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Rock Ventures founder and chairman Dan Gilbert made a valid observation in response to Amazon’s decision to exclude Detroit and other Michigan bids from its short list of cities contending for its HQ2 project: “The fact is, nobody outside of Amazon knows exactly all of the factors that went into this complicated decision.”

Senate Bill 749, Increase child care income tax credit: Passed 37 to 0 in the Senate

To establish that an individual is entitled to claim the same child care tax credit against Michigan income tax as the credit authorized by the 2017 federal tax reform law. This is a means-tested credit that is based on a percentage of child care expenses that are related to the taxpayer having a job (up to $6,000, or $3,000 if there is just one dependent). The credit would not be "refundable" (meaning the taxpayer would not get a check from the state for the amount the credit exceeded their income tax liability).

In her Jan. 21, 2018, critique of my Detroit News op-ed, “State Needs Sound Energy Regulations,” Liesl Clark, president of the Michigan Energy Innovation Business Council, attempted to justify keeping Michigan’s recently expanded renewable portfolio standard. Her critique misrepresented my basic claims and wrongly argued that renewable energy is competitive, yet still deserves special government favors to force people to choose it over other options.

The Mackinac Center for Public Policy is pleased to announce that it is adding three new members to its Board of Scholars. This group of academics and business leaders supports and contributes to the Center’s mission of improving the quality of life in Michigan through high-quality, public policy research that promotes the benefits of free markets, limited government and the rule of law. They will be joining 47 other Board of Scholar members, rounding out the Board to an even 50. The three new scholars have distinct and diverse experiences in media, academia, law and public policy. They are profiled below.

The Michigan House of Representatives recently passed a bill to protect personal electronic data, with nearly unanimous support.

The House Bill 4430 would “prohibit state agencies, local governments and their employees from assisting or providing material support to a federal agency in collecting electronic data or metadata concerning any person, except with a warrant (or under a legally recognized exception to a warrant) or with an individual’s informed consent.”

Most people are aware that the Michigan legal system uses bail requirements to bolster public safety and ensure that criminal defendants make their court dates. But they may not know how it perpetuates inequalities in the system, keeping legally innocent people behind bars because they can’t make bail.

In his final State of the State address, Gov. Snyder is expected to spend a lot of time talking about jobs: how Michigan lost them, how it regained some of them and what we should do to create more. But there’s one important aspect of this discussion that shouldn’t be overlooked: working adults with criminal records.

For the eighth straight year, National School Choice Week shines a light through the midwinter gloom by bringing people together to celebrate the importance of providing students and families with a wide variety of educational options. The stretch of January 21-27, 2018, is slated to feature more than 32,000 National School Choice Week events across the nation, including a Tuesday celebration in the Michigan Capitol rotunda that still has room for those who wish to attend.

Senate Bill 748, Increase Michigan income tax personal exemption: Passed 37 to 0 in the Senate

To increase the $4,000 personal exemption that is currently allowed under the Michigan state income tax. The bill would immediately increase it to $4,500, and then gradually to $4,700 by 2020, which with inflation adjustments is projected to be worth around $5,000 by then. Taxpayers can claim a personal exemption for themselves, their spouse and each dependent, and these are subtracted from the amount of income that is subject to income tax.

States have seen Medicaid costs skyrocket over the last decade as the program has expanded to cover many more individuals than originally intended. But new guidance from the federal government gives states the flexibility to innovate in administering the program amid budget-busting health care obligations.

Senate Bill 702, Prohibit school districts from discriminating against charter schools: Passed 60 to 47 in the House

To expand the definition of “deed restriction” in a 2017 law that prohibits a school district or local government from refusing to sell property to a competing charter or private school. The bill would close a loophole that the Detroit school district has used in refusing to sell a shuttered primary school to a charter.

The Coston family scrapes together funds to pay the monthly bill to send their children to Calvary Baptist Academy. They love the school's challenging academics and emphasis on faith and character.

"Our family has needed to make some really big sacrifices, because we believe this is important," said Nate, father of three. "And so we're basically going to do whatever it takes."

The most popular Uber destination in Michigan in 2017 was the student bar Scorekeepers in Ann Arbor. The app makes it very easy for students to order a car when traveling over a mile from Michigan Stadium on game day.

There is a lot of pressure to underfund pensions, and the promises that guarantee them, whether moral or constitutional, are only as strong as the money that is set aside to pay for them.

In researching the history of some state business subsidies, I came across some talking points from a 2003 speech by former Gov. Jennifer Granholm at a Delphi plant (now Nexteer) in Saginaw. She made this point:

In Michigan alone, about 4 million people have some type of criminal record and 50,000 more people are convicted of a felony every year. Another 10,000 are released from prison each year back into our communities.

Michigan businesses and residents continue to produce more and employ more people, and the economic well-being of residents increased in 2017.

The available economic data that has been released so far is optimistic, though much of the information about the state’s 2017 performance won’t be released until later in the year.

Editor’s note: This article first appeared in The Detroit News on Nov. 9, 2017.

I recently installed a new roof on my house. Before doing so, I did what any responsible homeowner does — I got bids from different companies and made a decision by balancing quality and costs and using market competition to my advantage.

The conventional school district in Detroit is, by most measures, the worst performing district in the United States. Students have been fleeing for years, leaving for schools in other districts or charter schools in the city. To prevent that, the district is doing everything it can to stop parents from making this choice.

Michiganders who usually idle their cars to warm them up before driving in the winter will be pleased to know they will no longer be breaking the law by doing so.

Last winter, we reported on the case of Nick Trupiano, who was ticketed $128 for leaving his car idling unattended in his driveway, in violation of the state vehicle code. A judge upheld the ticket and agreed with the ticketing officer that the rule was justified by the public safety threat of leaving running vehicles unattended.

In the debate about the condition of Michigan and America’s infrastructure, the doomsayers seem to have the loudest voices. Yes, more investment is needed, and there are some high profile disasters, but the news isn’t all bad — far from it.

Many who claim the sky is falling do so because they have a financial interest in more funding for infrastructure. Taxpayers will never spend enough to satisfy these folks. It’s easier to identify problems than to recognize successes. Exactly zero headlines read: “Water treatment plant working just as it should.”

The newest edition of Regulation magazine from the Cato Institute features a piece on licensing co-written by Mackinac Center Director of Marketing and Strategy Jarrett Skorup.

Supporters of free markets had little to cheer for based on what Michigan’s 99th Legislature did in 2017. There were certainly positives – such as public school pension reform – but lawmakers also indulged in a corporate-welfare potlatch party. Here’s a round-up.

State-to-state migration may be the single greatest tool for comparing the quality of life in different states. Through moving, people reveal their preferences for where they wish to live. Opportunity is a major reason people move between states. That’s what makes the annual United Van Lines report on client moves so interesting.

The Mackinac Center for Public Policy’s legal arm files lawsuits on behalf of Michigan citizens wronged by some level of government or unions. As an example, the Mackinac Center has represented hotel and motel room providers seeking to defend their free speech rights against government intrusion into their business. Legislation introduced Dec. 5 by two Republican senators, Wayne Schmidt and Ken Horn, could thwart similar lawsuits in the future. Such a move would cement government-coerced speech into place. Rather than do that, however, lawmakers instead ought to strip the offending parties of their state-granted power to compel speech.

This year the Michigan-based Mackinac Center for Public Policy celebrates its 30th anniversary. What started out in 1987 as an experiment grew into one of the nation’s largest and most influential state-based think tanks. Although our methods have evolved over time — once a traditional white paper shop, we’re now a multifaceted change agent — we’ve never wavered from our guiding principle: Freedom makes all the difference.