A bill package of lobbying, financial disclosure and ethics reforms passed through the House with bipartisan support Wednesday. The 13 bills, House Bills 4680–4692, aim to close the revolving door for legislators and lobbyists, require lawmakers to disclose their financial information to a closed committee created by the Legislature, among other initiatives to raise the ethical standards in the Capitol.
U.S. House Democrats’ highway funding bill is poised to include roughly three out of five transportation projects submitted by members, as legislators vie for their share of federal dollars through the resurrected congressional earmarks process. Michigan is poised to receive $210 million spread over 68 projects throughout the state.
Basic needs at the largest U.S. national parks top the Biden administration’s first proposed lists of projects to receive funding through public lands trust funds, showing how much maintenance is needed even as parks brace for record numbers of visitors this summer. The projects likely wouldn’t be visible to the usual tourist, but they are essential to keep national parks functioning after a pandemic year in which many Americans rediscovered their love of the outdoors.
Police would be required to intervene if they see that excessive force is about to be used and schools would be prohibited from including the “1619 Project” in their curriculum under bills recently introduced in the Michigan Legislature. Those are just two of the bills members of the House and Senate introduced in May on topics ranging from police reforms to schools to guns.
A unanimous U.S. Supreme Court ruling last week is being seen as a step in the right direction toward untangling complex jurisdictional issues that often result in crimes against Indigenous people going unaddressed in Michigan and elsewhere throughout the country. The case, United States v. Cooley, essentially upholds tribal law enforcement’s authority over non-Natives who commit crimes on tribal land. Previously, courts had employed patchwork enforcement of the power.
Rob Schofield writes, “Here in the United States, it has taken many decades – indeed, centuries – for the tragic scope of what was done to Native Americans to slowly penetrate the consciousness of a population raised on cowboy movies and fanciful Thanksgiving stories.
“And so it is, perhaps not surprisingly, that many modern Americans continue to struggle with one of the most horrific of all episodes of oppression in human history: the forced enslavement of millions of people of African descent by white Americans. While no one denies the fact of slavery, millions still avert their eyes from its gruesome reality and, even more importantly, from its legacy.”
“Why are you talking to them?” Hank Millbourne remembers friends saying to him during the 1980s gay scene in Detroit about other gay men. “They have the package.”
Millbourne had only a passing idea of what the “package” was, but he was quickly taught the alleged telltale signs of it: darkened fingernails from using AZT, then the only approved treatment for HIV. In Black Americans, it had the odd side effect of turning some people’s fingernails dark black.
The Michigan Senate Elections Committee voted on three bills Wednesday that could reform voting procedures to mandate photo identification being presented when applying for an absentee ballot or casting a ballot.
Dozens of bills aimed at boosting ethics, transparency and financial disclosure laws have been introduced in the Legislature this year from both parties, with lawmakers making the case that their respective bills would give Michiganders the most access to state government.
Michigan Advance’s Susan J. Demas writes, “At this point, after we’ve watched so much senseless death and the explicit right-wing tactic of turning public health into a gun-toting culture war, it’s OK for those who have tried to be good citizens to be angry.”
U.S. Rep. Cindy Axne is pushing for tenants’ rights to extend to residents of manufactured housing communities to protect them from predatory rent hikes.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced Thursday her priorities for K-12 education that uses federal funds and a state surplus to close the equity gap for Michigan’s schools.
A year after George Floyd’s killing by a Minneapolis police officer, his family returned Tuesday to Washington, D.C., where lawmakers have been attempting to craft a bipartisan bill to overhaul the nation’s policing laws. Congress failed to act by the anniversary of Floyd’s death — the deadline that President Joe Biden had urged lawmakers to meet. Instead of signing legislation named for Floyd into law on Tuesday, the president met with Floyd’s family members in a private gathering at the White House.
Members of a U.S. House panel on Monday debated whether some state elections laws disenfranchise certain voters, including people of color, and split along party lines in their conclusions.
Peter Ruark of Human Capital argues that “businesses who perceive a labor shortage can do what businesses normally do in a market economy when they cannot find enough workers: Look at ways to make their jobs more attractive to workers, including investing in better wages and benefits.”
“Michigan has gone farther than other states in dealing with the toxic legacy of PFAS contamination, [but] unfortunately, these chemicals are so persistent and so widespread that they are literally accumulating in our own human waste.”
– Christy McGillivray, political and legislative director at Sierra Club Michigan, commenting on a new report from the Sierra Club and the Ann Arbor-based Ecology Center of Michigan
From statehouses to Congress, Republicans have launched into a fight against the teaching of “critical race theory,” which just a year ago was a niche academic term. Experts in critical race theory say it’s about acknowledging how racial disparities are embedded in U.S history and society, and the concept is being mischaracterized by conservatives. But GOP lawmakers in the past few months have succeeded in pushing it to the top of state legislative agendas.
Michigan’s governor would be required to report when they travel out of state to legislative leaders and undocumented individuals would be able to receive a driver license under bills introduced recently in the Michigan Legislature.