Capital Catch-Up: January 9, 2023

Capital Catch-Up: January 9, 2023

New Year, Same Governor; Whitmer’s Second Gubernatorial Inauguration Sets the Tone for 2023

Gov. Whitmer speaks at her second inauguration on New Year’s Day.

January 1 was Inauguration Day in Michigan as Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist II, Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, and Attorney General Dana Nessel were sworn in to begin their second terms.

From left to right: Amaad Hardy of NAACP Grand Rapids, Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist II, and MLCV’s Wesley Watson at #MIStrong New Year’s Eve party!

This year’s inauguration was historic for many reasons, including the diversity of Michigan’s newly elected leaders. Not only does Michigan have incredible female leaders holding the top executive posts, we now have two Black men in top leadership positions as Lieutenant Governor and Speaker of the House, and a woman as Majority Leader in the Senate. 

2023-2024 State Legislature Swear-In Ceremonies

Along with the state’s top executives, 58 new and 90 returning lawmakers were formally sworn in last week. 

Rep. Carrie Rheingans (D- Ann Arbor) gets sworn-in (Credit: Carrie Rheingans for State Rep via Facebook).

The new pro-conservation majority in Lansing will be essential for passing legislation to protect Michigan’s land, water, air, and democracy at a time when it’s needed most. 68 of the 148 lawmakers were MLCV-endorsed candidates and we are eager to see what they will accomplish in the momentous years ahead.

Read more about Michigan LCV’s role in electing Michigan’s pro-conservation majority here>>> 

State official raises alarm bells over Camp Grayling expansion over PFAS concerns

There were new developments in the saga revolving around the proposed expansion of Camp Grayling, the National Guard training facility near Grayling, MI. 

Draft map of the proposed Camp Grayling expansion.

As a reminder, the proposed expansion would see Camp Grayling’s size more than double – adding 162,000 acres to the current 148,000 acre facility while also expanding the Camp’s restricted military airspace – to accommodate modern cyber, electronic and space warfare

Last week, a district supervisor at the Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) voiced concerns over existing toxic PFAS contamination at Camp Grayling, recommending the proposed expansion not move forward until the National Guard provides an update on remediation efforts. While EGLE has clarified it will not issue a formal recommendation on the matter, the news highlighted the National Guard’s lack of action in addressing PFAS contamination after pledging to investigate and remediate the widespread contamination at Camp Grayling that was discovered more than five years ago. 

The former Wurtsmith Air Force base in Oscoda, MI has been the primary example in Michigan for the lack of action by the military to address toxic PFAS contamination (Credit: Detroit Free Press).

In this week’s Update From Washington below, Michigan LCV’s federal government affairs team takes a look at the latest developments in the Camp Grayling saga regarding PFAS, and discusses the importance of meaningful federal government oversight to hold military polluters accountable and protect our natural resources in Michigan. 

PFAS at Camp Grayling highlights the need for bold Polluter Pay laws at the state level here in Michigan so polluters, including the Federal Government, are held accountable for cleaning up their messes. 

Lawmaker Profile: Representative Kristian Grant (D – Grand Rapids)

Last week, Michigan LCV spoke with Representative Kristian Grant. She is serving the 82nd District located in Southeast Grand Rapids.

With a background in economic development and education, Rep. Grant has dedicated a notable 15 years in public service before being elected as State Representative. As the first woman of color to represent District 82 and the youngest member ever elected to the Grand Rapids Public School board, Rep. Grant is a trailblazer. 

Q: Why did you decide to run for office?

During the start of the pandemic, I was serving as board chair for Grand Rapids Public Schools (GRPS), which highlighted the need for systems within the community who understand Grand Rapids at every level– state, city, and county. With previous Rep. David LaGrand termed out, I knew this seat would be opening up. I wanted to take advantage of that opportunity and be able to bring back resources for the district. 

Q: What are some of the most pressing issues for your constituents?

The most pressing issues for my district are related to quality of life: housing affordability and access, quality of public education, access to good-paying jobs that help families succeed, public safety, environmental issues within the community, as well as ensuring strong support for our unions. 

All of these issues and priorities are meant to help Southeast Grand Rapids thrive. A big part of my work will focus on economic development which is essentially creating wealth and opportunities that benefit the community. To uplift this goal I will focus on things like getting workers involved in unions as they’ll create access to good paying jobs that allow families to build this wealth. I’m a strong supporter of unions, which I see as a way of bringing back the middle class and creating stronger representation for working people. Also ownership opportunities for housing, community based policing and safety measures, strong business districts and small business supports, and quality education among other things.

Lots of constituents have also told me they want more spaces for the community to gather, so I’m going to focus on bringing money back to create these spaces. I want to help us build a stronger community so people across the district can be proud to live here.

I want to be able to improve the overall quality of life in my district by providing them with resources and meaningful investments so people can take pride in where they live.” –  State Representative Kristian Grant

Q: What are you hoping to achieve in office?

I want to create policies that address these issues of concern. I want to do this by working with people at the city and county level. This isn’t going to be a one woman show. I am establishing an 82nd District Council which will include local leaders who can help achieve this goal. I want to be able to create a pipeline of resources for my district so it looks and feels better when I leave.

I want to invite policymakers and other leaders to Grand Rapids to see the opportunities for investment within my district. I am just excited to have a spotlight on Grand Rapids– a lot of people haven’t been here before. They haven’t seen how great of a city it is.

Update From Washington

BLOG – Camp Grayling and the Importance of Meaningful Government Oversight

“If protecting the Au Sable and Manistee watersheds was not reason enough to reject the proposed expansion, Camp Grayling has been a test case for the federal government and the military’s response to PFAS contamination. After widespread PFAS contamination was found in the area more than five years ago, the National Guard pledged to investigate, address and remediate the toxic “forever chemicals” known to cause cancer and birth defects. Certain state environmental officials, however, say the Guard has not done enough.” 

Read the full article here.

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