Senior Legislative Analyst
Jack McHugh is the Mackinac Center for Public Policy’s senior legislative analyst and editor of MichiganVotes.org, a unique Web site that puts the activities of the Michigan Legislature at citizens’ fingertips. Since the site was launched in 2001, McHugh has written or edited concise, plain-English descriptions of every bill, vote and amendment in the state House and Senate: 12,000 bills; 10,000 roll call votes; 8,000 amendments; and 2,400 new laws. These can all be searched and sorted on the MichiganVotes.org Web site.
McHugh’s experience prior to joining the Center is wide and varied. He has been a floor trader in the treasury bond and gold futures “pits” of the Chicago commodity exchanges, writer and real estate developer. He entered the Michigan political and public policy scene in 1994, spending six years as a legislative chief of staff in the House of Representatives.
McHugh has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan and a master’s degree in political science from Central Michigan University (where he completed two highly relevant research projects, “Analyzing Michigan House Voting Records Using the ‘MichiganVotes.org’ Database” and “Analysis of Appropriations to Michigan’s Public Four-Year Universities, with Recommendations”).
Jack McHugh’s essays on public policy issues have appeared in The Detroit News, the Detroit Free Press, The Oakland Press, The Grand Rapids Press and many other newspapers. He is also co-author of a book on Midwest mountain bike trails.
By Jack McHugh
- Senate Resolution 186, a resolution of tribute for the Honorable Deborah Cherry . . . … more
Excerpt: "Our ruling class's agenda is power for itself. While it stakes its claim through intellectual-moral pretense, it holds power by one of the oldest and most prosaic of means: patronage and promises thereof." … more
2010 House Bill 6274 and 6275 (Allow Detroit pension funds to loan to city)
Introduced by Rep. Bettie Scott (D) on June 22, 2010, to allow the Detroit police, fire and other employee pension funds to lend up to 20 percent of their assets to the city at a discounted interest rate.
Referred to the House Banking and Financial Services Committee on June 22, 2010. … more
2010 House Bill 6180 (Create "uncompleted subdivision" renaissance tax break zones)
Introduced by Rep. Jim Slezak (D) on May 18, 2010,to authorize the extensive tax breaks and exemptions of a “renaissance zone” for up to 10 particular subdivisions started before the subprime/housing crash, that benefited from a local property tax special assessment levied to pay debt service on money borrowed by the local government to build infrastructure for the subdivision, and which now are only 20 percent completed. “Renaissance zone” status means that businesses and individuals within the zone are essentially exempt from all state and local taxes. See also House Bill 6181, which creates a state revolving loan fund to bail out the local governments that aren't collecting the special assessment revenue they were counting on to pay the debt on the infrastructure projects. The bill is cosponsored by Reps. McDowell, Denby, Rogers, Marleau, Walsh and Daley. … more
Press Release from Biglari Holdings, as reported by MIRS News
Maybe the lawmakers who voted "yes" on 2010 Senate Bill 1174, now Public Act 61 of 2010, have an answer: Senate Roll Call Vote, House Roll Call Vote.
The bill changed the rules of corporate governance in the middle of the game so as to benefit the politically well connected president of a Michigan insurance company against the will of a majority of the shareholders. Legislators may not know how to respond Bigliari's question ("We're sorry?"), but these comments from Larry the Liquidator suggest that he and other investors will know: … more
So I asked my Mackinac Center colleagues whether I have turned into a squish on nanny-statism. … more
My own observations at several Tea Parties suggest that whatever the exact attendance figures, there appear to have been far fewer of those "shell-shockedm" middle-aged, middle-class people who swelled the turnout a year ago, and who described themselves as being frightened at was happening in Washington, and had never previously been involved in any political activities. … more
A new report from the Brookings Institution suggests that the state should rely primarily on the last, "school closure." … more
Legislature's Most Persistent Targeted-Incentives Booster to Run Hearings on Embezzler's Tax-Break Deal
The very latest research on this issue, performed not by self-serving beneficiaries of government spending, but by disinterested scholars, finds that "increased spending on higher education generally exhibits a relatively large negative effect" on a state's economy. … more
Introduced by Sen. Gerald Van Woerkom (R) on February 25, 2010, to rewrite the rules for corporate acquisitions so as to raise obstacles to the acquisition of a controlling interest in the Fremont Insurance Company (which is located in the district of the bill sponsor) by the Indianapolis-based Steak and Shake Corporation. Specifically, the bill would require a two-thirds supermajority of shareholders to vote in favor of the sale if the current board of directors opposes being taken over.
Larry the Liquidator shares his thoughts. … more
2009 House Bill 5567 (Grant property tax breaks to a particular subdivision)
- Introduced by Rep. Woodrow Stanley (D) on October 29, 2009, to extend "Neighborhood Enterprise Zone" property tax breaks to the University Park Estates subdivision in Flint, which is less than 10 years old, and is in a "renaissance zone" whose tax-exempt status is expiring soon. Under current law, these particular NEZ tax breaks are for subdivisions built before 1968. They cut the owner's local property tax liability on the structure in half.
- Passed in the House (89 to 18) on December 8, 2009. [Roll Call Vote, Yeas and Nays]
- Passed in the Senate (38 to 0) on February 23, 2010. [Roll Call Vote, Yeas and Nays]
The news that a Canadian government official sought care in this country was no surprise to those who watched the Mackinac Center's popular YouTube videos posted last fall documenting the pain and suffering that Canada's health care rationing imposes on individual citizens (more than 800,000 Canadians are on a waiting list for care at any given moment).
BTW, the premier's surgery was a success. … more
For some time I have been making the same point in articles and speeches. I've pointed out that there's not enough money in the world to pay these benefits — the LSJ cites a Pew Center report showing some $8 billion would be required — and also that these aren't really contractual obligations, like pensions appear to be. … more
From the AnnArbor.com news site comes additional evidence that our schools very well funded indeed. … more
Under the proposed increase, Michigan would have the fourth highest tax on gasoline, behind only California, New York and Hawaii. This would add yet another obstacle to recovering from the economic death spiral this state appears to have entered. … more
2009 House Bill 5626 (Raise cap on Detroit deficit finance bonds)
- Passed in the House (75 to 33) on December 10, 2009, to increase from $125 million to $250 million a cap on how much Detroit can borrow to finance its ongoing gap between spending and revenue, and establish in statute that these lenders (bond holders) would have a priority claim on future state revenue sharing payments even if Detroit files bankruptcy. [Roll Call Vote Details and Comments]
Sources: MEA revenue from "Form LM-2” filed by the union on Nov. 24, 2009, with the U.S. Department of Labor. Per-pupil amount based on 2009-2010 pupil count projected by the May, 2009, Michigan Consensus Revenue Agreement. … more