Despite what the thermometer outside shows, there’s always a reason for optimism.
The New Year brings fresh opportunities; new, unspoiled pages will soon tell the tale of history and the choices people have made.
And you can always count on the Mackinac Center for new, fresh and creative solutions to the public policy questions facing the people of Michigan.
Those fresh ideas often result from things we have learned from the past. Mackinac Center President Joseph G. Lehman celebrates 20 years of standing up for free-market principles and reflects on the hard-won truths he has gathered over his tenure in the public policy arena. Discover the lessons of unchanging principles that effect liberty and opportunity by reading his Letter from the President.
The New Year brings a new semester for students and educators. Educators who do a better job than others deserve to make more money. That’s the reason behind merit pay, which was part of several Michigan education reforms implemented in 2011. However, not every school district complied. Mackinac Center Education Policy Director Audrey Spalding recently wrote a study that shows that many districts failed to comply with these reforms. Michigan lawmakers took note of her recommendations, and as a result, they created a new incentive. In order for schools to access an additional $70 million in state funding, districts must comply with “best practices,” including merit pay.
In the fall of 2014, Mackinac Center Executive Vice President Michael Reitz coauthored a study detailing Michigan’s complex and confusing criminal code. One of his recommendations is that every law, by default, contain a “mens rea” requirement. It means that prosecutors must prove that the accused had a criminal intent, thus preventing the prosecution of people who commit crimes they didn’t even know existed — like dancing to the National Anthem, transporting Christmas trees without a bill of sale, or purchasing a motor vehicle on a Sunday. In the last days of 2014, Ohio passed a “mens rea” requirement. Will Michigan be next?
For some people, improving their looks may be on the New Years Resolution list. Michigan Capitol Confidential’s website recently got its own makeover. The site now features a crisper, more visual, and more user-friendly layout. Staying engaged is easier than ever with an email signup and a link to our social media channels in the upper-left section of the page. Top stories now rotate in the center of the page. And our “For the Record” feature finds prominence on the right side. We hope you enjoy the new format. Please let us know what you think.
Even during the holidays, Mackinac Center experts weigh in on the public policy issues of the day. Around Thanksgiving, Fox News invited Labor Policy Director Vinnie Vernuccio into the studio to talk about Black Friday protests. Read more about what he said.
We hope that wherever you are reading this, you are as optimistic as we are about the possibilities we see ahead in 2015.