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The state’s Michigan Business Development Program, a creation of the Gov. Rick Snyder administration, was meant to replace the demonstrably failed Michigan Economic Growth Authority program and — presumably — have more success at creating jobs. The Legislature should shut down the MBDP in its entirety, but short of that, cut the program’s annual budget at least by the amount of taxpayer dollars it loses to bad decisions.

Senate Bill 196, Authorize foster care scholarships tax checkoff: Passed 104 to 5 in the House

In 2013, just prior to filing for bankruptcy, the city of Detroit closed 900 businesses and had a goal of shutting down 20 per week through its “Operation Compliance” program.

The city has so many arbitrary and silly licensing requirements on the books, that it seemed that everyone was violating a rule or two, and subject to fines or shut downs. Officials claimed this was done to fight blight and crime, but also admitted getting extra revenue was a factor.

Fans of the board game Monopoly know that, if you land in jail, it’ll cost you $50 to get out. But it may surprise you to learn that real inmates in Michigan jails may also owe that much – and a lot more. County jails in our state are allowed to bill inmates nightly, and many do. But few recoup their costs by doing so, because criminal defendants are frequently indigent. While incarceration is an expensive prospect and inmates aren’t the most sympathetic of people, it’s unfair and unsustainable for counties to expect them to fund jails. Still, if it must be done, we should enact policies that reduce jail populations and give inmates better options for paying their debts.

In energy policy, you’re often asked to choose between a few bad options. If you address one problem, you can end up promoting something that’s at least as bad. That’s often because government has a habit of setting up regulations in a way that benefits friends and supporters in politically favored businesses. And of course, when other, competing businesses feel the pinch of those unfair regulatory practices, they push back. Instead of mediating between conflicting financial interests, government officials need to stop playing the crony capitalism game and recognize that, while their actions do help their friends and supporters, they harm consumers and the economy.

State programs to give particular companies taxpayer-funded business subsidies are often described by politicians in terms that make them sound like a deal-closer fund. These have been created by some states to enable their governor or other high-ranking officials to land a major employer shopping around for a place to locate a new factory or headquarters.

Last week, the campaign of Michigan Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gretchen Whitmer released an official policy document outlining her plans for the state's public schools. A close look at the document's misleading premises and the candidate's past voting record raises serious questions and concerns.

Legislators are considering whether to give more subsidies to select companies, and the proposals seem to be getting a favorable ear. A bill to subsidize developers to renovate historical property has been passed by the Senate. A bill to give an investment company $50 million of taxpayer support in the name of rural development has been introduced in the House.

Gov. Rick Snyder’s Renew Michigan proposal would impose an annual $79 million tipping fee on the waste management industry, ostensibly to “reduce waste in Michigan landfills,” and take the place of the now-expired Clean Michigan Initiative bond. Created in 1998, the bond program borrowed $660 million to pay for environmental protection and cleanup work around the state. Two decades later, the funds are almost gone and the Senate has responded with bill SB943 to increase tipping fees. But, before lawmakers simply agree to spend more, they need to reassure taxpayers that the spending was effective in the first place. They need to answer the question, “Is it worthwhile to replace the Clean Michigan Initiative?”

Michigan state Rep. Gary Glenn, R-Williams Township, has made himself a thorn in the side of the state’s regional electric utility monopolies. One reason is that Glenn supports letting Michiganders opt out of getting electricity from these utilities by choosing an alternative provider. He also has helped lead local campaigns against the industrial wind turbine farms that big utility companies profit from and are trying to expand.

Michigan lawmakers are looking to license naturopathic physicians — medical practitioners who aim to solve ailments holistically through self-healing or natural methods. While it is necessary for some medical providers to be licensed, there is no proven need for that in naturopathic physicians. It is also important to remember there are other factors outside of licensing requirements that would regulate naturopaths. Edward Timmons, director of the Knee Center for the Study of Occupational Regulation at Saint Francis University, and Jarrett Skorup, director of marketing and communications at the Mackinac Center, recently wrote about this in The Detroit News:

A new study suggests that Michigan's loss of Catholic schools may negatively affect students' opportunities to learn and demonstrate the important trait of self-control. Parents attracted to this benefit could find more support for their educational choices if a major constitutional obstacle, our state’s Blaine Amendment, were removed.

Senate Bill 941, Spend $100 million on job training and preparation programs: Passed 30 to 2 in the Senate

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services has proposed a policy that would severely limit people who have criminal backgrounds from working as Medicaid providers. It makes sense in many cases to impose restrictions, but blanket bans that are not narrowly tailored to protect consumers harm both ex-offenders and the economy.

Writing for MLive, Michigan Economic Center director John Austin argues for a number of policies that don’t work the way he says they will. Perhaps his most fundamental problem is his belief that getting more Michigan residents college degrees will improve state incomes. “Look at high income states in the nation — and the higher education attainment levels that drive that dynamic,” he writes.

If Michigan lawmakers want to increase competition and reduce costs for taxpayers, they should remove the arbitrary and archaic prevailing wage.

Michigan’s prevailing wage law — which mandates a wage for laborers working on certain government projects — is one of the most stringent in the nation. The standard sets absurd price levels for government work, leaving taxpayers on the hook for higher bills. The prevailing wage costs taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars annually and benefits large companies, which are in a better position to absorb the higher costs that smaller companies cannot afford.

Senate Bill 123, Establish minimum clearance when passing bicycles: Passed 36 to 1 in the Senate

Author Tom Wolfe died last week. He was a famous journalist and author of popular books, including “Bonfire of the Vanities,” which involved a high-flying, risk-taking Wall Street trader who was said to be “hemorrhaging money.” Michigan has its own class of risk-taking traders, but they are of a state-paid variety, operating programs that either mandate unusually risky investments with taxpayer money or undertake them outright.

Detroit charter schools rightly merit attention for helping students improve on math and reading tests. But they deliver other benefits that take longer to emerge. A new analysis says that a Detroit student who attends a charter high school is more likely to pursue higher education.

Senate Bill 826, Impose licensure on naturopathic physicians: Passed 24 to 11 in the Senate

To impose licensure and regulation on naturopathic physicians, with license fees, education requirements and more. The bill defines naturopathic medicine as “a system of practice that is based on the natural healing capacity of individuals.”

Michigan businesses need affordable, reliable electricity to operate. But in our noncompetitive electricity system, almost all are forced to accept monopoly utility services. This system, sprinkled with a small amount of choice, means only a small number of companies are able to get lower-cost energy through an alternative supplier. The only other option for reducing costs is to try to get a special deal from one of the two large providers, Consumers or DTE.

Last fall, some Michigan sheriffs began calling for a new tax on nonmotorized watercraft like kayaks, canoes and paddleboards. They say that requiring Michiganders to register these boats will generate needed revenue. Although both the House and Senate have passed resolutions opposing the “kayak tax,” some proponents of the tax haven’t given up on getting it passed.

Michigan voters can now see where their lawmakers have stood on state business subsidies from 2001 and into the current legislative session. A new scorecard from the Mackinac Center and MichiganVotes.org shows where every lawmaker came down on votes for corporate handouts that pit regular taxpayers against select business interests and developers.

Nearly one year ago, the Michigan House of Representatives passed House Bill 4205 by a 57-50 vote. The bill was designed to limit state agencies’ power to intrude on the lawmaking duties of the Legislature, but, it has stalled and is gathering dust in the Senate. Although Gov. Rick Snyder has vetoed similar legislation in the past, State Rep. Jim Runestad, a Republican from White Lake Township and co-sponsor of the bill, reports that Snyder has said he will sign the bill.