The First Round of MLCV Candidate Endorsements, Two Outstanding June Webinars re: Voting Rights and Progress on Protecting Public Lands
Welcome to the June 11th edition of Three Things Thursday. I hope this message finds each and every one of you safe and healthy.
Now, onto this week’s Three Things….
1. Michigan LCV announces first round of endorsements for 2020
This week, we were excited to announce our first round of endorsements for the 2020 elections! We began with a focus on the Michigan House of Representatives, endorsing 36 candidates almost all of whom were incumbents.
Michigan LCV endorsements are awarded to candidates who demonstrate a strong commitment to — and, in this case, a strong record on — protecting the health of Michigan’s communities. This includes, but is not limited to, preserving our natural resources, cleaning up toxic contamination in our water, tackling the climate crisis, and addressing inequities in our communities around air quality and access to clean, affordable water.
Candidates considered for endorsement are put through a thorough vetting process that includes completion of our candidate questionnaire and an in-person interview, which we have had to transition to virtual meetings amidst Covid-19.
We will be announcing endorsements in the Michigan Supreme Court races in the next few weeks. And, post-August primary, we will announce round two of our endorsements in Michigan House races. I invite you to check out our website, for a full list of all our round one endorsed candidates.
2. Two great voting rights virtual events: one with Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson and the other with amazing Detroit DJs
Our People Planet Public Health virtual event series continues! This week marked the first events in June, both of which focused on voting rights, voter registration and the expansion of our right to vote at home.
Our team has learned a lot about virtually organizing and engaging our members over the past two months. We put all those lessons into practice on Monday when we had a virtual “lunch” with Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson. I was honored to welcome Secretary Benson, and help facilitate a conversation with our other two guests, Southwest Detroit Environmental Vision Executive Director Raquel Garcia and Michigan LCV’s very own Civic Engagement Manager Olivia Bradley.
Participants had a slew of questions for our guests, including inquiries about the ins-and-outs of vote by mail, online registration and how the Sec. of State plans to keep voters safe during a pandemic.
And, last night, despite the severe storms that swept the state, Michigan LCV Ed Fund’s Civic Engagement team held a virtual Voter Registration Couch Party with Detroit artists and DJs GMAC Cash (see PS below), Naesha Nashae, DJ Nicole and DJ Clif Tha Supa Producer.
Given the recent racist police violence and the resulting protests across the country, many of our speakers reflected on this moment and the importance of realizing our individual and collective power to make change by voting. Each artist shared stories from their lives about how they learned the importance of voting, ending with a strong call to action: register to vote!
Michigan LCV’s Olivia Bradley was the “master of ceremonies,” guiding the program and making it all come together despite power outages and high winds, that threw us some curveballs (even virtual events can be impacted by mother nature!)
Molly Leebove, our digital communications manager, produced an 8:46 video to pay tribute to George Floyd and all others who have fallen to racial violence, which we played during the event. You can view that powerful video here...really, take a few minutes.
Our next couch party is scheduled for June 24th. You can register for the couch party here.
3. Preserving our Public Lands in Congress
As our U.S. Congress takes up much-needed debates on policy reforms to address police brutality and racism, a small window of opportunity has opened up to pass a bill — the Great American Outdoors Act — that would secure permanent, dedicated funding for the nation’s premier land conservation tool (the Land and Water Conservation Fund or LWCF) and cut maintenance costs for national parks by $6 billion over five years.
The Great American Outdoors Act passed a couple key procedural hurdles in the U.S. Senate this week by overwhelming margins and with the support of Michigan Senators Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters, who have been longtime champions of LWCF and national parks.
Created by Congress in 1964, the LWCF was a bipartisan commitment to take revenues from the depletion of one resource — offshore oil and gas — to safeguard natural areas, water resources, and cultural sites, and to provide outdoor recreation to all Americans. Places like Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, the Huron, Ottawa, and Hiawatha National Forests, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, and the North Country National Scenic Trail have all been part of the thousands of acres protected by LWCF over the years. The program also works in partnerships with state and local efforts to support local parks and playgrounds and preserve historic sites.
Unfortunately, while the LWCF program is permanently authorized to receive $900 million every year, it is subject to annual appropriations and a huge chunk of this money (usually more than half) is siphoned off every year. The Great American Outdoors Act finally honors the original promise of LWCF by dedicating $900 million every year separate from the appropriations process — and that doesn’t include the billions of dollars in this bill to address the $12 billion backlog in national parks maintenance.
We don’t know the timing on a vote on final passage in the Senate, but the best guess is early next week — and then hopefully onto the House. Either way, we are working closely with our LCV partners and a coalition of national groups to keep up the momentum.
If you’d like to make your voice heard, you can send a one-click message to your member of Congress urging them to pass the Great American Outdoors Act as soon as possible. Click here to send your message.
As always, thank you so much for your trust in our work. Please stay safe.
P.S. In case you missed it, “Big Gretch” (a beloved title bestowed upon Governor Whitmer by Detroit rapper GMAC Cash) had an important opinion editorial in the New York Times last week entitled “The Coronavirus is a Civil Rights Battle, too”. It’s well worth a read….and, if you haven’t listened to Big Gretch, you are overdue!
P.P.S. You may want to check out this NYT article entitled, Read Up on the Links Between Racism and the Environment.