Government overreach is threatening consumer choice in automobile markets. Through a mix of mandates and subsidies, state and federal governments are forcing electric vehicles into the market. At the same time, intrusive regulations are making it increasingly expensive to continue manufacturing vehicles with internal combustion engines.

The people of Michigan have one energy win they can look to as they go into the weekend.

This week has been a difficult one for Michigan residents as Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed her extreme net-zero energy bills into law, leaving Michiganders with the dual specter of spiking electricity prices and impending electric grid instability.

New Mexico is moving to ban the sale of gasoline-powered vehicles by 2035, and not because the state passed a law to do so. The ban will happen because an unelected board issued a new rule. Rio Grande Foundation President Paul Gessing has been trying to get the board to reject that proposal, and he speaks about his efforts on the Overton Window podcast.

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer gave Ford $210 million in taxpayer money for its battery plant in Marshall, plus other giveaways and tax abatements. The company later said it will be building a smaller plant that will employ 1,700 people instead of the 2,500 originally announced. Taxpayers are still going to be making payments to the company regardless of how many people it employs.

Senate Bill 648 was introduced November 9 with little fanfare, but it deserves a lot of attention for the size and scope of the revenue grabs and unintended consequences it will cause. The proposal would raise excise taxes on cigarettes by 75% (from $2.00 per pack to $3.50), increase the tax on other tobacco products from 32% to 57% of the respective wholesale price and impose a new tax on electronic smoking products. The cigarette tax hike alone may swipe an additional $381 million from consumers, after accounting for the expected increase in cigarette smuggling.

State licensing laws require a person to perform hundreds of hours of training, pay fees and pass a test just to cut, style, wash, braid or do other services with hair in Michigan.

Barbers need 1,800 hours of training, while cosmetologists need 1,500. (State lawmakers apparently value men’s hair more than women’s.) The total number of hours needed to cut hair legally in Michigan is more than the total educational hours required for lawyers.

In June 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Janus v. AFSCME that all workers employed by a government entity, no matter their location in the U.S., have right-to-work protections. As a result, these workers cannot be forced to financially support a labor union in order to hold a government job. This decision had a significant effect on unions, costing them at least hundreds of thousands of members and hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue.

President Biden is proud of his price controls. Federally dictated prices for prescription drugs are “a key part of Bidenomics,” according to the President. Yet these top-down mandates are already killing research into life-saving cures, and by one count, at least 135 new drugs will never come to market, including many cancer drugs. And now states may soon double down on this failed approach, capping the price of drugs in ways that hurt patients.

This article originally appeared in National Review October 29 2023

Like President Joe Biden, Governor Gretchen Whitmer thinks she has a messaging problem. Just as Biden believes that Americans who are struggling financially need to better understand his achievements, Whitmer wants to reverse Michigan’s decline with slick advertising in other states. This month, she launched “You Can in Michigan,” a $20 million campaign that her administration is billing as “the largest state talent attraction campaign and effort in the U.S.”

Too often, the people engaged in the political debate treat their opposition as barriers to be overcome rather than as fellow citizens to be persuaded. Yet persuasion is a potent political force because popularity shapes the bounds of the Overton Window. An increase in civility can help people treat each other better and perhaps even drive better policy. Alexandra Hudson is the author of The Soul of Civility, an adjuration to treat each other better, and I speak with her about it for the Overton Window podcast.

This article originally appeared in the Detroit News September 27, 2023.

Is it too much to ask that our elected officials acknowledge the costs of their proposals? Every time there’s a new policy to be pitched, proponents focus only on the benefits and pretend there will be no costs. That’s what Gov. Whitmer is doing with her proposed family and medical leave mandate.

Michigan’s chief growth officer said taxes don’t have much to do with state population growth during a MIRS Monday Podcast episode yesterday. “What I can tell you from the data so far is that there isn’t much correlation [between taxes and population growth],” Hilary Doe told the interviewer.

In an age of grocery stores and urban sprawl, the time-honored practice of hunting wild game has become a relic of the past for most Americans. According to North Carolina State University, hunter participation dropped from 17 million in 1982 to just 11.5 million in 2021. While some may applaud this trend as great progress, hunters are some of the nation’s most ardent conservationists. The survival of hunting is vital to safeguarding a stable future for America’s wildlife resources.

Michigan will soon receive more than $1.5 billion in federal taxpayer funding from the 2021 infrastructure bill for broadband deployment and adoption programs.

In authorizing the funds, Congress made crystal clear that Broadband Equity Access and Deployment Program funding must focus first and foremost on bringing high-speed internet service to unserved rural areas of our state. In announcing the funding, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said, “Today, we have won a game-changing investment to expand access to reliable, affordable high-speed internet to 210,000 more homes across Michigan.”

“My background is partially in extremism,” Rep. Emily Dievendorf, D-Lansing, told WKAR News recently while defending legislative proposals supported by a group of progressive lawmakers. Dievendorf is the author and key sponsor of a series of housing bills and ideas that would upend the rental market in Michigan.

When will health care costs stop going up? Perhaps when people start putting normal market mechanisms on the services, says Brian Blase, president of the Paragon Health Institute. I speak with him about it for the Overton Window podcast.

Blase says that people are generally satisfied when they have coverage through private insurance or through the government programs Medicare and Medicaid.

Nurse practitioners are nurses with advanced medical degrees and extra training. They are trained to diagnose, treat and prescribe medications to patients. Research generally shows that they do as good of a job as physicians, that their patients are happier and that their services are less costly.

Michigan is unique in many ways, perhaps most noticeably in its geography and relationship with the Great Lakes. Despite this, the state’s elected officials are considering energy policies copied and pasted from California and Texas and countries across Europe. These will impose the same harmful effects that have damaged access to reliable and affordable energy in those places.

Michigan has a number of selective business subsidy programs, none of which are required to improve Michigan’s economy. They are economic development programs unaccountable to economic development.

Worse, the state operates a program that gives out unlimited amounts of cash to whatever company lawmakers choose.

This article originally appeared in the Washington Examiner September 10, 2023.

Is your state stronger today than it was before the pandemic? The answer is closely tied to whether it has a right-to-work law.

Workers have the freedom to create and join unions, but only some states let employees decide not to join the union that may exist at their worksite. These states, which protect the “right to work,” bounced back from the pandemic much faster than states that restrict this freedom.

The transit policy debate is filled with people who make stuff up and ask the wrong questions.

“Michigan has long been seen as a car state, but public transit is a must have to attract and retain younger residents and promote dense, vibrant city centers,” Gov. Whitmer’s infrastructure work group states in its new report.

Michigan’s Freedom of Information Act was meant to allow citizens virtually unfettered access to public records so that public officials and institutions would be accountable. But many government entities push the boundaries of the law and fight tooth and nail to keep their records secret.

A series of bills in the Michigan Legislature is meant to make housing more affordable, but it would do the opposite. The best way to have affordable housing is to make it easier for nonprofits and developers to build housing, not impose mandates and restrictions.

The Michigan Senate recently passed legislation that would amend Michigan's auto insurance laws. If approved by the House and signed by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, these changes would severely compromise the 2019 bipartisan reforms that produced savings for millions of drivers in Michigan.

Teachers would no longer be held accountable for their impact on student achievement under legislation that is being considered in the state senate. The proposal would make it harder for schools to measure teacher performance and retain quality teachers.