Dear Michigan LCV Family,
Welcome to the November 12th edition of Three Things Thursday. As we continue to analyze the outcomes of this unprecedented election, there is much to digest and understand about the electorate, much to consider about what this means for the next four years, and –yes– much to celebrate about what happened right here in Michigan. From the candidates elected to the array of poll workers and election officials whose attention and diligence ensured fair, accurate results, I am extremely happy about what took place in Michigan and very proud that the Michigan LCV family of organizations played an important role.
In this week’s Three Things, I cover President-elect Biden’s victory, which was finally called on Saturday morning (undoubtedly, we will all remember exactly where we were when we heard the news); the work we are doing post-election to elevate and celebrate Michigan poll workers and election officials; and the issues percolating in Lansing as the Michigan legislature gears up for the Lame Duck session.
1. President-elect Joe Biden, LCV Victory Fund, and a new administration
On Saturday, after days of meticulous vote counting, Vice President Joe Biden and Senator Kamala Harris emerged victorious in the 2020 Presidential Election. It felt like there was an enormous virtual sigh of relief that resonated across the nation after months of uncertainty within the confines of an unprecedented election year. Remarkably — in the midst of a deadly global pandemic — the American people participated robustly in our democratic process. The Biden/Harris ticket won the most votes for a presidential ticket in history, with the American people making it exorbitantly clear that they wanted a new First Family residing at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C.
Not only did more Americans vote for Joe Biden than any candidate in U.S. history (we certainly broke records here in Michigan), but his running mate Kamala Harris is now the first African American, first Asian American and first woman ever elected to the Vice Presidency.
Our partner at the national level, the League of Conservation Voters (LCV) Victory Fund, was a key player in the Presidential election. LCV Victory Fund devoted significant resources in support of the Biden/Harris ticket, as well as in support of champions across the country who pledged to prioritize human health and the environment.
In fact, LCV Victory Fund invested over $115 million in priority races for the 2019/2020 election cycle:
- Over $22.3 million invested in the Presidential race
- Over $23 million invested in 8 Senate races
- $5.2 million invested in 14 House races
- $20 million invested in 2 Governors races and legislative and local races in 31 states
In addition, the LCV family raised $43 million directly for pro-environment candidates through GiveGreen, and an additional $1.3 million was invested in GreenRoots member mobilization
While these investments did not result in a perfect outcome, here in Michigan our partnership with the LCV family of organization resulted in very important victories at both the state and federal level. In addition to playing a key role in delivering Michigan for President-elect Biden, the LCV family invested heavily in support of Senator Gary Peters, as well as Congresswomen Slotkin and Stevens. Our partnership also meant national LCV’s investment in our Conservation Voters of Michigan PAC, which — among many things –played a significant role in the Michigan Supreme Court races, helping re-elect Chief Justice Bridget McCormack and elect former Michigan LCV Board President Elizabeth Welch.
So, with a sitting president who is actively resisting the outcome of the election, the Biden/Harris team has lifted their heads high, announcing their transition team and taking all the necessary steps for a change in power. I am delighted to say that one of our very own board members, Kerry Duggan, has joined the Biden transition team as a volunteer. This is great news, if unsurprising to those of us who know Kerry well. Kerry previously served as a senior policy advisor to Biden during his tenure as Vice President and, earlier this year, Kerry was appointed by Vice President Biden to the Biden-Sanders Climate Change Unity Task Force. Please know that as of this week, Kerry has understandably recused herself from all decision-making at Michigan LCV. While we will miss Kerry’s fine mind and strategic sensibilities, the Michigan LCV staff and Board are very proud to have Kerry working on climate and energy at this level and at this perilous point in our nation’s history.
The election propelling Joe Biden into the White House is just the start of what can and must be critically important progress for our deeply divided nation. Having a president and vice president who recognize the threat of climate change, believe in science and trust scientific experts, and will pursue clean energy solutions, while fighting for justice and equity, is essential given the immense challenges before us.
2. Poll Workers: the heroes of the election
In the aftermath of Election Day, we have seen — and continue to see — a torrent of lies and inaccuracies cascading from the Trump administration and its supporters. This includes, unfortunately, leadership within the Republican Party in Michigan and a number of key leaders in the Michigan Legislature.
After the events at TCF Center in Detroit last Wednesday (as you heard from Joané Booth in last week’s Three Things Thursday), the Michigan LCV team felt compelled to speak the truth about what happened in Detroit. Our message has been one of positivity and appreciation for poll workers and election officials who got the job done under immense pressure.
My colleagues, Clare Allenson and Joané Booth — both of whom were election monitors inside the TCF Center — co-authored an opinion editorial in Bridge Magazine, detailing their experience and sending a clear and powerful message: poll workers are the heroes of this election. I encourage you to read their editorial and share it widely with your networks.
Our Communications Team continues to not only amplify Clare and Joané’s story, but draw additional media attention to the accurate representation of what happened during the election process. In so doing, they secured a spot for Crystal Reed, one of our lead virtual canvassers, in the New York Times. Crystal was featured in an article entitled, “After Warnings It Could Go Off the Rails, the Election Actually Ran Smoothly,” which focuses on poll worker stories from across the nation.
Amplifying these stories is so important right now, especially given the challenges we face with President Trump refusing to concede and attempting to call into question the validity of the election. As noted, many members of the Michigan Legislature are lock-step with Trump in his attempt to undermine our election. On Saturday, the House and Senate Oversight Committees held a hearing based on unfounded claims of problems with voting and tabulating in the election.
Let’s be clear: VP Biden won Michigan by more than 150,000 votes. This grandstanding by some members of the legislature is disgraceful and incredibly dangerous to our Democratic process. Please know that we are activating our members to make their voices heard. The legislature needs to hear very clearly: Michigan voters decided. It’s time to respect the process and move forward together.
3. Moving Forward: What’s on the agenda for Lame Duck?
While our election protection/integrity work continues, the Michigan LCV team is also confronting the upcoming Lame Duck legislative session, with multiple high-priority bills in the mix. Here’s a peek:
House Bill 5423: The “Broken Bottle Bill”
Unfortunately, this legislation has not gone away and, boy, do we wish it would. As a reminder, HB 5423 would strip away critical funds garnered through the Bottle Bill that are currently used for cleaning up toxic contamination. We were able to stop this legislation dead in its tracks earlier in the year. We will continue to monitor this closely, as the proposed change will have a direct impact on public health.
Senate Bill 241: Moratorium on water shut offs during Covid-19
Background: With the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down Gov. Whitmer’s executive orders, which she put in place to protect our health during the COVID pandemic, the moratorium on water shut offs was nullified.
This legislation, sponsored by Sen. Stephanie Chang (D-Detroit), would reinstate that moratorium to ensure Michiganders don’t have their water shut off while we continue to battle this virus. SB 241 also mandates that water is reconnected in homes that currently have no running water. While there appears to be no active opposition to this legislation, Senate Republicans have refused to move it forward. The Michigan LCV team is strongly urging passage as soon as possible to protect the health of Michiganders. I encourage you to read this recent opinion editorial by Marianne Udow-Phillips urging the legislature to take action immediately.
Senate Bill 431 & House Bill 5979: Aggregate Mining Bills
These bills take away authority from a local government to decide whether they want gravel mining operations within their jurisdictions. In effect, this would greatly limit local governments’ ability to push back on mining operations that threaten local drinking water sources and the surrounding environment. By all accounts, this legislation was written by gravel companies for gravel companies. We anticipate proponents of the legislation will try to pass this bill in Lame Duck. We are actively working to build opposition so SB 431/HB 5979 never becomes law.
House Bill 6233: Anti-Electric Vehicle Legislation
This legislation stems from a settled lawsuit filed by Tesla to allow the company to make direct sales to Michigan customers. HB 6233 codifies that settlement, but intentionally blocks other small EV manufacturers from being able to facilitate sales in Michigan. As we move toward cleaner forms of transportation to reduce dangerous pollution and tackle climate change, it is critical that we broadly incentivize Michigan job creation in electric vehicle manufacturing. This legislation would hinder the market for small EV producers, stymying this burgeoning part of our economy.
House Bills 5812-5817 (Part 115): Boosting Recycling in Michigan
We are working to update Part 115 of the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act to create much needed recycling reforms. We want to modernize our antiquated solid waste disposal laws and ensure all Michiganders have access to recycling by creating a level playing field for materials management facilities and revamping planning processes to boost our recycling rate. We have been engaged in ongoing workgroups to address these problems over the last few years, and this legislation is a result of that work. HBs 5812-5817 passed out of the House Natural Resources Committee and currently sits before the House Ways & Means Committee. We are confident these bills will move us in the right direction toward expanded recycling programs and more sustainable approaches to waste management that sees solid waste as a valuable resource. We’re working hard to get them passed and signed into law before the year’s end.
As you can see, the work in the legislature never ends! We will continue powering through and keep you updated on new developments with our legislative priorities.
As always, thanks for all you do. Enjoy the sunshine while it’s here. May it be a harbinger of good things to come.
PS: I invite you to join us Tuesday, December 1, 2020 from 5:30 – 6:30 pm for an insider look at what the 2020 elections mean for our state and country as we move into 2021 and beyond. We will be joined by a number of special guests: Elizabeth Welch, justice-elect of the Michigan Supreme Court; state Representative-elect Kelly Breen (HD-38); and Pete Maysmith, Senior Vice President of Campaigns for League of Conservation Voters. More information to follow shortly. You can register early here.