Party on the Peninsulas

The WØRD – “Breathtaking!”

This week’s guest: Rep. Stephanie Young (D-Detroit)

From the Chair

After 40 years where Republicans called most of the shots in state government, for the last six months Democrats have had (small) legislative majorities working with a Democratic Governor to enact a people-first agenda. The results are truly breathtaking. This week’s podcast focuses on a review of all that’s been done.

Headlines seem reserved for the bad news: disfunction, corruption, scandal, controversy. Government that’s working well usually doesn’t make headlines, but it did this week in the Detroit Free Press which recounts our successes: some of them bipartisan, many of them despite united Republican opposition. It is up to us to remind the people around us of all the good things that have happened with the Democrat-led state government.

Democrats Leading Michigan Checklist – The First Six Months

  • Budget passed on time, balanced, and including nearly $1-billion in targeted tax cuts
  • Record investments made in K-12 education, including added support for at-risk students and universal free breakfast and lunch
  • Michigan’s 1931 law making abortion a crime repealed
  • Laws strengthening protections for victims of sexual assault
  • Anti-labor laws passed during the Snyder administration repealed
  • The Snyder “pension tax” repealed
  • Election reforms
  • LGBTQ+ Civil Rights Protections added to the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act
  • Hate crimes protections added to the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act
  • Common-sense gun safety laws
  • Record investments made in fixing Michigan’s crumbling infrastructure – Michigan’s “Orange Barrel Summer!”
  • Tens-of-thousands of new jobs being created by major manufacturing investments, including two massive battery plants that will power Michigan’s automotive manufacturing future

And that’s just the beginning. Attorney General Nessel has been a non-stop in fighting consumer fraud, Republican-sponsored anti-liberty court cases, political corruption, battling violent and white-collar crime and taking on the telemarketers!
Secretary of State Benson has taken a branch office mess (she inherited from Republicans) that everyone hated and transformed it into an efficient, customer-friendly operation. She has also become a nationally recognized advocate for voter rights and election reforms, and is widely credited for her leadership in making Michigan’s elections the most secure in the nation.

Want to know more about what your Democratic leaders are doing in Lansing? A good place to start is with their official websites:

News Stories We’re Following This Week

Michigan Policy and Politics

National Policy and Politics

The WØRD – “Bidenomics”

This week’s guest: Senator Jeremy Moss (D-Southfield), chair, Senate Committee on Elections and Ethics

From Chairperson Barnes

It’s said that moving the nation’s economy is like turning around a large ship: it takes time. But that transformation has begun after two years of Joe Biden’s leadership:

Bidenomics is rooted in the simple idea that we need to grow the economy from the middle out and the bottom up—not the top down. An economy where we build more in America, empower and invest in American workers, and promote competition to lower costs for working families. Implementing that economic vision and plan—and decisively turning the page on the era of trickle-down economics—has been the defining project of the Biden presidency.

We’re just now seeing the beginning of fixing our roads, bridges, airports and ports; the investment in bringing high-speed internet to every home in America; investments in combating climate change; and investments in the transition to electric-powered cars and trucks. Just this week we learned that, thanks to the Biden economic plan, more than $1.6-BILLION will be invested in providing high-speed internet to underserved areas all across Michigan. As other parts of these laws become fully implemented, our already strong economy will continue to get stronger.

As Democrats, we look at polls showing a majority of Americans currently disapprove of the President’s handling of the economy and ask ourselves:
“why? The economy is strong and getting stronger: record levels of employment, the lowest unemployment among African Americans and Hispanics ever, wages going up, inflation going down, manufacturing returning to within our borders and consumer confidence on the rise.”

We saw the same thing 14 years ago with Obamacare. In the beginning, Obamacare was an idea which was viciously and often unfairly attacked by Republicans. Remember all the talk about “death panels”? But as Obamacare became real – when people started seeing the benefits in their own lives – it became hugely popular. 

Our job now is to continually tell the story of how Bidenomics is improving the lives of average Americans for generations to come … after four years of Republican failures.

Also on our podcast agenda this week: efforts led by Michigan Democrats speaking directly to the loss of trust in government. After literally decades of inaction by Republican-run legislatures, there is movement on ethics in government.

We’re joined by the leader in the state Senate for strengthening Michigan’s woefully inadequate laws on transparency in government. The 2022 voter-approved mandate for financial disclosures by elected officials is just the beginning according to Senator Jeremy Moss.

News About Politics and Policy


The WØRD – “Persistence”


This week’s guest: Rep. Betsy Coffia (D-Traverse City)

From the Chair

Lavora Barnes- Chair, Michigan Democratic Party

When right is on your side, never give up. We’ve seen it time and time again this year as Democrats have won major victories in both policy and elections that are the culmination of years of effort … the persistence to overcome strong opposition.

Expansion of Michigan’s civil rights protections are a great example. For literally decades, efforts to expand civil rights protections to the LGBTQ+ community came up short. For years, even discussing the idea was politically toxic. But proponents persisted. Earlier this year, Governor Whitmer signed into law that expansion of legally guaranteed civil rights. And just this week, added to those protections was the CROWN Act – a prohibition against penalizing people in the workplace for their hairstyle. Lansing state Senator Sarah Anthony has been advocating for this change since she was first elected to the Legislature 5 years ago. Her persistence paid off. 

Persistence also can mean victory in elections. One example: Oakland County. For decades, Oakland County was a bastion of Republican political muscle. Outside of Pontiac, running as a Democrat seemed futile. But a generation of dedicated campaigns started to move the needle. Now, Oakland’s representatives in COngress are all Democrats. All but one countywide official is a Democrat, and Democrats have a 13-6 majority on the county commission.

This week we talk with a new member of the Michigan Legislature who is leading the transformation of another part of Michigan: the Grand Traverse region. Once a solidly Republican region, change is happening thanks to the persistence of a lot of area Democrats and the leadership of newly elected state Representative Betsy Coffia.

News About Politics and Policy

Michigan Politics and Policy

Across the Nation

The WØRD – “Results”

This week’s guest: House Elections Committee chair Penelope Tsernoglou

From the Chair…

In the 2022 campaign, Michigan Democrats promised a wave of action on issues blocked (sometimes for years) by previous Republican legislatures. Those promises are being kept. In the last week, the Legislature has finalized more than 2-dozen bills, adding to earlier laws already enacted on LGBTQ+ civil rights, worker rights and reproductive healthcare freedom.

Highlighting the week’s action: bills headed to Governor Whitmer that not only implement the Voter Protection constitutional amendment, but expand on that amendment with even greater election reforms. 

Also passed this week:

  • Prohibiting mental health professionals — such as social workers, therapists, physicians, nurses, counselors and psychologists — from conducting conversion therapy on children to try to change their gender identity or sexual orientation.
  • Designating June 19th as “Juneteenth” – a celebration which commemorates the emancipation of African Americans and the freeing of the final slaves in the Confederacy on June 19, 1865, more than two years after the Emancipation Proclamation.
  • Legislation requiring physicians to test children up to 6 years old for lead exposure. The bill cleared the Senate on Wednesday and will head to the House. Under the proposal, children must be tested when they turn 1 and once again when they turn 2. If a child older than 2 has never been tested, they must be tested between the ages of 2 and 6.
    In areas where there is a “high risk of child lead poisoning,” with children diagnosed with lead poisoning or people living in a house built before 1978, children must be tested when they are 4 years old. 
  • A six-bill package to guard against sexual abuse against children and patients. The package comes five years after the conviction of Larry Nassar, former Michigan State University physician and U.S. Gymnastics team doctor who sexually assaulted hundreds of girls and women under the guise of medical treatment.
  • The Senate passed legislation to allow public universities to serve alcohol at college sports events.
    Michigan State University and University of Michigan would join 11 other Big Ten Conference universities in allowing alcohol sales in college stadiums. Bill sponsor Sen. Sean McCann (D-Kalamazoo) said universities allowing alcohol sale at games saw a drop in binge drinking, because there is less incentive to “preload.”

Next up for the Legislature: finalizing the state’s budget for the new fiscal year. Both appropriations committees are hard at work putting the finishing touches on Michigan’s fiscal priorities for the 2023-24 budget year.

All of this positive action is in marked contrast to what’s happening with Republicans running the U.S. House. Thanks to the loud voices of ultra-right-wing zealots led by Marjorie Taylor Greene, Lauren Boebert, Matt Gaetz and a handful of others, Congress is virtually paralyzed … which threatens a possible federal government shutdown, disrupting the nation and (ironically) increasing the budget deficit because of expenses created by that shutdown.

Major election reform bills have cleared the state House and Senate. These bills will make Michigan one of the best states in the nation for voter rights — just the opposite of voter suppression laws being pushed in Republican-controlled legislatures. Joining us on the podcast this week: the chair of the state House Elections Committee, East Lansing Representative Penelope Tsernoglou.

Born in Metro Detroit, Rep. Tsernoglou grew up in Southfield and attended Southfield Public Schools. She received an undergraduate degree from the University of Michigan, with majors in psychology and sociology. After graduating from Michigan State University-Detroit College of Law, she worked as a victims advocate for End Violent Encounters (EVE), Lansing’s first shelter devoted to survivors of domestic violence, stalking and sexual assault. Through EVE, she worked at the Personal Protection Order office and the Domestic Violence Support Unit in the Ingham County Sheriff’s Office. She later worked as a defense attorney representing indigent defendants and juveniles in Ingham and Eaton Counties.

She is a small business owner, and former three-term member of the Ingham County Board of Commissioners. 

News on Politics and Policy

The WØRD – “Accountability”

From the Chair

The people charged with leading our state should expect to be held to account for the actions they take as public officials. That is at the heart of a new initiative by your state Democratic Party: holding Republicans in the Legislature accountable for how they vote on critical issues.

We are beginning with two of the most important issues facing all of us: gun safety, and personal freedom. First, gun safety.

Your party has launched a six-figure ad campaign calling out specific Republican legislators who voted against common-sense gun safety legislation overwhelmingly supported by their constituents in the wake of the tragic Michigan State University Shooting.

The new campaign directly targets six Representatives – Steele, Tisdel, Thompson, DeSana, Kuhn, and St. Germaine – in vulnerable districts that are 2024 priority seats to turn from Red to Blue. Through a combination of TV, digital, and billboard ads, the campaign is calling out these representatives for opposing common sense gun safety measures, like universal background checks and extreme risk protection orders.

When Republicans chose to blindly follow the NRA instead of prioritizing the safety of their constituents, we promised we would hold them accountable. Now, this is just the beginning of us keeping our word. In launching this campaign, we are making it clear to Michiganders in these districts exactly what their representatives did, who they stood with, and who they turned their backs on.

The second issue where we are holding Republicans accountable: your healthcare freedom. This week, House Republicans made yet another egregious attack on Michiganders’ fundamental right to abortion. 

Just mere weeks after House Freedom Caucus members (that’s right, the same legislators who voted against bills to prevent sexual assault) sponsored a bill package to repeal the right to reproductive freedom and make it a felony to perform an abortion, a group of House Republicans on Tuesday introduced a resolution to condemn abortion statewide.

This wasn’t just any resolution – it was filled with vitriolic language. Specifically, a section of the resolution reads:

“Resolved by the House of Representatives, That we recognize an individual unborn child as a distinct human life and that any effort to eliminate this life is akin to homicide; and be it further Resolved, That we condemn the practice of abortion and condemn any deliberate intent to procure an abortion as murderous.”

Despite the fact that Michiganders made their support for reproductive freedom abundantly clear at the ballot box in November, House Republicans refuse to accept reality. 

By introducing this resolution, Representatives Friske, Rigas, Alexander, Cavitt, and Maddock join the rest of their extremist colleagues in ignoring the will of their constituents, attacking fundamental reproductive rights, and jeopardizing health care access across our state. 

But one thing is clear: they have and will continue to fail, thanks to our Democratic majorities and Governor Whitmer, who are deeply committed to protecting bodily autonomy and freedom for every Michigander. 


Democrats are also acting to reinforce a basic principle of democracy: guaranteeing that the candidate who gets the most votes wins the election. The United States is the only democracy on the planet where the second-place finisher in a national election can win. It has happened twice in the 20 years: the candidate for President who finished second in the voting was still sworn into office anyway thanks to the arcane Electoral College. There’s a national movement to stop this. We’re joined by the House sponsor of legislation supporting the National Popular Vote, Rep. Carrie Rheingans.

News on Politics and Policy

The WØRD – “Competence”

From the Chair

Political campaigns too often revolve around what is flashy: tugging on emotions, sometimes even instilling fear if you vote “the wrong way.” It’s too easy to get distracted by high-profile wars with Disney, insults designed to tear down opponents, made-up scandals or conspiracies, dog-whistle appeals to our worst instincts, or sometimes outright lies.

What really matters in the long run: electing leaders who can get the job done. Competence isn’t exciting, but it matters. And we got another demonstration of the importance of competent leadership from President Biden (as well as Governor Whitmer and our state legislative leaders) this week:

The President calmly assured the nation for weeks that we would not default as a nation on our financial obligations. Despite a loud and seemingly unmovable cadre of right-wing Republicans in the U.S. House, the President brokered a compromise that both protected vital federal programs and made sure the nation paid its bills on time. The Governor and legislative leaders are, without fanfare, following through on making government work better: fixing the damn roads, protecting consumers from fraud, making Secretary of State branch offices far more efficient, and getting a balanced budget passed on time while cutting taxes for working families.

On this week’s podcast I’m joined by MDP’s Walt Sorg with an update on the how Democrats are demonstrating core competence in doing their jobs – meaning a better future for the people they serve.

News Stories About Politics and Policy

The WØRD – “Safety”

From the chair

Michigan Democratic Party Chair Lavora Barnes

The safety and security of all of Michigan is at the heart of much of what has happened in Lansing since Democrats took charge in January. This week, the Governor added to that record, signing into law legislation allowing the courts to temporarily remove weapons from persons deemed to pose a major public safety threat, including those cases involving domestic violence. It adds to new laws already enacted requiring universal background checks and requiring safe storage of weapons. These are laws that were blocked for years by Republican legislatures who were held captive by the NRA and gun manufacturers but quickly enacted by our new Democratic legislature.

The Governor’s budget recommendations, now being finalized in the Legislature, include funding for improving security at our schools. And the latest efforts to increase our personal security were outlined this week – bills providing resources for local police to deal with the underlying causes of crime as well as give police greater resources to fight crime in our neighborhoods. 

Joining us to discuss how Democrats in the Legislature are working with our local leaders to make our communities safer is Lansing’s dynamic Mayor Andy Schor. Now in his second term, Mayor Schor is a former member of the Michigan House of Representatives. Lansing was the first city in Michigan to add a social worker to its police department, something that was controversial when Mayor Schor did it … but has turned into a major success.

Mayor Schor began his public service career as a member of the Ingham County Board of Commissioners. As both a legislator and county commissioner he represented the same area once represented by former commissioner and legislator Debbie Stabenow!

Michigan Speaker of the House Joe Tate announces introduction of the Dermocratic Public Safety Act, joined by (l-r) Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, Rep. Nate Shannon (D-Sterling Heights), Rep. Alabas Farhat (D-Dearborn) and Detroit Police Chief James White.

Stories We’re Following This Week

Michigan politics and policy

Voting Rights and Candidates

The Culture Wars

The WØRD – “Legacy”

From the chair:

Building a legacy is the foundation for why we work so hard in politics. Our mission is to leave our children and grandchildren a legacy of a better life.
Defeating climate change, economic opportunity, uplifting families, promoting healthier lives, building a more perfect democracy: these are all a part of the legacy each of us can leave for the people we love.

Senator Mark Kelly and his wife, former Representative Gabby Giffords, are national leaders in the fight for gun safety laws.

“Legacy” was the theme of our annual MDP dinner which we held over the weekend, a special night where we focused on the truly special legacy of Senator Debbie Stabenow as she steps down from public life after a half-century of service to the people of Michigan. She was joined onstage by her Senate colleague Mark Kelly (D-Arizona) who, among many other achievements, is a national leader in enacting gun safety laws.

We share highlights of the dinner on this week’s podcast, including some very inspirational and emotional moments with Senators Stabenow and Kelly.

Stories We’re Following This Week

The Culture and Voting Rights Wars

“Unite the Country”
Trump: Unfit for Public Office (via


The WØRD – “Governing”

From the Chair:

It seems pretty obvious: we elect government officials to govern. But it doesn’t always work out that way. In Washington, congressional Republicans seem interested only in politically convenient investigations, threatening to knee-cap our economy through the unprecedented step of intentionally defaulting on our national debt, and criticizing the administration without offering solutions to the challenges facing the Biden administration.

On top of that, the leader of the Republican Party even went on national television to promise he would give pardons to most of the rioters who tried to overturn the government, defended his right to sexually assault women because “he’s a star”, refused to support the Ukrainian freedom fighters in their battle with Russia, lied about our economy, and lied about stealing and hiding classified documents at his golf club.

In Lansing, it’s a different story. No name-calling. Just quiet, competent governing. Governor Whitmer and the Democratic legislature are getting things done.

Gun safety, workers’ rights, voters’ rights, fixing our roads, strengthening our schools, investing in Michigan’s future: these are all issues where bills are being introduced and have either already passed, or are moving towards passage.

In the last week, both the House and Senate passed a new budget for the state months ahead of the October 1 deadline. The budget includes much-needed increases in funding for K-12 schools, workforce recruiting and retention, job creation, infrastructure, local road repairs and public safety.

Joining the podcast this week is Representative Regina Weiss, chair of the appropriations sub-committee on education, to gives us details of what is the single most important item in the state’s budget: school aid. Rep. Weiss is serving her second term representing the 6th House District which encompasses Huntington Woods and parts of Berkley, Oak Park, Royal Oak, Detroit, and Royal Oak Township.

Originally from Indiana, Weiss attended Valparaiso University before moving to Michigan to begin her career as a teacher in the Detroit Public Schools Community District. She also served as an Oak Park City Council member until her election to the House in 2020, where she was a strong advocate for increased investments in the local community.

As a former educator, Weiss brings with her to Lansing an in-depth, intimate knowledge of the many issues plaguing Michigan’s public schools  and is dedicated to using that knowledge to help improve education policy at the state level.  She is chair of the Appropriations Subcommittee on K-12 education.

Stories We’re Following This Week

Crime and Corruption

Campaigns and Candidates

The GOP Culture War

The WØRD – “Democracy”

From Chairperson Barnes


It is at risk. The continuing attacks on the integrity of our elections is a symptom of a more widespread attack by Republicans on the greatest democracy in history.

  • Republicans in two states have attempted to banish members of their state legislatures because they didn’t agree with the members’ political positions on two important issues: gun safety and civil rights for all Americans.
  • In Florida, the Republican governor and legislature are using the power of government to punish Disney Corporation for opposing the state’s anti-LGBTQ laws … echoing an attack used 2 years ago against cruise-ship companies that enforced COVID safety measures.
  • Florida has also taken away the right to vote from more than 1-million former prison inmates despite a statewide vote restoring those rights.
  • Just about every Republican state has used the excuse of non-existent election fraud to make it more difficult to vote. The Brennan Center for Justice reports that in 2023 alone state lawmakers in at least 32 states pre-filed or introduced 150 restrictive voting bills… bills which contain one or more provisions that would make it harder for eligible Americans to register, stay on the voter rolls, or vote as compared to existing state law.
  • Extreme gerrymandering across the nation is distorting democracy beyond recognition, guaranteeing one-party stays in power regardless of voter preferences.
  • Ohio is enacting legislation to make it virtually impossible for citizen-led petition drives to put new laws or constitutional amendments on the ballot.

Michigan is increasingly becoming a beacon of democracy for the nation. In 2018 and 2022 citizen-led petition drives brought major reforms ending gerrymandering and expanding voter rights. Now, with the new Democratic majorities in the Legislature working hand-in-glove with Governor Whitmer, our democracy is being strengthened even more.

Joining us this week: Senator Sarah Anthony discussing one of those efforts: her bill to expand the rights of ethnic minorities to reflect their heritage and culture in a small-but-important way: through their personal appearance.

The daughter of UAW retirees and the first Black woman to serve as state representative in Lansing’s history, Senator Anthony is a champion of working families and marginalized communities. She is the Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee and is serving her first term in the Michigan Senate.

As Chair of the House Democratic Caucus, she earned a reputation as a pragmatic, effective legislator in the Michigan House of Representatives, where she passed multiple bills into law with substantial bipartisan and stakeholder support. She continues to fight to strengthen education, expand health care, reform Michigan’s criminal justice system and improve the economy for small businesses.

Senator Anthony was born and raised in Lansing’s south side. She has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University and earned a master’s degree from Western Michigan University.

Stories in the News This Week

Michigan Politics and Policy


GOP War on Freedom