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State legislators get to work after being sworn in earlier this month | News

LANSING — The senators and representatives of the 102nd Michigan Legislature — the first one to exist post redistricting that occurred following the 2020 Census — on Jan. 11 were sworn in to represent the people of Michigan.

The redistricting process shifted the jurisdictions of all the Senate and House of Representative seats, and increased the number of legislators that serve this area. While the districts changed a lot, all the representatives and senators remained Republican after the November election.

In this area, almost every lawmaker is a new face, with only Sen. Michele Hoitenga of Manton having previously served local counties as a representative.

Hoitenga, who now serves in the 36th Senate District, commented that she was “honored to serve on behalf of the people of the 36th District as their voice in the Michigan Senate.”

“I look forward to working with my fellow senators on issues that are important to the residents of Northern and Mid-Michigan and the future prosperity of our great state,” Hoitenga continued.

Michigan’s 36th Senate District includes Alpena, Alcona, Arenac, Crawford, Iosco, Kalkaska, Missaukee, Montmorency, Ogemaw, Oscoda, Otsego, Presque Isle, Roscommon and Wexford counties, along with portions of Bay and Manistee counties.

Hoitenga posted on her Facebook page recently that one of the first acts she’s taken as a senator was to vote “no” on two supplemental appropriation bills (Senate Bill 7 and Senate Bill 8). She said these bills “spent tax dollars without any negotiations with Republicans and were sent to the floor to be voted on without any time to read them. Not a great start for the Governor and Democrats who campaigned on a promise of ‘bipartisanship.’ Those were the only two bills we have voted on so far. So far, the majority of bills I’m seeing introduced by Democrats are policies creating more government dependence.”

Both bills ended up passing the Democrat-controlled Senate by a tally of 20-17.

Mount Pleasant resident Roger Hauck, in the 34th District, said he was “excited to get to work!”

Like Hoitenga, Hauck said the first vote he took was against Senate Bill 7 and Senate Bill 8, which he said “were rushed to the floor (skipping the normal committee process) and were not publicly available to us until minutes before we were asked to vote.”

“Occasionally, there are instances in which the legislature can and should appropriate money quickly, but it should be done so in consultation with our respective caucuses — especially when we’re spending your money,” Hauck added. “I’m hoping we can improve on the communication as we move through the term.”

The 34th District includes the eastern half of Lake County, in addition to Newaygo, Montcalm, and parts of Muskegon, Kent and Ionia counties.

The area’s other new senator is Rick Outman, of Six Lakes, who serves in the 33rd District.

“This ceremony is always a humbling experience,” said Outman. “We’ve accomplished a great deal over the last few years, and I’m ready to get back to work and pick up where we left off last term fighting for Michigan families and businesses.”

Michigan’s 33rd Senate District includes Montcalm and Newaygo counties, along with parts of Ionia, the western part of Lake, Kent, Muskegon and Ottawa counties.

All of the representatives from this part of Northern Michigan are new, including Joseph Fox of Fremont, who serves in the 101st District, which includes most of Wexford County, Lake County west of Luther, all of Newaygo County, and slivers of Mason and Oceana counties.

Fox told the Cadillac News that “it is a privilege to learn and to make connections with so many Michiganders from around the state.”

“The battle for life has taken on a revitalized urgency with the passing of Proposal 3 in the State of Michigan,” Fox added. “I stand firm in my commitment to defend the sanctity of life for all ages, from preborn children to older adults. Your words of encouragement and prayers for me and all that is happening in Lansing are greatly appreciated!”

Fox will be serving on the Families, Children and Seniors Committee.

Another new face is John Roth, of Interlochen, who serves in the 104th District, which is comprised of a sliver of Wexford County north of Manton and Mesick, in addition to parts of Grand Traverse, Manistee, Benzie, Kalkaska and Antrim counties.

“Today I stood with my colleagues as we took our oath of office for the next session of the Michigan House of Representatives,” Roth said. “I’m very honored to represent the great people of the 104th District.”

Roth commented on his Facebook page recently that he has been assigned to the following committees: Health Policy, Transportation, Agriculture, and Economic Development and Small Business.

“I look forward to working diligently on these committees for the people of Northern Michigan,” Roth said. “My top priority every day will be making sure their voices are heard in Lansing. I’m lucky to have four committees, as that’s where the preliminary work on legislation is done. Some of my colleagues only got one.

“When I am out in the communities of the 104th district, I often hear about the cost of everything going up, taxes, government overreach, affordable housing and a lack of mental health services. I will continue to focus on issues that come to me directly from constituents. These committees will help me be able to focus on what’s truly important to the communities throughout my district.”

Gaylord resident Ken Borton represents Missaukee County, now part of the 105th District, which also is comprised of Roscommon, Crawford, part of Kalkaska, the southern half of Oscoda, most of Otsego and part of Antrim counties.

“I am honored for the opportunity to continue serving Northern Michigan folks in Lansing,” Borton said. “As always, I encourage residents in the district to contact me with any questions, concerns or ideas, so I can best represent our unique community.”

Borton has been appointed as the Republican vice chair for the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture. He will also serve on the Appropriations subcommittees on Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, Insurance and Financial Services, and Transportation.

Rounding out the list of new state representatives for this region is Clare resident Tom Kunse, who serves Osceola County and the eastern half of Lake County in the 100th District, which also includes Mecosta and most of Clare.

“Let’s get to work!” Kunse wrote on his Facebook page following his swearing in as state representative. “It sounds corny, but I got goosebumps taking the Oath of Office. Thank you for having faith in me, it is a great honor to serve the people of the 100th District.”

One of the first votes that Kunse took was to approve Democratic Speaker of the House Joe Tate — a vote for which he received criticism from some constituents.

“For the minority party, the vote for Speaker of the House has traditionally been ceremonial. The majority simply doesn’t need our vote to make it happen,” Kunse explained on his Facebook page.

The eight representatives that didn’t vote for Tate (including 101st District Rep. Joseph Fox) each were assigned to only one or zero committees.

“I did what I thought was best for the 100th District,” said Kunse, who ended up being assigned to the committees on Ethics (as vice Chair), Higher Education, Labor and Transportation.

“By definition, the majority party has sufficient votes to elect their choice of Speaker,” Kunse said. “Some of my colleagues chose to use the vote as an opportunity to make a statement. They elicited a response from the Speaker.”

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