MEA Attack on Online Charters Misses Mark

Policy based on bad data, double standards would hurt families

Aley Minton and her sons, Ty and Wyatt.

One way to attack an education option that works for families is to be selective about data and your own standards.

In her Labor Voices column in The Detroit News, Paula Herbart, the new Michigan Education Association president, labels the state’s online charter schools a “spectacular failure” and calls for lawmakers to “end the experiment.”

The union leader’s prescription to shut down all cyberschools would hurt real families. A cyberschool proved to be a lifesaver for the Smith family in DeWitt, providing them needed stability and flexibility to overcome a significant tragedy and ongoing medical challenges.

Aley Minton used to be a skeptic of educational choice, until dire circumstances drove her to enroll her two sons in a cyberschool. The St. Clair County family’s old brick-and-mortar school left them in a difficult place by not adapting to their children’s individual learning and physical needs. “Our family chose to utilize school choice because our youngest son is epileptic and our oldest son is dyslexic,” Minton said, noting how one son was struggling academically while the timing and intensity of the other’s seizures could make it difficult for him to function during regular school hours.

In their sixth year at Michigan Connections Academy, the Minton boys are making great strides with the freedom and support they have found. “When we first started (virtual learning) our oldest son was on a second-grade level in the fifth grade,” their mom added. “He is now on grade level, being successful and both of their needs are being met.”

Real-life success stories provide only part of the picture. The MEA president’s strident case simply isn’t supported by the data. While there’s been little quality research on how well students learn in cyberschools, she failed to mention the most applicable finding.

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First, Herbart cited a Rand Corporation study of Ohio, which found that lowest-achieving students tend to struggle even more when they transfer to a program, operated by a charter school, that primarily takes place over the internet. Second, she highlighted a criticism from a 2015 Online Charter School Study by CREDO, a research institute based at Stanford University.

Yet Herbart neglected to mention that our state’s results bucked the trend. CREDO said Michigan cyberschool students showed small gains, though the findings were not statistically significant. In other words, Michigan cyberschools probably perform just as well as other types of schools, if not slightly better.

Herbart argues against letting any charters, including cyberschools, get a little bit more of the funding available to other schools because “there is no guarantee that this funding would ever be used to help student achievement.” Yet there is no guarantee that more funding would boost achievement in the unionized conventional school districts she supports, either.

“More funding for me but not for thee” is not her only double standard. To bolster her case to shut down cyberschools, the MEA president singles out Michigan Virtual Academy for finishing below 97 percent of all public schools on the state’s Top-to-Bottom rankings. But these rankings say more about a school’s demographics than its performance. On the Mackinac Center’s recent High School Context and Performance Report Card, the academy achieved about as well as expected given its rate of student poverty.

And when it comes to shutting down conventional schools that perform badly on the state rankings, the MEA has had a different message. It has opposed efforts to close persistently underperforming public schools, saying they can’t be blamed for poor performance because their students are poor.

Should schools be judged by their performance, after taking the rate of student poverty into account? That’s the question facing the state’s largest teachers union. It should opt for consistency and abandon its unfounded attack on alternative education models.

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Update: D.C.’s Tax Reform Sausage Making May Still Work Out

Tax Foundation Calculates $2,500 gain per Michigan family

In a previous blog post I reported details of the GOP federal tax reform plan — with some commentary — a few hours after Capitol Hill leaders announced the details. Much has happened since then, including a new analysis by the Washington, D.C.-based Tax Foundation. In addition, the big news from yesterday is that the Senate announced it would include a repeal of the Accordable Care Act (Obamacare) individual mandate in its version of the plan.

The Tax Foundation on Monday released its analysis of the Senate version of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. It concluded that the Senate’s version of reform would lead to 925,000 new jobs and would result in a 4.4 percent increase in net income through 2020. Specifically, it estimates that Michigan would see more than 27,000 new jobs in the state and an after-tax income gain of $2,512 per family with a middle income.

A graphic posted on the Tax Foundation’s website breaks the tax reform down to several different scenarios. These include the single person with a low income and the married couple with a high income, and in each case, the graphic explains how the tax burdens play out under scenarios involving the standard deduction. The Foundation reports that a single tax filer making $30,000 and taking the standard deduction would see a drop in tax liability of 9 percent and enjoy a 1.3 percent increase in after-tax income. On the other end of the economic scale, a married couple with a $2 million income and an itemized return would see their tax bill increase by 1 percent and their tax liability drop by 0.3 percent.

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One move with unpredictable results came yesterday when senators announced they would address health care reform in the tax plan. The Senate version of tax reform will include a repeal of the controversial individual mandate that is part of the Affordable Care Act. It is estimated this change will lead to a decrease in Medicaid costs and Obamacare subsidies paid out for insurance and thus, a decrease in the federal deficit of $338 billion over 10 years.

This late move has baffled tax policy analysts and others. An Obamacare mandate repeal had not been part of previous tax plan discussions. And for good reason. It muddies up the overall debate, draws attention to what might happen to uninsured Americans in the future, and it may weaken the prospects for a more sweeping and positive national health care reform down the road. Perhaps worse, this questionable move may pave the way for more, worse amendments.

Sen. Rand Paul, a Republican from Kentucky, for instance, has suggested using savings from eliminating the mandate to allow some deductions for state and local taxes. This tax deduction should be repealed. Almost one-third of its benefits accrue to income earners in just two states, New York and California, according to the Tax Foundation. At the individual level, most benefits accrue to high-income earners. Repealing SALT completely is the ideal change, though Sen. Paul and others appear set on keeping it to some degree.

Another component of the current tax law that appears set to survive, but should not, is the estate tax. The Senate plan keeps the estate tax but doubles the size of the exemption.

The federal tax plan is moving forward and key, vital provisions — such as rate changes to personal and corporate income taxes — remain intact. Will repealing the Obamacare mandate improve its chances? I don’t know, but I remain optimistic, if also ever vigilant over politicians’ ability to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

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This Week in Fiscal Policy News

Michigan Was Right to End Film Incentives

New report backs up legislators

In 2015, Michigan legislators voted to wrap up the state’s film subsidy program – with the last dollar being paid out recently. This was nearly a decade after the program started and ultimately became the most generous in the nation, spending nearly half a billion dollars over time.

More than 40 states have film incentive programs, but a review of the evidence finds none of them return money to state treasuries. A few have joined Michigan in cutting back their programs, with Virginia the latest to reconsider the value of giving tax dollars for film production. A state report from Virginia auditors finds the incentives are a net loss for taxpayers and generate few economic benefits.

Proponents say subsidies for filmmaking are good for the economy, but enticing filmmakers to come to state comes at a substantial cost. The transfers move production from one state to another and set off a race to the bottom to see which state can be the most profligate. That’s what happened in Michigan: Film production picked up when the program was uncapped. But even with tens of millions of dollars spent in the final year of the program, Michigan had fewer film jobs than before the subsidies began.

A new study by Charles Swenson of the University of Southern California looks at the experience of many states.

This study finds that while movie production incentives were effective in increasing the number of film production employment and establishments for a few states such as New York and California from 1998 to 2011, there was no discernable increase across all states. Much of this noneffect appears because of a “crowding out” effect due to the sheer number of states with incentives.

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In other words, jobs may increase in the short-term, but it’s tough to build an industry.

USA Today has developed a database of more than 5,000 projects that get incentives from states. Corporations behind virtually every major television show and movie try to get special benefits from taxpayers.

These projects are a drain on state budgets and do not justify their costs. It’s good that Michigan ended its program. Other states should follow.

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Why did the Governor Flip Flop on Corporate Welfare?

Corporate handouts remain unfair and ineffective

Gov. Rick Snyder’s support of legislation this year to provide taxpayer subsidies to a billionaire real estate developer (and others) and to large corporations has compelled me to ask “Why?” in a very public way.

Why the changed position? Why was buying “businesses into the state” — as the governor mentioned in a 2013 speech (below) — not good early in his administration, but perfectly OK and even encouraged by him later? The scholarly evidence on state and local economic development programs hasn’t changed since then — such programs still appear largely ineffective — so what happened?

Some background is in order. As a gubernatorial candidate, Snyder’s campaign material was encouraging. While it didn’t eschew incentives completely, it did state, “The use of incentives must decrease as Michigan improves its overall business climate.” It also said, “[R]ather than spending more on incentives, credits and deductions that benefit certain industries, Lansing should lower the tax burden on all industries.”

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He initially followed through as governor, killing the multibillion-dollar Michigan Economic Growth Authority business subsidy program and lowering corporate taxes. These initial strokes were so bold I thought he deserved a “Profile in Courage”-type award. Justifiably, Gov. Snyder bragged about these accomplishments during a speech at the American Enterprise Institute in 2013. 

In the speech, the governor lamented that the previous administration was:

… trying to buy businesses into our state by giving out these big tax credit programs to get people to come to Michigan. I don’t think that’s right because I think that’s not fair. You’re not creating a level playing field — a fair, competitive playing field — and in fact, you’re disadvantaging people that have been in your state doing business for how many years.

The tax credits you referred to in the AEI video as the “heroin drip of government” were actually refundable ones, making MEGA an outright cash subsidy program.

Since these early reforms, however, the governor appears to have capitulated on handing out larger incentives. Indeed, he lobbied for and signed into law two new subsidy programs in 2017. A Crain’s Detroit headline from last December read “Snyder: I’m warming up to business incentives.”

Why is the governor now happy to “buy businesses into the state” and related jobs through handouts when he considered this unfair a few years ago? Subsidies to purchase businesses and related jobs come at the expense of small businesses and Michigan workers, now apparently forgotten, who pay the bills of government.

The “Good Jobs for Michigan” legislation was passed this year, in part, with the hope of securing a plant for the multinational, Taiwan-based corporate titan Foxconn. An Oct. 19 Detroit News article reports that the total value of incentives the state dangled in front of Foxconn exceeded $7 billion. How is that not “buying” jobs? In addition, these are not even the first new subsidy programs he has championed, just the most recent.

Even when subsidy recipients are homegrown, such handouts are still unfair. One of the most recent programs signed into law was basically initiated for the benefit of Michigan’s wealthiest citizen and a handful of other big developers. This subsidy program for developers would actually let a lucky few keep a percentage of the personal income tax of their workers. The symbolism is remarkable: The state allows very wealthy developers to take money from workers of modest or even humble means and retain it for itself.

What is all the more galling about the passage of this legislation is that during the same year, Gov. Snyder and other Republicans also opposed an across-the-board personal income tax cut for the rest of us. Eleven of 12 Republicans that voted against one small tax cut proposal voted for developer subsidies. The message, it seems, is that: All Michigan citizens are equal, but some are more equal than others in the eyes of some Lansing politicians. The politically favored rich still get to play by different rules than everyone else.

If you’re a billionaire developer with access to Lansing’s power corridors, you get to keep someone else’s income taxes. But if you’re just another worker, you can’t keep even a little more of your own. There is a lot that is grievously wrong this picture. Since Gov. Snyder is currently the chief painter, I can’t help but circle back to my original question: Why the about-face change in positions?

Many would like to know the rationale for the governor’s capitulation on corporate welfare. Why have Lansing politicians betrayed their ideals? Has the evidence presented by the Mackinac Center or other scholars suddenly changed? By all means, if it has, would someone in Lansing please share it?

I want to offer the governor a presumption of goodwill. There must be a sound reason for his change. Could someone please provide it?

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Guns in Schools, Fetus as Victim, Ice Shanties and More

November 10, 2017 MichiganVotes weekly roll call report

Senate Bill 584, Expand concealed pistol “no-carry zone” exemptions: Passed 25 to 12 in the Senate

To authorize an exemption from the “no-carry zone” restrictions in the law authorizing shall-issue concealed pistol licenses, if a licensee gets extra training. No-carry zones include schools, day care facilities, sports stadiums or arenas, bars, bar/restaurants, places of worship, college and university dorms and classrooms, hospitals, casinos, large entertainment facilities and courts. Under the bill private property owners, colleges and universities could still ban guns, schools could prohibit teachers and staff from carrying guns, and licensees could not openly carry a gun in a no-carry zone.

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Who Voted "Yes" and Who Voted "No"

House Bill 5095, Adopt Coast Guard ballast water discharge permit standards: Passed 25 to 11 in the Senate

To adopt the U.S. Coast Guard standards for ballast water discharges from oceangoing vessels. Michigan adopted its own standards in 2006, which was before the Coast Guard finalized theirs in 2012. The standards are intended to combat the threat of invasive species.

Who Voted "Yes" and Who Voted "No"

House Bill 4787, Require personal data details on ice shanties: Passed 96 to 11 in the House

To revise the requirement that ice fishing shanties must have the owner’s drivers name and address affixed to each side, by allowing either the owner's drivers license number or fishing license number instead. Also, to allow the Department of Natural Resources to determine the date each year when shanties must be removed from the ice based on actual weather and ice conditions. Current law sets fixed removal dates.

Who Voted "Yes" and Who Voted "No"

House Bill 5165, Revise unemployment insurance rules to avoid impostors and fraud: Passed 107 to 0 in the House

To revise rules and procedures used by the state’s unemployment insurance program to address the problem of impostors claiming and getting unemployment benefits. The bill would create a process for employers and individuals to file an affidavit that a particular claim is fraudulent, and prescribe actions and timetables state officials must take. It is part of a legislative package comprised of House Bills 5165 to 5172.

Who Voted "Yes" and Who Voted "No"

House Bill 4500, Define fetus as “person” in criminal sentencing: Passed 63 to 44 in the House

To revise a provision of the state’s criminal sentencing guidelines that includes the number of actual or potential victims among the factors on which sentences for violent crimes are assessed. The bill would define an embryo or fetus as a "person" and a victim for purposes of this provision.

Who Voted "Yes" and Who Voted "No"

SOURCE:, a free, non-partisan website created by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, providing concise, non-partisan, plain-English descriptions of every bill and vote in the Michigan House and Senate. Please visit

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The Business Climate Matters More Than Amazon

Number of jobs created apart from Amazon dwarfs that offered by retailer’s new project

At 50,000 jobs, the Amazon second headquarters project is the largest proposed expansion I’ve ever seen. Whether it will deliver on its promises is an open question. But even this large project pales in comparison to the number of jobs the economy creates and loses on a regular basis, and this turnover happens without fanfare.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Michigan lost 184,414 jobs in the first three months of 2017. The state also added 211,095 jobs over the period. Job loss was down and job creation was up from the previous quarter.

In other words, even if the Amazon HQ2 project fulfills its expectations, it would not replace a single month’s worth of job losses in Michigan. Yet without press releases, hype videos or haranguing, the private sector is able to more than replace the jobs lost.

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Instead of trying to land a big project, policymakers should look at the basics of their business climate. The basics matter more.

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Let Them Fill Growlers

Mackinac Center testimony on beer freedom

The Michigan Legislature is considering House Bill 5175 which would “expand the types of liquor license holders allowed to refill clearly labeled ‘growlers' (sealable containers of up to one gallon) with beer for consumption off-premises.” Policy Analyst Jarrett Skorup testified on the bill before the House Regulatory Reform Committee on Nov. 1, 2017. His testimony is reprinted below.

This bill is a simple one — it lowers the threshold by one major step to make it easier for people to buy and sell beer. At the end of the day, this bill expands the ability for people to freely buy a legal product with no cost to the state or other residents. The Mackinac Center is happy to support it.

As former Liquor Control Commission Jim Storey has noted, when Gov. Snyder came to office, he started out with an ambitious and overdue effort to remove zealous trade barriers and overreaching alcohol regulations. Many of these have been changed, but Michigan is still one of the most highly regulated states.

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More than most other states and far more than those we border, Michigan regulates how alcohol can be produced, transported, advertised and sold. And there is simply no evidence that this protects citizens or consumers — the alcohol “control states” are no safer than those with the least regulations.

Current rules simply cause higher prices and drive more business underground. The current rules regarding who can sell growlers are overly confusing and have caused people to get into trouble needlessly. We’re happy to see legislators consider chopping back one more regulation and we encourage you to look at the system from top-to-bottom as a whole.

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Why There’s a Revolving Prison Door

New research suggests that strict parole rules contribute to inflated prison populations

A study released this month by University of Michigan scholar Jeffrey Morenoff suggests that overly strict criminal justice systems create a self-perpetuating prison population. That is, the practices used to supervise released ex-convicts could be responsible for many of them returning to prison.

Criminal justice researchers often use the phrase “revolving prison door” to refer to the fact that many released ex-offenders end up right back in prison. Morenoff concludes that this is driven in part by the stringent post-release supervision requirements that are difficult to comply with. Violating these requirements results in the offender returning to prison.

Morenoff notes that the great majority of people serving time in Michigan prisons are released on parole under the supervision of the Michigan Department of Corrections before they have served their maximum sentence. (The number of offenders who “max out,” or serve their maximum sentence and are then released without supervision, is roughly 3 percent.)

Parole is only a conditional release from prison that a felon is granted in exchange for following a number of rules. These include observing a curfew, participating in mandatory programs, checking in with parole officers and refraining from associating with other felons. If a parolee breaks these rules, he could end up back in prison. This rule-breaking behavior would not result in imprisonment except for the fact that it was committed by a parolee, and it may be a leading reason why so many felons end up back in prison.

Morenoff compared the outcomes of felons sentenced to prison with those placed on probation in their community under the supervision of a court. In Michigan, people who commit felonies have their cases randomly assigned to circuit court judges, allowing Morenoff to approximate a controlled study in which people convicted of felonies are assigned to either prison or probation. He found that those assigned to prison had a 20 percent higher chance of returning to prison within five years than probationers. But prisoners did not have a higher likelihood of committing another felony. He said that the study “is one caution that [more punitive] policies could increase the size of our prison population without measurable gains in public safety.”

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Other research has found that 13 percent of parolees will violate the terms of their supervision. In 2013, over 2,000 parolees were returned to prison in Michigan for this reason, and they served an average of 13.9 months. Dividing the $2 billion annual corrections budget by the state prison population provides a rough estimate of what it costs to incarcerate a person for a year in Michigan. By this math, the state spent over $93 million in 2013 imprisoning people for noncriminal behavior with, by Morenoff’s estimation, no additional benefit to public safety.

Let’s be clear: There are very good reasons for requiring felons on conditional release from prison to check in with their parole officers, to keep law-abiding company, to participate in treatment programs when appropriate and to disclose where they’re living. And there must be a method to enforce these conditions. But it’s worth asking whether expensive prison stays are the most effective method for punishing parolees for violating these rules.

An alternative that is gaining in popularity is to use short jail stays every single time a violation occurs, rather than letting them pile up until one final straw sends a parolee back inside for months. Legislation passed earlier this year requires MDOC to test this approach in five counties, in the hope that early successes with the method can be replicated and sustained. If Morenoff’s research is right, it might bolster public safety and reduce Michigan’s prison population at the same time.

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Change Careers to Teaching? Take the SAT

New bureaucratic rule constricts educator pipeline

The Michigan Department of Education has given experienced professionals one more reason not to consider a career switch to teaching: They would have to retake a college entrance examination. And that’s on top of other requirements from the state.

Genesee County teacher Jeff Piechowski recently learned that to convert his temporary teaching certificate to a permanent one, he must take the SAT. Once known as the Scholastic Aptitude Test, the SAT is given to all Michigan 11th-graders. Piechowski, who focuses on special education, didn’t enter the profession through a traditional college program. Instead, he left a broadcasting career for the classroom, gaining years of experience in Texas before moving to Michigan.

“As I approach age 50, with a 20-year broadcasting career and an advanced degree, and in my fifth year of teaching, I must take a college prep exam — alongside students as young as those I teach,” Piechowski said.

This case is merely the tip of the spear. Michigan’s newly approved alternative certification program, Teachers of Tomorrow, reports it has received 837 qualified applications for its program since securing approval from the Michigan Department of Education in August.

Of those 837 applicants, all but four would have to take the SAT to get a standard teachers license, according to information provided by Teachers of Tomorrow. Nearly one out of five Michigan applicants has earned a master’s degree, and just over 40 percent have work experience in Michigan public schools as aides or substitute teachers. Yet, like Piechowski, they would have to sit with high school students and take a college entrance exam before they can help fill current and looming classroom vacancies.

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If Michigan were experiencing a general teacher shortage, as some claim, state officials would urgently be cutting this sort of red tape – just like local leaders would be changing policies that would address shortages in key instructional areas. By all logic, state officials should look for more high-quality alternative providers, not make it much more difficult for the only active program to fulfill its mission.

State law requires all incoming teachers, regardless of certification type, to pass a “basic skills examination” to get their professional certificate. On Oct. 1, an Education Department memo declared the new SAT (administered since March 2016) as the only acceptable testing option for new applicants. Even if Teachers of Tomorrow candidates are willing to retake the SAT in its new format, there are only a handful of exam dates left this school year.

The “basic skills examination” exceptions detailed in the memo may help recent college graduates from traditional teacher preparation programs. But older, nontraditional candidates are out of luck.

The state will recognize passing marks on the ACT since 2004 (technically back to 1989, but only for the few who took the optional writing portion, says Teachers of Tomorrow). It will also accept passing marks on the Michigan Merit Exam given to the state’s high school students between 2007 and 2015. Two other options — the Professional Readiness Examination and Basic Skills Test — only benefit those who may have pursued teaching in the past when the tests were still administered.

The new administrative rule further constricts the pipeline of incoming teachers. It effectively holds back most experienced professionals from changing careers to make a difference in Michigan’s public school classrooms.

In the short term, the Education Department could loosen its interpretation to recognize other tests already taken to demonstrate basic skills. A more permanent fix may require the Legislature to amend the law to reduce the number of hoops and give people more test-taking flexibility. Most evidence shows alternatively certified teachers perform about as well as their traditionally certified peers, even without having fulfilled the extra coursework requirements.

Meanwhile, until state officials take the idea of a potential teacher shortage seriously, the rest of us should avoid hitting the panic button.

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Michigan May Streamline Internet Services

Testimony: House and Senate bills gets government out of the way

Dr. Ted Bolema, testifying before the Senate Energy and Technology Committee.

Dr. Theodore Bolema is an adjunct scholar with the Mackinac Center. He is also a senior fellow at the Free State Foundation, specializing in technology policy. His article, below, first appeared on that organization’s website. It is followed by his testimony to legislators in Michigan.

The Michigan Senate is considering a pair of bills that would limit fees, streamline permits, and generally make it easier for private network providers to deploy both wireline broadband and 5G wireless broadband.

Senate Bill 636 would cap permit fees required for a wireline telecommunications provider working within a county right-of-way and set limits on bonding and insurance requirements for wireline telecommunications providers working within a county right-of-way. It is similar to the package of HB 5096, HB 5097, and HB 5098 currently being considered by the Michigan House of Representatives.

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Senate Bill 637 would provide similar regulatory relief for wireless providers. It would limit fees charged by local government for attachments to utility poles and access to other facilities; provide for use of rights-of-way; put limits on certain permitting processes and zoning reviews; prohibit certain commercially discriminatory actions by state or local authorities; and prohibit certain indemnification or insurance requirements.

I had the opportunity to appear before the Michigan Senate Energy and Technology Committee on Nov. 2, 2017. Sen. Mike Nofs chaired the hearing on the proposed bills.

The written testimony on Senate Bills 636 and 637 follows:

Chairman Nofs, Vice Chairman Proos, Ranking Member Hopgood, and Members of the Committee, thank you for the opportunity to testify. I am a Senior Fellow of The Free State Foundation, a non-profit, nonpartisan research and educational foundation located in Rockville, Maryland. The Free State Foundation is a think tank that, among other things, focuses its research in communications law and policy. I am an economist and an attorney, specializing in regulatory law, economics, and policy. I have served on the faculties of Central Michigan University and the George Mason University School of Law, and also in positions in the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Department of Energy.

Removing Local Regulatory Barriers to Wireline Broadband

Removing local regulatory barriers to broadband deployment should be a priority for policymakers who want to see more people have access to broadband. At the federal level, the Federal Communications Commission by unanimous vote in April of this year adopted a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, with a stated purpose to “accelerate wireline broadband deployment by removing barriers to infrastructure investment.”

The FCC is currently seeking comments on specific areas where the Commission could use its authority to prevent the enforcement of state and local laws that inhibit broadband deployment.

So it is a welcome development to see the Michigan Senate addressing unnecessary impediments to broadband deployment in SB 636. An important reason why broadband deployment has been delayed is because local governments have been slow to issue permits and licenses, made it difficult for private providers to obtain rights-of-way, and charged fees that far exceed the costs to the local government.

Giving broadband providers more certainty about their costs is a helpful step in encouraging more broadband investment, and should lead to more access and more choices for broadband customers in unserved and underserved areas.

Encouraging Faster 5G Wireless Deployment

Removing barriers to 5G deployment may be even more important. According to CTIA, The Wireless Association, 5G networks will be up to a hundred times faster than today’s networks, and will be able to support up to a hundred times as many devices.

A movie that currently takes a few minutes to download over 4G wireless will take just seconds over 5G networks. Nationwide, future deployment of 5G wireless networks is projected to produce an additional $500 billion of economic growth, and wireless operators are expected to invest an estimated $275 billion over the next decade to deploy 5G, which will create about 3 million more jobs.

Michigan accounts for about 3% of the U.S. GDP, so if that economic impact is proportionate, those projections work out to about $15 billion in economic growth and 90,000 more jobs in Michigan. If those projections are even halfway correct, you can see how important and transformative 5G is going to be, and how great the cost of delays could be. The FCC is also looking at what it can do to remove or reduce local barriers to 5G deployment.

At least 20 states are currently considering legislation much like SB 637, including Arizona, which enacted its bill earlier this year.

Faster and better broadband access is important for Michigan’s economic growth. The legislature can plan an important role in preventing unnecessary delays in broadband deployment in Michigan. SB 636 and SB 637 are consistent with the approaches being followed at the federal level and in other states seeking to accelerate access to both wireline and wireless broadband. While the details of the bills differ from state to state, their common goal is to provide for access to municipal properties, reasonable costs and fees, and streamlined permitting. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to testify today.

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