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Senator Patrick Colbeck’s Newsletter
 

DECEMBER UPDATE

Capitol Building

In this edition:

- Official Certification of MI Presidential Election Results
- Sen. Colbeck’s Request for Investigation of Potential Voting Fraud
- 75th Anniversary of Pearl Harbor
- Legislation from ‘Lame Duck’

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Map

Michigan’s election results have been definitively certified with President-elect Trump as the winner. While the on-again, off-again, on-again presidential recount is now officially off, our office has received numerous inquiries regarding some of the voting and recount irregularities that had been surfacing at the precincts. Please let us know if you experienced or saw anything unusual when you voted in Michigan, and read about Sen. Colbeck’s efforts to have problems and discrepancies officially investigated in his press release below:

Senator Colbeck Calls for Voting
Discrepancy Investigation

LANSING, Mich. — State Senator Patrick Colbeck, R-Canton, and 22 of his Senate colleagues formally requested in a letter submitted on Wednesday a state investigation into systemic poll book irregularities that are coming to light after the election on Nov. 8.

According to a report in the Detroit News, in 59 percent of Detroit voting precincts, the poll book ballot count did not match the machine ballot count. By Michigan statute, the ballots in these precincts cannot be recounted, but they do indicate voting irregularities that merit further investigation.

There are at least three potential explanations for these discrepancies:

1) A failure of the machine required a ballot to be reinserted into the machine. When this happens, poll workers are supposed to manually adjust the machine ballot count to reflect the additional scan attempt(s).
2) Multiple ballots that were not tracked in the poll book were inserted into the voting machine.
3) A single ballot was intentionally reinserted into the voting machine multiple times.

One example of suspicious vote irregularity was witnessed by an observer of the recount in Detroit voting precinct 152. In this precinct, a recount volunteer reported that when election officials opened a box sealed and certified as reflecting 306 votes, only 50 ballots were found in the box.

“The state needs to investigate whether or not the cause of the ballot count discrepancies in Detroit and elsewhere throughout the state are the result of fraud or negligence,” Sen. Colbeck said. “While some inadvertent human error can always occur, when it is identified in 59 percent of Detroit's 662 voting precincts, the sanctity of our democratic voting process demands an investigation.

“If the investigation identifies voter fraud, the perpetrators should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. If the investigation identifies negligence, we need to define and implement a corrective action plan that will be faithfully monitored to preclude future irregularities.”

Experts in the matter widely believe the discrepancies would have had zero chance of changing the presidential election results. The Michigan election results were certified on Nov. 28, well before the Electoral College deadline of Dec. 13. Michigan will be casting its 16 electoral votes with the Electoral College on Dec. 19.

“This recount was started for purely political reasons, by a non-aggrieved party that knew our presidential election results were not in doubt,” Sen. Colbeck said. “Despite this knowledge, they initiated the recount petition with little or no regard for the expense to taxpayers or for the sacrifices of the precious family time of volunteers who would otherwise be preparing for the holiday season with their families.

“As it turns out, though, what they intended for their own selfish ends may actually result in something beneficial by helping to eradicate systemic voter fraud in the future.”

The letter was submitted Wednesday afternoon to the offices of both the Michigan Attorney General and the Michigan Secretary of State. Patrick will vigorously continue to pursue this matter even though the election is over, to both seek out justice if fraud is uncovered, or to identify what procedurally has to change to make sure such a high level of discrepancies will not happen again.

“A Day That Will Live In Infamy”

Sen. Colbeck and Senate colleagues honor 75th anniversary of attack on Pearl Harbor

Sen. Colbeck on Pearl Harbor

LANSING, Mich. — State Senator Patrick Colbeck, R-Canton, was joined by 31 of his Michigan Senate colleagues on Wednesday in sponsoring Senate Resolution 222 recognizing the 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor. Sen. Colbeck delivered his remarks regarding the anniversary on the Senate floor, calling for people to remember the sense of unity and shared purpose that the country experienced in the wake of Pearl Harbor, a unity that the country can find in peacetime if it focuses on all we truly have in common.

‘Lame Duck’ Update 1 – finished matters

Lame Duck can be a particularly busy time of the year in Lansing as many bills, some introduced as long ago as the beginning of last year, will either be voted up or down or will automatically ‘die’ as the 2015-16 legislative session comes to an official end. The office has received thousands of email inquiries over the past two weeks, and even during this busy time the office ensures that Patrick is updated on the many communications being received.

Two issues that gained particular attention were SB 102, dealing with 401(k)s for newly hired teachers, and HB 6074, part of a House package dealing with retiree benefits. Because media reports sometimes merged the two issues together, many constituents were erroneously led to believe that the bills would do things they didn’t do. While leadership in both chambers have now said that neither of these bills will be voted on this session, it is nevertheless important to understand what the bills did and Sen. Colbeck’s position.

SB 102 would not have removed any benefits for current or retired employees, and did not deal in any manner with police, fire, or other municipal worker health benefits. The main intent was to place newly hired teachers into a 401(k) plan, and to no longer offer teachers that would be newly hired the ability to be part of the hybrid pension system. No current or retired teachers would have been mandated to use a 401(k), and Sen. Colbeck will not support legislation that would take away benefits from past or current employees that they have already earned. The 401(k) plan is the same plan that newer state employees have been on for some time, and is the plan offered here in the Senate as well. There currently exists a $26.7 billion unfunded liability in the pension fund (60.5% funded), and keeping a pension system open for newly hired teachers is likely unsustainable in the long run, especially when they would begin to retire.

Sen. Colbeck believes it is important to analyze both the fiscal costs and savings associated with ending new participation in the hybrid system for newly hired teachers in order to determine if sustainability for pension systems can be achieved in both the short and long runs, and on a net basis.

The House package of bills, that was separate from SB 102, would not have impacted pensions. While the bills were not voted out of the House or fully analyzed in the Senate, Sen. Colbeck has consistently not voted for legislation that would take away benefits from current or retired employees that they have already earned. Although he was not directly involved with the House legislation, Patrick did discuss the main bill with some of his House colleagues after it was introduced to share with them what he felt guiding principles should be as the House attempted to address the very real issue of unfunded liabilities that exist in the state.

Both the Senate and House legislation were matters of intense debate. An important discussion that will need to be revisited next year is how to best prevent future governmental employees from entering into unsustainable pension systems, while at the same time ensuring that those already in the system will still be able to fully receive their benefits. 

‘Lame Duck’ Update 2 – ongoing legislation

Many other bills with far-reaching implications are still currently very much “alive” for the session. SB 437 deals with energy regulation and would do little to alleviate Michigan’s high utility rates or monopoly status, and in some cases would make it worse. That legislation is still currently in the House as of this writing. Senator Colbeck is opposed to this legislation, and voted “no” on it. The legislation was featured in the last newsletter, and if you would like a copy of that resent to you please contact our office by one of the methods below and we will make sure to get you a copy.

A bill that has not received much attention but is likewise important is SB 627, which would allow for pseudo-governmental entities known as “authorities” to be created easier and with less oversight. Sen. Colbeck voted “no” on this legislation as well, out of concerns that the authorities would have the ability to impose fees on taxpayers without direct legislative oversight or direct accountability to the people. Where appropriate, Sen. Colbeck believes that such authorities need to first be approved on a case by case basis by elected officials, and not by unelected bureaucrats who may be well meaning but cannot be removed from office by taxpayers.

As reported by the subscription only MIRS News Service, “Sen. Patrick COLBECK (R-Canton) was among the eight conservative members who voted no out of concern that the proposed Michigan alternative project delivery act was too expansive and gave state bureaucrats too much authority without sufficient oversight.”

The legislation is now in the House, where it saw a hearing on Thursday as of the time of this writing. We look forward to sharing another newsletter with you soon as we approach what should be the final week of the legislative session.

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OUR DISTRICT

Michigan’s 7th Senate District
 

The 7th Senate District includes Canton Township, Livonia city, Northville city, Northville Township, Plymouth city, Plymouth Township, and Wayne city.

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Senator Patrick Colbeck

1020 Farnum Bldg. P.O. Box 30036
Lansing, MI 48909-7536

Phone: (517) 373-7350

Email: SenPColbeck@senate.michigan.gov
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