Capitol's oldest daily news service cites Midland lawmaker's leadership on energy debate
Lansing, Mich. -- Rep. Gary Glenn, R-Midland, vice-chairman of the Energy Policy Committee in the state House of Representatives, has been named "Freshman Legislator of the Year" by the Michigan Information and Research Service (MIRSNews.com), the state Capitol's oldest daily news service, founded in 1961.
Glenn's selection from among 44 first-term state representatives and ten first-time state senators was announced today on MIRS Monday, a weekly podcast featuring a round table discussion by MIRS state Capitol reporters that focused primarily on Glenn's bipartisan leadership on this year's energy policy debate in Lansing.
(Click to hear discussion beginning at 16:00 of the podcast: http://mirsnews.podbean.com/e/mirs-monday-dec-28-2015 )
"It's been a long time since I was a 'freshman' at anything," joked Glenn, 57. "But in all seriousness, whatever honor this recognition may be, it simply reflects the very serious commitment I've made to work and study hard and do the best, most conscientious job I can for the people of Bay and Midland counties and our entire state. I've also taken very seriously a speech by Dow CEO Andrew Liveris, who said that if we want continued expansion of Dow operations in mid-Michigan in the future, we have to have a more forward-looking energy policy that produces more competitive electricity rates."
"I thank my family for the time that they've allowed me to study and get up to speed on complex issues. I'm grateful to a talented and experienced staff, former state Sen. Mike Goschka and Adam deAngeli, for their counsel and legislative expertise. And since this recognition is primarily because of my work on the energy policy debate, I know it wouldn't have come without expert advice both here at home and in Lansing."
In Midland, Glenn said his interaction with Dow Chemical government affairs director Brooke Beebe, Midland Cogeneration Venture CEO Pete Milojevich and former CEO Rod Boulanger, Dow Corning energy executive Rod Williamson, local businessmen and solar array developers John Bartos, Steve Ellebracht, and Ted Skinner, and Sanford Dam owner Lee Mueller had been particularly instructive.
In Lansing, Glenn cited "invaluable assistance" from state Sen. Jim Stamas, R-Midland, and Sen. Mike Shirkey, R-Clarklake, energy policy experts Cami Pendell, Brendan Ringlever, Bill Lievense, and former Michigan Public Service Commissioner Laura Chappelle, and "dozens of other experts, too many to name, who generously volunteered their time and expertise to serve on the Energy Work Group we convened to draft our energy reform legislation."
Glenn was nominated as "Freshman Legislator of the Year" by MIRS House reporter Craig Mauger, a former news editor and government reporter for The Courier Times in New Castle, Indiana.
"The pick isn't about his politics," Mauger said, "but it's about what he's been able to get done, and stop from happening in the House so far this year. He's been the voice out there in front of this energy legislation, the voice of opposition to what many of his caucus colleagues want to do, and he's been very successful in lining up people in opposition to it, as can be seen by the fact that it hasn't gotten a vote on the floor yet."
MIRS News editor Kyle Melinn, a former writer for the Boston Herald and newspapers in Arizona, Georgia, and Michigan, said regarding Glenn's nomination that what he found "very compelling is how much time and energy he spent into boning up on the (energy) issue, I mean he really is reading and studying and working hard to understand not only the (electricity) choice issue, which he's very passionate about, but other things on the legislation that I think is pretty impressive. And any time you're a vice chair of something as important as the Energy Policy Committee during this time, it says a lot about you."
"I can speak to him boning up on the issue," Mauger said, "because he's got a stack of papers on his desk about two feet high of documents about energy policy. But it's not just energy policy. He's been really active on the mega tax credit and civil asset forfeiture. He got legislation going on both of those issues, so he's not just working on energy policy."
Glenn's legislation increasing the legal burden of proof required to justify use of civil asset forfeiture laws passed the state House of Representative with nearly unanimous bipartisan support and was the first legislation he sponsored that was signed into law by Gov. Rick Snyder, in October.
"Rep. Gary Glenn will be our freshman of the year," Melinn said, "not necessarily for what he did but what he avoided, and what he prevented from happening. ...To show how he's learned the game, I think he's been able -- maybe more than anyone else -- to put the stall on this energy legislation that at first it was going to get through by the end of the spring, and then maybe the fall, and then by the end of the year. Shoot, they haven't even had a vote on the House on this thing yet.
"And again, I think this is Gary Glenn's ability to dive into the issue, bird dog this thing, get support in his own caucus for doing some kind of expansion, or at the very least keeping the status quo on electric choice. So I think for his efforts there, he does deserve to be the MIRS News freshman of the year."
Citing certain other conservative freshmen who had alienated Republican caucus members, Mauger said Glenn "chose to take a different path and work with his caucus mates and not be offensive to them in the way that he interacts with them."
"If you want to be effective in this job, there's a lot more than just standing up for policies and throwing bombs," Melinn said. "...While not separating himself from his pretty strict conservative values, we saw that time and time again, he was one of the more conservative legislators in the House, but he wasn't disagreeable, and he was still a team player at times and kind of learned the game on the fly."
Other first-term lawmakers nominated by MIRS staff for the award were Rep. Chris Afendoulis, R-Grand Rapids, chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Licensing and Regulatory Affairs and of the Medicaid Subcommittee of Health and Human Services; Rep. Laura Cox, R-Livonia, chair of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on General Government; Sen. Curtis Hertel, D-Lansing; minority vice chairman of the Senate Banking and Financial Institutions Committee and of the Senate Commerce Committee; and Rep. Sheldon Neeley, D-Flint, first vice chairman of the Michigan Legislative Black Caucus.
Melinn said Glenn's selection was not a choice made lightly.
"I appreciate all the research staff here has done. This is not something that we just whip up one day. There is a lot of work that goes into this. I know (our staff) think about these things pretty much at the beginning of December, who are we going to nominate, who would be most fitting to earn these awards."
"This is something we take very seriously, because we feel like the good work that folks do here at the Capitol needs to be recognized. There is just a ton of work that I think goes underappreciated in this town, so it's really good to recognize people who go above and beyond in a certain year and have legislation and do things that we think are pretty special."
Perhaps not coincidentally, MIRS last week named Rep. Jeff Farrington, R-Utica, as House Member of the Year. A third-term lawmaker and chairman of the House Tax Policy Committee on which Glenn serves, Farrington sits immediately to Glenn's right on the House floor. As is customary to help first-term lawmakers learn and navigate the legislative process, Farrington was informally assigned at the beginning of the year to be Glenn's mentor. "I've done more listening than talking, and obviously Jeff set a good example for effectiveness and leadership that it's been my privilege to emulate."
Glenn, 57, a resident of Larkin Township, was elected in November 2014 and represents the 98th House District, comprised of the cities of Auburn, Linwood, and Pinconning plus seven townships in Bay County, and the cities of Midland and Sanford and six townships in Midland County. In addition to the Energy and Tax Policy committees, Glenn also serves on the House Commerce and Trade and the Military and Veterans Affairs committees.