Michigan Policast for Monday, March 1, 2021In this episode:
Cover: Former Rep Jon Hoadley joins Rep Laurie Pohutsky as she introduces HB 4297, a bill to expand the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act to include protections for the LGBTQ+ community. Taken from her tweet here.
- Segment one: COVID updates – schools, vaccine data, the latest polls
- Segment two: Healthcare legislation in the Michigan House
- Segment three: 11 days of Chatfield, equality moves forward
- Segment four: Interview – Erin Knott, Executive Director, Equality Michigan
- Segment five: Interview – State Representative David LaGrand on transparency in Michigan
- Segment six: Political notes
- Whitmer: Nearly all Michigan schools to open amid COVID. Ann Arbor, too. | Bridge Michigan
- Whitmer says in-person learning is ‘crucial' as more schools reopen
- In-person learning coming to Ann Arbor Public Schools in March
- Transmission of SARS-CoV-2 in K-12 schools
- Michigan GOP: Vaccine distribution shouldn’t consider race, ‘social justice’ | Bridge Michigan
- Gov. Whitmer unveils $5.6B COVID plan for Michigan, as GOP eyes fight
- State Lawmakers Defy Governors in a Covid-Era Battle for Power – The New York Times
- COVID rates plunge in Michigan nursing homes following vaccinations | Bridge Michigan
- First real-world coronavirus vaccine data in Britain show decline in infections, hospitalizations after first dose
- Scottish vaccine roll-out working, data suggests
- Israel eases restrictions following vaccine success
- Vaccines are curbing COVID: Data from Israel show drop in infections
- Oxford vaccine developers Sarah Gilbert and Andrew Pollard on working under the world’s microscope
- What you need to know about the coronavirus variants
- Washington Post Vaccine Tracker
- COVID-19 Vaccine Dashboard – State of Michigan
- EMERGENCY POWER LIMITATION ACT (ALEC)
- Watch Bridge’s Lunch Break discussion on COVID-19 vaccines in Michigan | Bridge Michigan
- At A Glance: CDC Social Vulnerability Index (SVI)
- Biden Gets High Marks for COVID-19 Response
- What About Joe? – Bill Kristol in The Bulwark
- Covid-19 Deaths and Cases Rapidly Decline in Nursing Homes – The New York Times
- The Jobs the Pandemic May Devastate – The New York Times
- Bridge Michigan coronavirus dashboard
For anyone keeping track, the federal tax dollars designated for Michigan have sat waiting for 59 days because MI Republicans refuse to accept them in an attempt to strongarm the Governor. If we don’t accept them, they get dispersed to other states.
— Laurie Pohutsky (@lpohutsky19) February 25, 2021
— Mark Brewer (@MarkBrewerDems) February 28, 2021
66% of Michiganders are likely or very likely to get the COVID-19 vaccine and 34% would like to get it as soon as possible. However, there are disparities when it comes to who is likely to get the vaccine with 47% of white Michiganders very likely to get the vaccine versus 25% of black Michiganders. ~Source
Oh, you don't say? https://t.co/8LKGKhwbOg
— Zack Pohl (@ZackPohl) February 28, 2021
- Michigan lawmakers propose health care reforms, including insulin copay caps | Bridge Michigan
- Michigan House unveils sweeping, bipartisan health care package
- House Bipartisan Health Care Plan
- Health care in Michigan dramatically changed because of COVID-19
- How Much Does Insulin Cost? Here’s How 27 Brands and Generics Compare
- Bipartisan lawmakers spearhead patient-focused healthcare plan
Michigan House announces bipartisan plan to make health care more accessible, affordable https://t.co/kDl0Rf1Jcj
— Julie Calley (@JulieCalley) February 24, 2021
Mich. lawmakers unveiled a bipartisan health care plan, aimed at cutting cost for patients.
— Aaron Parseghian (@AaronParseghian) February 25, 2021
- Lee Chatfield steps down as Southwest Michigan First CEO
- Southwest Michigan First statement on Chatfield resignation
- Statement on ending membership with Southwest Michigan First
- Ex-Speaker Chatfield loses job over opposition to LGBT rights
- Lee Chatfield quits Southwest Michigan First amid uproar over his politics | Bridge Michigan
- Southwest Michigan First admits it has ‘work to do’ after Lee Chatfield flap | Bridge Michigan
- Lee Chatfield fought LGBT rights in Lansing. He’s on board in Kalamazoo.
- Business Success and Growth Through LGBT— Inclusive Culture
- AMERICA’S LGBT ECONOMY
- Southwest Michigan First updates non-discrimination policy after Chatfield hiring
- Kalamazoo County commissioners argue merits of breaking ties with Southwest Michigan First
- Commentary: Chatfield's short-lived CEO gig changes calculus on term limits
- Ex-House Speaker Lee Chatfield is a cautionary tale for term-limited politicians | Opinion
Lee Chatfield & Southwest Michigan First (SMF) lovefest timeline
- Dec 2020 Governor Whitmer signs Public Act 340 of 2020, a bill to support financing efforts for the Kalamazoo events center. The bill was introduced as HB4816 in June 2019 and passed the House in Jan 2020. It will go into effect in March 2021
- Ron Kitchens resigns as the CEO of Southwest Michigan First effective Jan 15 2021 after 15+ years, commenting on his enthusiasm for the Kalamazoo Events Center
- Lee Chatfield terms out of the House at the end of 2020 and enters the private sector
- Feb 11 Chatfield steps into the role CEO, Southwest Michigan First
Chatfield led the charge on several economic development initiatives that led to multiple developments across the state such as the MIthrive program created to support transformational redevelopment projects, as well as paving a path for a new arena in Kalamazoo with support for the Regional Event Center Financing Act. ~Source
- Feb 11 criticism grows around Chatfield's lack of economic development experience, his anti-LGBTQ positions in the legislature, and the role of term limits in moving people through the legislature into a lucrative role in the private-sector
Term-limits created the illusion that a $71,685-a-year job as a state rep on the resume can be easily be converted into a six-figure gig in corporate America, regardless of your previous political stances. That's not the case anymore. In this case, words, voting records and actions mattered. ~Source
- Feb 15 The Kalamazoo City Commissioners voted to disinvest from SMF ($10k annual)
- Feb 16 SMF updated its policies to ensure support for the LGBTQ community. Chatfield makes a statement in support of expanding the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act to include LGBTQ protections
Erin Knott, director of Equality Michigan, responds to statement from Southwest Michigan First.
— Craig Mauger (@CraigDMauger) February 16, 2021
- Feb 16 Kalamazoo County commissioners agree to vote on disinvesting from SMF in their next meeting ($75k annual)
- Feb 17 WMU President Edward Montgomery, who is a member of the SMF board, issues a statement that distanced Western Michigan University from SMF and said, “we will judge this partnership not just by what is said but by what is done”
- Feb 18 the Kalamazoo Community Foundation ends its membership investment with SMF
- Feb 22 Chatfield announces his resignation
For the betterment of the Kalamazoo community, the businesses that the board of directors represent, the staff at SWMF and for the sake of my conscience, please see the letter of resignation I offered this morning. I remain grateful for having had this incredible opportunity. pic.twitter.com/loS4v0kH3t
— Lee Chatfield (@LeeChatfield) February 22, 2021
Chatfield's opposition to expanding Elliot Larsen was just one of the issues — there were several other problematic statements that he had made which had to be addressed, including this one: pic.twitter.com/yfqOyS8xpc
— Fritz Klug (@fritzklug) February 22, 2021
Lee Chatfield's history of anti-LGBT work
- Meet the Republican Who Lost His Election Fighting for LGBT Rights
- Michigan House Speaker not interested in expanding civil rights law to include LGBT protections
“I’m never going to endorse a law or allow a bill to come for a vote that I believe infringes on someone’s ability to exercise their sincerely held religious beliefs.” ~Lee Chatfield, 2019
“Sir, I will agree with you on the fact that African Americans in this country’s short history have been discriminated against,” he said. “But if you don’t think the LGBT community has been discriminated against, been drug behind cars, been hung up by their necks til they’re dead, been denied housing, been denied commerce opportunities, then you’re just not looking very far.” ~Representative Frank Foster, 2014
Foster says his opponent, Lee Chatfield, gave him a deadline to publicly come out against legislation that would amend the civil rights act. “I wasn’t able to make that deadline, didn’t want to make that deadline,” says Foster. “So he filed in January and made this the center point of the campaign.” Foster lost by less than 1,000 votes in the primary against Chatfield, who had support from the Tea Party. ~Source
Erin Knott, director of Equality Michigan, responds to statement from Southwest Michigan First.
— Craig Mauger (@CraigDMauger) February 16, 2021
Kalamazoo Event Center
- Event center bill moves forward with support from Kalamazoo-area lawmakers
- Senate approves legislation to assist proposed Kalamazoo event center
- REGIONAL EVENT CENTER FINANCING ACT – Act 340 of 2020
- Erin Knott – Equality Michigan
- Fair and Equal Michigan submits petitions to move historic LGBTQ anti-discrimination law forward
- Michigan LGBT rights group files signatures for ‘historic’ ballot proposal
Last week, I introduced HB 4297, to expand the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act to include protections for the LGBTQ+ community. @JonHoadley, who introduced this bill in all three of his terms, happened to be there to drop it with me. Not gonna lie, it made me a little emotional. pic.twitter.com/MgXmO6AzEt
— Laurie Pohutsky (@lpohutsky19) February 23, 2021
- The LGBTQ Equality Act Is Back. Its Sponsors Are ‘Optimistic’ for Senate Victory.
- Marjorie Taylor Greene attacked Marie Newman’s transgender daughter as Equality Act vote approaches – The Washington Post
Facebook took down our video of me putting up the Transgender flag outside my office and labeled it as “hate speech.”
Meanwhile, they’re still allowing Marjorie Taylor Greene’s transphobic video to be posted.
Supporting transgender Americans is NOT hate speech. pic.twitter.com/dU2eXUpZSy
— Congresswoman Marie Newman (@RepMarieNewman) February 25, 2021
- LaGrand Leads Bipartisan Personal Conflict of Interest Disclosure Package – housedems.com
- Bipartisan group of lawmakers trying again to get conflict of interest disclosure law passed | Michigan Radio
- Michigan gets F grade in 2015 State Integrity Investigation – Center for Public Integrity
Today, Representatives @MarkEHuizenga, @JulieCalley, @grahamfiller, Steve Marino, @RepRabhi, Bill Sowerby, @repyancey and I introduced a Personal Financial Conflict Disclosure bill package to improve transparency in government by requiring elected officials and candidates 1/3 pic.twitter.com/ORV33lQ9RO
— David LaGrand (@DavidLagrand) February 23, 2021
I was proud to join @DavidLagrand and @RepHuizenga as they announced a bipartisan package of bills requiring personal conflict of interest disclosure for elected state officials and candidates! https://t.co/PXzosaRPSh
— Nancy Wang (@NancyWangVotes) February 25, 2021
- Former Michigan Gov. Granholm confirmed as energy secretary
- Senate confirms Granholm as energy secretary
- Jennifer M. Granholm – Secretary of the U.S. Department of Energy
— Christian Datoc (@TocRadio) February 25, 2021
- Michigan is no Texas, but it has grid reliability issues of its own | Bridge Michigan
- Texas Electric Bills Were $28 Billion Higher Under Deregulation – WSJ
- Michigan’s energy vulnerability exposed by natural gas scare, bitter cold
- MI Power Grid Status Report – October 2020
- MISO Transmission Plan Misses the Mark
- Updated Interactive Map Shows Clean Energy Projects Withdrawn from MISO Queue
We frequently talk about the need to move faster on building wind and solar to stay on track with these ambitious climate targets. But what we don’t talk nearly enough about is how to get electricity from the place it is generated to the place it is needed. How do we get the bountiful wind and solar resources from often-remote areas in the Midwest to homes and businesses across the region and throughout the United States? And how do we meet the Midwestern states’, utilities’, and localities’ clean energy goals?
The answer is transmission—the poles and wires that bring electricity from generating plants, like wind turbines and solar panels, to our communities. Like interstate highways connecting towns and states together, transmission is necessary to connect the powerful, low-cost Midwestern resources to the demand (big cities and manufacturing hubs). In other words, small lines, like the local roads connecting your home to the nearest grocery store, won’t cut it. ~Source
- Michigan dams need ‘immediate attention’ to prevent next failure | Bridge Michigan
- News release: Dam Safety Task Force report: Aging inventory requires immediate attention
- Michigan Dam Safety Task Force Report
- Michigan dam safety program underfunded, understaffed, slow to enforce
- Michigan EGLE on YouTube (includes the Dam Safety Task Force public hearings)
The Michigan #Dam Safety Task Force today submitted its report to @GovWhitmer with recs. on improving the safety of facilities #Michigan.
➤ Release: https://t.co/gmQ3PV8rdj
➤ Report: https://t.co/9hb1LcQ9V6 pic.twitter.com/BNkkei5nQ7
— Michigan EGLE (@MichiganEGLE) February 25, 2021
- Democrats are waltzing toward a political disaster with their COVID bill.
- The Case for Forgiving Taxes on Pandemic Unemployment Aid
- IRS: Unemployment compensation is taxable; have tax withheld now and avoid a tax-time surprise
- Taxes: What people forget about Reagan
Due to their over-representation in the hardest hit sectors, stubborn levels of unemployment, and lengthy jobless spells, low-wage workers and workers of color are likely to have received high levels of unemployment insurance income. Economic relief should center these workers, and UI tax forgiveness is aligned with that important goal. ~Source
- Michigan GOP Rep. Fred Upton censured for vote against Marjorie Taylor Greene
- Cass GOP censures Upton over Taylor-Green vote, Upton defends vote
THREAD: Tonight, the Cass County GOP censured me for voting to remove Marjorie Taylor Greene from the education committee, and in their resolution they stated that “her comments have not been out of line with anyone else's comments.” Really?
— Fred Upton #WearYourMask (@RepFredUpton) February 24, 2021
- Trump voters split from the GOP to launch wannabe ‘Patriot Parties’ ⋆ Michigan Advance
- Once the mainstream model, Michigan GOP embraces right wing – The Washington Post
- The American Patriot Party of the United States – Statement of Organization (h/t MI Advance)
- Inside a ‘Patriot Party' rally where Trump loyalists search for a path forward
Strong speech by President Trump about the winning policies of his administration and what the party needs to unite behind moving forward. The liberal media wants a GOP civil war. Not gonna happen.
— Nikki Haley (@NikkiHaley) March 1, 2021
In the last days of his presidency, Donald Trump floated the idea of starting a new party, CNN has reported. The Wall Street Journal reported he wanted to call it the Patriot Party. Trump campaign adviser Jason Miller then told CNN that Trump is not currently considering launching a third party. But some of his followers are trying to do it themselves. The Trump campaign had to file a notice with the Federal Election Commission that it had “no affiliation” with a Patriot Party that had claimed in its own filing to be working with Trump's campaign. ~Source
NEW PODCAST: A REPUBLIC IF YOU CAN KEEP IT
A Republic If You Can Keep It is a weekly analysis from two of Michigan’s legendary political insiders. Mark Brewer was chair of the Michigan Democratic Party for 13 years where he was responsible for overall strategy on behalf of candidates ranging from county commissioner to President of the United States. An attorney, he began his career of public service as clerk for Michigan Supreme Court Justice Charles Levin.
Jeff Timmer is former Executive Director of the Michigan Republican Party, and co-founder of Republicans and Independents for Biden. Jeff has advised and directed hundreds of legislative, congressional, statewide political and ballot issue campaigns, and grasstops and grassroots mobilizations campaigns. He was an advisor to Ohio Governor John Kasich’s 2016 presidential campaign.
A sneak peak of our podcast: https://t.co/DE5HUvpGWH!
— ARepublicPodcast (@ARepublicPodca1) February 24, 2021
Gretchen Whitmer 00:04
As of today, 83% of school districts are currently back in person. According to the report from our research partners that epi seat and 97% of school districts will be back in person in one way or another by March one.
Walt Sorg 00:20
The drive to get kids back in classrooms continues despite ongoing political gamesmanship from the legislature, and concerns of parents on both sides of the debate. I'm Walt Sorg.
Linda Vail 00:32
We could absolutely get everyone vaccinated with no supply in in a very short period of time.
Christine Barry 00:39
Ingham County Health director Linda Vail. She says getting everyone vaccinated against COVID-19 quick it would be possible if they had enough vaccine. I am Christine Barry.
This is Michigan Policast with Christine Barry and Walt Sorg, Michigan politics and policy and the National stories impacting our pleasant peninsulas.
Walt Sorg 01:02
Later in the podcast we'll also be joined by Erin Knott from Equality Michigan, on the momentum for protecting the rights of LGBTQ people. And we'll also talk with State Representative David Legrand of Grand Rapids about a package of bills requiring personal financial disclosure by state officials and candidates. And at the end of the podcast we'll preview of an exciting new podcast that debuts this Wednesday, which features the former heads of both the state Republican and Democratic parties
Gretchen Whitmer 01:31
for young children, especially face to face learning is critical. To while some students and families have been successful with distance learning, far too many have struggled. A significant loss of classroom hours and instruction time, have long term consequences on a child's long term development. And right now 10s of 1000s of vulnerable children in Michigan risk falling through with the cracks in staying stuck behind unless we made concerted efforts to catch them up.
Christine Barry 02:04
Governor Whitmer is putting more heat on Republican legislators to do their part to get public schools open. Already 83% report at least some in person classes with the goal of getting all of them open this month. thing standing in the way of that is money. It's there, but the legislature refuses to approve spending it.
Gretchen Whitmer 02:25
Here in Michigan, we will continue to work toward meeting our vaccination goals so that we can protect public health, put people back to work and get our kids back in school. To meet this metric, we must pass the Michigan COVID recovery plan spends over $5 billion that has already been appropriated to us in a bipartisan bill that was signed by Donald Trump in December that the legislature does not act, the $2 per hour wage increase for direct care workers will expire this Sunday. And the plan includes $1.7 billion directly that goes directly to our schools to help them meet the march 1 in person learning target to provide additional support to students that rapidly ramp up testing.
Walt Sorg 03:14
The latest from the lawmakers. Those are holding up the money, Christine, they don't want to give the governor any money that she can spend until she caves in on giving up some of her powers to respond to the pandemic, something that is actually being attacked from both sides now. And something that really kind of defines the science. You know, I think of all the things I've seen this week, the one that I found the most encouraging was that the statistics are showing that COVID rates are plunging in Michigan nursing homes, because most of our seniors now in nursing homes have been vaccinated. Clearly the vaccine is working. It works well. Anywhere where there are high levels of vaccination, whether it's in Michigan, the United States are around the world. infections are going down. And that is a tremendous sign even as all these variations come in. You've got the conflicts still between lawmakers on one side and governors on the other. The governor's wanting to be activists and they want to centralize control because of the nature of the emergency. And legislators not just in Michigan, but in a lot of states pushing back saying hey, look, we want to be a part of the action too. And the legislators it seems they're reacting more to constituent demands to open things up prematurely than governors are willing to do and the governor's really are focused on the big picture. How do we get around this or do we?
Christine Barry 04:30
Well, I think it's a losing position for the legislators who are saying no, I mean, look what they're saying no to in terms of dispersing those funds, distributing those funds. We talked about this last week there was over 75% of the nation supports Biden's plans. Governor Whitmer still has huge favourability on her plans and yet the legislators just won't go along with it because they want to play a role in decision making. A pandemic is not a time for them to to flex their muscle, it's not a time for them to try to renegotiate the role of the governor versus the legislature. This was all set in place before the pandemic. So they're on the losing side, both in terms of public sentiment overall for the COVID relief funds and the plans to manage this pandemic, as well as I think the the rules that are already defined and put in place for the executive and the legislative branch. But how do we get around it? I think that it's a matter of public pressure pushing back against the minority of people who want certain things to happen. You know, the state is not closed completely. I understand certain sectors are taking a huge hit. I mean, we've talked about this a bunch of times, but the state is not closed. Schools are opening up businesses is I hope, coming back to life,
Walt Sorg 05:53
and churches have never been shut down. Despite what you hear from people like Donald Trump Jr. Yeah, she's never restricted to attendance at church. He's, she's asked churches to voluntarily do it. But she's never precluded people from worshiping, if that's what they choose to do.
Christine Barry 06:08
And while all this is going on, vaccines are still rolling out. And as you said earlier, we actually have data showing that these vaccines are working all around the world. And I have links in the show notes studies from Scotland, studies from Israel, studies from England, showing a clear correlation between the vaccine and lower rates of infection, in addition to our own data here in the United States, progress isn't stopping, but they need to let that money be distributed so that we can do this right. And then another thing they're complaining about, which is silly is that they don't want vaccine distribution to consider social justice, right? They don't want to consider the social vulnerability index. So the Senate Appropriations Committee actually voted in favor of a bill that prohibits the state from using the social vulnerability index, which is recommended by the CDC. But the social vulnerability index does well does it identifies certain segments of the population who are at higher risk due to, let's say, non traditional factors, like they just have a lower likelihood, less likelihood of getting access to health care, so they're at higher risk. So it considers things like their income, their ability to speak English well, and you know, access the community around them, that kind of thing. We have links to all of this, but the Senate is trying to prohibit using that in the way that vaccines are distributed. It's a silly thing to get stuck on.
Walt Sorg 07:45
It is really just a political ploy aimed at pandering to constituents of these Republican senators who are basically white, thinking that black people are getting priority for vaccines. When the reality is it's not a racial thing. Dr Joneigh Khaldun the state health director talked about this on a webinar that was sponsored by bridge magazine during the week, and she explained what the social vulnerability index really was all about.
Joneigh Khaldun 08:10
It actually includes several factors and it's race and ethnicity is one of 15. But it also includes language and includes disability status. It includes extremes of age and your households or elderly or very young. It includes language, it includes housing, transportation, and so social vulnerability index, if you actually look across the state, it's not just about urban areas, there are actually several rural areas across the entire state, we actually have a very high the highest percentile when it comes to social vulnerability index.
Christine Barry 08:35
In that same webinar, Ingham County Health director Linda Vail said the primary issue with getting everyone vaccinated is simple … the supply of the vaccine. She notes that she had other local health directors all have plans for quickly vaccinating the entire population of their counties in a matter of case is part of disaster planning mandated by the feds mandate that's been around for years.
Linda Vail 09:06
Our entire communities are plans, according to the federal government requirements of these plans, and the funding had to be written so that we can vaccinate our entire community in three days. So we have plans that do that. Now. I will tell you do I think that we actually could have done it in three days. Probably not. That was probably a little optimistic. The plan on paper, you know accomplishes it. But in reality, could we do it in two weeks or a month? We absolutely could, we could absolutely get everyone vaccinated with enough supply in in a very short period of time.
Christine Barry 09:42
And supply is on the verge of not being a problem with the recent approval of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine, even as Pfizer and Moderna ramp up production. from a purely political standpoint. It all means good political news for Joe Biden and the democrats
Walt Sorg 09:57
in the last Gallup poll, which was released a couple of days ago, the President got 67% approval for his handling of the COVID-19 response and only 31% disapproval. His overall job rating is 56% with 40% disapproving that's plus 16. Remember that the guy who was there before, never got above about 46% approval and was always upside down on approval rating, the best he ever got was even. And most of the time he was upside down on approval, Biden his approval rating right across the board is good foreign affairs 5640 economy 5444. And when this COVID-19 relief package goes through the Senate, which it will minus the minimum wage, but it's going to go through the Senate, otherwise, his approval rating on the economy is going to go way up, as soon as those checks start arriving in people's bank accounts. And as soon as the unemployment benefits continue to be supplemented by the feds, I think this is all politically all to his benefit. And republicans are making a huge mistake by being in lockstep opposing what he's trying to do right now. Because what he's trying to do is just making him more popular, and giving every Democratic candidate in 2022, something they can campaign about, where they say, look at my opponent was against providing you with help when you needed it most providing people with access to health insurance when they needed it most providing our schools with the resources they needed, so they could safely reopen. How can you trust them to run the government? It is a powerful campaign issue. And the republicans i think, are just screwing up totally.
Christine Barry 11:35
Yeah, I agree. I do think, though, that the Biden administration is making a few missteps. I think we'll talk a little bit about it later. But there's the you know, the possibility for them to forgive some taxes from unemployment insurance, they are holding back on student debt forgiveness, like they talked about capping it at $10,000. I think that there are some things they could do better. But overall, I give them high marks on what they are pushing through, and what they are really standing behind. I mean, even if Joe Biden just got up there and said, everybody has to wear a mask like he's doing. That alone makes him better than the last administration. And if you add to that, that he's actually doing more stuff that matters. It's clear that the nation I think, was just hungry, for someone to step in and tell them what was happening, that was aligned with what they were seeing, you know, Donald Trump could say all the time, it's going away, go live your life. But when you're the average person, not really knowing what to believe. And you see the numbers going up on the fatalities, you know that something is wrong.
Walt Sorg 12:44
Now, in this debate, the Republicans in Congress, at least are looking for some wedge issues within the COVID-19 Relief Act, so that they can try to push back on it and tell people what a waste of money it is. And it's really not selling nationally. But there is a very good fact check in the New York Times that will link to on the website that goes through some of the things they're crying about some of the transit money, for example, that's there, they claim that most of the money is not going for vaccinating people, which is true, most of its going for economic relief, the biggest single piece of this whole package is money for individuals while through unemployment through the one time 14 $100 checks. So they are accurate, but the way they're spinning it is it's funny that just being wasted on fantasies and things like that. And then they latch on to any amendment that's offered by the most liberal of the liberals in the Democratic Caucus, and trying to represent that as Joe Biden's policy, for example, the $15. And I don't want to call this an extreme proposal, but it's not going to get through the $15 minimum wage is something that they're latching on to is economically devastating for a lot of small businesses, one is not going to go through and secondly, all the data from minimum wage increases around the country show that one, it doesn't devastate business and two people love it. Florida actually passed a referendum the minimum wage in Florida is 15 bucks an hour. And Florida ain't exactly a liberal Bastion by any means. But these are the fact check is really important. Because when you're talking $1.9 trillion, there's a lot you get into the bowels of something then big, there's gonna be something in there you could distort to make it look really stupid. And there's a good chance there probably is something in there that is really stupid. But overall, it's a really strong bill and it's really popular. That's just reality.
Christine Barry 14:27
Yeah. And, you know, going back to what you said earlier, that they're attacking everything that's not related to vaccines. You know, the republicans have always said that COVID has been used to destroy the economy that the Democratic governors used COVID to destroy the economy. If the economy is in some way related to COVID. Then so is the economic relief related to COVID relief. This is not an intellectually or even morally Consistent position,
Walt Sorg 15:01
I would say that being able to feed your family is a health risk. Yeah, it's been a year since the first US death from COVID-19, just a year. Since then, of course, more than a half million lives have been lost. That horrible number sadly shows the power of words in my view. We all know the old phrase sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can never hurt me. Well, words can kill us as well. And in less than 15 seconds last April, the former guy in the Oval Office used words that likely resulted in hundreds of 1000s of preventable deaths
Donald Trump 15:37
to CDC is advising the use of non medical cloth face covering as an additional voluntary public health measure. So it's voluntary, you don't have to do it, or they suggested for a period of time. But this is voluntary. I don't think I'm gonna be doing it.
Walt Sorg 15:57
In less than 30 seconds, he turned wearing a mask into a political statement rather than a health precaution. Health experts are unanimous if we had all worn masks from the beginning like they did in South Korea, China and Japan, the death toll here would have been a tiny fraction of what actually happened 400 450,000 lives could have been saved. Even with all the other outrages of his four years in office, even with the likelihood of criminal charges against him for financial crimes. This guy's legacy in the history books will be the preventable deaths of hundreds of 1000s of Americans. He might actually have been reelected if he'd only chosen to actually lead leading is something as you mentioned, that the current guy understands.
Joe Biden 16:40
I said from the beginning, like Roosevelt, who said I'll shoot you straight from the shoulder, you can handle anything as long as you're told the truth cases and hospice hospitalizations could go back up with new as new variants emerge. And it's not the time to relax, we have to keep washing our hands, staying socially distance, and for God's sake, where your mass where your mask is not a political statement. It's a patriotic thing to do.
Walt Sorg 17:12
There's a difference there.
Christine Barry 17:18
Elsewhere in healthcare, there's some relatively rare bipartisan cooperation in working to do something about health care costs. leading the charge is the new house speaker, Republican Jason Wentworth. This is a bipartisan package that they're putting forward it has about 15 reforms in it. And they include things like capping insulin co pays at $50 for a 30 day supply. It lets you shop around outside of the network for medications, it expands access to telehealth limits gifts to doctors to help lower costs in general. This is a really interesting story to me, because first of all, let me say up front, I am not an expert in healthcare and don't really want to be but one of the things that Jason Wentworth said, as he put his support behind this was that Michigan is home to some of the finest health systems and health care providers in the nation, if not in the world. But too often, Michiganders can't access or afford the health care they need, because of where they live, what they do, or how much they earn. So what does that sound like to you? Does that sound like social vulnerability? Yeah, you know, it's just another inconsistency from Republican now this is in the house. That other bill that we talked about earlier with the social vulnerability index came from the Senate, but still is. It's silly. This all sounds like a really good set of proposals. And I don't know if it all is good or not. Some of it comes straight from Alec, the Legislative Exchange. So that always makes me nervous. But it has bipartisan support. So they'll probably be some, some changes to it, some amendments as it goes through. But it's it's a big piece of legislation.
Walt Sorg 19:06
I find it very encouraging that the two sides in the legislature actually are making a serious effort to work together. They're not going to come to agreement on all these things. But you can see the influence of people. You know, Julie Calley is a part of this. She's Brian Kelly's Calley's. She's a state representative from Portland. On the Democratic side, you've got representative Abdullah hammoud, who is an epidemiologist working on this as well. So you've got somebody with expertise as a part of this legislative package. And it is something we just didn't see, with Chatfield, as Speaker of the House was a lot of bipartisan cooperation on issues that are of common concern to Republicans and Democrats. It is the same tone, admittedly, given it's a Republican majority coming from the right. But it's the same tone as what you hear coming from Joe Biden on the left, kind of a centrist left and centers drive approach to government. And that's where I'm at. I think that's what we have to have in this society. Because we do have such different political opinions. And I'm tired of seeing gridlock. And I think this is at least a start. We'll be talking later about ethics reform in the legislature. And again, it's the same sort of thing in the house where you get some bipartisan cooperation. But when you get over to the Senate, the current senate, it's kind of a mess. Thankfully, most of the Senate's going away in the next election, and we're going to have non gerrymandered districts so that we could have something that's a little more representative. One other thing I wanted to bring up, let's go over to the Coronavirus dashboard that bridge publishes every week, Christine, the numbers are beginning to plateau, which and they're plateauing at what seems to be a low number compared to the peak from right around Thanksgiving. Where we had in terms of hospitalizations, the numbers went over 4000 on a single day. But now they're down under 1000. But still, the numbers are higher than anything we saw last summer. There were higher now than they were a few you'd have to go all the way back to early June. To find numbers this high, but at least they are plateauing. What I'm concerned about is people are going to start getting complacent. I've seen it in myself. I was vaccinated Mike up my second shot two weeks ago, and I feel a lot more comfortable being out in the world. Now. I still double masks because I am slightly paranoid. I'm worried though, that people like me, once they've been vaccinated are gonna get sloppy and think, Hey, I'm invulnerable. Now, I don't have to worry about all this stuff. And other people are gonna think Well, a lot of people are being vaccinated. I don't have to worry either. that concerns me a lot that people are gonna backslide, we're gonna get another little surge.
Christine Barry 21:42
You definitely can't drop your awareness, your mindfulness about being careful. I'm not sure since the most vulnerable are the ones getting the vaccinations. Now, I wouldn't think we'd have that big of a problem with people dropping their mindfulness about social distancing and wearing masks and so on. But you know, your own experience it You let up a little bit, because finally, you're relieved that you have this vaccine, which as we mentioned earlier, data is showing is working.
Walt Sorg 22:11
What do you say we move on? Let's get past COVID. For a while. The State Board of canvassers are dealing with the petitions filed by fair and equal Michigan which have more than a half million signatures calling for added LGBTQ protections in the state's Eliot Larsen Civil Rights Act, once those are certified by the board, and there's little doubt that they will be once they actually get to it. The legislature has 40 days to approve the proposed law without amendment. If it doesn't approve it, the measure automatically goes on to the 2022 ballot for what would likely be overwhelming voter approval, at least based on what the polling is showing right now. All of this, though, comes in the wake of that double about face on the part of former House Speaker Lee Chatfield. Christine, take it away. Try not to giggle too much.
Christine Barry 22:57
Well, I don't know if I can do that. I this is an amazing story. And I am going to give you a timeline to start with, okay. Ron kitchens was the CEO of Southwest Michigan first for many years, over 15 years, he resigned on January 15 2021. Now Southwest Michigan first is an organization in the Kalamazoo region that tries to spur economic development in the region. It tries to connect job providers and businesses with city people and you know, that kind of thing. But Ron left January 15th, Lee Chatfield termed out of the house last year, as you know, and he went into the private sector, he ended up being hired by Southwest Michigan first, and his first day was February 11. Immediately there was some blow back here, because number one, he had no experience as an economic developer, which is his primary role in that organization. I mean, that's what they do. And it cultivated a lot of criticism around term limits and back scratching. But look, this story is all about diversity and equality. So on February 15, the Kalamazoo city commissioners voted to disinvest from Southwest Michigan first, because they did not like the new CEO's history on LGBT equality and rights. As you know, in the house, Lee Chatfield blocked everything he could to make sure that Elliott Larson was not expanded. So when the sell when the Kalamazoo city commissioners voted to disinvest, that's a loss of about $10,000 a year for Southwest Michigan first, okay, that was February 15, February 16. Day after this SMF updated its policies and issued a statement committing to learning from this blah, blah, blah. And I think this is when Chatfield made his statement of support for the expansion of Elliot Larson, same day, February 16, And now we're like five days into Lee Chatfield's employment. Kalamazoo county commissioners discussed disinvesting. And that would have represented a loss of $75,000 a year and they had planned on February 16, to come back in their next meeting Two weeks later and vote on whether to disinvest February 17, Western Michigan University President Ed Montgomery, who is also a member of the board for SMF, issued a statement that WMU had nothing to do with the hire. so Western Michigan University had nothing to do with hiring Chatfield, and that some of his policy positions are not aligned with Western's values. But they did not say if they were disinvesting February 18. We're now seven days into the Chatfield's employment February 18, Kalamazoo Community Foundation ended its membership investment, with SMF. Now, February 22, four days after the community, the community foundation ended its membership investment, February 22, Chatfield announced his resignation. And that is the story of his 11 days as the CEO of Southwest Michigan first. So it was already tainted, I think, by the bad taste from the term limits and him getting a job he technically wasn't qualified for based on economic development background. A lot of people just said, Look, he's just not qualified to do the job. And then finally, we chat fields background is all about as a legislator, it's all about discrimination. He was recruited or approached by Dave Agema to run against Frank Foster. I don't know if you remember this. Lee Chatfield was teaching at a Christian school. When Frank Foster the representative for his district was trying to advance a non discrimination bill. David Agema being the creepy bigot that he is approached Chatfield to get him to run. So Chatfield came out and told Frank Foster this poor representative, either oppose that equality bill, or well as a non-discrimination bill or face a primary. Well, Frank Foster supported the bill. So he was not going to do that. And Chatfield made that non discrimination bill the centerpiece of his campaign and foster lost his primary Chatfield won the election. We all know his record while he was there. And as Speaker he would not allow that bill to come up. So this is, in some ways, a really wonderful story about a community saying we did not appreciate what you did. We couldn't do anything about it while you were in the house. But we don't need to pay some organization to employ you here. So that's the story of Lee Chatfield.
Walt Sorg 27:49
One of the key players in the drive to make LGBTQ people full citizens of Michigan is Erin Knott, in addition to being a member of the Kalamazoo City Council. She's the executive director of equality Michigan, and she joins us on the Policast. Erin Knott from Equality Michigan, what do you make of the late night conversion of Lee Chatfield all of a sudden after all these years supportive of the cause of LGBTQ equality?
Erin Knott 28:16
Well, I would like to say that, Mr. Chatfield recognize that if you are going to be a leader, you know, post legislative search service that you're going to have to do right by the LGBTQ community. And if you're going to be employed, particularly for an organization that's primary purpose is attracting and retaining talent into Southwest Michigan, you're going to have to again, recognize that diversity, equity inclusion is a value proposition that is deeply honored. And there's just such a strong commitment to those those values here, not only in Kalamazoo, but across Southwest Michigan.
Walt Sorg 28:54
You have the bill, probably going to the legislature in the near future, as we are talking the board of canvassers is actually meeting on the petitions from fair and equal Michigan to get this before the legislature. What do you see as the prospects given the very strong polling in support of this across party lines?
Erin Knott 29:12
I think that we have a number of paths forward with the legislature. Earlier this week, Representative Pohutsky introduced legislation, it's House Bill 4297. That would amend the Elliot Larson civil rights act to include sexual orientation, gender identity and expression. It's my understanding that Senator moss is circulating a similar bill in the Senate. Right now. He's working to get co sponsors for his bill. And then you have the fair and equal petition where 500,000 plus signatures were gathered on behalf of, you know, constituents, residents all across the state of Michigan. And once that certification happens, we anticipate that the legislature will have 40 days to consider the people's bill and either move that forward or that bill will go before voters In 2022,
Walt Sorg 30:02
in looking at the polling, Richard zuba, who did the polling on behalf of fair and equal, Michigan said he's never seen an issue, move this fast. In all the time that he's been doing polling, but it has gone from something where somebody like Lee Chatfield could campaign openly against it to initially win a primary two now, where I would think that even Republicans have more conservative areas would have to think twice.
Erin Knott 30:24
As somebody who's been out for the last 20 plus years, it's been amazing. You know, when I came to Kalamazoo as a young Western student, and now I serve on the Kalamazoo city commission, just how rapidly hearts and minds have changed. So much so that I teach at Western Michigan University, I teach in the School of Social Work, and every semester, I have to, you know, have an argument with the incoming class of students about social welfare and the fact that social welfare policy that is, and the fact that in Michigan, as an out gay woman, I still can be discriminated against, I can be asked to leave a coffee shop or a restaurant, I couldn't be denied housing, or let go of my job if my employer didn't value diversity, equity inclusion, or if I didn't reside in one of the 47 municipalities that has a non discrimination ordinance, you know, on its books, and these are, these are bright students from all over the state of Michigan that come to Western and they just don't believe that, you know, in 2021, this is, in fact the case. But unfortunately, it is here in Michigan. So we know that the vast majority of Michiganders want to change, they're demanding change. And now it's up to leadership within the legislature to open that door to allow for hearings so that we can ultimately have an up or down floor vote.
Walt Sorg 31:40
From your perspective, how important is pop culture been in this whole campaign? 20 years ago, Ellen DeGeneres just about lost her career by coming out. Now you turn on and you just want any drama or comedy on network television. If there is not an LGBTQ character in the cast. It's almost like you know what happened? What did they forget?
Erin Knott 32:02
I think that pop culture has had a role in changing hearts and minds. I remember when Ellen came out, I was actually a Western student, I promptly found somebody within the dorm to hitch a ride to the Meijer over on West main. So I could buy a copy of the Time magazine that featured Ellen on the cover with I think that the caption was, yep, I'm gay, I still have that that magazine, because it was just so impactful for me to see somebody like me Come out and come out on primetime TV. And you're right now there isn't a show that I can think of it doesn't have a character that's part of the LGBTQ community. And I think it helps folks that, you know, aren't aware that they have a loved one or a co worker or neighbor that identifies as LGBTQ, to see somebody you know, on whether it's TV or in the movies that they can relate to. It's a character that's quirky, it's funny, and it allows them to make a connection, which also probably has an indirect benefit in that, you know, friends and family members feel safer approaching that particular person because of the pop culture influence.
Walt Sorg 33:10
Yet we still had to wait until one month ago to get our first cabinet number.
Erin Knott 33:14
This is true, this is true. But again, times are changing. You know, the past I don't have the stats in front of me right now. But the past election cycle in 2020, we saw more LGBTQ individuals on the ballot, we saw more wins up and down the ballots. When I ran in 2015 out door knocking it folks didn't know who I was that quickly identified me as Oh, you're the gay candidate, you know, which was kind of took me aback like I've done all these things in my career. This is my platform and why I'm running. But that's right on the gay candidate. When I ran in 2017. People recognize me from my record, and not the fact that I was part of the LGBTQ community. And just in a few short years later, again, you've you've seen a number of individuals up and down the ballot all across the state of Michigan throwing their hat in the ring and running because they believe that they can serve, you know, either their municipality or or the state. And that's very encouraging.
Walt Sorg 34:09
Erin, always a pleasure. Thank you so much for joining us on the Policast. Appreciate your time.
Erin Knott 34:13
Christine Barry 34:20
Meanwhile, the battle for LGBTQ rights is moving at the federal level, but not without some vicious pushback from the QAnon Congresswoman.
Walt Sorg 34:30
It's pretty amazing Marjorie Taylor green. She actually put a sign up outside her office as the house was getting ready to pass the Equality Act, attacking her neighbor across the hall who had put up a LGBTQ flag. In recognition of her transgender daughter, Taylor green, she put up a sign that saying there are only two genders male and female. It's the science or something along those lines. Totally bigoted totally out of place in the House of Representative There's office building. But this is increasingly going to be the face of the Republican Party. And a lot of people like that fact. Certainly democrats like that fact, because she's going to be easy to campaign against as much as they made on the Republican side. They went after Nancy Pelosi for years and years and years, and then Hillary Clinton. You know, they're sexist attacks against those two women. Now, it's going to be a woman in the republican crosshairs, while the Republicans, meanwhile, are going to spend their bile, at least on the far right for attacking one of their own. The good Congresswoman from Wyoming, Miss cheney. I don't understand. I'll tell you I was in watching a little bit of CPAC over the weekend. And the crazy is really taken over at least part of the Republican Party. It's sad for the Republican Party, really, it used to be the GOP was Grand Old Party, but now it's the GOP the Trump operatives party. And that's pretty sad.
Christine Barry 35:57
Well, I'll tell you what, Marjorie Taylor green is definitely representative of that nutbag coalition that's, you know, unfortunately, rising and getting louder in the GOP. But one of the things she did that I can't imagine personally ever doing was that she stood up the floor to Congress and spoke out against the Equality Act, you know, typical, right wing speech, she's opposed to equality in order to support equality. But then she went on Twitter, and she said, you know, your biological son does not belong in my daughter's bathroom locker rooms, right? You know, if she did the bathroom panic thing. And what you had to set about her putting, you know, there's only two genders or something on that assign outsider office. That's not even true. That there's two sexes, I think, biologically speaking, but gender is not a biological thing.
Walt Sorg 36:51
So your dog agrees with you.
Christine Barry 36:53
I know. She's mad. She does not like Marjorie at all.
Walt Sorg 36:59
What do you say we move on to some policy? Okay. Wouldn't that be unusual? In 2015, Michigan State Government got an F grade from the Center for Public Integrity and its scorecard that ranked transparency and accountability to voters among all the states. It looks like there might be a growing bipartisan coalition. We were talking about this a little bit earlier in Lansing focused on a little more openness on the part of elected officials. We are joined on the Policast by Representative David Legrand of Grand Rapids. He's the lead sponsor of a package of bills providing for financial disclosure on the part of elected officials and candidates. Representative Legrand there's always talk about ethics in the legislature and improving the transparency but nothing ever seems to happen. What makes you think this time is going to be different?
David LaGrand 37:46
Well, the answer is, you know, sometimes maybe there's a phrase, the third time's the charm. I've been working on this since I got to the legislature and I'm going into my third and a half term here. There are real reasons to think that we've made progress. This session he built so so just so your listeners understand what we're talking about. My package is focusing on financial disclosure and conflicts of interest. And there's, that's an issue that's I think, of particular timeliness and urgency right now, given the widespread distrust of politicians out in the general public. So I think it's really important that we do everything we can to signal transparency. So maybe the events of the last year's election crisis are gonna light some urgency around this issue for people who wouldn't have taken it all that seriously before. You know, a couple of sessions ago, the former Speaker of the House famously said, I don't think voters care about that when he was asked about transparency and accountability. So I think that the political winds maybe have shifted, and there are one of the more exciting reasons to think this is going to go well is because when we introduced this package, just this week, I we dropped a bill that had 63 co sponsors on the house peace. That's a clear majority of 110 people. And that's that's people who signed on the dotted line in advance. So clearly, this is something that the majority of the house is interested in having taken up, you know, whether we get to a majority in the Senate, whether we get a hearing in the Senate, that remains to be seen. But like I said, I think the the, the issue is very, very timely, because what we're talking about is breaking the cycle of distrust between elected officials and the general public.
Walt Sorg 39:37
There are disclosures and then there are disclosures, how deep would the disclosure be for state politicians in in your package?
David LaGrand 39:46
So the answer to that is mine is a lot less invasive than say the federal form. I looked at the federal form that you'd have to fill out if you were, you know, running for Congress or running for senator or in the Congress of the Senate. And you get I get about halfway through that form and I, I started imaginatively worried about getting worried about committing perjury. I mean, they're, they're asking you things like, you know, tell us every item of value in your house worth more than $1,000. And I'm thinking, Well, okay, like, what if I miss a nice rug? Or like, I don't know, my daughter's violin? Is that case, you know? Well, she's got one violin, I know is worth more than 1000. But like, I don't know what, and then they want specific values on the federal form. So I don't want my car's worth, I haven't tried to sell it recently. So you start, the federal form scares me, to be honest. And I think you'd probably want an accountant and maybe a lawyer before you fill that form out our form. Look, what are we concerned about? at heart, we're worried about self enrichment, right, where we want voters to believe and have confidence that their elected officials are representing otherwise, we don't have a representative democracy anymore. So I think it's critical that voters have access to the information on this key question. get elected official X, Y, or Z, David Legrand, where are his principal Financial Holdings? What are his principal sources of income? Because those are things that might actually influence his vote if we got into that area in a piece of legislation? So our form doesn't at all go into dollar figures. But it does ask you to name your sources.
Walt Sorg 41:23
Are there any of the laws on the books right now that really preclude a legislator from voting on something where you have a conflict of interest other than your own conscience?
David LaGrand 41:32
No, I mean, there's and so what we have right now is a trust me mechanism. Well, you know, the data on this, I'm sure you're you're a political animal. The vast majority of voters think that elected officials go to work in the morning for the purposes of self enrichment. They think they are self representing not representing the public. Well, that's a big problem and saying, trust me, is doesn't help. I mean, when you get to somewhere like Lansing or DC, you're surrounded by all these people who you look at them. And you think, boy, you know, Bob Dole is a stand up guy, I trust him. I'm sure he'd never do anything dishonest. And, you know,
David LaGrand 42:09
stand up guy, I'm sure he's honest. And then Peter Meyer looks at Legrand and says, well, the grands a stand up guy, I'm sure he's honest. And so you don't tend to look at your colleagues every morning as though they're, you know, potential ethical, ethically dishonest people. And so asking a group of colleagues to self police on this is is a non starter, as far as I'm concerned, the voters have to be able to ask the right questions, and they can't ask the right questions if they don't have the right source material.
Walt Sorg 42:39
One of the big differences in your chances of getting this through the entire process. You mentioned that the previous speaker was very skeptical about it. The current speaker seems to be very open, and very supportive of a variety of reform, but proposals. Does that is that gonna make a difference?
David LaGrand 42:56
Oh, absolutely. Now, and again, let's look, I may have misspoke in there. And so let's be precise. I think the former Speaker of the House was open to this. But yes, the current Speaker of the House, literally his first speech to the you know, to our joint session to our to our session was highlighted the urgency of the need for financial disclosure work. So speaker Wentworth has highlighted this as an issue that he wants to take on and is making a priority out of now. What I was referring to is the former Speaker of the Senate. He's when he was asked about, you know, financial disclosure and and ethics and transparency from elected officials. He said, I don't think the voters care about that, which I thought was odd, they didn't say, and frankly, you know, whether the voters are concerned about honesty, we all ought to be concerned about our own honesty. I worry a lot more about my ethics when I wake up in the morning, then I worry about yours.
Walt Sorg 43:55
Representative Legrand, we thank you so much. We wish you the best of luck in getting this thing through the process. And appreciate you joining us on the Policast Thank you.
Christine Barry 44:05
Well, it's time for some political note. First of all, congratulations to friend of the podcast. Jennifer Granholm Michigan's former governor is now Secretary of Energy confirmed by the Senate on a 64 to 35 votes. All the no votes were from Republicans, most of them from fossil fuel producing states. And she made it clear in a post confirmation tweet that her priority is attacking the issue that's been her priority for two decades.
Jennifer Granholm 44:33
Climate change is intensifying and ravaging our communities and our planet. more intense hurricanes and storms, rising sea waters, uncontrolled wildfires and record droughts, all threatening our lives. And it's costing us billions and billions to clean up the mess that these catastrophes leave behind each year. at the Department of Energy, we have the solutions to tackle our climate emergency and To create healthy, safe and thriving communities, we have the tools to put America on an irreversible path to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050. So what does it mean for you, it means cheap, abundant, clean power made right here in the US. Here at the Department of Energy, we have the world's most brilliant scientists and energy experts, figuring out all the ways to make it happen. And deploying these solutions are going to create millions of good paying jobs, all kinds of jobs for all kinds of people. And those jobs will lift communities that have been left behind communities whose children can't inhale a full breath. Because they've been poisoned by pollution from the smokestacks of dirty factories, coal and oil and gas communities, we're now seeing their jobs vanish, because the world is demanding cleaner energy,
Joe Biden 45:58
we need a unified national response to climate change, we are committed to facing climate change. by delivering environmental justice,
Jennifer Granholm 46:06
we're going to make sure that every worker and every community can benefit from and see their future in these Clean Energy Solutions. I'm Jennifer Granholm, I am so proud to be the next Secretary of the Department of Energy. Let's get to work.
Walt Sorg 46:24
Pretty amazing how she got the thing produced 10 minutes after she was confirmed and sworn in.
Christine Barry 46:29
I am so first of all happy for her personally, because this is just a passion of hers. It it always has been, you know, seconds. So happy for us. Now, I don't know how much she's going to be able to get done with the kind of resistance you see in some of these, some of these states. But I'm really, really excited. It's just so cool to have a president who's like, hey, there's climate change, and then have a Secretary of Energy who's like, hey, climate change. I mean, you know, Donald Trump, it just seemed like he was there forever.
Walt Sorg 47:05
Yeah, a long, long, long nightmare. And it's more than just having the windmills and the solar panels, and maybe the small nuclear plants for alternative energy. It's also the grid. And as we've seen in Texas, the grid can break down very easily. And it's only going to get more and more severe as we rely more on electricity and move away from fossil fuels, specifically with transportation. Michigan is heavily invested through our automakers in electric cars. But if the grid can't handle the power, that is going to be a real challenge, I was part actually of a test project. 10 years ago, when the volt first came out, I actually got a little assistance on the purchase of my volt from the Department of Energy, because they wanted to do a three year study of the impact of people like me charging my car would have on the on the grid in terms of when did I do it? How much electricity did I take and things like that so they can project forward. And that's increasingly going to become a real issue is delivering that power plus storing the power. And Granholm has had a fetish about that from the time when she was governor with the battery companies. One thing that always intrigued me was the idea of using hydrogen and oxygen fuel cells to store the energy, you take solar, use that solar energy to create hydrogen and oxygen, which is basically just tearing water apart and turning it into gas. You put it into tanks, and you'll leave it there until you need it. And then when you need electricity, you use that to generate electricity, and it's 100% clean, the end product of that whole process is water. You end up with the water again.
Christine Barry 48:44
Yeah, you know, there are a lot of gaps in not just our our grids, not just the actual infrastructure, but regulation around what we can do. And I just from my own experience, I wanted to put up a windmill out back. And I called I don't know how many different places all the way up to the state. Nobody knew how tall my windmill could be. So I'm like, Well, what am I supposed to do? I did not have any clear guidelines on that. Now that in particular didn't stop me from getting the window. What stopped me was how much consumers was going to charge me to hook it up to my house. And the same thing with solar panels. Now there are other options that I've learned about that. Let me go ahead and take that energy and put it into batteries. But there needs to be a lot of thought put into what can people do as individuals to create their own energy? And how as a society do we adopt these things in a way that are understandable and accessible for everybody? That's that's just part of it. Another huge infrastructure problem for Michigan while it's not about fixing the damn roads, but fixing the damn dams. I don't know if you saw this, a state task force that was formed after the Midland dam. failures last year, has come out with its recommendations. And they published 86 recommendations that are, you know, spread across regulatory, legal and funding, it's going to require more than $420 million, over 20 years to implement all of the recommendations. And most of these would require changes to state law. This is just like the roads, we underfund under staff, we don't enforce the laws that we do have. And then all of a sudden we wake up because we have these catastrophic failures that we're like, oh, my God, how did we get here? How did this happen? Well, it happened because you wouldn't spend the money, you simply refuse to acknowledge it, you couldn't agree on it. So here we are.
Walt Sorg 50:46
Another note that we should take notice of its income tax filing time, and a lot of people already hard hit by the economic crash in 2020, may be in for another shock. All that federal and state unemployment support you got, it's taxable. And if you didn't have withholding taxes taken out of your UI check, it could be very ugly, April 15. Now the President and the IRS do have an option they can actually, there's a way they can do administratively and declare that this money is non taxable, just by calling an emergency aid rather than unemployment aid. So that would lessen the blow quite a bit. But for a lot of people, it's going to be a real shock, because they took every nickel that they got from unemployment, just to feed their family and pay their rent and things like that. And there's no money in the basket for them now does write a check to the IRS. I've never saw the sense in taking a government benefit and then making a taxable, you know, it was ronald reagan in one of his tax bills who took social security and made it taxable, which I thought was just absolutely ridiculous. You get your Social Security benefit from paying taxes, and then when they give you the money back, they tax it again. And yeah, yeah, it's crazy.
Christine Barry 51:59
Congressman Fred Upton is the latest republican to be censured by his local party for not being Trumpy enough. The cash cow GOP censured him for voting to remove a Marjorie bathroom panic green from the Education Committee, and they said it was because her comms had not been out of line with anyone else's. Now Fred Upton did answer this on Twitter and his his tweet is a classic. He did say that he served on the committee committee, he met with Columbine survivors, Parkland and Sandy Hook shooting survivors. He heard all their stories, and she should not be on the Education Committee.
Walt Sorg 52:36
And the last line of his tweet was he quoted the resolution from the Cass County GOP and his only answer was really she has not been out of line with anyone else's comments.
Christine Barry 52:48
She's a Loon.
Walt Sorg 52:50
Speaking of right wing crazies, a new ultra right political party maybe forming in Michigan, there are some people who don't think Republicans in the state generally aren't Trumpy enough. So there's a national movement to launch the American patriot party. And a petition has been filed with the State Board of canvassers to create the Michigan patriot party. I tell you more about them, but I went on their website, and quite frankly, it was a mess. And you could, it's all it's all the standard stuff you'd expect from the extreme right wing. And I wish them the best of luck. If they want to take some of the Trump followers away from the Republican Party. It'll just make life a lot better for mainstream Republicans, and more importantly, for Democrats.
Christine Barry 53:34
It's so Goofy, and I almost don't care about it, except I think that this kind of movement, they could pick up local seats, they could pick up downed tickets, maybe a congressional seat, at some point, kind of like the the Tea Party caucus. And you know, whatever Justin Amash did, they could do that. But I think that the democrats are in such a good position right now. We need to keep ourselves informed about what these people are doing. But we can't be reactionary to it for a long time. A lot of our messaging was based on what was based on as a response to what the republicans were doing and saying, and we are on the right track, we need to keep our focus on that focus on our values, climate change, stick to what we're doing right and expand on it and reach more people. I almost don't care. And I don't see a lot of longevity in these little spin off parties.
Walt Sorg 54:31
But if they take 10% of the vote in a congressional race in one of the swing districts that can change everything if they take 10% of the vote away from Peter Meyer, or they take 10% of the vote away from the Republican who runs against Alyssa Slotkin, or who runs against Haley Stevens that could be pivotal in election. I think that's probably the real significance of them. As a matter of political history in Michigan, third party candidate has never won at the congressional or statewide level.
Walt Sorg 54:59
Justin Amash won as a Republican and he wouldn't run for reelection when he left the Republican Party. He also announced his retirement from politics.
Christine Barry 55:09
And we wrap up today with a preview of a new Michigan political podcast. We are very pleased to announce the premiere this Wednesday of A Republic If You Can Keep It. It's a weekly update on Michigan politics from two of the state's insiders 18 year democratic party chair Mark Brewer and former Republican Party executive director Jeff Timur, they will take you inside the backgrounds of Michigan politics. In a preview edition of the podcast. They talked about the possibilities of a new investigation into allegations of bribery and misuse of Republican Party funds. And the newly reinstated party chair Ron Weiser. his predecessor has asked secretary of state Jocelyn Benson to investigate what looks like campaign finance violations. Timmer knows how these soft money slush funds work says it could be very serious. And Brewer adds that it could also be embarrassing. Here's a part of their analysis beginning with former republican operative Jeff Timmer,
Jeff Timmer 56:07
this could be really revealing because it could roll back the veil on the party's administrative Fund, which is, you know, is a non reportable fund that's available to each party. And so there's never been the glare of transparency shown on the either party's administrative fund. But now with the claim of misdeed and malfeasance there very well could be this is gonna be an interesting battle, right?
Mark Brewer 56:34
Yeah, those allegations by Laura Cox, were based on an internal review done by a very prominent law firm. I've read the memo that they produced, it's very serious, very thorough, and not easily dismissed. And I think it has provoked the Secretary of State's bureau of elections into looking at it, you're right about these dark money administrative accounts. They've existed since the late 70s. And have evolved over time, they can fund a lot of things under Michigan law, redistricting issue communications, but one thing they cannot fund are basically advocacy efforts in candidate campaigns. And it's arguably a contribution from the Michigan republican party to Grant's opponent, that basically brought him out of the race. And then also in that report, it indicated that grant may have been paid to do some candidate work. And it would be illegal to use soft money from this administrative account for that this could be as you indicate a real serious problem for the Michigan republican party going forward. And it could well lead to say an audit of that administrative account, as well as revelations about the internal financial operations of the Mr. broker party. I can say, as a former party chair, this kind of investigation, that kind of complaint is is your worst nightmare. Because those accounts are private. There's a lot of plenty of legal things that can be done with those accounts, but things that you don't want to be sharing with the public and we may be about to see significant erring on the financial laundry of the Michigan Republican Party over the last several years.
Jeff Timmer 58:08
You mentioned it opened them up I think the further scrutiny because they claim that he was paid to do work on behalf of candidates to further the republican cause and candidates in McComb county specifically. And so they in their own admission, they say that he was doing work on behalf of in they don't specify between state and federal candidates. So they could not only open up a state complaint, but I think they've exposed themselves to a potential federal complaints as well.
Mark Brewer 58:37
No, that's that's a very, very good point.
Christine Barry 58:41
And with that, we bid you adieu for this week. As always, we have a ton of information links, tweets videos about today's topics on our website, head on over to Michigan policast.com.
Walt Sorg 58:54
As always, we welcome your comments. You can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or comment via our Facebook page or on Twitter. Thanks for letting us in your ear.
Michigan Policast with Walt Sorg and Christine Barry is a production of Michigan citizens for a better tomorrow.