rick hammel

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.
Jase Bolger / Facebook.com

Democrats are calling for a special inquiry into whether House Speaker Jase Bolger and state Representative Roy Schmidt are guilty of ethics violations. A report by the Kent County prosecutor determined the two did not break any laws as they plotted Schmidt’s switch to the Republican Party, but the report says they did attempt to undermine the integrity of an election.

Their scheme included recruiting and paying a fake Democrat who would appear on the ballot against Schmidt. The idea was, the decoy would not campaign.   

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

State House Democrats say it’s time to beef up Michigan’s campaign finance and political ethics laws.

House Democrats unveiled a set of proposals that include a constitutional amendment that would require corporations to disclose political and lobbying activity, and a measure that would prevent state lawmakers from being lobbyists in the state for two years after a political term.

 “Every year that goes by that we have not passed meaningful reform is another year that the bad actors in the state are allowed to spend money to influence public opinion with little or no accountability,” said State House Democratic Floor Leader Kate Segal.

Ari Adler is the press secretary for Republican state House Speaker Jase Bolger.

Adler says at first glance he’s not impressed.

“Saying you support better campaign finance and ethics laws is like saying you support the sun coming up tomorrow. It’s difficult to argue with the concept, but the devil is in the details, and we need time to look at them,” said Adler.

Adler says he is particularly concerned that labor unions are exempt from some of the disclosure proposals.

Democrats say unions are already required to follow federal financial disclosure laws, and corporations in Michigan should be held just as accountable.

Democratic House Minority Leader Richard Hammel said their measure addresses one of Governor Rick Snyder’s key concerns for 2012.

“The governor touched on it when he called for campaign finance and ethics reform in the state, in his State of the State address,” said Hammel. “It has now been two weeks since that address, and we have yet to see majority Republicans hold any hearings on the changes the governor said are needed.”

A spokesman for House Republicans said the package of bills would need major changes before winning bipartisan support.

Michigan House Democrats website.

So called right-to-work laws prohibit workers from being required to join a union or pay union dues or fees as a condition of employment. But with Indiana’s recent passage of right-to work laws, some Republican lawmakers say there is additional pressure on the state to pass its own legislation. 

Democrat and House Minority Leader, Representative Rick Hammel is against right-to-work legislation. He spoke with Michigan Radio's Jennifer White.

Barack Obama official Flickr page

The Democratic leader in the state House thinks Michigan Democrats and President Barack Obama can help each other win votes in the election this fall.

House Minority Leader Rick Hammel said lawmakers are coordinating with the president’s campaign efforts in Michigan. Hammel said Democrats could pick up seats in the House based in part on the popularity of President Obama.

“Quite frankly, the fact that he helped resurrect the automotive industry, and Mitt Romney said ‘The heck with it – die on the vine,’ that would have lost millions of jobs in the state," Hammel said.  "Not just automotive jobs, but jobs that are related to the industry, and the president stepped up and did the right thing, and so did Debbie Stabenow. So we’ll see enough energy on the Democratic side statewide, as well as nationally.”

Representatives of the state Republican Party say state Democrats are out of touch with voters and have no message of their own if they are embracing the president this far out from the election.

Hammel said a lack of popularity for Governor Rick Snyder and his GOP counterparts in the Legislature will also help Democrats win in November.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

A legislative agency says the state is taking in a lot more money than it expects to spend as the books are about to close on the last fiscal year. The revenue estimates from the state House Fiscal Agency say the state appears to be in line to reap $285 million more than expected.

That includes a $145 million windfall for the School Aid Fund. Some Democrats say a portion of that money should be used to restore cuts to K-12 schools.