Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Energy Bills Today? Yes... No... Maybe...

Depends. Have the Republicans figured out a way to screw it up yet, just like they did last year with the budget and the subsequent surcharge on the MBT? Can they make a complete and total mess out of what could be the most promising job creation and investment generating idea in Michigan history, and at the same time stick consumers and business with the bill for their incompetence and malfeasance? Will they figure out a way to blame all of the above on the governor and the House Democrats and turn around and use it as a political weapon in the upcoming election?

What do you think?

MIRS gives away the answer in the form of Holly Hughes, challenging Mary Valentine's seat in the House.

Jumping the gun a bit, Holly HUGHES, the GOP candidate in the competitive 91st House District, took her opponent, Rep. Mary VALENTINE (D-Muskegon), to task today for her support of HB 4524.

In an open letter, Hughes said that Valentine's vote would kill electric competition, force Michigan families to pay a new renewable electric tax and lead to increases for Consumers Energy customers of 23 to 25 percent. Hughes uses Senate Fiscal Agency as a source.

(Note: The Michigan Public Service Commission says the increase would only be 9 percent.)

It was unclear as to whether Hughes' letter was aimed at Valentine's earlier "yes" vote on the House version of HB 4524 or her prospective "yes" vote this week on the conference committee's version. Regardless of which vote she was speaking of, Hughes said today that it would be a vote "to raise electric rates."

None of this has happened yet, and already the Republicans are not only using their year-long obstruction against the Democrats (how many companies turned away from Michigan because we don't have a RPS? How many jobs did we lose?), but they are exaggerating to the worst possible extent the effects of the bills. No one really knows for sure how much rates will go up - but rates are going to go up anyway, perhaps even more if we do nothing at all. That doesn't matter to the Senate and House Republican leadership though.

See, for the Republicans, it's not about what is best for Michigan. It's about what they can use to try to regain power. They care of nothing else, and they show it in word and deed every day. They need things to be bad. Why would they gut the provisions that would help consumers save money and bring us thousands of jobs otherwise? Answer: They don't want that to happen with the Democrats in charge. It is all about the political, or Marsden wouldn't have brought up the victory "before the convention" line of thought a few weeks ago. He gave it away then, just like Hughes gives it away now.

They want this to be a mess.

With all that in mind, rumors are all over the place about this getting done. MIRS says yes, based on Republicans wanting to use the false claims as a weapon in the election. Gongwer says no, maybe not for a few more weeks. Eggert from the AP seemed to indicate it might be a go, but that was last Sunday, which is eternity in this game. "Talks are on-going", and that could fall apart at any second.

No one really knows. Just pray that they don't make it a complete disaster, or if they do, the Dems and the governor put their collective foot down on Republican throats for doing so, stop it from going forward, and call them out for what they are - a party that is hell-bent on denying anything "good" to Michigan; consumers, workers, and businesses alike, solely for their own political purposes.

All that said, let's hope the Republicans prove me wrong and wipe my cynicism away. Please. For the sake of our state.