Capital Catch-Up: January 17, 2023

Capital Catch-Up: January 17, 2023

Opening Day of the 102nd Michigan Legislature

Last Wednesday was the first session day of 2023 in Lansing, marking the opening of the 102nd Michigan Legislature. 

As new majorities took control of both chambers, the day was one of celebration. A number of Michigan LCV staff were in attendance as several of our 2022 endorsed candidates were officially sworn into office.

A group photo taken at Rep. Betsy Coffia’s swearing in ceremony.  Included in the photo are Michigan LCV Advocacy & Outreach teammates Victoria Stewart, Emily Magner, Ethan Petzold, and Abigail Barker (Credit: @BetsyCoffia via Twitter). 

Michigan LCV-endorsed Rep. Jenn Hill (D – Marquette) and Rep. Betsy Coffia (D – Traverse City) were two new members of the House sworn in, and several Michigan LCV staff members were invited to attend the official swearing-in ceremonies. It was a great honor to have been invited, a testament to Michigan LCV’s electoral work throughout 2022. 

Michigan LCV’s Logan Vorce and Ethan Petzold with Rep. Jenn Hill last week!

Michigan LCV is excited to get to work with lawmakers to deliver just climate, water, land and democracy solutions during the 102nd Legislature – priorities such as affordable housing, electric vehicles, energy siting and transmission, protecting natural lands, implementing proposal 2 and affordable drinking water – kitchen table issues that matter for Michiganders. 

Breaking Down Committee Assignments for New Lansing Majority

As the 102nd Legislature got underway last week, new leaders – Speaker of the House Joe Tate and Senate Majority Leader Winnie Brinks – released official committee assignments for the House and Senate.

Michigan LCV’s Natalie Hayes with new Speaker of the House Joe Tate on the opening day of the 102nd Michigan Legislature!

Many Michigan LCV-endorsed candidates and environmental champions are now in charge of important legislative committees.

In the House, some committee assignment highlights included:

  • Rep. Angela Witwer (D – Eaton County) will chair the House Appropriations Committee; Rep. Rachel Hood (D – Grand Rapids) will chair the Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) Appropriations Subcommittee.
  • Rep. Laurie Pohutsky (D – Livonia) was appointed chair of the committee on Natural Resources, Environment, Tourism and Outdoor Recreation. 
  • Rep. Helena Scott (D – Detroit) will chair the Energy, Communications and Technology Committee; Rep. Joey Andrews (D – St. Joseph) will serve as Vice-Chair. 
  • Rep. Penelope Tsernoglou (D – Ingham County) will chair the House Elections Committee. 
  • Rep. Rachel Hood (D – Grand Rapids) will chair the House Appropriations Subcommittee on the Environment 

Michigan LCV’s Natalie Hayes with Rep. Abraham Aiyash!

Similarly, Senate committee assignments included: 

  • Sen. Jeremy Moss (D – Auburn Hills) will chair the Elections and Ethics Committee. 
  • Sen. Jeff Irwin (D – Ann Arbor) will chair the Senate committee on Housing and Human Services, and the EGLE Appropriations subcommittee. 
  • Sen. Sue Shink (D – Ann Arbor) will chair the Natural Resources and Agriculture Committee. 

New Bills Mark Fast 2023 Start for Democratic Majorities in Lansing

Armed with majorities in both chambers for the first time in decades, Democrats wasted no time last week after taking up the gavels. 

A view from the balcony as the 102nd Michigan Legislature got underway last week!

Last week, House and Senate Democrats introduced bills aimed at everything from repealing Michigan’s “Right to Work” law, retirement tax and 1931 abortion ban, to expanding civil rights laws to include sexual and gender identity and restoring Michigan’s prevailing wage law.

Also among the legislation introduced is a bill to increase Michigan’s Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), a policy that Michigan LCV supports. Increasing the EITC is a kitchen table policy issue that will pay huge dividends for economically vulnerable working families.  EITC is an economically efficient tax policy that encourages work, and increasing the EITC pushes low-income salaries towards living wages. 

Speaker of the House Joe Tate receiving the gavel from the clerk following his formal election as leader of the new House majority!

In the coming days and weeks Michigan LCV is excited to hear how the new majorities’ will focus on climate and water policy, and our budget priorities given last Friday’s new Revenue estimate projecting a $5.1 billion General Fund surplus (of which about $3 billion are one-time monies) and 4.1 billion School Aid fund surplus (of which about $2.8 billion would be one-time). 

Quick Hits

New report highlights DTE’s dark money donations

WATCH: Defend Black Voters Coalition holds rally before the Michigan Public Service Commission hearing on DTE rate case>>>

A report from The Guardian and Planet Detroit found that Michigan Energy First, a dark money organization bankrolled and led by DTE affiliated staff, was behind efforts to strike down Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s COVID-19 executive orders and the ultimately successful Unlock Michigan campaign in 2020. DTE has denied affiliation to or involvement with any dark money political groups, but IRS records from 2020 show that $100,000 were funneled from Michigan Energy First to another dark money group called Michigan Citizens for Fiscal Responsibility. 

Vice President lobbies for climate action in Ann Arbor

Vice President Harris conversing with Secretary Granholm and Dr. Whyte. You can watch a recording of the event here

Vice President Kamala Harris was in Ann Arbor last Thursday where she headlined a conversation on climate action at the University of Michigan’s Rackham Auditorium. Joined by Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm and moderator Dr. Kyle Whyte, the Vice President zeroed in on climate justice while speaking about the Biden-Harris administration’s climate agenda and efforts to address the climate crisis.

Judge rejects new Michigan PFAS standards; EGLE appeals

Sandy Wynn-Stelt, co-chair of GLPAN, speaking at a 2021 press conference on PFAS action for the Belmont community, where Wolverine Worldwide/3M contaminated land and drinking water.

The Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) filed an appeal after a Court of Claims last November rejected Michigan’s new, strict PFAS standards enacted in 2020. As part of a lawsuit by PFAS giant 3M, Judge Brock Swartzle rejected many of the company’s claims, but found that EGLE “failed to adequately consider cleanup or compliance costs” incurred by businesses under the new standards.

Update From Washington

BLOG – Understanding the EPA’s new Soot Rule

The AK Steel plan in Dearborn, MI (Credit: Detroit News).

Last Friday, the EPA released its draft soot regulations with much to be desired. The newly released soot rule tightens allotted pollution from the Trump era, but fails to follow scientific guidelines that would adequately protect public health. The particularly dangerous element is that while the rule adjusts the yearly allotted pollution, it does not adjust the 24 hour pollution limit. This means that as long as some days are below the average, industrial polluters can ramp up pollution on other days. Pollution can reach dangerous levels in a 24 hour period, and for those with respiratory issues, it can be fatal. Fortunately, it’s not too late to strengthen this draft rule.”

Read the full article here.

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