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Report on Coffee with Senator Curt VanderWall

Since the Senator was late, the meeting began conducted by his aide Jamie Callahan. The following issues were raised:

Prison Reform Bill – Two constituents were hoping that the national bill could be adopted and utilized in the state of Michigan. As of yet the state has not dealt with it although Jamie said he would look into it. The constituents followed up hoping that the Medical Assisted Treatment part of the bill would be included to further enhance improvements made in the area of recidivism.

Gas Tax - Concern was voiced regarding the governor’s $.45 tax on gas. Could we go slowly? Lots of “facts” were thrown out: 3.5 billion has been collected, much of it inexplicably diverted. The last boost was in 2015; probably most of it spent on equipment, rather than on road repairs. It was explained that there are problems with a limited number of contractors to do the work. A problem exists where contractors often cherry-pick their own pet projects to bid on.

Deer Baiting – The state needs more resources to trace the aspects of the problem. Jamie said we don’t really have enough personnel, etc.

Government Highway Funding - Concern was voiced over the use of transportation funds being used for bike paths. A discussion ensued about how bikers take up the roads and are in the way.

At this point the Senator arrived.

Marijuana - The Senator said that communities have to “opt-out” in terms of allowing it in their communities. It is harder than one would think to surveil and regulate the sale of marijuana. At one-point Sen. VanderWall went into a rant about the evils of opioids. A comparison was made to regulating the use of automobiles, guns and pot; and reference was made to “rights vs privileges”.

Women’s Health Care – The question was asked: “Why are you so averse to women’s rights when it comes to women’s healthcare?” A point was raised that the Senator had made it a priority to assemble 17 male sponsors, one female who happens to be Catholic, and another female senator who states on her web page that she appreciates the opportunity to “encourage mothers to choose life,” to co-sponsor an effort to further reign in women’s right to privacy in their relationship with their doctor, as an extension to your on-going effort to make abortion illegal.

Border Wall - It was pointed out to the Senator that while his opposition to the wall makes the subject sound simple; that he ignores concepts like regional need, ecology of placement, animal migration, not to mention the need to declare eminent domain, confiscate private property and to violate peoples’ rights. The question was asked, “why don’t you actually study the various features of this complex topic? There are different options for different aspects of the problems you want addressed.”

The senator informed us that he had to leave to go down to a meeting in Manistee and brought the meeting to a close.

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