Capitol News

August 7, 2022

Lots of news this month, especially about elections. Attracting attention also is the new $40 million 40,000 square foot Heritage Hall visitor center under the west ground near the Michigan Capitol. It will be welcoming visitors after Labor Day.


Unofficial results from the August 2 Michigan primary indicate over two million voters cast ballots, a great turnout for a mid-term primary with only one top-of-the-ticket contested race for the Republican gubernatorial candidates. In 2018 with contested primaries for both major parties, 2.2 million voters cast ballots.

Township, city, and county clerks in 1,600 jurisdictions as well as their staff members and thousands of election workers pulled off a relatively smooth election. Some jurisdictions in 65 counties slowed down election result reporting because they chose to put their results on a thumb drive and hand-deliver them to their county clerks rather than transferring the data electronically due to unproven accusations that modems were not secure.

About 1.1 million absentee ballots were returned. More than 3,000 individuals registered to vote on Election Day at their clerk’s office, a new feature of Michigan’s election law passed by voters in 2018.

GOP Governor’s Race — In the Republican primary for Governor, there were five candidates competing for the nomination after five others were knocked out of the competition due to fraudulent petition signatures. Tudor Dixon from Norton Shores near Muskegon won with 40 percent of the vote. She had the megadonor DeVos family backing and an endorsement from former president Trump. She is the first woman to win the Michigan Republican Party nomination for governor. According to Gongwer News Service, before entering politics in 2021 Dixon was a media personality on ultra-conservative news networks that sprung up in the wake of Fox News Channel losing some of its dominance as the preferred network of Mr. Trump. Prior to that she worked in sales for her father’s steel manufacturing company and then other steel companies.

She will run against incumbent Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer and whoever the minor parties nominate at their conventions this summer.

Congressional Races — Of the 13 Congressional districts in Michigan, four of them are predicted to be very competitive in the fall.

  • 3rd Congressional District: Challenger John Gibbs ousted freshman U.S. Rep. Peter Meijer for the Republican nomination in the Grand Rapids area seat covering parts of Kent, Ottawa, and Muskegon counties. Meijer voted to impeach President Trump; Gibb worked in the Trump administration and was endorsed by the former president. He’ll face Hillary Scholten, a former Obama administration official who narrowly lost to Meijer in 2020. Due to redistricting, this seat is more competitive now.
  • 7th Congressional District: Two-term incumbent Democrat U.S. Rep. Elissa Slotkin, former CIA officer who served three tours in Iraq and worked in both the Bush and Obama administrations, moved to the Lansing area to keep most of her former district after redistricting. She will face veteran and State Sen. Tom Barrett, R-Charlotte, to represent a very purple district. Democrats and Republicans will be pouring substantial resources into this race.
  • 8th Congressional District: Five-term U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee, D-Flint, will face Paul Junge, a former television anchor who unsuccessfully challenged Slotkin in 2020. Junge will rely on the heavy Trump support in some of this region to unseat Kildee in this more competitive district after redistricting.
  • 10th Congressional District: No sitting member of Congress lived in this district, covering parts of Macomb and Oakland counties. John James of Farmington Hills (outside the district), businessman and veteran who lost both his 2018 and 2020 bids to oust Democrats representing Michigan in the U.S. Senate, will be running against recently retired judge and former prosecutor Democrat Carl Marlinga of Utica.

Other Races — In the 11th Congressional District in Oakland County, Haley Stevens trounced Andy Levin with 60 percent of the Democratic vote in a newly drawn district that included both of these incumbent members of Congress. She will face Republican Mark Ambrose in the general election.

In the 12th Congressional District in part of Wayne and Oakland Counties, U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib easily won her primary contest against three other Democrats with 64 percent of the vote. She will face Republican Steven Elliott in the general election in this heavily Democratic district.

In the 13th Congressional District race in part of Wayne County featuring nine candidates in the Democratic primary, State Representative Shri Thanedar bested State Senator Adam Hollier and 7 others with just 28 percent of the vote. Thanedar’s campaign website says he planned to contribute over $5 million to his campaign for the primary race. He will face Republican Martell Bivens in this heavily Democratic district in the general election.

As a result of the primary wins in the 12th and 13th districts, it is unlikely that Michigan will have an African-American member of Congress from Detroit for the first time in 70 years.

Incumbents Fell — Six incumbent State legislators lost their primaries out of the 44 Republicans and 43 Democrats running for re-election, the most in at least a dozen years. Capturing attention was the impressive win of Kimberly Edwards in the new 12th State House district covering parts of Macomb and Wayne counties, crossing Eight Mile and extending south into Detroit. She spent less than $1,000 and had no major endorsements but was able to beat incumbent State Rep. Richard Steenland, a former Roseville city clerk.

In addition to Steenland, State Sens. Marshall Bullock, D-Detroit, and Kim LaSata, R-Niles, and Reps. Terence Mekoski, R-Shelby Township, Gary Eisen, R-St. Clair Township, and Rodney Wakeman, R-Saginaw Township, lost their primaries. Bullock was drawn into the same district as fellow state State Sen. Mallory McMorrow, who won the race by double digits. Eisen faced a similar situation, losing to fellow State Rep. Andrew Beeler, R-Port Huron.

Local Ballot Issues — State primary elections are popular for local governments to run ballot issues. There were 760 local ballot proposals statewide on the August 2 ballot: 709 Passed, 50 Failed for a 93.4 percent pass rate. The biggest ballot issue was Public Safety Millage Renewals: 165 Proposals and all of them passed. The next biggest issue on local ballots was Public Safety Millage Increases: 120 Proposals with 118 of them passing. The third most frequent topic was Road Millage Renewals: 102 Proposals with all but one passing.

There were 20 Senior Services Millage Increases and 18 Senior Services Millage Renewals proposed: all of them passed.

Capturing international attention was the vote in Jamestown to turn down a library renewal millage over the refusal of the library to remove books dealing with LGBT issues. The library may close as a result.

Of Note — Six openly LGBTQ candidates, all Democrats, will be on the ballot for the Michigan House, including Mike McFall, Jason Morgan, Noah Arbit, Jason Hoskins, Emily Dievendorf, and State Rep. Laurie Pohutsky. Currently there are three openly LGBTQ State legislators.

State House candidates backed by former President Donald Trump won a few contests. Two Trump-backed winners were Angela Rigas of Caledonia in the 79th District and Rachelle Smit of Martin Township in the 43rd District. Gina Johnsen in the 78th District and Neil Friske in the 107th District were not Trump-endorsed but hold many of the same views and won the nominations there according to MIRS newsletter.

Black Detroit representation in the Michigan House and Senate is likely going to decline because new district lines reduced the racial gerrymandering of the past. The primary results will likely be used as evidence in the federal court case challenging Voting Rights Act violations in redistricting in southeast Michigan.


The Secretary of State, Bureau of Elections has been working overtime to cope with the August 2 primary and several huge petition signature submissions while getting ready for the November election. The deadline for the Secretary of State to certify all candidates for State office and the 100-word statement of purpose for each statewide ballot proposal to county clerks for printing ballots is 5 p.m. September 9.

Prop 22-1 — As reported last month, the Michigan Legislature has certified House Joint Resolution R to the November ballot. It would require annual financial disclosure reports by legislators and state-wide officeholders and limit service as a legislator to 12 years instead of 14 years. The latter could be served in one or both chambers. It will be Proposal 2022-1 on the November ballot.

The Term Limits Defense Fund has announced it is opposing Proposal 22-1.

Expected Proposals — The Director of Elections announced on August 4 the challenge deadlines for two ballot proposals submitting petitions on July 11: Promote the Vote 2022 and Reproductive Freedom for All. It is expected that a late August Board of State Canvasser’s meeting will vote on the Director’s recommendations. Then court challenges may occur.

  • Expected Prop 22-2 — According to the Director of Elections, the proposed constitutional amendment sponsored by Promote the Vote 2022 to expand convenient and secure voting turned in 137,041 sheets containing 650,415 signatures on July 11. The necessary valid voter signatures required is 425,059. A sampling method is used to determine if there are sufficient signatures. Using the sampling method, 570 random signatures were drawn. 390 or more valid voter signatures from this sample will result in the Bureau recommending to the Board of State Canvassers that the measure should be certified for the November ballot. 356-389 signatures would result in another larger sample being drawn; 355 or fewer valid signatures would result in a recommendation to deny certification.
  • Expected Prop 22-3 — According to the Director of Elections, the proposed constitutional amendment sponsored by Reproductive Freedom For All to assure constitutionally protected reproductive rights turned in a record-breaking 147,994 sheets containing 735,439 signatures on July 11. Using the aforementioned sampling method, 514 random signatures were drawn; 315 or more valid signatures from this sample will result in the Bureau recommending to the Board of State Canvassers that the measure should be certified for the ballot. 280-314 signatures would result in another larger sample being drawn; 279 or fewer valid signatures would result in a recommendation to deny certification.

Petition Financing — Given the June 24 U.S. Supreme Court decision allowing states to ban abortion, and lawsuits filed by both the Governor and Planned Parenthood of Michigan challenging the 1931 Michigan criminal abortion law, it was no surprise that the ballot committee Reproductive Freedom for All garnered the most funding. The group reported raising $9.562 million, with $8.16 million of that in the last three months. It showed another $1.066 million in in-kind contributions. The committee has also spent most of its funds, $7.769 million, and reported $1.794 million cash on hand. The group also stands out for having the most donors. Though it has some big-money contributors, like the ACLU at $2.81 million, the ACLU Fund of Michigan at $1.596 million, and the Planned Parenthood Action Fund at $503,043, the committee reported 16,651 contributions for the quarter.

Citizens to Support MI Women and Children, formed to oppose the issue, reported $401,319 raised, including $298,010 for the most recent quarter. It had another $24,764 in in-kind contributions, again most of that during the latest quarter. The group had spent $334,809 and had $66,509 cash on hand. The primary sources of funds were the Michigan Catholic Conference, at $200,000, and Right to Life of Michigan at $163,273. The Knights of Columbus Michigan State Council also gave $50,000.

Promote the Vote 2022 was second in fundraising reported so far, with $8.362 million total and $4.996 million for the quarter. It also reported $1.515 million in in-kind contributions, most of that, $1.212 million, last quarter. The group has spent $8.067 million and reported $295,850 in cash on hand. The largest portion of the group’s contributions came from the Washington, D.C.-based Sixteen Thirty Fund, which gave $4.891 million. Lynn Schusterman of Tulsa, Oklahoma, donated $1 million.

Voters for Transparency and Term Limits, the ballot committee backing Proposal 22-1, raised $443,010 and has spent nearly all of that, the group reported. It had $36,449 in cash on hand. Among the top supporters of the effort were Rock Holdings Incorporated at $75,000; DTP Enterprises of Southgate, MI Energy First, the Michigan Infrastructure and Transportation Association and Realtors PAC II, at $50,000 each; and the Michigan Chamber of Commerce at $10,000.

Term Limits Defense Fund, the group opposing the Proposal 22-1, has raised $100,000, all in the most recent quarter, and spent only $28,447, leaving $71,553 in remaining cash. The contributions were evenly split between the Daniel Rich 2017 Trust and the Joseph Rich 2017 Trust.

Other Petitions — Two voter-initiated statute petition drives affected by the fraudulent signature collectors in June recently turned in petitions seeking access to the 2024 ballot.

One Fair Wage, yet another voter-initiated statute to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2027 and for tipped workers by 2028, submitted 610,000 signatures to the Bureau of Elections on July 26. Secure MI Vote to tighten voter eligibility and access to absentee voting and drop boxes submitted more than 500,000 signatures to the Bureau of Elections on Friday, July 29. It could potentially be rendered moot by the time it is reviewed by the Bureau if Promote the Vote is certified to the ballot and passes.

The only legislative initiative among ten to submit petition signatures timely for potential access to the November 2022 ballot was recently found to have insufficient voter signatures. The Payday Loan Initiative would have capped interest on payday loans at 36 percent. Of 400,000 submitted signatures, the Bureau’s sample estimated that only 274,668 were valid voters, about 72,000 signatures short.


At its meeting of July 25, the Michigan CSC approved an eventual 20 percent pay increase for some State employees. Affected were employees in the Michigan State Employees Association, SEIU 517M Scientific and Engineering and Technical bargaining units, some classifications in the Human Services Unit of UAW Local 6000, and some supervisory and managerial classifications. A recruitment and retention pilot program would allow an eligible employee, including eligible corrections shift supervisors, forensic security supervisors, and registered nurse managers for the Department of Health and Human Services, to be paid a biweekly recruitment and retention payment.

The changes allow employees to receive an initial raise and eventually earn more than 20 percent compared to current pay rates after a few years of service, affecting nearly 2,200 current State employees. The rationale for the compensation increase is to help State government recruit and retain various health care, skilled-trade, and transportation positions that have been difficult to fill because the private market pays more than the State for similar work. The Commission’s decision requires legislative approval for a waiver so that it could take effect during the current or next fiscal year. If no waiver is granted, then the pay-schedule increases would occur October 1, 2023.


Recall that in the fall of the 2018 legislative session, the GOP-led Legislature adopted two voter- initiated statute petitions. One raised the minimum wage and the other required employers to provide earned paid sick leave. By passing the laws, the Legislature kept the issues off the ballot where they would have attracted Democratic and independents to vote and while there, perhaps electing more Democrats. After the November election during lame duck session, the Legislature passed laws essentially gutting both initiatives. Lawsuits ensued.

Recently, Court of Claims Judge Douglas Shapiro ruled it is unconstitutional for the Legislature to pass an initiated law then amend it in the same legislative session. Subsequently he ruled his order would not go into effect until February 19, 2023, but otherwise he refused to reconsider or reverse (stay) his ruling. While the State appeals the decision, both parties in the case are agreeing on asking the Court of Appeals for an expedited schedule and a final decision before February 1, 2023.


On July 28, the MSC decided that “sex” in Michigan’s civil rights statute protected those of all sexual orientations from discrimination in employment, housing, education, public accommodations, and public service. In a 5-2 decision authored by Republican appointee Justice Elizabeth Clement, the high court decided that Rouch World could not deny females Natalie Johnson and Megan Oswalt their request to host their same-sex wedding at its facility. Rouch World gave as its reason for denying the request that it would violate their sincerely held religious belief that marriage is between one man and one woman.

Legislation to expand Michigan’s civil rights statute to include sexual orientation and gender identity has been introduced for several decades but never passed. A voter-initiated statute in 2020 failed to collect sufficient signatures during the height of the pandemic even though it was backed by major corporations in Michigan. However, the U.S. Supreme Court is taking up a challenge to aspects of Colorado’s anti-discrimination law about whether its provisions barring discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity impinges on religious freedom with a ruling expected by the end of June 2023.

Editor’s note: Mary Pollock is the Lansing SERA Chapter and SERA Coordinating Council’s Legislative Representative. She may be contacted at

Michigan SERA Recent News, a compilation of links to articles of interest to state employees, is no longer produced.

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