State Sen. John Moolenaar, R-Midland, has introduced a bill declaring that Iosco County — and no other Michigan county — shall henceforth be the official “birding capital” of Michigan.
The bill comes as something of a relief, because if legislators have time for such fluff then all of Michigan’s other problems and challenges must have been successfully met and solved.
I’m teasing, of course, and lawmakers are capable of doing more than one thing at a time, but this is nevertheless one of many examples of Michigan’s very expensive full-time legislators devoting their time and our money to activities they rarely discuss when campaigning for office.
There are quite a few such examples. A legislative committee hearing on one of the three bills introduced in previous sessions sought to establish an official state “Scottish tartan.” You can watch a sample of the testimony here or below.
The backstory on the bird bill is that the Audubon Society has apparently noted that Iosco has three “important bird areas” because they host wintering trumpeter swans, nesting Kirtland’s warblers and others.
As usual, the legislation is being pitched as something that would “promote tourism and economic development.” What such bills are really intended to promote, however, are the future prospects of the political careerists who populate Michigan’s Legislature by providing opportunities for politicians to associate their names with something warm and fuzzy — things that only free market, limited government folks like think tank staffers and Tea Party members could find fault with.
Actually, upon further consideration, I may decide to support this bill, but only on the condition that our Legislature devotes 100 percent of its time to similar measures. This would be an improvement over its usual work, characterized by scholar Charles Murray as curtailing liberty and human flourishing by imposing “a labyrinthine regulatory system, irrational liability law and a corrupt tax code,” among countless other intrusions.
Does that sound excessive? MichiganVotes.org has chronicled the past 12 years of this, as shown by these examples:
513 bills introduced by Michigan legislators since 2001 to impose, expand or revise occupational licensure mandates that prohibit earning a living in a trade without permission from the government.
649 bills introduced by Michigan legislators since 2001 to impose, expand or revise “consumer protection” regulations on private enterprises.
213 bills introduced by Michigan legislators since 2001 to expand or revise environmental regulations, in which the word “impose” is contained in the MichiganVotes.org description of the bill. (A total of 1,191 bills have been introduced in the site's "environment" category.)
717 bills introduced by Michigan legislators since 2001 to impose, expand or revise business regulations, where the MichiganVotes.org description contains the word “require.”
950 bills introduced by Michigan legislators since 2001 in the “economic development” category, almost all of which expand crony capitalism by doling out discriminatory tax breaks, subsidies and corporate welfare to politically-connected business owners, developers or industries.
27,935 new laws proposed by Michigan legislators since 2001.
5,119 new laws actually enacted by Michigan legislators since 2001.
A tiny handful of those bills did not contribute to the trends Murray describes, but with those few exceptions the rest were, to put it mildly, for the birds.