Rep. Gary Glenn lives in Larkin Township and was first elected to the Michigan House of Representatives in November 2014. He represents the 98th District, which includes the cities of Auburn, Pinconning, Linwood, and the townships of Beaver, Fraser, Garfield, Gibson, Mount Forest, Pinconning, and Williams in Bay County. In Midland County, the district includes the city of Midland, the village of Sanford, and the townships of Midland, Homer, Jerome, Larkin, Lee, and Lincoln.
Gary is vice chairman of the House Energy Policy Committee and also serves on the Commerce and Trade, Military and Veterans Affairs, and Tax Policy committees. Gary also represents the state of Michigan on the National Conference of State Legislatures 2015-2016 Natural Resources and Infrastructure Committee to learn of ongoing energy initiatives, opportunities, and challenges across the country.
After his first year in office, Gary was named 2015 "Freshman Legislator of the Year" by the editor and reporters of the Michigan Information and Research Service (MIRS), the state Capitol's oldest daily news service. His selection from among 44 first-term state representatives and 10 first-term state senators was due largely to his leadership in the energy policy debate, MIRS said.
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Lansing, Mich. -- House Energy Policy Committee vice-chairman Rep. Gary Glenn, R-Midland, Thursday said energy reform legislation approved by a state Senate committee Wednesday is worse than the House version of such legislation that has failed to win support in the House since its approval by Glenn's committee -- over his objections -- over six months ago. Glenn vowed that if the full Senate approves the legislation, he will do everything in his power to persuade his House colleagues to block it.
"Michigan homeowners and businesses already pay the highest electricity rates in the Midwest, and this protectionist, pro-monopoly, anti-competition legislation will drive our electricity costs even higher, drive existing and future jobs away from Michigan, and strip tens of millions of dollars in annual savings from 'electricity choice' customers such as our public schools who've testified they'll be forced to lay off hundreds of teachers just to cover higher electricity bills," Glenn said.
Glenn said the outcome of the energy reform debate is critical to Dow Chemical, Hemlock Semiconductor, and other major area employers for whom the biggest cost of doing business is the price of electricity. Dow Chemical CEO Andrew Liveris in a speech last year at the H Hotel in Midland identified electricity rates as the key determinant in whether Dow would locate future manufacturing facilities in lower electricity cost states such as Tennessee and Texas.
It's also critical to the future viability of Midland Cogeneration Venture, the nation's largest gas-fueled electricity and steam generating facility in North America. MCVwants changes in the legislation to allow them to competitively bid against the major utilities for future energy generation needs rather than see utilities continue to be given first right of refusal on the construction of all new power plants. MCV executives consider competitive bidding critical to their future economic viability and ability to continue to provide all the electricity and steam supplies needed by Dow Chemical for its Midland operations, without which Dow would be forced to return to Consumers Energy for their electricity needs at a much higher price, forcing the possibility of relocating electricity-intensive manufacturing elsewhere.
"I will not only vigorously argue that free market principles, competition, and consumer choice in our electricity market offers the most prosperous, low cost energy future for Michigan's homeowners and economic growth, but I will aggressively defend the economic interests of major employers in Bay and Midland counties in particular," Glenn said.
Of equal importance is preserving and hopefully expanding the only 10 percent of Michigan's electricity market who are allowed to buy electricity from suppliers other than the state's two near-monopoly utilities, Consumers Energy and Detroit Edison, who are guaranteed 90 percent of market share by a law passed in 2008. Prior to that, all Michigan electricity users were free to choose.
Nearly half of Michigan public school districts and some colleges and universities "were smart enough fast enough" to get in under the 10 percent cap in 2008, including Bay City Schools and Saginaw Valley State University, both of which report saving $200,000 a year by buying their electricity from suppliers other than Consumers or DTE. Because of the arbitrary cap on choice, all other school districts in Bay and Midland counties, which Glenn represents, plus Northwood University and Delta College, are prohibited by law from buying electricity from anyone other than Consumers Energy at a higher price. Glenn has introduced legislation to allow all school districts and universities to choose a cheaper electricity supplier.
The legislation approved by the Senate Energy Committee Wednesday would effectively kill the electricity choice option for schools and some 6,000 other choice customers, plus an additional 11,000 customers on a choice waiting list, by imposing so many new fees and regulations on alternative energy suppliers that they can no longer afford to do business in Michigan.
Glenn pointed to a May 3rd report by UBS Securities, an international stock and securities marketing company that's hired by the two monopoly utilities to market their stock to prospective investors.
While utility spokesmen and their allies argue the Senate legislation doesn't technically eliminate choice, UBS Securities -- under threat of severe Securities and Exchange Commission penalties if they mislead prospective buyers of Consumers and DTE stock -- marketed the utilities' future stock value on the promise that the utility-backed legislation in Michigan will eliminate electricity choice.
"As previously discussed," UBS Securities said in its May 3rd quarterly investors newsletter, "we believe the legislation is likely to include new capacity requirements for competitive electric suppliers and a multi-year stay out period for commercial/industrials that stay with choice. These 'fairness' provisions are expected to effectively end retail open access 'organically' over time and create incentives for the utilities to build (new power plants)."
UBS Securities continued: "The legislation should reduce risk to Consumers Energy around choice. ...The upside spending (by utilities) that would result from the passage of Michigan energy legislation is based on replacing purchase power agreements with utility-owned generation, the termination of retail open access ('electricity choice'), as well as spending to meet (new renewable energy goals)."
Glenn noted that while UBS Securities would face legal penalties for misleading prospective buyers of Consumers and DTE stock, there are no similar penalties for utility lobbyists who tell legislators that the legislation won't affect electricity choice, exactly the opposite of what UBS reports.
Glenn also said the Senate legislation is even worse than the House version which has languished without support since committee passage last November because it disincentivizes future investment in solar energy by phasing out the state's "net-metering" policy under which utilities are required to pay homeowners with solar energy shingles, for example, for any excess electricity they generate beyond the homeowner's own use at the same retail rate the utility would charge the homeowner to buy the electricity. The utilities want homeowners who generate rooftop solar energy to be forced by law to sell the electricity they generate to the utility at a wholesale price, then buy it back at a higher retail rate even for the homeowner's personal use. Such a policy would eliminate any savings incentive for homeowners to invest in generating their own solar energy.Glenn noted that three retired business executives in Midland -- John Bartos, Steve Ellebracht, and Ted Skinner -- constructed what was at the time the largest privately-owned solar array in Michigan, located in Homer Township. "We should be encouraging investment in alternative energy supplies such as solar energy, not changing state law to penalize such investors," Glenn said.
"The bottom line is, the two near-monopoly utilities in Michigan -- while they've been good corporate citizens and a reliable supplier of electricity needs for over a century -- simply don't want and are seeking changes in state law to eliminate competition in any form," Glenn said.
"But if we want a cheaper and more secure energy supply to stimulate economic growth and job growth in Michigan, we must pursue reforms that stimulate more diversity, competition, and customer choice in Michigan's energy market," Glenn said."Two major utilities who aren't satisfied with already being guaranteed 90 percent of the state's electricity market by law must not be allowed to succeed in passing 100 percent-monopoly legislation that will drive their already legally-restricted competition out of business altogether, further driving up electricity costs and destroying current and future jobs in Michigan in the process," Glenn said.
Rep. Glenn’s bill would increase transparency and improve the timeliness of reports on lobbyists
By CRAIG MAUGER
Michigan Campaign Finance Network
LANSING — Lobbyists who shelled out record amounts in Michigan last year would have to release reports on their spending more frequently under a new proposal from a Republican State House member.
Rep. Gary Glenn (R-Midland) says his new bill, HB 5535, would increase transparency and would improve the timeliness of reports on lobbyists’ efforts to influence state lawmakers. Those efforts include purchasing meals and sending out mass mailings.
Under current law, lobbyists have to submit reports on their spending twice a year: on Jan. 31; and on Aug. 31. The setup leaves a seven-month gap between the two reports. And spending that occurs in early January doesn’t actually become known to the public until late August.
The Aug. 31 report currently covers spending during the period all the way from Jan. 1 until July 31. The Jan. 31 report covers spending during the period from Aug. 1 until the end of the year.
Glenn’s bill would set up a quarterly reporting system, adding reports on April 30 and October 31. It would be similar to the reporting schedule for political action committees.
Glenn said the purpose of the bill is to get information to the public more often and closer to the date of the actual lobbying activity.
“It's just one element of our commitment to more openness and transparency in state government, which hopefully expands taxpayers' ability to hold their elected officials accountable,” Glenn said in an email.
A report from the Michigan Campaign Finance Network earlier this year found that lobbyists spent a record amount in 2015: $38.7 million. It was a $1.7-million increase over the previous year.
Lobbyists also spent more money buying meals for public officials last year. There was $844,184 in reported spending on food and drinks in 2015.
In addition to only requiring two reports per year, Michigan’s current lobbying laws don’t always require lobbyists to report which lawmakers benefit from food and drink purchases and travel purchases.
The thresholds for that type of disclosure, which includes the public official’s name, is triggered when more than $58 in food and drink is bought in a month or when $775 in travel and lodging is purchased.
House Republican leadership has referred Glenn’s bill to the Oversight and Ethics Committee.
Six years ago, Gov. Rick Snyder called for a similar change to Glenn’s bill in his white paper on government reform, entitled, “Create A Culture Of Ethics In Michigan Government.”
“A comprehensive disclosure of Michigan’s lobbyist activities will reduce impediments to progress and keep the best interest of the public in mind,” said Snyder’s white paper.
State Rep. Gary Glenn, R-Midland, vice chairman of the House Energy Policy Committee, recently received a plaque from the Michigan Schools Electric Cooperative in recognition of his leadership in blocking legislation that would deny public schools the choice of saving money by purchasing electricity from suppliers other than the state’s two major utilities, Consumers Energy and Detroit Edison.
MSEC President Diane Block, assistant superintendent for operations at Alpena Public Schools, made the presentation to Glenn at the organization’s annual meeting in Lansing.
Under current state law, only an estimated 40 percent of public schools — including Bay City Schools — are allowed to save taxpayers money via electrical choice, while remaining districts such as Meridian, Midland and Pinconning schools are prohibited from doing so.
Glenn has introduced legislation to allow all public schools the option of such savings.
Rep. Gary Glenn, R-Midland, last week was named recipient of the 2016 Award for Conservative Excellence by the American Conservative Union, a national organization founded in 1964 which promotes the "three-legged stool" of fiscally and socially conservative principles as well as a strong national defense.
"I'm committed to continuing in the footsteps of former state representatives John Moolenaar and Tony Stamas, who were also recognized by various rankings as having the most conservative voting records when serving in the state House," Glenn said. "In the end, ratings by outside groups may be informative, but the people of Bay and Midland counties will be the final judge of whether I've faithfully represented their values and views in Lansing."
Glenn tied with two fellow Republicans -- Rep. Jim Runestad, White Lake, and Rep. Lana Theis, R-Brighton -- in voting conservative on 94 percent of the roll call votes selected by ACU.
"ACU researched and selected a range of bills before the Michigan Legislature that determine a member’s adherence to conservative principles," the Washington, D.C.-based group said in a news release announcing the awards.
"We selected bills that focus on Ronald Reagan’s philosophy of the 'three-legged stool': 1) fiscal and economic: taxes, budgets, regulation, spending, healthcare, and property; 2) social and cultural: 2nd amendment, religion, life, welfare, and education; and 3) government integrity: voting, individual liberty, privacy, and transparency. This wide range of issues are designed to give citizens an accurate assessment that conveys which of Michigan’s elected leaders best defend the principles of a free society: Life, Liberty and Property."
The ACU award follows Glenn's being chosen from among 55 first-term state representatives and senators as 2015 Freshman Legislator of the Year by state Capitol press corps journalists for Michigan Information and Research Service.