East Lansing community votes on income tax

The City of East Lansing held its meeting for the 2018 East Lansing Income Tax Ballot Proposal on June 20 at the East Lansing Public Library. City Manager stressed the urgent need for this tax because of multiple financial difficulties the city is experiencing. Some community members expressed worries about the proposed tax, and city official highlighted the need for more community input and turnout at the voting booth. Voting for the policy begins Aug. 7.

Michigan lawmakers look to make schools safer with legislation

Over the past few months, Michigan lawmakers have been hard at work, even across the aisle, in an effort to make schools safer. In early June, a package containing seven bills focusing on school safety was passed in the Senate.  The bills target a wide range of topics, including inspecting new school buildings or renovations to existing buildings, developing emergency operations plans for every school and increasing funding to school resource officers and mental health counselors. Senate Bill 983, which was passed June 7, would require school districts to work with law enforcement to conduct a review of the school’s emergency operations plan.  Each school would have its own plan should a potentially dangerous event occur, including threats of school violence and attacks, bomb threats, fires, intruders and several others.

Michigan Dems propose change in voting age to 16

Following the increase of activism from middle and high school students across the country, the “Sweet Sixteen” voting reform introduced by Democrats in the Michigan Legislature could change the shape of the state’s political landscape. House Bill 6183 and Senate Bill 1064, which were both introduced June 12, seek to change the legal voting age in Michigan from 18 to 16.  The bills come after the unexpected stream of activism from students following the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. 17 students and teachers were killed in the shooting. “A diverse coalition of students have set politics aside in order to bring about positive change in our political system,” said the Senate Bill’s sponsor, Sen. David Knezek, D-Dearborn Heights.  “Young people identify the issues they want to see changed, but they don’t get the chance to vote to see that change happen.”

The sponsor of the House Bill, Rep. Yousef Rabhi, D-Ann Arbor, noted that 16-year-olds are allowed to drive and pay taxes, but are deemed by many to not be old enough to fully understand political change. “These kids work hard, they’re mature enough to decide how their hard-earned tax dollars are spent,” Rabhi said.  “Otherwise, it’s taxation without representation.”

Faith Keating, a student at Troy High School, agrees for the most part with the legislators, but she has her doubts.

Alternative to opioids: Mail-in synthetics

As Michigan’s war on opioids rages along, legislation has passed in order to protect citizens from an unregulated alternative — imported synthetic opioids. U.S. Rep. Mike Bishop, R-Mich., is a sponsor of the recently passed Synthetic Trafficking and Opioid Prevention (STOP) Act of 2018 which aims to alleviate this once unseen problem. “We didn’t know about this before; now that we do know, we have the opportunity to stop it,” Bishop said. Bishop noted that these synthetic versions of opioids are not regulated and, in many cases, are much more potent than street drugs or even the hardest of prescribed painkillers. “The synthetic opioids out there are up to 500 times more powerful than regular doses of heroin,” said Bishop.

Michigan voters to consider green light for recreational marijuana

On April 26, the proposal pushing for a referendum on recreational marijuana was approved by a 4-0 vote. Michiganders will be able to vote on the measure during the November 6 Michigan ballot. “Adult use of cannabis is a human rights issue,” Jeffery Hank, Chair of the Board of Directors and Executive Director for MILegalize, an advocacy group for the proposal, said. “As we move towards more fairness, freedom, and justice in our cannabis policy, the public will benefit.”

Like many advocates for the passing of the proposal, Hank believes that the approval of recreational usage in Michigan can bring many jobs and decrease crime rate. “[It will] … end the unnecessary 23,000-plus arrests per year of adults in Michigan every year; a horrible waste of taxpayer resources and an affront to our constitutional liberties,” Hank said.