bids for election to the state Senate Tuesday to Democratic political newcomers.

Marty Knollenberg, who served one term as a Republican senator from the 13th District, lost his re-election bid to Mallory McMorrow, a former advertising executive and Royal Oak resident. Before his election to the Senate, Knollenberg served three terms in the state House.

Also losing Tuesday was Republican Michael McCready, who was running for the state Senate’s 12th District seat. McCready had also served three terms in the state House. He lost to Rosemary Bayer, a software engineer from Beverly Hills who runs her own business.

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Michigan Republicans keep control of state House, Senate

November 07, 2018

By Jonathan Oosting, The Detroit News

Detroit — Michigan Republicans will retain majorities in the Michigan House and Senate despite losing seats in Tuesday's election, preventing a major blue wave and setting the stage for a divided government that will test Democratic Gov.-elect Gretchen Whitmer. 

The GOP had a 22-16 edge in the Senate and a 58-52 advantage in the House, according to unofficial results. Democrats ended up adding five seats in the Senate — their biggest pickup since 1974 — and gaining five seats in the House.

Republicans have controlled the Senate since 1984, but a mass exodus caused by term limits and evolving dynamics in Oakland County fueled Democratic hopes of picking up the nine seats needed to win a majority. 

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