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For The Week Of September 16, 2017 Through September 22, 2017

A Somewhat Unexpected And Determined Opponent To A U.S. Con-Con

By John Lindstrom
Posted: September, 22 2017 12:45 PM

A proposal calling for a federal constitutional convention was reported to the full House last week. It was supported by all three Republican members of the Government Operations Committee. Presumably, all the Republican committee members would proudly proclaim they are conservatives.

Don’t tell that to the Michigan Conservative Union, which has thrown itself with fervent ferocity into a fight to oppose the Con-Con resolution, HJR V*.

In its most recent newsletter, the MCU trashes the idea of calling a federal constitutional convention, and for the same reason that liberals generally raise: a con-con could not be limited and who knows what would come out of it?

The proposal in HJR V* is part of an effort from a group called the Convention of States, which calls for a convention to impose new fiscal requirements on the federal government (primarily a balanced budget proposal), limits on what the federal government can do so the states have more power and term limits on federal officials.

The organization says those changes will restore the U.S. Constitution to what was intended – of course constitutional scholars have pointed out a number of constitutional drafters, Alexander Hamilton comes to mind, wanted a stronger federal government and initially James Madison wanted Congress to rule on all laws passed by states – and be a limited convention to those items.

Comes now the MCU to bellow balderdash at the limitation claim. They are quick to quote not only former President Madison but the late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, who said in a televised interview, “I certainly would not want a constitutional convention. I mean, whoa. Who knows what would come out of that?”

They also quote former Chief Justice Warren Burger and former North Carolina Sen. Sam Ervin, chair of the famous Watergate investigation committee, saying a convention could not be reined in once it began.

The MCU is an organization that supports ideas like limited government and lower taxes. And what it fears could come of a con-con – limitations on the First Amendment, repeal of the Second Amendment? – is not clear.

What is clear is that the group doesn’t trust what today’s Americans and their leaders might do with a federal con-con.

The group points out that in 1788, a year after the Constitution was ratified, both New York and Virginia wanted to call a second convention. Virginia, in fact, took steps to call for a new convention two days after it ratified the Constitution and called for 40 amendments to be adopted. In 230 years, a total of 27 amendments have been adopted.

President George Washington, Vice President John Adams, Thomas Jefferson and Mr. Hamilton (both in the cabinet), Mr. Madison in the U.S. Senate and John Jay, the first chief justice, did not want a second convention, the MCU said.

“Can it be safer to have one now, then when it was too risky for the founders?” the MCU said.

Calling on their members to contact lawmakers to oppose HJR V*, one can presume the MCU is not likely to change its mind.

And, in terms of a balanced budget, the federal government can do it, if the economy is strong and the discipline is there. It’s been done several times in the last 50 years. It’s probably churlish to point out that the last times the federal budget was balanced, Democrats were president. But it does show an amendment isn’t required to get it done.

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Two Candidates, Two Different Ways Of Announcing For Governor

By Zachary Gorchow
Posted: September, 19 2017 5:11 PM

Republican Attorney General Bill Schuette and Democratic former Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer are the early frontrunners for their respective parties’ nominations for governor, but they announced their candidacies in two very different ways.

Ms. Whitmer’s announcement was more in line with how most candidates announce today – tightly scripted and not via an in-person event, at least on the first day. She sent an email to her supporters, as well as the news media, declaring she was entering the race and posted announcements to her social media accounts as well. The day after that announcement, Ms. Whitmer conducted one-on-one interviews with several news organizations, including this one.

Mr. Schuette’s was more old school, mixed with some new school. He held a well-organized, well-attended rally so he could announce his bid to longtime supporters in his hometown of Midland. The venue was full of Americana – U.S. flags everywhere at the Midland County Fair Grounds.

After the announcement, Mr. Schuette took about five minutes of questions from reporters, and it was during this session that one of the, maybe the, most memorable lines of the evening occurred when Mr. Schuette compared himself to Obi-Wan Kenobi from “Star Wars,” referencing Princess Leia’s entreaty to Mr. Kenobi, “I’m our only hope.” Whether he was referring to being the only hope for Michigan Republicans or for the state at-large, I’m not sure.

The new school part came from having staff live-tweet his announcement speech, and the speech was broadcast live via Facebook as well.

The upside and downside of both options was on display.

Ms. Whitmer got tight messaging on the first day. She was (A) in the race, (B) labeling herself a fighter and (C) stating what she would fight for – workers, children, students, public health and public safety. But without any in-person events, she didn’t get the chance to show a wider audience more about herself and who she is. Most people running for office say they support those priorities.

Mr. Schuette got the great visuals, coverage of his call for an income tax cut and his personality came through. But the Kenobi reference competed for attention with his message of running to be the state’s “jobs governor” fighting for more jobs and bigger paychecks. Such is the risk of entertaining questions from reporters, though I asked the question that led to the Kenobi reference, and the question was not, “If you were a ‘Star Wars’ character, which one would you be?” I asked him if he considered 2018 to be a change election in Michigan and if so, how does he argue he is the change candidate having been in elected office for most of the past three decades (and Mr. Schuette did answer that question after the Kenobi quip).

Both candidates have a long way to go to prove good on their frontrunner status. The candidate fields for each party probably are not fully set yet.

Mr. Schuette has to deal with a challenge from the right from Sen. Patrick Colbeck and an outsider who looks inclined to self-finance in Dr. Jim Hines. Lt. Governor Brian Calley could still enter the race.

Ms. Whitmer is confronting an unexpectedly intriguing challenge from Dr. Abdul El-Sayed, who seems to be the subject of a new national media profile every week and is generating excitement among the Bernie Sanders wing of the party, and a potentially well-financed candidacy from business executive Shri Thanedar.

But if these two candidates do end up facing each other following next August’s primary for the chance to be Michigan’s 49th governor, they will have started that path in very different ways.

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Why Is Michigan Still Spelling Marijuana With An ‘H’?

By Alethia Kasben
Staff Writer
Posted: September, 18 2017 3:48 PM

Those of us who spend time covering policy in Michigan spend a lot of time seeing – and questioning – marijuana spelled with an “h” instead of a “j” throughout state government.

And let me tell you, I hate it. In 2008, medical marijuana became legal in Michigan and new laws regulating medical marijuana spell the drug marihuana.

I was told last year those working on policy in Legislature wanted to keep it consistent, so they continued to spell it with an “h”.

Now there’s a licensing board and a state bureau overseeing the system. Also with an “h”. Also annoying.

A quick google search tells me Michigan’s public health code refers to marihuana, so it is consistent with much older state law. Federal law uses the same spelling.

But at any time it could have been changed. No one spells marijuana with an “h”. It is weird and inconsistent with references to the drug almost everywhere else. I mean, it’s called “mary jay” not “mary h.”

This Washington Post story dives a little more into the spelling and for the DEA, both spellings are used interchangeably. It appears the spelling we are used to now became mainstream in the 1960s and 1970s.

But there doesn’t seem to be a real reason to use the older spelling. And there have been plenty of opportunities to just use the mainstream spelling in law. And not all states spell it with an “h”, as Colorado’s legalization effort referred to marijuana.

Does it really matter that Michigan uses this old spelling of the drug? No, of course it doesn’t. But as the drug is more widely accepted and used, state law should catch up with the times.

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