Posted by Tom Boven on Jul 31, 2019
SL Rotary Scribes Report
July 19 meeting, SLCC
We had an action packed session arranged by Pres. John.  First, before the program was introduced, we acted upon several previously unpublished items that were not presented as an action item for the membership, but did result in adoption of several changes to the By Laws, and policy items:  Please refer to the email last Weds from Pres. John with each of the membership approval changes. They are dated as if July 19, 2019 and should be preserved on line or in your paper files.   For an Honorary member to qualify to maintain membership, first the designation of Honorary requires a combined sum of 85, from the Age minimum of 65, and the number of years an active member at a Rotary Club.   
Another membership category recognized going forward is SEASONAL (Non-Resident) membership, when a member expects to be absent from the area and a resident of another state at least 6 months of a year.  The time is usually a winter visit to warmer climes, perhaps for well over 6 months.  To be a Seasonal Member, the club member must declare for that status, and will be required to only pay for 3 months of meals, plus the regular cost charged to Rotary by SLCC of each meal when present for exceeding the 3 month term.  Again, this helps a person who is a member and only expecting to be here for the summer months to maintain a membership in Rotary but does not penalize or cost extra if in Spring Lake for other months except for paying for meals not covered in the 3 month billing for membership.  
The SLCC tries to accommodate special dietary requests of Rotary members, but it is difficult to keep up with the needs and changing menus of members.  Pres. John explained that a member can request a salad by contacting Chris at 842-4200 at the Club by 10am before a Friday meeting.  Once the Club has 3 requests for salads, it will provide a salad at a current $12.50 charge, and rather than the Rotary Club being billed for 3 salads every meeting, there will only be prepared the standing order number, up to 3, that members may have requested. Extra salad requests will be billed to the member making a request.  The thought was that a member knows what they need, and in an effort to keep our uniform meal costs at the level presently being billed to the Rotary Club, an accurate count of the special order salads has to be maintained.   While not stated, it is possible for special circumstances to be discussed with Kevin at SLCC to try to help someone with a serious diet issue, so please try to help with the count, and the efforts to keep everyone as happy as possible with our tastes often being so different!!
After all the above matters were discussed and voted through, including a change in the quorum required for a Rotary Board meeting to be an official meeting. The Board of Directors will be made up of the President, the President Elect, the Secretary, the Treasurer and 3 club Members (one of which being the past club President).  The majority of the members of the Board of Directors whall constitute a quorum of the Board of Directors
We then proceeded to the program.  Rep Bill Huizenga, Republican from Zeeland representing the 2nd Congressional District of Michigan, was introduced by Jess Garrison, new Pres Elect and Program Arranger.   Jess needs to dig some dirt up to add a bit of levity to the introduction of speakers, as Rep. Bill seemed to proceed with no boos or whistles from the back benchers.
Bill gave a bit of background as to where he and his wife are in regular life.  They have 5 children, with 3 being in college, and two in high school.  That should explain some of Bill’s motivation and focus.    He spent the morning in Ferrysburg discussing with Mayor Hopp (who was in attendance at our Rotary meeting, as the Guest of Craig Bessinger) and community members the need to fix the bridge over Smith’s Bayou.  Earlier the Chamber Reps met with him to try to figure a fix for the US-31 Swing Bridge.  The fix is “money” and the real decision is who gets to pay.   Good Luck.
The members of our Rotary Club were courteous in their listening to the Congressman.  Politics is not the reason for Rotary, it is Service.  With that background, Bill stated his view of Washington as being “Interesting”.   That is a fair comment for a Service Club audience, with varying degrees of opinions on Washington, so we were presented with the following comments:
  1.  Long and short standing Procedures utilized by Congress in the past are being challenged because of frustration of members of Congress.   Resolutions introduced to impeach the President failed, but legislation to increase the Minimum Wage appears to be progressing, as well as budget approval. 
  2. Bill’s committee work on Financial Services Committee is becoming very interesting because of Facebook proponents (which includes VISA, Master Card, eBay, Uber et al) desiring another recognized monetary denomination, the LIBRA.   This would be a form of Cryptocurrency that is pushed by certain internet favoring elements and appears to be opposed by Liberals, Conservative Bankers, and those who do not care to participate in a currency that is not backed by a government.  Also, Facebook seems to exercise access to its portals in ways most can be uncomfortable with(including sometimes giving false information to folks) so trusting a new form of currency, traded outside normal banking channels, seems to make many nervous.   So called FIAT Currency (Google it) concerns some because of lack of knowledge as to what supports its value.  Not Gold, not a Government, and perhaps it is supported by folks who want to own all of us…
  3. The Debt Ceiling is being raised again, as the Country is experiencing a $1 Trillion deficit, and now that budget creating the deficit of $1 Trillion, is adding to the National Debt of $23 Trillion.   Bill observed that not addressing spending is a difficult concept to swallow, as excessive spending in current budgets continues to raise the National Debt.  Even if the budget was somehow balanced (expenditures did not exceed revenues) 2/3rds of each annual budget is for mandated expenditures (such as interest on Bonds used to create National Debt borrowing and pensions) with only  (wow!) $1 Trillion of the $3 Trillion annual budget being spent on discretionary things like defense, domestic programs (roads, parks, medical issues, space programs, etc.) so the numbers are huge.  A billion here and there is eye wash for the pool full of demands.  It appears that for two more years the budget will be exceeded, and the National Debt service costs will consume nearly 70% of all revenue, not the 67% experienced in 2019.   So much for conservative principles.
  4. Assume that if a downturn in the economy occurs the mandated spending continues.  The Dollar has been weakened a bit to encourage other countries to buy goods and services from the US, but the US $ is still the most sought after safe investment in the World.  This position changes quite quickly, but other economies in comparison to the US function more poorly.  
  5. From a local perspective (Michigan) there is an effort in Congress and Michigan to square up the differences in treatment of Marijuana based business.  It is illegal under Federal law for a Bank to do business with a medical marijuana business, and any other marijuana business.  The State encourages Marijuana business, as do several other states.  So far there does not seem to be any budging at the Federal level.  That will be addressed eventually.  Also, the infrastructure in every state, for roads, bridges, schools, sewer treatment and lines, water sources and distribution, is becoming a mess.  This is because of failure to repair, replace and reserve funds for these needs.  Ultimately the Federal Government will be tasked with a solution, which will probably be the carrot and stick approach.
Rep Huizenga concluded his presentation with thanking those present for not quite politicizing his effort to present an update on an Interesting Washington scenario.   Bill now has a declared opponent for the next election, so he will be busy trying to keep his job, as he has experience but the electorate can decide whether our local and national interests have been served by his presence on our behalf, in Washington.   My bet is that not many would want his job.   Life is complicated, and making it more so might not appeal to our more genteel interests here in West Michigan.   Thanks for the Update, Bill!
Respectfully Submitted, Scribe Tom Boven