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Scripps vs Franz

Anne Stanton - November 1st, 2010
Scripps vs. Franz: State Rep candidates battle for the 101st
By Anne Stanton
Still wondering who to vote for on Tuesday? If you’re talking about
the race for the 101st House seat, the two candidates offer clearly
differing views. The seat is held by State Representative Dan Scripps,
who won the seat handily two years ago—the first Democrat to do so in
30 years. Just as before, he’s running against Ray Franz, a Republican
and retired grocery store owner. Here’s what they had to say in an
email response (lightly edited).

NE: Tell the readers about yourself.
SCRIPPS: Born in Grand Rapids and raised in central Michigan, Leelanau
County was a place my family visited as often as we could. My wife
Jamie and I live in Leland, and we recently had our first child, Jack.
Between college and law school I worked for Senator Bill Bradley’s
presidential campaign and spent two years working with the
newly-created Scottish Parliament.  I returned to Leelanau County 12
years ago and graduated from the University of Michigan Law School
with honors in 2005.  After graduation I took a job practicing
environmental law in the Washington D.C. office of a leading global
law firm.
In 2006, I unsuccessfully ran for office in Leelanau County, then
worked with the Leelanau Conservancy to develop what the Michigan Farm
Bureau hailed as “one of the most innovative privately funded farmland
preservation programs in the nation.”
In 2008 I won the seat for State Representative. In my two-year term,
I’ve developed a reputation as a leader on capital formation, energy
and Great Lakes issues, as well as reform and transparency measures to
make government more effective, efficient and accountable.
In the State House, I chair the Banking and Financial Services
Committee, and serve on numerous committees.  I also co-chair the
School Equity Caucus—working to fix school funding so local kids get
the same opportunities as kids downstate. I also work on the
bipartisan, bicameral Children’s Caucus, which supports quality early
childhood education.
FRANZ: I was born and raised in Berkley, Michigan, a northern suburb
of Detroit. While there I worked as a journeyman meat cutter for a
grocery store chain. I was drafted into the Army and served one tour
of duty in Vietnam (Bronze Star).  My first son was born while I was
away. When I returned home, I continued to work as a journeyman meat
cutter. In 1978, I moved my wife and two young sons to Onekama when I
bought a small grocery store. I ran that store for more than 30 years
and in 1999 built a second store in Bear Lake. I have since sold both
stores.
During that 30+ years I have been on the local fire department as a
fire fighter, chief, and medical first responder. In late 1978, I was
appointed to the Village Council where I served for most of the last
30 years as a trustee, street administrator, and sewer operator.  The
last 6 years, I served as Council president where, with the help of a
hard-working board, cut the millage rate by 50%, paid off sewer bonds,
reduced sewer rates and maintained basic services.
I have also served as the Deputy Township Supervisor and on the Tax
Board of Review for many years (several as chair).  I have also led
the local business organization and am a life member of the VFW (Post
#6333).

NE:  One businessman told me regulations bother him more than taxes.
Which do you think are the dumbest regulations and will you fix them?
FRANZ: Over-regulation is one of the three basic problems that drive
business out of and away from Michigan (the other two are excessive
spending and over taxation).  The regulation problem starts with
good-intentioned legislation that is handed over to unelected
bureaucrats to implement. These regulations often have the power of
the law and sometimes contradict the original law. The answer lies
with making legislators responsible for approving each and every
regulation. Make elected representatives answerable. We need to make
all regulations sun-setted – that is, up for review and renewal every
five years with a cost/benefit analysis.
SCRIPPS: We need to streamline the regulatory process, and I’ve
sponsored efforts to do just that. Last year, we passed bipartisan
legislation that streamlined the wetlands permit process in Michigan,
while also pushing back against the Governor’s plan to send the
permitting power to the federal government.  I sponsored the House
bill, which had the broad support of the Michigan Chamber of Commerce,
the Michigan Farm Bureau, the Michigan Association of Realtors, and
the Michigan Environmental Council. In terms of the dumbest
regulation, I think we shouldn’t force businesses to go to five
different places for their permits. I’ve spoken out for a one-stop
permitting regime.

NE: What really bugs you about the other guy’s campaign tactics?
SCRIPPS: Ray Franz is running the only kind of campaign he knows how
to run. Voters are sick of it.  People have gotten 12 flyers from the
Republicans and every single one of them is negative against me. They
just spent $50,000 on ads, which don’t even mention Ray Franz’s name.
They don’t seem to want to inform or educate voters on our two
different visions. It’s all about trying to scare voters. The voters
soundly rejected his message and his tactics two years ago; I hope
they’ll do the same again.
FRANZ: Campaign tactics are what they are and there is little we can
do about it. I have tried to back up every statement that I have made
and tried to be positive. I want the people to vote for me as much as
against my opponent. As a five-sport high school referee, I learned
early that to let some of the slime roll off your back.

NE: An energy question: Burning coal creates carbon dioxide, which
most scientists say warms the earth. But the options of solar and wind
could quadruple our energy costs. What’s the solution?
FRANZ: I must slightly disagree with your initial premise. The
greenhouse gas warming theory is starting to be exposed as the hoax it
was. There are two short-term answers and a long term one. We must
clean up the coal. Second, we must use cleaner natural gas for the
short term. Finally, we must move to nuclear power. Nuclear is clean,
there are no emissions, and provides constant base load capacity. The
waste “problem” has already been solved if we can only use it like
France does. Current law forbids recycling of nuclear waste.
SCRIPPS: I disagree with the premise of the question. When you look at
states around the country that are getting a significant renewable
energy share, most of them have lower unemployment and lower energy
costs than Michigan.
In Kansas, they have ambitious renewable energy mandates and their
energy costs are 17% lower than here. Similarly, Oregon, Minnesota,
and Colorado are national leaders in renewable energy; all have lower
unemployment and lower energy costs than us.
Furthermore, Michigan is seeing job growth in the area of renewable
energy. According to the Michigan Green Jobs Report, between 2005-08 a
time when the overall Michigan economy shrank by 5.5%, Michigan’s
renewable energy economy grew by 30%. Moving forward in renewable
energy creates jobs while keeping energy costs in check.

NE: Rep. Scripps wrote a bill to put groundwater into the public
trust, the same protection that rivers and lakes have now (House Bill
5319, still in committee). How would the bill affect private
landowners, as well as the corporations who want to pump our
groundwater and sell it in plastic bottles?
SCRIPPS: Protecting Michigan’s water for future generations is a major
difference between my opponent and myself.
Here’s the background on this. The reasonable use standard was in
place for decades and it worked. But a few years ago the state Court
of Appeals made a decision in the Nestle water bottling case in which
it applied a “reasonable balancing test.”  In simple terms, it means
that a company can take as much groundwater as it wants and cause
substantial damage to a stream, lake, and river as long as it’s
outweighed by the private and social benefits—profits, jobs and
taxes—whether  the company is making enough of a profit. And that’s
wrong. According to attorney Jim Olson, Nestle’s water bottling
operation in Mecosta County lowered a stream and two lakes and
diminished  the flow of more than half a mile of a river by an average
of 28%.
My bill wasn’t a tax bill at all. There is nothing in it that would
cause any property owner to pay taxes. There is already a permitting
regime for large-scale water users—and a company has to pay for those
permits. Beyond that, there is no charging for water, and nothing in
my legislation changes that.  In a different piece of legislation I
sponsored, the bill says that residential owners can never be charged
or taxed for using their wells. It doesn’t apply to large-scale users
because they currently have to get a permit, and that’s a good thing
because it’s a tool to make sure they don’t run their neighbor’s wells
and the rivers dry.
Unfortunately, my opponent takes a very different view.  He believes
that water should be treated as a product, and that we should sell it
to the highest bidder. My opponent continues to lie about what my bill
actually does.  Despite respected leaders like former Governor William
Milliken saying my opponent’s claims are “false” and journalists like
George Weeks rejecting these claims as “scare tactics,” my opponent
continues to spend tens of thousands of dollars to scare and mislead
voters.
FRANZ: There are three main problems with the bill. First, it is a
taking of our private property rights. For more than a century,
Michigan courts have recognized that the waters below our property are
available for the property owner’s reasonable use.  We have seen what
can happen when Government takes control.  The feds destroyed the
lives of several California farmers over a minnow.  They simply shut
off the water – but turned some back on to get the votes of two
Congressmen for ObamaCare.
Second, HB 5319 opens the door to taxation.  In fact, my opponent
tried to “buy” support by introducing a bill that would exempt
residential wells (HB 6050). However, HB 6050 says nothing about
agriculture, commercial or manufacturing.  And it is not “tie-barred.”
Third, the bill requires the Attorney General or anyone through the AG
to sue for any withdrawal. That would encourage a flood of lawsuits
and scare away  businesses needing water.
Corporations and large withdrawals are already heavily regulated and
monitored.  Nestle Bottling, for example, in their most recent report,
showed that their aquifer is actually 1 foot higher along the
Deadstream River. They have had an insignificant environmental impact
– but the economic impact is spectacular.  Nestlé employs 250-300
people at $25 per hour plus full benefits. They support the Evert city
water system and they pay $3 - $5 Million in taxes. Great jobs! Little
impact!

NE: Rep. Scripps was criticized for not allowing wineries to have more
than two wholesale distributors, which seemed contrary to the wishes
of the wineries in Leelanau County, which he represents. Comments?
FRANZ: I think my opponent turned his back on our local wineries.
While I support the three-tier system – Leelanau Cellars or Raftshol
Vineyards is not Anheuser-Busch or Miller.  Our local wineries need
just a little help being competitive.  That help was extra
distribution.  My opponent missed chance to truly help one of our
unique industries.
SCRIPPS: A number of local wineries told me that keeping the ability
to use multiple distributors in a single geographic area was a low
priority.  Instead, they highlighted other changes that would help
them grow, including allowing wineries to offer tastings of their
world-class brandies in satellite tasting rooms (which is currently
prohibited), allowing Sunday morning tastings and sales, and new ways
to market their wines.
Prior to the wine distribution bill, I sponsored legislation to allow
for tastings of locally distilled spirits, but it got stuck in
committee. Through the negotiating process, I incorporated this
legislation and other higher priorities for the local wine industry
into the bill’s final version. The Governor ultimately vetoed the bill
for reasons unrelated to the wine industry provisions, but I’ll
continue to push for helpful measures.

 
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