A news service for the people of Michigan from the Mackinac Center for Public Policy

Ed. Note: This is part of a series of articles profiling a limited number of political races where the archives of Michigan Capitol Confidential store significant information that may be of interest to free-market inclined voters. In each of these profiles, the article will cover only the candidates who have compiled a vote history or other record that has been covered by this news service since it began as a print publication in fall 2007.

This is not to slight the candidates whose public record has not yet appeared in MichCapCon. In some cases, voters may determine that these are the best possible candidates in a given race. All voters are strongly encouraged to give every candidate a serious look.

The purpose of this series is to tell the interesting stories that are known about those issues that have been examined by this page over the last several years. MichCapCon has always targeted free-market issues, not individual political personalities. As such, these profiles should be viewed as only a small part of the overall policy picture.

This is not a comprehensive voter guide, not a comprehensive picture of any candidate and certainly not an endorsement of any candidate.

For a larger list of votes written up by MichCapCon, please see: www.MichCapCon.com/12541, and use the search feature on the home page. Additionally, every roll call vote for every bill considered by the Michigan Legislature since 2001 is available at www.MichiganVotes.org.

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Michigan's 2nd Congressional district covers a strongly Republican strip running along the west side of the state, and is currently held by U.S. Rep. Pete Hoekstra, R-Holland, who decided not to seek re-election and instead run for governor. Two candidates in this race have MichCapCon vote histories that may be of interest to readers. They are current state Sen. Wayne Kuipers, R-Holland, and former state Rep. Bill Huizenga, R-Zeeland.

Several votes and policy positions stand out in the record of both legislators.

One of these, the creation of the Michigan business tax, has already been the subject of debate in this race (see: www.MichCapCon.com/11469). While the majority Michigan House Republicans voted against the MBT, Rep. Huizenga voted for it. Likewise, Sen. Kuipers supported the creation of the new business tax.

Sen. Kuipers was one of three Republican senators to support creating a 6 percent sales tax on services that was part of Gov. Jennifer Granholm's $1.4 billion tax hikes at the end of 2007 (see: www.MichCapCon.com/9134). He voted against raising the state income tax rate, the other part of the governor's tax hike plan.

Huizenga, like the vast majority of the GOP caucus in both chambers, voted against both tax measures.

When it came time to spend these tax hikes, Huizenga approved spending increases of more than $442 million above the previous year's allocation, and Kuipers approved more than $1.4 billion above the previous year (see: www.MichCapCon.com/9270).

For comparison: A half-dozen GOP lawmakers kept their spending increases well under $100 million for that year, despite the projected large influx of new revenue following the tax increase.

Both lawmakers endorsed the creation of a new tourism tax, even though — in the case of Huizenga — a majority of the other Republicans in the House voted against it (see: www.MichCapCon.com/9336).

Both lawmakers and the entire Legislature (except for one lawmaker) voted in favor of creating Michigan's now-embattled film producer subsidy program (see: www.MichCapCon.com/10703). In addition, Huizenga was a strong supporter and sponsor of the legislation to create this policy and remains a supporter of the subsidy.

Excerpts of a video wherein Huizenga explains the policy of giving tax subsidies to filmmakers is available here: www.MichCapCon.com/13025.

A worker retraining program with sketchy results was financed by way of a 59.9 percent general fund spending hike in one state budget that passed during 2008 (see: www.MichCapCon.com/10864). A majority of the Republicans in the Michigan House voted against this spending hike and thus creation of the new state program.

Huizenga and Kuipers each voted for the new program and the spending hike.

Distribution of beer and wine in Michigan is subject to a government-mandated wholesaler monopoly that gives special market power and advantages to a small number of private businesses and according to many studies, harms consumers and drives up prices (see: www.MichCapCon.com/10494). The trade association that advocates for the wholesalers disburses a significant amount of donations to politicians and can usually count on the vast majority of lawmakers voting to protect the artificial market power of the wholesalers. A vote in 2008 prevented consumers from having more choices outside the government monopoly. Kuipers was one of just six lawmakers in the entire Legislature to vote against the bill and for more consumer choice. Huizenga voted for the bill.

The Michigan Chamber of Commerce asserted that one vote in late 2008 represented a "sneak attack" on taxpayers and potentially could cause a property tax hike of between $3.2 and $7.6 billion (see: www.MichCapCon.com/10493). Only 20 of the 52 House Republicans supported the "sneak attack." Huizenga was one of them. It was one of his last votes cast in his final term as a state representative. The Michigan Senate, under GOP control, refused to consider the bill.

Kuipers is one of a few lawmakers who sponsored and then actively promoted a constitutional resolution that would affirm the right of every Michigan resident to choose their own health care and how (or if) to pay for it (see: www.MichCapCon.com/12311). This basic details of this concept was used by the Health Care Freedom Amendment petition drive. 

Also in this race on the Republican side are businessman Bill Cooper of Fruitport, former NFL and University of Michigan football star Jay Riemersma of Zeeland, business owner Chris Larson of Ferrysburg, business owner Field Reichardt of Grand Haven, and police officer Ted Schendel of Honor.

On the Democrat side are Hope College professor Fred Johnson of Holland and school teacher Nicolette McClure of Idlewild. 

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For a complete list of profiles, please see the July 2010 heading for the Michigan Capitol Confidential Vote History page: www.MichCapCon.com/12541.

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