Michigan Policast for Monday, September 30, 2019In this episode:
- Segment one: Impeachment!
- Segment two: Elissa Slotkin and her centrist, strong on defense colleagues
- Segment three: The latest on the Michigan budget
- Segment four: Details on the School Aid Fund
- Segment five: Lame duck ballot law gets struck down
- Segment six: Working Families package of bills and resolutions
- Interview: State Representative Kara Hope
- Michigan Democrats in U.S. House ready to impeach Trump if Ukraine allegations are true
- Staring down impeachment, Trump sees himself as a victim of historic proportions
- Top White House aides planning impeachment response effort
- Poll: Majority of Americans approve of Trump impeachment inquiry
- Only 17% of Americans surprised by Trump’s actions tied to Ukraine: POLL
BREAKING: New poll says 55% of Americans, including more than 1 in 5 Republicans, approve of House Democrats’ decision to launch a formal impeachment inquiry
— Scott Dworkin (@funder) September 29, 2019
Some of the earliest and strongest calls for impeachment came from women and men of color. When the history of this period is written their voices of moral clarity must not be diminished.
— Dan Rather (@DanRather) September 29, 2019
- Seven freshman Democrats: These allegations are a threat to all we have sworn to protect
- Rep. Elissa Slotkin may have risked political career with call for Trump impeachment
Amidst the political back and forth, we need to stay focused on the facts, and allow them to drive the conversation:
When I served with Elissa Slotkin in Iraq, the Bush WH, and then the Obama administration, I never knew — nor would have asked — her political affiliation. She was a public servant and focused on fact-based analysis. She’s clearly doing the same here. https://t.co/QGerUhO4mh
— Brett McGurk (@brett_mcgurk) September 27, 2019
— CNN Newsroom (@CNNnewsroom) September 28, 2019
- Read Michigan’s 16 budget bills, and know when they’re signed or vetoed
- Signatures? A shutdown? All the places Michigan budgets could go from here
- Legislature sending Whitmer $59 billion budget
- Michigan Senate GOP leader: Time to return some paved roads to gravel
— MI Senate Democrats (@MISenDems) September 24, 2019
- Opinion | The Republican school budget hurts Michigan students
- Legislature’s K-12 Budget Still Falls Far Short of What Schools Need, Students Deserve
- 5 things you should know about the Michigan GOP’s long-awaited education budget
“This is a classic case of smoke & mirrors. By the same standard, the GOP is feeding a scrawny, underfed dog a few extra kibbles & boasting they provided it with a ‘historic amount of dog food.’ However, the dog is still starving.” — @SenPolehanki #MichEd https://t.co/VBiUyBXKzP
— MI Senate Democrats (@MISenDems) September 28, 2019
This graphic is trotted out every year. It is *smoke and mirrors.* You can give an old skin-and-bones dog a few extra kibbles in its food bowl each year and then boast of feeding it an “historic amount of dog food.” The dog is still starving. 1/4 #MiLeg #MichEd #MiGov pic.twitter.com/9RvMJ2gLRw
— Senator Dayna Polehanki (@SenPolehanki) September 15, 2019
Opinion: The Republican school budget hurts Michigan students - @SenPolehanki http://bit.ly/2mJrShu via @BridgeMichiganClick To Tweet
“It is also notable the GOP’s graphic touting annual increases to the foundation allowance only began with the 2011-12 school year — the same time a massive cut of $470 per pupil occurred. Had their graphic included previous years back to 2008-09, it would show that schools are just now reaching the same level of funding they had a decade ago. To begin a graph in the year of a truly historic funding cut in order to show incremental growth from that point forward is not just deceptive, it’s dishonest.” ~@SenPolehanki via @bridgemichigan
“The legislature’s inacation has already forced schools to use an alarming amount of guesswork when hiring and budgeting their operations this year,” said Mark Greathead, TCA President & Superintendent of Woodhaven-Brownstown Schools. “To see the legislature now advancing a budget that won’t even provide an inflationary increase in funding for many schools, and doing so after diverting hundreds of millions of dollars out of K-12 school last December, only confirms that they still don’t understand the crisis schools are facing that years of legislative neglect has created.” ~Mark Greathead, TCA President & Superintendent of Woodhaven-Brownstown Schools.
Your daily reminder that “record funding” means ‘we’ve underfunded this [roads, schools] for years, but this year we’re underfunding them by *slightly* less.’
- Judge strikes down Michigan ballot edriv law
- Michigan judge strikes down state’s ballot drive law
- Related: Susan J. Demas: Infighting, money woes could hurt 2020 progressive change at the ballot box
- Related: Psssst…Republicans Are Afraid of Democracy
After Michigan voters approved automatic voter registration, independent redistricting & marijuana legalization in 2018, GOP passed lame duck law making it much harder to do future citizen-led ballot initiatives. Court just struck it down https://t.co/Khl6CAMBYY
— Ari Berman (@AriBerman) September 27, 2019
- Working Hard for Working Families #WH4WF pdf summary
- House Dem Package Helps MI Workers Do More than Just Get By
- Michigan Democrats introduce workers’ rights bills amid UAW strike
- Amid UAW strike at GM, Lansing-area legislators tout worker protection bills
“Our package will increase the threshold for overtime pay eligibility (…) and will establish mandatory meal breaks during shifts (…) We have a temporary worker’s bill of rights, every working person will know when and how they’ll be compensated.” #wh4wf @KaraHope7 pic.twitter.com/W5Ezj8vasy
— MI House Democrats (@MIHouseDems) September 23, 2019
“The people of my district are no stranger to the hardships that come from trying to do more with less.
But if someone is unable to support themselves while working a full time, or even multiple jobs – that is a problem with the system, NOT the worker.”
– @AngelaMIHouse #WH4WF pic.twitter.com/ue6O4b9HE1
— MI House Dems Campaigns (@MI_Dems) September 23, 2019
.@MiHouseDems propose comprehensive set of bills to help working families - details here - http://bit.ly/2nG4qBO @KaraHope7 @SarahAnthony517 @ChrisGreigMI37 @BrianKElder @AngelaMIHouse #WorkHardforMIWork #WH4WF Click To Tweet Here is a great article on the workers' rights package proposed by @MiHouseDems - http://bit.ly/2mXk0ZJ @mlive @KaraHope7 @SarahAnthony517 @ChrisGreigMI37 @BrianKElder @AngelaMIHouse #WorkHardforMIWork #WH4WF Click To Tweet
— MI House Democrats (@MIHouseDems) September 23, 2019
- Kara Hope Official Michigan House Democrats State Representative website
- Kara Hope for State Representative – Campaign website
'The general idea is lifting up working people ... protections in and outside of the workplace, to make workers' lives better, and maybe allow them to get a little bit ahead.' @KaraHope7 @mihousedems #WorkHardforMIWork #WH4WF Click To Tweet The anti redistricting efforts reflected in #MiBudget and the lawsuit reflect the anxiety that @MiSenate @mi_republicans have about #MiLeg districts actually reflecting the populace of Michigan. @KaraHope7 @MiHouseDems @NotPoliticians #gerrymanderingClick To Tweet There's really no incentive for people who know they'll be there for maybe six years in the house, and then maybe eight years in the Senate to really take the long view and do what's right. #TermLimits @KaraHope7 @MiHouseDems #FTDRClick To Tweet You have to intentional disregard functional information to not see the correlation between the decrease in funding of our public education system and the decline in achievement. ~ @KaraHope7 #K12 #MiBudgetClick To Tweet There's no reason for us to have voted on 15 budgets in one day, one week before the new fiscal year starts. ~ @KaraHope7 @MiHouseDems #MiBudgetClick To Tweet
Walt Sorg 0:05
It’s a week that will be remembered for a whistleblower and our current president extorting a personal political favor from another country. This is the Michigan Policast, I won’t sword will try to catch up on the likely impeachment of Donald Trump and the critical role of a Michigan member of congress and letting the fuse
Christine Barry 0:43
I’m Christine Barry. state government won’t be shutting down but the battle of the budget has just begun. We’ll take a look at what’s happened so far, and the upcoming confrontation between governor Whitmer and the Republican legislature.
Amy Kerr Hardin 0:56
I’m Amy Kerr Harden and I get the happy news this week. Efforts by Republicans to make it even harder for citizen petition drives to succeed have been ruled unconstitutional by a circuit judge ratifying one of the first rulings from Attorney General Dana Nestle.
Walt Sorg 1:12
And amidst all the turmoil State House Democrats have introduced a package of bills to provide some long-overdue protections to the working people of the state will be joined by state representative Kara Hope of Holt who is one of the lead sponsors of those bills. But we have to begin with this has been an amazing week the pending impeachment of Donald Trump after literally months of hand wringing. The Tipping Point was reached in a two-step sequence over the last week, following reports of a whistleblower who had the details of misconduct in the Oval Office. The Washington Post revealed the story of Trump pressuring Ukraine to dig up dirt on Joe Biden, and using military aid from the United States to Ukraine as leverage Step 2 – a group of seven freshmen House members, including Michigan’s Elissa Slotkin said enough is enough and wrote an op-ed in the Washington Post calling for impeachment inquiry.
Elissa Slotkin 2:03
For all seven of us, the idea that a sitting president would use security assistance from the United States to pressure and potentially extort the president of another country into giving him dirt on a political opponent is just beyond the pale.
Walt Sorg 2:21
All seven of the members signing the op-ed have a history of national security. Slotkin and served two tours overseas in the CIA and is also an Assistant Secretary of Defense at one point, and all seven of them flipped formerly republican districts. They had avoided calling for an impeachment investigation based on the Mueller report.
Elissa Slotkin 2:41
It’s one thing for candidate Trump to sort of put out a general call to the Russians and others saying hey if you have anything send it my way. It’s a very different thing for a sitting president of the United States to use taxpayer dollars, not security assistance is taxpayer dollars to leverage a you know, political investigation by a foreign leader.
Walt Sorg 3:02
Ladies one week ago, we had our Sage predictions on those podcasts on whether Trump would be impeached, which I hate to repeat, but I will in the, for the sake of clarity here. I said there was a 10% chance he’d be impeached. Christine, you said there was no chance he’d be impeached. And our winner of the prices right sweepstakes is Amy, who had an optimistic 30% I think it’s safe to say now the odds are now on the 90 to 100% range. Amy?
Amy Kerr Hardin 3:29
Yes, I’m so proud of my prediction, actually. 30% was pretty generous back then. I mean, just what a difference one week makes in recent polling and 47% of the public are supporting impeachment. And that’s before any of the information from the investigation gets out. So we could probably expect to see those numbers search. The bulk of the people that are supporting impeachment, of course, are Democrats and independents with Republicans being kind of in the mid-teens there somewhere 64% of the population believe that he leaned on Ukraine for a favor to get some dividend Biden, well over half believe that Trump is you know, capable of some shenanigans here.
Christine Barry 4:11
There is an argument to be made that he never actually said the words that if you do this, I’ll do that. But there are pieces of that, that summary of that call, it’s not really a transcript. It’s a summary. And there are pieces of that that are redacted. So we don’t know what that was. But clearly, the implication was there, he withheld funds that Congress approved is that these funds were committed to world safety and stability. And he withheld that to get you know, some information on his political opponent. It’s just unacceptable. So I think that makes it a little bit easier for people to say, Okay, I didn’t really know what to think about Russia. But this is pretty clear.
Walt Sorg 4:55
Well, the other thing too, is the republican defense of him is leaning on whether or not there was a quid pro quo. And I think even the summary makes it pretty clear there was a quid pro quo. But the important point is, it doesn’t really matter. It is illegal to even solicit campaign assistance, direct or indirect from a foreign government or a foreign person that in and of itself is a criminal offense. The fact that it’s the President of the United States, using the treasury of the United States to reinforce his position just makes it even worse. Trump made it easy for Congress, he basically provided them with the evidence in which he says, Well, here I did it, what are you going to do about it?
Christine Barry 5:32
That’s typical for Trump. He’s, he’s kind of big on. Hey, I don’t see anything wrong with it. Even if it’s illegal. Yeah. But you know, I don’t really see anything wrong with it. Why wouldn’t I take what they give me? That kind of thing? So he probably sent it over thinking, I’ll just say I did it. Is what I did. There’s nothing wrong with it.
Walt Sorg 5:52
He’s going on offense to I was watching George Stephanopoulos program on Sunday, I was watching Rudy Giuliani do one of the most bizarre interviews I’ve ever seen it from Rudy Giuliani, that’s saying a lot. And it was just it was like watching a wrestling match professional wrestling. He was all over the place with accusations that had nothing to do with the central charges. The other thing that I found intriguing over the last week was in hours of the announcement by Nancy Pelosi, the Trump campaign was out with fundraising emails, multiple emails, soliciting money, which were very successful. And on top of that, they’ve already started raising money to take out Alyssa Slotkin. Specifically, Trump tweeted at one point, and it was repeated by Rhonda McDaniel, who’s the Republican National chair, that they’ve raised a half-million dollars to defeat Slotkin slack and I guess she doesn’t care.
Elissa Slotkin 6:43
People in my district are divided on this issue. I get pulled over in the supermarket, by people talking about it and saying, go ahead and do it. And I have been pulled over by just as many people saying, Please don’t do it.
Walt Sorg 6:54
Now. The other side of it a half-million dollars is a lot of money. But in that congressional district, it really isn’t there in the last cycle. $26 million, I think was spent on the campaign. So it’s a small amount and Slotkin’s already raised about a million dollars on her own. But I think the President is trying to send a message to the people that are fighting him. I’m coming after you. I’m not just playing defense,
Amy Kerr Hardin 7:14
As he did with the whistleblower where he implied that he had committed treason and he could be hung.
Christine Barry 7:19
Yeah, Trump’s a real gentleman, about that kind of thing. You know, the thing that the thing about Slotkin, though, look, that district, that no matter what you thought of Mike Rogers, and that was, and that was Mike Bishop’s predecessor, Mike Rogers had a background with the FBI, I think it was, and people respected that. And they respect Elissa Slotkin’s background as well. So when Elissa Slotkin ran, she ran on things like infrastructure and the economy. And she did have national security issues that she talked about, but she didn’t run on Trump. And I think that that district does respect that. They might have some fundraising going already against her. But those are people who would vote for anybody but a Democrat,
Walt Sorg 8:07
They’ve also got a problem in that district in that they have no name candidate to run against her. The last rumor I heard was a member of the State Board of Education, whom I’ve never heard of, even though she’s appeared on the statewide ballot was thinking about running. But Bishop’s not going to run none of the legislators in the district are running. You can’t beat somebody with nobody.
Christine Barry 8:25
And what does the Republican candidate gain by running there? If you’re somebody who wants to build a future, is this the election when you jump in and try to run against Slotkin when Trump is on the ballot?
Walt Sorg 8:37
And when the district is going to be completely redrawn after the cycle?
Christine Barry 8:40
Maybe Wait, I mean, if I’m a new person, I’m like, you know what? No. I’ll work on my bona fides and come back later,
Walt Sorg 8:48
a little bit on the national inquiry in the strategy they’re going after apparently, Speaker Pelosi has tried to restrict the major investigation to this national security issue. And I think you’re right, Christine, it’s because it’s pretty simple to understand, Trump used his power his president to pressure foreign government to help him in his campaign, and that’s illegal. It’s not like the Mahler report where you need 435 pages to explain what he did. It’s very, very simply, you can do it in one sentence. The other thing is it puts Adam Schiff in charge of the investigation. And I think really, of the members of the caucus, he’s probably the best one to do it.
Christine Barry 9:21
Well, additionally, one of the big differences between the Mueller report and Russia versus this incident is that Trump came right out and said he did it. Whereas with Mueller report to prove those allegations, you had to have witnesses, and we didn’t have the witnesses coming forward to confirm anything. Here we have Trump saying this is what I did.
Walt Sorg 9:42
Yeah, another thing that Slotkin brought up in several of the interviews that she did, right after the announcement by her and her seven colleagues, was this is about a future election about the next election rather than dredging up ancient history about the last election. And that makes it much more significant and much easier to explain to our constituents.
Amy Kerr Hardin 10:00
And we also have to take into account the top-secret server that they had this phone conversation, and it’s been implied that I’m leaks have have said that there are other conversations that have been stored on the server. And I imagine that the impeachment inquiry is going to be looking into that. So there could be a whole lot of dirt out there on Trump.
Walt Sorg 10:20
One other sidebar from this whole week of activity. I’m finding Elissa Slotkin is getting a lot of national exposure. Early on in this session, it was AOC and proceeded to leave in the squad getting the exposure, but now it is Slotkin and her colleagues in the security caucus. And that’s probably good for the party because it’s a group of people that’s a lot harder to tarnish.
Christine Barry 10:43
It is it’s clear, I think there’s seven of them that contributed to that Washington Post op-ed, that said, you know, look, we’ve spent our lives serving this country. And now we need to investigate these things. And they didn’t make any accusations. They said, here’s, here’s what we found out. This may mean this, you know, and now we call on our colleagues to use our authority to investigate it to see what really happened. That is a reasonable request. And they laid out the argument for it. They weren’t Rashida, we’re going to go in there and impeach they never ran on Trump. And it, you know, obviously, that’s a reflection of their district. But also these are people who have spent their lives in service to the United States. And they’re just, they’re different. You know, they’re cut from a different cloth.
Walt Sorg 11:31
And meanwhile, you’ve got Rashida trotting out new t-shirts to raise money for a campaign with the caption impeach, the motherfucker. So
Amy Kerr Hardin 11:39
I love that.
Walt Sorg 11:42
The weird part is with all the attacks now in Rashida Tlaib, she’s got a very difficult district to win reelection and because of the potential for a primary from an African American candidate is a majority African American district. This I think is made her much less vulnerable. Because having Trump going against you in that district is a badge of honor.
in Lansing, we’ve got an equally tough showdown between the executive branch in the legislature, this one over the state’s budget, but at least in this dispute, it’s over policy, and not about overt criminal acts and possible treason. Christine the new fiscal year starts this Tuesday. And as we record the governor’s Let the word out that we’re still going to be in business on Tuesday, what is the status of the budget?
Christine Barry 12:28
Well, the governor received all 16 bills that make up the budget, she received the last of them on Friday. And then of course, put out the message that there would be no shutdown. The total of the budget is around $59.9 billion. And there are a few highlights that I’ll go over. First of all I want to talk about the GOP is really spinning these budgets. And their spin is around three specific points. One is that it was bipartisan. It was bipartisan to a certain extent some of the bills did get strong Democratic support, things like EGLE and a couple of other bills had the majority of Democrats supporting them. So they can call it bipartisan in that respect. They are very proud of the fact that there is no 45 cent tax increase. And they talk about that all the time.
Walt Sorg 13:20
We should say the EGLE is the economic growth and Labor Department for those who are not familiar with state acronyms. Amy, one thing that is really a lot of contention about is one of the biggest pieces of the budget, and that is the K12 support. A lot of people very unhappy with that beginning with the governor.
Amy Kerr Hardin 13:39
Yes, it’s nothing near what she had proposed a much like roads, Republicans are unwilling to invest in education. Bridge magazine had an excellent report that will have in the show notes indicating that every single school district in the state has seen a decrease in funding over the past 15 years, that’s adjusted for inflation, the median decrease is the whopping 24%. That’s a lot of money to lose, most districts saw drops in other revenue sources too. So it’s, it’s even worse than we would think. And bridge offers an interactive map, that you can go to each school district to see what the decreases are. And they found that that the largest decreases occurred in Republican-held districts. So they’re shooting their own districts in the feet, so to speak. Michigan’s total per-pupil funding growth is dead last in the nation. The new GOP budget is a continuation of this trend, unfortunately.
Walt Sorg 14:35
Okay, so where do we go from here? The governor has said we’re not going to shut down state governments. So she’s not going to veto entire budgets. But she’s got a very unique power at the state level that the President of the United States doesn’t have. And that is the ability to veto one line in a budget bill and let the rest of it go into law or veto several lines. Where is she likely to attack? Do you think
Christine Barry 14:56
There are a couple of things in these budget bills that are probably problems one is the Department of Technology Management and Budget, I don’t know if she plans on using line item is there. But there is a big reduction in our cybersecurity, which is just a very irresponsible thing to do. And this was part of what republicans did. So they could add road funding money and say that they increase road funding to record levels. So that’s a problem Department of corrections, big problems there, the cuts, there will be prisons understaffed. There’s a possibility that we won’t be able to use GPS tracking anymore for sex offenders, you know, the tether that those won’t work anymore. And some other things, including the reduction in kitchen health inspections that were put in last year, because as you know, Michigan prisons have just the best kitchens.
Walt Sorg 15:44
We should really talk to you about the transportation increase because republicans are touting look what we did for the roads. And the reality is $400 million, ain’t nothing. When it comes to the roads. The governor points out that that might fix four bridges, out of the hundreds that need to be repaired in Michigan, it could repave about 39 miles of roads in a state that has hundreds and hundreds of miles of roads that need to be repaved.
Christine Barry 16:11
And some of the money they took for that came from public transit. So there’s actually less money to replace older buses and is the cut that they applied there brings us down below the threshold where we can get matching federal funds. I don’t know there’s just a lot of really irresponsible things in here. And they talk about record-level funding for roads, that does include, like $468 million from Snyder’s 2015 Road funding deal. So 400 million from our general fund plus the money that we would have had anyway. And they say record level funding so that they can kick the can down the road. It’s not enough money. We know it’s far less than the 2.5 billion that we need each year. And those are their talking points. And the governor has to push back on that. And I’m sure she will, to the extent that she can, you know, we do have a level headed governor, it’s really nice to see her say things like I’m not going to shut it down. Because these have real consequences. I mean, we know governor Whitmer takes that seriously. I think you’re right, that being able to move funds around and using that line-item veto is going to be critical to prioritizing some of her agenda items.
Walt Sorg 17:21
She could do she can’t appropriate by veto, she can only move money around within the department’s budget.
Amy Kerr Hardin 17:27
Now that our economy is booming, this is the time for us to invest in our state and, and develop a progressive income tax so that we can do that. Because we’re probably headed for another recession. It’s always boom and bust. And if we go into that recession, with stinking schools and horrible roads, it’s just not going to be a pretty picture for Michigan.
Walt Sorg 17:51
We did get some good news this week. It’s about voter rights in Michigan, the circuit judges ruled that one of the 400 laws passed by the lame-duck legislature last winter is unconstitutional. Amy it’s a law that was designed to make it even more difficult for citizen petition drives exactly what a judge Cynthia Stevens of wings circuit court have to say.
Amy Kerr Hardin 18:12
During last year’s GOP lame-duck orgy and the Michigan legislature all manner of bad lawmaking took place. Michigan holds a biennial January of cramming through law after law between the November election and the end of the year. One particular bit of lawmaking stood out from all the other legislative arts issued by the republicans late last year, likely inspired by the unexpected success of voters, not politicians. And that’s the redistricting amendment. Getting on the ballot and winning handily, Republicans passed a law designed to hamstring further petition drives. It’s no secret The party has never been a fan of citizen-driven governance this year. Secretary of State Benson asked ag Nestle for a summary ruling on the new law. She found several points arts is a law unconstitutional. That’s the state constitution I mean, Michigan republicans challenged her finding and court and the League of Women Voters picked up the gauntlet supporting Nestle. The Michigan court of claims sided with Nestle striking down to key provisions of the law. First a requirement that no more than 15% of a petition signatures are gathered in any congressional district. That’s the so-called geographic requirement. And the second requirement that petition gathers disclose if they are being paid or not. The second item is rather ironic. Both the voters, not politicians and the repeal of the emergency manager last several years ago were 100%. Volunteer ran. It’s typically the republicans initiated petitions that find the need for hired guns. So naturally, Republicans intend to appeal that ruling. However, the quarter claims ruling also found that the GOP suit lacks standing. In other words, no party or individually can yet claim damages. That’s a non-starter in the courts.
Christine Barry 20:04
I was going to beg you to put porn music behind Amy’s introduction into her piece because I think that would have just been wonderful.
Walt Sorg 20:13
It just, it was kind of a graphic lame-duck session. One of the worst things to come out of it. But lame ducks have always been a real problem in Michigan, there is in fact legislation that would end lame-duck sessions. If you go back a few years in Michigan history, it’s when Michigan’s right to work law was passed by a lame-duck legislature and signed by a governor who said he wasn’t interested in signing it. But all of a sudden did decide to sign it. As far as this petition drive thing goes, I would say that it’s very likely that the state Supreme Court will uphold the finding of the lower court and the finding of the Attorney General that it is, in fact unconstitutional.
Christine Barry 20:49
Why is a pretty clear disenfranchisement of people in each district, they say, okay, only 15% of the signatures in this district will pass toward something completely disenfranchising the rest of them. And you understand why they did it. You know, they want to stop the traditional democratic areas from giving all those signatures, you know,
Walt Sorg 21:13
no matter what made it more problematic was that in Southeast Michigan where the congressional districts are all a mishmash, a lot of people don’t know which district they live in. And if you have to segregate petitions based on congressional district, rather than by county, it becomes very, very, very difficult to get proper signatures and to get them on the right petition.
Amy Kerr Hardin 21:33
And they would be disenfranchising communities of color more than any others. So it could also be construed as a violation of the Voting Rights Act.
Christine Barry 21:42
You know, it’s funny that they were concerned about people disclosing whether they were paid or just volunteer, because, to me, that reminds me of their belief that George Soros pays for everything. They just are so into their conspiracy theories, you know, everybody is paying somebody to do something on the left. And
Walt Sorg 22:02
the last successful petition drive republicans push was the one on prevailing wage for construction projects. And that was 100% paid circulators bought and paid for by the non-union construction companies.
Christine Barry 22:19
House Democrats have introduced a package of bills all designed to make life a little better for wage slaves, middle-class workers who are being exploited. So there are a number of these bills, I’m going to go ahead and just run through them real quick. One of them establishes a temporary worker Bill of Rights. And this would provide various protections for employees who are hired for a limited period of time. So the word temporary applies to workers. It doesn’t, it doesn’t describe the actual Bill of Rights. Another one creates an employee fair scheduling act, and this would protect employees and retail and foodservice industries, hospitality industries. These are the folks who get scheduled just crazy, crazy times. It increases the annual dollar threshold to 55,000 for any executive, administrative and professional workers to be exempt from overtime pay, which means that if you’re one of those folks out there working for 40 grand but you’re working 70 hours a week to necessarily be exempt from overtime pages because you were salaried at 40. Another mandates that employees are provided with a 30 minute meal period when a shift exceeds five hours. The package also restores the earned income tax credit to its pre-2011 level of 20% of the federal level. There are some dependent care provisions dependent care credit to assist families with working parents. There’s another one that urges legislators, industry leaders, and labor unions to address existing and future shortages in skilled trades. One requires severance pay to be paid to employees who were terminated as a result of a factory or branch shut down relocation something done by the company anyway. And another clarifies that severance pay would not conflict with unemployment, which is a pretty good Yeah, I think to fill. It’s a pretty comprehensive package. It’s something that I think the democrats have needed to do. It’s a strong statement on where they stand. One of the lead sponsors of the package is freshman representative Kara hope of Holt. And we’ll talk to her about these bills as well as her impressions of our first budget battle.
Walt Sorg 24:28
Representative Hope you are one of the lead sponsors of a package of bills aimed at protecting workers rights, what’s the general thrust of these bills,
Unknown Speaker 24:35
The general idea is lifting up working people so kind of runs the gamut. So protections in the workplace, and then outside of the workplace provisions that would help people get ahead like the earned income tax credit, for instance, tax credits for childcare, which is exorbitantly expensive for a lot of people protections that go to, like I said, in the workplace. So temporary workers, people who work in the service industry primarily, to give them some notice about their schedule to give them some idea about how much money they might be making from week to week, really, it’s meant to make their lives better, and maybe they’ll allow them to get a little bit ahead.
Walt Sorg 25:18
There’s been a lot of anti-worker and I labor legislation to push through over the last eight years with the Republican legislature and Governor Snyder, beginning of course, with the infamous lame-duck passage of the right to work legislation. Is there any thought at this point being given to repealing that? Or is that just kind of a non-starter given the makeup of the legislature?
Unknown Speaker 25:36
I could be wrong, but I believe that my Democratic colleagues have introduced a bill to repeal that every session since that was passed. And it goes exactly nowhere. Republicans have a majority and both chambers and in the house. I mean, a lot of the folks who voted to repeal prevailing wage are still there. So I don’t think there’s really an appetite for changing that law at this time.
Walt Sorg 26:01
One of the things that I would assume is coming into play is the legislature gets closer and closer to the redistricting of districts is in fact that they the gerrymandering is over their protection that they’ve had for the last 10 years the republicans do rule the state, despite getting fewer votes than democrats is coming to an end. Do you see that on a day to day basis? Or is it more manifested just in the budget bills that are being passed through to try to cripple the redistricting commission?
Unknown Speaker 26:29
Oh, you know, I don’t really see evidence of that from day to day. I don’t really see, despite all the happy talk at the beginning of session this year, at the beginning of the year with our shared power between Democrats and Republicans. I haven’t really seen much of a bipartisan spirit. So I’d say definitely the anti redistricting efforts reflected in our budget. And then, of course, the lawsuit, which I think mostly outside of the legislature was reflecting the anxiety, I guess, that Republicans have about the prospect of legislative districts actually reflecting the populace of the state of Michigan.
Walt Sorg 27:10
The whole budget process seems to repeat itself, cycle after cycle with the majority party, the controlling party, ramming stuff through and pretty much ignoring the minority. Did that change as a result of the change in the governor’s office? Or do they continue to basically ignore democrats?
Unknown Speaker 27:27
Well, I’m not on Approps. So I can’t speak to the actual, you know, Appropriations Subcommittee process. I’m not sure how, how those meetings were run, how much weight was given any anything that the democrats had to say? I can tell you as a non-approps member, it kind of felt like we were left out. I know our governor was left out. And yeah, it just didn’t feel it didn’t feel great. I mean, you told me that I, it’s been worse, but it’s not that good right now.
Walt Sorg 28:02
Yeah. As someone who worked for a speaker who was speaker of the house for eight years, I look at term limits. And although I guess it made it possible for you to get elected because you replaced the term-limited state representative. But it seems overall to really be hurting the process you’ve got a speaker of the house is 30 years old, with just a couple of years of legislative experience. You and your colleagues from the Lansing area are a little different because you’ve all got previous government experience. But there seems to be an awful lot of inexperienced running our $50 billion state government.
Unknown Speaker 28:32
Yeah, I don’t think that’s good for anybody. Look at the issue of roads, for example, there’s really no incentive for people who know they’ll be there for maybe six years in the house, and then maybe eight years in the Senate to really take a political risk and take the long view and do what’s right for the state of Michigan and for the taxpayers. It’s all about splashy headlines and one time, influxes of cash, which I think everybody knows when they do that, that it’s not going to fix the problem. It’s not going to fix the damn roads. So yeah, that’s what term limits have gotten us. And it’s, it’s a shame, really, it’s all self serving for a politician for an elected person to say that they are against term limits, but I would vote to repeal term limits, even if it didn’t benefit me personally, I think it’s just it’s bad for the state of Michigan.
Walt Sorg 29:28
As you’re reporting to your constituents about the budget, you voted no on a good number of the budget bills, including the biggest one, one of the biggest ones with Department of Transportation, even though that has some specific allocations, as I understand it, for your district.
Unknown Speaker 29:45
Well try to look at the big picture and look at not be too myopic on it. The one-time influx of cash in my budget, the Republicans are touting and saying that there’s a record funding level and the study it it’s just not enough. It’s putting a bandaid on a pothole. And that’s not why I’m in the legislature, I’m not there to, to engage in gimmicks and stuff like that. I believe the governor wants to fix the damn roads. And I definitely want to fix the damn roads. And this budget doesn’t do that.
Walt Sorg 30:19
So they were talking about earlier in the podcast was the K 12 budget. For all practical purposes, Michigan has gone downhill and funding year after year after year, not keeping up with inflation, especially when you take into account the challenges offered by the growing deficit in retirement funding.
Unknown Speaker 30:38
That’s certainly true. I guess one bright spot in this terrible budget season is that we didn’t end up playing games with the teachers pension system, but our students are still terribly short changed by this budget, you have to really be intentionally disregarding functional information to not to not see the correlation between the decrease in funding of our public education system and the decline and achievement.
Walt Sorg 31:09
What kind of feedback Are you getting from your constituents, you represent a lot of state employees because you Lansing is a part of your district or portion of Lansing is a part of your district. And you’re right there. And people around here especially are very tuned into what’s going on in state government. Are you getting mixed reviews basically negative visually positive?
Unknown Speaker 31:27
Well, to be honest, I’m getting anxiety from people who rely on their state employment to feed their families. I had a woman come into my coffee hour on Monday expressing her deep anxiety about her husband being laid off. I’ve had people email me, they’re frustrated. They don’t understand why this is happening. It seems so unnecessary. And to be honest, it is unnecessary. There’s no reason for us to have voted on 15 budgets in one day, one week before the new fiscal year starts.
Walt Sorg 31:57
You’ve also got a double whammy, because you can a lot of General Motors employees currently walking the picket lines in your district.
Unknown Speaker 32:04
Right. So a state shutdown of any duration would be terrible for the local economy, like you said earlier will be terrible for our local communities who get income tax from GM workers and state workers, it would have a ripple effect. It would be difficult to come back from a fit last for any length of time,
Unknown Speaker 32:27
Kara, hope thank you so much for joining us on the podcast. Appreciate it.
Unknown Speaker 32:31
Amy Kerr Hardin 32:36
And now for a little housekeeping. I’d like to make note of a correction a couple of weeks ago I inadvertently said the Enbridge gave the Michigan counties Association $63,000 over one year, it was actually a two year period.
Walt Sorg 32:53
That’s this week’s Michigan Policast for background information on all of today’s topics, along with videos and tweets, head on over to our website, MichiganPolicast.com
Christine Barry 33:02
and holler back at us, send us an email at my podcast at gmail. com. And you can get through to us on Twitter and Facebook. And definitely pay attention to Twitter because that’s where the Michigan Republicans are trying to spend this budget to make it sound good.
Amy Kerr Hardin 33:17
And please take a moment to rate the podcast on iTunes. Their algorithm will be so thankful as will be on behalf of Walt and Christine. I’m Amy Kerr Harden. See you in a week and remember, Trump is going to be impeached