From the First Tuesday newsletter
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The Michigan League for Public Policy just began our 107th year fighting for better public policy and the people of Michigan. And like you, we at the League have a lot to be grateful for—and a few things we’d like to forget—from 2018. We also have a lot we hope to accomplish in 2019.
The 2018 election brought some good news for the issues we all care about, as ballot initiatives the League supported to end gerrymandering and improve voter access passed and a significant number of candidates who align with our values won their elections. Unfortunately, this shift to a more progressive electorate turning out in November meant a lot of partisan fireworks coming in December during the Michigan Legislature’s Lame Duck legislative session.
Nearly 400 bills were passed in many lawmakers’ last weeks in office, touching on nearly every area of public policy and posing some major threats to our state’s democracy, government and well-being. One of the most disappointing changes was the gutting of the laws to increase the minimum wage and provide earned sick leave for all Michigan workers. It was extremely disappointing that Gov. Rick Snyder signed these bills, even if he did take a stand and veto some other bad bills that made their way to his desk.
While Lame Duck’s most controversial bills garnered the most attention, some good things happened, too. We were pleased to see legislation passed to establish dental therapists to provide greater access to affordable dental care for all residents, especially those with lower incomes. And while it didn’t make it out of this legislative session, our hard-fought progress on the raise the age justice reform has us optimistic about the change in 2019.
There was some good news out of Washington in December, too, with Congress’ passage of a compromise on the Farm Bill. Sadly, this positive effort didn’t receive the full attention and appreciation that it deserved as the border wall debate and federal government shutdown took center stage.
We appreciate your support and dedication to our work last year and we’re excited to take our efforts to the next level in 2019. With the clean slate of a new year, now is the time to start planning how we can be better as people, as an organization and as a state.
What’s most important to us right now is making sure our new leaders and lawmakers understand the best way forward for Michigan. That’s why we will be analyzing the upcoming budget, reviewing the policies in place, poring over data on education, workplace issues, immigration, and healthcare. And, more importantly, it’s why we’ve crisscrossed the state to talk to Michiganders about what they value. Hundreds of folks have weighed in on our future, and the League has created a clear, concise set of recommendations called the Owner’s Manual for Michigan, which we’re launching this month.
The Owner’s Manual is a proactive plan for good, progressive public policy in Michigan that we will put in the hands of lawmakers, community partners and Michigan residents, with tangible policy recommendations and goals that we hope to make a reality in the years ahead. If you haven’t already, you can sign up here to receive updates on it.
Many Michiganders have made personal resolutions for the new year, and the Owner’s Manual lays out the League’s policy resolutions, addressing what the people of our state really need to live better lives. Michiganders want to lose weight, but it shouldn’t be because they are going hungry. Michiganders want to get more exercise, but it shouldn’t be because they can’t afford to fix their car or don’t have reliable public transportation and have to walk everywhere. Michiganders want to go back to school or get a better job, but they can’t afford to get the training and new skills they need. Michiganders want to be healthier, but don’t have access to safe housing, fresh nutritious foods, or healthcare to get the doctor’s visits and screenings to help them do that. Michiganders want the best for their kids, but are still worried about their children’s health, the quality of their child care and the education they’re getting at school. Michiganders want to budget their spending better, but still don’t have the means to provide for their families and make basic ends meet.
These are the real challenges too many real Michiganders are facing today. And there are countless real policy changes legislators can make to help them. The League’s Owner’s Manual for Michigan will outline what we need to drive Michigan forward. Be on the lookout soon for its launch and information on what you can do to help us get some traction on these vital policies.