LANSING, Mich. (Michigan News Source) – A Michigan Democrat legislator has submitted a joint resolution for the state to confiscate investor-owned natural gas and electric companies through purchases or eminent domain in order to create a state public utility.

In the aftermath of November’s elections, the Democrats in Michigan ended up winning control of the state. They have a Democratic Governor, Secretary of State, Attorney General, House, Senate and Supreme Court. Because of that, much has been written lately, speculating on what Democrats will do with that power.

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Michigan Advance wrote on Monday about possible past legislation that might be re-introduced regarding labor rights, education, LGBTQ+ rights, the environment, gun control, abortion rights, health care, infrastructure and more.

What they missed pointing out was something new – Joint Resolution Y, introduced by term-limited state Rep. Yousef Rabhi (D-Ann Arbor) on November 29th and referred to the Committee on Energy. It’s an amendment to the state’s 1963 Constitution to create a state public utility by the “purchase or acquire by eminent domain all of the electric and natural gas generation, distribution, or transmission facilities owned by any investor-owned utility in this state.”

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This power grab to control Michigan’s utilities aligns well with Rabhi’s stated environmental goals. Rabhi’s personal website says he has “introduced transformative policies to tackle climate change and move our state toward a renewable energy future.”

This joint resolution is the second instance that Michigan News Source has reported on late 2022 proposed legislation by outgoing Democratic Michigan House Representatives. Yesterday we reported that outgoing Wayne County Rep. Jeffrey Pepper submitted several gun control bills to the legislature.

Joint Resolution Y, in order to create a state public utility, authorizes the issuance of bonds to finance the purchase, acquisition or development of electric or natural gas generation, distribution or transmission facilities and allows them to set all rates, fares, fees, charges, services, rules, conditions or service and all other matters pertaining to the formation, operation, or direction of the state public utility.

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It directs the state to build “across this state accessible, rapid-charging infrastructure for electric vehicles” within 18 months of the joint resolution becoming law as well as making “rapid investments in the distribution network in this state to increase the reliability and improve capacity for interconnections of new renewable generation.”

It also says that “no later than 18 months after the effective date of this section, each investor-owned utility in this state shall divest its generation, distribution and transmission systems to the state public utility.”

Additionally, the joint resolution says that the state public utility “has the right to use the highways, streets, alleys or other public places of any county, township, city or village for wires, poles, pipes, tracks, conduits or other utility facilities, without the consent of the duly constituted authority of the county, township, city or village.”

Even though the Democrats control the state house 56-54 and the state Senate 20-18, when the state Constitution is charged by a joint resolution, it must pass 2/3 of both chambers and that seems unlikely. However, the resolution could have been put forth as a “trial balloon” or as a stated intent on the kind of future governance to expect from the Michigan Democratic Party.

We contacted Consumers Energy about the joint resolution and Tracy Wimmer, Media Relations Specialist said, “We oppose HJR Y or other policies to change the regulated model for energy providers in Michigan. We are more than willing to have a conversation with elected officials who may want to reintroduce this resolution in the next legislative session as to why the regulated model works for reliability and affordability for our customers, while providing a pathway to a cleaner energy future.”

Michigan News Resource also reached out to the Michigan Municipal Electric Association (MMEA) about the proposal and Executive Director Katie Abraham said, “We are greatly appreciative of Representative Rabhi’s support of Public Power in Michigan. We are currently still reviewing his resolution.”

Rep. Rabhi was also contacted to provide more information about the joint resolution but did not respond for comment.