Party on the Peninsulas

The WØRD — “Freedom”

President Biden’s reelection campaign is officially underway. President Biden has been the most effective president in decades. He has delivered for Michiganders and people all across the nation, and we at the Michigan Democratic Party are ready and excited to tell the success story of this administration to voters across our state.

From creating hundreds of thousands of manufacturing jobs, to investing billions of dollars in Michigan infrastructure, to shepherding through common sense gun safety legislation, and bringing America to the other side of a global pandemic, President Biden has delivered time and time again.

I look forward to putting the President’s extensive record next to any and every MAGA challenger that throws their hat in the ring. I think we all know how that will turn out. And I’m especially proud that Gretchen Whitmer is the only Governor among the President’s 7 campaign co-chairs. That appointment shows the President’s tremendous respect for Governor Whitmer, and emphasizes the importance of Michigan to the reelection effort.

The forward-focused campaign of the President stands in stark contrast to this week in Republican politics, both nationally and within our state. While the President and Governor talk about continuing to rebuild our manufacturing economy, record-setting job creation, fighting to preserve our democratic system from GOP attacks, and fighting to stop GOP attacks on our individual freedoms, Republicans are in courtrooms at the defendants’ tables.

In Michigan, a former Republican Speaker of the House pleaded guilty to federal bribery charges with the prospect of the scandal ensnaring more prominent Republicans.

The Detroit News reported that a secret Oakland County grand jury is investigating prominent Republicans, including their 2022 Attorney General nominee, for felony election machine tampering. There’s a separate investigation into the fake presidential electors scheme, which includes the former co-chair of the state Republican Party.

Nationally, former President Trump is in two courtrooms: defending himself from criminal charges for lying in business filings AND is defending himself in a civil suit growing out of an alleged rape. In addition, the prosecuting attorney in Atlanta strongly hints that Trump faces indictment in Georgia this summer; and the federal special counsel appears close to filing criminal charges growing out of both the Mar A Lago documents coverup AND the January 6 insurrection.

Nationally there’s been a spike in hate crimes, fueled no doubt by divisive rhetoric from the right and Trump’s violent rhetoric dating back to even before his first White House campaign. The tally has reached the highest level since the government began tracking the crimes in the early 1990s

Joining us on the podcast this week: a Michigan Democrat who is taking on the growing spectre of hate crimes, Representative Noah Arbit.

Stories We’re Following This Week



Michigan Headlines

GOP Culture Wars

The WØRD — “Accountability”

Last Tuesday was Tax Day: the day when we filed our state and federal tax returns for 2022. For us, it was a day to hold legislative Republicans accountable for talking one way about taxes, and voting the opposite way. It was Republicans under Rick Snyder who enacted the pension tax. And, although they promised to repeal the tax, they never did.

After Michigan Republicans touted tax relief as a top priority, going so far as to sponsor bills in the previous legislative session to repeal the pension tax, they turned their backs on Michiganders when given the chance to bring relief to their constituents. Republican Minority Leader Matt Hall even attempted to take credit for the Lowering MI Costs bill package in spite of voting no.

Despite Republican opposition, Michigan Democrats were able to deliver relief, including repealing the retirement tax, to families, seniors, and public service workers. Additionally, Michigan families will pay less taxes on their 2023 income after Michigan’s 2022 financial report showed low unemployment, strong business growth, and an overall strong economy thanks to Governor Whitmer’s fiscal management.

When Democrats took control of the Legislature, we followed through on our promise to end the tax on retirees. It passed with most Republicans voting against the bill. So, on Tax Day, we held an online news conference holding them accountable. I was joined on the call by Jim Pederson who is president of the Michigan Alliance for Retired Americans, and retired Kalamazoo school teacher Margery DeRuyter-Smith.

Jim spoke from the heart on how the pension tax pulled the rug out from under so many retired Michiganders. For Marjorie, the end of the pension tax has a direct impact on her health.

Stories in the News This Week

Michigan Political/Policy

The National Budget and Debt Ceiling Debate

Fox “News” Lawsuit

Gun safety vs. the NRA

GOP in Disarray


The WØRD — “Contrasts”

This week’s headlines provide stunning contrasts between Democrats and the current Republican party. The differences in the two parties span multiple issues:

  • In Florida, the right-wing Legislature and Governor have virtually outlawed abortions with a draconian 6-week limit – before most women even know they are pregnant.
    In Michigan, the 1931 law criminalizing abortion has been repealed.
  • Republican state Attorneys General are behind the lawsuit which would ban the use of the drug mifepristone for safe pharmaceutical abortions – another step towards a nationwide ban on abortions. They shopped their lawsuit to an anti-abortion activist appointed by Trump to the federal bench.
    In Michigan, Attorney General Dana Nessel is actively fighting to protect womens’ reproductive health rights attacked by this horrible lawsuit.
  • Florida’s Governor went behind closed doors with NRA officials and pro-gun lawmakers to eliminate virtually restrictions on concealed carry of firearms.
    In Michigan, Governor Whitmer just signed two more gun safety laws, and the state House has approved a red flag law to get guns out of the hands of persons who have violent mental health or domestic abuse issues.
  • Tennessee’s Republican state House expelled two young African American members for speaking out on gun safety.
    In Michigan, the Speaker of the House is a young African American Democrat who is leading the political battle for gun safety.
  • More than a dozen Republican-run states are passing laws denying civil rights to trans people, many of them even banning medical support for their trans citizens.
    In Michigan we have a new law expanding civil rights protections to all, including LGBTQ+ Michiganders and a Governor who has flown a Gay Pride flag outside her office.
  • Across the nation, horrific climate events are killing dozens and causing untold billions of dollars in damages even as Republicans block meaningful climate change laws.
    In Michigan, home of the auto industry, the Whitmer administration is working hand-in-glove with manufacturers, the UAW and the Biden administration on transitioning to electric vehicles. 

Joining the podcast this week is one of the primary sponsors of the Clean Energy Future bills, Senator Sue Shink. Senator Shink is a community advocate, public servant, and mother who has dedicated her adult life to building healthier, more resilient communities. She is serving her first term in the Michigan Senate where she is fighting for working families.

She grew up in Southeastern Michigan and earned her bachelor’s, master’s, and law degrees from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

Prior to being elected to the Senate, Senator Shink served as Chair of the Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners and as a Northfield Township Trustee. She has just introduced the Clean Energy Future Plan – a direct response to the climate change crisis.

News Stories We’re Following This Week

Climate Change and Environment

Gun Safety

Reproductive Rights

Democrats in the News

Republicans in Disarray

The WØRD – “Democracy”

While Michigan Democrats continue to enact legislation focused on making lives better for working families, democracy is under assault from MAGA Republicans across the nation. The leader of the Republican Party has called for defunding the FBI and Justice Department even as their congressional leaders call for across-the-board cuts that defund police nationwide. MAGA Republicans continue attacks on fair-and-open elections, the civil rights of the trans community, the reproductive healthcare rights of women, and even on drag queens.

On this week’s podcast, MDP chair Lavora Barnes discusses

  • The expulsion of two Democratic legislators from the Tennessee House of Representatives
  • Still more criminal problems for Michigan Republicans
  • Attacks on the rights of transgender Americans by MAGA-dominated legislatures
  • Michigan’s new marketing campaigns for businesses, professionals and visitors: the un-Florida!
  • The big win for fair elections and reproductive healthcare rights in Wisconsin
The two federal court opinions on the use of safe pharmaceuticals for abortions have raised a lot of questions. Attorney General Dana Nessel provides some answers.

Stories We’re Following This Week

Reproductive Healthcare Rights

Marketing Michigan

Gun Safety and the Tennessee House Expulsions

State Government

Wisconsin Supreme Court

GOP Attacks on LGBTQ Rights

The WØRD — “Action!”

Another week, another shooting followed by more Thoughts and Prayers. At the federal level, Republicans make it clear that is all they are willing to do as innocent Americans are slaughtered, almost always with legally obtained AR-15 style assault rifles.

Democrats in the Michigan Legislature also offer sincere thoughts and prayers, but are continuing to move forward with action on common-sense gun safety laws that have the support of an overwhelming majority of Michiganders.

We are joined this week by the chair of the state House Criminal Justice Committee, Representative Kara Hope, on gun safety as well as protecting election workers from threats of violence.

News Stories We Are Following This Week

The WØRDS – “Common-sense Safety”

We have an epidemic of gun violence in this country. The leading cause of death of children is guns; seemingly every night the news includes reports of still another mass shooting.

As Governor Whitmer said after the tragedy at Michigan State University, the time for “only thoughts and prayers is over”. And Democrats in the Legislature agree, and are enacting common-sense gun safety measures that are being demanded by voters. The bills have overwhelming public support, but that support isn’t shared by the Michigan Republican Party. The party called the bills a step towards gun confiscation, and compared them to the actions of Nazis in the 1930s. 

Joining this week’s podcast is the Speaker Pro-Tem of the Michigan House, Laurie Pohutsky.

She is serving her third term representing the 17th House District, which encompasses parts of Northwest Detroit, North Redford Charter Township and Northeast Livonia. She is a long-time activist and volunteer, and spent time as a crisis hotline volunteer and a caregiver at Angela Hospice.

Pohutsky graduated from Michigan State University with a degree in microbiology. After college, Pohutsky worked in the fields of food safety, toxicology and health care. She brings this knowledge, along with her experience in water quality testing, with her to the Michigan House of Representatives. She has a deep commitment to bringing a scientific perspective to government and advocating for environmental causes.

President Biden celebrates the 13th anniversary of the Affordable Care Act, and the untold hundreds-of-thousands of lives saved by access to Health Care – (White House video)

Stories across Michigan on politics and policy

The WØRD: “Respect”

In the last week there have been two major developments showing respect: respect for LGBTQ+ Michiganders as the Governor signs a law expanding the Elliott Larsen Civil Rights Act to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation or identity … and respect for workers’ rights.

Under the Snyder administration, there were continual attacks on the rights of workers to improve their working conditions and pay. The most egregious: after saying that so-called “right to work” legislation wasn’t on his agenda, in 2012 Governor Snyder and Republicans jammed through a ban on union shop contracts during a lame-duck legislative session. The bills passed with no committee hearings and minimal floor debate on straight party line votes.

Just this week, the former Governor doubled down on his betrayal of workers with an op-ed in the Detroit News claiming that repealing the law means Michigan is now closed to business.

Also working it’s way quickly through the Legislature:  restoring Michigan’s prevailing wage law, which requires that workers on government-funded projects be paid a wage consistent with the local prevailing wage.

Our guest this week is Ron Bieber, president of the Michigan AFL-CIO, who talks about how these bills are good news for ALL Michigan workers.

From the U.S. Department of Labor: Five Ways Unions Benefit All of Us (YouTube)

Links to stories we’re following


The WØRD – “Historic”

The Biden record … and what MAGA Republicans would do to it (YouTube)

The Democratic Legislature is setting historic records for movement of major legislation, all focused on improving the lives of Michigan families: their schools, their workplace, and their cost of living. Today’s podcast catches up on all the incredible action by our legislators, beginning with a nearly $1-billion tax cut for working families and senior citizens.

Links to Stories We’re Following This Week

The WØRD – “Results”

Tax cuts, civil rights, gun safety, voter protection — just another remarkable week of results for Michigan driven by Democrats in the Legislature. Joining the conversation this week is Congresswoman Debbie Dingell (D-Ann Arbor) who is getting results at the federal level on multiple issues directly impacting the people of our state.

Links We Are Following This Week

The WØRD – “Focus”


First, our focus as Democrats. Some of the pundits look at the new ultra-right-wing Michigan Republican Party leadership team and assume that Democrats have it made – even some prominent Republicans across Michigan are saying it.

We have to maintain FOCUS: focus on organizing at the grassroots level, focus on continuing to recruit the very best candidates, and focus on fundraising to support those candidates. Michigan is still a purple state and we cannot take anything for granted, no matter what’s happening at the state GOP Headquarters. 

And FOCUS also applies to our policy agenda. It’s easy for political candidates to make promises. The challenge is following through, especially on those issues where there’s a fundamental divide between the two major parties.

Here in Michigan, it’s especially challenging because of the razor-thin majorities Democrats hold in the state Legislature: 56-54 in the state House, 20-18 in the state Senate.

Even with those small majorities, Democrats are following through to make campaign promises a reality. The House and Senate have already passed a nearly one-billion-dollar tax cut package focused on working families and retirees. Several other major planks of our campaign are moving quickly through the Legislative process.

We are joined this week by Senator Stephanie Chang, chair of the Senate’s Civil Rights, Judiciary, and Public Safety Committee about two major groups of bills: civil rights for LGBTQ+ Michiganders, and badly needed gun safety laws.

This week in the news: