Welcome to the September 30, 2021 edition of Three Things Thursday! It’s hard to believe that September has already come and gone. What a whirlwind it has been!
This week’s edition of Three Things focuses on the latest news out of Washington, DC, plus a couple of developments in Lansing, one of which will result in some real, tangible, positive change for Michiganders. The other? Well, let’s just say that those who are holding fast to the “Big Lie” continue their dangerous attempts to suppress the vote.
1. “Infrastructure Week” and updates from Washington, D.C.
The Michigan LCV team has worked throughout the summer to build support for President Biden’s bipartisan infrastructure plan, the Build Back Better Act, and meaningful action to address our changing climate. All this work has led to expected votes on monumental pieces of legislation this month.
As outlined in our Washington Weekly newsletter:
As the House finished mark-ups last week, there was almost unanimous agreement in Congress on the $3.5 trillion price tag for the Build Back Better Act. However, moderate Democratic Senators Joe Manchin and Krysten Sinema will now not say what they are willing to vote for, stalling negotiations even after pleas from President Biden himself.
Speaker Pelosi initially planned to bring the bipartisan infrastructure bill to a vote today. Yet with moderates like Manchin and Sinema (as well as some in the House) insisting on passing the bipartisan infrastructure bill this week without any guarantee of the Build Back Better Act to follow, and progressives remaining firm in their commitment to vote “no” on the infrastructure bill without a vote on the Build Back Better Act, the fate of both bills hangs in the balance. The next 24 hours will be critical to the President’s agenda.
For a complete breakdown of the developments on Capitol Hill, the latest updates in Washington and what this all means for Michigan, check out this week’s edition of the Washington Weekly.
Please know the Michigan LCV team continues to build support for both the bipartisan infrastructure bill and the Build Back Better Act. In fact, members of our team will be in Lansing today as we, along with several partner organizations, come together to show our support for Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin and other members of the Michigan delegation as they work to get these critical pieces of legislation across the finish line in Washington.
You are invited to join us at 2:00 PM today at 1100 W. Saginaw St. Lansing, MI 48915. Participants are encouraged to wear a mask and are required to mask up if unvaccinated. Signs, shirts, and other swag will be available to all who attend.
If you would like more information on the issues, in addition to our Washington Weekly, I invite you to check out our “Build Back Better For Us” toolkit. Please let me know if you have questions.
2. An update on Michigan Republicans’ anti-voter ballot initiative
The GOP-backed ballot initiative taking aim at the freedom to vote in Michigan was in the news again this week having cleared another hurdle in Lansing.
After approving the 100-word summary of the so-called “Secure MI Vote” ballot initiative last Thursday, the State Board of Canvassers voted on Monday to formally approve the petition form. This means that the GOP-backed sponsors can begin collecting signatures.
While this latest development does not change much in the immediate future in terms of our work to build opposition to these egregious attacks on voting rights, it is important for us all to truly understand the gravity of the situation and the dangers this ballot initiative poses. As the signature collection process begins, there are sure to be attempts to capture signatures from voters who do not fully understand what the ballot initiative aims to do, which includes restricting in-person and absentee voting rights and changing Michigan’s decades-old voter ID law.
I encourage you to talk with your family, friends and colleagues about these threats to our democracy. Michiganders must understand that the ballot initiative would take away Election Day voting options, restrict access to absentee ballots, gut funding for local clerks and election officials, and fundamentally deny the people of Michigan a voice when it comes to participation in our elections.
Please know that our Democracy For All team has doubled down in work to promote the importance of voting rights and, along with the #WeVoteMI coalition of pro-democracy partners, fight against this dangerous anti-voter ballot initiative and associated bills in Lansing.
3. Gov. Whitmer signs Michigan’s budget
Yesterday, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed into law Senate Bill 0082 and House Bill 4400, effectively approving Michigan’s nearly $70 billion state budget for the 2022 fiscal year.
Following a very full week at the Mackinac Conference, Michigan LCV’s State Government Affairs Director Nick Occhipinti was honored to be present for the bill signing.
This was a long-awaited moment given the ongoing discrepancies between the Governor and the Legislature. The Michigan LCV team was very happy to see a number of vitally important public health and environmental line items (things we had actively lobbied for over the past many months) included in the final package.
Some of the most important parts of the budget afford meaningful funding to protect our drinking water and tackle the climate crisis. This includes:
- $20 million to replace lead service lines in Benton Harbor, which is currently experiencing a drinking water contamination crisis
- $14.3 million to help local governments prepare for climate change and extreme weather.
Both of these investments will help ensure Michiganders have access to clean, safe drinking water and are prepared and protected from extreme weather and flooding through climate resiliency and weatherization projects.
In addition to these funds, the budget includes $196 million for infrastructure projects, including bridges, roads, and climate resilient buildings that will benefit Michigan communities. Not only will these dollars help protect Michiganders, but they will also create 2,500 jobs and help build back our economy from COVID-19.
And, we were pleased to also see:
- $15 million dedicated to the Emergency Drinking Water Fund
- $14 million allocated to remediate PFAS at contaminated sites
- $20 million for contaminated sites
- $10 million for the Lead Poison Prevention Fund
- $5 million going to the establishment of a Green Revolving Fund
President Biden is known for saying, “Don’t tell me what you value, show me your budget, and I’ll tell you what you value.” The Whitmer Administration’s values are very clear. The Governor and her team are deeply committed to protecting the health and wellbeing of Michiganders, which is directly connected to the protection of our drinking water and tackling the climate crisis. Now we have to keep up the hard work to ensure these investments truly make a difference.
Thank you as always for your belief in our work. Until next week, please mask up, stay safe and enjoy time in Michigan’s amazing out-of-doors.