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There has been a lot of recent coverage about unions making a comeback. Organized labor has been trying to organize media companies, Starbucks, Amazon, southern automakers and more.

The New York Times reports, “After decades of declining union membership, organized labor may be on the verge of a resurgence in the U.S.”

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s newly created Michigan Parents’ Council does not appear to require significant input from parents of schoolchildren in the state. The administration also omits political viewpoints and non-public school attendance from its list of diversity criteria.

Flint Community Schools’ Aug. 25, 2021, board of education meeting heard parents’ push back against a weeklong closure of the schools for “heat days.” This was the third time the district had closed classrooms in the three weeks since summer vacation, effectively exceeding the district’s allotted snow days for the year by Aug. 23.

Policy can be used to serve someone’s private interests under the guise that it provides public benefits. Occupational licensing often appears to protect the public from unprofessional service providers, but is too often actually about protecting some workers or industries from competition. It has been difficult to get lawmakers to agree, however, and there has been a proliferation of new occupational license requirements around the country. John Kay of the Pelican Institute, a free market think tank in Louisiana, recently helped pass an important law to put boundaries on what state licensing requirements can do. I speak with him about it for this week’s Overton Window podcast.

The city of Holland wants to take on $30 million in debt to finance a government-owned and run broadband network. On August 2, voters in the city will decide whether that’s a good idea.

Michigan Capitol Confidential reports that similar programs in other Michigan cities have repeatedly missed the mark. In Traverse City, the electric utility running the new broadband network predicted half of residents would sign up. Far fewer actually did, and revenue projections are off by more than 60%. In Marshall, despite the city’s network having an unfair advantage over private companies when it comes to regulations, the city took years to begin repaying the debt for the system and had to raise internet rates to cover operating costs.

Something rare and encouraging happened in the Michigan budget this year: State taxes raised record revenue, but legislators restrained themselves from spending all of it. The budget also included some items that point toward sounder financing in the future.

The Great Lakes are a central part of Michigan’s identity, so when they are threatened by pollution, Michiganders take notice. For decades, pollution and agricultural runoff have impacted the Lake Erie watershed.

The real problem of ag runoff has prompted tighter controls on fertilizer. Michigan restricted the use of phosphorous fertilizer on residential and commercial lawns in 2012. Communities around the country have imposed bans, and calls for federal restrictions are common. Despite the negatives associated with runoff, fertilizers are essential to keep food production up. There are also reasons for optimism about the status of Lake Erie and our other waterways.

Tanya Armitage-Edgeworth’s daughter struggled with her private elementary school’s pandemic transition to remote instruction. Receiving unhelpful pushback from school administration, the family looked elsewhere. Tanya did not see full-time homeschooling as a viable possibility, given her background and professional responsibilities. Regular schooling options didn’t offer what her daughter needed to get back on track.

General Motors is bidding farewell to four-year-degree requirements for some jobs in manufacturing and technology. The move comes courtesy of a recommendation from a diversity task force, which was commissioned to suggest ways to attract more diverse talent to the company.

One way to change the world is to work for a group that is changing the world. These organizations need good people, and their success or failure depends upon the people they hire. So recruiting people for those groups can make a big difference. Claire Kittle Dixon, executive director of Talent Market, talks with me about recruitment for the Overton Window podcast. She specializes in finding people to work in free market groups like the Mackinac Center.

The United States Supreme Court ruled Thursday that the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed plan to combat carbon dioxide emissions by restructuring America’s energy infrastructure exceeded the power Congress delegated to the agency.

The high court’s 6-3 decision in West Virginia v. Environmental Protection Agency could have far-reaching effects across the federal government and the entire country. The ruling was authored by Chief Justice John Roberts and joined by Justices Thomas, Alito, Gorsuch, Kavanaugh and Barrett.

A word to the wise: Those who say taxpayers must cough up billions more dollars should first count all of the money that’s already available.

In its recent call for a major funding increase, a coalition of business, labor and philanthropic groups known as Launch Michigan made a significant oversight. The group apparently neglected to tally local property tax dollars in its sum of current K-12 education spending. Had Launch Michigan done so, its case for raising taxes would essentially be wiped out.

Nuclear weapons have not been used in anger since 1945, but the fear that nuclear technology would lead to humanity's downfall has had a very long half-life.

Nuclear technology's most significant advantage turned out to be as a tool of peace: a power source with almost no CO2 emissions, safe working conditions, plentiful fuel, compact waste, and massive energy output.

As gas prices for Michiganders continue to skyrocket, it is becoming increasingly apparent that higher energy prices won’t just be a problem at the pump. The Palisades Nuclear Plant, which had supplied seven million megawatt hours of electricity to the state in 2021, shut down ahead of schedule on May 20. The Mackinac Center’s director of environmental policy, Jason Hayes, recently wrote an opinion piece for The Wall Street Journal addressing Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s energy policy and its consequences for the state.

Michigan’s proponents of expanding the state’s educational options face a new setback, but they should press on, taking heart from their past and some recent developments elsewhere.

Robust state laws afford broad access to public charter schools and district schools outside their assigned area. Families also have wide berth to provide education at home. Together, these advantages have given Michigan a top-10 ranking on the Education Freedom Index. Yet our onerous anti-aid amendment, now over 50 years old, has made private school choice seem like a distant dream.

Most people in Michigan had no idea the Emergency Powers of Governor Act of 1945 existed, let alone that it allowed a governor to control what we could buy at stores or whom we could invite into our own homes. But that’s what Gov. Gretchen Whitmer did in 2020, creating a predictable and substantial amount of controversy. While that law has since been ruled unconstitutional and repealed, there are similar statutes on the books that could also be abused.

When you hear the term “nuclear energy,” what springs to mind? Homer Simpson fishing spent nuclear fuel from his shirt collar? Blinky the mutated, 3-eyed fish and barrels of glowing green sludge? Or does the term evoke thoughts of the accidents at the Chernobyl nuclear facility in Pripyat, Ukraine and the flooding of the Fukushima Daiichi plant near Okuma, Japan?

All college professors have a political bent, but few of them engage in the debate on public policy. One who does, and does it like nobody else, is Richard Vedder, the distinguished professor of economics, emeritus, at Ohio University. I talk with him about his public policy career and how academics can help policy advocates on this week’s Overton Window podcast.

The Michigan House Oversight Committee heard testimony Wednesday from the Mackinac Center’s Michael Van Beek on a package of 31 bills that would reform emergency powers granted to the governor and executive branch agencies. The package includes bills from 19 different sponsors that would amend or repeal various laws that grant emergency powers.

A warming climate will have profound negative effects on both the planet and human society, or at least that’s what we’re told. As media outlets publish increasingly hysterical warnings of the threats of a changing climate, it’s becoming almost impossible to discern between real and embellished risks.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is announcing that the “Welcome to Michigan” sign has been hung out for electric vehicle manufacturers. But missing from the smiles, hand-shaking and fanfare are any specifics on what all this new government “investment” means to taxpayers.

Michigan lawmakers this month look to finalize the next school aid budget, wrangling over how much to increase this year’s $17 billion outlay for 2023. Differences on total spending and specific line items remain. Whatever agreement is reached, though, will represent more of the same for the state’s 56 intermediate school districts.

Michigan’s southern neighbor, Ohio, is on the verge of passing a nearly universal licensing law. Companion bills that recently passed both the Ohio House and Senate would have Ohio recognize occupational licenses from other states for nearly all of Ohio’s licensed occupations, lessening the regulatory burdens on someone moving into the state who already possesses a license for a given occupation.

The Mackinac Center for Public Policy demonstrated the advantages of right-to-work laws in a recent Wall Street Journal op-ed.

Michael LaFaive, senior director of the Morey Fiscal Policy Initiative, and Todd Nesbit, assistant professor of economics at Ball State University, worked together on a study analyzing the benefits for states that have enacted right to work laws. To try and determine the differences between right to work and non-right to work states, the duo looked at differences in the share of employment in union-heavy industries between border counties. They summarized their findings in an April op-ed:

A recent Wall Street Journal editorial cites a study by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy in support of Michigan’s stalled proposal for student opportunity scholarships.

Michigan’s Legislature last October passed the Student Opportunity Scholarship Program, which would have provided up to $500 million in funding to help students pay for tutoring, private tuition, additional courses, and other education expenses. The program would be funded through dollar-for-dollar state income tax credits and would primarily benefit students from lower- and middle-income families. But the bill was vetoed by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.