The Ottawa County Tea Party Patriots hosted five West Michigan state legislators at a lively meeting Tuesday night in Zeeland.
Patriots leader Jim Chiodo asked questions of Republican State Representatives Holly Hughes, Amanda Price, Dave Agema, Bob Genetski, and Joe Haveman in front of a packed house at the Herman Miller Library.
Legislators were mostly in sync during the meeting, but were noticeably surprised when State Rep. Amanda Price spoke about her private conversation with Governor Rick Snyder regarding Right to Work legislation.
"I had a discussion with the Governor and he said he will not sign (Right to Work legislation)," Price said. "It's off the table."
Some legislators were confused, thinking the Governor was at least open to it.
"Promises he made to the Carpenters Union," Agema said. "That's why. I'd vote for Right to Work. I was a union member but too many unions have pushed too far"
Haveman seems willing to challenge Governor Snyder and anyone else in Lansing to pass Right to Work.
"The Governor doesn't get everything he wants," Haveman said. "Governor Snyder is reluctant. He sees the Wisconsin uproar and doesn't want that divisiveness in Michigan. This is the last big labor thing. We've had a successful few months of taking care of labor issues. (State Rep. Mike) Shirkey is the go to guy on this. You will without a doubt see a resolution introduced. We will start quietly but work diligently. Who do we have? Whose arms need twisting?"
Chiodo led off the night asking how legislators could fight the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, known as "Obamacare," from Lansing.
"It stinks," Agema said, "I don't like any part of it in any shape or form. Politicians determining what health care you get disgusts me."
Hughes said a resolution is all that can be done.
"I don't want to be a part of it, but the best we can do is pass a resolution," Hughes said. " The 2012 Senate elections are very important on this issue because Debbie Stabenow is 100% behind Barack Obama and Obamacare."
"Send Pete Hoekstra or whoever it ends up being to Washington," Geneteski said. "As far as Lansing goes, a resolution... and supporting Attorney General Schuette's lawsuit is what we can do."
Haveman said State Rep. Tom McMillin is taking charge of this issue and legislators need to "be following McMillin's lead as much as we can."
When it came to illegal immigration, their was no doubt who the "go-to-guy" in the room was.
"Can I defer to Agema?" Price asked. "I'm behind his e-verify bill. I support that."
Agema was eager to tackle the topic.
"Only 3% of illegals work in agricultural jobs," Agema said. " "97% work in hospitality, manufacturing, construction...Illegal immigration cost Michigan 929 million last year. Those who are against me on e-verify don't understand the system. It takes a secretary a half hour one time to check millions of documents, including visas. This isn't just a Hispanic issue, Indians have been coming to the borders. The Northern border is even scarier almost. I t took me three temp agencies to find a legal worker.E-verify has the same requirements as the federal government for contracts. It's nearly 100% accurate."
Haveman supports E-verify and wants to pursue other avenues as well.
"I have reached out to the Hispanic community to see if we can reach a point in the middle," Haveman said. "Shame on the United States Congress that we can do 1,000 things the Constitution doesn't provide for but they can't do anything on this important issue. And as far as Lansing goes, dog gone it, if we can do a resolution about Obamacare we can do one about illegal immigration."
When legislators were asked about "Agenda 21," (read more here) Genetski told a story about the Humane Society of America.
"They came to Michigan threatening our state with a ballot initiative," Geneteski said. " After California, Michigan and Ohio have the easiest states to do a ballot measure. They were threatening us with cows living in condos, chickens living in estates. It was one of the most heavily lobbied bills last term. Eventually we passed a compromise between the Humane Society and the Farm Bureau."