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People wanting to become or continue working as barbers, cosmetologists and athletic trainers in Michigan may soon be freed from some of the requirements they must meet to work legally. Two bills set to be taken up by lawmakers would get rid of some needless state mandates.

Efforts to reform Michigan’s uniquely expensive no-fault auto insurance system are nothing new. Dozens of studies, hundreds of anecdotes and millions of voters all point to the same conclusion: Reform is needed. And now, finally, the Senate and the House have approved separate bills that would significantly change the way auto insurance works in Michigan. Although the bills contain different elements, both tackle the fundamental problems with the current system and both would empower Michigan drivers to reduce their auto insurance premiums.

An op-ed in Bridge Magazine by Ronald Fisher, an economics professor at Michigan State University, cites an opinion survey that shows Michiganders significantly overestimate the amount of state gasoline taxes the average driver pays per month. The piece argues that half of the respondents think the average driver pays $50 or more per month, but the real amount, counting only the state fuel tax, is just $12. Fisher continues that if voters actually knew how little they pay in state gasoline taxes, they would be more likely to support hiking taxes to generate additional road funding.

There are a limited number of ways states can get themselves into financial trouble. That is because state governments balance their budgets. They require public approval to borrow. There is even sovereign immunity from lawsuits, which protects the government from being sued into financial straits. But one of the few ways they can get into trouble is by underfunding pensions. And states have dived into that problem head first.

Every person in Michigan relies, to a certain extent, on licensed workers. But the state’s licensing laws greatly reduce the number of people able to do those jobs. A new bill package would help change that.

A new report from Peter Q. Blair of Harvard University and Bobby W. Chung of Clemson University adds to the body of economic literature on the employment effects of licensing laws. “How Much of a Barrier to Entry is Occupational Licensing?” estimates that mandatory state licenses lower the number of people working in an occupation by 17% to 27%.

The public utility in Traverse City is moving forward with a plan to provide high-speed internet financed by ratepayers and, ultimately, backed by taxpayers. But Traverse City Light & Power has other issues it should be working on.

A version of this article appeared in the Detroit News

The prevailing view among many politicians is that the only way to spend more on roads and bridges is through a large tax increase. But that’s not the only way to prioritize road funding. There is plenty of waste in Michigan’s budget that lawmakers could use for this purpose. Not all of it can be cut immediately, but there is plenty worth pursuing if road funding really is a top priority.

Editor's Note: This article first appeared in The Detroit News on May 1, 2019.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer recently unveiled legislative support for her plans to pitch in more state funding for eligible students to attend community college, with the goal of preparing more skilled members for Michigan's workforce.

A recent Detroit News story highlighted four Michigan high schools that reached the top 100 of U.S. News and World Report’s nationwide performance rankings, but omitted mention of a notable characteristic common to all four.

Today, due to a newly minted federal rule, the rest of the United States finally joins Michigan in ending the home health care dues skim, whereby Medicaid grants meant to fund the care of the elderly and disabled were being diverted to unions. In its 2014 Harris v. Quinn decision, the U.S. Supreme Court held that requiring mandatory dues or fees from these health care providers was unconstitutional. But since that ruling, unions have been subverting that decision. The new federal rule should put an end to this practice and will make certain that any money the union receives from these health care providers (who are typically family or friends of the care recipient) is truly voluntary.

Hunting and fishing is a popular way to enjoy Michigan’s great outdoors. But if some state lawmakers get their way, it might get a bit more expensive to experience the natural wonders of the Great Lakes State.

House Bill 4442 would impose licensing requirements on hunting and fishing guides — people who earn money providing assistance to others who want to hunt and fish in the wild. Currently, only people who are commercial guides on state lands are required to have a permit, but it only costs $50 and it appears its only purpose is to create a state registry of these businesses.

The governor wants a $2.5 billion tax hike in order to spend $1.9 billion on the roads and another $600 million on other priorities, and she proposed to implement this over two years. Legislators have their own opinions and some of them may want to find budget cuts in order to spend more on the roads. This tax-or-cut dichotomy misses an important point: The budget has grown a lot, and growth matters more than either tax hikes or budget cuts.

The Michigan Legislature has passed a package of bills that will require a criminal conviction before law enforcement can permanently keep a person’s property. This happens via a process known as civil asset forfeiture. If Gov. Whitmer signs the bills, Michigan will join about a dozen other states with similar protections.

The National Education Policy Center took aim at the Mackinac Center's latest Context and Performance Report Card with a review by Michigan State University Professor John Yun.

The 2019 Earth Day website warns that human activity is causing extinction on a grander scale than has been experienced in the planet’s recent history, and suggests that our impacts must be minimized at all costs. But that warning misses the fact that nature doesn’t give away anything for free. Humans — like every other species on the planet — are a part of an environment that we must change to survive.

Editor's Note: This article first appeared in The Hill on April 6, 2019.

Public attitudes toward the U.S. criminal justice system are shifting, and reform no longer is solely a concern of left-leaning voices. In fact, diverse bipartisan coalitions in a number of states have prompted state lawmakers to make substantial changes to their criminal justice policies. And as the successes of these states become more apparent, it throws other states’ problem-riddled systems into sharp relief.

Today [April 16] is Tax Freedom Day for Michigan — the day of the year that marks when Michiganders as a whole have earned enough income to pay all of the taxes they owe local, state and federal governments. For the first 105 days of 2019, all the income earned in this state will eventually end up in government coffers. But from here on out, Michiganders hard-earned money will finally be theirs to keep.

Of all of the state and local taxes in Michigan, property taxes raise the most revenue. And 2018 was a big year for property taxes. Total property tax revenue increased from $14.0 billion in 2017 to $14.6 billion in 2018, a 2.1% increase above inflation.

A recent Michigan Radio headline sounded the alarm: "Study gives low grades to Michigan charter schools on diversity." But a closer look at the study from the left-leaning Century Foundation removes most of the concern about our state's choice-driven, independent public schools.

A few weeks ago, United Auto Workers President Gary Johnson stated that collective bargaining creates equality. He claims that if you’re a woman who wants equal pay, you should join a union. But the data doesn’t seem to show that women in unionized workforces get equal pay with their unionized brothers.

I don’t believe that the state needs $2.5 billion in additional revenue to fix the roads. I don’t believe this because the governor only asks to spend $1.9 billion more on roads. She calls for $2.5 billion in higher fuel taxes, though. The difference goes to other budget priorities.

An exchange between a voter and Sen. Bernie Sanders at a recent public forum displayed a profound misunderstanding of right-to-work laws. At the April 1 summit We the People, a union member asked Sanders, who is seeking the Democratic Party presidential nomination, to affirm his pro-union credentials. He said:

Michigan offered Foxconn $700 million of taxpayer money plus tax exemptions for its factory that went to Wisconsin, a state which offered Foxconn $2.85 billion of taxpayer money, also with exemptions. Michigan offered Amazon an undisclosed amount of money for its headquarters project that went to northern Virginia, which offered the company a at least $750 million in taxpayer-paid subsidies. States should stop this kind of bidding and let these decisions happen without handouts.