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.

Editor's Note: This article first appeared in The Detroit News on April 30, 2020. 

Senate Bill 858: Accelerate lifting of epidemic lockdowns: Passed 22 to 16 in the Senate

To amend a 1976 “Emergency Management Act,” one of two state laws that grant extraordinary emergency powers to a governor. This law limits these powers to 28 days unless extended by the legislature, which on the same day as this vote the legislature declined to do. This make makes Gov. Whitmer’s exercise of emergency powers more reliant on a 1945 “Emergency Powers of Governor” law, which does not limit how long a governor may retain these powers and does not require legislative approval.
The bill does two things. It essentially “writes into” this law (“incorporates by reference”) the current coronavirus epidemic executive orders that have been imposed under its authority, but with different termination dates for many than in the governor’s order. In general, orders that are more restrictive of business reopening get earlier end-dates, and ones easing state regulations (including those on medical care providers and facilities) are extended for a longer time. Bars and restaurants could reopen with social distancing protocols on May 16 under the bill.
Second, it adds to this law “social distancing” protocols for businesses and public accommodations that are somewhat more general and flexible than those in the current orders.

Editor's Note: This article first appeared in The Hill on April 7, 2020.

We will get through this. The COVID-19 public health emergency will end, and eventually the economy will come back. As a nation, we will come out stronger — as we do after every crisis.

Planet of the Humans,” a new documentary by the progressive filmmaking duo of Jeff Gibbs and Michael Moore, stands and falls on two key themes. On the one hand, the director and narrator, Gibbs handily debunks the misguided notion that renewable energy is a morally and environmentally superior, low-cost and reliable means of greening our electricity supply. On the other hand, Gibbs undercuts that service by miring his narrative in an anti-human muddle that claims only a “major die-off” or having “our ability to consume reined in” will keep humans from destroying the planet.

The earlier goodwill between lawmakers in their response to the COVID-19 pandemic is over. Trust has been severed and there seems to be no hurry to gain it back. This may mean that people will have to decide for themselves how to best keep safe in this pandemic rather than to rely on orders and leadership from Lansing. This may sound like a radical change, but maybe things won’t be different from what they are now.

Editor's Note: This list originally included a higher amount of unrestricted general fund appropriations for the state licensing department. It has been corrected.

The state of Michigan will soon grapple with a significant drop in taxpayer dollars flowing to its treasury. The estimated decline now ranges between $1 billion to $3 billion this year, which would be a 2.9% to 8.6% drop in state revenues. Lawmakers have taken some steps to rein in spending already and deserve to be applauded for doing so, but much more will need to be done.

Last month, Washington lawmakers responded to the educational challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic. They opened up the national treasury with CARES Act payments that primarily support school districts and charter schools. But as schoolhouse doors stay shut, any additional federal response should also include direct relief toward families as they support their children’s learning in the uncertain times ahead.

It’s April once more, which means that spring is struggling its way past the occasional morning freeze, trees are budding out, and the snow has pretty much gone. April also means that Earth Day arrives again, and this time it marks 50 years since it was first held on April 22, 1970. Throughout its relatively brief history, the holiday has had a consistent, urgent theme that is still echoed on the official Earth Day website: “Earth Day was a unified response to an environment in crisis — oil spills, smog, rivers so polluted they literally caught fire.”

Editor's Note: This article first appeared in The Detroit News on April 19, 2020. 

These are unprecedented times. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s declared emergency may be the longest in the state’s history. The coronavirus outbreak and subsequent orders have Michigan residents everywhere stressed and worried for their health and their family and friends. But they’re also increasingly concerned with what this all might mean for the health of the state’s economy. Policymakers need to start planning to reopen Michigan’s economy as soon as possible.

The Environmental Policy Initiative at the Mackinac Center recently joined a coalition of 52 free-market think tanks, small business representatives, and consumer groups in signing a letter supporting the Safer Affordable Fuel-Efficient (SAFE) Vehicles Rule. This rule, jointly issued by the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Highway Transportation Administration (an agency within the Department of Transportation), updates the current corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) standards that were put in place in 2012.

The constitutional freedoms to speech and assembly are in the news this past week. People across the country have gathered in their communities and state capitals to petition for relief from what they believe are harmful restrictions on personal and economic activity.