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Legislators to Watch

Page 52-53

Here are six state lawmakers to keep an eye on in 2014.

 

Rep. Rudy Hobbs (D – Southfield)

Leadership positions in the Michigan Legislature aren’t easily gained, so when Rep. Rudy Hobbs decided to give up his position as the second ranking Democrat in the MichiganHouse, it had to be for a good reason. Hobbs, the former minority floor leader, is a candidate for the 14th Congressional District, representing parts of Oakland County, the Grosse Pointes and the city of Detroit. The seat is currently held by Congressman Gary Peters, who is running for the U.S. Senate. Hobbs is known for his ability to work well with both sides of the aisle, having forged strong relationships with his colleagues from across the state in both parties. Representing the city of Southfield, Hobbs has been a supporter of the commercial real estate industry, playing a key role in legislation that protects commercial real estate investors who choose to invest in our communities.

 

Rep. Lisa Posthumus Lyons (R – Alto)

As a working mother of four, education is important to Rep. Lisa Posthumus Lyons. Her passion has translated as chair of the House Education Committee. Lyons has tackled crucial issues that prepare Michigan students for the jobs of today and tomorrow. While entrenched special interests have aimed to halt progress on education reform, Lyons and the Education Committee have tackled the tough issues head on, including codifying the Education Achievement Authority, amendments to the Promise Zone Act to allow Gov. Snyder’s Detroit Scholarship Program Fund to proceed, Common Core Curriculum and grading public schools via letter grade. As the current assistant minority floor leader and daughter of former Lt. Gov. Dick Posthumus, no one is surprised that Lyons is mentioned as a candidate for a significant leadership position when the House reorganizes following the 2014 elections.

 

Rep. Al Pscholka (R – Stevensville)

Al Pscholka came to Lansing with a good deal of political experience as the former district director for longtime Congressman Fred Upton. Pscholka has put the experience to good use. Almost immediately upon arriving in Lansing, Pscholka was the sponsor of Public Act 4 of 2011, which amplified the powers of emergency managers. This set the table for the financial rescue of Benton Harbor in Pscholka’s district and the appointment of Kevyn Orr as the emergency manager in Detroit. More recently, Pscholka was one of the leaders in creating the Medicaid Reform plan that allowed Michigan to accept the federal funds available under the Affordable Care Act and expand coverage to 400,000 Michiganders. As the GOP leadership team is leaving due to term limits, Pscholka’s name is being mentioned prominently as a potential member of a new House leadership team in 2015.

 

Rep. Harvey Santana (D – Detroit)

As a Navy veteran, public service isn’t new to Rep. Harvey Santana. Santana has represented his district on the west side of Detroit since 2010, winning a crowded primary. Proving that bipartisanship is alive and well, Santana recently invited Republican House Speaker Jase Bolger to visit his district in October. In a recently penned op-ed in the Detroit Free Press Santana wrote: “When I asked House Speaker Jase Bolger (R-Marshall), a Republican, to come to Detroit to see my district on Oct. 28, I was hoping it would be a step in getting something done for the people of Detroit. I accomplished my mission. The speaker has agreed to work with me to tackle some of the largest issues facing Detroit: high auto insurance rates, abandoned homes, blight and crime. Both of us are from politically different ends of the spectrum, but that should not make us enemies, or even opponents – it just makes us different.”

 

Rep. Wayne Schmidt (R – Traverse City)

A former chair of the Grand Traverse County Board of Commissioners, Rep. Wayne Schmidt has a track record of strong leadership. It should come as no surprise that Schmidt was tapped early in his legislative career to lead the House Commerce Committee. As chair of the committee, Schmidt was responsible for working closely with the Snyder administration in realigning the Michigan Economic Development Corporation into a more impactful agency. After the 2013 election, Speaker Jase Bolger tapped Schmidt to take on the House Transportation Committee and oversee a key business community priority: Increased funding for transportation in the state. A stalwart supporter of the business community, Schmidt continues to work on a transportation solution, while launching a campaign for the state Senate’s 37th District.

 

 

Sen. Virgil Smith (D – Detroit)

Sen. Virgil Smith is following in the distinguished path of his father, former Senator and current Chief Judge of the 3rd Circuit Court, Virgil Smith Sr. When Smith was elected to the Michigan House of Representatives, he was one of the youngest members ever elected to the Michigan Legislature. Smith has proven himself as a gifted member of the Detroit delegation with the ability to pass substantive legislation while serving in the minority party. Smith is a long-time champion (and former sponsor) of legislation to modernize the statute that governs Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. Additionally, Smith has led the way on legislation that takes aim at blight plaguing urban areas. In 2014, Smith will be running for his second and final term in the Michigan Senate.