Editorial Roundup: Michigan

Detroit News. March 11, 2023.

Editorial: In Lansing, look for the union label

Michigan taxpayers may not realize it yet, but they’re being involuntarily organized into the service of labor unions.

The Democratic lawmakers and governor they’ve entrusted with full control of Lansing are moving at rapid speed to turn state government into a Big Labor adjunct, breathing fire into a movement that had all but exhausted its appeal to Michigan workers.

Don’t be surprised if you see Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Democratic legislative leaders standing outside businesses passing out union sign-up cards. That’s how over-the-top is the capitulation to the labor agenda.

Democrats are determined to return Michigan to its status as the labor capital of America. The timing for this huge pro-union shift is particularly worrisome, coming as the state is competing for a dominant place in the new automotive future.

In general, the companies looking for homes for electric vehicle facilities are not keen on dealing with unions and prefer places where policymaking has a pro-business bent.

That, soon, will not be Michigan.

There now seems no way to keep Democrats, who hold mere two-vote majorities in the House and the Senate, from walking Michigan off the right-to-work dock.

Repeal of the worker pro-choice law will likely pass this week, putting Michigan back into the column of states that forbid employees from opting out of compulsory union membership. Democrats are casting this as a blow for worker freedom. But forcing employees to join a union and have dues deducted from their paychecks against their will does not meet any definition of freedom.

Nor does making the repeal of the 10-year-old law bullet-proof from the will of the voters. Lawmakers included a shady funding appropriation in the proposed measure, protecting it from being altered by a ballot referendum.

This is a tactic Whitmer herself declared offensive in 2019 when she issued an executive directive stating her intent “to veto legislation that circumvents the right to a referendum.”

Now, on right to work, she’s dancing to labor’s tune.

Right to work is just one piece of a union wish list Democrats are dutifully checking off. Next up is repeal of the prevailing wage law, which requires contractors to give union-scale paychecks to workers on a state-funded project, whether or not they’re in a union.

Lawmakers are also working on a bill removing the cap on political donations made by unions — but not by business groups. That’s an especially self-serving piece of work, considering that nearly all union political donations go to Democrats.

Another bill would put taxpayers on the hook for union dues. Starting with this tax year, fees paid to unions would qualify for a refundable state tax credit.

At the behest of the Michigan Education Association, the Legislature is preparing to repeal the law which requires third-graders to be proficient in reading before advancing to fourth grade.

Consider that just 14% of Michigan workers belong to a labor union. And yet 100% of the policymaking in Lansing is being done for labor’s benefit.

The real damage of these various pieces of legislation comes from the message they’ll send to investors and job creators.

As former Gov. Rick Snyder wrote in an op-ed on these pages Friday, Michigan may as well erect “Closed for Business” signs at all its entry points.


Traverse City Record-Eagle. March 10, 2023.

Editorial: Rewrite needed for literacy help

The story of Michigan’s third-grade reading retention law was destined to be a beach read — short, gritty and perhaps soon forgotten, as a bill for repeal heads to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s desk where it will likely be signed.

The law itself, passed in 2016’s Republican Legislature headed by Gov. Rick Snyder, was aimed at addressing Michigan’s educational shortfalls, apparent before COVID-19 and steadily getting worse. National Assessment of Educational Progress found Michigan’s fourth-grade students recorded their lowest reading scores in three decades in 2022, ranking Michigan 40th nationwide.

We are one of 17 states with a reading retention law; eight others allow retention but don’t require it, according to Bridge Michigan.

Retention is a charged issue, with detractors saying that holding back students adds to inequities in the system that disproportionately impact low-income and Black students. Nearly 75 percent of Michigan teachers and 90 percent of principals think retention is ineffective.

As far as the numbers go, in Michigan, we likely will never know. As the law was delayed because of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have numbers only from 2020-2021 and 2021-2022 school years. The first year, less than 7 percent of third-graders eligible for retention were held back — 229 out of 3,477 — a lower percentage than before the law even went into effect. The second year, retention was used more frequently, impacting one in five retention-eligible kids and showing greater numbers retained in Black, low-income, urban and charter school students.

The likely repeal of the law, however, shouldn’t mean that we stop striving to improve our struggling literacy rates or studying the impacts of retention. Boston University’s Educational Policy Center found that in Mississippi, which put a third-grade retention policy in place earlier than Michigan, found that the third graders held back in 2014-15 had higher ELA scores in the sixth grade, with positive effects for Black and Hispanic/Latinx students in particular.

We’re not sorry to see the mandatory retention policy go, but we need the attention on improving literacy to stay. Early literacy can be a determining factor in more than just academic achievement — it sets kids on a healthier path through graduation and into adulthood. We’re glad the repeal law maintains supports for struggling students and institutions — but we can’t close the book on addressing systemic shortfalls in education.


Alpena Daily News. March 8, 2023.

Editorial: Focus on eating habits, physical activity in March

During National Nutrition Month in March, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, Women, Infants and Children Program is joining with the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics to encourage Michiganders to focus attention on the importance of making informed food choices and developing sound eating and physical activity habits.

“The 2023 theme, Fuel for the Future, encourages everyone to eat with sustainability in mind,” said Christina Herring, WIC director. “It is a reminder to fill our bodies with healthy foods during every phase of life as well as protect the environment.”

Fuel for the Future highlights ways everyone can eat with the environment in mind, such as enjoying more plant-based meals and snacks, buying food in season, shopping locally, or starting a container or backyard garden to grow food at home.

During National Nutrition Month, the Michigan WIC Program encourages everyone to eat a variety of foods from all food groups and in various forms, including fresh, frozen and canned food. In addition, Michiganders are encouraged to include their favorite cultural foods and traditions, avoid fad diets promoting unnecessary restriction and practice gratitude for their body by giving it the fuel it needs.

WIC is a federally funded program that serves low-income women, infants and children up to age 5 by providing nutritious food, nutrition education, breastfeeding promotion and support, and referrals to health and other services. WIC foods are selected to meet nutrient needs, such as calcium, iron, folic acid, and vitamins A and C.

WIC also provides families with access to registered dietitians or registered dietitian nutritionists. These food and nutrition experts specialize in assessing one’s unique needs and providing personalized nutrition education and counseling to meet individual health goals.

To learn more about WIC or find an agency near you, call 211 or go online to Michigan.gov/WIC.