Snyder signs anti-abortion omnibus bill, drastically reducing women’s reproductive options, and driving even more educated young women from Michigan

Well, it looks like Governor Snyder did what many of us were fearing that he’d do… This afternoon, while most of us were at home, enjoying the holidays with our families, he signed the anti-abortion omnibus bill into law. The following is from the Daily Beast.

Michigan women will face new obstacles to legal abortion after Republican Gov. Rick Snyder signed into law wide-ranging restrictions in the last hours of that state’s legislative session Friday.

Under the new law, private medical offices where abortions are performed will be required to be licensed as surgical facilities; women seeking an abortion must first meet with a health-care professional to ensure they aren’t being coerced into the procedure; health-care providers can refuse service if their conscience so dictates; and new regulations will be imposed on how fetal remains are disposed.

Snyder surprised many by vetoing related legislation that would only allow insurance coverage of abortions through rider policies that companies could deny. A Planned Parenthood spokeswoman called this a “victory” amidst the package of new restrictions.

“Those three issues were our top issues: conscience, insurance, and regulation and reform,” Ed Rivet, a spokesman for Michigan Right to Life, told the Detroit Free-Press. “That we’re doing them all simultaneously is pretty remarkable.”

Critics, though, call the bill confusing, contradictory, and over-broad. Policy watchdog RH Reality Check deemed it “one of the most extreme pieces of anti-choice legislation in the country.”

“It is a sad day for Michigan women,” said State Senator Rebekah Warren. “They will pay for this legislation with their dignity, health, and ultimately some even with their lives.” Warren was Michigan’s affiliate NARAL director for seven years before being elected to office…

I’m sure that some will applaud Governor Snyder for having sufficient nerd spine to stand up to the extremists of his party, and veto their legislation which would have prevented private insurance companies from covering abortion procedures in the state of Michigan. I, however, won’t be joining them. While it’s true that things could have been even worse, that does not make the 5711 omnibus, which he signed into law this afternoon, any less vile. It will take some time to see how things work out, but, as we discussed a few days ago, this legislative end-run around Roe v. Wade could very well mean that the entire state of Michigan will have only one independent, non-hopsital facility which can legally perform abortions. (Presently, there are 32.) This, I think most of you would agree, is absolutely unconscionable.

In addition to meaning a rise in risky DIY abortions, and ensuring that hundreds of unwanted children are born to unprepared mothers against their will, this will almost surely bring more violence to Ann Arbor, where, assuming some compromise isn’t struck in Lansing, the state’s only remaining abortion facility will be located. (Planned Parenthood presently operates four facilities in the state, but only the Ann Arbor facility meets all the unnecessarily stringent criteria spelled out in 5711. The other three facilities would require “waivers,” and it’s not yet known if these will be extended.) Snyder, by signing this today, has essentially made Ann Arbor ground zero in the war on women’s rights in this state, and I hope he’s ready to face the consequences, both electorally and ethically. Not only will this make him virtually unelectable in Michigan, in my opinion, but it will bring every insane anti-choice zealot in our state to the Planned Parenthood location on Packard. I hope this is just another instance of me worrying for nothing, but I can’t help but think that bad things will happen as an increasing number of delusional individuals begin making their way to Ann Arbor, in hopes of shutting down this facility, and thereby effectively ending abortion in Michigan.

It may be too early to start thinking about this, but I think we may want to begin planning a series of fundraisers so that the good people of Planned Parenthood can afford to put systems in place to ensure their safety.

Also, I hope that the Governor knows that this will only hasten the out-migration of educated young workers from Michigan, ensuring our standing as a third-tier state… What young, college-educated woman would choose to make her home in a state that has essentially said that women can’t be trusted to make her own decisions concerning her reproductive health? As much as it pains me to say it, unless we make a great deal of progress over the coming years, I’ll likely encourage my daughter to leave and make a life for herself elsewhere.

[note: My last article on this subject, which goes into quite a bit more detail, and incorporates an interview that I did with a representative of Planned Parenthood, can be found here.]

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  1. Edward
    Posted December 29, 2012 at 6:59 am | Permalink

    We attempted recalling Engler for much less. It amazes me that we’re allowing this to happen.

  2. anonymous
    Posted December 29, 2012 at 7:41 am | Permalink

    We’ve become desensitized to it. Now, all we can think about is our immediate self preservation. Abortion rights are too abstract to a society worried about keeping food on the table. And, when you’re working two jobs just to stay afloat, you don’t have the time or energy to fight back. The Republicans haven’t only broken the back of labor in this state, they’ve broken the backs of the people.

  3. Meta
    Posted December 29, 2012 at 8:24 am | Permalink

    Somewhat related.

    Matt Damon in Playboy Magazine: “It’s easier now more than ever in my life to feel the fix is in, the game is rigged and no matter how hard you work to change things, it just doesn’t matter.”

  4. EOS
    Posted December 29, 2012 at 9:22 am | Permalink

    The Governer should be commended for helping the women of this state. A facility providing abortion on demand needs to be prepared to handle the life-threatening consequences to the mother that may result from this often coerced procedure. If we consider abortion to be “medical care” then it is imperative that we require minimal standards of acceptable care. In the recent past, a person opened an abortion facility for 2 days a week in Ypsilanti. Not only was the facility ill-equipped to handle a medical emergency, but the “doctor” was on the other side of the state for 5 days of the week. Terminating the life of another human is not something that should be done with a Skype connection.

  5. EOS
    Posted December 29, 2012 at 9:27 am | Permalink

  6. Alice Krum
    Posted December 29, 2012 at 10:15 am | Permalink

    Time to find The Handmaid’s Tale on the bookshelf and loan it to a friend.

  7. Meta
    Posted December 29, 2012 at 10:37 am | Permalink

    From the Huffington Post:

    Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R) signed an anti-abortion omnibus bill on Friday that imposes restrictions on abortion clinics and physicians. In a surprise, the governor vetoed a separate bill that would have prohibited Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan from including abortion in its standard health coverage.

    The Republican-controlled Michigan Legislature passed both anti-abortion bills in a lame-duck session, sparking statewide protests. The bill that Snyder signed on Friday, HB5711, regulates abortion clinics as hospital operating rooms, requires doctors to screen women for coercion before providing abortions, and bans telemedicine to prescribe first-trimester medication abortions. The bill also regulates the disposal of fetal remains after abortions.

    “To be screened for coercion is a reasonable thing,” Snyder told The Detroit News. “It is really a question of women’s health and safety.”

    Abortion rights advocates said the bill is intended to impose onerous regulations on abortion clinics that could force them to shut down. “This bill was meant to ban abortion in Michigan, and it was pushed through in a lame-duck session by legislators who were voted out of office because of their extreme views on women’s health,” said Cecile Richards, president of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund.

    Snyder said he vetoed the abortion insurance bill because it would have eliminated coverage for women who had been raped or whose lives were in danger, and it dictates what kinds of coverage a private insurance company can offer. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan is the largest health insurance provider in the state.

    “It just went too far,” Snyder said after vetoing the bill.

    Snyder said he felt pressure from advocates on both sides of the issue as he closely considered the abortion bills. The advocates were “threatening and attacking me before I even said what I was going to do,” he said.

    Read more:

  8. Posted December 29, 2012 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

    As I did before, I am going to donate another $100 to the National Network of Abortion Funds in EOS’ name.

    This state just gets worse and worse.

  9. Elf
    Posted December 29, 2012 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

    This is the same EOS, by the way, who feels as though we should not pay a dime of taxpayer funds on welfare to support the feeding of the children who are born as a result of this anti-abortion policy. He and his ilk care a great deal about fetuses until they become real children, and then it’s OK if God wants them to starved to death, grow up without decent educations, suffer without health care, wind up in prison. The important thing is that they get that first breath. After that, “Fuck ’em”.

  10. EOS
    Posted December 29, 2012 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

    Don’t make up shit. Santa is watching and making a list.

  11. Elf
    Posted December 29, 2012 at 3:14 pm | Permalink

    OK, where was I wrong? Do you believe in a robust public welfare system to support the children of these women you’re forcing into motherhood? Do you believe in public health care? D you believe in well-funded public education? If you’ve had a change of heart during your time away from the site, pleases let us know. The old EOS, however, was vocal in his dislike of all those things, favoring so-called faith-based solutions, prayer, and home schooling.

  12. Mark K
    Posted December 29, 2012 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

    I have to laugh at the title of this story, I’m pretty sure educated women know what causes a women to get pregnant and how to prevent that. This doesn’t limit abortion one bit, your still allowed as many as you’d like. Who wouldn’t want a clinic to be prepared for the worse.

  13. TeacherPatti
    Posted December 29, 2012 at 3:29 pm | Permalink

    anonymous hits the nail on the head…it’s hard to care about things when your paycheck keeps shrinking and you are afraid of losing your job. I think we’ve just given up. I know some people are clamoring about how awesome it is going to be in 2014 because we’ll kick those bums out except that no, we probably will not. The state is gerrymandered such that we will have a Republican-led legislature for the foreseeable future. Unless the Dems come up with some kick ass candidate, we will probably re-elect Snyder. (Remember, our little bubbles notwithstanding, there a lot of people applauding his bullshit).

    I’m sorry to say that I am among those who has given up (at least for now). All we can do is watch the young grads stream out of our state (I wonder if the people attending UM will decline??) as we race to the bottom. Holy shit. Where’s the Tylenol?

  14. Elf
    Posted December 29, 2012 at 3:29 pm | Permalink

    We all know what this is about, Mark K. This isn’t in response to an epidemic of women dying in poorly equipped offices. This is about legislating away a medical procedure which a vocal subset of religious fundamentalists have a problem with. Knowing that they can’t get the Supreme Court to act, this was their next best bet. At least be decent enough to acknowledge that.

    And, to show there’s no hard feelings, I made you a Christmas present. Here it is.

  15. John Galt
    Posted December 29, 2012 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

    Didn’t we already establish that rape babies are a gift from God?

    I think this is a great thing for all the young, poor women of the UP. They should be praising Rick Snyder. Nothing builds character in 15 year old rape victim like raising their rapist’s baby for 18 years.

  16. Rai Harashi
    Posted December 29, 2012 at 10:51 pm | Permalink

    Wow are we really going back to having a blackmarket for abortions? The demand will absolutely create one. Holy shit, Michigan!

    Along with Mark’s refugee camps, there will now be abortuon clinics just over the borders.

    Maybe Amtrack will set up package deals for one day outpatient surgeries in Chicago.

  17. wobblie
    Posted December 30, 2012 at 6:16 am | Permalink

    Snyder signed step one, this kind of thing is step two—Welcome to Michissipi

  18. anonymous
    Posted December 30, 2012 at 9:23 am | Permalink

    The thing is, no one cares. This post only has 32 “likes”. People don’t give a shit about the poor young women in the UP that will have their lives ruined. Those of us who are computer literate, and have the means to do so, will find other solutions. We’ll take a day off from work and go to Canada. Unfortunately, there are a great many Michiganders who won’t be able to do that. Fuck ’em, right?

    And I agree about the possibility of violence in Ann Arbor, if it becomes the home to the only abortion provider in the state. Things will be incredibly tense, and security guards will have to be engaged.

  19. Michael Fahy
    Posted December 30, 2012 at 10:56 am | Permalink

    My disgust at the passage of HR5711, and Google, led me to your splendid blog. I simply wanted to share my appreciation for your posting, which I found informative, cogent and eloquently indignant. I like the directness of your style and your–earnestness–by which I mean something in your temperament or sensibility that comes through, that I like. I will be referring family and friends to this piece and your blog.

    I have been around long enough (since 1953) to have noticed that things that are said and done against the status of women, and their integrity as full-fledged human subjects, are usually a barometer of often broader social anxieties–anxieties that are articulated as pieties–noxious ones. The “otherness” or women expressed in the socio-political arena (often tied up with notions of “purity and danger” in the gold old anthropological sense of the terms) impresses me as a kind of optical illusion or delusion whose victims/victimizers cannot grasp how attacks on our sisters, daughters, mothers, and mates is an attack on us all.

    Anyway–sorry for pontificating, where feedback was the intention. I look forward to following your blog.

  20. Oliva
    Posted December 31, 2012 at 7:26 am | Permalink

    Welcome to Mark’s excellent blog, Michael (if I may!). Good and welcome comments. A heartening counterpoint to Mark K’s crass suggestion that women “like” having abortions. And I agree with Teacher Patti that we risk not dumping the really bad guys in 2014 for the same reason that we got ’em in 2010–so somehow, despite so many Michiganders with depleted stores of what it takes to fight for our state, we need to fight . . . fight lethargy, fight puny-minded politicians, fight chicanery such as that Snyder relied on to get voted in, fight for this place we love and call home.

  21. TeacherPatti
    Posted December 31, 2012 at 2:45 pm | Permalink

    I second the welcome, Michael! I have met some fabulous people here (and met several of them in real life, the most memorable one being in the women’s bathroom at the Corner). This was the place I kept coming to during the horrible day when Snyder and his ilk decimated democracy and crushed our unions. I’m sure I’ll be back tons more in ’13 as the crap continues rolling down from Lansing….

  22. Meta
    Posted December 31, 2012 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

    Mark K, the people who signed the bill aren’t even claiming it’s about women.

    From Think Progress.

    Michigan lawmakers moved quickly to push an omnibus abortion bill through their lame duck session last week. Despite the massive undertaking that House Bill 5711 represents — the measure combines several of the worst attacks on women’s reproductive freedom into one 45-page piece of legislation — some GOP legislators may not have even bothered to read its full contents before making up their minds about it.

    RH Reality Check flags an account from Emily Magner, who brought a group of her social work students to Lansing to discuss HB 5711 with their state legislators in late November. Magner recounts the conversation she had with state Sen. Howard Walker (R) — who ended up voting for the measure in early December — in which he admitted he initially threw his support behind the bill without reading it first:

    We went on to talk specifically about how this bill will harm Michigan women, disproportionately women living in rural areas like ours. After we brought up a few of these points he put up his hands and said that he couldn’t really speak to those topics … he had not read the bill.

    In front of him was a one paragraph synopsis I assume was from the Right to Life special interest organization who drafted the bill. […]

    We spoke with him for 20 minutes, the whole time he was dismissive, misinformed, and rude. When his handler told him, “5 more minutes,” I told him that I would never ask him to change his beliefs on abortion, I would protect his right to believe whatever he wanted, but I did want him to consider the harmful implications that this legislation would have on women and consider his ethical obligation to his field to leave his personal views at the door.

    Before I could finish my sentence, he waved his hand dismissively and interrupted, “THIS ISN’T ABOUT WOMEN! THIS IS ABOUT PROTECTING FETUSES!”

    Read more:

  23. Meta
    Posted January 1, 2013 at 8:10 am | Permalink

    Michigan isn’t alone in this.

    Texas will stop funding Planned Parenthood today.

    From Think Progress:

    For most of 2012, Texas officials have been working hard to strip funding from the Planned Parenthood clinics in their state. Those officials advanced their anti-choice agenda on Monday, when a visiting judge ruled that Texas may deny funding from Planned Parenthood affiliates in the new year simply because the organization advocates for abortion rights.

    Planned Parenthood has been embroiled in a complicated legal battle with the state of Texas as Republican officials attempt to exclude the organization from the state’s Women’s Health Program, which uses federal and state money to fund preventive care for low-income women. The organization sued to block Texas from discriminating against abortion providers, but Visiting Judge Gary Harger ruled that Texas may design a state-run Women’s Health Program that excludes qualified providers like Planned Parenthood — despite the fact that, on a federal level, states aren’t allowed to block qualified health providers from receiving Medicaid funds.

    The new Women’s Health Program launches on Tuesday, and Monday’s ruling ensures that Planned Parenthood won’t be part of it. Before Texas Republicans began their crusade against Planned Parenthood, the organization provided preventative cancer screenings, contraceptive services, and family planning assistance to nearly half of the state’s 130,000 low-income women in the Medicaid program.

    Read more:

  24. Knox
    Posted January 11, 2013 at 11:25 am | Permalink

    The New Republic has an article on how Texas was able to defund Planned Parenthood. I imagine that Michigan will attempt this as well.

    Here’s the article:

    Since 2010, nine states have tried to strip funding from their local Planned Parenthood chapters. Not three years later, almost all of their schemes have been laughed out of court. In the cases of Arizona, Indiana, and Texas, where legislatures and governors had tried to bar the federally approved provider from participating in state Medicaid, judges ruled that states simply can’t do that and expect to receive federal dollars. The governor of one of those states, however, decided that if federal rules won’t allow him to defund Planned Parenthood, so be it. He would achieve his goal by forfeiting hundreds of millions of federal dollars in Medicaid tagged for women’s health care.

    That governor, of course, is Rick Perry of Texas. Since fading from our national memory as the presidential candidate who couldn’t remember the Department of Energy, Perry has gone home to oversee the dissolution of what was once a decent health-care partnership with the federal government, the Women’s Health Program. Its replacement, an entirely state-run and -funded program of the same name, launched January 1 with rules that exclude Planned Parenthood. As a result, Texas is no longer eligible to receive the $200 million–plus a year that Medicaid provided to Texas to care for low-income women, a fact that doesn’t bother Perry one whit.

    Perry hasn’t won outright; Planned Parenthood has filed lawsuits in state and federal court, and a state court will decide Friday whether to grant an injunction that would temporarily protect Planned Parenthood’s local funding. But Perry’s success thus far is instructive to other conservatives looking to give Planned Parenthood the boot. (It’s not clear who might be the first to reprise the fight, although a Planned Parenthood official said the organization is keeping a fretful eye on onetime antagonist Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.) With that in mind, and with the far-right dream of defunding Planned Parenthood alive and well, it’s worth examining just what Texas has sacrificed with all those federal dollars—and what kind of a public health mess it has on its hands as a result.

    The costs are stark. One-quarter of Texas women are uninsured, and the Women’s Health Program was a reliable way to cover at least some of their needs. But by freezing Planned Parenthood out of the program last week, Texas has forced more than 50,000 of them to search for a new primary care doctor within the Women’s Health Program—and it is not at all clear that the system has the capacity to reabsorb them. Planned Parenthood accounted for about half of Women’s Health Program services last year—mostly in the form of cancer, diabetes, and STI treatment, plus high blood pressure screenings, contraception dispersement, and annual checkups. In many parts of Texas, Planned Parenthood served half of all low-income women enrolled in the Women’s Health Program; in certain areas, that number was as high as 80 percent. And having rejected Medicaid, which provided about $9 to the Women’s Health Program for every $1 the state spent, Texas is now challenged to come up with about $200 million for the program over the next five years. (One proposal is to make up the gap through Medicaid fraud penalties, but the state’s method for collecting these is dubious and under heavy fire). All this has taken place at a time when Republican legislators have already slashed the family-planning budget by two-thirds. “This is Rick Perry versus Texas women, literally,” a Planned Parenthood official told me.

    For its part, the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC), which administers the Women’s Health Program and wrote rules to exclude Planned Parenthood at Perry’s behest, disputes that shedding Planned Parenthood has created a problem. In a media blitz begun this week, its officials are touting a survey of state-approved providers who say they have more than enough capacity to serve Planned Parenthood’s former patients. But Texas reporters have called alternative providers listed by the HHSC and found that many are not actually participating in the Women’s Health Program or are not accepting new clients. State Rep. Donna Howard, a Democrat from Austin, and her staff have placed a few such calls, too. “We’ve been told that providers are no longer there, that they don’t take Medicaid, a wide variety of answers,” she said. The website, she added, lists an assortment of providers who perform important auxiliary services—like radiologists, anesthesiologists, and endoscopic physicians—but don’t provide the primary care that would replace a visit to Planned Parenthood. “It’s very confusing.”

    How exactly did Texas get here? In part, of course, because of Planned Parenthood’s reputation as an abortion provider. In Texas, though, the arm of Planned Parenthood that provided health care services to poor women is separate, legally and administratively, from the one that performs abortions. Nonetheless, in 2011, according to an HHSC spokesperson, Perry and his attorney general, Greg Abbott, directed the HHSC to write into its laws language that would defund Planned Parenthood because it was an “affiliate” of the abortion provider of the same name. In fact, Planned Parenthood is so hated that the HHSC rules include a clause—that Planned Parenthood hopes will not pass judicial scrutiny—that dissolves the entire Women’s Health Program, serving 110,000 needy women, if a court ever allows Planned Parenthood to participate in the program. But the real genesis of the current crisis, Howard proposed, can be found in that August 2011 decision by a Republican-controlled legislature to solve a fiscal shortfall by cutting the family-planning budget by two-thirds. The cuts had the effect of shuttering 60 clinics across the state that once provided everything from oral contraceptives to pap smears. As a result, said Howard, many rural and remote areas of Texas no longer have immediate access to female care providers. The unplanned pregnancies that will result from these cuts, moreover, are estimated to cost the state $231 million.

    So there you have it. Politicians anywhere who are interested in defunding Planned Parenthood need only follow Texas’ roadmap: Give up hundreds of millions of free federal money, launch their own state-run health care apparatus, and steel themselves for the cost of all the unwanted pregnancies that result. Meanwhile, Planned Parenthood is waiting for a court to decide if it can continue to serve Texas’s poor women. Speaking from the State House, Howard told me that her Republican colleagues in Austin are beginning to realize just how drastic those family-planning cuts were, especially now that the costs of resulting unwanted pregnancies are becoming clear. But whether there’s anything those remorseful legislators can do to stop Gov. Perry—“I don’t have a good answer for that right now,” she said.

  25. Meta
    Posted January 26, 2013 at 6:48 am | Permalink

    It’s not just Michigan. It’s everywhere. Boehner said yesterday that eliminating abortion was “one of our most fundamental goals this year.”

    As hundreds of thousands of people braved sub-freezing temperatures in Washington, D.C., on Friday to join the anti-abortion protest March for Life, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) took the opportunity to reiterate his commitment to banning abortion in America for good.

    Addressing the crowd at the National Mall via video broadcast, Boehner said it’s time for anti-abortion activisits to “commit ourselves to doing everything we can to protect the sanctity of life.” Step one, he said, is making permanent the Hyde Amendment, which prevents federal dollars from being used to pay for abortions except in cases of rape or incest.

    “For the new Congress, that means bringing together a bipartisan pro-life majority and getting to work,” Boehner said. “In accordance with the will of the people, we will again work to pass the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act, formally codifying the Hyde Amendment.”

    Boehner said he will make it a national priority to “help make abortion a relic of the past.”

    “Let that be one of our most fundamental goals this year,” he said.

    Read more:

  26. Meta
    Posted February 6, 2013 at 9:06 am | Permalink

    Meanwhile, in South Dakota.

    The bill, sponsored by state Rep. Phil Jensen, a committed foe of abortion rights, alters the state’s legal definition of justifiable homicide by adding language stating that a homicide is permissible if committed by a person “while resisting an attempt to harm” that person’s unborn child or the unborn child of that person’s spouse, partner, parent, or child. If the bill passes, it could in theory allow a woman’s father, mother, son, daughter, or husband to kill anyone who tried to provide that woman an abortion—even if she wanted one.

    Read more:

  27. anon
    Posted February 6, 2013 at 10:08 am | Permalink

    is south dakota a city near grand rapids?

  28. Meta
    Posted February 6, 2013 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

    Michigan Republicans are also now pushing for forced trans-vaginal ultrasounds.

    Nothing makes young women want to return a state where there’s the promise of forced penetration.

5 Trackbacks

  1. […] incarnation, is no friend of reproduction rights. As you'll recall, he signed a comprehensive anti-abortion omnibus bill in December.] This entry was posted in Civil Liberties, Michigan, Politics, Uncategorized and […]

  2. […] that doesn't mean he's a friend of women when it comes to reproductive rights. As you may recall, he did sign into law the comprehensive anti-abortion omnibus bill one year ago, during the Republican hijacking of the lame duck […]

  3. […] gays are constantly under attack, the rights of workers are being systematically dismantled, and women are seeing their reproductive rights rolled back. All the trains in the world can’t make someone forget that they’re living in a state […]

  4. By I am disappointed in you, my fellow Michiganders on November 6, 2014 at 9:04 am

    […] would have thought that women would have voted against him, seeing as how he signed into law our nation’s most restrictive anti-abortion legislation, and then looked the other way as zealots within his party began shutting down reproductive health […]

  5. By Save yourselves. Don’t be like Michigan. on December 11, 2014 at 8:16 am

    […] out previous warnings from the Mitten State here, here, here and […]

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