Randy Richardville

State Senator Randy Richardville
Photo courtesy of www.senate.michigan.gov

A group of lawmakers working on Michigan’s Medicaid expansion are meeting today to discuss their progress.

Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville (R-Monroe) said today he expects a Medicaid substitute bill could be ready by next week.

Richardville put together the group earlier this month. The workgroup wants to place certain conditions on Medicaid expansion in Michigan -- reforms that may need federal approval.

MPRN will report on the group’s findings.

- Melanie Kruvelis, Michigan Radio Newsroom

Matthileo / Flickr

This week in Michigan politics, Jack Lessenberry and Emily Fox discuss Governor Snyder and Randy Richardville's final efforts to expand Medicaid, a bill recently signed to dissolve financially struggling school districts in Michigan, and another ballot initiative to ban wolf hunting.

State Senator Randy Richardville
Photo courtesy of www.senate.michigan.gov

A state Senate panel is expected to start discussing a bill next week to expand Medicaid in Michigan.

Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville (R-Monroe) expects a vote in the full Senate before September.

The Majority Leader has been taking some heat from Governor Rick Snyder since last week.

That’s when Richardville allowed the Senate to leave on its summer recess before taking a vote on Medicaid expansion. But Richardville defended the decision today on the Michigan Public Television program Off the Record.

“I don’t think this legislation is complete. I don’t think we had the votes to get things done that day, and it would have been forcing a less-than-adequate package to his desk,” said Richardville.

The governor says the state stands to lose millions of federal dollars if the legislation isn’t approved soon.

That’s because the plan needs to be approved by Washington – a process that will likely take months. But Richardville said he doesn’t want to rush the legislation if it’s not ready.

"I understand that he has to talk to the federal government, and these waivers are going to be difficult to negotiate," said Richardville. "But I think we’ll have a product for him to look at before July is over."

Richardville says he generally supports the idea of overhauling and expanding Medicaid.

“But we have some other reforms, some other things that we think should be done to make this legislation better. And we need a little time to look at it,” he said.

Meanwhile, a legislative workgroup is also trying to get the bill ready for a vote. The workgroup originally consisted of six Republican senators.

But Richardville now says he plans to add some Democrats to the group as well.

Richardville says he expects to have a proposal in place before August, and a vote of the full Senate before September.

User: Brother O'Mara / flickr

Budget awaits Governor Snyder's signature

State lawmakers passed a budget that would increase funding to local governments and schools.

"Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville calls it the best budget he’s ever helped pass.  But the budget does not include Snyder’s request to expand Medicaid or increase road funding by more than a billion dollars," Michigan Radio's Jake Neher reports.

Senate voting to protect DIA

The Michigan Senate is expected to vote today on a measure to protect the Detroit Institute of Arts. Detroit's emergency manager Kevyn Orr has warned the Institute's assets could be at risk if the city goes bankrupt. If this bill passes, the same protections would apply to collections in other museums across Michigan.

Michigan gas prices amongst highest in nation

Gasoline prices in Michigan are the second highest in the United States right now. It could be several weeks before there's any relief at the pump.

"Analyst Patrick deHaan of GasBuddy dot com says there are fewer gasoline refineries in the Midwest than other parts of the country, and gasoline commodity traders are also driving up the prices," Michigan Radio's Tracy Samilton reports.

Christopher Webb / Flickr

The Michigan Senate has passed a budget bill that would boost state funding to public schools by about 3%. Universities and colleges would also get a roughly 2% increase.

Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville (R- Monroe) praised the schools budget, saying it addresses issues like teacher retirement costs while giving more money to districts.

“The education budget this year may be the best that I’ve seen since I’ve been up here,” said Richardville.

But many Democrats say the plan does not do enough to make up for cuts to education over the past couple of years.

The Commonwealth Fund

Michigan will be part of the federal government’s health insurance exchange, instead of being a partner in a joint effort.

That’s because the state Senate began its spring break yesterday without meeting a deadline to vote on accepting federal funds for the project.

Republicans in the state Senate defied the wishes of Governor Snyder and a lot of business groups by refusing federal funding for a joint federal-state health insurance exchange.

That’s where customers will go to comparison shop for coverage. Instead, Michigan customers will shop on the federal government’s exchange.

The state Senate’s top Republican says he’ll once again try to ward off big cuts to Michigan’s film industry credits.

For the second year in a row, Governor Rick Snyder is proposing a budget that would cap the state’s film incentives at $25 million for the year.

And for the second year in a row, Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville says he’ll fight to give the industry at least twice that.

“To that particular industry and to the mostly blue collar workers that benefit from that in Michigan, it would be devastating to them,” says Richardville.

Office of Governor Rick Snyder / Wikimedia Commons

Two top Republicans in Lansing say they’re not on board with a plan to split Michigan’s Electoral College votes.

Lawmakers have been expecting a bill that would divide the state’s electoral votes by congressional district.

State Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville said that would make the state less important in presidential elections.

“At this point in time, I’m still sticking to my guns. I think the bigger package of votes for the winner brings more attention to the state and keeps us united. So I haven’t been convinced otherwise yet,” Richardville said.

courtesy of Richardville's office

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - The top Republican in the Michigan Senate says he has concerns with calls to divide the state's Electoral College votes proportionally.

Changing from a winner-take-all system would have helped Mitt Romney, who lost Michigan to President Barack Obama by 9 percentage points.

Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville said Tuesday he doesn't think the current system is broken, so he doesn't know if he wants to fix it. He says that Michigan got more attention from presidential candidates because they could win all 16 electoral votes.

A bill is expected to be reintroduced in the state House to divide the votes by congressional districts. Such a change would give the GOP an advantage, at least for now. That's because Republican voters outnumber Democrats in more congressional districts.

Teachers and other school employees will soon be paying more of their salaries for health care and pensions.

Governor Snyder is expected to sign bills that require school workers to pay four or seven percent of their salaries for retirement benefits, depending on what plan they have.

School employees will also pay more for their health insurance when they retire.

Randy Richardville is State Senate Majority Leader.

Michigan Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville, R-Monroe.
senate.michigan.gov

A recall petition against Michigan Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville (R-Monroe) got the stamp of approval from Monroe County election officials.

The Associated Press reports County Clerk Sharon Lemasters says the vote at the petition clarity hearing was 2-1.

Organizers first started their recall effort against Richardville last year. That petition language was approved, but the signature gathering effort stalled.

This past May, a second petition against Richardville was rejected for vague and unclear language.

Now, organizers hope the third time is the charm. They're targeting Richardville, in part for his support of a new Michigan-Ontario bridge, according to the AP.

Richardville spokesman Matt Marsden says the approved language is "remarkably similar to the last two rejected recalls" and that the senator will review it with his lawyer.

Cedar Bend Drive / Flickr

The Michigan Senate has voted to phase out an industrial tax that’s a big revenue generator for school districts and local governments. Republicans amended their original plan to make sure much

of that money for local services and education would be replaced.

State Senate Majority Richardville says if money from the state falls below a certain level, communities could return to taxing industrial property.   

“It’s kind of a poison pill, as we call it in legislative jargon, where, if we don’t keep our promises than the whole program disappears, so it forces the state government to say we will keep you at the level we say it will,” Richardville says.

Richardville acknowledges there’s no way to guarantee schools and local governments won’t see some reductions. The money for the replacement would come from the sunset of other tax breaks.

Republicans say Michigan’s tax on business and industrial property is unique in the Midwest and drives investment elsewhere.

The Senate rejected efforts by Democrats to link the tax phase-out to job creation targets.

www.misenategop.com

A petition to recall the Republican majority leader of the Michigan Senate has been rejected by a Monroe County board. The Board of Canvassers met yesterday and said the petition language was unclear. Monroe County Clerk Sharon Lemasters says the petition was rejected because at least one section was vague.

Ildar Sagdejev / wikimedia commons

The Michigan Senate is expected to vote tomorrow on a measure to repeal the state’s motorcycle helmet law – and send it to Governor Rick Snyder’s desk.

The measure was stalled because Governor Snyder wants the helmet law to be part of a larger discussion on finding savings in Michigan’s no-fault insurance system.

State Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville said he wants to get the law on the books in time for the new motorcycle riding season.

“It doesn’t seem fair that a group of people who just want the freedom to choose whether to have a helmet or not are being held back because a couple other groups aren’t getting along or coming around to a compromise,” Richardville said.

Governor Snyder has not said what he would do if a helmet law repeal reaches his desk.

Supporters of the helmet law say it saves lives and prevents expensive-to-treat head injuries.

Photo courtesy of UM GEO

The University of Michigan Regents voted today to oppose a Senate bill that would prohibit certain U of M graduate students from joining a union.

courtesy of Richardville's office

The drama over University of Michigan graduate student research assistants and whether or not they can unionize continues to unfold, this time with State Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville weighing in.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

A proposal at the state Capitol would cut the Michigan income tax rate to 3.9 percent over the next five years. Right now the rate is 4.35 percent.

Republican state Senator Jack Brandenburg sponsored the measure. He said people in Michigan were promised the reduction during messy budget and tax deals made in 2007. Brandenburg said he told his Republican colleagues about his plan earlier this month.

“At our caucus retreat, we were all asked to list our priorities, and I made it clear that this is one of my priorities,” Brandenburg said.

He said an estimated $450 million budget surplus convinced him it’s a good time to propose the rollback.

“I wanted to wait to see what kind of surpluses we were having. One-tenth of a point represents  $175 million,” said Brandenburg

Republican Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville cautiously supports the proposal, but he said he’s hesitant to spend money that could be added to the state’s rainy day savings fund.

Democrats say surplus should be used to restore cuts made to K-12 schools and higher education.

Michigan Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville, R-Monroe.
Photo courtesy of Richardville's office

Republican leaders in the state Legislature say they will not be quick to spend any potential surplus money left over from the last budget year. An annual conference to determine how much money the state will have to spend this year is scheduled for Friday. A few hundred million dollars in additional revenue is expected to be available for lawmakers to spend on state-funded programs.

Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville says special interest groups and advocates won’t get far if they ask him for more funding. “It doesn’t matter to me if they ask or not. You know, we’ve all been about financial responsibility from the beginning, and I think the reason you have emergency financial managers, the reason the president of the United States is trying to figure out ways to print new money is because we haven’t been financially responsible in the past," Richardville says.

Richardville says the Legislature was smart last year by adding to the state’s rainy day fund and helping to pay off long-term debts. Some Democratic lawmakers say a priority for surplus revenue should be to fill cuts to K-12 schools and higher education.

Meanwhile, Richardville also says he does not think Michigan should be a right-to-work state. He says he does not think eliminating the requirement that some workers pay union dues would help the business climate in Michigan.

“I believe any economic benefits that are talked about with regard to bringing jobs into Michigan are overstated quite a bit because the jobs that we’re trying to attract in Michigan aren’t the lower-level jobs that right-to-work might address," Richardville says.

Governor Rick Snyder has also said he thinks a debate over right-to-work would be divisive. Supporters of right-to-work legislation say Michigan could lose business and jobs to neighboring states if they adopt similar measures.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

The state Legislature has wrapped up work for the year.

Republican and Democratic lawmakers have different opinions about how successful 2011 was.

Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville (R-Monroe) told lawmakers this week that they should be proud of the accomplishments of the Republican-led House and Senate chambers this year.

“Unquestionably, this has been one of the most productive in recent history for the Michigan Legislature,” said Richardville.

He said a quick budget process, changes to the state’s tax structure, and big changes to the education system are among his proudest achievements.

Republicans feel the changes made Michigan more attractive to businesses and set the state’s economy on the right track.

But the work Republicans are proud of is what Democrats say made 2011 a horrible year for Michigan’s middle-class families and vulnerable people.

Democratic lawmakers say cuts to schools and a new tax plan on seniors put the priorities of big business over the wellbeing of people.

State Representative Lisa Brown (D-West Bloomfield) says she thinks a lot of the new policies actually hurt Michigan’s business climate.

“I’ve always said I don’t know what business would want to come here if we don’t have highly educated workers, and if they can’t put their kids in a quality school, said Brown. “So you’re talking about creating jobs; I think the legislation that has been put forth this past year is discouraging people from coming to Michigan.”

State lawmakers will return to the Capitol in the middle of January, right before Governor Rick Snyder gives his State of the State address for 2012.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Democrats at the state Capitol are calling for an amendment to the Michigan constitution that would outlaw for-profit schools. Four out of five charter schools in Michigan currently operate as for-profit schools.

Democratic state Senator Rebekah Warren said only 17 percent of charter schools out-perform traditional public schools. She said school aid money should not go toward profits for businesses.

Warren said her amendment would not ban charter schools, but it would reform how they operate.

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