Legislation cosponsored by Canfield, Howell to expand energy choice
Rep. Gary Glenn, R-Williams Twp., chairman of the Michigan House Energy Policy Committee, will hold a public hearing Tuesday, Feb. 20th, on House Bill 5387, legislation he introduced to help farmers and other agricultural operations save money on electricity bills, a major cost of doing business.
Spokesmen for the Michigan Sugar Company plant in Bay City, the POET ethanol plant in Caro, and the Michigan Agri-Business Association are expected to testify, along with other industry representatives, about the impact of electricity costs on agricultural production and processing operations. Individual farmers are also encouraged to attend and testify Tuesday at 9:00 a.m. on the 5th floor of the House Office Building across the street from the state Capitol in Lansing.
Glenn's bill - which has two cosponsors, Rep. Edward Canfield, R-Sebawaing, and Rep. Gary Howell, R-North Branch -- would allow agricultural production and processing operations to choose where they buy their electricity, potentially saving millions of dollars for Michigan's second-largest industry and lowering the cost of food products for consumers. Currently, most agricultural operations do not have the option of capitalizing on potential savings through alternative suppliers to Consumers Energy and DTE because Michigan law caps the electricity choice program at 10 percent of the market -- a limit reached almost a decade ago. The practical result is that some agricultural operations are free to buy electricity from an alternative provider, but the overwhelming majority are forced to buy power from Consumers or DTE.
"The arbitrary 10 percent cap on Michigan's electric choice program protects utility monopolies at the expense of customers, including our state's farmers and agricultural processing operations," Glenn said. "It artificially raises the cost of doing business in agriculture, which in turn results in higher prices for families. It's unnecessary and unfair. This legislation is an attempt to reverse this harmful state law and help lower costs for food producers who are vitally important to Michigan residents and our economy."
Glenn called agriculture "the backbone of Michigan's economy," citing state statistics which indicate that agriculture comprises 22 percent of employment in Michigan and contributes more than $101 billion to the state's economy each year.
Michigan produces more than 300 commodities for commercial sale. The state has more than 52,000 farms.
State Senate candidate contrasts his record with Daley's support for raising taxes
Lansing, Mich. -- Rep. Gary Glenn, R-Williams Twp., an officially filed candidate for the state Senate seat representing Bay, Lapeer, and Tuscola counties, Thursday voted to approve a package of bills aimed at providing substantial income tax relief for Michigan families and seniors. He will face former state Rep. Kevin Daley, R-Lum, in the August Republican primary.
Glenn, who serves as Associate Speaker Pro Tem of the state House of Representatives and chairman of the House Energy Policy Committee, said his record of support for cutting taxes will provide voters a sharp contrast with Daley's past record of voting in favor of major tax increases.
The bills Glenn supported Thursday increase personal exemptions for Michigan taxpayers and their dependents on their state income taxes, while providing additional tax relief targeted specifically for senior citizens. Glenn voted for the three-bill package that will enable people to keep more of their hard-earned money.
"This legislation delivers much-needed tax relief to the hardworking taxpayers in mid-Michigan," Glenn said. "A technical adjustment to state law related to President Trump's new federal tax cuts will save taxpayers $172 per person on state income taxes each year - or $688 for a family of four. Raising the personal exemption will provide an additional $102 in relief for a family of four."
The legislation, House Bills 5420-5422, will:
* Ensure Michigan taxpayers can continue claiming personal exemptions on income taxes after federal tax reforms signed into law last month, and increase the state personal exemption from the current $4,000 to $4,300 for the 2018 tax year, with gradual increases reaching $4,800 for 2020;
* Certify taxpayers in Michigan cities with an income tax will continue to be able to claim exemptions; and
* Help senior citizens in addition to the personal exemption increase by providing a $100 income tax credit for a single filer age 62 or older - or $200 for joint filers.
Last week, Glenn also voted in favor of reducing the sales tax charged when a car buyer trades in an older vehicle, and last year, he voted in favor of cutting the state income tax back down to the level it stood before former Gov. Jennifer Granholm's "temporary" tax increase a decade ago.
Glenn noted that in contrast, Daley voted in favor of increasing taxes on senior citizens by applying the state income tax to for the first time to pensions, a move Glenn said unfairly burdened seniors after they had already retired.
Daley in 2014 also voted in favor of a $2 billion sales and fuel tax increase that later appeared on the May 2015 statewide ballot as Proposal 1 and was rejected by 80 percent of voters statewide, including 85 percent in Bay County and 88 percent in Lapeer and Tuscola counties.
Glenn was an outspoken leader in the ballot campaign to defeat what would have been the largest state tax increase in half a century, teaming up with now-Congressman Paul Mitchell to debate against the massive tax hike during a televised town hall on WNEM-TV Channel 5 and holding his own town hall at the Midland Public Library to urge voters to reject the increase.
Daley praised the tax hike in a statement to the Lapeer County Press the day after voting for it, calling it "historic" and "sustainable." Click here for his statement.
Glenn, six months after voters rejected Daley's tax hike on the ballot, voted against a different $400 million roads tax increase that later passed the Legislature and became law.
"Republican primary voters want a candidate they can trust to reduce taxes, not vote to increase taxes on families and seniors as former Rep. Daley did," Glenn said.
Lansing, Mich. -- Rep. Gary Glenn, R-Williams Twp., chairman of the House Energy Policy Committee and Associate Speaker Pro Tem of the state House of Representatives, visited the Secretary of State's office in Lansing Tuesday to officially file as a candidate in the Republican primary this August for the state Senate seat representing Bay, Lapeer, and Tuscola counties. The seat is currently held by term-limited state Sen. Mike Green, R-Mayville, who is supporting Glenn's candidacy.
"Republican primary voters want and deserve a state Senate candidate they can trust to protect our 2nd Amendment rights and vote to cut taxes, not raise them," Glenn said Tuesday. "I'm the only candidate in this Republican primary with a strong record of support for law-abiding gun owners' rights and of voting against increasing the tax burden on Michigan families and seniors."
Glenn is in his second term in the House representing portions of Bay and Midland counties.
He will face former state Rep. Kevin Daley, R-Lum, in the Republican primary.
Measure is companion bill to freezing new enrollments
State Rep. Gary Glenn today said able-bodied Medicaid recipients should be required to work, participate in work training or perform community service as a condition to continue receiving benefits.
Glenn, of Williams Township, said welfare recipients have work requirements, and the same standards should apply to people who are enrolled in the Medicaid program.
The bill is a companion piece to an earlier bill freezing enrollment in Michigan’s Medicaid expansion plan. Glenn referred to the 2013 expansion as “Michigan’s ObamaCare” and said ending new enrollment will limit damage to the state budget, which is required to pick up 5 percent of expansion costs in the coming fiscal year.
Late last week, the Trump White House said that it would allow states to impose work requirements in Medicaid, a major policy shift that moves toward fulfilling a conservative vision for one of the nation’s largest social insurance programs for low-income people.
Federal officials said they would support state efforts to require able-bodied adults to work or participate in other “community engagement activities” as a condition of eligibility for Medicaid.
Glenn said Medicaid must be brought under control.
“This explosion in Medicaid entitles working, able-bodied adults to receive this entitlement. This common-sense reform will relieve a budgetary burden that has able-bodied people taking benefits away from those who are unable to help themselves – children, senior citizens, the blind, and people with physical and mental challenges,” Glenn said. “Expanded Medicaid is a luxury that we cannot pay for as it is. It is a ticking time bomb that will fracture our state budget.”
Under the new legislation, individuals exempt from the work or work training requirements are:
• A child under the age of 16;
• A child age 16 to 18 who is attending elementary or secondary school full time;
• Someone who has medical documentation of being disabled or documentation of an inability to participate in employment or job training for more than 90 days because of a mental or physical condition;
• A recipient unable to participate as determined by a medical review team;
• A recipient age 65 or older;
• A person receiving supplemental security income;
• A recipient of retirement, survivor, or disability insurance based on a disability or blindness, or a recipient found eligible for such insurance who is in a non-pay status.
The Department of Health and Human Services may grant a temporary exemption from the work requirement to any of the following:
• An individual suffering from a documented short-term mental or physical illness, limitation or disability that severely restricts the ability to participate in work or work training. If a recipient’s status severely restricts the ability to work, they shall be required to participate in the work or work training program at a medically permissible level. The exemption is limited to 90 days without a review.
• Someone for whom certain program requirements have been waived under this bill, with the exemption not exceeding 90 days;
• A parent with a child under the age of 60 days if the child is living in the home, or a mother for postpartum recovery up to 60 days if the child is not living in the home;
• A pregnant recipient who, based on medical documentation, is severely restricted in her ability to participate for the duration of the pregnancy;
• The spouse of a recipient who is verified as disabled living in the home with the spouse if it is determined the spouse is needed at home full time due to the extent of medical care required. This exemption must be reviewed annually;
• A parent of a child who is verified as disabled and living at home if it is determined the parent is needed in the home due to the extent of medical care required. The one-year review applies to this exemption; and
• An individual is not considered disabled for purposes of this legislation if substance abuse is a contributing factor to the determination of disability.
Earlier this month, Kentucky became the first state in the nation to require Medicaid recipients to work or get jobs training after federal approval for the change. Kentucky’s waiver requires able-bodied adult recipients to participate at least 80 hours each month in jobs training, education or community service.
Glenn said Michigan should follow suit.
“It is our sworn duty as legislators to be responsible to the taxpayers of Michigan, and I believe it is fiscally irresponsible to allow able-bodied adults to draw on resources that should be reserved for disabled adults or children who cannot help themselves,” Glenn said.
The bill was referred to the House Appropriations Committee.
Lansing, Mich. -- Using taxpayer money to settle a sexual harassment claim against a state or local government official -- as Congress did to settle a claim against former Congressman John Conyers, D-Detroit -- would be outlawed under legislation introduced Wednesday by a Bay County lawmaker.
Associate Speaker Pro Tem Gary Glenn, R-Williams Twp., the sponsor of House Bill 5405, said he was astounded by news of Conyers' tax-financed payoff and "never imagined a law was necessary for the government to know it's wrong to use our tax dollars to cover for a public official's misconduct in office."
"A public official who's guilty of sexual harassment can be pressured to resign as Conyers did, fired, recalled, or voted out at the next election if he refuses, or sued as an individual, but in no case should already overburdened taxpayers be forced to pay the tab for a public official's abusive behavior," Glenn said.
Glenn's legislation, other than language defining various terms, is comprised of just one sentence:
"A public entity shall not make an expenditure of public funds to settle a claim or action involving sexual harassment in which a public official is the alleged perpetrator or defendant."
Glenn said any settlement in a case involving an elected or appointed public official should be paid "out of the guilty public official's pocket, not taxpayers' pockets."
He noted that the Washington Post reported in November that over the last twenty years, Congress has paid more than $17 million from public funds for 264 settlements and awards to federal employees for violations of various employment rules, including sexual harassment, an example he said the state should not follow.
Click the video for Rep. Glenn's comments in Kansas City in 2015 accepting the Senator Everett Dirksen Award, the highest honor bestowed by the National Right to Work Committee. Gary led the campaign to enact Idaho's Right to Work law in the 1980s and was a founding member of the Michigan Freedom to Work coalition that launched the successful effort to enact Right to Work in Michigan in 2012.
Rep. Glenn talks about the Lord's miracles in his relationship with Speaker of the House Tom Leonard's family
Legislator introduces two bills in broad reform package
Lansing, Mich. -- Rep. Gary Glenn, R-Williams Twp., today introduced legislation included in a broad reform plan to protect public services and the retirement benefits for police, firefighters and other local government employees in Michigan.
The reforms stress transparency and proper reporting from local governments to pinpoint ones that may be at risk of bankruptcy due to underfunded retirement plans. The reforms will help set up a system to help them avoid financial crisis.
“We are working to safeguard the retirement benefits of the men and women who put their lives on the line to protect us,” Glenn said after the reform package was introduced in the Michigan House. “Public safety employees need these reforms, because doing nothing would leave their retirement healthcare benefits at risk of being eliminated in bankruptcy.
A task force earlier this year assembled by Gov. Rick Snyder explored the critical challenges posed by Michigan’s underfunded local government employee retirement systems, which have unfunded liabilities approaching $20 billion. Glenn and other lawmakers are following up the task force report with a multi-bill package to address mounting local retiree healthcare and pension costs.
The legislation creates a reporting system with uniform financial and accounting standards for local government retirement plans. An early detection system will help local governments and the state identify potential funding problems and act quickly to mitigate them. Communities will be vetted through a state treasurer’s fiscal impact evaluation and retirement systems will be flagged as underfunded when municipalities aren’t meeting set criteria to alleviate their debts.
Local governments will have plenty of opportunity to address issues on their own. But if that fails, a financial management team with local and state representation will step in to force changes to put programs back on firm financial footing.
Glenn is the primary sponsor of two bills in the multi-bill legislative package which specifically deal with the reporting and analysis requirements for local governments.
Legislation also protects human trafficking victims from coercion
Lansing, Mich. -- The state Senate today unanimously approved legislation from state Rep. Gary Glenn, R-Williams Twp., to make it illegal for law enforcement officials to engage in sexual acts with prostitutes or victims of human trafficking during the course of an investigation.
“Michigan is the last state to eliminate this unintended exemption. While there is no evidence that law enforcement officers are engaged in such activity, human trafficking experts testify that men who impersonate police officers have used this exemption from prosecution to intimidate women into having sex,” said Glenn. “This legislation will help protect victims of human trafficking from being further abused, and remove an unfair and unwarranted cloud over our law enforcement officers who faithfully perform their duty with integrity.”
The legislation was introduced at the request of attorney Bridgette Carr, director of the University of Michigan Human Trafficking Clinic, to reinforce Michigan’s commitment to protect victims of human trafficking who are frequently forced into prostitution.
“Michigan will no longer have the stigma of being the last state in the country that unintentionally exempts police officers who have sex with prostitutes during an investigation from prosecution," Glenn said. “This common sense legislation has received significant bipartisan support because it protects our law enforcement and victims of sex-based crimes.”
House Bill 4355, which was previously approved by a 93-14 vote in the state House, now moves to the governor for his consideration. Glenn was joined on the legislation by sixteen cosponsors, all female, including both Democrats and Republicans.
Rep. Glenn agrees with Supt. Pierce: All schools should be able to save tax dollars through Electricity Choice
Hearing scheduled on legislation Dec. 5th
Rep. Gary Glenn, R-Williams Twp., chairman of the House Energy Policy Committee, said today he will escalate his fight to help more Michigan schools save money through the state's Electricity Choice program.
Glenn plans to hold a hearing Tuesday, Dec. 5th, on legislation that would allow all schools to choose where they buy their electricity. His statement follows testimony before the committee this week by Tuscola Independent School District Supt. Gene Pierce, president of the Michigan Schools Energy Cooperative, which already saves schools across the state an average of $15 million a year in energy costs through the choice program.
“Because of an arbitrary cap on the Electricity Choice program, we have an absurd situation in current law in which one public school district is saving tens of thousands of dollars or more a year on its electricity bills, but it’s against the law for a neighboring school district to do the exact same thing,” said Glenn. “I agree with Supt. Pierce that we should give all schools the freedom to choose where they buy electricity so they can redirect more savings into the classroom.”
Glenn noted that in the legislative district he represents, Bay City Schools save on electricity by buying from Wolverine Power instead of Consumers Energy. But four other school districts he represents -- Bullock Creek, Meridian, Midland, and Pinconning -- are forced by law to buy from Consumers at a higher price. Similarly, in Tuscola County, all school districts save money through Electricity Choice except Vassar Public Schools, which is prohibited by law from doing so.
The Energy Policy Committee will hear testimony Tuesday on House Bill 4708, sponsored by Rep. John Reilly of Oakland County.
Reilly’s bill would allow all K-12 schools to buy electricity from any provider they choose. The goal is to help educational institutions save money on one of their highest costs of doing business. Currently, most schools in the state do not have the option to capitalize on potential savings through providers other than Consumers Energy and DTE because Michigan law caps the program at 10 percent of the electricity market, a cap that was filled almost a decade ago. An additional 11,000 electricity customers have signed up in a queue to enter the program if a current Electricity Choice customers drops out, which isn't likely.
Pierce testified before the Energy Policy Committee last Tuesday that Tuscola ISD's savings average $35 per student, or $250,000 per year -- enough money to buy 500 laptop computers at $500 each.
“We take electricity for granted, yet it has a major impact on the school budget,” Pierce said in his written testimony. “School districts need to take advantage of every opportunity to maximize the use of every available dollar and purchasing electricity through the choice market is one of those cost saving opportunities. ... Schools should be allowed to maximize the use of our funds through Electric Choice and drive more dollars to the business of educating students.”
Statewide, MISEC contracts electricity for 17 percent of Michigan’s K-12 public schools and reports average annual savings of $15 million for its member schools. If more schools could participate, the savings would be far greater, Pierce said.
“All homeowners, businesses, farms, and industries should again be free to choose -- as we were from 2000 to 2008 -- where they buy electricity, just as they're free now to buy natural gas," Glenn said. "Until we have the votes in Lansing to restore full consumer choice to our electricity market, I will continue to push to save taxpayers money by allowing at least our schools the flexibility to buy electricity through a competitive bid process, just like they do other services and commodities. It would save tens of millions of dollars that could be spent on students and teachers instead."
The House Energy Policy Committee is scheduled to meet at 9 a.m. Tuesday, Dec. 5 in Room 519 of the House Office Building in downtown Lansing. The bill under discussion will be House Bill 4708.