Street Talk: Gold attendance stars

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Michigan’s 38 senators and 110 representatives missed 3,791 roll call votes in 2020, according to the Missed Votes Report.

The information was compiled by Jack McHugh, editor of MichiganVotes.org, a project of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy.

Three senators and three representatives each missed 50 or more votes in 2020. But 12 senators and 60 representatives missed no votes this year.

Among those with a gold star for attendance in West Michigan were Democrat Winnie Brinks and Republicans Jon Bumstead and Peter MacGregor on the Senate side. In the House, Democrat Terry Sabo and Republicans Thomas Albert, Tommy Brann, Mark Huizenga, Steven Johnson and Bradley Slagh earned perfect scores. Only Democrat Rep. David LaGrand showed up on the more-than-50 list.

The 3,791 missed votes in 2020 is understandably up from recent years, as a number of lawmakers either spent time in quarantine or contracted the COVID-19 virus during the ongoing worldwide pandemic. Michigan lawmakers missed just 768 roll call votes in 2019.

Excluding purely procedural votes, the Senate held 1,002 roll call votes in 2020 and the House 757, for a total of 1,759 roll call votes by the entire Legislature. In 2019, there were 1,614 roll call votes taken by both legislative bodies.

The number of missed votes has fallen dramatically since 2001-02, the first legislative session covered by MichiganVotes.org. Over that two-year period, individual Michigan lawmakers failed to cast a roll call vote 21,162 times.

“The number of missed votes could have been a lot higher given the epidemic,” said McHugh. “Legislative leaders and members had to overcome many obstacles to schedule and show up for daily sessions.”

Typically missed votes occur when family, health or personal issues require a lawmaker’s absence for an entire day or longer.

Missed vote tallies are just one piece of the information MichiganVotes.org provides the public. The searchable database has every bill and all the votes for every Michigan state legislator. It contains plain-English descriptions of more than 38,000 bills introduced since 2001 and more than 35,000 record roll call votes.

The service was started to help citizens make more informed voting decisions, and its main benefit has been increased transparency and accountability. The site’s database now contains 20 years’ worth of legislators’ votes — complete records of the full legislative careers of many lawmakers.

View the complete Missed Votes Report at www.michiganvotes.org/MissedVotes.aspx

Toasted

Need to drink away 2020? Employees at Imperial Beverage were putting in extra hours to ensure retailers were well stocked ahead of small family gatherings.

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to more people drinking in the comfort and safety of their homes. According to IRI, a data analytics and market research company, alcohol sales are up 21% at grocery stores 17% at liquor stores compared to this time last year.

Traditionally, the stretch between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve is the busiest stretch of the year for wine sales.

“We are proud to provide a safe working environment for all of our employees so they can ensure retailers’ shelves are stocked with reds, whites and rosé, and Michiganders can celebrate safely at small family gatherings this holiday season,” said Joe Cekola, president of Imperial Beverage. “From the front office and the warehouse, to our sales team and delivery drivers, our entire team is committed to ensuring consumers’ favorite wines and champagnes are on store shelves.”

As Michigan’s COVID-19 cases continued to surge, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services extended its epidemic order to Jan. 15. One of the recommendations made by the governor and public health officials was to keep holiday gatherings small, if they happened at all.

“Michigan’s wine distributors work hard to ensure retailers across the state have a wide variety of wines produced right here in Michigan, across the country and around the world,” Cekola said. “As Michiganders raise a glass to their loved ones virtually this holiday season, chances are they can all be drinking the same wine no matter how far apart they are thanks to a three-tier system that promotes fairness and a level playing field.”

The Michigan wine industry and its nearly 150 wineries generate more than $5 billion for the state’s economy annually. Michigan currently ranks in the top 10 for wine production and is the fourth-largest grape growing state in the country.

Imperial Beverage was established in 1933 after the repeal of prohibition and purchased by Kalamazoo’s Cekola family in 1984. The distributor has 300 employees and four locations in Kalamazoo, Livonia, Traverse City and Ishpeming.

Underrated

Mortgage rates were at a near-record-low on the cusp of the new year, according to the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation.

Freddie Mac (OTCQB: FMCC) on Dec. 31 released the results of its Primary Mortgage Market Survey, showing the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) averaged 2.67%.

“All eyes have been on mortgage rates this year, especially the 30-year fixed-rate, which has dropped more than one percentage point over the last 12 months, driving housing market activity in 2020,” said Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s chief economist. “(In) 2021, we expect rates to remain flat, potentially rising modestly off their record low, but solid purchase demand and tight inventory will continue to put pressure on housing markets as well as house price growth.”

The PMMS included the following details:

  • The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 2.67% with an average 0.7 point for the week ending Dec. 31, 2020, up slightly from the previous week, when it averaged 2.66%. On Dec. 31, 2019, the 30-year FRM averaged 3.72%.
  • The 15-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 2.17% with an average 0.7 point on Dec. 31, 2020, down from the prior week, when it averaged 2.19%. On Dec. 31, 2019, the 15-year FRM averaged 3.16%.
  • The five-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) averaged 2.71% with an average 0.4 point on Dec. 31, 2020, down from the prior week, when it averaged 2.79%. On Dec. 31, 2019, the five-year ARM averaged 3.46%.

The PMMS is focused on conventional, conforming, fully amortizing home purchase loans for borrowers who put 20% down and have excellent credit.

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