(Clockwise): Reps. Reggie Miller, Betsy Coffia, Noah Arbit and Jennifer Conlin | Michigan House photos
Recall petitions against four House members that were rejected by the Michigan Board of State Canvassers last week have been promptly refiled.
In recent weeks, recall petitions were filed against six Democratic and two Republican House members. Last week, all but one were rejected by the board at its Aug.1 meeting, with lack of clarity being cited as the reason for the board withholding its approval.
The sole petition that was approved last week was against Rep. Cam Cavitt (R-Cheboygan) for voting yes on the House’s vote for speaker of the House at the beginning of the year. Democrats had nominated Rep. Joe Tate (D-Detroit) as speaker, after taking the majority in both chambers of the Legislature in the 2022 November election.
The petition against Cavitt was filed by fellow Republican Gary Wnuk of Barton City who sits on the board of Fairview Area Schools and was formerly a Republican Alcona County Commissioner.
Revised recall petitions against Reps Jennifer Conlin (D-Ann Arbor) and Reggie Miller (D-Belleville) are dated as being filed on Aug. 1, the same day they were rejected by the board.
Linda Ensley of Brighton submitted and resubmitted the petition against Conlin. the petition against Miller was submitted and resubmitted by Holli Vallade of Milan, who in 2022 lost the Republican primary for representing the 31st district, the election for which Miller was the winner.
The basis of the recalls against Conlin and Miller is that both metro Detroit representatives voted yes on HB 4474, which would expand the state’s hate crimes law to include members of the LGBTQ+ community and disabled Michiganders.
Previously, as was the issue with all the rejected petitions, the filers had only listed the bill number and not a description of the bill’s contents. All four new petitions now contain some level of bill descriptions.
Another refiled petition from last week against Rep. Noah Arbit (D-West Bloomfield) also cites his yes vote for HB 4474, but doesn’t mention he is the sponsor of the legislation.
Back in July when the initial petition was filed, Arbit released a statement calling the recall effort against him “baseless” adding it was “designed to overturn the democratic will” of voters and he plans on continuing to introduce and support legislation like HB 4474.
“I wrote it and I sponsored it – in one of the proudest, most meaningful moments of my life,” Arbit said. “I will never apologize for fighting to protect ALL Michiganders from hate violence, and I will never be intimidated or cowed out of achieving my mission.”
Gerald Clixby, a West Bloomfield resident who filed the petition against Arbit, was the only petitioner who spoke at the board meeting last week, saying these recall efforts though filed in extreme proximity, with similar language are the work of individual “grassroots’ efforts across the state to act in the interest of citizens concerned with what happens in the state’s Capital.
The board discussed and pressed Clixby for answers behind how the petitions were filed and if there were large organizations who will be funding the distribution. Clixby maintained that “though petitions cost money,” these are “grassroots” efforts.
A recall petition against Jaime Churches (D-Wyandotte) for her yes vote on the hate crimes legislation was rejected by the board last week, as well.
The petition against Rep. Betsy Coffia (D-Traverse City) was refiled late last week citing her yes vote on the House’s version of “red flag” gun legislation. The version from the Senate, which was signed into law in May, allows for a judge to issue an order for the removal of firearms from defendants deemed to pose a significant threat to themselves or others.
The first time the petition was submitted, it listed Barbara Willing of Traverse City as the petitioner. The resubmitted version has no one listed as the circulator.
Rep. Sharon MacDonell (D-Troy) faced the same recall effort over her yes vote on the red flag gun legislation. The petition against her was rejected last week.
The now rejected recall petition against Rep. Donni Steele (R-Orion Twp.), mentioned her yes vote on the House version of safe storage laws for firearms, House Bill 4139. Legislation from the Senate to implement rules to keep firearms away from minors was signed into law in April.
This week, the Department of State sent the Advance all the petitions that had been refiled. Members of the Board of State Canvassers said at their Aug. 1 meeting they expect more petitions of the same nature to come in in the coming days.
The Board of State Canvassers is scheduled to meet again at the end of the month. An agenda for the meeting has not come out yet.
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