Legislative ‘Adopt and Amend’ Procedure Upheld on Michigan Ballot Proposals

The Michigan Court of Appeals has upheld the process by which Republican legislators amended two 2018 ballot initiatives passed by Michigan voters.

One ballot proposal would have increased the state’s minimum wage to $12 per hour in 2023 and increased tipped wages to the full minimum wage. A second ballot measure would have forced businesses to adopt extensive paid sick leave for employees. The proposals would have gone into effect on Feb. 20.

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Michigan Gov. Whitmer Calls for ‘Immediate’ Relief in State of the State Address

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer called for “immediate” relief to some Michiganders from rising prices in her State of the State address Wednesday evening.

Whitmer, the Democrat who won a second term in November, said three proposals will make a “real difference” to many residents who are “facing the pinch right now” at the grocery store and with medical bills and prescription costs.

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Study: Michigan Toll Roads Could Cost $10 Billion Now to Raise $2 Billion by 2030

The Michigan Department of Transportation has commissioned a study about enacting highway toll roads to raise revenue to fix roads.

The study follows a growing tax revenue hole from increasing fuel efficiency that leads to fewer fillups at the pump and more electric vehicles whose drivers don’t pay state or federal fuel tax.

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Michigan Court Approves $20 Million Unemployment Fraud Settlement

The Michigan Court of Claims has entered an order certifying the $20 million class-action settlement against the Unemployment Insurance Agency.

The settlement resolves a class-action lawsuit against the agency claimed in 2013 it falsely accused unemployment recipients of fraud and seized private property without due process.

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Michigan Mayor Blames Residents for Crime

After being sued for violating the First Amendment, Eastpointe Mayor Monique Owens spent 15 minutes at Tuesday’s council meeting airing her grievances against the public. Owens complained that at a previous meeting, her daughter heard a member of the public criticizing her.

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University of Michigan Medical School’s Anesthesiology Department Hosts Critical Race Theory Seminar to Mark MLK Day

The University of Michigan Department of Anesthesiology hosted Monday a screening of the video “Critical Race Theory: American Law and Racism” as part of the university’s annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day symposium.

Kimberly Ward, the department’s DEI administrative specialist, joined Kristen Howard, senior director of the Office for Health Equity and Inclusion, to screen the pre-recorded video, in which Columbia law professor and coiner of the term “intersectionality” Kimberlé Crenshaw gave a rundown of critical race theory history and significance.

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Report: Michigan Legislature Gave Private Company $4 Million

The Michigan Legislature is supposed to make laws and spend taxpayer money wisely and transparently.

But a report from the Detroit News says the GOP-led Legislature gave $4 million to a for-profit company, with an unclear return on investment for taxpayers. The details of the corporate handout weren’t discovered until months after the appropriation.

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Michigan to Begin $81 Million Opioid Settlement Distribution

Michigan’s government is expected to receive part of $81 million from two multi-state opioid settlements later this month.

“I am relieved the court ruled in accordance with the law, and I thank the judge for the keen attention she paid to this important matter,” Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said in a statement. “It’s critical that communities throughout Michigan are indemnified for the harm they suffered due to the recklessness of the opioid manufacturers and distributors. The frivolous challenge by Ottawa County delayed millions of dollars from being put to good use to help Michigan residents our communities recover.”

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Michigan Projects $9.2B Surplus, Which Could Trigger a Tax Cut

Despite a possible mild recession, Michigan’s fiscal experts project a $9.2 billion taxpayer surplus that could trigger a tax cut.

Nonpartisan fiscal agencies project Michigan will gather $32.4 billion in revenue for the 2022-23 fiscal year.

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Michigan School Criticized for Taking Sixth-Graders to Lounge with Stripper Poles

In Michigan, a school district is facing backlash from parents after a school ended a sixth-grade field trip by taking the students to a lounge with stripper poles in plain sight.

The New York Post reports that on November 16th, students with the band and orchestra of Hart Middle School, located in Rochester Hills, visited Niki’s Pizza in Detroit after attending a performance by the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. The pizzeria operates jointly with the risque nightclub Niki’s Lounge.

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Michigan Legislature Sets Stage for Policy Battle

Michigan Democrats filed bills aiming to fulfill a 40-year pending wishlist, which include restoring the prevailing wage and repealing right to work.

Other bills filed include repealing the retirement tax, boosting the earned income  tax credit, and repealing the 1931 abortion ban despite a constitutional amendment voiding the law.

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Detroit Charter Schools Tout College Enrollment Numbers

As Michigan Democrats holding a political trifecta aim to regulate charter schools, data from the graduating class of 2021 show that the top eight open-enrollment high schools for college enrollment in Detroit are all charter schools.

Researchers from Grand Valley State University’s Charter Schools Office analyzed which high schools had the most students enrolling in college within six months of graduation.

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Michigan’s Proposed $12.5M Alcona County Community Center Draws Scrutiny

A town of about 300 people in rural Michigan received $12.5 million from the Michigan Legislature to build a senior center.

The money was allocated from the budget approved last summer. Now, the Alcona County Commission on Aging plans to build a complete community hub in Lincoln, consisting of the senior center, housing, and recreation facilities to encourage younger people to interact with seniors.

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University of Michigan Pays More than $18 Million to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Staff

The University of Michigan (UM) spends more than $18 million annually to support its diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) staff, according to an analysis of public salary records by UM emeritus professor Mark Perry.

UM pays a total of $18,120,242 to support more than 142 staff members who work to promote DEI initiatives on campus during the 2022-2023 school year, according to data analyzed by Perry. The total equals the amount it would take to cover the cost of in-state tuition for 1,075 students, he told the Daily Caller News Foundation.

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Poll: Michiganders Approve of Right to Work by 2:1 Ratio

Approximately twice as many Michiganders approve of a right-to-work law than oppose it, according to a statewide poll released Thursday by TargetPoint Consulting on behalf of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy.

The TPC poll concluded 58% of 800 Michigan voters surveyed support the state’s legislation; 29% of respondents oppose it. The margin of error for the poll is +/- 3.5%; Michigan has about 8.2 million registered voters.

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Audit: Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency Couldn’t Support $10.2 Billion of Payments

An audit released Friday from the Office of Auditor General Doug Ringler marked 11 “material conditions” – the most severe rating – for how the Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency operated during the pandemic, which resulted in losing billions of taxpayer dollars.

The audit found the UIA couldn’t support the appropriateness of $10.2 billion in Pandemic Unemployment Assistance payments, mostly because it added invalid eligibility criteria in the PUA application and didn’t require some PUA claimants to certify they met federal eligibility criteria. 

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Michigan’s Stabenow Won’t Seek Re-Election to U.S. Senate in 2024

Democratic U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow on Thursday said she won’t seek reelection to the office she’s held since Jan. 3, 2001. Her current term ends Jan. 3, 2025.

Stabenow, 72, said she’s stepping down to “pass the torch” to a younger generation of Democrats.

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After FBI Warning, Michigan Gov. Whitmer Still Posting on TikTok

Whitmer FBI Building

After the FBI declared the popular Chinese video app TikTok a national security threat, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer continues to post on the platform.

Whitmer posted three videos in three days to her 186,000 followers. The most recent post is video of her second inauguration on Jan. 1.

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General Motors Funds Transgender Programs in Elementary Schools

General Motors (GM) gave a grant to an organization that supplies elementary schools with books promoting the transgender ideology.

The automotive manufacturing company donated money to the Gay Lesbian and Straight Education Network’s (GLSEN) “Rainbow Library Program,” according to a 2021 Social Impact Report published by GM.

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American Catholic Leaders Celebrate Life of Pope Benedict, ‘Defender of Truth’ Who Taught Above All Else ‘God Is Love’

American Catholic leaders are acclaiming the life and work of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, whose scholarly writings emphasized the unity of faith and reason and, most fundamentally, the primary truth of the Catholic faith, which teaches God is Love.

Benedict, who was born Joseph Ratzinger, died Saturday at the age of 95. He became pope in April 2005, following the death of Pope John Paul II, and served until his resignation in February 2013.

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Governor Whitmer Teases Second Term Agenda

In her second inaugural address on Sunday, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer indicated her administration’s priorities for her upcoming four-year term.

Although she said she would provide more details in her upcoming State of the State and budget addresses, Whitmer hinted Sunday she would work on “common sense” gun control measures, advocate for abortion rights and same-sex marriage, and promote climate change measures.

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Michigan County to Launch $1 Million Small Business Assistance Program

Up to 100 small businesses in Washtenaw County, Michigan may benefit from $5,000 grants and free assistance programs when the county launches its Small Business Growth Activator in January.

Operated by the Washtenaw County Office of Community and Economic Development, SBGA is designed to assist online, brick-and-mortar or mobile businesses with seven or fewer employees with a household income less than 80% of Washtenaw County’s median income. The intent is to help businesses that fell through the cracks of qualifying for assistance programs for small businesses, such as the Paycheck Protection Program.

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U.S. Census: Michigan Lost 3,391 Residents over One-Year Period

Michigan lost 3,391 residents between July 2021 and July 2022, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2022 population estimates.

More people moved into the state than out, but deaths outpaced births by 12,482. Michigan experienced 117,639 deaths and only 105,157 births, which, along with the state’s dropping birth rate, could threaten Michigan’s status as the 10th most populated state if the trend continues.

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Second Whitmer Kidnapping Plotter Slapped with 19-Year Prison Term

Barry Croft Jr. was sentenced to 19 years and seven months in prison Wednesday after being convicted of planning to kidnap Democratic Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

A jury found Croft guilty in August of conspiracy to commit kidnapping, possession of a weapon of mass destruction and possession of an unregistered destructive device, with his associate Adam Fox being convicted of the first two crimes. The men intended to kidnap Whitmer from her Michigan vacation cottage and hold back her security detail and any law enforcement responders with destructive devices, according to the Western Michigan U.S. Attorney’s Office.

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Leader in Whitmer Kidnapping Plot Sentenced to 16 Years in Prison

Adam Fox was sentenced Tuesday to 16 years in prison for his lead role in a 2020 plot to kidnap Democratic Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, according to NBC News.

A retrial jury found Fox guilty in August of conspiracy to commit kidnapping and possession of a weapon of mass destruction, also convicting Barry Croft Jr. of those charges and possession of an unregistered destructive device. The prosecution had lobbied for Fox to receive a life prison sentence, according to NBC News.

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Parents, Catholic School Sue Michigan Officials over ‘Gender Identity’ Law

The Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish (SHJP) Catholic school filed a lawsuit Thursday against Michigan state officials after the state’s civil rights laws were changed to include gender identity and sexual orientation as protected categories, which the school argued the change would force it to violate its religious beliefs.

In July, the Michigan Supreme Court ruled that Michigan’s Civil Rights Act must include sexual orientation and gender identity under its protections from discrimination. SHJP and families who attend the school filed a lawsuit against the Michigan Department of Civil Rights and Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel over the court’s decision from forcing the school to hire and promote LGBTQ lifestyles in conflict with traditional Catholic teachings.

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Bill Aims to Require Michigan Use 100 Percent Renewable Energy by 2035

A Democratic leader’s bill aims to require Michigan to use 100% renewable energy by 2035.

The bill doesn’t explain how Michigan will advance from renewables providing only 11% of Michigan’s net electricity generation in 2021, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, to 100% in 15 years.

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Carhartt to Expand in Michigan with Nearly $1 Million of Taxpayer Help

Michigan-based outdoor and recreation clothier Carhartt was granted $937,500 of taxpayer money to expand its facilities in Dearborn.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer says the Michigan Economic Development Corp. investment will create 125 new jobs and spark a $4.67 million capital investment.

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Michigan Mom, Denied Ethnicity and Gender Class Course Materials, Will Appeal Judge’s FOIA Ruling

Carol Beth Litkouhi isn’t done.

Unhappy with the board of the Rochester Community Schools in Michigan, she won election to a six-year seat with them in November. On Monday, she told The Center Square last week’s ruling by an Oakland County Circuit Court judge denying her Freedom of Information Act request for the district’s ethnicity and gender class course materials will be appealed.

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Michigan Taxpayers Footing $57 Million in Private Business Subsidies

Taxpayers will spend at least $57 million to retain or create jobs via Michigan Economic Development Corp. subsidies and local grants that they say will create or retain 1,846 jobs.

The subsidies include $29.4 million for a paper mill expansion, $13.2 million for a Monroe brownfield site redevelopment, $6.9 million for an electric vehicle supplier, $1.5 million for an Underwriter’s Laboratory, $3 million for Hoponassu OZ LLC, and $1.5 million to redevelop a property in Detroit.

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Michigan Senator Received $55,600 from FTX Employees Before Leading Crypto Bill

U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-MI, received at least $55,600 in donations this year from employees of FTX, a cryptocurrency exchange platform that declared bankruptcy after allegedly misusing client funds.

Then, Stabenow, who as Agriculture Committee Chairwoman oversees the Commodities Future Trading Commission, a cryptocurrency regulator, sponsored legislation to regulate cryptocurrency.

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Michigan Businesses Worry About Dropping Labor Force

The lifeblood of Michigan’s economy – workers – fell to a record low as COVID-19 continued to disrupt the workforce.

Michigan’s labor force participation rate – the proportion of working-age people working or actively looking for work – fell to a record low rate in 2020 and has slightly rebounded, according to St. Louis Federal Reserve data.

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Zuckerbucks-Backed Group Back in Wisconsin

The liberal voting activist group that dumped $350 million of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg’s money on local election offices during the 2020 presidential election is back again with another $80 million to give over the next five years.

And Wisconsin once again will be front and center in the Center for Tech and Civic Life’s “generosity.”

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Three Men Sentenced to Prison for Gov. Whitmer Kidnapping Plot

Three people, including a man and his son-in-law, were sentenced to prison Thursday for assisting the leader of a plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in 2020. 

Pete Musico received a minimum sentence of 12 years in prison while his son-in-law Joe Morrison was sentenced to 10 years, The Associated Press reported. A third person, Paul Bellar, received seven years behind bars during the sentencing hearing for all three men in Jackson County, Michigan.

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Michigan Governor Signs $575 Million Bill Aiming to Address Teacher Shortage

Michigan taxpayers are on the hook for another $575 million after Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced new programs on Tuesday aimed at boosting the number of teachers in the state’s traditional public schools.

The fiscal year 2023 budget was approved by the state Legislature and signed by the governor.

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Michigan Judge Orders Flint Water Charges Dropped Against Former Gov. Snyder

A Genesee County Circuit Court judge has ordered charges dropped against former Gov. Rick Snyder for his role in handling the Flint water crisis.

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel’s Flint legal team vowed to appeal.

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Election Integrity Volunteers ‘Afraid’ to Attend Recount after Michigan AG Threatens Prosecution

An apparent threat by Michigan’s Democrat Attorney General Dana Nessel to arrest and prosecute local activists promoting election integrity and anti-voter fraud efforts caused many of them to steer clear of a contentious monitoring effort out of fear of being targeted by the government, according to a Michigan attorney deeply involved in the situation.

Across Michigan on Wednesday, dozens of counties and hundreds of precincts began a recount for two controversial ballot proposals that were approved by voters on Nov. 8.

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Legislature Approval of $85 Million for QLine Trolley Elicits Negative Responses

Prominent free-market proponents in Michigan are speaking out against the $85 million appropriation approved Thursday to fund Detroit’s QLine trolley over the next 17 years.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has indicated she will sign the $5 million annual QLine subsidy passed by the Legislature during its last session of 2022 – before Democrats exercise their newly-elected majorities in both the Senate and House of Representatives. The free trolley service transports riders along 12 stops on Woodward Avenue from Motor City’s cultural center to downtown Detroit.

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Michigan Residents Win Injunction Against Mayor, Free to Speak as They Wish

Residents shouted down by a Michigan mayor during public comment in a Sept. 6 meeting have won a preliminary injunction in a lawsuit allowing them to speak freely.

Eastpointe Mayor Monique Owens had claimed that residents’ criticism of her was akin to “assaulting” her. Video from the meeting shows Owens repeatedly interrupting and silencing constituents at the podium expressing support for Councilman Harvey Curley, who has been involved in an ongoing dispute with Owens.

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Businesses Fear Michigan Democrats Repealing Right-to-Work

Come January, Democratic majorities in Lansing will try to repeal right-to-work – Republicans’ flagship policy adopted when they controlled the Legislature and governor’s office.

Next week will mark the 10th anniversary of Michigan passing its right-to-work law. In short, the law says that nobody can be required to pay dues or fees to a union to hold a job.

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Pfizer Announces $750 Million Expansion to Create 300 Jobs

Pfizer Inc says it will invest $750 million in its Kalamazoo facility to expand production of sterile, injectable medicines. The pharmaceutical company claims the expansion will create 300 jobs in Southwest Michigan.

This investment builds upon a $465 million investment in the Kalamazoo facility and a $120 million expansion announced earlier this year.

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Michigan School Ransomware Attacks Prompt Calls to Restore Internet Accountability

If someone physically attacked a school, the perpetrator would likely be prosecuted immediately. But it’s often harder to prosecute online crimes, including the ransomware attack that closed two Michigan school districts for days in November.

Schools in Hillsdale and Jackson counties were closed last month after ransomware attacks. Ransomware is a malicious attack using malware or software to disrupt access to networks, computer files, or digital files. In order to restore normal functions, the perpetrators of the attack demand some form of compensation. 

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Michigan Charter School Advocates Prepare for Anticipated Democratic Cuts

Election of Democratic majorities in the Michigan House and Senate is a warning shot for the state’s public charter schools.

The incoming bicameral majorities and reelected Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer have already signaled antipathy toward public charter schools. Drawing much of the Democrats’ ire are for-profit education management organizations operating 42% of public charter schools in Detroit alone as of 2021.

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Data: 303 Michigan Schools Haven’t Touched ESSER III COVID Funds

More than 300 Michigan school districts haven’t touched their final tranche of federal COVID money, according to lagging spending data from the Edunomics Lab at Georgetown University.

The data, updated on Oct. 28, 2022, tracks Elementary and Secondary Emergency Relief III spending. It shows that billions of dollars haven’t been spent from more than $5 billion of federal monies given for pandemic learning-loss recovery.

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