Legislative resolutions raise awareness on topics big and small

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Capital News Service

LANSING – Every year, Michigan legislators introduce hundreds of resolutions ranging from local interests, such as Suits and Sneakers Day and Equestrian Trails Day, to more sweeping ideas, like supporting policing changes such as anti-bias and de-escalation training. 

Resolutions can be used to raise awareness, promote change or be merely symbolic. They are not laws, but rather an expression of opinion by the House, Senate or both. 

March has been celebrated as Women’s History Month since 1987. 

March 8 was International Women’s Day, and sponsoring Rep. Helena Scott, D-Detroit, said she intends to annually submit the resolution as long as she’s in the Legislature.

Scott says the hope is that the resolution will inspire women. 

“We recognize what they do and face, the struggles of the past and of things that they still go through in everyday life. The inequality in pay, the biases that we experience and just to know that we are women in the Legislature, and we’ve experienced those same things,” she said.

This day also “lets women know that they are seen, heard and important,” she said. 

Other resolutions are more narrow like those recognizing White Shirt Day, Restaurant Dine-In Day, Biggby Coffee Day and Sunshine Week.

White Shirt Day acknowledges and supports autoworkers and commemorates the United Auto Workers strike of 1936-37. Sunshine Week promotes transparency in government and the importance of freedom of information. 

Biggby Coffee Day was celebrated March 15, 2019, providing the chance to support Michigan small businesses and their employees. 

Scott said such resolutions increase and promote morale. They present an opportunity to invite interested people into the Capitol to come, listen and view part of the legislative process.

According to Scott, both political parties enjoy these celebratory days since they are able to present a unified, bipartisan effort, at least on some small stuff. 

By drawing both Democratic and Republican supporters, resolutions can build and show unity between the two parties, she said. 

A resolution by Sen. Adam Hollier, D-Detroit, calls on the Joint Committee on the Library of Congress to replace the statue of former U.S. Lewis Cass, D-Michigan, in the U.S. Capitol with a statue of Coleman Young, the first Black mayor of Detroit. 

“As we think about this time and in this space, it’s important that when you go to our nation’s Capitol, you see someone who’s representative of Michigan at large, not just that moment in time,” said Hollier.

Cass, who had owned slaves, advocated for continued westward expansion and promoted the doctrine of popular sovereignty as a senator. He was also Secretary of War under Andrew Jackson from 1831 to 1836, where he oversaw the forced removal of Native Americans from their land. 

When considering whose statue should replace Cass’, resolution sponsors wanted someone who was not only relevant to the entire state but had a variety of favorable impacts. Hollier said. 

“Coleman Young was a labor leader, pushed back against the House Un-American Activities Committee and tried to stop Detroit riots in a meaningful way,” he said.

“As we talk about history and being a part of the overall representation space, Coleman Young did that in a way that too many people miss out on,” Hollier said. “There was this narrative about him because he was someone who was unapologetically Black at a time when being unapologetically Black was hard.”

Each state gets two statues in the National Statuary Hall. Historically, Michigan has had one Republican and one Democrat represented and each party decides its own. 

The resolution is pending in the Committee on Government Operations.

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