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Calley separates from Snyder at 2nd Amendment rally

The Detroit News

As he continues to tease his likely run for governor, Lt. Gov. Brian Calley on Wednesday distanced himself from Gov. Rick Snyder as he spoke at a Second Amendment rally that brought hundreds of gun-toting advocates to the Michigan Capitol.

“We do have some differences,” Calley said of his fellow Republican after the speech.

Snyder has repeatedly frustrated gun rights advocates by vetoing controversial bills, including a 2012 measure that would have allowed concealed weapons in public schools.

That frustration resurfaced Wednesday moments before Calley took the podium as Skip Coryell, who organized a Second Amendment March to Washington, D.C., in 2009, addressed the crowd.

“We’re going to be getting a new governor here in a little while,” Coryell said, referencing the 2018 election. “We can do better than we have right now. We really can.”

Calley spoke in broad terms in his speech to the pro-gun-rights crowd, telling them their activism does make a difference to legislators in Lansing.

He warned against “going down the road of letting the other side drag you into having to create a justification for having to keep and bear arms,” arguing owners shouldn’t need “a good reason” because it’s in the Bill of Rights.

Gun rights are one of several areas where Calley may separate himself from Snyder as he prepares to court conservative voters in the Republican primary. Other potential candidates include Attorney General Bill Schuette and state Sen. Patrick Colbeck of Canton Township.

Calley declined to weigh in directly on “right to carry” bills introduced last month in the state House that would allow concealed pistols without a permit, telling reporters he had not yet seen the legislation.

“The idea of having the right to keep and bear arms available to law-abiding citizens, more law-abiding citizens, I think is a noble goal and I’d love to work with people on making that happen.”

El-Sayed didn’t vote for Bernie Sanders

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Abdul El-Sayed supported Bernie Sanders in the 2016 Michigan primary but did not vote in the election because of long lines at his Detroit polling place, his campaign said Wednesday.

The explanation came five days after The Detroit News asked El-Sayed for whom he voted in the Democratic primary, which Sanders narrowly won over eventual party nominee Hillary Clinton.

“I was a Bernie guy,” said El-Sayed, a self-described progressive Democrat who went on to praise the U.S. senator from Vermont for having “a coherent conversation about the challenges people were facing.”

The News reported Monday that El-Sayed voted for Sanders in the Michigan primary, but that isn’t actually the case, a spokesman said Wednesday.

“Crowding at the polling place prevented him from voting for Bernie, but he was an avid supporter,” Adam Joseph said.

A record 2.5 million voters cast ballots in Michigan’s March 8 primary, which also saw now-President Donald Trump top a crowded field on the Republican side. There were reports of long lines at polling places.

In Detroit, about 20 percent of voters cast ballots, up from 8 percent in 2012 and 14 percent in 2008, elections director Daniel Baxter said at the time.

El-Sayed was running the city health department at the time. Joseph said he believes El-Sayed returned to his polling place multiple times on Election Day but “the lines did not let up.”

Snyder launches new data-sharing project

Gov. Rick Snyder launched a data-sharing effort Wednesday to give caseworkers better information on foster care kids’ medical history.

Snyder’s office called it a “first-of-its-kind-data-sharing project” that will give caseworkers more information on kids’ medical history and health care needs.

“Our goal is to provide coordinated care to the nearly 13,000 children in foster care by addressing their behavioral, developmental and physical health needs in a comprehensive way,” Snyder, the self-professed “nerd” governor, said in a statement. “We appreciate the collaborative spirit with which our state employees, technology partners, health plans and community advocacy groups have embraced this important initiative.”

Snyder’s office said the shift will help caseworkers understand and monitor medical care that foster children have received, such as chronic condition treatment and emergency room visits and help state officials identify gaps in care.

The program offers “a window into the care and treatment of these children, which will enable them to make better and faster decisions and improve overall health outcomes for this vulnerable population,” said Nick Lyon, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services director.

School start money favors post-Labor Day

Business groups opposed to letting schools begin the year before Labor Day have donated far more to lawmakers and committees tied to them than their opponents have, according to a new report from the Michigan Campaign Finance Network.

Business groups that want to keep a state law requiring schools to begin the year after Labor Day have spent a combined $1.4 million on lawmakers and committees tied to them over the past five years, the watchdog group reports.

Groups supporting schools’ choice to decide when to start the year have poured far fewer dollars into the Legislature over the issue. Three funds connected to groups backing the effort gave a combined $51,100 to lawmakers and committees tied to them, the finance network reports.

The nonprofit watchdog group notes that “dollar signs abound” in the debate over when Michigan K-12 schools should be able to begin their first day of the school year. A Senate panel approved a bill in March that would lift the state’s ban on starting before Labor Day.

Business groups oppose the legislation because they argue the Labor Day rule has led to millions of dollars going to the state’s tourism industry, the group says.

Reporters Jonathan Oosting and Michael Gerstein contributed.