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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.

It’s good that Michigan policymakers are trying to figure out how to increase the state’s population. Michigan’s been stuck at around 10 million people for a whole generation, while other places in the country have witnessed steady growth. But policymakers should start with solid premises.

Any major social movement needs support from a lot of people who give their wealth to the cause. I speak with Mackinac Center Vice President for Advancement Jimmy Walker about the role of fundraising for the Overton Window podcast.

He says that people want to make a difference, and that giving matters. “It’s intuitive for them. It’s almost in their genes. They get to change the world,” Walker says.

Cities across Michigan are banning short-term rentals. The inevitable results of this regulatory crackdown will include more expensive vacations, less tourism and, in all likelihood, an emerging black market for rentals.

The problem is growing. Despite few complaints, Park Township, near Holland, banned short-term rentals within its limits. The city of Detroit quietly banned short-term rentals in residential areas before pulling back after an outcry. St. Clair Shores said its zoning ordinance doesn't permit short-term rentals, cutting Airbnb-affiliated properties in the city from 15 down to zero. The city prosecuted a homeowner for engaging in a short-term rental.

There were only two fatalities on commercial airplanes in the United States between 2010 and 2021. Yet in the face of a pilot shortage that is making air travel worse for the public, organized labor and politicians are fighting efforts to make it easier for pilots to get licensed.

The United Auto Workers union and Detroit’s Big Three could both end up losing after the current strike because government-driven electric vehicle manufacturing is quickly eating away at the industry’s big profits, the Mackinac Center for Public Policy informed national media recently.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer created her “Growing Michigan Together Council” June 1 with a goal of creating a blueprint to grow Michigan’s population and encourage economic growth. The governor rightly noted that people have fled the Great Lake State in search of opportunity elsewhere.

This article originally appeared in Bridge Michigan September 5, 2023.

Michigan lawmakers are rightfully concerned about housing affordability. But a bill package floating around Lansing referred to as the “Renter’s Bill of Rights” would radically upend the state’s housing market in a way that would make things much worse for renters, particularly low-income residents.

A new official report suggests that law enforcement agencies in Michigan routinely violate the constitutional rights of residents by exploiting laws on civil asset forfeiture.

Forfeiture is a process by which the government takes ownership of private property that was involved in a crime or resulted from criminal activity. In theory, it is supposed to derive criminals of ill-begotten gains. In practice, law enforcement often seizes and forfeits property from innocent people.