By Mike Kruzman & Jon King /

A local lawmaker is calling for the Secretary of State to reopen branch offices to walk-in customers, claiming that service is being adversely affected, drawing a heated response from the Secretary of State’s office.

Republican State Senator Lana Theis of Brighton Township on Monday urged Democratic Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson to reopen branch office locations to walk-in customers. Theis said in a release, that now that Michigan is reopening, it no longer makes sense for branches to remain closed to walk-in service. She added that if people are unable to get in and do their business, they are being assessed late fees and putting themselves at risk through no fault of their own.

Theis said that the wait times are “excruciating” and that she continues to hear from residents in Livingston and Washtenaw counties who are angry with how long it is taking to schedule an appointment. She stated that “there is no acceptable reason why people should have to wait 3 to 4 months to get an appointment,” calling on Benson to reopen the offices immediately.

In response, Tracy Wimmer, the Media Relations Director for the Michigan Secretary of State, told WHMI in an email that Sen. Theis “is more interested in lying to her constituents than in serving them,” noting that most motorists do not need to visit a branch to conduct their business and for those that do, they release thousands of next day appointments every day at 8am and noon. She added that residents can also call 888-SOS-MICH to speak with someone who can help them book an appointment.

Wimmer called Theis’ comments a “petty, partisan” attack, and said that if she’d like to “serve her constituents instead of playing games,” Theis can work with them to introduce legislation that modernizes laws so residents can do business from home, which she says people “really want.”

Among those proposed reforms Benson is asking for include allowing remote driver's license testing, not require veterans with the military equivalent of a commercial driver's license to retrain and retest for a civilian CDL, and provide funding and authority for the department to develop innovative public-private partnerships to improve operations.

Full copies of Theis’ release and the statement from Wimmer and Benson’s office can be found on our website.