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Senator Patrick Colbeck’s Newsletter
 

CHRISTMAS EDITION

Capitol Building

In this edition:

- Christmas Greeting from Senator Colbeck
- 2015-2016 Legislative Session Ends
- Protecting Your Vote
- Progress Regarding Arbor Hills Landfill
- Opportunities for Meaningful Healthcare Reform in 2017
- Controversial Energy Legislation Passes in Lame Duck
- Help for Local Units of Government

CHRISTMAS GREETINGS FROM
SEN. PATRICK COLBECK

View my Christmas video

Wishing you and yours a very Joyous Christmas & Happy Holidays!

2015-2016 Legislative Session Ends

Michigan’s legislative session officially ended last week. While some bills gain major media attention and others are lost in the shuffle, it is important to know that many small yet noteworthy bills still see passage behind the scenes.

One such bill was HB 5774, a bill Patrick supported that allows for better coordination between state and local agencies when it comes to having fire marshals inspect adult foster care facilities. The bill was necessary to help get rid of red tape that could get in the way of protecting elderly loved ones from fire code violations.

Alert

Particularly in situations like what was recently seen at Ashely Court Nursing Home in Livonia (click here), it is always critical that bureaucracy never be allowed to jeopardize some of our most vulnerable citizens who are unable to directly take care of themselves.

Another important package of bills passed last week were SB 564 & 565, legislation that will make the selling of fetal body parts a felony by amending the law to prohibit an individual from knowingly profiting from or receiving compensation for an embryo, fetus or neonate obtained from an elective abortion. Senator Colbeck was proud to co-sponsor and vote for this legislation. Life is a most precious gift and not a mere commodity to be bought and sold.

The bill now goes on to the Governor. In other legislation, the energy bills SB 437 & SB 438, also saw final passage on the last day of session. Those bills are reviewed towards the end of the newsletter.

Protecting Your Vote

Senator Colbeck has been on the forefront of protecting the integrity of your vote. In the wake of irregularities in the November election, he delivered a speech on the Senate Floor regarding the recount. He followed up by writing a letter to the Attorney General and Secretary of State, co-signed by 22 of his Senate colleagues, asking for a formal investigation into why 59% of Detroit’s 622 precincts featured voting irregularities that precluded a recount of the votes in these precincts. While some discrepancies can certainly occur due to simple human error, the sheer magnitude of the problems merits a thorough investigation.

In the wake of this request, we’re pleased to announce that the state Bureau of Elections has begun an audit of some of the most problematic precincts. The audit will identify whether these irregularities appear to be the result of negligence, faulty equipment or deliberate vote fraud. In light of the news stories pointing to faulty voting machines, it is important to note that the exact same type of machines used by the City of Detroit are used elsewhere in Wayne County including the communities in the 7th State Senate District.

If you or someone you know observed voting irregularities, please contact our office to share details of your observations. We will share with appropriate authorities.

Whatever the root causes of these voting irregularities may be, they need to be fixed. Senator Colbeck plans to take the lead on efforts to resolve these issues and ensure the integrity of your vote in future elections. Where there is negligence, we need effective and carefully monitored corrective action plans implemented. Where there is fraud, we need criminal prosecutions

Progress Regarding Arbor Hills Landfill

Our office continues to meet with stakeholders regarding issues with the Arbor Hills Landfill. The primary issues identified by constituents have been odor discharges and truck traffic. Earlier this month, the Senator met with state Department of Environmental Quality and Washtenaw County officials, including State Representative Gretchen Driskell to develop a joint plan of action to resolve the issue.

The resolution of the issue is complicated by the fact that there are three different business entities responsible for different aspects of the landfill operations. The division of these responsibilities was determined by a past court order regarding an anti-trust suit which means that there are no contractual levers to encourage cooperation between the various parties. In the wake of the court order, Advanced Disposal is responsible for site management but has no authority over the gas collection systems in the landfill. Republic/BFI is responsible for the gas collection system. Fordistar is responsible for the conversion of gas to electricity. The corrective action plan discussed by government officials featured near term odor relief and longer-term solutions to the truck traffic issue.

Subsequent to this meeting, the Senator met with the management team at Advanced Disposal. The meetings focused on exploring ways to ensure that the best interests of the community are promoted in landfill operations.

Opportunities for
Meaningful Healthcare Reform in 2017

With the election of Donald Trump there will be more discussion and coming changes on how to bring free-market principles back into healthcare. In fact, the Senator was asked to provide recommendations for appointments to key positions within the Federal Health and Human Services Agency. The Senator responded by reaching out to his network of free market healthcare leaders throughout the nation for their recommendations. We are pleased to report that President-Elect Trumps nominee for the head of HHS, Dr. Tom Price, was on this list of recommended appointments. Furthermore, the appointment of Dr. Seema Verma to head the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is very promising as the Senator has met with her previously on ways to improve her Healthy Indiana Plan via Direct Primary Care Services (DPCS). 2017 promises to hold significant opportunities for free market health care reforms that truly do lower costs and improve services.

While much of this will take place at the federal level, Sen. Colbeck will continue to his work here in Michigan to help put the doctor-patient relationship back at the forefront of healthcare. The Senator will renew his push for a DPCS Medicaid Pilot which promises to open the door to improved healthcare for 2.4 Million Medicaid enrollees while saving taxpayers $3.5B. Furthermore, the Senator will be pushing for DPCS-based health plans for state and local employees that could save taxpayers an additional $280M all while improving the quality of care. The Senator believes that these government-based initiatives will open the door for private sector initiatives that would improve healthcare for all Michiganders while making Michigan businesses more competitive in the national and international marketplace. In 2017 the Senator will continue his Free Market Healthcare Town Halls to help get the word out about opportunities to improve healthcare while lowering costs. Please contact our office if you would like to host a Town Hall.

Controversial Energy Legislation
Passes in Lame Duck

SB 437 & SB 438 were two much discussed bills that Michigan’s utilities had sought this session in order to dovetail with overreaching regulations by the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Senator Colbeck has been a vocal opponent of this legislation because it failed to protect the best interests of electricity customers. You can hear his No vote explanation from when the Senate considered this legislation earlier this year.

Subsequent to the passage of these bills in the Senate, the House made significant improvements to the legislation. On balance, though, the new law still does not do enough to protect ratepayers and so the Senator again voted “no” when the House changes were returned to the Senate for consideration. Despite his opposition, the legislation passed and is now on its way to the Governor for signature.

Rather than allowing federal regulators to determine Michigan’s energy future, Senator Colbeck believes firmly that our utility laws need to give the people more choices and control. This is particularly important given the current monopoly that exists for most ratepayers, where they cannot simply switch who they purchase their power from. From a property rights standpoint, Sen. Colbeck also still believes we need to offer full meter choice in 2017, whether that is for people that wish to net-meter or want to keep their analog meter. During the Senate consideration of the legislation, the Senator offered an amendment to expand consumer choice and another amendment to provide consumers with choice regarding so-called “smart meters”. His Senate floor speech regarding smart meters can be viewed online.

The Governor is expected to sign the legislation into law. While it will take some time to fully see how the new laws will impact rates in Michigan, Sen. Colbeck plans to pursue policy next year that will put customers back in control over both their bills and their utility service.

Help for Local Units of Government

In recent decades, it has been evident that most of our local units of government have struggled to maintain essential services like road repair, police coverage and firefighter support. The reasons for such struggles include escalating benefit costs, declining property values, and state revenue sharing policies.

One of the cities struggling with the maintenance of city services is the City of Wayne. The Senator has been working with Mayor Rowe on ways to ensure fiscal solvency for the city. Direct Primary Care Services-based health plans has been identified as one option. Another option being investigated is that of improving the revenue sharing allocation to local units of government like the City of Wayne. The Senator believes in local control and hopes to work with the Governor and his staff in the coming year to ensure that the funding priorities of the state reflect this belief.

Final Thoughts for 2016

Senator Colbeck is dedicated to ensuring that the policies that are pursued in Lansing serve your best interests. His latest floor speech on this topic is available online on his Senate website.

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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.

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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Visit my website at: www.SenatorPatrickColbeck.com
 
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