More Firepower Needed to Defeat HB 4714

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We suffered a setback this afternoon as HB 4714 was voted out of committee.  This bill expands the Medicaid program and is a key component of ObamaCare.  I (Wes Nakagiri) attended the committee hearing and submitted written and oral testimony against this bill.  I chose to take time off of work to do this because I knew I couldn’t live with myself if I did not do all that I could to try and stop this bill from getting out of committee.  It would have been much preferred to kill this bill in committee; however, there are still opportunities to keep this bill from becoming law.  For our side to be successful requires each of us to step up to the plate and call your State Representative and your State Senator and ask them to oppose HB 4714.  Notice that I did not say call or email your legislators – I specifically said call.  Why? A personal phone call is more persuasive than an email.  We can leave nothing to chance in the stretch drive to derail ObamaCare in Michigan.

I also urge you to double your impact by persuading one family member or friend to call also.  Yes, it is that important!  We need all hands on deck as we are battling the big guns in the Republican establishment including Governor Snyder and a wide array of lobby organizations including the Michigan Chamber of Commerce, the Michigan Hospital Association, Blue Cross, etc.  Snyder and his big government pals really want this legislation to pass.  The only way to stop it is to apply grassroots pressure on our legislators.  The formula for victory is simple; we need our side to apply more pressure than the other side.

Click here to find the phone numbers of your State Representative and your State Senator.

When you speak with your legislator don’t be surprised if they say that they need time to read the bill before they make a decision.  This is because HB 4714 was amended in committee and your Representative may not have had a chance to read the amended version.  Quite frankly, I view this as a bunch of bunk!  Whether it is the original bill or the amended bill there is a key flaw, the cost of this Medicaid expansion will be placed on the backs of your children and grandchildren.  Plain and simple, it is morally unacceptable to drive future generations further into debt.  I’ve heard establishment Republicans argue that this expansion won’t cost Michigan a dime because the federal government is picking up the tab.  I’m astonished that there are Republicans that haven’t grasped the concept that our federal government is broke! 

For those of you who want some “inside baseball” details please continue reading – otherwise, start dialing that phone!

The vote in the Michigan Competiveness Committee was 9 in favor and 5 against.  5 D’s and 4 R’s voted yes, while 5 R’s voted no.  (Note: there are 10 R’s and 5 D’s on the committee.  Gail Haines (R) was absent today, leaving a total of 14 voting members today.)

The R’s who failed us were Chairman Mike Shirkey, Vice-Chairman Ken Younker, Frank Foster, and Dave Pagel.  Those who supported us were Kevin Cotter, Ray Franz, Ken Goike, Dan Lauwers, and Tom Leonard.  You should take the time to thank these 5 R’s as they stood up to the extreme establishment pressure. On a side note I had the opportunity to speak with Tom Leonard ahead of the hearing and he thanked me for showing up at the hearing to testify – I’ve known Tom for a few years and he is a solid conservative. After the hearing I spoke with Dan Lauwers, whom I recently met when I attended the St. Clair County Lincoln Day dinner. He appeared to be frustrated with the whole situation.  Lastly, Ken Goike came up and thanked me for attending – this was the first time I had met him.

Here is a small tidbit that most citizens do not know.  Generally the majority party will not pass a bill out of committee unless a majority of their members vote yes.  As an example, the Republican majority on this committee voted 4 yes and 5 no.  This means that HB 4714 was voted out of committee even though a majority of Republicans on this committee were against the bill.  This is an indication of how badly the establishment wants to move forward with the Medicaid expansion.

If this were a typical bill, the Committee Chairman would survey his members well in advance of the actual committee vote.  The Chair would know ahead of time whether a majority of his caucus were in favor of the bill.  If the bill did not have majority support from the majority party then the Chairman would not allow the bill to be voted on.  This can be a bit confusing so let me restate using the specifics of HB 4714.  Prior to today’s vote, Chairman Shirkey would have surveyed the 9 other Republicans on this committee to find out how they were going to vote.  If a majority of R’s were against HB 4714, then Shirkey would not even schedule a vote on the bill.  Given that Republicans had 4 yes votes and 5 no votes (recall that Haines was absent) indicates that Shirkey failed us “big time.”  Shirkey should not have even scheduled a vote, thus allowing the bill to die in committee.  It is totally within the power of the Committee Chairman to decide whether or not to schedule a vote on a specific bill.  This bill could have and should have been killed in committee.

Now let us look forward to the vote of the full House.  In a fashion similar to a Committee vote, it is customary, but not mandatory, that the Speaker of the House (Jase Bolger (R)) wouldn’t schedule a vote on HB 4714 unless the bill has the support of at least 50% of the entire Republican Caucus. Therefore, Bolger would typically like to have 30 out of the 59 House Republicans to commit to voting yes on HB 4714 before he schedules a vote.  It is our duty to make sure we apply enough pressure on our Representatives to keep Bolger from getting the needed Republican votes.

While it would be “customary” that Bolger would seek to secure 30 Republican votes, I wouldn’t be surprised if he violates this custom.  In theory, HB 4714 could pass with as few as 5 Republican votes as long as all 51 Democrats vote for the bill.  In reality I don’t expect Bolger to call for a vote if he is relying on the votes of the entire Democrat caucus.  Nonetheless, we need to work hard to make sure we’ve done all we can to keep HB 4714 from even coming up for a vote in the House.

Since we can never take anything for granted we need to have a contingency plan just in case HB 4714 passes the full House.  Our plan is too stop this bill in the Senate where Republicans hold a 26-12 edge over the Democrats.  We could still defeat HB 4714 if as many as 6 R’s voted for the bill.  If 7 R’s voted for the bill we would have a 19-19 tie.  In case of a tie the Lt. Governor would cast the deciding vote.  Lt. Governor Brian Calley (a.k.a. Snyder’s lapdog) would surely vote in favor of the Medicaid Expansion.  Our contingency plan is to call our Senators at the same time we are call our State Reps.  We can’t leave anything to chance.  As stated above, please recruit an additional family member or friend to call on this important issue.

Thanks for all you do!

In a conversation today, Senator Hune indicated that he thought that Medicaid expansion would not pass in the Senate.  This sentiment is shared by Senator Colbeck.  While this is encouraging we cannot let this favorable news dissuade us from calling our Senators.  The Republican establishment will pull out all the stops to twist arms in the Senate if HB 4714 happens to pass in the House.  How badly do Snyder and the establishment want passage of HB 4714?  The Legislature would normally be adjourned for the summer by now.  The establishment has extended this legislative session in hopes of passing this Medicaid expansion.  Let’s do our best to make sure the establishment has a disappointing summer break.

News article about the hearing from Macomb Daily

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