SL man wants to recall Sen. Meekhof

A Spring Lake man has started an effort to recall state Sen. Arlan Meekhof, R-West Olive. In his recall petition notice, Jason Collins, 117 N. Division St., said he wants Meekhof recalled for voting in favor of the state budget bill last month that was eventually signed by Gov. Rick Snyder. The Ottawa County clerk's elections office received the notice from Collins in the mail on Tuesday. Ottawa County Elections Coordinator Justin Roebuck said there is a concerted effort to recall state legislators who voted in support of the governor's budget.
Mark Brooky
Jun 10, 2011


The language of the recall notice is similar to notices sent to municipal clerks in other parts of the state, said Bob DeVries, Meekhof’s chief of staff — and “it is clear there are some people working together.” However, there have been news reports that the recall effort is not officially tied to the Democratic Party, DeVries added.

By state law, the person submitting a recall petition must be a qualified voter in the district of the legislator that he or she wants to recall, Roebuck said.

Roebuck said his office is required to schedule a clarity hearing for between 10 and 20 days of receiving such a recall notice. The hearing for Collins’ request has been scheduled for 8 a.m. Tuesday, June 21, at the Ottawa County Fillmore Complex, Conference Room F.

DeVries said he plans to attend the hearing, but Meekhof will be in session in Lansing at that time.

Collins, 30, is a math and English teacher for the Newaygo County alternative high school program. He said he’s lived in Spring Lake for the past six years, but declined to say anything about the petition until after the hearing.

“I’ll let the petition language speak for itself for now,” Collins said Thursday.

At the hearing, a panel will determine if the recall language is clear and can be certified. Should it be certified, the person filing the notice has 180 days to collect the required valid signatures — in this case, 25 percent of the total voter turnout for the last governor’s election, which was November 2010. Roebuck said that equates to about 24,000 signatures — and when the petition packet is turned into the elections office, no signature can be older than 90 days.

“Seems like a pretty daunting task to me,” DeVries said.

Should the petition be valid, Roebuck said a countywide recall election will be scheduled for the next regular election date.

Meekhof represents the 30th District in the Michigan Senate, which includes all of Ottawa County and portions of Kent County.

According to an Associated Press story, Meekhof is one of at least 16 Republican legislators being targeted by recall petitions after they voted in favor of Snyder’s tax reform package.

But one of the targeted legislators, state Sen. Judy Emmons, R-Sheridan, may escape the recall drive. Late Wednesday, the Montcalm County Elections Board declared the recall petition filed against the freshman senator lacked “sufficient clarity.”

All of the petitions point to the repeal of the Michigan Business Tax and the new taxes it imposed on pensions while delaying a rollback of the state income tax.

The language for the recall submitted by Collins reads: “Sen. Meekhof did on May 12, 2011, vote in favor of HB 4361 (S-5), which will mean a tax reduction of up to $1.78 billion per year for business taxpayers, while at the same time imposing an estimated $330 million in new taxes upon the pensions of individual Michigan residents. The senator’s vote also prevented the income tax (percent) rate from being reduced for the 2012 tax year.”

According to The Associated Press story, the petition that was rejected in Montcalm County used nearly identical language to the one filed on Jansen and Meekhof.

Meekhof was a state representative for the 89th district, which includes Northwest Ottawa County, for two two-year terms before being elected to the state Senate in November 2010. His Senate term is through the end of 2014.

DeVries said his boss is fulfilling his campaign promises and was right to vote for the tax-reform budget.

“It is a well within a citizen’s right to do this, but (Meekhof) was elected with 76 percent of the vote in the last election,” DeVries said. “... He’s proud of his record and the people of Ottawa County are supportive.”

State Sen. Mark Jansen, R-Gaines Township, said he is taking the petition filed by Rockford resident Tom Appel seriously — even though he won re-election with 72 percent of the vote last fall.

“I ran on bold leadership,” Jansen said. “For Michigan to get on track, we’re going to have to make a lot of hard decisions.”

Appel, a 68-year-old retiree who filed the petition to recall Jansen, said he is getting pensions from his 22 years with the Michigan Department of Civil Rights and 10 years with the police department in Columbus, Ohio. However, he declined to comment on the petition until it is reviewed by the Kent County Election Commission on June 19 to determine if the language is acceptable.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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