Posts Tagged 'mi'

10-10-10 in Support of the 10th Amendment Sovereignty Tea Party!

Grassroots in Michigan’s
10-10-10 in Support of the 10th Amendment Tea Party!
Our State Capitol
Sunday, Oct. 10th
Lansing
1pm-3pm

“The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved by it to the States respectively, or to the people.”

Join your fellow Michigan patriots as we support our 10th Amendment
Sovereignty rights against Unconstitutional Federal over reach such as Obama Care, a prime example of national law that oversteps state jurisdiction and results in the loss of rights of Michigan’s citizens.

Sign Contest
We love your Signs!
Prizes given for the top three best original creative signs in our Sign Contest!

Concessions by Clint’s Hot Dogs
All American Food and Drink

Speakers Include

Mark Lerner co-Founded two national organizations; the Constitutional Alliance and Stop Real ID Coalition and is the author of the new book and DVD, “Your Body is Your ID” available online and at the event.
Mark has spent the last six years openly speaking out against the same industry he once supported. He has testified before many state legislatures, including Michigan on the RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) and national/international identification cards.

Rep. Paul Opsommer has been on the forefront in Michigan introducing sovereignty legislation including HJR YY , HB6414 and in the fight against the RFID “enhanced” drivers license in Michigan

Ruth Johnson, GOP candidate for Secretary of State, former Michigan House Rep currently Clerk and Registry of Deeds for Oakland County, second’s second largest County. Ruth’s investigation helped to expose the “fake” Tea Party and keep them off the November general election ballot.

Justice Robert P. Young, Jr., candidate for Michigan Superme Court. Justice Young has been a member of the Michigan Supreme Court for 11 years. Before joining the Supreme Court, Justice Young served as a judge of the Michigan Court of Appeals.

Mary Beth Kelly, candidate for Michigan Supreme Court. Mary Beth Kelly has served on the Wayne County Circuit Court for eleven years. In 2002, the Michigan Supreme Court appointed her the Chief Judge of the Court, making her the first woman in history to lead that bench.

Bill Schuette, GOP candidate for Attorney General is a former Congressman, Michigan Senator and Michigan Appeals Court judge and currently an attorney.

Tony Demott, Michigan State Coordinator for Campaign for Liberty, Gulf War Veteran, Chairman of the Washtenaw County Board of Canvassers, and Grassroots Activist.

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The DRIC Bridge & HB HB 4961- A Conversation with Rep. Paul Opsommer

Recently I had an opportunity to converse with Rep. Paul Opsommer about the hotly debated DRIC bridge and HB 4961.

Below is the results:

Joan: Rep. Opsommer, thank you for your time. As Vice Chair of the House Transportation Committee I appreciate the information you have to share today.

Rep. Opsommer: Thank you, it is my pleasure.

Joan: I have to tell you, HB 4961 is a very confusing bill. I know it is supposed to relate to the DRIC (Detroit International River Crossing) bridge debate, but you would never know that by reading the bill.

Rep. Opsommer: You’re absolutely right, it is confusing. What HB 4961 does is give MDOT new powers to enter into a variety of tolling contracts on their own, without legislative approval. If you’re on the inside you know that one of the projects they would like to do is the DRIC, so that is why the mainstream media is calling it the DRIC bill. But the word DRIC or any of its details aren’t actually in it.

Joan: So why write the bill like that? Wouldn’t it be normal to just write a bill specific for that bridge?

Rep. Opsommer: MDOT absolutely could, and in fact if you look at all the rest of the toll projects we have here in MI they have been authorized only after the legislature has voted to specifically allow for tolling to take place. I have a letter from the Attorney General’s office that confirms that currently MDOT can’t toll bridges, roads, or other projects on their own; they have to get permission from the legislature first.

Joan: And that would go away then if HB 4961 is passed?

Rep. Opsommer:
Yes, it would. MDOT would be able to create and enter into these tolling projects on their own, and the legislature would have no say in it. And that would apply not just to the DRIC, but to any project anywhere in Michigan that MDOT would like to toll.

The jury is still out in Michigan on how much people want to see tolling get used; I hear arguments on both sides. But when I talk to taxpayers there is wide agreement that decisions on where to toll, and how high the toll rates can go, should stay with someone who is elected. Otherwise you have unelected bureaucrats making those decisions, and whether you want to call it a toll, a user fee, or a tax, I think we should make sure it is still the legislature who approves the use of toll roads in particular. This is even more important when I hear that toll road rates would be used not just to break even on a project, but as a source of revenue for mass transit and other projects. If you are going to set toll rates not based on breaking even but to generate revenue for other purposes, it is no longer a user fee, it is a tax.

Joan: The Governor has control over MDOT, correct?

Rep. Opsommer: Yes, it is her department, but if you cut out the legislature you lose an important check and balance. The Governor would be able to enter into tolling contracts on her own. In my mind whether you want to look at it as the administration having that power or MDOT, it is very similar either way. Otherwise, you might find that some of the roads in your backyard have been turned into carpool lanes, or toll roads, and there won’t be anything your State Representative or Senator can do about that.

Joan: So they can’t just change the law?

Rep. Opsommer: Maybe going forward, but not after the fact. There is for example a moratorium on these kinds of projects now in Texas, called “Public Private Partnerships”, because people got upset after the law was passed and projects were underway. But the projects that were already started had to be allowed to go forward because the contracts had already been entered into. These agreements can be worth billions of dollars over the life of the contract. They can last 50, 75, even 99 years or more, and the lawsuits that would arise out of trying to break them would be monumental. You remember what happened here in Michigan with the contract for the State Police HQ. That contract would be small peanuts by comparison.

Joan : The term used to describe these projects in HB 4961 is called “Public Private Partnerships” Can you define for me Public Private Partnerships?

Rep. Opsommer: Well, these are generically referred to as “P3s”. I think everyone knows what a public road is, and everyone knows what a private road is. A P3 is kind of like a blend of the two, that depending on who you talk to can either bring the best or the worst of big government and big business together.

Joan: How would you answer that question?

Rep. Opsommer: To me, it all comes down to how much taxpayers can be on the short end of the stick if a toll operator doesn’t get enough revenue. Let me explain how these work. In some cases, what will happen is the state will lease a piece of its infrastructure over to a third party. The state gets a big chunk of money upfront, and in exchange the private operator is allowed to use tolls or charge the state rent on those roads for several decades to both recoup that money and also make a profit. In other cases they will build a new road and essentially do the same thing.

Most people who have called my office are more concerned when existing infrastructure is leased out than they are over when something new is being built. They don’t like the idea that something that they have already paid for and already owned is being handed over. In the case of the DRIC bridge, we would be looking at them building something new. The main concern for me there is whether the state would have to come up with “availability payments” if toll revenue isn’t adequate to cover the cost of maintaining the bridge. Because if the state has to pay, we all know that really means taxpayers.

Joan: What is an availability payment?

Rep. Opsommer: I guess you could best describe it as a form of rent, kind of like a financial guarantee. Basically, MDOT could enter into one of these tolling agreements and structure it in a way where the private operator would be guaranteed a certain amount of money every month. It would be set up so that they would get that money primarily through tolls, but in months when not enough people drove, the state would step in and make up the difference. So that is one way taxpayers could end up on the hook if you do these wrong, because we would have to take that money somehow out of our general fund or gas tax revenue.

Joan:
So why would the state make that guarantee? The way I have heard the DRIC bridge described it would be private companies taking on all the risk.

Rep. Opsommer: Well, that is kind of the rub, and the debate, and that is why people realize that a public-private partnership is not the same as a truly private project. In a truly private project, a private operator does assume all of the risk. If they have a month where ridership is down, they eat that. There are no guarantees for them, there are no noncompete clauses to protect them, and they can’t rely on eminent domain to secure property for them. Those are the kinds of questions that need to be answered before you can determine if a P3 is prudent or if it is just a government sanctioned monopoly.

Joan:
What is a noncompete clause?

Rep. Opsommer: They can mean a lot of different things, but in general they are parts of these contracts that help to give the private operator certainty that they will be able to make a higher rate of return on their investment. In some past cases, they actually prohibited the public from building for example any new roads that were close enough to the toll road where they might be considered as competition. It is my understanding that type of clause is not used much anymore, in favor of what they call “compete penalties”. This is where the public could still build its own roads, but would first have to pay the operator compensation to retain that right.

So that is another way that tax dollars come into play on these deals. In some cases the contracts are written so that you can minimize the amount of compensation that would have to be owed by intentionally slowing down some other roads to make the toll road look more attractive. There was a case of this in Colorado I was reading about where they lowered the speed limit and added traffic lights on a parallel public road in an effort to get more people to use the toll road instead.

Joan:
Really. Is that legal?

Rep. Opsommer: I’m not sure if there have ever been any decided court cases over that, but that is what is in some of these contracts and how they get enforced. These contracts get relied on and when people complain everyone shrugs their shoulders and says I didn’t vote for it, it’s part of the contract and out of my control. That is one reason why I think you still want the legislature to vote on where these contracts can be entered into, so we can put some qualifications on them to make sure they don’t run counter to legislative intent. I’m a free market advocate, but I’m not an advocate for a fixed market based on collusion and public manipulation.

Joan:
Rep. Opsommer, you also mentioned eminent domain. Didn’t we change law so that you can’t take private property from one person if you are just doing that for another private entities business purposes or profit? There was a big reaction to the Supreme Court case.

Rep Opsommer: Well, it is my understanding that eminent domain concerns were one of the reasons for the moratorium on these in Texas. Depending on who you listen to they wanted to construct parts of the so called NAFTA superhighway, which was going to be a big project and was going to take a lot of land that some people didn’t want to sell.

I wasn’t there so I don’t know the ins and outs of all that, but I do have a question about eminent domain and how it would work under HB 4961 because of some clauses about additional commercial activities and also how they define an instrumentality of government. So you may not be talking about property just for roads and bridges, but also for gas stations, fast food restaurants, or things like hotels if they are part of the project. And even if eminent domain remains with a public body, it needs to be in a public body wholly from this state, not in a non-domestic instrumentality of government.

Joan: Rep. Opsommer would you please explain what an “instrumentality of government is?”

Rep. Opsommer: That is a good question, I’m not sure if it is entirely clear in HB 4961 as written. My first take on it is that it is a kind of “government authority”. Authorities are new governmental bodies that get made by other governments in order to do things jointly. For example, you may have several fire departments in different communities that come together and form a fire authority that somewhat merges the departments.

In the case of HB 4961, MDOT gets to create new authorities between them and other governmental units to form a new instrumentality of government that would govern a certain project. It would have the powers of MDOT, but other members in the authority would also get to help make decisions. When you look at how HB 4961 defines an instrumentality of government it includes governments from other countries and other states. So if a project gets governed by a mixed authority, you could have people from outside of Michigan having a vote on what happens regarding toll rates or eminent domain on the Michigan side of the border.

Joan:
Well I find that alarming! Can you give me an example?

Rep. Opsommer:
Well, let’s use the DRIC as an example. You could set it up so that Michigan owns its half of the bridge, and Canada the other half. Michigan then sets the toll rates on its side. That is how the Bluewater Bridge works for example. But if they want to create a new instrumentality of government to be the authority that governs the entire bridge and sets those rates, they need to find a way to bring Canada in. Some other bridges are set up that way.

I think it should be up to the legislature to be part of that process, determining how it would work, rather than just letting MDOT be able to approve it. I mean, Canada is supposedly loaning us $550 million dollars to help build this. I want to make sure there are no strings attached to that money. I don’t want a situation where as a result of that money we only end up owning 40% of the bridge. I don’t want to see a situation where eminent domain decisions are getting made on property holdouts on the Michigan side in way we can be outvoted.

Joan:
And that hasn’t that all been decided?

Rep. Opsommer: No, not at all. You will read a lot in the main stream media that would make you think that. But there is nothing official. Remember, as you said, DRIC is not even mentioned in the bill. In fact, Canada or Canadian corporations being an instrumentality of government isn’t limited to just the DRIC. Like most of HB 4961, it is very open ended, and since they want to include governments from even other states, you have to assume that there are other mixed-governance projects like this that they have in mind.

Joan:
Is it just Canada, or Canadian Corporations also?

Rep. Opsommer:
The bill says both. I am looking into that, and they appear to be corporations that could best be described quickly as similar to not for profit corporations. I wanted to find out if the Ontario pension fund OMERS could be one of those corporations, but if they could I think it would have to be as a sister company.

Joan:
Both? That’s another cause for alarm. Who is OMERS?

Rep. Opsommer: They are one of the likely bidders on a P3 for the DRIC. They were recently granted new investment powers by the Canadian government, and as we see more instability in stocks and bonds there is this push to find ways to turn transportation projects into a reliable stream of revenue. I think it is one of the reasons Canada is so interested in doing all of this. They have fought with the Ambassador Bridge on some issues, and if the DRIC would allow them to bypass that and also earn their pension funds profit at the same time, I see how this would be a big win for them.

Joan:
So, what are your thoughts? Is the DRIC going to be built?

Rep. Opsommer:
I honestly have no idea. It has passed out of the House, and could be voted on in the Senate any day. It’s obviously an important issue I have been involved with, but until I get answers to all of these questions its hard to say with any degree of certainty what it is you are even being asked to vote on. But as long as they are wrapping the DRIC bridge up into the P3 bill HB 4961 it will certainly be a highly controversial issue. I don’t want to see tolling take place in the counties I represent just because of a bridge debate on the other side of the state, especially when HB 4961 would strip me of being able to vote on it.

Joan:
Are these laws allowing for that right to be stripped away in other states, or is this just being proposed in Michigan?

Rep. Opsommer:
In some they only allow these with legislative approval, but in other cases they are indeed taking that power away. California is an example where their DOT doesn’t have as broad of power as what is being proposed in MI, but they recently changed the law there and stripped away the power from the legislature. So in some ways what MDOT is proposing is less than what they now have in California, but in other ways they want to mirror what Schwarzenegger has done and even go beyond that.

In Chicago they have done a lot of P3 projects, they recently turned their parking meters into a P3 project, and they almost did the same thing with the airport. Things have slowed down there a little because of the scandal with Governor Blagojevich that was in part due to him allegedly trying to raise cash with his unilateral ability to enter into projects like these. That case is now being heard, so we’ll have to see what the facts are in the end.

But Chicago has in general been raked over the coals for these deals because they have almost entirely spent all the money they received on these deals less than 5 years into them when most of the contracts last for 75-99 years. This is how they balanced their budget to a certain degree, but I think eventually they are going to run out of public infrastructure to put on the market, and they’ll end up at the exact same place they started.

Joan: Rep. Opsommer, thank you for your time. I appreciate your updating us on this important issue.

Rep. Opsommer: Thank-you.

To the Phones! NO NEW TAXES!!

FromRepublican Michigander

It’s time for us to call our reps!

The House is expected to vote on five revenue bills during Tuesday’s session.

House Democrats are expected to caucus for several hours before the vote. If all five revenue proposals were to become law they would raise an estimated $345.8 million.

The revenue proposals are:
•a 15 percent reduction in Michigan Business Tax credits, equal to $116.1 million
•raising the state’s other tobacco products tax by $41 million
•an extended hours liquor license fee to raise $13.7 million,
•freezing some personal exemptions to the income tax to save $55 million,
•and raising the earned income tax credit by less than the scheduled level to save $120 million.

A sixth proposal to launch a tax on physicians at 3 percent is not expected to come up for a vote today.

To contact your House Rep


To contact your Senator

To watch live

Live Blogging at the Capitol-Count down to NO NEW TAXES Budget Vote

Come back to join me as I Live Blog from the Capitol, covering the debate, Bills and votes as the clock runs down on a new Michigan budget before a government shut down.
Protest rally outside on the Capitol steps at 2:00pm

Click Here to join the Chat Wed September 30, 2009, about 11:00AM EDT

*ACTION ALERT* ATTEND THE STATE SOVEREIGNTY BILLS COMMITTEE MEETING

WE WANT THIS BILL OUT OF COMMITTEE AND PASSED!

This Event is listed on Grassroots in Michigan

Here is what we need to do:

ATTEND the Committee (Judiciary) Meeting for the two 10th Amendment State Sovereignty Bills to show support. This is a public meeting so we need as many to attend as possible. Event is listed on Grassroots in Michigan, This TUESDAY Aug. 18th 1:00pm Room 210 Farum Bldg. 125 W. Allegan Street Lansing, MI 48933
Phone: Clerk Phone 373-6920

You can also speak by filing out a card when arriving. Be polite and articulate

SR 17 (Patterson) A resolution to affirm Michigan’s sovereignty under the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States over all powers not enumerated and granted to the federal government.

SCR 4 (Patterson) A concurrent resolution to affirm Michigan’s sovereignty under the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States over all powers not enumerated and granted to the federal government.

Here are links to the bills:

SR0017
SCR-0004

If you CANNOT ATTEND:

CALL OR FAX COMMITTEE MEMBERS letting them know you support the resolutions:

SAMPLE FAX HERE

Judicary Committee Members:

Senators:

Wayne Kuipers (R) (Chairman) Phone: Toll-Free 877-584-7377 Fax: 517-373-2751
E-Mail: senkuipers@senate.michigan.gov

Alan Cropsey (R) (ViceChair) Phone: Toll-Free 866-305-2133 Fax: 517-373-8661
E-Mail senacropsey@senate.michigan.gov

Alan Sanborn (R) Phone: Toll Free 888-353-2526 Fax: 517-373-5958
E-Mail senasanborn@senate.michigan.gov

Bruce Patterson (R) (Bill Sponser) Phone Toll Free 866-262-7307 Fax: 517-373-9228
E-Mail senbpatterson@senate.michigan.gov

Tony Stamas (R) Phone Toll Free 866-305-2136 Fax: 517-373-2678
E-Mail ofcstamas@senate.michigan.gov

Gretchen Whitmer (D) (M-VC) Phone: 517-373-1734 Fax: 517-373-5397
E-Mail: sengwhitmer@senate.michigan.gov

Hansen Clarke (D) Phone: Toll Free 877-252-7537 Fax: 517-373-9320
E-Mail senclarke@senate.michigan.gov

Raymond Basham (D) Phone: 517-373-7800 Fax: 517-9310
E-Mail senrbasham@senate.michigan.gov

We have three Republican Senator running for office that should be contacted Bruce Patterson who sponsored the resolutions running for Attorney General, Michelle McMannus and Cameron Brown both running for Secretary of State. Their information including information for both House and Senate to CALL OR FAX letting them know you support the resolutions, can be found HERE http://michiganvotes.org/Find.aspx

Write letters to the editors of all the Michigan media outlets. You can find contact info here or

37 states have created or are creating 54 legislative bills/resolutions that re-assert States’ Rights in an attempt to stop the Federal Government’s power grab and to return to the principles of Freedom as defined in the Constitution.

*ACTION ALERT* Health Care Town Hall with Congressman John Dingell (D)

socialized medicine1Thursday, August 6

6:00 PM – 7:00 PM

Contact: Aletheia Henry

313-791-2707

Romulus Athletic Center
35765 Northline Rd
734-942-2223
Romulus,MI

Dingell is a co-sponser of H.R.3200 – America’s Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009 and votes along party lines 98% of the time according to Open Congress

Tim Walberg(7th distrist) to run for U.S. House of Representatives

“I trust the American people, while Mark Schauer trusts big government”

Tipton, MI- Tim Walberg today announced he is running for the U.S. House of Representatives.

“The people of south central Michigan are hard working, entrepreneurial and care deeply for their community, but are struggling mightily due to excessive government spending, recent tax increases, and a big government that is squashing hope and economic opportunities,” said Walberg

“I cannot sit idly while Congressman Schauer votes to raise taxes, spend trillions we don’t have and bring the failed Granholm strategies he advanced in Michigan to Washington D.C. In contrast, I will fight for Michigan families by working to balance the budget, move America toward energy independence, and provide across-the-board tax relief to reward hard work and spur job creation. I trust the American people, while Mark Schauer trusts big government,” Walberg concluded.

Background:

Congressman Tim Walberg represented the people of the 7th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives from 2007 to 2009. He fought to make government live within its means, prevent tax increases, move America toward energy independence, make health care more affordable, support our troops, secure our border, and defend our traditional values.

Mark Schauer voted for Speaker Pelosi’s massive “cap and trade” national energy tax. [Roll Call Vote 477 on 6-26-09]

·Congressman John Dingell, a key Michigan Democrat and longtime Chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said that “nobody in this country realizes that cap and trade is a tax, and it’s a great big one.” [Congressman Dingell speaking in House committee on 4-27-09]

·The Congressional Budget Office predicts gasoline costs would increase by 77 cents per gallon and utility bills could increase by 40-50%. [Rep. Upton Press Release 6-26-09]

·President Obama said cap and trade would cause “electric rates” to “skyrocket.” [San Francisco Chronicle interview of Obama 1-17-08]

Mark Schauer voted for massive federal government spending increases.

·Voted for the $800 billion spending “stimulus” package. [Roll Call Vote 46 on 1-28-09]

·Voted for the $410 billion omnibus appropriations bill that increased spending by 8.4%, included over 8,000 earmarks, and raised spending for the operation of Congress by 11%. [Roll Call Vote 86 on 2-25-09]

·Voted for Speaker Pelosi’s almost $4 trillion Budget that increases the national debt by $5.3 trillion over the next five years. [Roll Call Vote 192 on 4-2-09]

Mark Schauer voted for Governor Granholm’s failed economic strategies.

·With Michigan in a recession, Mark Schauer voted for Governor Granholm’s income tax increase and sales tax on services. [Senate Roll Call votes 397 and 398 on 10-1-07] Schauer even introduced a bill to raise the income tax by 18%. [Mark Schauer introduced Senate Bill 605 on 6-21-07]