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.

A life without plastic straws

Plastic straws are everywhere and there’s talk of getting rid of them. Recycling Center Operations Manager, Sean Barton, thinks its a good first step. “They’re designed for single use,” Barton said. “It ends up on the side of the road or on the land fill and we don’t really know how long it takes to break down.” 

But that one single use might be important to people who live in retirement communities such as Burcham Hills. 

Burcham Hills dining room attendant, Chama Maweja, says this facility definitely needs straws. “I don’t think we can work efficiently without them,” she said.