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Chris Savage is the owner and publisher of Eclectablog, your one-stop shop for progressive state & national political news & commentary.
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Reflections from China on the newly-emerging totalitarian state of Michigan

The death of democracy?

I have been traveling around China for the past week and, despite the incredible growth of capitalism here, it’s clear that the government controls much of what happens in this beautiful country. From investments infrastructure that result in modern, butter-smooth highways to the wind energy installations that surround cities like Qingdao, the government is in charge of nearly everything that happens. The idea of “local control” isn’t really disputed.

As I read the reports about Michigan House Republicans passing Republican Rep. Earl Poleski’s anti-democratic House Bill 4052 which would strip the ability of local governments from passing local ordinances that conflict with the GOP’s utopian vision of total control of our state, it looks very much like Michigan is sliding rapidly toward the sort of totalitarian control that I see all around me in China.…

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INTERVIEW: Progress Michigan’s Lonnie Scott on their upcoming fundraiser comedy show with The Daily Show’s Al Madrigal

“We wanted to bring everyone in the progressive community together to talk about issues that they are concerned about and working on every day and to have some fun doing it.”

As I wrote about last week, our friends at Progress Michigan are having fundraiser in Ann Arbor on June 3rd that features comedian Al Madrigal from The Daily Show along with others. I sat down with Progress Michigan Executive Director Lonnie Scott to discuss the show, why it is necessary, and what people can expect.

Information on purchasing tickets can be found at the end of the interview.
Tell us a little bit about Progress Michigan.

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GUEST POST: Replacing forced arbitration contract trickery with transparency

The following is a guest post by Lonnie Scott, Executive Director of Progress Michigan.

If you’ve ever opened up a credit card, taken out a student loan or signed up for a cell phone plan, you’re probably bound to arbitration through some version of a consumer financial contract you’ve consented to – whether you know it or not.

Buried in the fine print of take-it-or-leave-it contracts, forced arbitration terms rob consumers of their constitutional right to their day in court in the event of a dispute. Instead of being able to have their case heard by a judge and jury, consumers must instead go to private arbitration where a panel of adjudicators review their case and make a determination that is legally binding and enforceable in the courts.…

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Senate version of Michigan Republicans’ “Local Government Control Prohibition Act” drops, same as House version

Earlier this week, House Republicans held a hearing on H.B. 4052, a bill that would prohibit local governments from passing employment-related ordinances that are more restrictive than state-level laws. Although it is called the “Local Government Employer Mandate Prohibition Act”, it really should be referred to as the “Local Government Control Prohibition Act” because it strips what is commonly known as “home rule” from local governments.

The list of things covered by the current version of H.B. 4052 is pretty large. It would prohibit a local governmental body from adopting, enforcing, or administering an ordinance, local policy, or local resolution that:

  • Regulates the relationship between an employer and its employees or potential employees, if the regulation contains requirements exceeding those imposed by state or federal law.
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Republicans decide working poor Michiganders haven’t been screwed enough, want to eliminate EITC to pay for roads

Given their history, it takes a lot for Michigan Republicans to do something so cruel, so heartless, so Henry F. Potterish that it surprises you. But I am confident in saying that their most recent gambit to find funding for road repairs in our state rises to that level. In an effort to race $1 billion to put toward roads, House Republicans are proposing an elimination of the Earned Income Tax Credit, virtually the only tax credit available to poor people and which helps the working poor, folks holding down a full-time job but still struggling to make ends meet. Keep in mind, the EITC would have been restored from 6% to 20% if Prop 1 had passed.…

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After agreeing to study determining the cost to educate a child in Michigan, GOP now poised to kill “this crazy study”

Education cost study? We doan need no stinkin’ education cost study!

As part of the package of legislation passed to put Proposal 1 on the ballot, Republicans agreed to fund a study of the costs to educate a child in Michigan. Democrats pushed for the study so that smart choices regarding the funding of schools can be made in the future. Republicans not only agreed to it, it was in fact a bill – H.B. 423 – introduced by a Republican and all of the cosponsors were Republican. Twenty-five House Republicans and eight Senate Republicans voted for it. It was signed into law by our Republican governor as Public Act 555 of 2014 and is now actually part of the Revised School Code.…

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Indiana moves to take over Gary schools with an Emergency Financial Manager

Back in 2012, I first wrote about the exporting of Michigan’s Emergency Financial Manager system to Indiana, the first instance of this happening and something I had been warning the country about in my own small way for two years. It was eventually signed into law later that year.

This week we learn that the first use of the Emergency Financial Manager system is happening to Gary Public Schools. (The Bond Buyer article is behind a paywall but you can get free access through May 22nd.)

After years of financial problems, the school district in Gary is poised to become Indiana’s first local government to be taken over by an emergency financial manager.
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Michigan Republicans move to strip power of local governments to protect workers and the LGBT community

Republicans have successfully branded themselves as the party that worships “local governmental control”. They want federal regulations repealed and the power given to the states on all sorts of things from the environment to the Affordable Care Act. But, when it comes to actual local control, where local municipalities set their own rules, the whole idea of “local governmental control” is simply a quaint notion to be dispensed with posthaste to maintain their own control over our state.

Republicans in Michigan are sick and tired of local governments having the audacity to do things like pass local minimum wage requirements or giving the LGBTQ community actual civil rights protections.…

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Tickets now on sale for Progress Michigan’s annual fundraiser featuring The Daily Show’s Al Madrigal

I consider Eclectablog to be a partner with a number of progressive groups here in Michigan and across the country. But the one group with which I have the closest partnership with is Progress Michigan. No other groups does more work on behalf of a whole host of progressive issues than Progress Michigan. Whether its the environment, privatization of government services to for-profit corporations like the odious Aramark, immigration, or government malfeasance, Progress Michigan is there to fight the good fight and hold lawmakers, policymakers, and others accountable. And that’s merely a partial list.

That is why Eclectablog is a proud member of the host committee for Progress Michigan’s upcoming fundraiser.…

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INTERVIEW: Brian Stone, candidate for MI-15 in Dearborn – “This is my town. This is my city. And I know it well.”

Not long ago, my friend Mike Henry, the Chair of the Ann Arbor Dems, introduced me to Brian Stone, a 28-year old openly gay man from Dearborn who has already thrown his hat into the ring for the 15th District State House seat. “You should know this guy,” Mike told me. “He’s going to surprise you.”

I generally avoid interviewing candidates before the primaries for an assortment of reasons but I agreed to at least chat with Stone and hear what he had to say. My instant impression was that he is very adept at talking with reporters and interviewers and saying all the right things.…

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