Jase Bolger

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

That's the nugget in Tim Skubick's MLive column today on politicians' practice of being 'transparent' only when it's convenient.

Skubick writes about an effort to find out how much money has been spent on the one person grand jury investigating Michigan House Speaker Jase Bolger (R-Marshall).

Bolger was caught up in a potential election rigging scandal last year.

Skubick writes the information about the Bolger investigation was hard to get - at first:

Eventually that hard and fast, “I can’t divulge” stonewall turned into a little sunshine.

And two days after the original inquiry came, a one liner: The cost for two lawyers, Mike Ferency and John Smeitanka, was $28,362.44...

They’ve worked a combined total of 211.90 hours plus $2,046 in gas mileage and other expenses.

The one-person grand jury - Judge Rosemary Aquilina - was recently granted more time to investigate the scandal. Information about the scandal can continue to be collected through August 22 of this year.

gophouse.com

Republicans in the state House have introduced a bill to overhaul and expand Medicaid in Michigan.

Among other things, it would limit able-bodied adults to four years in the program.

The Republican-led state Legislature has balked at the idea of accepting money from the federal government to add hundreds of thousands of people to Medicaid.

House Speaker Jase Bolger says this is an alternative to that plan.

“If we are going to say ‘no’ to something, we must offer an alternative. We ask that all of the time from our colleagues across the aisle, and therefore we’re going to continue to live by that ourselves,” said Bolger.

The bill would also require the federal government to fund 100 percent of the expansion.

WKAR's Off the Record / YouTube

Not exactly.

Right after Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson, R, made the "Adolf" comment about Michigan House Speaker Jase Bolger, he was challenged.

"Isn't that a little over the top?" asked "Off the Record" host Tim Skubick.

"Yeah, I want it to be!" replied L. Brooks Patterson.

Patterson was upset about how Bolger has handled the discussion around proposed changes Michigan's no-fault auto insurance law.

You can watch the exchange here:

Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson, the longtime bad boy of Michigan Republican politics, stirred things up again last Friday. Not for the first time, and probably not for the last.

If you don’t already know this, Patterson went on "Off the Record," the public affairs TV show, and referred to the Speaker of the House as “Adolf” Bolger.

There wasn’t any doubt who he meant. Brooks has never been subtle. In fact, he pulled out a pocket comb and held it up to his face in an imitation of a Hitler mustache.

That sparked a tremendous outcry. Before the day was over, the state Anti-Defamation League was denouncing Brooks Patterson for what they called trivializing the Holocaust by comparing his fellow Republican, Jase Bolger, to Adolf Hitler.

Oakland County executive L. Brooks Patterson is recuperating from serious injuries he suffered in an auto accident.
Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

One of Michigan’s most well-known Republicans has some harsh words for the state House GOP leader.

Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson appeared today on the Michigan Public Television show “Off the Record.”  Patterson said state House Speaker Jase Bolger has abused his power, and compared him to the leader of Nazi Germany.

Welcome to our “Anatomy of a Kerfuffle” edition of "It’s Just Politics." This week: a throw-down between Republican state House Speaker Jase Bolger and state House Democratic Leader Tim Greimel. It culminated in the speaker yanking eight Democrats off their legislative committees. This was a big deal, a really unprecedented move and a classic example of the principle: it is better to be feared than loved.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Each Thursday we speak with Susan Demas, political analyst for Michigan Information and Research Service, and Ken Sikkema, former Senate Majority Leader and Senior Policy Fellow at Public Sector Consultants.

This week, we look at clashes over the budget which led to House Speaker Jase Bolger removing eight Democrats from their committee assignments. Four were later given back those assignments after what Bolger called “positive individual meetings."

And Gary Peters announced his run for Senate. Who might Republicans choose to run against him?

Listen to the full interview above.

House Speaker Jase Bolger.
Jase Bolger / Facebook.com

A one-judge grand jury has granted itself more time to investigate a party-switch and election-rigging scandal that includes state House Speaker Jase Bolger.

The investigation was supposed to wrap up this week. Almost everything about the grand jury’s inquiry is secret.

In fact, the order extending the investigation was signed and filed 20 days before it was made public by the Ingham County Circuit Court.

Judge Rosemary Aquilina is looking into whether any laws were broken as House Speaker Jase Bolger and state Representative Roy Schmidt plotted Schmidt’s jump to the Republican Party last year and also to avoid any serious opposition when he ran for  re-election.

 A Kent County investigation found the episode was unethical, but not illegal. This inquiry was requested by state Democratic Party leaders.

The extension allows the grand jury to continue to call witnesses and subpoena records through August 22nd.

User: Brother O'Mara / flickr

Governor Snyder chooses a Republican judge to replace Supreme Court Justice Hathaway

"Governor Rick Snyder has picked a Republican judge from Macomb County to fill a vacancy on the Michigan Supreme Court. Judge David Viviano replaces Justice Diane Hathaway, who resigned in disgrace as she faced bank fraud charges," Rick Pluta reports.
 

Michigan moves forward with health care exchange

"A bill to set up a state website where people can shop for health insurance has passed its first hurdle in the state Legislature. A House panel Wednesday voted to accept more than $30 million from Washington to set up the health care exchange. It would be a partnership between the state and the federal government under the Affordable Care Act," Jake Neher reports.

Schmidt and Bolger case extended

A one person grand jury is extending an investigation until August into a political party switch scheme involving then Rep. Roy Schmidt and House Speaker Jase Bolger. As the Associated Press reports,

"Representative Roy Schmidt's switch to the GOP last May came under scrutiny when he offered money to a political novice to run as a Democrat against him. Democrats say Bolger possibly conspired to obstruct justice, though a Kent County prosecutor said no crimes were committed."

This week’s It’s Just Politics is all about the dineros, somolians, greenbacks, dead presidents. In other words, it’s the budget-rollout edition… so, we’re talking moolah.

Governor Snyder delivered his budget proposal for the next fiscal year this week and the headline seems to be: Tough calls have been made; good times are head, but we’ve got to pay for it.

In his third budget proposal since taking office, Governor Snyder proposed more money for roads, harbors, schools, colleges and universities. And, more funds for early childhood education and law enforcement. This budget is all about investment: spend now to save later.

And, it’s interesting to take a look back and see what a difference a couple years can make. When Governor Snyder first took office he talked about how surprising it was to see folks in Lansing constantly asking for money for their departments, projects and programs; now the Governor is the one asking for some bread, coinage, clams. He might be asking nicely for more money but he’s going to also have to do some convincing. He’s got to sell his spending plan to fellow Republicans, the party that’s typically averse to so-called “revenue enhancements.”

House Speaker Jase Bolger.
Jase Bolger / Facebook.com

State House Speaker Jase Bolger says lawmakers on both sides of the aisle should not overreact when it comes to the debate over gun control.    

Lawmakers have already introduced several gun-related bills since their new session started this month.

Many are reactions to recent massacres and the federal gun control proposals that followed.       

Bolger said he hopes discussions about guns will be civil as the bills make their way through committee.

At the Republican National Convention.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

State House Republican leaders say they have no plans to scrap discussions about splitting Michigan’s Electoral College votes between congressional districts.         

Both Governor Rick Snyder and Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville have said they’re not on board with the idea. Snyder says it would be better to consider changes closer to the next census, when congressional lines are re-drawn.

But House Speaker Jase Bolger said there’s no reason to wait that long.

The 97th Legislature of the state of Michigan began this week, having still not shaken off the hangover of last year, as Republicans forced through controversial issues like right-to-work during last month’s lame duck session. And, it’s probably fair to say that this is more than a double-aspirin hangover.

There are however, some efforts toward mending some of the very hard feelings leftover. “This past year has strained relationships,” state House Speaker Jase Bolger said on the House floor, “however, we can and should leave that past behind us.” Of course, that’s easy to say when you’re not the one still spitting the sand out of your mouth. But, Democrats and Republicans did negotiate for a peaceful opening day.

Yet, Democrats and unions have made it plain that forgive and forget is not in the cards.  They want the last two years, especially everything that happened in December, to be the main topic of conversation in Michigan politics for the next two years. And it certainly seemed like another thumb in their eye when the Michigan Economic Development Corporation paid for an ad in the Wall Street Journal touting Michigan as the nation’s newest right-to-work state under the banner of the very successful and super popular Pure Michigan brand. Democrats say it’s politicizing the brand and some marketing experts are even saying it might not have been the wisest choice.

gophouse.com

State legislative leaders on both sides of the aisle say they hope to put partisan wrangling aside in 2013.

State lawmakers began their new session Wednesday.     

All but two Democrats voted to re-elect Republican state Representative Jase Bolger speaker of the House. Traditionally, the speaker receives bi-partisan, unanimous votes during opening ceremonies.

Democratic House leader Tim Greimel followed another tradition by seconding Bolger’s nomination for the position.

JMR Photography / Flickr

Clergy from across the state are expected to rally in Lansing today, and to call on Gov. Snyder to veto legislation that could allow concealed weapons in schools and churches.

On Stateside yesterday, MPRN's Rick Pluta said Snyder is getting an earful from those opposed to the legislation. The Governor says he's looking carefully at the legislation.

Elisha Anderson and Paul Egan of the Detroit Free Press report the bill is unclear on how schools and other public facilities could keep people from carrying concealed weapons if they wanted to, and that's what is giving the Gov. pause.

Matthileo / Flickr

This week we saw the wrap-up of the Legislature’s lame duck session. It was big and messy and there’s still a lot to sort out.  But clearly the biggest news, history-making, really, was that Michigan will become the nation’s 24th right-to-work state. Right-to-work is a loaded issue with passionate supporters and
opponents. Thousands and thousands of protesters turned out to try and make their voices heard. This will be an issue that resonates for a long time. It has huge cultural consequences. But, as always, on It’s Just Politics, we want to focus on the inside mechanics, the down-and-dirty politics.

And, some of the politics during lame-duck sure was down and dirty. One of the final actions of the Republican-controlled Legislature was to make it much harder to recall elected officials. Recalls are among the retributions being plotted by labor in the face of right-to-work. This could be a bit of a game changer before that’s even started. That should have state Senator Partrick Colbeck, a Republican from a swing district in western Wayne County, breathing a little easier. Colbeck was a big backer of right-to-work and is now considering a top recall target by Democrats.

Republicans also made sure their work won’t be the target of a referendum campaign by putting an expenditure in it. GOP lawmakers also did this when they passed a new emergency manager law this week. We’ve talked about this before on It’s Just Politics: how Republicans in this session have used this provision in the Michigan Constitution that’s meant to protect the state’s ability to pay its bills. But, it’s being used, time and again, to shield laws from the threat of voter-reversal through a referendum.

This week, after months – years, really – of saying right-to-work wasn’t something he wanted, that it was too divisive of an issue, Governor Snyder signed the legislation into law. To many, it seemed almost like it was forced on him. Particularly after One Tough Nerd had been a Hamlet on the question, “to be right-to-work or not to be right-to-work…?” This has many political observers wondering: was this just a Kabuki  dance all along? Was there always a plan to “do” right-to-work?

Meanwhile, compare the Governor’s apprehension with Republican Speaker of the House Jase Bolger. Bolger, who just might be Lansing’s most-powerful politician right now, was *never* coy about the issue. No doubt about it: he wanted, pushed for, worked for right-to-work. And, how interesting it is that it was just a little over a month ago that Bolger was teetering on the edge of humiliation. House Republicans had mismanaged a couple of controversies (think the Roy Schmidt party-changing episode and “Vagina-gate”) and Bolger came close to becoming the first House Speaker in 20 years to lose his seat. But, he came back to Lansing after the election, seemingly unharmed,  and waged the battle over right-to-work.

User: Brother O'Mara / flickr

I-96 shooting suspect expected to be arraigned on more charges today

The 43 year old Wixom man was arraigned in Livingston Co. yesterday on several felony charges. Today, MLive reports Raulie Casteel is expected to face more charges in Oakland County:

It's been confirmed that Raulie Casteel, the suspected I-96 corridor shooter, will be arraigned on additional charges in Oakland County's 52nd District Court in Wixom today.

Court officials said the hearing is tentatively scheduled for 1:30 p.m.

MLive reports Casteel could face charge in all four counties the shootings took place in, and that federal officials are also considering charges because several shootings took place on an  interstate highway.

The race for Michigan's 1st Congressional District continues

The latest tallies show that 2,328 votes separate incumbent Congressman Dan Benishek (R) and his challenger Gary McDowell (D). Less than 1 percent of the total votes cast.

The 1st Congressional District represents people in Michigan's U.P. and parts of the northern lower peninsula.

From Interlochen Public Radio's Linda Stephan:

A spokesman for Gary McDowell (D) says the campaign will decide as soon as tonight whether to request a recount in the race for the 1st Congressional District. McDowell has not conceded the race – though incumbent Congressman Dan Benishek (R) has declared victory.

McDowell Campaign Manager Zack Knowling says the Democrat won’t concede until the official numbers are in from a state canvassing.

"This is a very close race and we believe we owe it to all the voters of northern Michigan to ensure every vote is counted," said Knowling.

There is no automatic recount for U.S. House races.  If McDowell wants a recount, he’ll have to pay for it: $10 per precinct.

Michigan State House votes on leadership

Representative Jase Bolger (R-Marshall) was narrowly re-elected last Tuesday and yesterday, members of the State House voted to keep him on as Speaker of the House for two more years.

Tim Greimel (D-Auburn Hills) will take over as state House minority leader in January. Former House Minority Leader Richard Hammel (D-Mount Morris Twsp.) will not return next year due to term limits.

House Speaker Jase Bolger (R-Marshall) eked out a narrow victory on Tuesday night winning over Democratic challenger Bill Farmer (D) by a mere 757 votes.

Democrats picked up more seats in the State House, but Republicans hold onto their majority, so Bolger, in all likelihood, will continue on as Speaker (House members will hold a leadership vote this afternoon).

Bolger is tweeting about the start of today's legislative session, the first session being held since the election:

gophouse.com

Despite losing a handful of seats in Tuesday’s election, Republicans have hung on to a small majority in the state House.

Democrats look to have picked up five seats, narrowing GOP control to eight.

Inside Michigan Politics Editor Bill Ballenger said Democrats had a chance to take control of the House.

“But apparently they squandered three-quarters of a million dollars trying to beat the speaker in a 57% Republican district out of some, I guess, personal vendetta about the Roy Schmidt party switch,” Ballenger said.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

State House Speaker Jase Bolger spent today campaigning with Governor Rick Snyder.

Bolger is facing a potentially close vote next Tuesday in his southern Michigan state House district.

Jase Bolger has been dogged by allegations his office violated state campaign finance laws, when he helped facilitate a last minute party switch by a west Michigan state lawmaker earlier this year.

Pages