Miller defuses Capitol flag dispute with state coins

Detroit News staff

U.S. Rep. Candice Miller, R-Harrison Township, on Wednesday previewed the display reproductions of each U.S. state’s commemorative coin that will replace state flags hanging in a tunnel at the U.S. Capitol.

The new installation avoids dragging out a dispute last year over the Capitol’s display of the Mississippi flag, which includes the image of the Confederate battle flag.

The state flags had been removed during renovations of the tunnel between the Rayburn House Office Building and the Capitol. Miller, chair of the House Administration Committee, said she saw an opportunity to eliminate the controversy.

“Given the controversy surrounding Confederate imagery, I decided to install a new display,” Miller said in a video posted Wednesday.

Miller has said she is “well aware” of how many Americans view the Confederate flag negatively and is sympathetic to those views; “however, I also believe that it is not the business of the federal government to dictate what flag each state flies.”

Last year, Rep. Bennie G. Thompson, D-Mississippi, asked Congress to remove Mississippi’s and any other state flag containing the Confederate emblem from the House side of the Capitol and from House office buildings. The flags would be donated to the Library of Congress.

Lawmakers may still choose to display their state flag outside individual offices on Capitol Hill.

Saudi arm sales delay sought

U.S. Reps. John Conyers, D-Detroit, and Justin Amash, R-Cascade Township, joined a bipartisan coalition of 64 U.S. House members in writing to President Barack Obama, asking him to postpone a $1.15 billion sale of arms and military equipment to Saudi Arabia to assist in the Saudi-led campaign against Houthi rebels in Yemen.

“Amnesty International has documented at least 33 unlawful airstrikes by the Saudi Arabia-led coalition across Yemen that appear to have deliberately targeted civilians and civilian facilities, such as hospitals, schools, markets, and places of worship. These attacks may amount to war crimes,” the lawmakers wrote.

The members said the military campaign has had a “deeply troubling” impact on civilians, quoting figures from the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights that 3,704 civilians, including 1,121 children, have been killed during the conflict.

The House members asked Obama to withdraw an early August request by the White House for congressional approval of the sale until lawmakers can debate the matter. The sale includes tanks, ammunition, machine guns and other equipment. Congress has 30 days to block the sale.

Johnson to visit Detroit

Detroit will be visited by its third presidential candidate this month when Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson next Wednesday addresses the Detroit Economic Club.

As of Wednesday, the economic club had sold 300 tickets for the noon luncheon at the Westin Book Cadillac hotel in downtown Detroit, spokesman Matt Friedman said.

Tickets remain on sale for economic club members.

Johnson, a former Republican governor from New Mexico, will visit Detroit as he seeks to gain a foothold in national presidential polls and break the 15 percent threshold in national polls to get on stage with Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton at the first debate on Sept. 26.

In’s average of national polls, Johnson is polling at 8.6 percent in a four-way race with Trump, Clinton and Green Party candidate Jill Stein.

Johnson’s trip to Detroit follows competing appearances Trump and Stein made Saturday in the Motor City.

Court dismisses residency challenge

A legal complaint seeking to remove a Democratic state House candidate was dismissed by a Macomb County judge Wednesday over questions about whether Democrat Michel Notte lived in the district before running for office.

The decision by Judge Richard Caretti, an appointee of Republican former Gov. John Engler, was the second rejection of Republican DianaFarrington’s argument that opponent Notte had not lived in his new Macomb County residence for the required minimum of 30 days.

Last month, a Michigan Court of Claims judge dismissed another Farrington complaint against Notte, ruling that Farrington waited too long to file the emergency order and did not provide any supporting evidence to prove that Notte hadn’t lived in the 30th district long enough.

The seat is held by term-limited GOP Rep. Jeff Farrington of Utica, whose wife, Diana, is trying to succeed him in a race against Notte, the son of the late Sterling Heights Mayor Richard Notte.

Farrington said she was “a tad disappointed” with the ruling but is keeping open her options for another appeal.

Democrats have targeted Macomb County's 30th District as one of nine seats they need to win to regain a majority in the Michigan House of Representatives.

“Once again, a court has ruled that Diana Farrington’s desperate attempt to take her husband’s seat in the Legislature, without having to answer to voters in the 30th District, is just that – desperate and baseless,” said Brandon Dillon, chairman of the Michigan Democratic Party.

Contributors: Melissa Nann Burke, Chad Livengood and Leonard N. Fleming