Editor's Note: This article first appeared in The Hill on October 17, 2019.

New York state briefly banned flavored vaping products in September, only to have that ban stayed by a court of the New York State Appellate Division days later. The state Supreme Court is expected to hear arguments on the stay on Friday. The ban, and those considered in other states, should not take effect. America has experience with prohibiting popular products — alcohol comes to mind — and making others prohibitively expensive, such as cigarettes. The results should serve as a warning signal to all policymakers.

Editor's Note: This article first appeared in The Hill on October 12, 2019.

RecoveryPark is a 501(c)3 enterprise that seeks to transform an abandoned area of Detroit — and abandoned Detroiters — through urban agriculture. Its first phase supplies fresh, locally grown specialty produce grown in high tunnel greenhouses to about 130 restaurants in the Detroit area.

In an attempt to get Republican legislators to vote for a tax increase, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer vetoed roughly $1 billion in spending. It was an attempt to apply pressure on her opposition. But it turns out that most items in the budget aren’t very partisan.

A new movie shows how one fed-up parent can spark a movement that creates hope and opportunity for an entire community. It offers real encouragement to many Michigan moms and dads who are desperate to change their children’s educational trajectory.

The administrators of Michigan’s corporate welfare apparatus faced some tough questioning from lawmakers recently. The Michigan Strategic Fund, which approves millions in select grants and subsidies which would better be spent on roads, sent nominees for its governing board to the Senate Advice and Consent Committee — and they faced some tough questions.

Student debt has been increasing for decades, largely driven by the cost of higher education. While perhaps not a “crisis,” it is certainly a problem. But there are some potential solutions to the issue.

Student loan debt has soared from around $260 billion in 2004 to around $1.5 trillion today. So has the typical amount of debt per student, which is $20,000 to $25,000. About 10% of students default on their loans and taxpayers are losing billions every year on federal loans. Student loans are making up an increasing amount of consumer debt — up to 11% of the average total debt balance, from less than 5% back in 2003.

Last month, Michigan’s Certificate-of-Need Commission voted to restrict access to a new, potentially lifesaving cancer treatment. Known as “CAR-T,” this FDA-approved procedure programs the body’s own T-cells to attack and kill harmful cancerous cells, allowing patients to avoid invasive surgeries, chemotherapy and radiation. Michigan cancer patients, however, may have only limited access to CAR-T treatment, thanks to a state commission acting on behalf of Michigan’s largest hospitals.

I testified last week in the state Senate in opposition to the extension of a corporate subsidy program known by the misleading title of “Good Jobs for Michigan.” Such programs are unnecessary, unfair and expensive. The GJFM is a derivative of the state’s failed and now defunct Michigan Economic Growth Authority — or, MEGA — program. The GJFM program should be allowed to sunset before it, like MEGA itself, costs taxpayers billions in subsidies and with little to show for it.

Editor's Note: This piece was first published by The Hill on October 5, 2019.

Have you ever committed a crime? “Of course not!” you’ll probably reply. But most people who read that question have committed a crime — they’re just unaware of it. How can this be? There are literally hundreds of thousands of federal and state rules and laws that make honest and harmless behavior a crime. This is a tragedy and an affront to core American principles.

A business subsidy program — which supporters called “Good Jobs for Michigan” — expires at the end of the year and there was a Senate committee hearing to extend it and eliminate its limits. Mike LaFaive covered the basic problems with the program in his testimony. The Michigan Economic Development Corporation’s Chief Executive Officer, Jeff Mason, defended the handouts in his remarks to the committee. But there was something missing from his presentation.

Lawmakers from both parties agreed that the state government should spend more on road repair. But the state budget includes less road funding this year than last. It’s too bad that the dispute about how to get to more road funding led to a reduction.

Editor's Note: The following testimony was presented by Michael LaFaive to the Senate Economic Development and International Investment Committee on October 17, 2019. 

Thank you for the opportunity to present on this legislation. I speak here today in opposition to Senate Bill 492 specifically and to state jobs programs in general. Research shows they are:

Michigan schools once again are filling more classrooms with instructors who lack all of the required credentials because they can’t find enough certified teachers. But at the same time, student-teacher ratios are shrinking and highly demanded instructors remain on the sidelines.

A good criminal justice system will help deter people from committing crimes, appropriately punish wrongdoers, provide justice for victims and treat everyone fairly and equally. No system will ever be perfect, but continually measuring and testing can lead to improvements, and this approach could make Michigan a leader among the states.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed the 2020 fiscal year budget into law on Sept. 30. In a late flurry of line-item vetoes, she zeroed out $37.5 million in funding for the state’s Pure Michigan program. For this, she deserves full-throated praise and applause. The Legislature should take its own bow, too. In the days following the governor’s vetoes, legislators introduced supplemental budget bills to restore many of the vetoed line items — but not this one.

Editor's Note: This article first appeared in The Hill on September 19, 2019. 

A collective of influential green groups and corporations is supporting a campaign for a global climate strike from Sept. 20-27. The strike pushes young people to walk out of schools and workplaces to protest the energy sources that keep us alive and thriving. That many people are concerned about the global climate is obvious, but how will encouraging them to abandon their jobs or schools for a day or two, or seven, reduce greenhouse gas emissions?

Editor's Note: This article was originally published in The Hill on September 14, 2019.

The states of Missouri and Kansas recently made history by agreeing to no longer pay companies to hop back and forth across the state line in the Kansas City metropolitan area. It’s the first such legally binding deal between two states in U.S. history. It also strikes at a left-right consensus that could save tens of billions of dollars for vital public services. This idea should be adopted more widely.

Editor's Note: This article was first published in The Detroit News on September 29, 2019. 

There are around 70 million Americans with a criminal record. In Michigan, estimates range from 500,000 to 2 million, depending on the type of record. Every year, about 50,000 people are convicted of a felony crime in the Great Lakes State.

In a previous blog post about Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s proposed ban on flavored vaping products, I gave a few reasons why the ban was a bad idea. Among them were a shift back to more dangerous combustible cigarettes, a possible increase in cigarette smuggling and the smuggling of flavored vaping products, not all of which would be legal and safe.

Lansing hasn’t seen a tense budget showdown like this for a while. The Democratic governor and Republican-led Legislature have pointed fingers at each other and traded accusations to back their priorities and explain their inability to reach a consensus.