Political Insider: Gillibrand returning to Michigan

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., speaks during a campaign meet-and-greet, Friday, March 15, 2019, at To Share Brewing in Manchester, N.H.

Democratic presidential hopeful Kirsten Gillibrand is coming back to Michigan, making three stops in the state on what she’s calling her “Trump broken promises tour.”

The U.S. senator from New York is set to stop in Flint, Oakland County and Lansing on July 12, her campaign said Wednesday.

Gillibrand last visited Michigan in March, when she filmed an MSNBC town hall in Auburn Hills and joined a Fems for Dems event in Clawson.

Her latest visit is part of a Midwest tour that will include stops in Pennsylvania and Ohio. Her campaign said she’ll highlight Trump “lies” and roll out proposals to “actually solve the problems” Trump promised to fix.

“To beat President Trump, you have to have the courage and toughness to go toe-to-toe with him and call out his lies on the issues,” Gillibrand said in a statement. That’s what this tour is about.”

Gillibrand is one of 24 Democrats competing for the presidential nomination and chance to take on Trump in the general election. More than half of the candidates have already come to Michigan, a key swing state that Trump narrowly flipped in 2016

'Heartbeat" group launches drive

An anti-abortion group on Wednesday started collecting signatures for a petition initiative that would require an ultrasound prior to an abortion and ban the termination if cardiac activity is detected during the ultrasound. 

The Michigan Heartbeat Coalition is required by state law to get 340,000 valid signatures, but plans to collect nearly 500,000 to ensure it meets the threshold. 

Similar legislation has been introduced in more than 25 states in an effort to significantly limit abortions and challenge the U.S. Supreme Court's 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, which enshrined abortion as a Constitutional right. 

Rick Warzywak, a board member of the Heartbeat Coalition, sifts through signs during a rally on the Capitol lawn in Lansing on Saturday, June 15, 2019, to mobilize volunteers to collect signatures for a petition initiative that would prohibit abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected.

"We are extremely excited to be engaging in this petition drive on behalf of the most innocent of our society," Coalition President Corey Shankleton said in a statement. "With this effort, Michigan will play a significant role in sending Roe v Wade to the scrapheap of history.”  

Right to Life of Michigan also is gathering signatures for a separate petition that would ban dilation and evacuation procedures on living fetuses. 

The group has said it does not support the heartbeat initiative because of potential interactions with Michigan's complete ban on abortions, which lies dormant because of Roe v. Wade. 

Both ballot committees hope their initiatives are adopted and enacted by the state Legislature instead of appearing on the November 2020 ballot. 

Government a tough legal foe

Attorney General Dana Nessel's office has accused former Attorney General Bill Schuette's Flint water investigative team of being too cooperative with the defense attorneys of former Gov. Rick Snyder and other government officials.

Former Detroit FBI agent Andy Arena, who was the lead Flint water investigator under former Attorney General Bill Schuette, discusses on Monday, July 1, 2019, how his team conducted the Flint water probe. He was replaced by Attorney General Dana Nessel's office in February 2019.

Schuette, former Special Prosecutor Todd Flood and lead investigator Andy Arena, the former head of the Detroit FBI office, have rejected the accusations about failing to collect devices and documents related to the Flint contaminated water crisis. 

"Discovery is always a battle, particularly when you're dealing with the government," Arena told The Detroit News this past week.

Pot shop title evolves yet again

State emergency rules issued Wednesday will dub recreational marijuana sales facilities in Michigan as “retailers” in the most recent title change for the newly regulated pot shops.

First called "dispensaries" under the 2008 Medical Marihuana Act, the shops dedicated to medical marijuana were renamed “provisioning centers” in the 2016 Medical Marihuana Facilities Licensing Act. Now they are “retailers” for adult-use sales facilities under new rules stemming from the 2018 Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marihuana Act.

The current “provisioning center” title, which will remain the same for medical marijuana facilities, stemmed from a combination of compromises, alcohol and Google, according to the former lawmaker who spearheaded the 2016 legislation enshrining the name.

Former Rep. Mike Callton, R-Nashville, told The Detroit News the name of medical marijuana sales facilities was one of many compromises needed to get the licensing law off the ground in 2016.

Michael Callton of Cannabis Licensing Consulting Services during an open house at Greenhouse Walled Lake, a marijuana provisioning center, in Walled Lake, Michigan on December 6, 2018.

Pharmacy groups had expressed a number of concerns about the proposed law, including objections to the use of the word “dispensary,” which they felt was part of the profession’s proprietary lexicon, said Callton, a chiropractor who now works as a consultant in the marijuana business.

To appease pharmacists, Callton poured a glass of Jameson, googled synonyms for dispensary and found results that included provisioning, a term that seemed archaic enough that it wouldn’t have prior proprietary claims, he said.

“We dug it out,” Callton said. “We dusted off the word and that’s where the term provisioning center came from.”

The most recent switch to "retailer" for adult-use marijuana vendors stemmed from language used in the ballot initiative approved by voters in November. .