SAGINAW, MI — Almost a full year into his first term in the Michigan House of Representative, Midland-area lawmaker Gary Glenn has been named the Michigan Legislature's "freshman of the year" for 2015.
The 57-year-old Republican, who represents portions of Midland and Bay counties in the Michigan House of Representatives, reacted initially with humor.
"It's been a long time since I was a 'freshman' at anything," Glenn joked.
"But in all seriousness," he said. "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."
The honor was imparted by Michigan Information and Research Service, a Michigan Capitol news service better known as MIRS, as part of its Monday, Dec. 28, "MIRS Monday" podcast.
When MIRS House Reporter Craig Mauger announced Glenn as his nomination during the podcast, Kyle Melinn, MIRS news editor and co-owner, responded by describing the first-term lawmaker as "a bit of a polarizing figure."
"The pick isn't about his politics, but it's about what he's been able to get done and stop from happening in the House so far this year," Mauger said.
He pointed to Glenn's position as vice-chairman of the House Energy Policy Committee and work he has done on pending energy legislation as well as bills the representative has introduced on tax policy and civil asset forfeiture.
"He's been the voice out there in front of this energy legislation," Mauger said. "The voice of opposition to what many of his caucus colleagues want to do."
When announcing the choice of Glenn as "freshman of the year," Melinn pointed to Glenn's success stalling any action on the pending energy legislation.
"Not necessary for what he did, but what he avoided and what he prevented from happening," he said.
MIRS staff also recognized the hard work Glenn has put in researching the issue.
"He's got a stack of papers on his desk about two feet high of documents about energy policy," Mauger said.
The reporter added that Glenn chose to "work with his caucus-mates" and did not follow former Reps. Todd Courser and Cindy Gamrat "down the path of being completely meaningless to the process in the Legislature."
"He avoided that entire mess," Melinn said.
...Much of Glenn's work in Lansing in 2015 has focused on diverse policy issues ranging from energy and tax policy to education and transportation funding.
...Nearly a year ago, MIRS staff named Glenn as one of eight "freshmen to watch" in the wake of the November 2014 election.
During that podcast, Melinn acknowledged the controversy that has often followed Glenn, but also pointed to the lawmaker's diverse policy background, saying "I think he's going to surprise some people here."
Here is the full list of nominations for best senators and freshman lawmakers of 2015, as announced in the MIRS podcast Monday (the winners are shown in bold):
Senators of the Year
Sen. Phil Pavlov, R-St. Clair
Sen. Arlan Meekoff, R-West Olive (Senate majority leader)
Sen. Dave Robertson, R-Grand Blanc
Sen. Goeff Hansen, R-Hart
Sen. Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge
Freshman Lawmakers of the Year
Rep. Chris Afendoulis, R-Grand Rapids Township
Rep. Laura Cox, R- Livonia
Sen. Curtis Hertel, D-Meridian Township
Rep. Gary Glenn, R-Larkin Township
Rep. Sheldon Neeley, D-Flint
Glenn credited his family and his staff, including former state Sen. Mike Goschka and Adam deAngeli, for all they have done to help him during his first year in the Michigan Legislature.
"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," he said.
Glenn also thanked Sen. Jim Stamas, R-Midland, and Sen. Mike Shirkey, R-Clarklake, representatives from Dow Chemical, Dow Corning and Midland Cogeneration Venture and many other energy policy experts for their "invaluable assistance" on the energy policy issue.
"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," he said.
Glenn was elected to the Michigan House of Representatives by voters of the 98th District in November 2014.