Caro, Mich. -- State Rep. Gary Glenn calls Caro “ground zero” in the battle about wind turbines in Michigan, and by the time he left a town-hall meeting on the topic at Caro High School, he had seen the casualties.
“I’m going to leave you with this – everywhere that wind turbines go, the social fabric of the community is destroyed. That is the common thread,” Jon Block, president of the Deckerville Community Schools Board of Education, told Glenn at the May 19 meeting, in the school cafeteria.
Many members of the audience of about 130 people at the meeting applauded the remark by Block, who also is an elected trustee in Marion Township in northeast Sanilac County. A press release from Glenn stated the meeting was expected to focus on future development of wind energy in the Thumb area.
Earlier in the meeting, Block said he’s “not anti-wind,” noting he has a wind turbine on his property. But he stressed that debate about wind turbines has taken a heavy personal toll.
“We’ve been drug through the mud – some of our lives have been ruined,” Block said. “You’re talking about people who have been destroyed because of this issue.”
Glenn asked Block to offer “very specific examples.”
“A fellow planning commissioner threatened to kill me last year,” Block said. “Is that pretty specific?”
State legislators voted last year to approve new legislation increasing the amount of state energy coming from renewable sources – such as wind and solar power – from the current standard of 10 percent to 15 percent by 2021.
Glenn, chairman of the House Energy Policy committee, voted against increasing the standard to 15 percent. DTE Energy announced plans last month for a dramatic increase in wind power as it tries to increase the percentage of its renewable energy provided to customers.
“I came here tonight opposed to the government mandating that 15 percent of our energy must be developed by renewable energy, and I came out of this meeting all the more opposed,” said Glenn, whose 98th district includes land in parts of Bay and Midland counties.
“What I learned here tonight is this is not just an economic issue, and not just a private property-rights issue, but an issue of social fabric,” Glenn said. “I’m going to communicate that back to my colleagues on the (House) Energy Committee in Lansing – about the social effects (of the wind-turbine debate), not just the economic effects.”
Late last year, Gov. Rick Snyder signed the law into effect that increases the renewable-energy standard to 15 percent.
“I wish the governor were here to see the effect on the social fabric of the community – not just the questions of what kind of energy are we going to have, or private-property rights, or the economic cost, but the social cost,” Glenn said after the town-hall meeting.
“I’d like to see this message, and this crowd, duplicated on the steps of the Capitol, or in the Capitol rotunda, and have that same school-board member communicate that same message to Gov. Snyder in Lansing,” Glenn said.
Should state tweak laws?
Scores of wind turbines have been built in recent years in Huron, Tuscola and Sanilac counties. Voters in all three counties on May 2 issued decisions that weren’t favorable to wind-turbine developers.
Opponents of wind turbines in Tuscola County claim DTE Energy plans to build 3,500 new turbines in Michigan – 50 turbines in 70 new townships.
Mike Pattullo, a resident of Tuscola County’s Ellington Township, told Glenn that state legislators need to pass conflict-of-interest rules preventing public officials from deciding issues or ordinances regarding energy development when those officials receive financial benefits from energy developers – such as leasing their land to the developers.
Pattullo also recommended approval of “transparency laws” requiring energy developers to publish in a newspaper the names of those landowners who have signed leases with energy developers, such as companies proposing wind turbines.
“Somehow, we have to put some pressure on these gigantic wind developers to use some ethics, some honor, when they’re dealing with these small communities,” Pattullo said. “They come into these little townships that have five people sitting on that township planning commission that have never decided anything more than where to put a pole barn, or how much gravel to put on a road.
“And now they’re being asked to do what? Basically, design an oil refinery – right down to the pipe size. They’re just going to go by whatever the wind developer, and their engineering company – who happens to work with them on every project – say.
“That’s the model, but that model, going forward, will be a disaster for 50 turbines per 70 townships.”
Norm Stephens, a resident of Tuscola County’s Almer Township, estimated that wind turbines have been built in about 30 townships in Michigan.
“From what I can find, actually, every one of those (townships) has some level of conflict of interest at the (township) board level, the planning commission level or on the zoning board of appeals,” Stephens told the audience.
“Is there anybody here that can tell me there’s some place in the state that has wind turbines where not one of those three areas has some type of conflict of interest, where somebody has a wind lease (with an energy developer)?”
No one in the audience gave an answer.
“Every one of those townships has conflict of interest – that’s really important, Gary,” Stephens told Glenn.
Ellington Township resident David Vollmar, however, told Glenn that opponents of wind energy have demonstated conflicts of interest in Tuscola County’s Almer and Ellington townships.
“You’ve been hearing a lot of lies here today,” Vollmar said. “Property lines on the zoning ordinance in Almer Township is (a wind turbine must be) 1,500 feet from a property line – that is the ordinance.”
Most incumbents on township boards of trustees in Almer and Ellington townships were replaced in the November 2016 election with members of an anti-wind group, the Ellington-Almer Township Concerned Citizens, according to Vollmar.
“That is conflict of interest – they belong to a group, an anti-wind group, and most of ’em’s here tonight,” Vollmar said.
Vollmar, who is a leaseholder with a wind developer proposing to build turbines in Ellington Township, said that in Ellington Township, four of the five current township board members belonged to the concerned citizens’ group prior to the November election that saw those four candidates win election.
“They all been ag’in windmills,” Vollmar said. “Now that is all conflict of interest. There is no ethics for them people whatsoever. None.”
Glenn then asked Vollmar a question.
“Will any of the members of this anti-wind organization who got elected make any money, depending on how they voted on an ordinance?” Glenn said.
“Who knows?” Vollmar replied, calling the four new members of the Ellington Township Board of Trustees elected in November of 2016 a “crooked board.”
Even ‘honorable men’ questioned
Keith Aeder, supervisor of Tuscola County’s Fairgrove Township, told Glenn of difficulties his township faced regarding wind turbine development.
“We had a planning commission that had conflicts – we recognized that right off the get-go,” Aeder said. “We tried to appoint alternates to our board to get around this issue and get these people out of this position. But it’s illegal – we can’t do that.
“We have no other option. … Either that or we kick them off this planning commission that they’ve served on for 15 or 20 or 30 years.”
Aeder referred to the planning commission members as “honorable men.”
“I can speak for my (township) board that I feel strongly that they were still looking out for the good of property owners – there are people that are trying to protect other people’s property rights,” Aeder said.
“We certainly appreciate the small landowners. I’m one of those small landowners. I personally don’t like the windmills, but at the same time, I feel like I have to try to protect everybody’s rights.”
Aeder urged Glenn to change state law to allow townships to respond to proposed turbine development when one or more township officials have a conflict of interest.
“How do you get away from having people that don’t have a conflict?” Aeder asked Glynn. “It’s very, very difficult. … What do you do about a company that comes in and they may have a ‘pool arrangement,’ where everybody (in a township) benefits (financially)?”
“It’s called a bribe,” said a woman in the audience.
Vollmar contended that in Almer Township, no wind turbines can be built south of Fairgrove Road. A man in the audience disagreed, claiming a wind turbine is planned near the corner of Cameron and Deckerville roads.
“Half the people complain who won’t even see a windmill unless they go for a ride,” Vollmar said. “It’s way out in the farmland, way away from Caro. There’s a few houses around there, but most of the people I talk to in those houses don’t mind. A few do, yes.”
Pattullo said that in the months prior to the 2016 elections, Ellington Township elected officials approved “probably the weakest ordinance (regarding wind turbines) maybe anywhere in the state in the last five years.”
Pattullo said the ordinance allows a noise level of an average 55 decibels at a home. Pattullo said a group of residents “confronted” Ellington Township officials about the ordinance about 18 months ago.
“Fast forward, almost a year and a half now, it’s been hell,” Pattullo said. “I’ve stopped counting at 50 meetings that I’ve been to – every one of them as tense and stressful as the previous one.
“I think the lady from (Huron County’s) Meade Township said (wind developers) basically find the people that will be their bullies, and I don’t know, but you see some true colors that are just amazing. We see ’em in our churches, you run across them everywhere – in stores.
“My point of all this is we have somehow, by five or six miracles in a row, stopped this insane ordinance in Ellington Township and in neighboring Almer Township, through elections and through everything civil we could do.”
Pattullo said residents in the two townships continue trying to toughen their ordinances regarding wind-turbine development.
“We’re still trying to change our ordinances to get them at least up to something maybe that Huron County would have discarded four years ago because they weren’t good enough,” Pattullo said. “Ours are still even worse than that.
“Now we’re to the point where we have these gigantic companies, with their armies of lawyers, trying to sue us into submission. We’re only going to have so much resources. We only have so many people around this community that will continue to stand up. The bullying is pretty serious and it scares a lot of people away.
“We’ve come pretty close to needing temporary restraining orders, all that kind of stuff.”
Ann Arbor, Mich. -- Doctors at the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center Monday told state Rep. Gary Glenn, R-Larkin Twp., that they consider his prostate cancer, in remission since February of last year, stable enough that he does not need to return to Ann Arbor again for a year.
"Thanks to all who've prayed for my family and me over the past eighteen months," Glenn posted on Facebook after the news. "Since chemo ended last July, I've been going to the University of Michigan Cancer Center every four months to get a check up and a shot. Today, testing indicated the cancer remains 'undetectable,' and the docs now consider me 'stable' enough that they don't need to see me again...for a year! Praise the Lord, and pass the ammunition!"
Emergency room physicians at Mid-Michigan Medical Center in Midland diagnosed Glenn on Jan. 15th of last year with stage 4 prostate cancer that had consumed the next to last vertebrae in his spinal column, breaking his back. Glenn wore a back brace for four months, and his neurosurgeon initially said surgery would be required to insert a titanium cage into his spinal column; instead, the missing L-5 vertebrae grew back out of nothing, which is considered unusual.
Glenn's PSA score -- a blood test for prostate cancer in which men who test 4 or higher are considered at risk -- was 348 the day he was diagnosed. It was 1.1 five weeks later, when doctors told him the cancer was in remission, and the score has remained at that level or below ever since.
Even after remission, Glenn underwent five months of chemotherapy to help prevent the tumor from beginning to grow again. Despite undergoing chemo, Glenn has maintained a perfect attendance and voting record, never missing a committee meeting, caucus, or vote on the floor of the state House of Representatives.
Glenn is in his second term representing portions of Bay and Midland counties. He serves as Associate Speaker Pro Tem and as chairman of the House Energy Policy Committee.
Lansing, Mich. – Associate Speaker of the House Pro Tem Rep. Gary Glenn, R-Midland, and Rep. Gary Howell, R-North Branch, Thursday introduced a bill to protect state taxpayers by prohibiting further enrollment in the state’s financially unsustainable Medicaid expansion program after September 30th, the end of the current fiscal year.
Rep. Gary Glenn, left, and Rep. Gary Howell discuss legislation to cap enrollment in Michigan's ObamaCare plan.
The expansion was approved by the Legislature in 2013 as part of the implementation of ObamaCare in Michigan, dramatically expanding eligibility requirements for Medicaid to include able-bodied, working adults. Previously, Medicaid dollars were primarily intended for individuals who could not support themselves -- children, the elderly, and the blind and other physically or mentally disabled adults.
Last year, enrollment under the expanded eligibility standards surpassed 600,000 individuals, a figure 32 percent higher than supporters of the plan projected when arguing for its enactment.
“Even at current levels, this explosion in ObamaCare enrollment by newly-eligible able-bodied adults will cost Michigan taxpayers $80 million this year, which will explode to $200 million a year starting just three years from now,” Rep. Glenn said. “It’s a budget-busting, financially irresponsible ticking time bomb that taxpayers can’t afford even at the current level of enrollment, much less if legislators stand by and allow enrollment to grow even further.”
Glenn and Howell said the legislation is particularly timely given that Congress voted Thursday to repeal ObamaCare and replace federal funding for the state Medicaid program with block grants that would not cover the program’s costs.
When the program began in 2014, the federal government agreed to pay for 100 percent of the additional cost of providing Medicaid benefits to able-bodied adults under the expanded criteria through 2016. But beginning in January, the state must pay for 5 percent of those increased costs, which will double to 10 percent by 2020.
Glenn’s and Howell’s bill would prohibit Michigan’s Health and Human Services department from accepting new enrollees under the expanded criteria into the medical welfare program as of October 1st. The department would be allowed to renew enrollment of current enrollees if they continue to meet eligibility requirements, even though the two GOP lawmakers said even that will likely become financially unsustainable in the state budget.
They said the legislation would also help redirect Medicaid dollars back to those the welfare program was originally intended to help, “disabled adults or children who are incapable of working to support and help themselves,” Glenn said.
“This is a measure of fiscal responsibility to the taxpayers of Michigan it’s our duty to represent,” Howell said. “I can’t imagine anything more fiscally irresponsible than allowing a welfare program for able-bodied adults -- that’s already financially unsustainable now -- to continue to grow even further.”
Michigan State and Harvard University graduate Marc Jordan is the new chief of staff and legislative aide for state Rep. Gary Glenn, Glenn’s office announced Tuesday.
Jordan, who earned his undergraduate and law degrees in East Lansing, and his masters from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, spent 10 years on staff with former Michigan Gov. John Engler — including as the governor’s advisor on agricultural issues and strategic economic initiatives — and has worked on staff for both the state Senate and House of Representatives.
From left, Marc Jordan, State Rep. Gary Glenn and Jordan Keyser.
In his new role, Jordan will be working on issues involving Michigan’s energy market, given Glenn’s role as chairman of the House Energy Policy Committee.
“It’s exciting to work for a legislative leader who is respected by his colleagues and widely known for his expertise, knowledge and passion for free enterprise principles on the most complex issue lawmakers face in Lansing,” Jordan said.
Glenn said Jordan’s decades of experience is an asset to residents of the 98th House District.
“My ability to represent the people of Bay and Midland counties and to help steer Michigan to a more prosperous economy and job market will be greatly enhanced by the years of experience Marc brings to Lansing,” Glenn said.
Glenn’s staff also includes constituent services specialist Jordan Keyser, who earned a political science degree from Saginaw Valley State University and formerly served as a legislative intern for Rep. Tim Kelly.
The location of Glenn’s office has changed after being elected associate speaker of the House pro tem. His office is no longer located in the Anderson House Office Building, but is instead located in Room H-372 on the third floor of the state Capitol itself, immediately overlooking the floor of the state House of Representatives.
Constituents can access the office one of two ways: by entering the House gallery on the third floor and walking along the wall on the left hand side to the door at the end of the seating area, or by taking the elevator found at the far north end of the Capitol on the ground floor and going to the third floor and turning right upon exiting the elevator.
Introduction Thursday of a five-bill package of Constitutional Carry legislation backed by the National Association for Gun Rights and the National Rifle Association.
Rep. Gary Glenn seated, backed up by primary sponsors of the other four bills, left to right: Rep. Pamela Hornberger (R), Rep. Beau LaFave (R), Rep. Scott Dianda (D), and Rep. Steve Johnson (R).
This legislation, if enacted, will allow any law-abiding citizen to carry a concealed weapon without having to ask the government's permission. The Constitution is your permit to "keep and bear arms," openly or concealed.
In a time when civil unrest and violence is being encouraged in our streets, and we face the threat of terrorism from abroad and here at home, the more law-abiding Americans who are armed to protect themselves, their families, their property, and our country, the better.
Rep. Gary Glenn, R-Midland, has introduced bipartisan legislation to repeal state Common Core educational standards in Michigan, replacing them with proven standards and more emphasis on local control.
Glenn’s bill, House bill 4192, is co-sponsored by 26 Republican and two Democratic members of the House.
“Michigan students deserve the best standards, proven by actual test results,” Glenn said. “And ultimately, our own local school boards and educational leaders — not the federal government – know what’s best for Michigan students.”
However, local officials would like to be a part of the conversation on any legislation.
“It is always disappointing when legislation is proposed without those in the profession being a part of it. The Common Core became a political stone to throw when it is purely a local curriculum issue. Legislators forcing their will without regards to what those in the field will say is best,” stated Midland Public Schools Superintendent Michael Sharrow in an email to the Daily News.
Glenn’s legislation would:
Eliminate Common Core as the state’s educational standard.
Replace them with acclaimed standards used in Massachusetts prior to the Obama Administration’s promotion of Common Core. Glenn cited a 2014 report from the Business Leaders for Michigan, which noted, for example, that Massachusetts ranked first nationwide in fourth-grade reading (page 34), eighth-grade math (page 35) and career and college readiness (pages 36-37) while Michigan scored in the bottom half of the states.
Give local school boards in Michigan the authority to adjust the standards as they decide what best serves their students’ interests.
Parents would be free to opt their child out of any class, instruction or testing.
The state and local schools would be prohibited from collecting data regarding an individual student’s values, attitudes, beliefs, and personality traits, or the student’s political or religious affiliations or views.
Test questions used by public schools would be made easily available to the public.
Glenn noted that critics of Common Core have long cited the use of unproven methods under such standards for teaching math, unfunded mandates for intensive testing and other problems.
“It’s past time for Michigan to regain control over the education of our own children,” Glenn said.
Sharrow also stated, “Being a conservative myself it seems local control has been truly lost.”
The Michigan Competitiveness Committee, chaired by Rep. Lee Chatfield, R-Levering, will hold a public hearing on the bill Wednesday, Feb. 15, from noon to 1:30 p.m. The location of the hearing has not yet been finalized, but will occur either in the state Capitol or the House Office Building across the street depending on crowd size.
LANSING, MI -- A Midland athlete who gained national attention in a social media uproar last year was invited to the floor of the Michigan House of for Gov. Rick Snyder's 2017 State of the State address on Jan. 17.
Ashton Brooks, who is black, was at the center of a national story in October after a white woman posted an Instagram photo with a picture of a gorilla and the caption "... got a pic with dows kicker ;)."
Brooks is the placekicker for the Midland H.H. Dow High School football team and the picture was taken at the school's Friday, Oct. 21, game against Midland High School.
The recent controversy over a social media post attacking a black female high school football kicker will not be allowed to distract from the team's first football playoff game this Friday, Oct. 28.
After the post was made that Friday, it was discovered by school officials Saturday and by Tuesday it had gone viral when Shaun King, a writer for the New York Daily News, tweeted the image. King was not the person who initially took the photograph.
The woman who posted the image was a former Dow student and a Michigan State University student at the time. She has since been banned from the high school property.
Brooks and her mother were invited by Rep. Gary Glenn, R-Midland, to a private reception in the governor's office before his address to a joint session of the state House and Senate. She then joined Glenn on the House floor for the governor's speech while her mother, April Brooks, watched from the gallery, according to a Glenn representative.
"The visit meant more to me than words can account for," Ashton Brooks said. "Representatives are only allowed to bring one guest to the floor, so the fact that Rep. Gary Glenn chose me to be that person, in itself is something to look up to."
Glenn, in a press release, said it was a pleasure having the Brookses as his guests and praised the way Brooks handled the national attention she received.
"As a football fan, I was impressed and proud of Ashton's athletic ability and performance, but as her state representative and a father, even more so by the maturity, grace and discipline with which she responded to suddenly being thrust at a young age into a national spotlight," Glenn said.
"Her example is worthy of recognition, and I hope her being here is an encouragement that sends a strong message that the Midland community and the entire state of Michigan value, respect, and support her and all our young people 'not by the color of their skin,' as Dr. King said, 'but by the content of their character.'"
Brooks said she was introduced to the youngest representative in the House as well as Michigan's Speaker of the House Tom Leonard, with whom she had a discussion about his high school football career.
"It was crazy to think that while I'm always looking up to our great politicians, last night some of them even looked up to me and seemed quite proud of me and the way I handled my viral story," Brooks said. "And it was extremely powerful to be recognized by such amazing people in that way."
Brooks was the first female to play for a high school football team in Midland. Also a member of the Dow soccer team, she scored more extra points than any other kicker in the Saginaw Valley League Blue Division, was named 2nd team All-Conference, as well as the Dow High football team's Most Valuable Player and Special Teams Player of the Year. She plans to attend Northwood University in Midland on academic and soccer scholarships.
"It truly was an incredible experience that I am so very lucky to have been a part of," Brooks said of her House visit.
MIDLAND, MI -- State Rep. Gary Glenn continues to rank among the most conservative voters in the state House of Representatives.
Glenn, R-Midland, tied for the second-most conservative voting record in the state house in 2016, according to an annual ranking by the Michigan Information and Research Service.
"It's my duty to faithfully represent the conservative values of families in Bay and Midland counties, and I'll continue to do my best to fulfill the trust they've placed in me to serve as their voice and vote in the state House," Glenn stated in a press release.
Glenn, R-Larkin Township, will continue to represent the District 98 State House seat after receiving 60 percent of the vote in the Tuesday, Nov. 8, general election.
Glenn, who will serve as Associate Speaker of the House Pro Tem in 2017, tied with incoming Assistant Majority Floor Leader Triston Cole, R-Mancelona, and outgoing Rep. Ray Franz, R-Onekama, in voting conservative on 87 percent of votes analyzed by MIRS.
Rep. Tom Hooker, R-Byron Center, ranked first by voting conservative on 91 percent of votes.
Glenn will begin his second two-year term as representative on Wednesday, Jan. 11, when the 2017-18 House session convenes in Lansing.
Watch Rep. Glenn’s tribute in the Michigan House of Representatives to his late father James R. Glenn, a U.S. Marine who survived the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.
Gov. Rick Snyder joined Rep. Glenn as they also paid tribute to Pearl Harbor survivor Sgt. Don Bloomfield, 95, of Midland, Michigan, on the 75th anniversary of the Date That Will Live in Infamy.
Cites impact on energy policy reform
Listen to incoming Speaker of the House Tom Leonard nominate Rep. Gary Glenn for MIRS "House Member of the Year.”
Comments run from 31:55 to 35:45 of this MIRS podcast: