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Colbeck joins governor's race; Calley seeks transparency

By David Eggert/Associated Press • Jun 1, 2017 at 9:30 PM

MACKINAC ISLAND — State Sen. Patrick Colbeck, a conservative who has clashed with Gov. Rick Snyder on Medicaid expansion and higher fuel taxes, announced Thursday that he is running for governor in 2018 while likely rival Brian Calley promoted a plan to make state government more transparent.

Colbeck, a 51-year-old aerospace engineer who first won election during the 2010 tea party wave, joined Saginaw doctor Jim Hines as the only Republican to actively campaign for the job. But Calley, the lieutenant governor, and Attorney General Bill Schuette are expected to jump into the GOP primary, too. The Republican governor cannot run again due to term limits.

"Michigan deserves principled solutions that prioritize the best interests of all of our citizens, not an influential few," Colbeck said in an email to supporters. "I have spent my career engineering innovative solutions that satisfy the best interests of my customers. It is about time that elected officials remember that our customers are all of our citizens not simply the ones who contributed the most to our campaigns. The government works for the people, not the other way around."

Colbeck, of Wayne County's Canton Township, made his announcement during the same week that Schuette and Calley are attending the Detroit Regional Chamber's Mackinac Policy Conference. Colbeck has been an outspoken critic of expanding government-provided health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, hiking gasoline taxes and vehicle registration fees to better fund roads, and implementing Common Core education standards.

Most recently, Colbeck's bill to create an anti-abortion "Choose Life" fundraising license plate has gained traction in the GOP-led Legislature.

Calley on Thursday unveiled more proposals to "clean up Lansing," two days after he announced that he is spearheading a 2018 ballot drive to make the Legislature part-time. He renewed his past support for expanding the Freedom of Information Act to the Legislature, governor and lieutenant governor, and called for ending Michigan's status as one of just three states to not require legislators to file some type of financial disclosure. The proposed requirement would apply to statewide officeholders, too.

Calley also wants to prevent lawmakers from becoming lobbyists immediately after leaving the Legislature, prohibit public workers from also working as political consultants and pass two-year state budgets instead of annual spending plans.

"If you put all of those things together, I think it will restore confidence in our government," he said.

Asked if he would voluntarily open his office to FOIA requests, Calley said he would not do it on his own because nobody who is exempt from the law would communicate with him anymore if they knew their communications could become public.

"As a practical matter, it needs to be a systemwide change so that communication isn't hindered by any one player that is acting differently than the others," he said. Calley said he did not include the transparency and ethics measures in the proposed constitutional amendment to keep the part-time Legislature measure from becoming too complicated and more likely to be defeated by voters.

Schuette last week called for financial disclosure requirements for elected state officials, the voluntary release of their tax returns, subjecting lawmakers and the governor's office to FOIA, and making the full-time Legislature part-time.

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