Nobody is social distancing in Midland, Mich. A day full of rainfall led to flooding which caused a cascade of dam failures which meant historic flooding in Sanford, Midland and other towns in the area.

The Detroit Public Schools Community District plans to offer teachers a dramatic boost in starting salary, from $38,000 to more than $51,000. Superintendent Nikolai Vitti declared the district’s intent to recruit instructors both from neighboring districts and area charter schools.

The state does a lot with its fiscal policy, and people — especially those providing services paid for by taxpayers — are concerned about how the COVID-19 pandemic will affect them. New revenue estimates gave the first look at how much the loss of activity because of the governor’s orders and people’s personal precautions affect the state’s budget. Revenues are estimated to go back to fiscal year 2014-15 levels in the current year and recover from there.

For years, the Mackinac Center for Public Policy has argued for reforms of the state’s alcohol control regime law and associated rules. Many are archaic and do little more than protect the profits of Michigan’s beer and wine wholesaler monopolists. There’s a new problem now with law and alcohol: Shutdown orders have threatened the livelihood of bars and restaurants that sell it.

People are driving less during the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, the state government’s fuel tax revenue is falling. The state uses this money to pay for road repairs, and road funding was the biggest dispute in Lansing last year.

This means fewer road repairs in the short term but there are obviously bigger concerns now than a temporary reduction. The bigger factor affecting the long-term condition of roads is the length of the pandemic, as it is with many things.

The Mackinac Center’s hometown of Midland, Michigan is being ravaged by a devastating flood that made international news when two dams failed in a domino effect. Friends from around the world are asking about our safety. Thank you for that concern. Mackinac is doing fine – no damage – and steaming at nearly full speed ahead. But a few of our teammates were forced to evacuate their homes and are still assessing extensive property damage. All are accounted for and no one is hurt.

On March 20, Gov. Whitmer issued executive order 2020-17 that prohibited hospitals, medical clinics and dentists from providing “non-essential procedures,” defined as those “not necessary to address a medical emergency or to preserve the health and safety of a patient.” Specifically identified as nonessential were joint replacements, bariatric surgery and cosmetic procedures.

Two of Michigan’s long-established public charter schools are seeking to set effective examples of how to adapt and provide education in this trying time while campuses are closed down. These schools are showing how the charter structure has enabled flexible and effective responses to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Michigan Legislature is considering a bill that would expand licensing requirements for funeral home directors. The debate in the legislative committee typifies how regulations come into being, regardless of whether these regulations are wanted, needed or beneficial to the public.

Karl Manke, a barber in Owosso, openly defied Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s executive orders by reopening his shop and continuing to serve customers. In response, he’s been threatened with penalties by the state attorney general and had his state license suspended.

When government and special interests partner to promote politically favored products, they distort markets by restricting access to those products in some sectors while mandating oversupply in others. The Renewable Fuels Standard, or RFS, perfectly demonstrates this reality.

Michigan’s Legislature sued Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, arguing that the governor has overstepped her authority by issuing executive orders after it allowed her emergency powers to expire. This conflict shows that our elected representatives disagree about the appropriate response to the COVID-19 pandemic. But even as they fight in court, they still need to work together to keep the state government operating. There is no guarantee that this will happen, but with all of the current uncertainty, Michigan residents would be better off if lawmakers could at least provide certainty about state spending.

Caniff Liberty Academy and Hanley International Academy, separated by little more than a mile of old urban neighborhoods and shops, share a common drive to improve the outlook for low-income children, and recent results indicate their success. Today, their dedicated teachers and leaders work to compensate for the severe challenges created by physical separation during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer finally released more detailed information about the approach her administration is taking to combating the novel coronavirus, including a rubric to guide decision-making. The MI Safe Start plan defines six phases the governor will use to methodically reopen Michigan society. While this sheds some new light on the governor’s strategy, it lacks necessary detail and leaves the public still largely in the dark.

The Mackinac Center for Public Policy last Friday announced it had spearheaded a letter to congressional leaders and the White House in opposition to calls for state and local bailouts that predate the COVID-19 pandemic.

Editor's Note: This article was originally published in The Detroit News on May 6, 2020.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has issued more than 70 executive orders in response to the COVID-19 coronavirus. These orders, impacting the lives of millions of Michiganders, have drawn a significant amount of attention. But emergency executive orders are nothing new. Gov. Whitmer made wide use of her power to declare official state emergencies before the coronavirus landed on these shores.

Imagine the organized chaos of an online gathering of 20 children, all 5 or 6 years old. A friendly, authoritative voice pierces through chatter — mostly, the eager answers to her questions —with words of encouragement, guidance and praise.

Seated at her dining room table and aided by her daughter, who is in the same room, veteran Richland Elementary teacher Pam Gernaat holds the attention of nearly all her kindergarten students. For 25 minutes, she leads them through flashcards, writing practice and show-and-tell. Children energetically demonstrate their recognition of key letter sounds and give brief accounts of a favorite stuffed animal, piece of homemade jewelry or family pet.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is making unprecedented use of executive power to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. She says this is necessary to protect public health, but the case she makes in public to justify these actions is confusing and lacks detail. Although claiming to use “the best science,” Gov. Whitmer has provided virtually no details over the last eight weeks as to what that means.

In the Mackinac Center’s research and education programs, we consider all people, all institutions, all disciplines and all times. I emphasize the word all because it is a word that too many of our elected leaders are presently failing to consider, and candidly, too many of our neighbors have yet to fully absorb.

We’re continuing our coverage of what businesses and individuals across the state are doing to help during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. It was announced earlier today that Pfizer and BioNTech selected Michigan as a manufacturing site for possible COVID-19 vaccine production. This means several thousand Michiganders will potentially be manufacturing vaccines, hopefully in the near future.

The 50th anniversary of Earth Day has come and gone. But doom and gloom predictions from green groups — about pollution, climate, overpopulation, and overconsumption — linger on even though science and statistics demonstrate there is a great deal for people to be optimistic about.

Many people predict doom for the state budget as the pandemic threatens to lower state tax revenues. This happens, in part, because lawmakers are deliberately shutting down large portions of the economy to slow the spread of the virus. But the state government can be resilient, and lawmakers have the tools to prepare for any fiscal harms the pandemic may inflict.