Editorial Roundup: Michigan

Detroit News. April 14, 2021.

Editorial: Rev up U.S. automotive supply chains

Technology has become increasingly intertwined with the auto industry, as the recent semiconductor shortage has brought to light. The Detroit Three have had to halt production on numerous models for lack of chips. So a bipartisan coalition in Congress is trying to boost U.S. supply chains.

The lawmakers are right to do so, given competition from China as well as federal pressures on the automakers to move to electric vehicles.

The semiconductor chips are integral to the manufacturing of modern vehicles, from power steering to engine-management systems. COVID-19 has disrupted global supply chains.

One analysis from AlixPartners estimates that global auto production is already down 1.4 million vehicles due to the chip shortage. The auto industry stands to lose $61 billion this year as a result.

President Joe Biden acknowledged some of the challenges facing the automakers, and the importance of ensuring they have the supply chains they need to continue production, although his administration has said he’s not likely to offer automakers any special treatment.

The group of 23 senators and 42 House members — Republicans and Democrats — sent Biden a letter Monday, iterating their support for the CHIPS for America Act that would put in place manufacturing and research incentives for the semiconductor industry. Congress has already authorized the spending, but it’s not yet been appropriated.

Members of the Michigan delegation are on board. Democrats Sen. Gary Peters, Reps. Debbie Dingell and Haley Stevens, along with Republican Rep. Peter Meijer, all signed the letter.

“The United States cannot wait to provide these resources over the years ahead,” the lawmakers wrote. “The halted production lines for consumer technology, auto manufacturers, truckers, and other critical industries due to a semiconductor shortage further highlights the pressing need to act quickly and fund the enacted bipartisan provisions.”

Biden has proposed $50 billion to fund initiatives under the CHIPS for America Act in his $2 trillion jobs and infrastructure package.

Automakers would like a certain amount set aside, especially for the “legacy” chips used in auto manufacturing, which are different than ones used in other electronics.

Tech companies are pushing back against any special treatment for autos from the federal government, however, warning that kind of interference could distort the market.

A letter from the tech leaders to Congress and the White House states: “The U.S. should welcome and encourage the investment in and production of semiconductor technology by all eligible companies to achieve this goal.”

Those are valid points, but it’s the auto industry that appears to be suffering the most from semiconductor shortages.

Biden and Congress should work together to secure this bipartisan funding to help prevent future disruptions to the automotive supply chains that are vital to the Michigan and U.S. economy.

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Traverse City Record-Eagle. April 16, 2021.

Editorial: A bear-able ending

We couldn’t bear the idea of this story ending any other way.

The saga of the black bear that spent the past year loitering in neighborhoods along the west side of Traverse City came to an uneventful close Thursday when officials with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources said they managed to trap the bruin. Or at least there’s a good chance it’s the same one that eluded capture in the same area despite months of attempts in 2020.

The nearly 400-pound birdfeeder bandit fell for a buffet of birdseed and suet and loafed into a tube-shaped trailer trap. The successful capture ends a months-long effort to relocate the bear away from the bustle of the city, and the dangers of being a bear who has become too comfortable around humans.

Officials said he will be relocated to a place away from the low-hanging smorgasbord to which he became a menace in 2020 before returning after a winter slumber.

Hopefully his tenure as a neighborhood Yogi impersonator has come to a peaceful close.

The fact is, bears that become too comfortable roaming neighborhoods, the ones that begin to identify populated areas with easy access to meals sometimes don’t get off so easily. And considering only 10 percent of Michigan’s 15,000 to 19,000 black bears lives in the Lower Peninsula, we don’t want to see even one become a victim of our incursion on the state’s wild places.

This brush with a bear also is an important reminder to us all to do our part in preventing bear-human interactions. That means to remove enticements that draw them into close proximity to our homes and neighborhoods.

Place trash bins inside if possible, stow pet food and stop feeding birds on feeders after the snow melts.

Because none of us wants our backyard buffet to cost a bear its life.

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(Marquette) Mining Journal. April 17, 2021.

Editorial: Proposed legislation to restore judge position the right move

While 2020 was full of alarming numbers related to the COVID-19 pandemic, the year brought with it another dismal figure: felony filings in Marquette County more than doubled in less than 10 years, going from an annual average of 224 cases in 2011 to the 471 cases reported in 2020.

This increase has stretched the resources of the county’s criminal justice system to its limits. It’s particularly evident in the county’s circuit court, which has only a single judge to handle hundreds — if not thousands — of criminal, civil and family-related matters each year. This has led to delays and backlogs in the county’s court system, which can have disastrous consequences for victims, defendants, and the entire community.

Due to this, the Marquette County Board of Commissioners in February called for legislation to reinstate a second circuit court judge, citing a substantial increase in felony filings since the county lost one of its two judges at the end of 2016 due to legislation passed in 2011. At the time, we used this space to join the board in urging our state leaders and legislators to consider the request, as a second circuit court judge is clearly essential to the operations of the justice system, and by extension, protecting the rights and safety of Marquette County residents.

Now, we’re glad to report there has been some movement in Lansing on the matter, as legislation to restore a second seat to the 25th Circuit Court in Marquette County was introduced in the state Senate and House of Representatives on Wednesday.

The proposed legislation — Senate Bill 356, sponsored State Sen. Ed McBroom, R-Waucedah Township, and House Bill 4656, introduced by state Rep. Sara Cambensy, D-Marquette — is critical for the Marquette County justice system, which officials say handles nearly a quarter of the entire caseload in the Upper Peninsula.

We recognize this will likely require the use of taxpayer dollars. We also recognize Marquette County’s lost judge position is just one small piece of the ongoing reduction and reallocation of judicial resources throughout the state as a cost-saving measure.

However, we believe it would be worth every penny if a second circuit court judgeship could promote — which we expect it would — a higher level of safety and justice in our community for victims, defendants and everyone in between.

We commend Cambensy and McBroom for taking action on this long-standing issue in a bipartisan matter, as these bills are a prime example of legislation that directly promotes the safety, justice and well-being of residents. We also urge their fellow lawmakers to help pass this proposed legislation, as when legislators are willing to set aside partisan and geographic differences to implement meaningful change, our entire state benefits.

The impacts of delayed justice — which has been aptly equivocated to denied justice — can have disastrous ripple effects that pay no mind to political borders or allegiances, meaning this investment in Marquette County is likely to have benefits that stretch far beyond the county’s geographic area.

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