Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Leonard, Meekhof, And Snyder Reach Deal To End Granholm's HORRENDOUS Driver Responsibility Fees

Meekhof, left, Leonard, Snyder (Freep)

By Brandon Hall
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The disastrous "driver responsibility fee" program former Governor Granholm created to squeeze more money out of Michigan drivers is dead after Speaker Leonard, Senate Majority Leader Meekhof, and Governor Snyder reached a deal Wednesday morning.

The deal also increases the personal tax exemption from $4,000 to nearly $5,000.

It's hard to get rid of a government program once it starts sucking the life out of taxpayers, and Leonard, Meekhof, and Snyder deserve a lot of credit for getting the job done and eliminating this terrible money grab. Former State Rep. Joe Haveman, now running to replace Meekhof in the State Senate, also deserves kudos for his previous work on this issue.

According to Kathy Gray of the Detroit Free Press:

"The House of Representatives and Senate have reached a compromise with Gov. Rick Snyder to hike the personal tax exemption for Michigan residents and eliminate costly driver responsibility fees and forgive $634 million in debt owed by nearly 350,000 drivers.

The personal exemption would increase over four years from $4,000 to $4,900 in 2021, resulting in a savings for a Michigan family of more than $100...

The tax cut bills were spawned by the recently approved federal tax cut package, which state officials have said will create an unintended state tax increase of about $1.5 billion by eliminating the state personal exemption.

The House and Senate are scheduled to give final passage this afternoon to both the personal exemption hike and the elimination of driver responsibility fees.

Driver responsibility fees, ranging from $100 to $2,000, were passed in 2003 to help fill a budget hole when Michigan’s economy faltered. And the money raised – between $99 million and $115 million a year – did help the state’s general fund.

According to the Michigan Department of Treasury, nearly 350,000 Michigan drivers still owed $637 million in driver responsibility fees.

The latest package of bills would:

-Forgive all outstanding driver responsibility fees when the program is eliminated on Oct. 1, 2018.

-Create an education outreach program to let drivers know how to reinstate their drivers licenses.

-Reinstate the community service program for people who can’t pay off their fines before the program is eliminated.

-Provide immediate forgiveness of outstanding debts to people who have been making a good faith effort to pay off their fines.

-Reinstate the eligibility for drivers’ licenses to affected drivers when the program is eliminated and waive the $125 reinstatement fee.

-Create a path for drivers to use district court sobriety programs to regain their license."

Brandon Hall is a lifelong political nerd from Grand Haven, and is the Managing Editor of West Michigan Politics.

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On Duty? Attorney General Schuette's Flint Water Flip Flop Is Disturbing

By Brandon Hall
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Attorney General Schuette likes to talk tough about the Flint Water Crisis these days while running for Governor, but that wasn't always the case. 

Back in 2015, Schuette wanted nothing to do with what happened in the poor, working class city.

Mr. Schuette now audaciously proclaims on Twitter that "Had government leaders listened sooner to real people, we could have slowed or stopped crises like Flint or MSU. As governor, I will meet and hear from real people to make sure this doesn't happen."


Let's rewind to mid January of 2016.

According to WEYI:

"On Friday, Attorney General Bill Schuette called for an investigation into the Flint water crisis. Just three weeks ago, however, Schuette had declined to take any action when asked by a Flint representative to do so.

Schuette's office said that they will now look to see if any Michigan laws were broken. Schuette described the Flint water crisis as a "human tragedy."

In September of 2015 State Representative Sheldon Neeley asked Schuette to investigate the Flint water crisis. In a letter to Schuette's office, Neeley said, "I make this request to urge the Attorney general's Office to investigate and determine if the City of Flint and/or the State of Michigan and its agents have culpability and responsibility for this unfortunate problem. "
On December 22, 2015 the Attorney General's Office sent a response to Neeley. In a response to Neeley, Rusty Hills, the Senior Advisor from the Executive Division, told Neeley, "As the Attorney General explained, given the multiple reviews by federal and state agencies, and the pending and potential federal court actions, we do not believe it necessary to conduct an additional investigation."
NBC25 News has reached out to the Attorney General's Office and asked what changed between December 22 of last year and now. Schuette's office tells NBC25 that they have no comment."
That timeline puts Schuette's initial refusal to investigate around the time right before Christmas.
Then, a Christmas miracle! 

The cameras showed up, big league. From every corner of Michigan and all across America, the media descended on Flint, and miraculously, Schuette had a change of heart.

"This morning, I am formally announcing an investigation into the Flint water crisis," Schuette announced at a press conference a few weeks after saying no investigation was needed, cameras were flashing and reporters were buzzing. "The situation in Flint is a human tragedy in which families are struggling with even the most basic parts of daily life. While everyone acknowledges that mistakes were made, my duty as attorney general requires that I conduct this investigation. Without fear or favor, I will carry out my responsibility to enforce the laws meant to protect Michigan families, and represent the citizens of Flint."

It's almost comedic the difference a couple weeks and a few dozen more cameras can make, isn't it?

The people of Flint are not laughing, though. Go ask real people on the street there what they think of the "investigation," ask them if the Attorney General is "on duty," see the reaction you get.

One Flint activist tweeted, "Schuette behaves as if the internet doesn't exist. Archived articles hold the history of your flip flopping," adding "Flint residents' trauma isn't a talking point or a launching pad for your political campaign. Stop exploiting us for your political career."

Long before Neeley's high profile request, average Michiganders desperate for help pleaded with Schuette's office for assistance, but no one cared.

According to the Detroit News:

"Attorney General Bill Schuette’s office received at least 15 complaints addressing water quality concerns in Flint — some sent a year before Schuette announced a criminal investigation into the lead contamination crisis, according to documents shared with The Detroit News.

Between April 1, 2014, and Dec. 31, 2015, 14 people contacted the Attorney General’s Office addressing Flint water concerns, according to records first obtained by the Michigan Information & Research Service. The residents couldn’t be identified because their names were blacked out.

A handful of people sent complaints on Jan. 29, 2015 — a year before Schuette announced an investigation into the matter, and eight months before Genesee County issued a health warning about Flint’s drinking water. Six complaints were sent between Jan. 29, 2015, and April 9, 2015."

At least one complaint wasn't turned over by Schuette's office, meaning there could be many more than just the 14 Schuette claims.

"Flint activist Rhonda Chisum-Kelso shared a 15th complaint with The Detroit News that wasn’t included in the original Freedom of Information Act request, which she sent on Feb. 25, 2015.

In the complaint she wrote that her “civil rights are being violated by local government servicing substandard water supply from the Flint River while surrounding county residents still receive Lake Huron Water from Detroit.”

Others complained to Schuette’s office about a bad smell and water discoloration or about their high monthly water bills coupled with suspicions that the water was unsafe...

The Attorney General’s Office had no immediate comment on why Chisum-Kelso’s complaint wasn’t included in the open records request. Chisum-Kelso said she believes the government doesn’t care about people in Flint. She is disabled and said she has a 13-year-old daughter with a mental disability.

“We’ve already been left for dead ... declared a permanent underclass by the government,” Chisum-Kelso said. “We’re aware of what people think of us.”

Flash forward to the MSU "investigation" now underway by Mr. Schuette, a story in itself for another time. 

The case mirrors Flint in at least one prominent way, the fact that the Trustees had to BEG him to initiate an investigation after over a year is appalling, unacceptable, and outrageous. He was reluctant to do his job until the media blitz lit off, just like Flint.
With journalists eager to break news on MSU, Schuette couldn't help himself. Apparently, he had a staffer leak to the press that investigators would be coming to seize documents from the University, and cameras were already in place by the time they showed up. 

Interim MSU President John Engler slammed Schuette for the cheap stunt, subsequently asking him to be removed from his list of endorsements for his Gubernatorial campaign.

Prosecuting cases like Flint and MSU for media attention is not only wrong, it's dangerous and disturbing. All Michiganders should worry when our state's top law enforcement officer conducts business in such a sleazy manner. Mr. Schuette has undoubtedly given the Democrats a loaded arsenal of weapons to use against him in November if he wins the Republican nomination for Governor in August.

Brandon Hall is a lifelong political nerd from Grand Haven, and is the Managing Editor of West Michigan Politics.

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Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Speaker Leonard Solidifies Front Runner Status In Attorney General Race, Raises Six Times More Than Schuitmaker

By Brandon Hall
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Speaker Tom Leonard raised nearly $400,000 for his Attorney General campaign in the last few months, giving him over $566,000 on hand as the campaign to replace Bill Schuette heats up.

Leonard touted his new numbers-as well as his grassroots support- in a press release Wednesday afternoon. He says his campaign has what it takes to win in November.
"I have been overwhelmed with the encouragement and support we have received since this campaign began just a few short months ago," Leonard said. "Our message of a safer, stronger Michigan is resonating across the state. We are undefeated in straw polls of grassroots activists, and we have received far more fundraising support than any other candidate in the race. We have the momentum, and we are ready to win in November."

His opponent, State Senator Tonya Schuitmaker, brought in a little over $60,000, bringing her total cash on hand to over $281,000, about half of Leonard's war chest.

Both candidates spent around $30,000 in the last few months, reports show.

At this point, Leonard is clearly the stronger candidate for the general election in November, and this report solidifies that fact. 

Winning will take money, and Leonard is proving he can raise the necessary funds to get his message out and compete all across the Great Lakes State this fall.

Leonard and Schuitmaker recently sparred over the controversial "Common Core" law in Michigan.

Schuitmaker helped implement Common Core in 2013, but has since changed her position and now opposes it. Responding to a recent video on the subject from Leonard, Schuitmaker says she is upset he has not held a vote to repeal in the House. Leonard still has nearly a year to hold that vote, though.

Republican delegates to the state convention in August will decide the Republican nominee for Attorney General, as well as Secretary of State, Lt. Governor, and Trustees for U of M, Wayne State, and MSU.

Brandon Hall is a lifelong political nerd from Grand Haven, and is the Managing Editor of West Michigan Politics.

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Controversial Schuette Proposal Strips GOP Precinct Delegates+Michigan Voters Power To Choose Who Leads MSU And U of M

By Brandon Hall
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A controversial proposal from Attorney General Bill Schuette would strip the power of Republican Precinct Delegates to choose the party's nominees for Board of Trustees at the University of Michigan, MSU, and Wayne State at the state convention.

The proposal also removes the power of voters to choose Trustees at the ballot box in November. Instead, Schuette believes that the Governor should get to handpick university leaders.

According to Chad Livengood of Crain's Detroit:

"Attorney General Bill Schuette called for a constitutional change in the governance of Michigan's flagship universities Monday as he stepped up scrutiny of Michigan State University and what top school leaders knew about complaints lodged against disgraced sports medicine doctor Larry Nassar.

Schuette, acting in his campaign for governor, said the governing boards of MSU, the University of Michigan and Wayne State University should be gubernatorial appointees like the 10 boards that govern the state's other public universities.

The members of MSU, UM and Wayne State's governing boards are nominated by political parties and elected in statewide races to eight-year terms."
Stripping grassroots delegates and voters of their power to choose who leads Michigan's most prominent universities is a terrible idea. 
Further politicizing these important boards with a Gubernatorial appointment process is not needed for any reason. 
Campaign donors shouldn't be rewarded with plum positions like these, candidates should have to go in the trenches, answer tough questions, and make their case to Michiganders.
Schuette's proposal misses the mark-big league.
Brandon Hall is a lifelong political nerd from Grand Haven, and is the Managing Editor of West Michigan Politics.

>>>Email him at

Developing: "Trump Republican" Matt Hall Challenges Rep. Justin Amash In 2018 Primary

By Brandon Hall
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Matt Hall, a Michigan Republican State Committeeman from Grand Rapids who is a strong supporter of President Trump, is challenging Rep. Justin Amash in the August primary.

Hall filed his campaign paperwork with the FEC earlier this year and is expected to officially announce his campaign in the coming weeks.

Hall served as a Trump delegate to the RNC in Cleveland last year, and he was also a member of the Rules Committee, helping to end the "Never Trump" movement with a vote he led. 

Hall, who recently graduated from law school, also served as the 3rd Congressional District Chair for President Trump's 2016 Michigan campaign.

According to MIRS:

"Hall said he supported Amash in his 2014 primary race against Brian ELLIS, but now feels that with the congressman's attacks against President Donald TRUMP he has moved too far from the Republican Party. 

"I believe Justin Amash needs to be held accountable to the grassroots of the Michigan Republican Party," Hall said. "The guy is not in line with the Republican base and someone needs to hold him accountable . . . He claims to be a constitutional conservative. I intend to expose him as a fraud."

Hall was a field director for former Secretary of State Terri Lynn LAND and a constituent relations liaison for Attorney General Bill SCHUETTE for four years before going to law school and externing at the Michigan Administrative Hearing system.

"I support building a wall. I support the travel ban. I don't support bad trade deals. I oppose chain migration," said Hall, who said he plans on running for Congress "full time." "Someone has to hold this guy accountable for not being a Republican and not supporting President Trump's agenda."

Stay tuned!



Brandon Hall is a lifelong political nerd from Grand Haven, and is the Managing Editor of West Michigan Politics.

>>>Email him at

Monday, January 29, 2018

Bombshell: Dem Candidate Running To Be "America's First Muslim Governor" Abdul El-Sayed May Be Ineligible For 2018 Ballot

El Sayed

By Brandon Hall
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A blockbuster new report from Bridge Magazine shows that Democrat Abdul El-Sayed, a Doctor from Detroit who is running for Governor, may be ineligible for the 2018 ballot.

The controversy surrounds El Sayed's 2015 voter registration in New York City, as the Michigan Constitution requires one be a registered voter in the Great Lakes State for at least 4 years before running for Governor.

"To be eligible for the office of governor or lieutenant governor a person must have attained the age of 30 years, and have been a registered elector in this state for four years next preceding his election," says Article 5, Section 22.

Experts believe the case is headed for court once El Sayed files his nominating petitions...

El Sayed has raised significant money from outside the state in his quest to become the first Muslim Governor in America.

According to Bridge:

"Dr. Abdul El-Sayed’s life story is a cornerstone of the Democrat’s campaign for Michigan governor. Born in Metro Detroit, he starred in high school sports, won a full scholarship to the University of Michigan Medical School and became chief of Detroit’s Health Department at age 30.

But a key chapter in that narrative, a professorship at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health in New York, may threaten El-Sayed’s ability to make it onto the the Aug. 7 primary ballot, where polls indicate he is the most credible challenger to Democratic front-runner Gretchen Whitmer.

That’s because the Michigan Constitution requires gubernatorial candidates be a “registered elector in this state” for four years before the general election – and El-Sayed was registered to vote in Manhattan as recently as March 2015, New York Department of Elections records show.

El-Sayed re-registered in Michigan in 2016 and did so with a New York driver license, according to Michigan Secretary of State records.
“This may be a problem. This may be something that the courts may have to decide,” said Ed Sarpolus, executive director of the Target-Insyght polling firm in Lansing.

Six election lawyers from Michigan reviewed El-Sayed’s voting records at the behest of Bridge Magazine. All but one raised serious questions about his legal qualifications to be on the 2018 state ballot. One called the case against him a “slam dunk.”

The issue likely wouldn’t come to a head until El-Sayed files paperwork making his campaign official. Among them is an affidavit of identity swearing he meets constitutional requirements to be a candidate. The deadline is April 24.

El-Sayed’s campaign told Bridge he’s eligible because he has owned an apartment in Ann Arbor with his wife since 2008."
Brandon Hall is a lifelong political nerd from Grand Haven, and is the Managing Editor of West Michigan Politics.

>>>Email him at

Breaking: "No Show Schuette" Makes Surprise Stop At Grand Rapids Debate (Kind Of)

By Brandon Hall
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Attorney General Bill Schuette made a surprise appearance in Grand Rapids at the first debate between the Republican candidates running for Governor Monday night, a cardboard cutout version, at least.

The stand up was visible outside Kent GOP headquarters, and WMP snapped a pic.

Schuette refuses to participate in a series of townhalls with the other candidates.

Monday's event was hosted by the Kent County Republican Party in Grand Rapids, and it was a packed house of Kent GOP members, local politicians and candidates, as well as many Republican activists.

The next debate is Wednesday in Jackson, and Schuette says he will not attend that, either.

The debate is hosted by the Jackson Chamber of Commerce.

It's not clear how long Schuette will avoid debates, eventually, he will need to face Republican primary voters.

Kudos to Dr. Jim Hines, Lt. Governor Brian Calley, and State Senator Patrick Colbeck for attending tonight's event!

Brandon Hall is a lifelong political nerd from Grand Haven, and is the Managing Editor of West Michigan Politics.

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