Dear Michigan LCV Family,
Welcome to the December 30, 2021 edition of Three Things Thursday, the final edition of Three Things for 2021!
To say that 2021 has been an intense year would be an understatement. The Michigan LCV team has definitely felt the weight of the pandemic (working remotely for almost two years), as well as the attacks on voting rights, the growing impacts of the climate crisis, and the challenges to our nation’s drinking water. Throughout it all, our team has persevered, standing strong to protect our democracy, advocating for climate action, and helping start new ventures, like the Great Lakes PFAS Action Network.
This year-end Three Things provides a quick summary of what happened this week in Michigan’s redistricting process, pays tribute to Gov. Whitmer’s notable 2021 accomplishments, and takes a look forward to 2022. Let’s dive in!
1. The culmination of Michigan’s redistricting process
Yesterday, the Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission (MICRC) cast their final votes for Michigan’s new State House, State Senate, and Congressional maps, which will define our elections for the next 10 years. The votes cast on December 29, 2021 marked the conclusion of Michigan’s first-ever independent, citizen-driven redistricting process brought to us via the passage of the Prop 2 “Voters Not Politicians” initiative in 2018.
Although the process was immensely challenging at times due to things like COVID-19, which delayed the census gathering and timeline, there are many reasons to celebrate. As written in Bridge Magazine yesterday:
Tuesday’s approval of maps is the culmination of a years-long fight against gerrymandering in Michigan……Up until 2018, the party in power in the Michigan Legislature was in charge of drawing political boundaries after the decennial census. The process helped allow Republicans maintain a grip on power in Lansing for decades through districts that skewed heavily toward the GOP.”
The new Congressional, State Senate and State House maps provide much more partisan balance. .
In addition to celebration, however, it is critical to point out the flaws in the process and outcome. The statement Michigan LCV issued Tuesday reflects both of these things and was picked up by a number of media outlets. Here is a piece published in Bridge and a story covered by Fox 17 in West Michigan.
Please know that our colleagues Mark Payne and Clare Allenson tracked the Commission meeting closely all day Tuesday and were subsequently interviewed by WXYZ ABC Detroit. You can watch that interview here.
As Clare and Mark point out in the interview, the final day(s) of the redistricting process were clouded with controversy. On Tuesday, prior to the final vote, it became clear that the Commission was working from analysis provided by their voting rights expert, Dr. Lisa Handley, which appeared to be based on inaccurate information. The racially polarized voting analysis conducted by Handley listed Sen. Marshall Bullock, who represents part of Detroit, as white/caucasian. Sen. Bullock is, in fact, Black. In response, Sen. Bullock and Sen. Adam Hollier, who also represents portions of Detroit and Hamtramck, issued a statement in partnership with Michigan LCV calling on the Commission to take additional time and fix the faulty analysis before voting on final maps.
Unfortunately, the Commission moved ahead. Instead of taking more time to understand the implications of the faulty analysis and change course, the Commission decided to cast their final votes. As noted above, Michigan LCV quickly issued a statement, recognizing the conclusion to this historic process while also calling attention to the fact that pivotal changes and improvements must be made in the future.
As the dust settles, the Michigan LCV team will continue to track the latest developments and provide you with updates, including information about how you can remain involved. Our Democracy For All team will be sending a special edition of the Democracy Drumbeat on January 4th that will cover all of what happened earlier this week, as well as analysis about what the decisions mean for Michigan voters and the future of our elections. I encourage you to be on the lookout for the special edition next week!
2. Gov. Whitmer’s accomplishments in 2021
In 2021, a large portion of Michigan LCV’s work focused on protecting Michigan’s water and much-needed action to address the climate crisis. We worked at the local, state and federal levels recognizing the imperative for strong leadership at each level of government. In a brutal, increasingly divided national political environment, it is important to celebrate all that Governor Whitmer has been able to accomplish.
Previously, Gov. Whitmer and her administration launched the MI Healthy Climate and MI Water Plans to put Michigan on the path towards a clean energy economy while working to ensure clean, safe, affordable drinking water for every single Michigander. The MI Clean Water Plan proposes to allocate $500 million ($210 million to date) to rebuild Michigan’s water infrastructure, including the replacement of lead service lines and addressing toxic contaminants, like PFAS. The Whitmer administration’s overall $2 billion of actual and proposed investments in drinking water, stormwater, and wastewater facilities will support at least 30,000 Michigan jobs.
Among other notable climate and water-related accomplishments, Gov. Whitmer helped launch the Water Utility Assistance Program, deployed solar panel installations on state-owned land, proposed $400 million in new state park and public land investments (including a new signature state park in Flint!), and committed state facilities to be powered by 100% renewable energy by 2025, helping to preserve and create recreation opportunities, bolster tourism, create jobs, and build Michigan’s economy.
I am proud to say that Michigan LCV worked closely with Gov. Whitmer’s administration on these notable accomplishments throughout 2021, helping advocate for meaningful investments in our drinking water, climate and public lands, work that was feasible because of our Governor’s deep commitment to these important priorities. Moving into 2022, we look forward to continuing this work with Gov. Whitmer and feel lucky to have such a strong water/climate/natural resources champion leading our great state.
3. A look ahead to 2022
As 2021 draws to a close, we have been reflecting on the past 12 months, recognizing our accomplishments and hard work, while also looking ahead to 2022 and what the New Year will bring. I am very proud of everything the Michigan LCV team has accomplished in 2021, which includes:
- Monitoring every single minute of Michigan’s redistricting process and providing updates both to our own team and others, while also helping Michiganders throughout the state to make their voices heard.
- Bringing attention to the PFAS crisis in Michigan, coming together with partners and impacted communities and individuals to launch the Great Lakes PFAS Action Network and put a spotlight on how these toxic “forever chemicals” are having catastrophic impacts on our health and our communities.
- Building support for President Biden’s Build Back Better agenda and ensuring that Michigan’s Congressional delegation voted the right way on this critical climate and infrastructure legislation.
- Leading the charge in 2021 to protect voting rights and stand up to attacks against Michigan’s democracy.
- Working in strategic partnership with our allies and our elected officials to shut down the dangerous, damaged Line 5 pipeline.
As we look ahead to the New Year, our work in many of these areas will continue, while we add to the mix the fact that 2022 includes critical midterm elections. Michigan’s new electoral maps bring us some major chaos, some distinct challenges and some real opportunities. Our team has been preparing for this for months and Michigan LCV intends to play an enormous role in electing strong climate/water champions to office up and down the ballot.
As I say every week, and I will emphasize now at year’s end: Michigan LCV’s work would simply not be possible without your support. Your attention and dedication to the issues that matter most are what makes our work possible and infinitely more meaningful. From the entire Michigan LCV team, thank you for a really successful 2021. Through the darkness, we found light; through the hardship and COVID isolation, we found each other, linked arms and made good things happen for people (Michiganders) and the planet.
If you are thinking about year-end contributions to organizations that matter, I hope you will consider making a gift to Michigan LCV and the Michigan LCV family of organizations. Your support is what makes our work possible on a daily basis and has allowed our family of organizations to continue to grow and become stronger each and every year. Thank you!
Happy New Year and… onward to 2022!