“Change doesn’t begin in Lansing … it ends there.” That’s not merely a pithy quote I grabbed from the Opportunity Michigan website (www.OpportunityMichigan.com if you’re interested, and you should be). It is how policy happens — for good or for ill.
One challenge common to state think tanks is that the number of people who generally agree with us is far, far higher than the number of people who are aware that we exist. And especially in a large state like Michigan — or Texas, where I worked previously — it is extremely challenging to establish your brand and cultivate relationships in all the places where you need them.
For years, the Mackinac Center has hosted our Issues & Ideas event series in Lansing, which has helped us educate our state elected officials and their staffs. But given that they’re rarely in Lansing in the summer, this year we decided to take our expertise on the road.
In July and August, we hosted three Policy Forum events across Michigan. We created these to connect with our supporters in these communities and to introduce ourselves to new ones.
On July 10, we presented “Protecting Your Property Against Abusive Governments” in Troy. The Mackinac Center’s Jarrett Skorup discussed the new Michigan law requiring local law enforcement agencies to obtain a criminal conviction before they could forfeit an individual’s property. The Pacific Legal Foundation’s Christina Martin, meanwhile, talked about two lawsuits her group had filed to challenge the home equity theft perpetrated by Wayne and Oakland counties. We were honored that Troy’s state Rep. Padma Kuppa and her chief of staff attended this program.
Thanks to one of our generous supporters in Traverse City, our Aug. 7 Policy Forum there was a half-day conference that covered several issues of regional importance. I gave a halftime report on the Michigan Legislature’s 2019 agenda. Brent Skorup from the Mercatus Center spoke on the folly of Traverse City’s plans to build a municipal broadband network. Our own Jason Hayes delivered a primer on free-market environmentalism, while Michael Van Beek discussed education reform with an eye toward school choice and pitched the Opportunity Michigan network to the audience.
The Aug. 21 Policy Forum in Portage focused on the upcoming changes to Michigan’s auto insurance system. Van Beek spelled out why our auto insurance has been so expensive for so long and how much Michigan motorists might save under the reforms on the way.
The Policy Forums in Troy and Portage were the first public events the Mackinac Center has ever hosted there. And given the full rooms we had in all three cities, we will definitely return in the coming years and add new cities in 2020. Please pull your friends together and contact Sandra Darland in our Midland office if you’d like the Mackinac Center to host a Policy Forum in your community next summer.