May 14, 2010

Patterson blasts Bishop in press release

LANSING – Sen. Bruce Patterson, R-Canton, blasted his caucus leader, Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop, R-Rochester, with a press release Thursday accusing Bishop of playing “insider political games” that “put Michigan lives at risk.”

A brief meeting of the Senate the Energy Policy and Public Utilities Committee on Thursday, chaired by Patterson, touched off the controversy. The committee was to hold a discussion of a bipartisan package of bills, Senate Bills 1310-1313, addressing stopping utility theft, but Patterson learned the bills had been sent to the Judiciary Committee instead.

Patterson said the bills were carefully designed to address the problem of stealing energy, both electricity and natural gas, and instead of being referred to his committee which had been working on the matter for nearly a year “the petty Senate Majority Leader, Sen. Michael Dean Bishop, sent them to the unrelated and ill – prepared Judiciary Committee.” Patterson said for more than a year, he has worked with Rep. Jeff Mayes, D-Bay City, to craft the bills, and that both he and Mayes have held hearings on the legislation and conducted field investigations.

“Energy theft not only increases rates, it’s an extremely dangerous activity that puts families and our neighborhoods at risk,” Patterson said. “Republicans support this legislation; Democrats support this legislation. The only road block is Senator Bishop. It makes no sense.

Patterson said instead of seeing quick action, the legislation is now languishing in the Judiciary Committee, where members are working to educate themselves on the highly complex, multi-faceted legislation. Sen. Wayne Kuipers, R-Holland, chair of the Judiciary Committee, is also a member of the Energy Policy Committee, and Patterson said Kuipers confirmed the bills were only referred to the Judiciary Committee “to mess with Patterson for his continued independence and because of the pretext that the bills were about theft as opposed to energy.”

Patterson had been at odds with Bishop in the past for on occasion voting with Democrats, and he even stripped Patterson of a committee assignment two years ago for helping Democrats discharge a bill Patterson wanted action on.

“If Senator Bishop wants to punish me for my independence, fine; we can address that as a separate issue,” Patterson said. “But assigning this legislation to a committee not prepared for it is recklessly putting Michigan citizens in danger.

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