HANCOCK---State Representative Michael Lahti this week blasted the Michigan Senate Majority leadership for refusing to reappoint two Republican commissioners representing the Upper Peninsula to the Natural Resources Commission and locking UP citizens out of their ability to have a say in policymaking decisions of the Department of Natural Resources and Environment (MDNRE).
Lahti said such political games could leave the UP with no say in important policy decisions on the state's land and water and claimed such a move is against Michigan's constitution.
"The Senate Majority leaders are playing a political game with these appointments; and that means that the Upper Peninsula will not have proper representation and input on decisions that affect our jobs, tourism, and our way of life," said Lahti. "This is exactly the kind of partisan bickering and political infighting in Lansing that so many Michigan citizens are tired of. These ploys have no place in a state government that should be focused on creating jobs and protecting families."
The Michigan Senate Majority last week refused to consent to the re-appointments of Natural Resource Commissioner J.R. Richardson, first appointed in 2007, and Natural Resource Commissioner John M. Madigan, first appointed in 2002. Richardson and Madigan are both lifelong UP residents and the only UP residents on the NRC.
"They've been doing a good job," Lahti said. "They were looking after UP interests. It's the first time we've had two members from the UP on the Commission."
Senate Majority leadership has refused to approve any of the Governor's appointments or re-appointments of Democrats or Republicans to state boards and commissions for individuals whose terms would begin after an arbitrary deadline of September 2, despite having the constitutional right and responsibility to make such appointments. Senate Majority leaders have stated they want these appointments left vacant to be filled by the next governor. Both Mr. Richardson and Mr. Madigan are Republicans.
Both are also fishermen and active in sportsman's organizations.
Richardson, of Ontonagon, a graduate of Michigan Tech University, received the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Partner in Conservation Award in 1993 for his work with the local sportsman's groups on habitat rehabilitation and fish plants and for his management of an award-winning wastewater treatment plant in Michigan. His 31-year career in the paper industry ended in 2007. Since December 2007 he has worked for the New York-based TRAXYS Corporation, which is creating renewable energy alternatives for producing power in the Upper Peninsula.
Madigan, of Munising, is a past board member of the Alger County Fish and Game Alliance and is a member of other hunting and fishing organizations. He also worked as a charter boat captain on Lake Superior while attending college at Northern Michigan University.
The Michigan Natural Resources Commission (NRC) is a seven-member public body whose members are appointed by the Governor and subject to the advice and consent of the Senate.
Editor's Note: Visit the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment (MDNRE) Web site to learn more about the NRC and its members.