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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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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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Republican push to repeal Michigan’s prevailing wage law just another power grab

Once again the Michigan Senate is moving to repeal the state’s “prevailing wage” law that has been in place for half a century, the law the Republicans once claimed would wreck the economy but which did the opposite, helping to sustain the once-growing middle class. They’re singing the same right wing anthem again, the one about saving the taxpayers money when what they are really seeking is increased profits for contractors by helping them depress workers’ wages. (It’s always worth noting that when the GOP talks about taxpayers and labor in the same sentence, they imply that those who labor are a group apart and not taxpayers too.…

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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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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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Michigan Democrats propose changing constitution to create a graduated state income tax

Thirty-four states along with Washington, D.C. have graduated state income taxes where wealthy people pay a higher percentage than people who make less money. This is also how our federal taxes are configured. Michigan, however, does not. We are one of only seven states with a flat tax.

A recent EPIC-MRA poll shows that an astonishing 66% of Michigan voters would support this change, including a majority of Republicans. According to Democratic State Rep. Jim Townsend, we could raise an additional $700,000,000 of revenue in the state and still lower taxes for 95% of Michiganders.

There are three ways to put the issue before votes which is necessary because it requires a change to the state constitution.…

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Something to know before the “morning after”

On March 3rd, State Senator Bert Johnson (D, MI-02) and three other Michigan Democrats introduced Senate Bill 172 requiring the state health department to provide information about “emergency contraception,” otherwise known as the “Morning After” pill. The bill was referred to committee with no further action at this time, and probably not at any time under the current GOP-dominated legislature that consistently shows itself to have a narrow, authoritarian, and restrictive view of human reproduction.

The language in the bill is specific about educating the public as a means of avoiding abortions as well as unplanned pregnancies and doing it safely by using the FDA-approved “morning after” pill.…

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Tim Walberg moved to GOP’s “Vulnerable Patriots Program” amid dismal fundraising results

Michigan’s 7th District Congressman Tim Walberg is in deep trouble if recent events are any indication. It started with his sole Democratic opponent Gretchen Driskell raising more money than him during the last quarter. According to FEC filings, Driskell raised $173,732 compared with only $165,929 for Walberg.

Those numbers don’t tell the entire story, however. Driskell didn’t even get into the race until the second week of February so Walberg had nearly twice the time in which to raise that money. Those fundraising amounts include the $47,000 Walberg raised from 21 different committees compared to Driskell who only raised $4,549 from 12 different committees.…

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Michigan Congressman Dan Benishek’s hypocrisy on veterans issues lands him in GOP’s Vulnerable Patriots Program

Dan Benishek, the Congressman from Michigan’s 1st Congressional District made a pledge when he first ran for that seat that he would only serve three terms. When he recently reneged on that pledge, I sorta shrugged. Republican politicians lying about things isn’t particularly BREAKING NEWS!!! However, when Benishek revealed his supposed reason for breaking his pledge, I got angry. According to Benishek, it’s so that he can continue to “serve millions of veterans every day as a leader on veterans’ issues in the House”.

Here’s what he wrote in an op-ed for UpperMichigansSource.com

Recently I was asked if I intended to seek another term in Congress.…
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