Meekhof wants a ‘rat’ for Christmas

Michigan Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof made clear Tuesday that he has no intention to take up Democratic legislation seeking to repeal the state’s so-called right-to-work law.

“That was my bill,” the West Olive Republican reminded reporters, meaning he sponsored the law that prohibits mandatory union dues or fees as a condition of employment.

Five years after his bill prompted mass protests at the state Capitol, Meekhof bemoaned the fact that “I still didn’t get a rat.”

He was referencing the large inflatable rodents that angry union members used to depict Gov. Rick Snyder and other Republicans.

“Everybody got a rat out on the lawn with their name on it,” Meekhof said, feigning jealousy.

“I did not get a rat, so if you want to get me something for Christmas, get me a rat with my name misspelled on it like Snyder’s. That would be great.”

Meekhof referred the right-to-work repeal bills, co-sponsored by Democratic Senate Minority leader Jim Ananich of Flint, to his Committee on Government Operations, where he often places bills he personally wants to pursue or, in this case, kill.

The repeal measure is backed by nine Democrats and one Republican, state Sen. Tory Rocca of Sterling Heights.

McDaniel stops using ‘Romney’

Ronna Romney McDaniel has stopped using her middle name professionally since becoming chairwoman of the Republican National Committee earlier this year.

The Washington Post reported this week it was a request from President Donald Trump before McDaniel took over at the RNC. She previously chaired the Michigan Republican Party.

The Post noted that McDaniel – the second woman ever elected to lead the RNC — has since not used “Romney” in most official party communications, after having used it during her career in Michigan politics. She also has dropped “Romney” from her social media accounts on Facebook and Twitter.

McDaniel’s grandfather, George W. Romney, was governor of Michigan from 1963-69.

Trump has had a rocky relationship with McDaniel’s uncle, Mitt Romney, the party’s 2012 GOP presidential nominee whom Trump excoriated on the campaign trail.

The former governor of Massachusetts hasn’t held back his criticism of Trump. Last week, after Trump formally endorsed Republican Roy Moore in the Alabama U.S. Senate race, Romney said a Moore victory “would be a stain on the GOP and on the nation.”

And in August, Romney said Trump should apologize for his recent statements about the race-fueled violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, declaring it a defining moment for Trump’s presidency that carries potentially “severe” consequences.

Romney has reportedly been considering a bid for U.S. Senate in Utah if Sen. Orrin Hatch decides to retire next year. Trump has urged the 83-year-old Hatch to run for re-election to another six-year term.

Preserving endangered species

Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-Dearborn, recently led a letter signed by more than 100 House Democrats urging leadership to remove “harmful” provisions from a 2018 spending bill that she says would undermine endangered species conservation and roll back the Endangered Species Act.

Dingell’s husband, retired Rep. John Dingell, wrote the Endangered Species Act, which was signed into law in 1973.

She noted in the letter, written with Reps. Don Beyer of Virginia and Raúl M. Grijalva of Arizona, that one amendment in the bill would eliminate funding related to recovery measures for gray wolves across the country.

Another provision would void federal protections for bears and wolves on national preserves in Alaska, weakening the National Park Service’s ability to prevent “unsportsmanlike” hunting practices, such as baiting, trapping, and “denning,” on lands under its own jurisdiction, she said.

Selfridge mission authority

The defense legislation bill signed into law Tuesday by Trump included several provisions sponsored by Democratic Sen. Gary Peters, a member of the Armed Services Committee, including language clarifying that the Air Force has the authority to convert the Selfridge Air National Guard Base from its A-10 mission to one supporting the F-35 aircraft.

Selfridge is under consideration to host a fleet of F-35s. The existing A-10 aircraft at Selfridge would be moved to other bases hosting A-10s, according to Peters’ office.

A-10s may not be retired currently, so the language was meant to bring Selfridge to parity with other bases seeking the F-35.

Hoekstra sworn in

Former Rep. Peter Hoekstra, R-Holland, was sworn in as ambassador to the Kingdom of the Netherlands on Monday by Vice President Mike Pence at the Old Executive Office Building in Washington.

The Senate last month confirmed Hoekstra to the post by a voice vote. He retired from Congress in 2011 after 18 years and last year co-chaired Trump’s campaign in Michigan.

Trump nominated Hoekstra for the ambassadorship in July. A native-born Dutchman, Hoekstra immigrated with his parents to the United States at age 3.

Contributors: Jonathan Oosting and Melissa Nann Burke