Capital Catch-Up: February 20, 2023
Credit: @TheRealSparty via Twitter.
Michigan LCV is devastated by last week’s mass shooting at Michigan State University that claimed the lives of three students – Arielle Anderson (19), Alexandria Verner (20) ,and Brian Fraser (20) – and left five more in the hospital with life-threatening injuries. Our hearts go out to the victims, their families and the entire Spartan community.
Last Wednesday evening, Michigan State students, faculty, members of the community and elected officials came together for a vigil to honor the victims at the Rock, a centerpiece of the campus. Thousands gathered in silence, laying flowers around the Rock before Gov. Whitmer, Michigan State men’s basketball coach, and others gave remarks.
Earlier in the day, Michigan State students orchestrated a peaceful sit-down at the Capitol in Lansing – sitting in the formation for school lockdowns – to call for action from lawmakers to address gun violence.
Some lawmakers came to sit and listen to Michigan State students calling for action on gun violence.
In a video posted to Twitter, Gov. Whitmer said that mass shootings are a “uniquely American problem,” adding that it’s time to take action to prevent future tragedies. Most legislative activities were canceled last week in the wake of the shooting, but last Thursday, Senate Democrats introduced a package of eleven bills aimed at curbing gun violence. The package includes:
- Senate Bills 76-78: Legislation to require universal background checks
- Senate Bills 79-82: Legislation to require safe storage of firearms
- Senate Bills 83-86: Legislation to enact Extreme Risk Protection Order – or ‘Red Flag’ – laws
As things begin to resume in Lansing, action on these bills could move quickly in the coming weeks.
Last Week In Lansing: Attorney General Nessel Pushes MPSC to Require Transparency from Utilities
Attorney General Dana Nessel is seeking transparency from publicly owned utilities such as DTE and Consumers Energy on their lobbying efforts, specifically at times when the utilities file rate cases which set new energy rates for consumers.
Last week, AG Nessel called for the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) – the state regulator of utilities – to ensure transparency of all related costs for rate case proceedings and utility contributions that attempt to influence public and decision-maker opinion.
Although major utilities have stated these lobbying costs do not impact their rate cases, the utilities continue to wield significant political power with Michigan lawmakers. The significant financial resources of utilities enables them to spend upwards of millions of dollars on lobbying and campaign efforts.
Of course, all political donations are not the same, and “dark money” describes a technique where lobbying dollars are funneled through nonprofits, and the original donors are not named. This “dark money” can be used to purchase influence and political communications that are less clearly associated with the utility itself.
Update From Washington
The train included over 20 cars carrying various hazardous materials including vinyl chloride, an extremely toxic and flammable chemical that burns at just eight degrees Fahrenheit. The disaster in East Palestine is the largest spill of vinyl chloride in the U.S.
What makes this extremely terrifying is that the burning of vinyl chloride produces hydrochloric acid which poses extreme dangers to human health, the health of wildlife, water quality and more. Hazardous materialist specialist Sil Caggiano stated, “We basically nuked a town with chemicals so we could get a railroad open.”
Read the full article here.