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Semiconductor manufacturers lobbied for federal subsidies to build semiconductor plants and got them from the CHIPS and Science Act. Some people noticed that there may be some self interest at work from the companies lobbying for federal cash. But this is a demonstration of how influence works in state capitols and in Washington. Money in politics does something, but it’s rarely the grimy and illegal quid pro quo that many Americans think goes on.

A lawsuit in New York City may serve as an example for Michigan and other states’ regulations on short-term rentals. A ruling in this case could serve as an example to governments across the country.

Local governments in Michigan restrict or ban short-term rental services such as Airbnb and Vrbo. Though this issue gets attention in major media centers, less populated areas like New Buffalo, Michigan are also struggling with rental regulations.

The president can’t just spend money without congressional approval, right? That’s the foundation of separation of powers. But since COVID, Presidents Trump and Biden both spent money deferring student debts to the federal government even after Congressional authority expired. New Civil Liberties Alliance litigation counsel Sheng Li is fighting that in the courts, and I speak with him about it for the Overton Window podcast.

The record $21.5 billion K-12 budget recently passed by Michigan lawmakers will do little to improve student achievement. While spending on myriad plans and programs, the budget does not focus on initiatives that would narrow the state’s growing achievement gaps.

Wildfires are being drawn inexorably into the climate change hysteria as dueling experts seek to explain the warm, dry weather we have experienced this year.

One recent article correctly moved past the climate concerns to explain how “The truth about forest fires goes up in climate-change smoke.” The author, Ross McKitrick, a professor of environmental economics at the University of Guelph, Ontario, gets it right when he describes how the number of wildfires and area burned have trended down over the past few decades in Canadian forests. He uses numbers from the Canadian Wildland Fire Information System.

Many people think that billionaires are America’s biggest problem, and that all the nation’s problems would be over if we just took their money. President Biden proposes taxing individuals based on their unrealized gains on investment returns.

“It’s about time the super-wealthy start paying their fair share,” Biden said at a recent union rally. There are many Americans who share Biden’s apparent belief that the government must take more money from the rich. Sen. Bernie Sanders seems to be sincere in his quest to cast billionaires as society ‘s villains and confiscate more of their wealth.

Sometimes a law seems to be almost wholly owned by the interest groups it affects. Cosmetologists want to control laws about licensing cosmetologists. Energy companies want to control laws regulating energy companies.

Citizens should be upset when public policy gets used to benefit private interest groups. But there are larger problems with laws shaped by special interests.

“It’s simple economics. Nuclear has become obsolete,” writes Haley Zeremba, a journalist for Energy Central.

“Decades of roadblocks and rising prices are standing in the way” of a viable nuclear industry, Business Insider adds.

But just how simple are the economics? It is true that nuclear power comes with enormous up-front costs, and a new nuclear plant takes years to build. Even while the market is hungry for carbon-free sources of electricity, nuclear lags far behind the competition. This is due in large part to overbearing regulators who choke off the nuclear industry.

Michigan legislators approved a budget that spends $47.0 billion in revenue from the state’s taxes and fees. State taxes and fees are not going to generate that much in revenue. Legislators think that the state income tax is going to increase starting in January, and they authorized spending based on that bad assumption.

Ideas take on a life of their own. The only way to control an idea is to keep it to oneself. That might be personally edifying, but an idea kept within the confines of a single mind will do little to change the world. And Joe Overton was all about changing the world.

There are stadiums for professional sports teams all around the country, and it used to be that team owners paid to build them. In the latter half of the 20th century, taxpayers started paying for stadiums. On this week’s Overton Window podcast, we talk with University of Michigan-Flint economics professor and Mackinac Center Board of Scholars member Chris Douglas about how this changed over time, and what to do about it in the future.

President Biden is touring the country to thump his chest about his bills and proposals to spend more. That his focus is on spending tells a bigger story about the standards politicians hold. Politicians want their success to be determined by whether they give the right people money. But no one should want this to be the standard. It’s easy to write checks. It’s harder to have those checks accomplish something.

Michigan lawmakers are considering making it easier for trial attorneys to sue insurance companies and win. Senate Bill 329 (and its copy in the House, House Bill 4681) would create a host of new demands on insurance companies — excluding health insurers — for how they process and pay claims. This bill would provide new targets for trial lawyers, as they’ll have more options to allege an insurer did something wrong. As a result, insurance products, such as life, auto, property, workers’ compensation and liability, will be harder to afford.

“More than half the world's reefs have perished in the past 30 years,” Newsweek announced in an article claiming that ocean warming is driving bleaching events that have devastated reefs around the globe. Bleaching, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, occurs when coral tissue expels algae, causing the coral to turn white.

Michigan’s government-mandated minimum wage could soon rise by 30%, from $10.10 per hour to $13.03 per hour, depending on a ruling from the state Supreme Court. Unfortunately, there is no “free lunch” in this world, so the increase in pay for some workers would mean others lose their jobs while consumers pay more in prices.

The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted many of the barriers that make medical care less patient-centered, more expensive, and more difficult to access. Michigan policymakers should learn from this and remove these barriers permanently.

In all states, Republican and Democratic governors responded to the pandemic by waiving barriers that confront both patients and professionals. But that flexibility is long overdue. Policymakers must step back and ensure our health system is ready for the next pandemic.

Many people over the years have turned to Washington Post political columnist George Will for guidance on political debates. They include Mackinac Center Vice President of Communications Jarrett Skorup, who interviews Will for this week’s Overton Window podcast about his half-century career as a columnist and public thinker.

The recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Tyler v. Hennepin County was a win for 94-year-old Geraldine Tyler, who moved from a condo to a senior living facility after crime spiked in her neighborhood and lost her condo to government overreach. It could have positive repercussions for Michigan residents.

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has hired a first-ever state growth officer and set up a council to recommend policies to reverse Michigan’s population losses. The governor and her new subordinate ought to notice that things have changed. People are moving to different places than they used to before the pandemic, and that ought to guide any official who wishes to grow the state.

Where is Michigan’s air quality emergency?

An unusually dry spring sparked extensive wildfires in and around Michigan last week. A 2,400-acre fire near Grayling forced I-75 to close temporarily, and last week the U.S. Forest Service rated the fire risk in many parts of the state “extreme,” the service’s most severe label. Meanwhile, air quality in some places is “among the worst in the world,” according to MLive.com.

Politicians are elected based on popularity, so shouldn’t all politicians be populists? The label only gets applied to a particular kind of politician, and that kind is not especially popular. A look at populist ideas and strategy highlights why that is, but it also shows why people ought to be more skeptical about populists.

“The climate crisis was always real,” Jeff Goodell exclaimed Thursday in Rolling Stone Magazine. “Now it’s in your lungs.”

As eastern states suffer extended smoke plumes and degraded air quality from wildfires in Ontario and Quebec, wild claims like Goodell’s are filling the air. Every dry season brings headlines warning that extreme wildfires are here to stay.

A new state Senate bill would lock in Michigan’s high energy costs by providing subsidies for utility bills but do nothing to bring down costs for consumers.

Senate Bill 353 of 2023 aims to amend the Michigan Energy Assistance Act, a law that provides financial assistance to Michiganders who have difficulty paying their utility bills. The proposed amendments increase the number of households able to receive funds from the Michigan Energy Assistance Program. They would do this by redefining the term “eligible low-income household” and expanding the time of year funding can be disbursed.

“Let’s keep our foot on the accelerator,” Gov. Whitmer tweeted about her plan to hand out more selective business subsidies during last week’s Mackinac Policy Conference. But the governor is not stepping on the gas; she’s flipping the switch on a Useless Box.

The Michigan Legislature is considering a pair of bills — Senate bills 362 and 363 — aimed at expanding the state’s distributed generation program. Typically, this program focuses on people or businesses who install solar panels on their buildings. If the bills are passed, those enrolled in the program will be paid retail or higher rates for any electricity they produce but do not use.