Dear Michigan LCV Family,
Welcome to the January 27, 2022 edition of Three Things Thursday. January has flown by– I can hardly believe the next week will mark the second month of the year!
This edition of Three Things takes a look at Gov. Whitmer’s 2022 State of the State address, the path forward for President Biden’s Build Back Better Act – which includes critical action to address the climate crisis – and a profile of one of Michigan LCV’s new board members.
Let’s dive in!
1. Governor Whitmer delivers big news on electric vehicles in her State of the State address
Last night, Governor Gretchen Whitmer delivered her 2022 State of the State address virtually for the second year in a row due to COVID. Without all the pomp and circumstance that typically surrounds the annual address from the Governor (i.e., receptions in legislative offices, special guests seated on the floor of the House and in the gallery, etc.), the Governor’s speech was only about 25 minutes long and focused on two key things: accomplishments over the past year and pivotal initiatives for 2022.
Speaking from the Detroit Diesel plant, the Governor emphasized unity and bi-partisan collaboration. The Governor touted large-scale investments in roads, bridges, dams and transportation infrastructure, as well as substantial proposed funding for increasing access to clean, safe drinking water and drinking water infrastructure.
The pivotal element of Gov. Whitmer’s speech was Tuesday’s announcement that Michigan has secured a $7 billion investment from General Motors (GM) that will make Michigan the home for electric vehicle innovation and manufacturing moving forward. In a press release from the governor’s office, the historic investment – which was secured with the help of bipartisan Strategic Outreach and Attraction Reserve (SOAR) legislation signed into law last month – will help convert GM’s Orion Township assembly plant to build full-size EV pickups and pay for Ultium’s 3rd US battery cell plant in Lansing.
Coupled with the GM partnership, the governor announced her new proposal of a $2,000 state rebate for new passenger electric vehicles and plug-in hybrid purchases and a $500 rebate for at-home charging equipment, incentives that will be in addition to the existing $7,500 federal tax credit and assistance for purchasing charging stations. We responded enthusiastically to this announcement, which you can see in this press statement released by the governor’s office.
These EV investments, in tandem with the governor’s proposed EV tax incentives, are directly tied to Gov. Whitmer’s MI Healthy Climate Plan, which is focused on renewable energy solutions to get Michigan to 100% carbon neutrality by 2050 and address the climate crisis. The Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) is in the process of revising the draft plan and the Michigan LCV team is working to ensure that Michiganders make their voices heard. We have a one-step advocacy tool on our Clean Water, Healthy Climate webpage that you can use to send a message to EGLE urging them to make the final plan stronger by adding concrete plans for implementation of clean energy solutions. EGLE will also be holding a second virtual listening session on February 8, 2022 from 6 – 8 pm during which you can provide verbal feedback. You can register to secure your spot here >>>
Leading up to the State of the State address, Gov. Whitmer’s team has been working to showcase stories of Michiganders across the state. Many of the individuals featured in a collection of videos point to the importance of action on clean, safe drinking water and climate change. The stories are powerful, and show that Michiganders from all walks of life agree that these issues – issues that the Michigan LCV team works on every single day – are priorities that we must address with urgency. I encourage you to check out the videos and hear the stories!
2. Build Back Better: Where do we go from here?
This week is a national week of action in our continued work to pass President Biden’s Build Back Better Act (BBBA) and get critical climate action across the finish line in Washington. While negotiations and a vote were stalled in Congress earlier this month by Sen. Joe Manchin (D – West Virginia), the Michigan LCV team has kept a steady drumbeat, building additional support for legislation that will help address the climate crisis.
Our team continues to produce stories (in written and video form) of Michiganders from all across the state who speak with determination and passion about why they support climate action and investments in infrastructure as the impacts of climate change intensify. This week, our team released the latest video as part of Michigan LCV’s Build Back Better for Us: Real people. Real stories. Real impacts collection.
If you do nothing else today, please watch this video featuring Pastor Kevin Clark. It’s the one in a series that you will find on our website.
The latest in this amazing video series is the story of Jocelyn Fitzpatrick-Harris and her husband Stanley, residents of Detroit’s Jefferson-Chalmers neighborhood who have dealt with devastating flooding resulting from severe rain and storms – intensified by the climate crisis and a lack of investment in the city’s infrastructure. Jocelyn and Stanley, who have lived in Jefferson-Chalmers for more than four decades, describe the increasing frequency of the catastrophic floods in the last few years that have left more than three feet of sewage-filled water in their basement and impacted Stanley in devastating ways: he contracted gangrene.
Dealing with real-life health impacts of the climate crisis and facing more devastating floods, Jocelyn and Stanley are firm supporters of the Build Back Better Act and meaningful climate action that will help address failing infrastructure in the Jefferson-Chalmers neighborhood and thousands of other neighborhoods all across the nation. Their story is powerful, clearly illustrating why there is not a second to wait. I hope you will watch their video, and Pastor Clark’s video, and share them widely amongst your circles as we continue to push for climate action.
You can watch a video about how climate change has impacted Jocelyn & Stanley here.
While the path forward for the Build Back Better Act is uncertain, there is still much to be hopeful and determined about in regards to addressing the climate crisis. President Biden has suggested pursuing a standalone climate bill in the face of congressional opposition, for example. Gov. Whitmer’s MI Healthy Climate Plan, which will be in final form on March 14th, has the potential to make Michigan a national leader in addressing the climate crisis through clean energy solutions that get us to a carbon-free statewide economy. I encourage you to provide feedback to EGLE and help us ensure the plan includes concrete steps and the added capacity in EGLE needed to make this plan reality.
For an in-depth look at the latest climate developments in Washington, D.C., as well as analysis on what it means for Michigan, I encourage you to read this week’s edition of our federally-focused newsletter, the Washington Weekly.
As you may know, Kiff Hamp, our Associate Director of Grants, has been at the helm building the Washington Weekly over the past year. I’m sad to say that this will be his last week leading the charge on the newsletter. Kiff is bidding a fond farewell to the Michigan LCV team as he steps into an awesome position as the new Executive Director of the Huron Waterloo Pathways Initiative – the nonprofit arm of Washtenaw County’s Border-to-Border Trail. Thank you for all of your amazing work with the Michigan LCV team, Kiff! You will be sorely missed, but this is not goodbye as you will always be part of the Michigan LCV family.
3. New Michigan LCV board member profile: Wendy Falb
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 Wendy Verhage Falb!
Wendy comes to the Michigan LCV board with years of experience working to create equitable educational opportunities. She is the Executive Director of Literacy Center of West Michigan, a non-profit group that creates pathways to citizenship, supports returning citizens, and provides a two generational approach to children’s literacy through partnerships with multiple school districts. Wendy previously served for nearly a decade as president and legislative chair of the Grand Rapids School Board and has served on multiple community and civic boards, including the Grand Rapids SmartZone, the Downtown Development Authority, and the River for All river restoration project, among others. Wendy earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from Calvin University, Masters degree from Boston College and her Ph.D. from Michigan State University.
As a proud and active resident of Grand Rapids, Wendy has cultivated a passion for addressing climate, environmental and infrastructure inequities, a passion that has inspired her to live in a way that leaves the smallest impact possible on our planet while working to make the biggest positive impacts on her community. The Michigan LCV family of organizations is thrilled that Wendy has joined our board. Welcome, Wendy!
As I say every week, thank you so much for your trust in our work. We could never accomplish all that we do without your support and belief in our team.