Detroit Regional Chamber > Advocacy > Feb. 2, 2024 | This Week in Government: House Dems Call Off Sessions

Feb. 2, 2024 | This Week in Government: House Dems Call Off Sessions

February 2, 2024
Detroit Regional Chamber Presents This Week in Government, powered by Gongwer, Michigan's home for Policy and Politics news since 1906

Each week, the Detroit Regional Chamber’s Government Relations team, in partnership with Gongwer, provides members with a collection of timely updates from both local and state governments. Stay in the know on the latest legislation, policy priorities, and more.

House Dems Call Off Sessions This Week Amid Standoff With GOP

The House will have a week of no voting or attendance, said Amber McCann, press secretary for Speaker Joe Tate (D-Detroit).

“I’m not anticipating votes this week,’ McCann said in a text message. “Lack of cooperation.”

The House is split 54-54 until April when the vacant seats of former Rep. Lori Stone and former Rep. Kevin Coleman are filled.

That means that to pass any legislation, Democrats need Republicans to provide some votes.

Session was never scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 1, but the calendar for 2024 did have sessions scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday.

Neither caucus cited attendance as a concern this week.

House Republicans under Minority Leader Matt Hall (R-Richland Township) have been clamoring for a power-sharing agreement while the House is split.

“It’s all one conversation,” said Jerry Ward, spokesperson for Hall. “We want to have conversations about policy and the structural things that help that policy. … We want to get to work, we want to tackle those issues, but Dems haven’t been cooperating.”

Ward went on to say that the Republican caucus was told last month that there wouldn’t be session on Jan. 30 or Jan. 31.

“They’re trying to distract from our attempts to promote bipartisanship and collaboration,” Ward said. “The speaker has not been interested in talking about how we can work together.”

A power-sharing arrangement is clearly off the table, though.

“The rules don’t allow for shared power,” Tate said last week, following Gov. Gretchen Whitmer‘s State of the State address. “We’re putting up legislation that I think we have Republican’s full support on. How long that lasts is going to be up to Leader Hall. … That’s not going to stop us from trying to find ways and avenues for us to actually move legislation that helps Michiganders.”

For Republicans, specifically Hall, any policy conversations are a non-starter without the power-sharing agreement.

Prior to the State of the State address last week, Hall and Senate Minority Leader Aric Nesbitt (R-Porter Township) met with the media to discuss what they expected out of Whitmer’s speech. A book on the power-sharing arrangement during the 1993-94 session was placed on the bookshelf behind them, and coasters that said “Shared Power. 2024” were strategically propped up on the table. The book was “Sharing the Balance of Power,” written by Dan Loepp, now the head of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan but then chief of staff to Curtis Hertel Sr., who would become co-speaker after the two parties each won 55 seats in the November 1992 elections.

Democrats are not impressed by Hall’s posturing.

“Do you remember in ‘Back to the Future’ when Biff takes the sports almanac to his younger self so he can amass power and money, and then Marty goes back to the future to a reality where Biff is in charge,” McCann said. “Matt Hall is Biff.”

Big Money Coming into Key U.S. House Races

Candidates running for the most competitive of Michigan’s U.S. House races reported major fundraising Wednesday in their year-end reports.

In what is expected to be an expensive, bruising fight between former members of the Legislature in the 7th U.S. House District, former Sen. Curtis Hertel Jr. (D-East Lansing) had $554,231 in total receipts for the quarter, with $60,568 coming from other political committees including political action committees.

The Hertel campaign reported $1.02 million cash on hand after spending $158,667.

Campaign finance reports for the period covering Oct. 1 through Dec. 31, 2023, were due Wednesday.

Former Sen. Tom Barrett (R-Charlotte) reported raising more than $430,000 and has roughly $649,000 on hand.

The 8th U.S. House District is one of the most competitive in the state and country, with big money expected to be needed to win.

Sen. Kristen McDonald Rivet (D-Bay City), who entered the race in January, was not required to file a report—the same for Flint Mayor Sheldon Neeley, who created a candidate committee just last week.

Earlier this month, McDonald Rivet announced having raised more than $250,000 in the first 24 hours of beginning her bid (See Gongwer Michigan Report, Jan. 5, 2024).

A report for State Board of Education Chair Pamela Pugh (D-Saginaw) was not posted Wednesday.

Dan Moilanen, executive director of the Michigan Association of Conservation Districts, raised $10,116, spent $4,590, and had $5,526 left in the bank.

Paul Junge (R-Fenton), who unsuccessfully ran for the seat in 2022, reported $716,725 in total receipts. Of this, $700,000 is loans he made to his campaign. He reported spending $11,624 and having $786,191 cash on hand.

Martin Blank, a trauma surgeon and police officer from Saginaw Township, reported $8,066 in contributions and $250 in spending. He had $7,816 cash on hand.

A competitive primary is expected in the 13th U.S. House District, where former Sen. Adam Hollier is running for the second time in the Democratic primary against U.S. Rep. Shri Thanedar of Detroit.

Neither of their year-end reports were posted as of publishing, but Thanedar’s campaign earlier this month said it would report about $2.6 million cash on hand and $543,621 in contributions. In contrast, Hollier’s campaign announced it had raised $443,000 (See Gongwer Michigan Report, Jan. 23, 2024).

In his push to win a second term in the 10th U.S. House District, U.S. Rep. John James (R-Shelby Township) reported $544,821 raised in the most recent quarter.

The James campaign has $2.35 million cash on hand after spending $377,590.

For the Democrats, Carl Marlinga (D-Mt. Clemens), who narrowly lost to James in 2022, reported contributions totaling $147,842 during the year’s final quarter. He had $160,567 cash remaining after expenditures of $130,533.

Anil Kumar, a surgeon, raised more than Marlinga during the quarter, having reported total receipts of $323,644, which includes a personal loan of $137,500. Kumar reported $755,950 cash on hand.

Emily Busch of Rochester reported raising $106,599 while spending $105,958. Her campaign reported having $84,910 remaining.

Diane Young of Sterling Heights raised $83,394, spent $67,529, and had $74,380 cash on hand.

U.S. Rep. Hillary Scholten (D-Grand Rapids) had total receipts of $416,389 in the final quarter, of which $127,801 was listed as coming from other political committees such as political action committees. Scholten had $1.36 million cash on hand after spending $123,560 in her bid to hold onto the 3rd U.S. House District.

For the Republicans, Paul Hudson of Grand Rapids reported $99,881 in contributions. He had $234,723 cash on hand after spending $70,806. He has $100,000 listed as debt from a personal loan he made to his campaign.

Jason Ickes of Grandville reported raising $14,976 and spending $9.975, leaving him with $6,889 left in the bank.

A report for Michael Markey, who ran in the GOP gubernatorial primary in 2022, was not posted as of publishing.

U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Detroit), who represents the 12th U.S. House District, reported raising a whopping $3.7 million as she has been censured by colleagues and under fire from some individuals for comments made during the conflict in Israel and Gaza. No candidate has emerged to challenge Tlaib in a primary, though some groups have reportedly been recruiting. She reported $3.8 million on hand.

  • MOOLENAAR IN 2ND DISTRICT: U.S. Rep. John Moolenaar (R-Caledonia) reported total receipts of $259,172. A total of $114,574 of his haul came from PACs and other political committees. During the quarter, he spent $156,249 and had $1.02 million cash on hand.
  • HUIZENGA IN 4TH DISTRICT: U.S. Rep. Bill Huizenga (R-Zeeland) reported $275,843 and spent $176,610. He has $836,040 in the bank.
  • WALBERG IN 5TH DISTRICT: U.S. Rep. Tim Walberg (R-Tipton) had total receipts of $117,029, of which $50,000 came from other committees, including PACs. With $176,743 in spending, he had $1.18 million in the bank for his 5th U.S. House District reelection race.
  • DINGELL IN 6TH DISTRICT: U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Ann Arbor), in the most recent quarter, raised $178,692, with $86,500 coming from other political committees or PACs for her 6th U.S. House District race. She reported $434,999 in the bank after spending $165,751.
  • MCCLAIN IN 9TH DISTRICT: U.S. Rep. Lisa McClain (R-Bruce Township) reported raising $120,032, of which $71,000 was from other political committees or PACs. After spending $367,185, she had $699,006 remaining.
  • STEVENS IN 11TH DISTRICT: U.S. Rep. Haley Stevens (D-Birmingham) raised $271,102, of which $134,000 was from other political committees and PACs. She had $395,546 cash on hand after spending $188,574.

Strategic Fund Board Awards $87.5M in Site Readiness Grants

Eighteen projects across the state will split a total of $87.5 million in Strategic Site Readiness Program grants awarded Tuesday by the Michigan Strategic Fund Board.

The funds will help spur further economic development in Michigan, officials said in a press release announcing the grants.

The 18 projects receiving grants came from a pool of 71 applicants consisting of requests for funding totaling more than $420 million, which Michigan Economic Development Corporation officials said was a sign of the strong demand and need for such funding.

Ten of the 18 projects receiving grant money are located on brownfield sites, which will be where about 49% of the funding will be directed.

“These grants will fund 18 projects across Michigan, preparing us to win more manufacturing projects creating thousands of good-paying jobs,” Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said in a statement. “Together, with a strong, bipartisan economic development toolkit, we are competing with other states and nations to bring home supply chains of cars, chips, and clean energy.”

The MEDC also submitted a list of applications that self-identified as brownfields to the Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy for potential funding assistance. MEDC said in its release that this was due to the high demand for limited funds.

“It is exciting to be able to support local communities in their business development efforts as they bring forth sites of all sizes to prepare for economic development opportunities in their region,” Terri Fitzpatrick, executive vice president and chief real estate and global attraction officer for the MEDC, said in a statement. “While this is a good start, the demand remains substantial and will require continued funding for years to come.”

Projects receiving grants Tuesday were:

  • Lansing RACER Trust Plant 6 Site – city of Lansing: $18.97 million
  • Van Buren Township, Detroit Aerotropolis: $18.6 million
  • Covenant Business Park (Lowell Township) – The Right Place: $17.5 million
  • Delhi College Road Site, Lansing Economic Area Partnership: $6.5 million
  • Latson Innovation Interchange Technology and Industrial Park – Ann Arbor SPARK: $6.5 million
  • Flint Commerce Center, Flint Genesee Economic Alliance: $5.9 million
  • 3 Mile and Wilder Road (Bay County) – Bay Future: $4.16 million
  • Benton Harbor Data and Tech Park – Cornerstone Alliance and Franklin Partners: $3.6 million
  • Southwest Michigan Commerce Park (Comstock/Pavilion Township) – Southwest Michigan First: $2.1 million
  • Hancock Business and Technology Park, city of Hancock: $969,352
  • Pleasant Valley Development – Ann Arbor SPARK: $604,000
  • DET Crosswind Runway – Detroit Economic Growth Corporation: $510,000
  • Oscoda-Wurtsmith Airport Authority small/medium hangar infrastructure, Oscoda-Wurtsmith Airport Authority: $500,000
  • Hartford Industrial Site, Market Van Buren: $467,250
  • Corunna – Parmenter Road, Shiawassee Economic Development Partnership: $435,000
  • Muskegon Heights Industrial Parks – West and East, Muskegon Area First: $121,200
  • LAC Site – Monroe County Business Alliance: $82,310
  • AICP – Lot 14, City of Saline: $15,350

Report: Holtec to Receive $1.5B Federal Loan to Restart Palisades

A $1.5 billion conditional loan is expected to be offered to Holtec International as early as next month to restart the Palisades Nuclear Power Plant.

On Tuesday, Bloomberg reported that the U.S. Department of Energy’s Loan Programs Office may be offering the loan next month.

The funding, if offered, would be a huge step for Holtec’s efforts to restart the plant, which was closed in May 2022. If restarted, it could potentially become the first nuclear power plant in the nation to be restarted.

Holtec’s application for federal funding under the DOE’s Civil Nuclear Credit Program was denied in late 2022 (See Gongwer Michigan Report, Nov. 21, 2022).

Lawmakers have voiced support for continued negotiations between the company, the federal government, the governor, and other stakeholders to find a way to restart the plant. Efforts continued, with Holtec announcing a power purchase agreement last year with Wolverine Power Cooperative (See Gongwer Michigan Report, Sept. 12, 2023).

Last month, the company announced plans to nearly double the energy output of the 800-megawatt facility in Van Buren County’s Covert Township by constructing two smaller reactor units (See Gongwer Michigan Report, Dec. 5, 2023).

Rep. Graham Filler (R-Duplain Township), a member of the Legislature’s bipartisan Nuclear Caucus, hailed the news on social media and said nuclear is important to past, present, and future energy generation.

“Now we have a possible reopening of Palisades, along with the plan of parking SMRs at Palisades, and you have a game-changing situation for Michigan.” Filler wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter. “The people of MI benefit when affordable, reliable, powerful nuclear energy is being generated.”

Filler also said in his comments that a bipartisan bill package is to be introduced soon that focuses on nuclear energy education and training as well as in the state regulatory and tax structure.

Data from the DOE’s Loan Programs Office website shows that it manages more than $30 billion in loans, loan guarantees, and conditional commitments nationally to more than 30 projects, including three involving Michigan project sites.

A direct loan of $165.9 million to American Battery Solutions, Incorporated, for two battery pack assembly facilities, including one in Lake Orion, has not yet been issued.

In 2022, DOE closed on a $2.5 billion loan to Ultium Cells LLC to finance three lithium-ion battery manufacturing facilities, including one to be located by the General Motors Lansing Delta Assembly plant (See Gongwer Michigan Report, Dec. 12, 2022).

In 2009, a $5.9 billion direct loan was issued to Ford Motor Company to upgrade 13 facilities across six states, which included six facilities in Michigan. The loan was repaid as of June 2022, according to DOE data.

House Dems Enter 2024 With $3.5M on Hand; Republicans With $4.1M

The new House Democratic majority is entering the election year with $3.5 million on hand while Republicans, who are hoping to take back control in November, have $4.1 million, campaign finance reports due Wednesday showed.

The Michigan House Democratic Fund reported raising $1.07 million for the final quarter of 2023 and raising $4.4 million during the year. After spending $170,000, the Democrats have $3.5 million in cash as the election year begins.

The House Republican Campaign Committee raised $1.01 million during the quarter and $4.3 million during the year. After spending $55,000, the HRCC has $4.1 million on hand.

Top contributions to the House committee came from Senate Minority Leader Aric Nesbitt (R-Porter Township) through his Defending Michigan Values PAC and his candidate committee, Jon Cotton, Joan Secchia, and other Republican House and Senate members.

For the Democrats, top contributions came from EMILY’s List, Ashley Oberheide and Jonathan Oberheide, who work in tech in Ann Arbor, Heidi Stolte, a Seattle philanthropist, and several Democratic House and Senate members.

House Democrats said they have double the cash on hand compared to the end of 2021.

“Without wavering, our members and supporters have stepped up to keep Democrats in the majority,” House Speaker Joe Tate (D-Detroit) said in a statement. “We are carrying this momentum into 2024 and will continue to build on our success.”

Republicans boasted of having raised more than $1 million for the fourth consecutive quarter. Additionally, a press release said the caucus has $1.1 million more on hand than after the fourth quarter of 2021.

“Again and again, House Republicans keep earning historic support for our work to win back the majority and serve the people of Michigan,” House Minority Leader Matt Hall (R-Richland Township) said in a statement. “Michigan is at a crossroads. The governor and her fellow Democrats have failed to address our broken roads, struggling students, and our lagging economy, and their partisanship has only made these problems worse. In 2023, Democrats wielded the reins of government to ram through a harmful agenda to raise taxes, hike electricity rates, eliminate the right-to-work that has helped Michigan’s economy compete, and cut down education standards.”

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