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Michigan citizens licensed through the state (there are 750,000 of them) recently got an email from the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs “seeking your input to identify requirements that make the process of obtaining a license challenging.” People can take a survey asking them to suggest “any law, rule or process changes” that would make things easier.

It may feel like America has gone through a lot of technological change in the past few decades. But the chief economist at the Abundance Institute, Eli Dourado, argues that we’ve gone through stagnation. And he’s got ideas to revitalize the kind of progress that help us all live better. I speak with him about it for the Overton Window podcast.

This article originally appeared in the Detroit News May 14, 2024. 

My family moved to Michigan almost 12 years ago.

Three months in, my wife and I were driving together. “This feels like … home,” she said.

We moved here with no previous connection to Michigan. In 12 years, we’ve discovered so much to love.

It is important for people who engage online to have confidence that their personal data will be handled with care. When personal and financial data is misused or hacked, consumers can suffer significant harms. Criminals can use personal data to commit fraud, such as identify theft. Private data can be sold to advertisers or other parties without users’ consent. Data breaches can also limit free expression if they enable governments or online platforms to monitor and censor people’s activities and speech on the internet.

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer cancelled a tax cut based on a questionable reading of a tax cut law. But legislators seem confident in her legal interpretation. Instead of waiting to spend money they might not be entitled to, they are already planning to spend every dollar available to them.

This article originally appeared in The Detroit News May 7, 2024

The recent NFL Draft was a massive success for Detroit, with the city earning praise from celebrities, sports figures and elected officials for its energy and hospitality.

What’s not to love? Fandom, buzz about top players, highlight reels with gravity-defying plays and intense scrutiny of players’ skills.

Thirty-three percent of students enrolled in the Michigan Reconnect Program didn’t receive a grant because their costs were already paid by other scholarships, a recent Michigan Auditor General Report shows.

The Reconnect Program is part of Gov. Whitmer’s effort to increase the average level of postsecondary education and training in Michigan to 60% by 2030. Currently, 51.1% of Michigan’s working-age adults have earned a postsecondary credential, according to the Lumina Foundation. Michigan residents aged 21 and older who don’t already have a college degree are eligible for the program, which pays for community college tuition and offers no repercussions if students do not graduate.

Cyber schools face funding cuts once again, according to the school aid budgets passed by the House of Representatives and Senate last week. At-risk students who attend online schools may lose out on critical services as a result.

While cyber schools – public charter schools that educate their students through internet platforms – risk losing funds, all other public schools will likely receive more money for each student they enroll next year. Gov. Whitmer and lawmakers in both chambers have proposed an increase in the per-pupil foundation allowance. This is the base amount of financial support guaranteed to every school district and charter school in the state, according to Proposal A.

This article originally appeared in The Detroit News May 1, 2024

Fay Beydoun sparked a Venti-sized scandal when she used a state grant to buy a $4,500 coffeemaker. Beydoun, an Oakland County businesswoman, secured $20 million from the state for her nonprofit Global Link International, then used the money for several eyebrow-raising purchases. Lawmakers are calling for new oversight of state incentive programs.

Think tanks are in the persuasion business. We think there are some good policies that lawmakers ought to adopt, and we know that elected officials are not going to pass them unless they’re popular. That requires us to persuade people that our ideas are good. We can tell whether it’s working through polls. Polls also help understand what approaches and what appeals people are more interested in. I speak about polling with Erin Norman, Lee Family fellow and senior director of communications strategies at the State Policy Network, for the Overton Window podcast.

One priority has been missing from the budgets being passed around in Michigan’s House and Senate. Grants to targeted legislative districts, which have become a huge part of the state’s budget in recent years, are not yet included in the spending bills. But lawmakers are unlikely to have lost their taste for pork, and like in previous years, it will only pop in at the last minute of the budget process.

A recent decision from the Michigan Supreme Court will have significant implications for public sector labor law in Michigan. The court’s decision in TPOAM v. Renner upholds a longstanding interpretation of law requiring unions to treat the employees they represent — members or nonmembers — equally. At a time when Michigan has been adopting increasingly anti-worker policies, the court’s unanimous decision is a welcome breath of fresh air.

The Michigan House has passed a bill directing the state to join a national licensing compact for physical therapists. National compacts exist for many occupations, and they let people licensed similarly in one state immediately begin working in all the states in the compact.

This article originally appeared in The Detroit News April  11, 2024

It’s been 15 years since the Mackinac Center uncovered a scheme to enrich unions on the backs of people caring for their loved ones. The original program, which took more than $34 million in dues from the pockets of home healthcare providers, was dismantled in 2013. But now the Michigan Legislature has introduced bills to revive this unpopular and unjust program.

This article originally appeared in Fox News March 22, 2024

Forget the "science is settled." With energy policy, settling on the best energy sources is more important.

Unfortunately, the debate over energy is dominated by agenda-driven outbursts and misleading statistics, from activists and governmental officials alike. That’s why we released a comprehensive report card that reviews every major energy source's benefits (and limitations).

Editor’s Note: Corey DeAngelis, Ph.D., will be giving a speech and signing books at a Mackinac Center event on Tuesday, May 21.  

Most authors choose to dedicate their book to their spouse, their kids or at least their agent. But Corey DeAngelis dedicates his book, “The Parent Revolution: Rescuing Your Kids from the Radicals Ruining Our Schools,” to American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten and government teachers unions more broadly. DeAngelis, “public enemy #1 of the teachers unions,” writes of them:  “You’re doing more to advance freedom in education than anyone could have ever imagined. Thank you for overplaying your hand, showing your true colors, and sparking the Parent Revolution. ”

This article originally appeared in The Detroit News April 16, 2024

Paul Allen has a big idea.

You may not know Allen, but I bet you know of Ancestry.com, the genealogy service he co-founded.

Allen told me his focus has shifted from the family tree to government meetings. His new platform, Citizen Portal, has a simple mission: Capture video of every public meeting of every public body at every level of government in the United States.

This article originally appeared in The American Spectator March 21 2024

March Madness came early to the Dartmouth College basketball team. The “Big Green” aren’t set to compete in the famous tournament, but they did vote on March 5 to create the first college sports union, which was certified on March 14. Labor activists and their media allies are already pushing more college teams to unionize, and not just in basketball.

A new report published by the Mackinac Center details how public schools in Michigan spent the $6 billion in federal relief they received during the COVID-19 pandemic. It analyzed data reported directly by school districts to assess how they spent these extra funds. The findings suggest that there are significant limits to what policymakers can achieve by dropping loads of cash on school districts during an emergency.

As I filed my taxes this year, I engaged in a mental exercise to calculate the true effect of taxes on my paycheck. I would not encourage anyone to follow suit; it’s just too depressing.

First, I looked at my paycheck and took out the payroll taxes. Then I looked at my monthly bills and pulled out the taxes on my cellphone and electricity bills. I totaled up how much I paid for gasoline and broke down how much of that tally was reserved for gas taxes and sales taxes. I did a good estimate of my purchases that were subject to the sales tax, including household supplies, clothes and entertainment. Finally, I estimated the sales tax for dining out for the year.

Democratic socialist Senator Bernie Sanders and United Auto Workers president Shawn Fain have joined forces to push a “32-hour workweek with no loss in pay.” They essentially want a four-day work week, which the UAW demanded (but didn’t get) after striking against the Big Three automakers. Now the Senator has introduced legislation to the same effect. Yet neither Sanders nor his union ally understand the damage they’ll do the workers they claim to champion—and both are being hypocritical.

States and the federal government own a lot of land, and they hold it in the public trust. That requires some complicated conversations among administrators about how to best manage land for the public’s interest. For Jason Hayes, the Mackinac Center’s director of energy and environment, that means using it to better human interests rather than leaving it untouched by human hands. I speak with him about this approach for the Overton Window podcast.

This article originally appeared in the Detroit News April 8, 2024.

Ask a parent what she’s willing to do to secure a quality education for her child.

The answer is likely to be, “Almost anything.”

For five Michigan families, that includes taking a case to the U.S. Supreme Court. An appeal filed last week seeks to invalidate a state constitutional provision that restricts the use of public funds for private education. If the Supreme Court agrees to hear the case, it would expand educational options for families in the state.

Michigan House Republicans are proposing bills to limit the state’s programs that subsidize select businesses.

The bills would require that money allocated to failed deals go back into the state’s general fund, instead of remaining available to make more deals. The legislation would penalize companies that lose jobs after getting state money. It would require companies that receive state assistance to pay salary minimums. These bills would also give legislators a bigger say in whether deals move forward.

The Michigan State Board of Education passed a resolution earlier this month that could regulate charter schools out of existence. The resolution was prompted by false claims about lack of charter school transparency. And this could have dire consequences for these public schools, which are already subject to strict oversight.