Dear Michigan LCV Family,
Welcome to the January 20, 2022 edition of Three Things Thursday!
On Monday, the nation celebrated the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., a federal holiday observed for the first time in 1986. I went back into history to remind myself of how this important holiday came to be. Did you know that, following Dr. King’s death, Congressman John Conyers (D–MI) and Senator Edward Brooke (R–MA) were the first to introduce a bill in congress to establish the King holiday? It took almost two decades to make their important tribute to this amazing civil rights leader a reality (long after Senator Brooke left office in 1979).
I hope you had a chance to celebrate the life and work of Dr. King on Monday. The teachings, wisdom and perseverance of Dr. King seem more important now than ever given the circumstances facing our nation. With heightened divisiveness, increased racial violence and continued attacks on voting rights that disproportionately impact communities of color, Dr. King’s determined quest for racial justice and equity can and should be an enormous inspiration to keep fighting the good fight.
As Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Krysten Sinema (D-AZ) threaten the John R. Lewis Freedom to Vote Act by refusing to entertain the idea of making an exception to the filibuster rule in the U.S. Senate, they should remember the words of Dr. King.
The time is always right to do what is right” – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
The Michigan LCV team did, indeed, take the day on Monday to honor and reflect on Dr. King’s legacy. In addition to drafting this week’s outstanding Washington Weekly (which I strongly urge you to read), members of our team participated in local MLK Day events, watched films, like Selma, with their kids, listened to some of Dr. King’s speeches and/or acted in kind and generous ways to support neighbors in need. I took time to listen to an interview with Anna Malaika Tubbs on NPR’s 1A, which explored Tubbs’ new book entitled, The Three Mothers: How the Mothers of Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, and James Baldwin Shaped A Nation. It sounds like an extraordinary book, one I’m eager to read.
Our team is now back at work monitoring the action in Washington and Lansing, determined to get the critical voting rights legislation across the finish line in our nation’s capital and ever-dedicated to protecting the voting rights we have right here in Michigan. This team truly eats, drinks, breathes and lives the values articulated in our Strategic Plan*, which are: innovation, inclusivity, people-centered power and justice. This is evident every single day in our work.
Now, onto this week’s Three Things:
1. Building on the Michigan Council on Climate Solutions’ climate plan
Last Friday, the Department of Environment Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) released the draft MI Healthy Climate Plan, which aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and transition toward carbon neutrality across the state’s economy by 2050.
As you may remember, in September of 2020, Governor Whitmer established, through executive order, an advisory body to EGLE called the Michigan Council on Climate Solutions, which was designed to develop and oversee the implementation of the MI Healthy Climate Plan.
In February of 2021, Gov. Whitmer appointed 14 residents from across Michigan to serve on the Council. Representing a variety of industries and sectors, the Council brought experience and expertise in a variety of climate and environmental areas. I’m proud to say two members of the Michigan LCV Board of Directors served on the Council: Phil Roos and Kerry Duggan.
Time is up – we must be bold in tackling head-on the impacts of the climate crisis on our state, and this draft plan maps out a series of measurable steps we must enact. It also should be a springboard to pushing the envelope further and making Michigan a national leader in growing the clean energy economy… All Michiganders stand to benefit from the jobs created and the cleaner air and water we will leave behind for generations to come.”
This was a sentiment that was echoed by other environmental groups across the state.
As it currently stands, the draft plan touches on goals that Michigan can and must hit to address the climate crisis and transition towards a clean energy future:
- Establish a 50% Renewable Portfolio Standard by 2030; Retire all coal plants by 2035.
- Build out electric vehicle charging infrastructure necessary to support 2 million EVs (light duty, heavy duty, and public transportation) by 2030.
- Adopt a 2% energy waste reduction standard for electric utilities and a 1% standard for gas utilities.
EGLE has now established a one-month timeline to solicit input from stakeholders and the public in advance of issuing the final report in mid March. While there are a myriad of very strong goals outlined, our team believes that the plan must go farther both in scope and, almost more importantly, in terms of concrete plans, capacity, and commitment to implementation.
In an effort to encourage as much public input as possible, Michigan LCV has created a one-step advocacy tool that you can use to make your voice heard. You can find our tool here >>>
Public comment on the plan is open now through February 14th. All are welcome to email comments or suggested changes at any time to [email protected] or attend one of two public listening sessions where everyone will be given an opportunity to give verbal feedback. You can register to attend the first public session on January 26th from 10 am – 12 pm here, or register for the second public session on February 8th from 6 pm – 8 pm here.
Comments can be made on any item mentioned in the draft plan or suggestions can be shared on items you believe should be covered but are not currently included. If you have any questions about the plan and/or the process, please know our team is here to help. Please feel free to be in touch with me or my colleague Hallie Fox ([email protected]).
2. More State Funds Available to Strengthen Fund MI Water and Senate Bill 565
As I have mentioned in recent weeks, Michigan is currently positioned to take meaningful action to address threats to our drinking water and invest in water infrastructure. With Senate Bill 565, which would invest $3.3 billion to overhaul Michigan’s water infrastructure and protect drinking water for our communities, Michigan has an extraordinary opportunity to tackle these issues head on. But we want to ensure that pie doesn’t shrink as it moves through Michigan’s House and to the Governor for her signature. In fact, we would like to see it grow to include large scale investments in water affordability and stormwater. Read Michigan LCV’s policy brief on how the bill can improve to address stormwater, water affordability, and a number of other key issues.
Remarkably, in the past week, through the state’s quarterly budget review process, it was discovered that Michigan has even more money to allocate to these issues than previously thought. According to recent news reports, on top of the nearly $15 billion in unspent federal funding, an additional $5.8 billion will also be available as a result of the “COVID stimulus-driven jolt” to Michigan’s economy throughout the pandemic. This includes $2.7 billion leftover from 2021, $1.7 billion expected from 2022, and $1.4 billion from the new fiscal year starting October 2022. This is an unprecedented amount of funding, which will need to be allocated by the legislature to tackle Michigan’s most critical issues, like water contamination and ensuring healthy, safe communities all across our state.
With even more funding available than previously thought, we have the opportunity to make Senate Bill 565 even stronger. According to former Governor Snyder’s 21st Century Infrastructure Task Force (which produced the most comprehensive estimate to date) the total outstanding water infrastructure investment needed is $20 billion dollars over the next ten years.
As we saw throughout the past year, the effects of climate change continue to accelerate and have drastic impacts on communities in our state, specifically in terms of catastrophic flooding from extreme weather events. Investing an additional $500 million to specifically address stormwater infrastructure will help ensure our communities prevent flooding and will make them more resilient – preventing the widespread economic losses we saw last summer in Metro Detroit.
It is also very apparent that communities across Michigan struggle with water affordability. For Michiganders struggling to pay for clean, safe drinking water at home, $500 million in funding to inspire water affordability reforms over the next five years would also shore up local water utilities, prevent shutoffs, and deliver the critical human subsistence need of clean, drinking water to low income, water insecure Michiganders.
The current version of Senate Bill 565 does not include these last two major provisions and the newfound, additional billions of dollars available to Michigan presents us with an extraordinary opportunity, one that we cannot let pass us by.
3. New Michigan LCV board member profile: Mohammad Hamid
Every year, the Michigan LCV and Michigan LCV Education Fund boards of directors invite in a few new members. In December, board elections brought three new members to the Michigan LCV Education Fund board and two new members to the Michigan LCV board. Over the course of the next few weeks, I am going to share a little bit about each of them.
This week, I’d like to introduce you to Mohammad (Mo) Hamid!
Mo has joined the Michigan LCV Education Fund board, bringing valuable perspectives from his work in the investment ecosystem and experience as a trusted advisor on product innovation focused on triple-bottom-line impact. Currently, Mo works with a firm called Chapter 1 Group: a venture capital fund focused on software innovation and sustainability. Mo also founded Radian Partners, a management consultancy that helps accelerate the commercialization life-cycle for emerging technology companies. Mo completed his undergraduate studies at the University of Michigan in Computer Science and Philosophy, as well as an Executive Education Program in Strategy & Sustainability at The Harvard Business School.
A proud resident of Detroit, Mo is passionate about politics and finding innovative solutions to address the environmental crises facing our state and our nation. We are thrilled that Mo has chosen to join the Michigan LCV family, bringing his vast array of skills, knowledge and expertise to help our family of organizations continue to grow and meet our long term goals. Welcome, Mo!
As always, thank you for everything you do to support our work. Your trust and partnership make all of what we do every day possible.
* MICHIGAN LCV AND MICHIGAN LCVEF CORE VALUES STATEMENT
Core Values are the guiding principles that define how staff and board members go about the work to achieve the Mission and Vision of the organization. They describe the conscience of the organization and are the principles that should be in practice in any program, campaign, or initiative the organization takes on and the everyday work that springs from those. Core Values do not change greatly over time or at the start of each planning process — they are timeless principles that are fixed; unchanging.
INNOVATION: Striving to achieve our goals in a way that is forward-thinking, breaks new ground, and establishes visionary models and creative practices for effective, empathetic advocacy and place-based community organizing, all of which is necessary to protect everyone’s right to clean air and water, safe communities, and a healthy democracy.
INCLUSIVITY: Building bridges across diverse communities and constituencies in a way that recognizes the power, breadth, and depth of political, economic, and racial differences that exist in our state, and transcends those divides by listening, creating a sense of belonging, and developing breakthrough connections, partnerships and opportunities for collective action.
PEOPLE-CENTERED POWER: Building authentic political power led by those who have been impacted by and who are committed to protecting Michigan’s land, air, and water and the places we work, live, and play from pollution, degradation, and disinvestment while actively combating the greatest challenge of our lifetime: climate change.
JUSTICE: Fighting for fair and equitable policies that create, restore or protect access to clean air and water as well as safe, healthy communities for all Michiganders, especially those disproportionately impacted by pollution and climate change. Fighting for a healthy democracy to ensure that every vote counts, all elected officials are held accountable for their record, and all voices are heard by the people elected to represent them, especially for those who have been historically disenfranchised.