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Wiedenhoeft and Price

Rep. Amanda Price, R-Park Township, maintains that the 89th House District Republican primary race is a referendum on Republican leadership in Michigan. Her opponent Matthew Wiedenhoeft, a Ferrysburg business instructor and former youth hockey coach, argues that it is about Rep. Price casting what he considers to have been bad votes.

“It is about generational changing issues my opponent has supported and voted for, like Medicaid expansion, Common Core, the minimum wage increase, the Detroit bailout and the Internet tax,” Wiedenhoeft told Capitol Confidential.

Rep. Price sees it differently, pointing out several accomplishments.

“When I first ran for State Representative four years ago I ran on the promise that I would fight to turn Michigan’s economy around and bring the conservative values of my West Michigan communities to Lansing,” Rep. Price said. “The proof of the progress Michigan has made under the leadership of this Legislature and Governor Snyder is all around us: Unemployment is lower than it has been since 2009; the $1.5 billion dollar deficit is erased; the state budget has been balanced and passed into law early four years straight; we have eliminated burdensome regulations and erased billions of long term debt. With the assistance of a grassroots initiative, Michigan now guarantees that no taxpayer money will be used to fund an abortion. And Michigan became the 24th right-to-work state in the face of tremendous opposition from well-funded and entrenched special interest groups.”

“This race is a referendum on our accomplishments as a state under Republican leadership, and I am confident my constituents are eager for two more years of proven leadership and common sense conservative solutions in Lansing,” Rep. Price added.

The 89th House District consists of eight townships in Ottawa County: Blendon, Crockery, Grand Haven, Olive, Park, Port Sheldon, Robinson and Spring Lake and includes the cities of Ferrysburg and Grand Haven. It has a 65.6 percent Republican base, based on an average of the turnout in the 2008 and 2010 elections.

Capitol Confidential asked Rep. Price if it would be fair to refer to her as the establishment candidate.

“Groups like the Michigan Farm Bureau and Right to Life of Michigan send lengthy questionnaires to candidates and then their local members conduct extensive interviews of the candidates to determine the candidates’ positions,” Rep. Price said. “When an endorsement is made, it is given to a candidate based on their background, their positions and their ability to win an election. To receive an endorsement from one, let alone numerous, organizations is a tremendous honor and a validation of your hard work and beliefs.”

“I have been endorsed by groups that are well-respected and trusted in my communities (Right to Life of Michigan PAC, AGRIPAC-Michigan Farm Bureau, Friends of West Michigan Business-Grand Rapids Chamber, Associated Builders and Contractors of Michigan PAC, Michigan Chamber of Commerce, National Federation of Independent Business, Citizens for Traditional Values, Michigan Restaurant Association, and the NRA, to name only ten, not because I am the establishment candidate. I received these endorsements because I am clearly the most qualified conservative candidate in the race for the 89th District.”

According to Wiedenhoeft, endorsements by establishment groups can also be the result of voting with the Lansing establishment and against the will of the GOP base.

“I’d say the general perception is that she is the establishment candidate,” Wiedenhoeft said. “That means she has voted for things most Republicans in the district oppose and about two-thirds of Republicans in the Legislature oppose. In other words, she’s voted with the Democrats.”

Capitol Confidential posed the following question to both candidates.

Q. The ability to make purchases over the Internet has created opportunities for elderly and disabled persons who are physically unable to shop at traditional brick and mortar stores. Generally these people pay an additional cost for being limited to shopping online, and that additional cost is for shipping and handling. However, the shipping and handling costs are often offset by the fact that many who purchase over the Internet avoid paying the sales tax they would be forced to pay for purchases made at brick and mortar stores.

The so-called “Internet tax,” would force online marketers to collect Michigan’s sales tax at the point of purchase. In your view, would passage of the “Internet tax” result in penalizing elderly and disabled persons who are physically unable to shop at traditional brick and mortar stores?

Wiedenhoeft:

Yes, it would be penalizing them; and actually you could say they’d be getting hit with a double burden. This tax not only wouldn’t be good for elderly and disabled persons who have trouble shopping at regular brick and mortar stores, but ultimately it wouldn’t even be good for the businesses themselves that would have to collect it. Many brick and mortar stores are increasingly selling online.

Rep. Price:

Last week, my granddaughter turned five years old. For her birthday, she asked for a booster seat for the car. If I purchased the booster seat at a store in Michigan, like Meijer or Walmart, I would pay a 6 percent sales tax on this purchase. I chose to purchase my granddaughter’s booster seat online because the requested color — red — was only available online. Whether the online store charges me sales tax for my booster seat is solely dependent on whether that company has a physical presence in Michigan — a store, a warehouse or a service center. If they do have a physical presence in Michigan, they have something called a nexus, which is a legal term, and must charge me sales tax.

If they do not have a physical store, a warehouse or a service center in Michigan, they are not required to collect a sales tax on that sale. However, as a resident of Michigan, if I buy something from out-of-state and have not paid a sales tax on it, I am required to declare and pay a use tax at the same 6 percent sales tax rate. Use tax in Michigan is an out-of-state purchase tax. Michigan’s has had a use tax since the 1930’s when catalog sales, like Sears, were popular.

A local bike shop owner near my district will no longer stock items available online because customers use her store to try-on, or try-out merchandise, and attempt to negotiate a reduction in the sales tax, because customers reason that they don’t have to pay that online, or leave the store and purchase the products online. The owner is at a competitive disadvantage: she has a store to rent, heat bills to pay and merchandise to make available and is trying to compete with online retailers. Collection of this ‘out-of-state’ sales or use tax in this day and age is an easy transaction. In fact, software to facilitate these transactions is available online.

Q. The most recent Auditor General’s performance audit of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, which is known as the state’s corporate welfare arm, found that only 19 percent of the jobs that MEDC originally projected would be created as a result of its projects ever actually materialized. MEDC supporters argue that these audits are measuring the past performance of MEDC and now under Gov. Snyder, the agency has been improved.

Looking forward to future audits, what level of performance would you consider adequate to justify the state continuing to fund MEDC — 25 percent of originally-projected jobs? 35 percent? 50 percent?

Rep. Price:

Many communities have different mechanisms to attempt to attract businesses and jobs to their areas. Whether it is an abatement for personal property, or real property, or the promise of lower energy rates, we have to keep in mind that these mechanisms have an impact our local schools, libraries, units of government and residents. When these mechanisms, abatements or credits, have been premised on a certain performance measure and it is not realized, the business must be held accountable. The MEDC would do well to heed the Auditor General results and adjust the parameters by which they grant taxpayer dollars to incent business relocation in Michigan.

Wiedenhoeft:

I just don’t think we should even have something like MEDC. When you create a business you take a risk. When you succeed, you are rewarded for doing that. The state shouldn’t be involved with funding these risks. Also, if the funding at risk didn’t come from those running the business, the people involved will act differently than if their own money was at stake. We had a battery company near here in Holland that received six figure subsidies from government and created just 30 jobs. I’m against retaining any of the corporate welfare programs.

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See also:

Michigan Capitol Confidential Election 2014 Coverage

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