It’s no secret that our office is filled with policy wonks. They watch the Michigan government livestream for entertainment, they get excited about scatter plots and they celebrate the release of census data like most people celebrate the arrival of a new puppy.
Our policy staff is so engaged in following the numbers—and so good at finding data-driven solutions for Michigan—but at the heart of their work lies, well, heart. All of us who spend our days at the League are here because we care deeply about the people of our state. We do our work because we want all Michiganders to thrive.
Our blog, Factually Speaking is designed to expose that heart of our work … to share the stories that personalize and humanize the policy issues we care about. Over the last year, posts from our staff, interns, national partners and fellow Michiganders explored issues that matter to the people of our state.
As the communications director for the League, my data analysis has less to do with the census and more to do with digital media. And I’ve been crunching the numbers the last few, er, seconds to discover the top ten most-read blog posts of 2018. Here’s the big reveal!
- Legislators thwart the will of the people … over and over again: We were eager to see a proposal to raise Michigan’s minimum wage on the ballot in November. More than enough signatures were gathered to do so, and voters were eager to weigh in. Unfortunately, opponents in the Legislature passed the same proposal in both chambers, which constitutionally kept it off the ballot. It was a big step backward for Michigan workers, and a sign that lawmakers are reluctant to support the will of the people. In this, the most popular blog post of 2018, senior policy analyst Peter Ruark explored the dangers of procedural tactics by the Legislature.
- ‘Shame Duck’ tradition is alive and well in Michigan: The Legislature’s Lame Duck session often results in hasty decisions that do little to strengthen our state. In this blog post, senior policy analyst Peter Ruark looked deeper into how the paid sick leave and minimum wage issues were weakened during this year’s session.
- Don’t throw in the towel on voting: Just ahead of the 2018 midterms, League communications associate Laura Ross reflected on her great-grandmother’s connection to the suffrage movement and reminded us that there’s still much to fight for when it comes to fair voting.
- A Very Think Tank Thanksgiving: A perennial favorite, our Thanksgiving blog post features messages of gratitude from all League staffers.
- A Torn Family: One mom’s experience with a child in prison: Raising the age of juvenile jurisdiction is something the League has worked hard to do. In this blog post, we met Mary, whose 17-year-old son Jacob is currently in adult prison. She shares how she and her husband have struggled watching Jacob endure life behind bars.
- In the educational shell game, Michigan students lose: In August, senior policy analyst Peter Ruark wrote a report raising awareness that the Legislature has been raiding the school aid fund to pay for postsecondary education. Here, he explains the damage done.
- The Lame Duck that could lay a golden egg: I’m no stranger to Lame Duck shenanigans, having worked with the Legislature for nearly a decade. But this time I wanted to focus more on the potential positive outcomes of the session, particularly the push to raise the age of juvenile jurisdiction. Spoiler alert, it didn’t happen in 2018, but we’re a lot closer to making it a reality in the coming session!
- Gilda’s top ten voting tips: Our president and CEO Gilda Z. Jacobs doesn’t take voting lightly, and she wants to make sure we all use our voice in every election. You’ll want to bookmark this for the next time you vote!
- The modern Renaissance woman: Part of a series called “Strong Women, Strong Michigan, this blog post explores the strength of women in our world. League policy fellow Victoria Crouse highlighted the women in her world to illustrate the impact women have on our communities.
- A Tale of Two Onions: My personal victory in activism: Health policy analyst Emily Schwarzkopf noticed a shortage of grocery stores in her neighborhood. It hindered her ability to throw together a quick dinner, but she knew the problem was much deeper for people with low incomes and lack of transportation. So she used her voice (and lots of charts, of course) to explain to lawmakers that something had to change. Spoiler alert: Wait. We’re not going to spoil this one. Read for yourself how Emily’s work paid off!
In 2018, the League tackled a lot of important issues and continued to make policy and budget analysis the backbone of our work. But I’m so glad that you’re able to see the heart of our work revealed in our blog posts each week.
If you haven’t already, I encourage you to subscribe to our blog via email so you can stay up to date on everything we’re working on. And please continue to share posts on social media so we can reach a wider audience and generate greater support for the issues we all care so deeply about.
Thanks so much for your support of the League. May 2019 be an excellent year for you … and for all Michiganders!