Mid-April 2024 Newsletter


CONGRESSIONAL DELEGATION ANNOUNCES PFAS REGULATIONS
U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee (D-Flint) has introduced three pieces of legislation related to PFAS, or per- and polyfluoralkyl substance chemicals, calling on Congress to pass them following the Biden Administration’s release of the first national drinking water standard for the chemicals.

The new regulation requires PFOA and PFOS chemicals, two of the most common types of PFAS, to clock in at four parts per trillion or less. Other types are capped at 10 parts per trillion.

Kildee said on a press call today that he’s looking for support on the VET PFAS Act, which would allow Veterans’ Affairs centers to provide healthcare and benefits to military veterans and their families after they are exposed to PFAS.

His second piece of legislation, the Expanding Seniors’ Access to PFAS Testing Act, would require Medicare to cover PFAS blood testing. The final act is the Better Care for PFAS Patients Act, which would provide medical professionals with updated best practices and advice on how to treat PFAS-exposed patients.

U.S. Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-Holly) said she has been pushing the U.S. Department of Defense to understand its obligation to clean up PFAS contamination on military bases in Grayling and Oscoda, which have been points of concern for those invested in the “forever chemicals.”

U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Dearborn) said that since her day one in office, she’s been calling for a national drinking water standard to replace the guideline that was more lenient than the Michigan standard. 

“We have more contamination sites than most do because we’re looking for it,” Dingell said. 

Dingell called herself “Debbie Downer” before stating that Michigan still has PFAS in too many places. She called for Congress to pass legislation to get PFAS out of fire fighting equipment like their protective gear and tools they use as well as eliminating wrappers at fast food restaurants from containing PFAS.

“It’s in our socks. It’s in our aprons. With the noise we’ve made, (PFAS) hasn’t been banned. But, you know, I’m a lousy cook. I use Teflon pans because I don’t want it to stick,” Dingell said. 

Implementation in the state may cause strain to smaller water treatment systems when they purchase and maintain the equipment and practices to meet the new standard. Senate Majority Leader Winnie Brinks (D-Grand Rapids) said it can be expensive to retrofit older water systems and that as municipalities come to the state, they will help the municipalities figure out a combination of local, state and federal funding sources.

“I’m spending more time on water and sewers. Water may be a little more glamorous than sewers,” Dingell said.

Dingell said today’s announcement has been scientifically screened, and that elected officials have to be “working smart” to figure out the best policies and funding sources for implementation. 


COUNTIES UNCERTAIN OF COURT FUNDING WITHOUT SUNSET EXTENSION
Courts across Michigan are being advised to review the way they assess costs ahead of the anticipated sunset of the law that currently allows courts to impose costs in criminal cases that are reasonably related to the actual costs incurred by the court.

The state court administrator, Thomas Boyd, sent a memo last week to circuit, district and municipal court judges, administrators and county clerks across the state advising them of the expected sunset on May 1.

Without the current law, courts cannot impose court costs, including salaries and benefits for court personnel, good and services necessary for the operation of the court, necessary expenses for the operation and maintenance of court buildings and facilities. Boyd advised the courts to begin preparing for implementation of the change and discussing its financial ramifications.

This could cost courts across the state a total of $50 million annually, said Samantha Gibson, governmental affairs associate for the Michigan Association of Counties. That works out to roughly $1 million a week.

"We’re looking at a significant portion of operational court funding lost, with May 1 coming and going and without the extension of the sunset," Gibson said. "The county will then be responsible for backfilling those costs and making up for the funding gap."

Lawmakers are currently considering extending the again through December 2026 under HB 5392, which already cleared committee and is on Third Reading.

The bill is tie barred to another piece of legislation, HB 5534, which would require the State Court Administrative Office to determine the amount of potential lost revenue for trial courts, the minimum operational cost for trial courts and the additional funds needed. The legislation also would require the office to submit a report to the Legislature with recommendations on how to cover additional costs of trial courts after the elimination of fees.

The Legislature would then be responsible for passing policy to fund the courts without using costs the Supreme Court has ruled problematic.

Several Republicans have argued against the tie bar, and with time running short before the May 1 deadline, it’s unclear if HB 5392 will cross the finish line to keep the courts funded.

If the law sunsets, the courts will impose costs "direct and indirect, to which the plaintiff has been put in connection with the civil infraction," according to current law, the memo states. The costs ordered must not exceed $100 for civil infractions and must not exceed $500 for municipal civil infractions. The costs are payable to the general fund of the plaintiff.

"Please review your existing practices for processing civil infractions and ensure you are

only assessing costs reasonably related to the costs of prosecution — not any costs for operating the court," the memo said. "Courts that assess plaintiff’s costs under these statutes should be able to provide SCAO auditors with documentation as to how these plaintiff’s costs were calculated."

Gibson said that logistically, she doesn’t know what that will look like for counties.

"I don’t know what a docket looks like. How does a judge operate after May 1 without their authority to impose those fines and fees," Gibson said. "We’ve not really run into this circumstance."

The last sunset extension happened in October 2022. Then, the Legislature passed the extension after the deadline and the state appropriated money for the backfill. Gibson said she would expect the same thing to happen this year if lawmakers can’t get the bill to the governor before May 1.

"If the Legislature can’t come to a consensus on this issue, it should not be the county’s responsibility to backfill lost court funding," Gibson said.

The tie barred bill is the major sticking point for Republicans, with some arguing that it needs more work, while others have said it would take away local control.

Local governments, though, have been supportive of both bills.

"That bill (HB 5534 ) does not change any funding structure or mechanism. All that bill does is require the state court administrator’s office to do data collection," Gibson said. "No fee authority is in it. It’s simply data collection."

The Michigan Association of Counties supports HB 5534, though its priority is extending the sunset so courts can be funded.

"We are supportive of all five of the trial court funding commission recommendations," Gibson said. "(HB 5534) is moving us in the direction toward addressing the policy recommendations from the trial court funding commission."


$160M ECONOMIC IMPACT POSSIBLE VIA NFL DRAFT IN DETROIT
Downtown Detroit businesses could net a positive economic impact of about $160 million while the city hosts the National Football League draft later this month, according to an economic consulting firm’s review.

East Lansing-based Anderson Economic Group, LLC, in an analysis released Monday said it estimated a direct economic impact of about $97.5 million for the city of Detroit as well as $35.1 million in expenditures by attendees.

The firm in a release stated that its analysis followed a methodology considering direct costs and other factors including the lost spending from people who normally would spend time in the downtown area but instead avoided the event.

Expenditures weighed in the analysis include hotel costs, bar and restaurant spending and the buying of merchandise.

"Hosting the NFL draft is another exciting win for Detroit and presents invaluable opportunities for the city to showcase its culture on a national stage, once again potentially fostering long-term tourism and investment prospects," Tyler Theile, vice president and director of economic analysis and public policy for the firm, said in a statement.

The NFL draft is a three-day, free event in downtown Detroit. The firm said the event being free increases accessibility but reduces the economic effect of ticket revenue.

As a nationally televised and highly anticipated event, the NFL draft is a yearly event that is sought after by large cities nationally as a host site, similar to major sporting events including the Super Bowl, professional all-star games or college postseason tournament events.


DCD IS A FULL-SERVICE, BI-PARTISAN, MULTI-CLIENT LOBBYING FIRM

REMEMBER ALL OF DCD’S SERVICES:

***Talk to us about REFERENDUMS & BALLOT INITATIVES***

**WORK WITH US ON LOCAL LOBBYING & DEVELOPMENT PROJECTS**

***CAMPAIGN SIGNATURE GATHERING***

***ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT FUNDING: GRANTS – CDBG’S – BROWNFIELD – TIF’S***

***FEDERAL, STATE, & LOCAL REGULATORY CHALLENGES***

OUR TEAM LEVERAGES OUR MUNICIPAL CONTACTS AND ASSETS AND HELPS INDIVIDUALS AND COMPANIES NAVIGATE THROUGH ANY REGULATORY ISSUES!  WE SPEAK THE DUAL LANGUAGE OF BUSINESS & GOVERNMENT THAT HELP YOU TRANSLATE YOUR VISION INTO REALITY!


ARTICLES OF POLITICAL INTEREST:

Michigan House Special Elections May Put Democrats Back In Charge

Michigan Schools Hired 874 Mental Health Staffers–Under Program Set to End

Michigan’s Top Watchdog Slammed as "Partisan Hack" by Democratic State Party Chair

Judge Dismisses GOP Lawmakers’ Effort to Undo Michigan Elections Changes OK’d by Voters

Michigan Protestors Chanted "Death to America."  Why is Whitmer Silent?


Marijuana News, Updates, & Articles of Interest

THE DCD MARIJUANA TEAM:  YOUR COMPETITIVE EDGE!

DCD continues to exist as the premier resource helping municipalities navigate the waters of cannabis policy. We would be more than happy to answer any questions you may have regarding medical or recreational cannabis policy, procedure, and more. DCD is available for presentations to municipal boards, for one-on-one meetings, and for consultations.

We are here to help you with: municipal lobbying, license application writing and assistance, business plans, state required operations manuals and compliance, facility design, corporate structure, and design and branding. 

We are experts in both medical and recreational cannabis policy and have been in the space for over ten years.  We welcome any opportunity to work with you in the future!


ARTICLES OF CANNABIS INTEREST:

Legal Marijuana Purchases In Michigan Reach A New Record in March

What’s New & Trending in the Marijuana Market?

Florida Voters Will Decide on Marijuana Legalization in November

IRS Issues New Guidance for Cannabis Companies That Receive Over $10K in Cash

Michigan Business Accused of Illegally Selling Marijuana Product to Minors


Doing Things Differently

DCD is rebranding, and our bottom line is your bottom line. We are striving to create and foster strong relationships with clients and lawmakers, deliver results with strong ethics and class, but above all else, out-hustle and out-smart our competition every day to be the very best. We’re making chess moves while others are playing checkers. Everything we do is with you in mind, we’re doing things we’ve never done before and aggressively pursuing opportunities. The time is now. DCD has taken our firm to the next level and your involvement and investment paired with our knowledge and expertise is going to launch the great state of Michigan forward.

Dunaskiss.biz | 248.693.1391

Early March 2024 Newsletter


MORSE WANTS STEADY GUN VIOLENCE PREVENTION FUNDING
State money for community violence intervention programs designed to cut down on shootings in problem areas would be reduced in the Governor’s proposed Fiscal Year (FY) 2025 budget proposal, but the chair of a key House subcommittee is pushing back.

According to Everytown For Gun Safety, community violence intervention (CIV) programs have been shown to reduce gunshot injuries and deaths in neighborhoods most impacted by gun violence by taking more of a public health approach to fighting violence.

Rep. Christine Morse (D-Kalamazoo), chair of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Health and Human Services, said after several years getting the state Office of CVI off the ground, the funding should be maintained for some time.

“(Gun violence) is not a problem that is two or three years in the making,” Morse said. 

For Fiscal Year (FY) 2025, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has proposed allocating a total $5.5 million towards CPI in the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) budget, maintaining the $5 million in one-time federal funding for CVI grants, but bumping ongoing funding down to $500,000 from the General Fund for the state Office of CVI’s expenses.  

Morse said after town halls in east Detroit with Rep. Donavan McKinney (D-Detroit), Saginaw with Rep. Amos ONEAL (D-Saginaw), south Lansing with Rep. Kara Hope (D-Lansing), Kalamazoo and Kent County, she has a better understanding of individual community interventions and what those communities need.

“We wanted to go and talk to the communities that are especially hard hit by community violence, to find out, what are those community orbs and governmental orbs that are working in the space. What are they doing? Why are they doing it? Is it evidence-based? Is it not? Have they gotten funding from any source?” she said. 

Dr. Sarah Lyon-Callo, Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) senior deputy director of public health administration, presented this week on past and current funding for the state office, starting with Fiscal Year (FY) 2023, when the office of CVI was established. 

In FY ‘23, the budget included an $800,000 appropriation to get the office up and running, combined with a one-time $5 million appropriation for grants, and in FY ‘24, the office was again allocated $5.8 million. 

Lyon-Callo said $2.5 million was used to strengthen existing CVI programs, like expanded specialized case management, workforce development, increased street outreach, mentorship, geographic data mapping and “transformational healing for people at the center of violence.” 

Funding was also used to support existing Wayne County programs specifically, which Lyon-Callo said was necessary due to Wayne County attaining the highest homicide crude death rate in Michigan in 2020, with 19.3 deaths per 100,000 people. 


HOEKSTRA: ESTABLISHMENT DONORS WILL RETURN, BUT PARTY MUST PLAY CATCH UP
(GRAND RAPIDS) – Newly recognized Michigan Republican Party Chair Pete Hoekstra said today he’s confident that establishment donors who stepped away from the party will return, but they all must now play catch up. When asked about conversations with establishment donors, like the DeVos family, Hoekstra said conversations have been ongoing, and “they have not stepped away" from Republican politics.

“They stepped away from giving to the Michigan Republican Party,” he said. “But they’ve been very active in forming other groups to carry out the functions that they normally would have expected the MI GOP to do.

“The good thing is, the work didn’t stop,” he said. “It just went through other vehicles.” 

Now, his faction of the party is beginning to plan for the next eight months ahead, and on how to best bring the GOP back into that network, Hoekstra said. 

But, he believes his faction’s recent track record is going to be a big point of attraction for these donors, including an initial win in court, an endorsement by former President Donald Trump, who won nearly 98 percent of the vote at today’s nominating convention and a Republican National Committee (RNC) certification of the state committee’s action to remove former Chair Kristina Karamo. 

“A lot of these major donors are business people,” he said. “They would look at this track record and say, ‘Yeah, we think it’s probably pretty likely that this is the Michigan GOP that we’re going to see through the election.’” 

When asked about fundraising efforts so far, and if he believes the party has begun to “catch up,” Hoekstra responded, “Are you kidding me? I just got the court order on Tuesday.” 

“The donors that sat on the sidelines, they want(ed) to make sure that if they wrote a check to the MI GOP, that there was no possibility it…might go back to the old MI GOP," he said, explaining how the party has since begun to fundraise. 

Hoekstra said his faction of the party has set up an alternate process to collect funds, because until 5:30 p.m. Friday, they didn’t have access to the bank. 

“So we’re making progress,” he said, though he added that he does not yet have access to all the party’s bank accounts, due to the state party’s lawsuit with the owners of the trust. 

Hoekstra said former Congressman and legal counsel Mike Bishop filed the paperwork this week to “establish himself as attorney of record for those lawsuits. 

“As soon as the judge rules on that, then we will . . . work with Comerica and the trust to remove those lawsuits, and then, you know, we still need to get access to some social media accounts and those types of things.” 

For now, he said, “We’re just going to come back on Monday morning and go back to work, putting in place the plans and the organization and the money to run a successful campaign in November."

For her part, Karamo fired off a couple of shots on social media today. On Hoekstra’s post on X that he was looking at ways to credential some delegates because rules weren’t followed, Karamo wrote, “Rules . . . what a joke. They did follow the rules and submitted their delegate list to the elected party secretary. Additionally the Call to Convention filed with the county clerk per Michigan law listed the purpose as being a convention at the Huntington Place in Detroit. What about that law!"

Karamo also responded to a tweet from reporter Jonathan Oosting about the lawsuit regarding MRP Party headquarters where she wrote, “Really . . . we never said our objective for the lawsuit was to sell the building. That was the talking point the corruption-club had to put out as a straw man, to distract people from the merits of the lawsuit. We want clarification over who owns assets and liabilities. Asking for a friend, how can an LLC, DBA as a political party? They would be conducting business, for example potentially taking out loans in the party’s name without our knowledge. I think that’s a problem. However I guess if a former congressman tells us it’s ok, and that our concerns are “insane”, we should stop asking questions!”


CONSUMERS GIVEN PSC APPROVAL FOR $92M RATE HIKE
Consumers Energy Company residential ratepayers will later this month see a rate increase of 1.6 percent on their monthly bills following the approval of a $92 million rate increase Friday by the Public Service Commission .

The rate hike approved by regulators is less than half of the $216 million originally requested by the utility, although that figure was reduced to a requested $170.8 million during the review process.

A key part of what the utility sought with the rate increase, its first since a $155 million hike approved in January 2023 as part of a settlement agreement, was to cover spending related to reliability improvements, a release from the PSC said.

Items the increase would cover, according to the PSC, include spending on generation distribution assets, safety and legal compliance, enhanced technology, increased operations and maintenance expenses along with rising costs for financing.

The average residential customer using 500 kilowatt hours of electricity per month would see a monthly bill increase of $1.53, or 1.6 percent.

Within Friday’s order, there were several equity-related items to be put in place by Consumers.

The utility was told to provide in upcoming rate cases and other items before the commission environmental justice and equity-related information, to develop with PSC staff a way for interested parties to request and use geographic information system data, and the provide regression analysis in support of reliability spending on its distribution system in future filings.

Consumers must also provide a full summary of environmental justice and equity considerations as part of its next rate case.

More information was also directed to be provided on people having contact with electric lines as well as to work with the commission, other utilities and interested parties on identifying methods for energy security and the prevention of heat-related illnesses and deaths.

Consumers was directed to propose a pilot program in which it would work with a third party to provide a resource for medically vulnerable residential customers that meet low-income requirements to work toward maximizing the use of various utility and government incentives for household energy waste reduction, solar and energy storage.

The company was also told to engage with affected parties and communities when getting feedback for future distribution plans so their concerns and needs can be weighed in designing distribution system programs, projects and sites.

Under Friday’s order, Consumers was given partial approval for its proposed investment recovery mechanism for efforts to improve electric distribution system reliability. Its distribution spending plans must be shared with the PSC and interested parties as soon as possible for year one of its plans and by November 1, 2024, for year two of its plans.

Consumers must also file information in its next general electric rate case connecting performance in operational metrics to proposed incentive compensation. The PSC said operational metrics will be reviewed more rigorously in future cases.

A transportation electrification plan must also be filed by July 1, 2024, and include updated projections on the costs of electric vehicle adoption and the effects on its plans. At least two public hearings are to be scheduled on its plans.

The utility is also to study penetration levels for direct current fast charging EV chargers as well as a study on the chargers and Level 2 EV chargers to see whether the chargers should have separate tariffs. Consumers is expected to include the results of these studies in its next general electric rate case.

An analysis was also ordered on line-clearing cycles, to include data on the customer costs of outages, the costs of restoring service and the costs of line clearing. This analysis is due to be filed with the PSC by September 3, 2024.

Attorney General Dana Nessel in a statement said her department was an intervenor in the case and had pushed back on several of the Consumers proposals and projections as being unreasonable.

"Today the commission saw fit to slash Consumers Energy’s requested rate hike by more than half," Nessel said. "My department will continue to advocate for Michigan consumers at every opportunity, and we will intervene to defend ratepayers as appropriate based on our careful study of these corporate filings and consultation with industry experts."


DCD IS A FULL-SERVICE, BI-PARTISAN, MULTI-CLIENT LOBBYING FIRM

REMEMBER ALL OF DCD’S SERVICES:

***Talk to us about REFERENDUMS & BALLOT INITATIVES***

**WORK WITH US ON LOCAL LOBBYING & DEVELOPMENT PROJECTS**

***CAMPAIGN SIGNATURE GATHERING***

***ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT FUNDING: GRANTS – CDBG’S – BROWNFIELD – TIF’S***

***FEDERAL, STATE, & LOCAL REGULATORY CHALLENGES***

OUR TEAM LEVERAGES OUR MUNICIPAL CONTACTS AND ASSETS AND HELPS INDIVIDUALS AND COMPANIES NAVIGATE THROUGH ANY REGULATORY ISSUES!  WE SPEAK THE DUAL LANGUAGE OF BUSINESS & GOVERNMENT THAT HELP YOU TRANSLATE YOUR VISION INTO REALITY!


DCD OUT AND ABOUT:

DCD’s Jake German joined the Common Ground Leadership Team at their new East Lansing Resiliency Center with Senator Sam Singh, Rep. Julie Brixie, Rep. Penelope Tsernoglou, and Rep. Emily Dievendorf for a tour and Q & A Session to create awareness of Common Ground’s continued commitment to support those impacted by the February 2023 shooting on the MSU campus. Common Ground has been in business for over 50 years serving the State of Michigan wherever crises turns to hope.

Jake German was happy to join Hazel Park City Manager Edward Klobucher at the annual Hazel Park Promise Dinner in Warren on February 27th.  Ed has been a longtime client and friend and DCD is happy to support the Promise Zone in their lofty mission to help provide educational scholarships for local high school graduates.


ARTICLES OF POLITICAL INTEREST:

MSU Board Asks Whitmer to Weigh Removal of Two Board Members

Trump Dominates MI Caucuses Over the Weekend, Builds Delegate Lead

Gotion Submits Site Plan to Mecosta County for EV Battery Factory

Justin Amash Seeking GOP Nomination for Michigan Senate Seat

Michigan Presidential Primaries Offer Warning Signs for Both Trump & Biden


Marijuana News, Updates, & Articles of Interest

THE DCD MARIJUANA TEAM:  YOUR COMPETITIVE EDGE!

DCD continues to exist as the premier resource helping municipalities navigate the waters of cannabis policy. We would be more than happy to answer any questions you may have regarding medical or recreational cannabis policy, procedure, and more. DCD is available for presentations to municipal boards, for one-on-one meetings, and for consultations.

We are here to help you with: municipal lobbying, license application writing and assistance, business plans, state required operations manuals and compliance, facility design, corporate structure, and design and branding. 

We are experts in both medical and recreational cannabis policy and have been in the space for over ten years.  We welcome any opportunity to work with you in the future!


ARTICLES OF CANNABIS INTEREST:

Michigan Local Governments Getting $87M From Marijuana Sales

Michigan Wants to Study Marijuana’s Health Benefits.  It’s Not Easy.

Can You Buy Recreational Marijuana in Michigan and Bring It Back to Ohio?

The Top Ten Michigan Marijuana Tax Revenue Recipients By City, County

Study: Marijuana Legalization Linked To ‘Decline In Beer Sales,’ Indicating Substitution Effect


Doing Things Differently

DCD is rebranding, and our bottom line is your bottom line. We are striving to create and foster strong relationships with clients and lawmakers, deliver results with strong ethics and class, but above all else, out-hustle and out-smart our competition every day to be the very best. We’re making chess moves while others are playing checkers. Everything we do is with you in mind, we’re doing things we’ve never done before and aggressively pursuing opportunities. The time is now. DCD has taken our firm to the next level and your involvement and investment paired with our knowledge and expertise is going to launch the great state of Michigan forward.

Dunaskiss.biz | 248.693.1391

Late February 2024 Newsletter

 


TENSIONS HIGH AS POST-EMPLOYMENT BENEFITS CHANGES TO BE DEBATED
There will be tension as lawmakers and stakeholders debate a proposal from Governor Gretchen Whitmer to redirect payments previously used to prefund retiree health care for public school employees, Sen. Sarah Anthony said in an interview this week.

Anthony (D-Lansing), appearing on “MichMash,” the podcast partnership between Gongwer News Service and WDET Detroit Public Radio, also said lawmakers remain committed and motivated to take more action on gun violence prevention following the slew of bills passed last year after a mass shooting on Michigan State University’s campus.

“This is going to be a debate this year,” said Anthony, chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee , of the administration’s proposal to redirect some of the payments for public school employee retiree health care for other K-12 programs.

Whitmer’s office said the unfunded liability for retiree health care, also known as other post-employment benefits, is set to be paid off this fiscal year, so it is no longer required to continue putting the same amount of money into that component of the Michigan Public School Employees Retirement System. A bill to effectuate the change is needed, however.

Anthony noted Republicans before her were aggressive in paying down debt, which is a benefit now.

“I do feel like there is this tension around that if we have paid down significant debt, how can we start to invest now in critical areas we know need help now,” she said. “We can’t afford to wait. There is going to be a tension there. I do see both angles. But ultimately, I do believe that we can find a middle ground there that we can ensure that we are still responsible in paying down debt and we’re not neglecting current and urgent needs we need to address now.”

With the one-year anniversary of the MSU mass shooting and the gun control efforts already passed by the Legislature taking effect this week, Anthony said there is more work to be done but reflected on the last year.

“Gun violence prevention was going to be part of the Democratic majority’s plan to try to address, I tell you that moment just jump started the caucuses to act quicker and to really listen to student voice,” she said. “And when kids came to our office, they were not looking for political talking points. They weren’t looking to take a selfie with me and make it a political comment. … But I have reminded those same young people that their voices mattered. And because of the sense of urgency after that tragedy, they created space for us to say ‘we have to do something.'”

Anthony said she is a responsible gun owner and believes in the Second Amendment.

“I also believe that with all of our rights they also have limits,” she said. “I have been a vocal

advocate for comment sense reforms. And there are many of us who are still motivated to find commonsense solutions to these issues.”

Anthony said when she entered the Senate in 2023 and Democrats were celebrating their majorities, she was also mourning a friend who died due to gun violence. Anthony said she can see the spot where her friend was shot in Lansing from her Capitol office.

“This is pervasive in many of our communities. It’s not just a mass shooting we see on school campuses,” she said. “It is every day.”

On the budget, Anthony was particularly excited about the streamlining of higher education financial aid and housing resources. She also said transparency in the process improved during the last budget cycle, noting enhancement grants included sponsors for the first time.

“Many of the negotiations do happen in a room in the Capitol in which we kind of duke it out and get to the nitty gritty. But isn’t that what our citizens expect of us,” she said. “That they don’t have to worry about line by line by line, because they are literally paying a full-time salary to members of these committees to do just that.”

Anthony also said she wants to see the Legislature go as far as practically possible in its legislation to expand the Freedom of Information Act to include the governor’s office and Legislature.

“I am going to be pressing us to go further than most of some of the concepts we have seen in the past,” she said. “But also, we have to be practical. And we have to be sure we have the resources to implement these kinds of bills.”


DUELING MIGOP CONVENTIONS LOOM AS HOEKSTRA RAMPS UP
Pete Hoekstra is moving to assert power as the undisputed chair of the Michigan Republican Party, armed with the Republican National Committee’s decision that he, not Kristina Karamo, is the leader of the MIGOP.

Hoekstra told Bridge Michigan and The Detroit News on Friday he plans to announce a different location for the party’s March 2 convention to decide the allocation of most of the state’s presidential delegates to the Republican National Convention than the one Karamo had set for Huntington Place in Detroit.

Messages left with Hoekstra and a spokesperson on the possibility of a dueling convention were not returned prior to publication Friday night.

Having two separate conventions would raise the specter of each precinct delegate elected Thursday at county conventions across the state having to decide which one to attend. Given the RNC’s recognition of Hoekstra as chair, it seems likely it would recognize the convention he organizes as the legitimate one, but it will be another chapter to resolve in this dispute.

In an interview earlier Friday with Gongwer News Service, Hoekstra touted a letter from the state’s six Republican U.S. House members recognizing him as chair as the latest momentum toward extinguishing Karamo’s hold on the party.

Further, his team is talking with social media companies about having the official Michigan Republican Party accounts turned over to them.

Hoekstra said he’s in the process of hiring staff. Following the RNC’s ruling, there’s an agreement on who will come aboard as the party’s executive director, he said.

But the biggest issue Hoekstra said he continues to address is finances. While his team has established committees under state and federal campaign finance law, it also is working with banks to freeze the party’s official accounts under Karamo’s control, he said.

Next week could prove decisive.

Several hearings are scheduled at the Kent Circuit Court, where Hoekstra’s allies in the party have filed a lawsuit to have a judge declare Karamo was removed properly under party bylaws.

A hearing on Karamo’s motion to dismiss is set for Tuesday. Then there are hearings Wednesday and Thursday on the plaintiffs’ motion for a preliminary injunction declaring Karamo was properly removed. Should the judge rule for the plaintiffs on that motion, it could resolve the dispute. Karamo told Bridge she would abide by a court order.

“It’s always hard to predict what the courts are going to do but that’s why we’re in the courts,” Hoekstra said. “We’re in the courts, and we’re pushing this aggressively to try to get them to move as quickly as possible.”

Hoekstra has scheduled fundraisers for the accounts supporting party activities his team has created for February 25 and 26.

Asked if the party’s traditional funders have agreed to write big checks, Hoekstra said they are becoming more engaged.

“They’re businesspeople. They’re saying, ‘Pete what are going to do? Where are you and what are you going to do?'” he said. “As soon as I get ahold of the books, I’ve told them you are more than welcome to come take a look at the books. I’m going to be totally transparent.”

Hoekstra said he has told the party’s traditional donors, who have refused to support the party under Karamo, to help him design the plan for the next eight months.

“As soon as they feel ownership and they feel good about a plan, at that point in time I expect they’ll help fund the plan that we jointly developed and put in place,” he said.

Karamo, meanwhile, continues to accuse traditional forces in the party of conspiring to undermine her.

She posted a 10-minute video Thursday night mainly devoted to slamming the Warner Norcross + Judd law firm that has worked with the plaintiffs seeking a court order confirming her ouster.

After a kerfuffle at the Oakland County Republican Party convention Thursday over her appearance, she posted on X that it’s comical people feared her speaking.

“The Grey Poupon Good Ole’ boys club hate that they can’t control me, and that we’ve disrupted their corruption club,” she said in a separate post that night. “Our movement isn’t going away. We are bringing a Righteous Renaissance to the Republican Party. We are Constitutional-Conservatives on a mission to save our Republic. It’s a reason the majority of our State Committee want me to continue as chair. They know the stakes are too high to let the political oligarchy push us out.”

Oakland GOP Chair Vance Patrick fired back that she improperly entered the 9th District caucus when she’s a precinct delegate in the 11th District.

“Your improper intrusion was disruptive to the normal business of our county convention,” he said in a post on X.


OPTIMISM FALLS AMONG MICHIGAN SMALL BUSINESS OWNERS
Michigan small business owners aren’t as optimistic about the next six months as they once were, according to a survey conducted by the Small Business Association of Michigan.

About half of the 400 association members surveyed said they’re somewhat or very optimistic about their prospects during the next six months, but that’s down from 57 percent a year ago.

Business owners feel better about their long-term prospects, though, with 66 percent of those surveyed saying they feel somewhat or very optimistic about the survival of their business.

“Small business owners tend to be optimistic people. This survey suggests that while they are experiencing many challenges today, most expect improved conditions in the future,” Brian Calley, president and CEO of the Small Business Association of Michigan, said in a statement. “Inflation, availability of labor and the economy remain top concerns for small businesses. Their biggest concerns center around cost pressures and underscore the strong opposition small businesses have expressed in recent surveys against new, costly government mandates.”

Of the business owners surveyed, about 28 percent are pessimistic about the next six months and about 20 percent are pessimistic about their long-term survival.

Small business owners are feeling more pessimistic on a national scale, according to the latest report from the NFIB Small Business Optimism Index.

January was the 25th consecutive month where the optimism index score was below the 50-year average of 98. Last month’s score was 89.9.

“Small business job creators continue to be discouraged about their ability to find and keep qualified employees and to afford the necessary goods they need to operate,” NFIB Michigan State Director Amanda Fisher said in a statement. “As the election season ramps up across Michigan and candidates claim to stand up for small business, it is well to remember the votes of lawmakers that make Main Street business owners’ jobs harder and harder.”

Fisher went on to cite policies including the repeal of Michigan’s right-to-work laws and restoration of prevailing wage, which recently went into effect.

The most pressing issue for business owners in Michigan is the state of the economy, according to the Small Business Association of Michigan survey. Of those surveyed, 23 percent ranked the economy as their primary challenge. Inflation was the next biggest problem, at 21 percent, followed by availability of labor at 19 percent.

More than half of the small businesses surveyed reported that the new restrictions from the U.S. Department of Labor, which limit independent contractors, will have a substantial or moderate impact on their business.

About a third of small businesses say that they’ll benefit from the research and development tax credit currently being considered by lawmakers in Lansing.

Regarding new technology, 26 percent of small businesses reported they’re using artificial intelligence for marketing, data analytics, virtual assistants and business operations. Those tools could be cut back though, as 44 percent of small business owners say they’re preparing for a possible recession by reducing expenses.


 

DCD IS A FULL-SERVICE, BI-PARTISAN, MULTI-CLIENT LOBBYING FIRM

REMEMBER ALL OF DCD’S SERVICES:

***Talk to us about REFERENDUMS & BALLOT INITATIVES***

**WORK WITH US ON LOCAL LOBBYING & DEVELOPMENT PROJECTS**

***CAMPAIGN SIGNATURE GATHERING***

***ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT FUNDING: GRANTS – CDBG’S – BROWNFIELD – TIF’S***

***FEDERAL, STATE, & LOCAL REGULATORY CHALLENGES***

OUR TEAM LEVERAGES OUR MUNICIPAL CONTACTS AND ASSETS AND HELPS INDIVIDUALS AND COMPANIES NAVIGATE THROUGH ANY REGULATORY ISSUES!  WE SPEAK THE DUAL LANGUAGE OF BUSINESS & GOVERNMENT THAT HELP YOU TRANSLATE YOUR VISION INTO REALITY!


ARTICLES OF POLITICAL INTEREST:
Early Voting in Michigan a ‘Significant Challenge’ for Clerks
Trump Rallies Supporters:  “If we win Michigan, we win the election.”
Michigan Cord Cutting Accelerates; Cable Customers Fall 13% in 2023
Tax Return Scam Sparks Warning from Michigan AG
Tlaib Endorses Protest Vote Against Biden in Michigan 


Senator Mat was happy to take part in one of the remembrance ceremonies last week at the new Common Ground East Lansing Resiliency Center. As we all remember the horrible events that occured at MSU one year ago, it is great to know that Common Ground and their Director of Victim Services, Jamie Ayers, is there to help!

For more on the new resiliency center click here.


Marijuana News, Updates, & Articles of Interest
THE DCD MARIJUANA TEAM:  YOUR COMPETITIVE EDGE!

DCD continues to exist as the premier resource helping municipalities navigate the waters of cannabis policy. We would be more than happy to answer any questions you may have regarding medical or recreational cannabis policy, procedure, and more. DCD is available for presentations to municipal boards, for one-on-one meetings, and for consultations.

We are here to help you with: municipal lobbying, license application writing and assistance, business plans, state required operations manuals and compliance, facility design, corporate structure, and design and branding.

We are experts in both medical and recreational cannabis policy and have been in the space for over ten years.  We welcome any opportunity to work with you in the future!


ARTICLES OF CANNABIS INTEREST:

Marijuana Dispensary Broken Into by Masked Men in Tekonsha Township

More Than A Dozen Michigan Marijuana Shops Faced Disciplinary Actions in January

Michigan’s Cannabis Industry Turns Five This Year:  What to Expect?

Hookah Shop Shut Down for Selling Marijuana to Minor’s, Police Say

Wisconsin GOP Medical Marijuana Legalization Bill Dead For Now


Doing Things Differently
DCD is rebranding, and our bottom line is your bottom line. We are striving to create and foster strong relationships with clients and lawmakers, deliver results with strong ethics and class, but above all else, out-hustle and out-smart our competition every day to be the very best. We’re making chess moves while others are playing checkers. Everything we do is with you in mind, we’re doing things we’ve never done before and aggressively pursuing opportunities. The time is now. DCD has taken our firm to the next level and your involvement and investment paired with our knowledge and expertise is going to launch the great state of Michigan forward.

Dunaskiss.biz | 248.693.1391

 

Early February 2024 Newsletter


EARLY PAYDOWN OF MPSERS DEBT FREES UP $670M FOR UPCOMING BUDGET
The anticipated 100 percent funding of retiree health care obligations for the state’s public school employees means the state can reduce its required annual contribution to the Michigan Public School Employees Retirement System by $670 million in the upcoming 2024-25 fiscal year.

This newly available $670 million gives Governor Gretchen Whitmer additional flexibility in the proposed 2024-25 fiscal year budget her administration will present to a joint meeting next Wednesday of the House Appropriations Committee  and the Senate Appropriations Committee .

Whitmer’s plans to reduce Michigan’s payments from $3.28 billion to $2.62 billion brought praise from supporters of traditional public schools and sharp criticism from Senate Minority Leader Aric Nesbitt (R-Lawton).

The governor in her State of the State speech called for speeding up the full phase-in of making all four-year-olds eligible for the Great Start Readiness Program by two years. Currently only children whose household income is up to 400 percent of the federal poverty level qualify. These additional funds will surely help cover the cost of speeding up the phase-in of that program to all four-year-olds.

"Since I took office, we have enacted five balanced, bipartisan budgets and paid down billions in debt while making strategic investments to save money for a rainy day," Whitmer said in a statement. "In this year’s budget, we will pay down more debt early, freeing up hundreds of millions of dollars for students now while shoring up the retirements of our educators."

The Public School Employees Retirement Act requires annual contributions for other post-employment benefits, like retiree health care, be no less than the prior year unless it is 100 percent funded. The state has determined that based on the most recent valuation of system assets in 2022, the retiree health care portion was 99 percent funded and is forecast to reach 100 percent.

Under the Public School Employees Retirement Act, employers are required to pay no more than 20.96 percent of payroll for the unfunded actuarial accrued liability in combined pension and other post-employment benefits. The Whitmer administration has calculated the amount necessary for the state to cover its payment will drop by $669.4 million.

Chandra Madafferi, president of the Michigan Education Association, praised the announcement.

"Governor Whitmer’s proposed budget pays down MPSERS liabilities early, securing the retirements of countless educators and freeing up more funds to invest in students," she said in a statement distributed by the governor’s communications office. "We are grateful for the governor’s commitment to Michigan’s students and the public school employees who serve them every day."

Peter Spadafore, executive director of the Michigan Alliance for Student Opportunity, a coalition of urban school districts, said the budget proposal will continue to pay down debt and free up money to support students, teachers and schools.

Republicans placed a big emphasis on paying down the unfunded liability in MPSERS in the 2010s.

Nesbitt called Whitmer’s proposal a "raid" on the fund that pays for teacher retirement benefits.

"The state has an obligation to taxpayers to use their dollars appropriately – that includes responsibly paying down our burdensome debts in order to free up future resources and ensure the prosperity of our state," he said.

The MPSERS pension unfunded liability remains high and is nowhere close to full funding. As of the 2021-22 fiscal year, it was 63.8 percent funded, according to the Senate Fiscal Agency.

What the Whitmer administration is proposing would not affect the pension component (subscribers please note: a Midday Update incorrectly stated both pension and retiree health care would be affected, but it is just retiree health care, or other post-employment benefits, where the Whitmer administration plans to propose reducing payments).

The unfunded liability on retiree health care fell from $27.6 billion in the 2009-10 fiscal year to $88.6 million in the 2021-22 fiscal year.

Jase Bolger, policy advisor for the West Michigan Policy Forum, called the move risky.

"Using the governor’s apparent appreciation for ’80s song lyrics, you could say she’s playing ‘Footloose’ with the facts again, leading the state of Michigan into the ‘Danger Zone’ when it comes to paying off our debt," said Bolger, a former House speaker who was at the helm when the state began committing large sums to paying down the unfunded liability at the beginning of the former Governor Rick Snyder era.


RNC COMMITTEE FORMING ‘SOON’ TO DETERMINE MIGOP LEADER
The Republican National Committee is forming a committee to review the situation within the Michigan Republican Party and determine whom it will recognize as chair.

During the last several months, the MIGOP has been plagued with infighting. Kristina Karamo, who was elected chair last February, was ousted by a group of state committee members who conducted a meeting in December 2023.

Karamo has repeatedly asserted that meeting was invalid, and she and her allies were not properly removed. To prove her point, she held a state committee meeting in January where members voted to double down on her position as chair and to dispute the actions of the other group.

In the meantime, though, two separate factions of the MIGOP have been operating the organization as if they were in charge. The anti-Karamo group has selected former U.S. Rep. Pete Hoekstra as chair and attempted to take legal action.

While the RNC has signaled Karamo was properly removed, it hasn’t taken a formal position. Its website currently doesn’t list anyone as chair of the MIGOP.

On Friday, it took another step toward finalizing its position.

A source speaking on background with direct knowledge of the situation said a committee will be formed "very soon," and will include members of the RNC’s Contests Committee along with two chair appointments.

This panel will hear from both sides before making a recommendation to the RNC. Along with determining who the Michigan chair should be, the panel is also reviewing leadership in the Virgin Islands.

Karamo has attacked RNC leadership as biased.


MANUFACTURED HOMES A PARTIAL SOLUTION TO HOUSING SHORTAGE, LEADER SAYS
Amid the push from Governor Gretchen Whitmer and other state leaders to increase the state’s supply of housing stock, the leader of the state’s association on manufactured housing is calling for the Legislature and Whitmer administration to include manufactured housing as part of the solution.

John Lindley, president and CEO of the Michigan Manufactured Housing, RV and Campground Association, said in an interview this week that manufactured housing leaders are looking for greater parity in programs operated by the Michigan State Housing Development Authority and changes to zoning laws. He’s also warning against the Legislature passing bills that would deter new housing.

Local governments tend to want neighborhoods of houses selling for $300,000 and up, Lindley said. And he concurred the state needs more site-built homes.

"We need more of everything," he said. "We also need multifamily housing. We also need manufactured housing."

One concern Lindley voiced is the ineligibility of manufactured housing MSHDA programs like Michigan Downpayment Assistance, the Mortgage Credit Certificate program and the MI Home Loan program.

Lindley said he is putting "a lot of my energy right now" into trying to persuade the state to include manufactured housing in those programs.

MSHDA spokesperson Josh Pugh said Director Amy Hovey agrees "all kinds of different housing" are necessary to surpass the goals the organization has set to meet the housing demand.

The three programs Lindley mentioned are ineligible under federal tax rules because they are considered personal property, and MSHDA is limited in what financing assistance it can offer. The issue is the split in ownership of the lot and the land, Pugh said.

Lindley acknowledged federal rules constrain the state in some instances.

To Lindley’s larger point, Pugh said MSHDA is committed to innovation. He mentioned a program called MSHDA Mod that finances modular home builds. MSHDA also invested in the state’s first 3D-printed home that just went up for sale in Detroit, he said.

"We are all about innovation here at MSHDA," he said. "We need these kinds of creative solutions and different kinds of housing to be sure we’re meeting people’s needs."

Home prices in traditionally affordable Michigan have escalated rapidly in the past couple years.

Lindley noted the average price for a site-built home in Michigan in 2022 was $237,000.

"You can buy a brand new beautiful, manufactured home today, three bedrooms, two baths, that’s rolling off of the assembly line for less than $80,000, probably less than $70,000, today," he said.

Lindley said he recently looked at a listing in Mason, southeast of Lansing, for a 1,400 square foot manufactured home with three bedrooms and two bathrooms for $55,000.

"Go on MLS for any of the surrounding communities and find me a home that’s for sale for $55,000," he said.

Something needs to be done about zoning laws in Michigan, Lindley said, though he cautioned against a broad-brush answer.

"Until all housing options are viewed as a solution and until the not in my backyard, the NIMBY-ism that local units of government and residents is met head on, we’re going to see some of the discriminatory zoning is going to continue to exist," he said.

Particularly concerning when it comes to the overall discussion about housing, not just manufactured housing, are what Lindley called the "dozens of antidevelopment proposals" circulating in the Legislature, like rent controls and tax increases.

He said he’s tracking 55 bills currently.

"As an organization, we’re opposed to 49 of them. That’s not the message that those we want to build baby build should be hearing from those in the state Capitol," he said.


DCD IS A FULL-SERVICE, BI-PARTISAN, MULTI-CLIENT LOBBYING FIRM

REMEMBER ALL OF DCD’S SERVICES:

***Talk to us about REFERENDUMS & BALLOT INITATIVES***

**WORK WITH US ON LOCAL LOBBYING & DEVELOPMENT PROJECTS**

***CAMPAIGN SIGNATURE GATHERING***

***ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT FUNDING: GRANTS – CDBG’S – BROWNFIELD – TIF’S***

***FEDERAL, STATE, & LOCAL REGULATORY CHALLENGES***

OUR TEAM LEVERAGES OUR MUNICIPAL CONTACTS AND ASSETS AND HELPS INDIVIDUALS AND COMPANIES NAVIGATE THROUGH ANY REGULATORY ISSUES!  WE SPEAK THE DUAL LANGUAGE OF BUSINESS & GOVERNMENT THAT HELP YOU TRANSLATE YOUR VISION INTO REALITY!


ARTICLES OF POLITICAL INTEREST:

Enrollment Dropping, Covid Relief Over. Will More Michigan Schools Close?

Moving Truck Data Again Ranks Michigan As Among Worst States For Migration

Biden Meets With UAW, Black Faith Leaders During Michigan Visit

Redistricting Commission Seeks Input From Those Impacted By Redraw

Cash Strapped Michigan Republicans Get $120K Boost From Trump, Other Presidential Hopefuls


Marijuana News, Updates, & Articles of Interest

THE DCD MARIJUANA TEAM:  YOUR COMPETITIVE EDGE!

DCD continues to exist as the premier resource helping municipalities navigate the waters of cannabis policy. We would be more than happy to answer any questions you may have regarding medical or recreational cannabis policy, procedure, and more. DCD is available for presentations to municipal boards, for one-on-one meetings, and for consultations.

We are here to help you with: municipal lobbying, license application writing and assistance, business plans, state required operations manuals and compliance, facility design, corporate structure, and design and branding. 

We are experts in both medical and recreational cannabis policy and have been in the space for over ten years.  We welcome any opportunity to work with you in the future!


ARTICLES OF CANNABIS INTEREST:

Michigan Marijuana Company Buys 11 Stores From In State Competitor

Suburbanites Are Fighting Commercial Developments–And Sometimes Winning

New Music Venue In West Michigan To Offer Cannabis & Alcohol

Local Dispensaries Reminded About Proper Disposal After Weed Taken By Dumpster Divers

Is Government Finally Abandoning Its ‘Flat Earth’ Marijuana Policies?


Doing Things Differently

DCD is rebranding, and our bottom line is your bottom line. We are striving to create and foster strong relationships with clients and lawmakers, deliver results with strong ethics and class, but above all else, out-hustle and out-smart our competition every day to be the very best. We’re making chess moves while others are playing checkers. Everything we do is with you in mind, we’re doing things we’ve never done before and aggressively pursuing opportunities. The time is now. DCD has taken our firm to the next level and your involvement and investment paired with our knowledge and expertise is going to launch the great state of Michigan forward.

Dunaskiss.biz | 248.693.1391

Late -January 2024 Newsletter


HOEKSTRA NAMED NEW CHAIR OF ANTI-KARAMO MICHIGAN GOP FACTION
The faction of the Michigan Republican Party (MRP) State Committee that voted today to remove Kristina KARAMO from the chairmanship on Jan. 6 has elected former Congressman and U.S. ambassador to the Netherlands Pete HOEKSTRA to lead the party.

Since Karamo’s removal vote, her Co-Chair Malinda PEGO was acting as interim chair and scheduled today’s vote.

Karamo holds that her removal vote and any business not conducted by her since then has not been legitimate.

Hoekstra was elected in the second round of run-off voting, getting 50 votes to Lena Epstein’s 22.

Vance Patrick, the chair of the Oakland County Republican Party didn’t make it to the second round of voting. He announced during the second round that he received a call from Mar-a-Lago endorsing Hoekstra.

During last year’s election in which Karamo took over as chair, Epstein had also run but later endorsed Karamo after the first round of voting. 

The divergent faction, including Pego and administrative vice chair Ali Hossein, coalitions vice chair Hassan Nehme, Anne Delisle, Jessica Barefield, Norm Shinkle and Oakland County businessman Warren Carpenter are named as plaintiffs in a lawsuit against Karamo to recognize their vote to remove her on Jan. 6 in Commerce Township. 

That used proxies to establish a quorum, but only state committee members could vote on issues such as the bylaw amendment that lowered the required number of votes to remove an officer from 75% of the whole committee (regardless of attendance at that meeting) to 60% of those present.

Karamo’s administration also issued three cease and desist letters this week to various state committee and district committee members: Anne Delisle, Matt Deperno, JD Glaser, Dan Lawless, Bree Moeggenberg, Pego, Tim Ross and Andy Sebolt, though Sabot’s name was spelled incorrectly.

Eighty-eight percent of the state committee members that were present voted to remove Karamo. 

The following Saturday, Karamo put several issues up for a vote at her own meeting: her removal, which failed; Pego’s removal, which passed; and the removal of several state committee members, which passed. 

On Thursday, Karamo’s faction said they were issuing cease and desist letters to the three candidates and members of the party that voted on Jan. 6 to remove her.

Bree Moeggenberg, Second Congressional District state committee member, said she still has not received the letter, nor a formal notice that she had been removed from the state committee. She added that the vote to remove her on Jan. 13 didn’t follow bylaws. 

The candidate forum did not conduct any official business of the MRP. State committee members were invited and a list of questions were given to candidates and they gave their answers under a time constraint of a few minutes each. The forum lasted just under an hour and a half, Moeggenberg said.

At a First Congressional District meeting Thursday night, Chair Sue Allor was removed, which would potentially impact the appointment of proxies for the first district since Article III, Section I of the party laws state that a member’s district chairman may select a registered voter from that district as a proxy in voting.

Moeggenberg said Allor’s removal will be disputed.

On Karamo’s Friday Lunch with Chair Karamo podcast, she questioned why (If the faction that allegedly removed her was so confident that they removed her, hadn’t legal paperwork to force her to hand the keys of the party over been filed?) That lawsuit came later in the day (see related story).

It’s a reasonable assessment to say when one faction conducts business they say is in accordance with the bylaws, the other faction argues that it is illegitimate. 

BENSON SOUNDING INCREASINGLY INTERESTED IN ’26 GOVERNOR BID
It’s widely anticipated Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson will run for governor in 2026, and it sounds like a job she would like to have.

Benson, appearing on this week’s episode of "MichMash," a podcast co-hosted by Gongwer News Service and WDET Detroit Public Radio, was asked about her plans once her term as secretary of state expires after 2026. Term limits prevent both Benson and Governor Gretchen Whitmer from seeking reelection to their current positions.

Benson said it’s hard to think about 2026 when she’s in the middle over overseeing the 2024 election with the presidential primary in five weeks, the statewide primary in August and general election in November – all with taking place for the first time with new election rules allowing for early voting and other access changes. And she said she loves her job.

But she spoke of successes at the Department of State and said she would like to bring those kinds of changes to all of state government.

"We have completely transformed this agency and made it one that touches every single citizen and resident in this state and ensures they’re getting the type of customer service and efficient government services they deserve," she said. "My vision for state government is that that is what we should be seeing across the board, in DHHS, in the delivery of unemployment benefits and so many different ways, helping businesses get started. Government should work well, it should be efficient and then it should get out of the way."

Benson said the Department of State has embodied that way of thinking. She said she has had constituents approach her across the state, complimenting the ease of renewing tabs or their driver’s license.

"That’s what we’ve demonstrated is possible with the changes we’ve made in our department and so that’s certainly on my mind as we look to how can I continue to serve and what can I continue to help improve for our state," she said. "I love the idea of continuing to do that more throughout our state and throughout all of state government."

A wide array of Democrats are likely considering the governor’s race in 2026, among them Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan and Lt. Governor Garlin Gilchrist.

Looking ahead to the February 27 presidential primary, Benson said she has no issues with the election mechanics needed with the earlier primary, which was moved up by two weeks.

"It’s the Legislature’s prerogative to set the date," she said. "Our job as election administrators is to build the infrastructure to make it happen. And so, we looked at it, other than wanting clarity as to what the date was going to be, because that’s also what we have to provide for voters, my audience are the voters in this state. And so my goal is to give them as much clarity as I can about how to cast their vote and when to do it."

The big change is the presidential primary will mark the first statewide election with nine days of early voting as required under Proposal 2022-2, Benson said.

"The date of the election, frankly, is the least of our worries," she said. "The bigger challenges are making sure we are doing everything our clerks need and our voters need to implement all of these new election laws as well as the older ones like no-reason absentee voting and election day registration smoothly."

Another feature of Proposal 2022-2 is the requirement for the state to prepay for postage so when voters return an absentee ballot, they do not need to pay for a stamp.

Benson said the state has set up prepaid accounts with the U.S. Postal Service so every city and township clerk’s office just needs to let the postal service know how many stamps are needed and then the postal service charges that cost to the state.

Benson acknowledged having three statewide elections this year plus two special legislative elections is a challenge for election administrators.

"Challenge is our middle name in the election industry. We embrace these challenges," she said. "We define ourselves by our ability to meet these challenges."

REPORT: HOUSING, INFRASTRUCTURE, WORKFORCE KEY TO REVIVING RURAL MICHIGAN
For rural Michigan to reverse a long-term trend of decline and instead grow and thrive, affordable housing, quality infrastructure and an enlarged and diverse workforce are among the region’s most critical needs, a new report showed.

Improving resident health and wellbeing, improvements in the delivery of services and enhancing regional economic development efforts were also highlighted in the findings of a Michigan Roadmap to Rural Prosperity report issued Friday by the Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity’s Office of Rural Prosperity.

Data in the report was gathered from meetings across the state in 2022, a 2023 survey with feedback from all 83 counties in the state as well as roundtables and discussions between office staff and stakeholders.

"Rural communities have experienced sustained and gradual shifts in their populations and economies for decades," the report stated. "Rural Michigan generally lacks a sustainable or balanced population – a population that is diverse in age, experience, and backgrounds – making it more challenging to meet current and evolving needs of rural residents, businesses and communities."

It was pointed out that many of the challenges facing rural Michigan are not that different than those facing urban areas. However, their challenges involve smaller populations spread throughout much larger spaces.

"Solutions must account for those geographic, economic, and demographic realities as well as the specific assets and resources available – or not available – to different communities and regions," the report stated.

Demographic challenges are significant in rural areas, with those age 65 and older being the largest part of the population, with racial and ethnic diversity also being lacking as more than 80 percent of rural county residents are white.

Other barriers in rural areas include low incomes and poverty as well as lower rates of degree achievement at the college level. It was found that in 2021, more than 45 percent of working residents’ earnings were too low to afford the minimal cost of household necessities in 24 Michigan counties. All 24 counties, except for Wayne County, were rural counties. Rates of college degree attainment among rural residents are lower than urban residents.

Survey results from those working in rural areas showed housing is the biggest challenge in their communities over the next 10 years. The second largest challenge among those surveyed was the ability to attract a larger working-age population to their communities.

Local leaders in rural areas told the Office of Rural Prosperity of concerns over their ability to deliver services and plan for projects that can help preserve and grow their communities.

To address the workforce shortage, it will take efforts to expand the workforce pool in multiple sectors including healthcare, construction trades, education, service workers and in public service.

"These occupations are critical lynchpins in any thriving rural economy and rapid, targeted talent attraction and development strategies are needed to address these shortages," the report stated.

Lowering barriers for joining the rural Michigan workforce will be needed, including funding rural K-12 education, expanding child care opportunities as well as spending more on rural residency programs. Increased collaboration between higher education institutions and employers and boosting regional planning efforts to help schools, employers and workforce development partners is also needed, the report said.

In addressing health and economic wellbeing, the report listed several items to consider.

Prioritizing the growth of the workforce connected to provide quality healthcare and education services, spending on improving housing opportunities and the expansion of high-speed internet access in rural areas was recommended.

Working to improve access to child care services was recommended, as was strengthening the ability for organizations to provide community services including behavioral health, emergency response and food access.

Efforts to continue statewide efforts to increase school funding for rural districts was recommended along with prioritizing post-secondary training opportunities.

To address the capacity for rural communities to deliver services, the report stated one option is to make policy changes to increase or sustain revenue and more efficiently distribute resources for local governments and counties.

Recommendations also included the development of grant program requirements that accommodate the realities on the ground in rural areas, pushing for additional technical assistance for planning and building in rural communities and pushing for private sector and philanthropist matching of funds in rural areas for projects.

Pushing for spending on rural housing, the report stated, is critical. Access to additional funding for programs including for regional housing partnerships and gap financing are necessary, as is the providing of technical assistance to communities and the attraction of housing developers to rural areas.

Infrastructure improvements can be attained through funding for high-speed internet and supporting local efforts to develop high-speed internet plans. Strengthening state and local coordination of transportation and infrastructure planning is also important, the report stated.

For regional economic development, recommendations included funding for the development of areas such as commercial corridors, workforce development, revitalization efforts and supports for agricultural or small business ownership.


DCD CELEBRATES THE HONOR RESIDENCY PROGRAM!!

Last Friday Senator Mat Dunaskiss and Jake German were in attendance for the celebration of Honor Health’s new Residency Program.  Mat, Jake, and the DCD Team were instrumental in securing $3 million dollars in the State budget for this new pilot program, which will train and graduate six new residents each and every year who are committed to working and practicing right here in Oakland County.

We were happy to have Madiha Tariq from Oakland County, Representatives Brenda Carter and Donni Steele and Senators Rosemary Bayer and Sylvia Santana in attendance at the ceremony.  Their hard work made all of this possible!


ARTICLES OF POLITICAL INTEREST:

Study: ‘Informal Quota’ Fuels Racial Disparity of Michigan State Police Stops

State Board OKs Petition to Repeal Michigan Renewable Energy Siting Law

Detroit Area Redistricting Efforts Continues: Five Things To Know

$5,000 Caregiver Tax Credit Proposal Could Help Michigan Seniors, Parents

Michigan Republicans Plan March 2 Presidential Caucus In Detroit


Marijuana News, Updates, & Articles of Interest

THE DCD MARIJUANA TEAM:  YOUR COMPETITIVE EDGE!

DCD continues to exist as the premier resource helping municipalities navigate the waters of cannabis policy. We would be more than happy to answer any questions you may have regarding medical or recreational cannabis policy, procedure, and more. DCD is available for presentations to municipal boards, for one-on-one meetings, and for consultations.

We are here to help you with: municipal lobbying, license application writing and assistance, business plans, state required operations manuals and compliance, facility design, corporate structure, and design and branding. 

We are experts in both medical and recreational cannabis policy and have been in the space for over ten years.  We welcome any opportunity to work with you in the future!


ARTICLES OF CANNABIS INTEREST:

Michigan Marijuana Sales Surpass $3 Billion in 2023

Judge Tosses Lawsuit Stemming From Michigan’s Largest Ever Marijuana Recall

MI Chamber of Commerce Urges Congress to Pass Marijuana Banking Bill Amidst Retail Break-Ins

Pleasantrees Cannabis Company Smack Talks Tampa Bay with Lions Billboard

What Biden’s Sweeping Pardons for Federal Marijuana Use Convictions Mean for Michigan


Doing Things Differently

DCD is rebranding, and our bottom line is your bottom line. We are striving to create and foster strong relationships with clients and lawmakers, deliver results with strong ethics and class, but above all else, out-hustle and out-smart our competition every day to be the very best. We’re making chess moves while others are playing checkers. Everything we do is with you in mind, we’re doing things we’ve never done before and aggressively pursuing opportunities. The time is now. DCD has taken our firm to the next level and your involvement and investment paired with our knowledge and expertise is going to launch the great state of Michigan forward.

Dunaskiss.biz | 248.693.1391