Capital Catch-Up: July 16, 2021
Rep. John Cherry on MI’s Newest State Park in Flint
Governor Whitmer and a group of lawmakers announced plans to use American Rescue Plan dollars to create Michigan’s newest state park in Flint this past Wednesday. The park will be centered around Chevy Commons, a former abandoned industrial site, and will extend along the Flint River. The proposal will create the state’s fifth signature urban park, and the first state park in Genesee County.
Michigan LCV sat down with Rep. John Cherry, current representative for the city of Flint and former staff member at the Department of Natural Resources, to discuss the proposal.
“The creation of a state park in Flint and Genesee County is the culmination of a decade-long dream and effort for the community, and for myself personally,” Cherry said. “Prior to being elected in 2018, I spent eight years working at the Michigan DNR, and for years, I worked with active citizens, community organizations, our educational institutions, and elected officials who dreamed of transforming the land at Chevy Commons.
When you look at some of the nation’s most prosperous cities – Chicago, New York, Detroit – what do they all have in common? They all have riverfronts, which were formerly the engines of their industrial economies, that have since been transformed into beautiful parks that continue to serve as recreational, cultural, and financial hubs. The proposed park at Chevy Commons will do exactly that – strengthen Flint’s community, spur economic development, provide world-class recreation opportunities, and serve as an outdoor education space for our youth.
I look forward to the day when I bring my young daughter to Michigan’s 104th state park and tell her how it came to be – how neighborhood groups and active citizens pushed for beautiful walking trails along the riverfront, how Flint’s schools and universities helped finance outdoor education opportunities, and how elected officials from all levels of government worked together to create a vibrant park that, 30 years from now, will still be providing world-class recreation opportunities and improving the Flint community’s quality of life.”
Representative John Cherry (D – Flint) speaking at a press conference for the park’s announcement
Michigan LCV strongly supports this proposal and the larger effort to bring more and better green spaces and natural recreation areas to urban centers that have gone so long without.
VP Kamala Harris Visits Detroit to Talk Voting Rights with Michigan LCV!
This Monday, Michigan LCV participated in a small roundtable with Vice President Kamala Harris, Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, and other pro-democracy leaders to discuss the national Republican push to curtail voting rights and access to the ballot in response to the 2020 election.
Sec. of State Jocelyn Benson and Vice President Kamala Harris discuss voting rights with Michigan leaders at the TCF Center in Detroit, July 12, 2021. Among those attendees visible (left to right): Cindy Estrada (UAW), Nada Al-Hanooti, (EMGAGE); Art Reyes III (We the People; Lisa Wozniak (Michigan LCV); Rev. Anthony (NAACP); and Congresswoman Brenda Lawrence. (Credit: @VP via Twitter)
In Michigan, Senate Republicans introduced a 39-bill package to reshape our state’s election laws and processes. Among some of the bills in the package are SB 303 and 304, bills that would rewrite Michigan’s voter-ID laws. In addition to taking away secondary options for voters who do not have their IDs with them at the polls, the bills (as amended in the House) would add a signature verification requirement for every voter that shows up to the polls, unnecessarily causing confusion, longer lines, and perhaps disenfranchising even fully ID’d voters on Election Day. Currently, the legislation is waiting for a vote in the Senate after passing the House along party lines (58 R – 52 D).
We will continue to monitor anti-voter activity over the summer. In the meantime, feel free to check out our website for more updates on our good governance and pro-democracy efforts.
MLCV Teams Up With Impacted Communities to Launch the Great Lakes PFAS Action Network
Over the past decade, it has become clear that PFAS — a class of dangerous chemicals used in everything from cookware to fire-fighting foam — is associated with serious health impacts to people and wildlife. This Thursday, a group of impacted community members and environmental organizations (including Michigan LCV) launched the Great Lakes PFAS Action Network (GLPAN). Together, the coalition unifies and strengthens the voices of impacted communities across the Great Lakes region and will advocate for policies that address the PFAS crisis.
“PFAS contamination impacts people and communities across the entire Great Lakes region. It’s a growing crisis that requires urgent action, driven by those who know it best — the people who live with it and experience its consequences every day.” said Tony Spaniola, co-chair of Great Lakes PFAS Action Network.
“I have seen first hand how contamination with these toxic chemicals have affected my community,” said Sandy Wynn-Stelt, co-chair of Great Lakes PFAS Action Network and resident of Belmont whose water was contaminated by PFAS from Wolverine World Wide. “By coming together, we can show government agencies and decision-makers the importance of accountability, shared understanding and mutual respect in addressing this crisis.”
You can read Michigan LCV’s full statement regarding the launch of the Great Lakes PFAS Action Network here.
MLCV Launches Green Gavels Accountability Project
Michigan LCV announced the launch of our new and improved Green Gavels website last Thursday. The Green Gavels project is a partnership between the University of Michigan Law School, Michigan LCV, and leading environmental attorneys to score Michigan Supreme Court justices on their rulings on environmental and good governance cases. The project was the first of its kind when it was originally launched in 2012, and remains the only green judicial accountability tool in the nation.
“Decisions made at the Michigan Supreme Court can be difficult to track and understand, yet they have significant and long-lasting impacts to our environment and our right to vote,” said MLCV Executive Director, Lisa Wozniak “We revamped our Green Gavels tool to give the public easy access to up-to-date information about these important rulings and to hold our elected Supreme Court justices accountable as they rule on cases that impact our environment, our health and our democracy.”
You can see how our State Supreme Court justices have ruled by checking out the full Green Gavels website here.
Michigan Supreme Court Denies Redistricting Commission Petition; Deadline for Adopting New Maps is Still November 1st
The Michigan State Supreme Court denied a request from the Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission to extend the deadlines for adopting new redistricting plans last Wednesday. As a result, the original deadline – November 1st – remains in effect.
The only problem? Michigan’s Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission still has not received critical 2020 census data that will serve as the foundation for mapmaking. And, thanks to delays caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the US Census Bureau estimates that it will not release the data until September 30th, just one day before the commission is set to adopt Michigan’s newest plans.
Some pro-democracy advocates are concerned that, in the increasingly likely event that the redistricting commission cannot finish the map drawing process in time, opposition groups will legally challenge the process with the goal of throwing out the state’s first independently created district lines in favor of a partisan solution. However, the State Supreme Court did indicate that the commission could re-request a deadline extension if the census data is still unavailable closer to the deadline. Stay tuned for more updates!
Important Bill Introductions
- SB 591, introduced by Senator Irwin, would prohibit the use of PFAS, bisphenols, and phthalates (BPAs) in food packaging. These chemicals, which are commonly found in water bottles and other food-related materials, are listed as possible carcinogens by the International Agency for Research on Cancer.
- SB 593, introduced by Senator Bayer, would establish a streamlined process for municipalities to create stormwater utilities. Currently, many municipalities struggle to create stormwater utilities to fund necessary improvements in infrastructure, yet face frequent flooding events that severely damage homes and businesses.