Archive for September, 2013

Common Core Spending Passes House,…Testing For Legislators Flunks

Greg MacMasterIt took nearly 20 hours of debate in two committees. But Common Core State Standards finally got a passing grade from the House, Thursday, September 26th, 2013.

Our State Representative Greg MacMaster voted NO!!!

Members voted 85-21 for HCR 11, the concurrent resolution that would allow the state to continue spending money to implement the standards while instituting a laundry list of conditions for the implementation. 

The vote came after a two-hour Education Committee meeting this morning, during which Rep. Tom HOOKER (R-Byron Center) won an amendment to the now-1,400-word resolution that would have required the Governor, lawmakers and local school officials to take assessments based on the standards. 

Then, the amendment said, the result or refusal to take the tests “shall be published by state and local media sources.” 

“I think it’s important for legislators, superintendents and boards to know what’s in the tests,” Hooker explained this afternoon. He added, “If they aren’t able to recognize it by taking the tests, then there are some serious problems.” 

Although House Education Chairwoman Lisa Posthumus LYONS (R-Alto) voted against Hooker’s amendment, it still passed 9-8. HCR 11 itself passed 11-5 out of committee this morning. 

Later on the floor, Rep. Bill ROGERS (R-Brighton) won his own amendment to remove the language requiring elected officials to take the assessments from the resolution. 

Rogers, who chairs the House Appropriations School Aid Subcommittee, said he had a simple question about the testing requirement: How would the state afford to test lawmakers and all local school board members? 

“I have no idea what it costs,” Rogers said this afternoon. “But I know it’s going to cost something.” 

That cost would likely cut into current education funding levels that are already a topic of hot debate in Lansing, Rogers noted. 

Asked how he thought lawmakers would do on the testing, Rogers paused then said, “Probably, very poorly.” 

“I frequently hear how kids are coming home and parents can’t help them with their homework,” Rogers added. “So you think we’re really going to just walk in and pass this thing?” 

Katie CAREY, press secretary for the House Democrats, responded jokingly that Rogers was being a “good fiscal conservative” when it came to his focus on the costs of the testing. 

“Why couldn’t this come out of the Legislature’s budget?” Carey asked, however. 

Before Rogers won his amendments, multiple lawmakers privately questioned this afternoon how they would be able to succeed on testing concerning subjects they hadn’t studied in decades. Another lawmaker could be seen jokingly pumping his fist on the House floor when Rogers’ amendment was adopted. 

Outside of the testing debate, the Common Core resolution, which had been in the works for months, easily passed the House today. 

The 21 “no” votes — all Republican — were far short of what would have been needed to kill the resolution, sponsored by Rep. Tim KELLY (R-Saginaw Twp.). 

The resolution was the result of a special subcommittee chaired by Kelly over the summer. The subcommittee took about 15 hours testimony on Common Core before Kelly released his resolution earlier this week. 

Those 15 hours were on top of two hours of testimony the House Education Committee took earlier this year and two more hours the committee took before voting today. 

Legislative action was needed because lawmakers put a pause on Common Core funding in the Fiscal Year 2014 budget. 

Under the budget, the Michigan Department of Education won’t be able to spend money on implementing Common Core unless the Legislature casts an affirmative vote for the standards. 

After all the work this summer, Kelly said he was pleased with the vote in the House today. 

But while lawmakers added numerous conditions to the resolution to try to get more votes for the proposal, Kelly said he wasn’t sure whether any of the amendments lawmakers considered actually won additional votes. 

Some of the lawmakers who wanted amendments ended up voting “no” anyways. 

“If we would have polled this vote back in June, I think we would have seen similar results,” Kelly said. 

Some of the conditions added to the resolution today focused on the Smarter Balanced Assessments connected to Common Core and the appropriateness of the standards for young children. 

Rep. Theresa ABED (D-Grand Ledge) helped get language in the resolution that specified that local school boards can develop different standards related to geometry for high school students and to developmental standards for kindergarten through third-grade students. 

Abed, who had voiced concerns about the developmental appropriateness of Common Core for young learners, ended up speaking out for HCR 11 on the floor today. 

“We need to lift the pause button so our schools can proceed forward,” Abed said. 

The resolution also features a provision that requires the State Board of Education and the Michigan Department of Education to issue a full report on student assessment options for Common Core. That report is due by Dec. 1. 

Many lawmakers, like Rep. Tom MCMILLIN (R-Rochester Hills), have major concerns about the Smarter Balanced Assessments connected to Common Core. Currently, Michigan is in a multi-state consortium working on Smarter Balanced. 

The problem, according to some lawmakers, is that if Michigan decides to alter its standards, the assessments, which will be developed for multiple states, may not reflect the Michigan-specific changes. 

And if the testing decides how schools are rated and how teachers are evaluated, McMillin said today, “That will drive curriculum.” 

McMillin, who’s been vocal about his opposition to Common Core, voted against HCR 11. Afterward, he said today’s events likely won’t be the last debate on Common Core in Michigan. 

“In December, we’re going to get a review, and I think it’s going to be clear that Smarter Balanced is bad,” McMillin said. “And maybe, we’ll get out at that point.” 

He added, “This isn’t over.” 

HCR 11 now goes to the Senate for consideration. 

Common Core: Where They Stood 

The following Republicans voted NO on HCR 11 today:

Jon BUMSTEAD (R-Newaygo), Mike CALLTON (R-Nashville), Kevin COTTER (R-Mt. Pleasant), Kevin DALEY (R-Lum), Jeff FARRINGTON (R-Utica), AnthonyFORLINI (R-Harrison Twp.), RayFRANZ(R-Onekama), Bob GENETSKI (R-Saugatuck), Ken GOIKE (R-Ray Twp.), Hooker, Martin HOWRYLAK (R-Troy), Joel JOHNSON (R-Clare), KenKURTZ(R-Coldwater), Dan LAUWERS (R-Brockway), Tom LEONARD (R-DeWitt Twp.), Greg MACMASTER (R-Kewadin), Tom, Peter PETTALIA (R-Presque Isle), Phil POTVIN (R-Cadillac), BruceRENDON(R-Lake City) and Pat SOMERVILLE (R-New Boston). 

House Speaker Jase BOLGER (R-Marshall) voted “yes” on HCR 11. 

“Michigan parents deserve high expectations and accountability in our educational system so that all children can learn and succeed,” Bolger said in a press release today. “I commend the many representatives who dedicated countless hours to do their homework throughout the summer on this issue. The subcommittee’s and Education Committee’s work on this resolution will help ensure that children across Michigan can excel with a high-quality education regardless of where they live.” 

Rep. Sam SINGH (D-East Lansing), who was the minority vice chairman for the Common Core Subcommittee, also praised today’s vote. 

“Just a few months ago, Common Core was a divisive issue in Lansing,” Singh said in a press release. “But after taking time to listen to varying opinions and working together to craft a resolution, Republicans and Democrats came together to help our schools give kids the best education possible.” 

“This 37th Senate race,…it is just TOO important NOT to endorse Greg MacMaster…”!!!


MacMaster Logo FinalKEWADIN – Greg MacMaster, Republican candidate for the 37th Senate District, Michigan, has earned the endorsement of key grassroots, conservative Republican leaders.

Former Congressman Pete Hoekstra, former Speaker of the House Rick Johnson, Republican National Committeeman and former State Representative, Dave Agema, former Michigan Republican Party Chairman, Republican National Committeeman Saul Anuzis and former Republican National Committeeman Chuck Yob top the list of endorsements.

“Greg MacMasters’ voting record proves his conservative stance to protect the rights of Michigan residents .  He’s proven himself to be a man of conviction and character whose shown he’s not afraid to stand with and for his constituents.  Greg’s vision represents the future that Michigan needs to restore economic growth and prosperity.” said PETE HOEKSTRA.

“Serving in the legislature as a State Representative, I have never met a more fiscally responsible, conservative legislator.  His voting record demonstrates that he is for the people and not special interests.  He listens to his constituents and does what is right.” said DAVE AGEMA.

“This 37th Senate race,…it is just TOO important NOT to endorse Greg MacMaster as our next State Senator”, said Randy Bishop.   “After walking up on the other candidate for this seat conspiring with Dennis Lennox in the lower level of the Grand Hotel, (just outside of the men’s bathroom during this weekend’s Republican Leadership Conference) told me all that I needed to confirm what I already knew about that other candidate and realized right then we must fully support Greg MacMaster right NOW in order to counter the “dirty tactics”,…these two might use during this State Senate race.” Bishop added.

“I’m honored to receive such a broad spectrum of support from people that are pillars in the Michigan Republican Party, some of which have been involved in the party for a number of years,” said MacMaster. “It’s humbling that so many people have come out to support me this early in the campaign.”

I’m excited to include these party leaders and elected officials to the list as well:

Hank Fuhs, Secretary, Michigan Republican Party

Linda Lee Tarver, Ethnic Vice Chair, Michigan Republican Party

Blake Edmonds, Youth Vice Chair, Michigan Republican Party

Victor Diaz, Vice Chairman for Coalitions, Michigan Republican Party

Tony Stackpoole, Chairman, Chippewa County GOP

Randy Bishop, Chairman, Antrim County GOP and Former Candidate for the 37th Senate

Tom Stillings, Former 1st U.S. Congress Candidate and Fmr. 1st District Vice Chair

John Haggard, Former Chair Charlevoix GOP and GOP State Committeeman

Senator Pat Colbeck

State Representative Pat Sommerville

Fmr. Senator Phil Hoffman

Greg MacMaster is in the middle of his 2nd term as State Representative and ranks as one of the more conservative legislators in the House of Representatives. If you want to learn more about him, please visit his campaign’s website at:  

Michigan Republican Leadership Conference on Mackinac Island!!!

Attending the Right to Work discussion panel on Mackinaw Island at the Michigan Republican Leadership conference with Terry Bowman, Senator Patrick Colbeck, and State Representative – Mike Shirkey – State Rep 65th District and others. These three (3) men were big players on the Michigan Freedom to Work team,…God Bless You and Thank You!!!



Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) will honor former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton with this year’s Liberty Medal from the National Constitution Center. The award will be presented to Clinton on September 10th, the eve of the first anniversary of the terrorist attack on the United States mission in Benghazi that killed four Americans.

The Christian Science Monitor reports that Bush, a potential GOP contender in the 2016 presidential race, is chairman of the board of trustees of the National Constitution Center located in Philadelphia.

“Former Secretary Clinton has dedicated her life to serving and engaging people across the world in democracy,” Bush said in a statement. “These efforts as a citizen, an activist, and a leader have earned Secretary Clinton this year’s Liberty Medal.”

Hillary - What Difference Does it Make

Bush’s decision to honor Clinton, who is considered by some to be a likely Democrat candidate for president in 2016, was condemned by the Independence Hall Tea Party Association of Philadelphia.

According to the Christian Science Monitor, the organization released its own statement Monday, referring to the event as “extremely distressing,” and offering, instead, an opportunity for another Liberty Medal recipient.

According to their statement:

As all of you undoubtedly know, much of the blame for the Obama Administration’s failure to contain the Benghazi attack and the scandalous handling of its aftermath, can be traced directly to Ms. Clinton.

Indeed, a Congressional investigation regarding Ms. Clinton’s role in the cover-up of the Administration’s failure is still ongoing.

A newly formed organization, the Independence Hall Foundation, will hold a“What Difference Does It Make” press conference on Independence Mall, September 10, 4 PM, to denounce the selection of Ms. Clinton as the 2013 Liberty Medal recipient and to offer an alternative award (details below).

During the conference, the Foundation will name its choice of recipient(s) for the 2013 Defender of Liberty Medal.

Dom Giordano will headline the presser and we certainly hope you will consider joining us.

5 PM Prayer Vigil for the victims of the Benghazi attack will immediately follow the press conference.

Back to The National Constitution Center’s announcement, dated June 27th, about the award of the Liberty Medal to Clinton, states:

As Secretary of State, Clinton advocated for “smart power” in foreign policy, elevating diplomacy and development and repositioning them for the 21st century – with new tools, technologies, and partners, including the private sector and civil society around the world.

National Constitution Center president and CEO Jeffrey Rosen said, “Hillary Clinton has devoted her life to expanding opportunities for ‘We the People’ not just in this country but around the globe.”

Upon the announcement of Clinton’s award in June, Gateway Pundit’s Jim Hoft wrote, “Really Jeb, no one else came to mind?”

Right-to-Work supporters say Michigan’s economy will benefit from law!!!

Brian Pannebecker speaks to the crowd as Randy Bishop, Terry Bowman and Gary Glenn sit at the table.  
The Macomb Daily/RAY J. SKOWRONEK 

By“>Mitch Hotts,; @mhotts POSTED: 

Once Michigan’s new right-to-work takes root and its legal challenges are overcome, the legislation will dramatically help kickstart the state’s economy, a panel speaker in Utica said on Tuesday night.  The controversial law formally took effect in March and will take some time for its overall benefits to take root, but in years to come, the move will prove to be beneficial, according to Gary Glenn, president of the Michigan Chapter of the American Family Association.

Similar legislation in other states has helped usher in new economic climates in those states, but Glenn predicted Michigan could become an economic “powerhouse” with a new workplace climate combined with the state’s trained workforce, resources and access to the Great Lakes.

“I’m looking forward to that kind of future in Michigan,” Glenn said.

Glenn was one of four panelists attending the Michigan Freedom-to-Work Townhall held at American Legion Hall in Utica to offer additional information about the law. Other speakers included radio talk show host Randy “Trucker Randy” Bishop, Matt Muggeridge of the National Right-to-Work Legal Defense Foundation, and Ford Motor Company workers Terry Bowman and Brian Pannebecker.

The law, which lets workers choose not to pay dues to the unions that bargain on their behalf, applies to labor contracts that are extended or renewed starting in March. Many employees will not be affected until their existing collective bargaining agreements end.

Muggeridge said even though the law has been approved, there are still misconceptions about its impact and what it does. In past collective bargaining agreements there was a concept known as the union security provision, which forced union members to pay dues to their union.

“The only thing right-to-work does is knock out that security provision,” Muggeridge said.

Panelists said there are still legal challenges to the right-to-work legislation that may take some time to resolve before the message gets out to the world that Michigan will have a new climate of improved job creation.

The Michigan Court of Appeals in August rejected a lawsuit filed by labor unions representing state workers, ruling the law applies to 35,000 state employees.

In a state known for its heavy presence of organized labor, a number of union-led lawsuits have been filed to strike down Michigan’s right-to-work law. Similar legal challenges in Indiana, which passed a right-to-work law just before Michigan did, have been unsuccessful.

In Indiana, union membership declined to 9.1 percent of the workforce last year from 11.3 percent in 2011. Most of Indiana’s unions have not yet seen a big drop-off in membership, but many contracts are still in place from before the law took place.

Less than 20 percent of Michigan’s workers are unionized.

Pannebecker, a Shelby Township political activist who was a driving force behind the legislation’s passage in Michigan, agreed that the benefits will take time to realize, especially if there are ongoing political and legal efforts to repeal or nullify the law.

“We did not expect right-to-work to have an immediate impact,” he said. “It will take several years for the effect to be seen.”

About 50 people attended the event, including a handful of union members who called the panelists’ comments “one sided.”

Organizers claimed they invited United Auto Workers President Bob King and officials from UAW Local 228, but they declined. Still, organizers had empty seats on the panel with signs taped on them indicating they were reserved for UAW leaders.


Michigan Republicans for Medicaid expansion want you to know they still really, really, really hate Obamacare!!!

By Jonathan Oosting | 
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on August 31, 2013 at 8:00 AM, updated August 31, 2013 at 8:35 AM

LANSING, MI — Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder wants to reform Medicaid and expand eligibility under the auspices of the Affordable Care Act, and a total of 36 Republicans in the House and Senate have now voted for the “Healthy Michigan” plan.

But they want you to know they still don’t like Obamacare. In fact, many of them really, really hate it. Consider the following comments from Sen. Howard Walker, R-Traverse City:

Howard Walker

“The Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, is one of the worst pieces of legislation passed by our United States Congress in many years. It takes health care decisions away from our people; it penalizes those who choose not to purchase health care coverage; it places new mandates on small business owners; and it cuts funding to our local hospitals and health care providers, among other negative aspects.”

Walker delivered those remarks Tuesday night on the Senate floor. Then, he voted for House Bill 4714, which would allow the state to appropriate up to $1.7 billion in federal funding next year in order to expand Medicaid eligibility under the Affordable Care Act. If the House approves changes and Snyder signs the bill, the spending eventually will help cover an estimated 470,000 residents who might currently lack insurance.

Despite his opposition to the federal health care law, Walker explained that Medicaid reforms included in the legislation made expansion more palatable. Besides, he said, uninsured citizens are “essentially getting free health care” when they visit emergency rooms, and uncompensated care isn’t good business for hospitals.

“I am hopeful that a day comes where Obamacare is no longer the law of the land,” he said. “Until that time, I must ensure that we limit cost-shifting in our hospitals and that our hospitals’ doors remain open. I feel this legislation was the most viable way to do so.”

Throughout the legislative process, Snyder argued that Medicaid expansion made fiscal sense for Michigan. It will reduce uncompensated ER care, he said, lead to a healthier workforce and actually save Michigan millions in general fund spending in early years because some individuals currently covered by the state will be moved onto Medicaid.

But it wasn’t the state savings that won over reluctant Republicans, it was the business implications and reforms, including co-pays, income-based premiums and a 48-month cap on coverage for able-bodied adults, who could have the choice to stay on Medicaid and pay higher premiums or get private insurance through an upcoming exchange.

Michigan’s exchange will be run by the federal government because Republicans previously refused millions in funding to set up a state-run exchange or partner with Washington on the operation. Snyder supported state involvement as a form of “customer service.”

Medicaid expansion marks the first occasion that Michigan’s Republican-led Legislature has agreed to go along with a significant provision of the Affordable Care Act. And many members suggested they had to hold their noses while doing so.

“It takes healthcare decisions away from our people, it penalizes those who choose not to purchase healthcare coverage, and it places new mandates on small business,” Sen. Mike Kowall, R-White Lake, told his constituents a day after he voted for HB 4714.

“However, there was a United States Supreme Court decision finding that the law is constitutional. If Michigan did not form its own plan, the Affordable Care Act would harm our taxpayers and would result in employers leaving the state.”

Michigan Democrats widely supported the Medicaid expansion, and U.S. Rep. John Dingell of Dearborn, who helped author the Affordable Care Act, even visited the Legislature in July in hopes of pressuring the Senate to vote on the matter.

As Walker and Kowall suggested, Republican votes did not come easy, and even if the eight senators who said “yes” were motivated by pragmatism, there may be political consequences for some of those who supported the “Healthy Michigan” plan.

Tea party groups already have promised primary challenges against some House and Senate Republicans, they’ve urged conservatives to “sit out” a Snyder re-election campaign and are planning to oppose Lt. Gov. Brian Calley’s nomination at the GOP convention next year.

Calley, who has been under fire in recent weeks from Medicaid expansion opponents, couched his support for Medicaid expansion in conservative-friendly language when he joined the governor at a press conference after Tuesday night’s Senate vote.

“This is a victory for those who will gain coverage,” he said, “but this is also a victory for those who are lovers of liberty.”

Liberty, he explained, because people who choose to go on the state-administered Medicaid program would have otherwise been forced to purchase more expensive insurance on Michigan’s federally-run health exchange or face a tax penalty beginning next year when the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate kicks in.

“This is a big victory for people who are worried about the next generation and the overall cost they would be saddled with,” Calley continued, “because the Michigan Medicaid program is so much more efficient than the alternative.”

Wes Nakagiri, a tea party leader from Hartland who recently announced his plans to seek the Republican nomination for lieutenant governor next year, suggested Calley didn’t understand the definition of “liberty” and criticized the Medicaid vote.

“It is disappointing that the party of ‘smaller government’ voted to pile even more debt on the backs of future generations of Americans,” Nakagiri said.

Michigan Republicans clearly are divided on Medicaid expansion, and reasonable minds can disagree on whether it is a “civil war” or more of an “intense fellowship.” But they aren’t fighting over support for Obamacare — publicly, at least, they’re fighting over who hates it most.

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