Editorial Roundup: Michigan

Detroit News. February 24, 2024.

Editorial: Whitmer’s instincts right on Education Dept.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer may be tiptoeing around the state constitution in stripping the education department of most of its funding, but we support her objectives in doing so.

The governor’s executive budget provides just $162.8 million for the Michigan Department of Education, down 75% from the $647.3 million approved by the Legislature last year.

The money is shifted to the governor’s new Michigan Department of Lifelong Education Advancement and Potential (MiLEAP), which is part of the executive office and controlled by her. Much of the money goes to funding the Great Start Readiness program to prepare children for learning. It will also support the governor’s goals of creating a higher skilled workforce.

Whitmer is also moving some education functions now managed by the departments of Labor and Economic Opportunity and Treasury to MiLEAP. If she’s successful, nearly all education services in the state will be under her direct control.

“This is really motivated by recognizing that an antiquated disparate structure doesn’t serve any of our goals, and that’s true for the department as well,” Whitmer said of her decision.

She’s absolutely right, as we’ve said many, many times of the Michigan Board of Education.

Michigan is one of a very few states in which an elected school board and the governor share responsibility for schools. The bifurcated system works against the ability of the state to form and execute a uniform strategy for improving education performance.

It also disperses accountability for the chronic failure of Michigan’s schools.

States that have improved student achievement, most notably Tennessee and Massachusetts, have done so with a governor-directed approach that puts in place a blueprint for success the state’s chief executive is responsible for executing.

If it doesn’t work, voters and taxpayers know whom to hold accountable.

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Traverse City Record-Eagle. February 23, 2024.

Editorial: Accountability central to siting debate

When it comes to the state takeover of solar and wind projects, we sense an undercurrent.

Or, as opponents would say, a power surge.

Either way, Michigan voters will get another chance to weigh in to the Public Act 233 that puts final approval of large-scale renewable energy projects of more than 50 kw into Michigan Public Service Commission’s hands. It is a hedge against a growing movement to repeal supported by the Michigan Farm Bureau and the Michigan Townships Association.

We don’t like to see this cast as a simple issue of local control versus climate action. It gets overly simplistic when we pit planet against Constitution; the ideas aren’t mutually exclusive and it’s not an accurate picture of what’s happening on the ground.

Or — more to the point — what isn’t happening on the ground.

Supporters of the move point to a national trend of growing local opposition to renewable energy facilities that potentially form barriers to meeting climate goals.

An ongoing study of these restrictions by the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia Law School shows Michigan townships and authorities have a number of these, but we’re not hostile compared to other states.

So for us, it becomes a question of accountability. Do we want elected officials – who have a greater chance of taking our feelings into account – on the hook for their decisions or a commission appointed by the governor of our state? Do we need an anvil when we have other means, like the judicial branch, to settle disputes?

We don’t doubt the developers of these projects would rather deal with the state’s public service commission, appointees staggered on six-year terms who speak the same language and are looking to state and national climate goals to feather their caps.

But part of the duty of government is to translate, build consensus and find solutions that make sense for the locality where projects are proposed.

Misinformation and NIMBYism are particular foes, but hardly new ones.

Like affordable housing, the need to build renewable energy sites is indisputable and they must go somewhere.

Let’s work with the people on the ground who are more accountable to which way the wind blows before draining power from the process.

Virtual public meetings are scheduled for 1:30 p.m. March 7 and March 19 to prepare for a public comment period starting July 17. The act will go into effect in November.

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Alpena News. February 20, 2024.

Editorial: Know Michigan’s new gun laws

Democrats in the Michigan Legislature last year passed a trio of gun laws in the wake of the shooting at Michigan State University.

Those laws took effect last week.

We urge every gun owner in our area to familiarize themselves with the new laws to make sure they don’t run afoul of the law.

The new laws include:

— Universal background checks for all gun purchases.

— A so-called “red flag law” that allows courts to temporarily take guns away from individuals deemed a threat to themselves or others.

— A new requirement that guns be properly stored. Unattended weapons must now be kept unloaded and locked with a locking device or stored in a locked box or container if a minor is likely to be present on the premises. Those who fail to store their firearms in that manner could face criminal penalties if a minor gets their hands on the gun and displays it in a public place, injures themselves or others, or kills someone.

Democrats in Lansing, who currently control both chambers of the Legislature and the governor’s office, say they want to pass more gun laws.

Your state representatives need to hear from you if you think more is needed, what we have is enough, or what we have is too much.

State Rep. Cam Cavitt, R-Cheboygan, can be reached at 517-373-0833 or CamCavitt@house.mi.gov. State Sen. Michelle Hoitenga, R-Manton, can be reached at 517-373-7946 or SenMHoitenga@senate.michigan.gov.

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