Party on the Peninsulas

The WØRD – “Persistence”

From the Chair

MDP Chair Lavora Barnes

Think back to the first months of the Biden administration. The President had laid out a hugely ambitious agenda – an agenda focused on improving the lives of American families by growing the economy from the middle out, lowering costs for families, attacking climate change and rebuilding our infrastructure to meet the challenges of the 21st century – in short, fixing a lot of the failures of the Trump administration.

The critics said he couldn’t do it with his razor-thin majorities in the House and Senate. They pronounced his agenda dead on arrival

He persisted. And he succeeded. He passed the biggest investment in America’s critical infrastructure since the 1950s. He passed the CHIPS Act, spurring the return of computer chip manufacturing to the United States. He passed the first significant gun safety law in decades. And he passed the Inflation Reduction Act – a law providing historic investments in transitioning our economy by attacking climate change, a law that lowered healthcare costs for millions of Americans, and a law that guaranteed that massive corporations wouldn’t be able to use the tax laws to avoid paying income taxes.

Last week marked the one-year anniversary of enactment of that law. To mark the occasion, your party brought together three leaders who have played pivotal roles in enacting and implementing that law: two members of Congress who represent automaking Michigan – Debbie Dingell and Haley Stevens, and Lt. Governor Garland Gilchrist who is on the front lines of putting so much of that law into effect. 

All of them are committed to transforming Michigan’s economy for the future and at the same time making sure Michigan’s incomparable labor force shares in the economic gains that are being created.

On this week’s podcast: a discussion with all three on the anniversary of the IRA: what it has already accomplished, and what it will bring to Michigan in the future.

Stories We’re Following This Week

Inflation Reduction Act First Anniversary

Climate Change

GOP Culture Wars

Politics and Politicians



The WØRDS – “Organize Now”

Political organizing – one door at a time!

From the chair

MDP Chair Lavora Barnes

This week’s report is a little different with a couple of special guests, both of them experts in political organizing: state Representative Angela Witwer and our great senior U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow. They recently headlined an MDP Virtual Event on organizing campaigns. On this week’s podcast we share highlights of that event.

Introduced during the seminar: MDP’s new Digital Tool Kit. You can download all of the great tools here:
Digital Toolkit – Michigan Democratic Party

Also this week: Michigan and national Republicans continued to make headlines – most  involving court cases and criminal investigations.

Here in Michigan, arraignments have concluded for the 16 fake electors charged with 8 felony counts for trying to steal Michigan’s electoral votes for election loser Donald Trump. 

An investigation is underway involving a former state House Speaker for some very questionable multi-million-dollar no-bid grants to his former staff aide. That’s on top of the conviction of another former Republican speaker for bribery, and an ongoing State Police investigation into a third former Republican speaker, as well as a campaign finance investigation into a former Senate Republican leader.

Of course the big national GOP story is the multiple criminal indictments naming Donald Trump and his supporters. We’re expecting even more indictments in the Trump-led conspiracy to steal the 2020 election – this time, from the state of Georgia. And attorneys general in several states are looking at following the lead of our great Attorney General, Dana Nessel, and looking to indict their states’ fake electors.

Ann Telnaes – Washington Post

There’s also even more in the growing scandal over Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. The latest revelations from Pro Publica about the millions in luxurious vacations given to Thomas are stunning, as is the claim by Justice Alito that Congress has no right to impose ethics rules on the court. In effect, Justice Alito claims he and his 8 colleagues are accountable to nobody.

In non-crime-and-corruption news, the efforts of both Joe Biden and Gretchen Whitmer to battle climate change gained very tragic urgency again this week with the catastrophic fires that destroyed much of Maui’s largest city, Lahaina. Our prayers go out to the families and friends of the dozens who have died in that horrible catastrophe, and to the hundreds who lost homes or businesses. Scientists and local officials agree: climate change made the tragedy possible.

Joe Biden pushed the largest climate change in history through Congress. Polling shows a vast majority of Americans want strong action on climate … but those same polls show most are unaware of what President Biden has already done, and Republicans are vowing to repeal the President’s bill. Part of our job is to spread the word: Joe Biden is THE climate President! For detailed information:
Inflation Reduction Act Guidebook for Clean Energy and Climate Programs | The White House

Stories we’re following this week

The WØRD: “Cleanup”

This week’s guest: Rep. Rachael Hood (D-Grand Rapids), chair, Appropriations Environment, Great Lakes and Energy Subcommittee

From the chair

“Cleanup”

MDP Chair Lavora Barnes

It has been a big part of the work for both the Biden administration and the state Legislature: cleaning up messes left behind by the Trump administration, and a Republican state legislature that had turned a blind eye to many of the needs of Michigan families.

Our new Democratic Legislature has restored a pro-family, pro-worker agenda after decades of Republican-led legislatures that tilted the scales towards the wealthy. 

And now, our Legislature is working to make up for years of GOP neglect on the most important issue facing humanity: climate change. While Republicans are vowing to turn back the Biden administration’s pro-planet anti-climate change initiatives, Michigan Democrats are focused on contributing to solutions to save the planet. Although the solutions ultimately require the cooperation of every nation, there’s a lot one state can do as part of protecting the planet.

We’re joined on the podcast by a leader in the battle against climate change, Representative Rachel Hood (D-Grand Rapids), chair of the Appropriations Environment, Great Lakes and Energy Subcommittee.

KEVIN SIERS Charlotte Observerver / News & Observer

News Stories We’re Following This Week

Climate Change

Michigan Politics and Policy

National Political and Policy

The WØRDs – “Delivering for Families”

This week’s guest: Rep. Julie Brixie (D-Meridian Township)

From the Chair

Months ago, as the world was suffering through the post-covid inflation that hurt the budgets of so many families, economists were warning of a national recession. They said controlling inflation inevitably meant higher unemployment, and a shrinking economy.

They were wrong.

Instead – thanks to Bidenomics, Governor Whitmer, and our majority in the state legislature – more people are working and have more resources for themselves and their families. 

  • Our state’s unemployment rate is the lowest in 23 years, and only the third time it’s been below 4 percent since the 1970s.
  • The national unemployment rate is the lowest it’s been since Neil Armstrong walked on the moon 54 years ago. 
  • Inflation has dropped to 3%
  • Wage growth is outpacing inflation
  • And the economy continues to grow

What does this mean for Michigan families? As President Biden rightly notes:

“Our unemployment rate remains near record lows, inflation has fallen by two thirds, real wages are higher than they were before the pandemic, and we’ve seen more than half a trillion dollars in private sector investment commitments in clean energy and manufacturing.”

As inflation falls and our economy continues to improve, Republicans may need to rethink their attacks on the Biden economy because 13.2 million jobs have been created under President Biden – nearly 4 million more jobs than before the pandemic. 

In the first six months of 2023 the Governor and our newly elected Democratic majority has approved a wide range of projects totaling a capital investment of over $452 million across the state. On top of that Governor Whitmer and Michigan Democrats have delivered for Michiganders: 

  • clean energy investments which create jobs, and help fight the climate crises that we are seeing on a daily basis
  • Common-sense gun safety laws, 
  • increased funding for education, protections for reproductive freedom, expanded civil rights protections, and 
  • repealing the anti-worker ‘right to work’ law. 

This historic progress is a constant reminder to continue to tell our story, knock doors, make phone calls, and talk to our community members to elect Democrats and keep the progress going. Let’s continue to uplift our message: Democrats are delivering for Michigan families.

We are joined by Rep. Julie Brixie to discuss talk two major accomplishments that grow out of twin tragedies on the MSU campus (a part of her district): gun safety laws, laws strengthening the rights of sexual assault victims.

Stories We’re Following This Week

The WØRD – “Criminals”

 

This week’s guest: Mark Brewer, attorney for six Democratic legislators threatened with recalls

From the Chair

“Criminals”.

No, this isn’t about murder or other violent crimes (which have actually decreased under the Biden administration). It is about the criminal element that is infecting a segment of the Republican Party.

Let me be clear: I’m not branding all Republicans as criminals. I know from my days working for the Legislature that the majority of Republicans in public office are good, well-intentioned people. We can and do differ sharply on many issues, but it is a healthy debate.

However: there have far too many stories about some Republican leaders, elected and appointed, charged with and (in some cases) already convicted of crimes. It starts, of course, at the top with former President Trump. In Michigan, the headlines are equally disturbing:

  • One former Republican House speaker convicted of accepting bribes, with investigations underway about two other former Speakers and a former Senate Republican leader
  • 16 Republicans indicted for their roles in the Fake Electors scheme, including a former state Republican Party co-chair and three elected officials
  • The 2022 GOP candidate for Attorney General, a state Representative and a county sheriff all facing indictments for tampering with voting machines

And now, Republicans are abusing recall elections to do what they couldn’t do in the 2022 election: gain control of the Michigan House of Representatives. Their 6 targets aren’t accused of crimes, malfeasance or misfeasance: the Republicans want them yanked out of  office because, in a couple of cases,  they voted to strengthen penalties against hate crimes … and for the others, because they voted to allow judges to temporarily take guns away from people who pose an imminent danger to themselves or others.

YOU CAN HELP THE LEGISLATORS THREATENED WITH RECALLS BY VOLUNTEERING AND/OR CONTRIBUTING TO THEIR CAMPAIGNS

News Stories We’re Following This Week

State Politics and Policy

Smile a Little!

National Policy and Politics



The WØRD: “Focused”

 

This week’s guest: state Representative Emily Dievendorf (D-Lansing).

From the Chair

Michigan Democrats are focused: focused on good policy, focused on spreading our message effectively, and focused on making sure we continue to steadfastly “pound the pavement” for Michigan Democrats.

This week, many of you have read about the Michigan Republican Party imploding within its ranks. Even though the MI GOP appears to be in disarray, we cannot will not let up or get complacent concerning our objectives and agenda.
Our message is strong: Democrats have a record of getting things done for the nation and state.
The Biden-Harris Administration is making a significant difference for Michiganders with more jobs, higher wages and lowering costs. Inflation across the country has fallen for 12 months in a row to 3%, the lowest it’s been in more than 2 years. Here in Michigan, Governor Whitmer and Democrats in the legislature are focused on policy that increases economic development, supports working families, expands personal freedoms and supports small businesses.
We can see the results in our daily lives:

  • Gas prices have dropped $1.50 a gallon; prices for used cars, airline tickets and even a dozen eggs are down from a year ago.
  • If you want a job, you can find one. 13.2 million jobs have been created during the Biden-Harris administration.
  • The President and Democrats in Congress are taking on Big Pharma to lower prescription drug costs and cap insulin at $35 a month for seniors.
  • Investments in clean energy creates jobs, and moves against climate change which is devastating the nation.
  • And the President has strengthened America internationally, restoring and expanding the critical NATO alliance and taking the fight to Putin with unified support for Ukraine.

Republicans? They are focused on the past, working to take us back to the 1950s…and continuing to fight democracy by supporting the Big Lie, enacting voter-suppression laws, protecting the polluters who are behind climate change and fighting to lower taxes for the wealthy.

Focused on Our Record as Democrats

From the Governor: What’s in the Budget to Lower Costs for Michiganders?
From the White House: FACT SHEET: President Biden Announces New Actions to Lower Health Care Costs and Protect Consumers from Scam Insurance Plans and Junk Fees as Part of “Bidenomics” Push – The White House

Joining this week’s podcast is state Representative Emily Dievendorf from Lansing.
Before being elected to the House, Representative Dievendorf enjoyed a long career in public service and advocacy. They served as executive director for Equality Michigan, president of the Lansing Association of Human Rights (LAHR), vice president of the board of the Firecracker Foundation (which advocates for survivors of childhood sexual trauma) and board member of the Lansing Area AIDS Network and the Ingham County Women’s Commission.
They were federally appointed in 2015 to the Michigan Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights and later served as co-chair. For nearly a decade, they worked in the Michigan House of Representatives for Democratic state legislators, including as chief of staff for Rep. Andy Coulouris. They also co-founded a nonprofit bookstore in downtown Lansing.
As a legislator, Rep. Dievendorf is passionate about advocating for progressive policy, particularly on LGBTQIA equality, racial justice and equality, sexual and domestic violence, women’s rights, and HIV/AIDS.
A proud Spartan, Rep. Dievendorf graduated from James Madison College with a bachelor’s degree in social relations. They’ve lived in Lansing for 25 years.

News Stories We’re Following This Week

Federal Courts Underfire

Michigan Policy and Politics

National Policy and Politics



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