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Report on Coffee Hour with John Roth

by Linda Pepper

Monday Feb. 20th Honor MI, Sweets Restaurant

About 40 people attended this meeting with a strong showing of Democrats mixed with the MAGA and other Republicans. One of the main topics was the response to the horrible shootings at MSU. Representative Roth said that he had three responses. The first was that the doors should be easily locked, and this was not the case. The second was any crime committed with a gun needed to be fully prosecuted. I believe that this referred to the fact that the murderer at MSU had his “felony gun without a license” reduced to a misdemeanor and so was legally able to purchase guns. He was interrupted here and when I followed up by asking for the third, he said that he didn’t remember it.

Rep. Roth spoke about being a sponsor for runaway center in the urban centers and downstate and a misunderstanding that officials had 24 hours to notify parents, and this was to be changed to 72 hours because of weekends. He also spoke about doing a ride-along with police and seeing that we have runaway problems in the North also. Rep. Roth addressed the crisis center for youth that a coalition of Munson, United Way, NAMI, the Band of Chippewa and Odawa and others are planning.

There was some hand wringing about spending and someone asked about the rainy-day fund which Roth said is now at $1.6 Billion. He said that $10 billion of the current budget came from the Federal relief and infrastructure bills. He said $4 billion was from gas taxes etc. He left out that the increased revenue is also because of the improved economy and very low unemployment rates. (Working people pay taxes)

Random statements

  • The $180 check would be in a year and would “only” be $180 for married couples, not for each. I think this may have something to do with whether you file jointly.

  • The roads are being fixed mainly downstate and he is trying to get more money to our roads.

  • He hasn’t read all the proposed Gun Violence Prevention laws (Some are 15 pages long) but as written, one would restrict anyone under 18 from hunting.

  • Expungements of records has gone too far. It was supposed to be one-time drunk driving only. (I have questions about this statement. It may be too general)

  • He is trying to get more regional public transportation and to get BATA and Benzie Bus to work together more seamlessly.

  • We need more mental health workers and maybe some graduates could work with a Bachelor’s degree under a Master’s degree supervisor (I think this is already the way it works)

  • He thinks that Social Security will be gone for our children.

  • He had a briefing on the air space closure, and it seems as if we are worrying excessively

  • Pine River dam removal will be a long process but there is a move for Consumer’s Power to decommission them.

  • The owner of Sweets asked about help to keep small businesses open here in Northern Michigan and Roth said he had a program from the state to help him.

  • A few amusing discussions

  • An older woman asked that since Kristine Karamo was now chairman of the Michigan Republican Party, when they proved that she did win the Secretary of State election, could she seamlessly transfer to be SOS. Mr. Roth wisely said that there was no mechanism for that.

  • An older gentleman told us that the Communist party which was the father of socialism was taking over the United States. Mr. Roth decided to say that in Michigan we were preventing land from being bought by China.

  • A Democrat outlined all the crazy things that Kristine Karamo has asserted, and Rep. Roth tried to explain that the Republican party helped elect officials but did not affect his legislative priorities.

  • I did talk with a “Guns don’t kill people” person after the meeting and got him to agree to look at safe storage and background checks laws as he was such a law-abiding gun owner himself. We even shook hands and I suspect he may never have talked to a progressive before. As usual, he wanted to be heard, as we all do.

I heard Rep. Roth answer questions and handle the mixed crowd well. We did applaud his voting for the Earned Income Tax Credit (Working Families TC). I do hope to attend in the future.


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