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Michigan Legislative Update

Week of October 27, 2016

By Judy Augenstein

House Democrats have outspent House Republicans so far in the battle for the majority but the House GOP has a four to one cash on hand advantage going into the final three weeks before Election Day, according to campaign finance reports filed this week.  Republicans have a 62-45 majority in the House with three vacancies.  Democrats need to flip nine seats that Republicans won in the 2014 elections to their side for an outright majority.  As both sides make their final push, the House Republicans are in a strong position with $2.26 million cash on hand to $568,623 cash on hand for the Democrats.

If a battle for the Republican gubernatorial nomination in 2018 develops between Lt. Governor Brian Calley and Attorney General Bill Schuette, then Schuette is on his way to building up a cash advantage.  Attorney General Schuette has $706,286 cash on hand while Lt. Governor Calley has $557,417 on hand.  Calley is raising the money in his lieutenant governor committee and Schuette in the committee he created to run for attorney general.  But both could transfer the cash from their committees to gubernatorial committees should they decide to run---it is strongly rumored they will face off against each other for the gubernatorial nomination.  

This week an Ingham Circuit Court judge rejected a request from a Flint resident and attorney Mark Brewer, former Michigan Democratic Committee chair, to form a one person grand jury to investigate whether Governor Rick Snyder is breaking the law in using tax dollars to pay for criminal defense attorneys to represent him during the investigation into the Flint water crisis.  The court gave no reason for the denial other than to say it was exercising its discretion under the law not to establish a one person grand jury.

Governor Snyder has come under criticism for approving funds to pay for legal representation during the criminal investigation into the Flint water crisis without approval from the State Administrative Board.  His administration has contended he has the authority to approve funds unilaterally in this specific situation.

The Legislature will return to Lansing on November 8 to assess and wins and losses.  The Republicans are working to retain the majority in the House as the Democrats are working to attain the majority.

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