Other Voices

Tell Snyder to veto lame-duck evils

We have lost count of the atrocities perpetrated in the current lame duck session of our state Legislature. Our lawmakers unseemly behavior can only further damage the public’s confidence in our state government, which is already the least accountable and least transparent in the nation.

They not only lack a basic understanding of democracy, they apparently slept through every civics and history lesson of their school careers. Let’s begin with the checks and balances that are supposed to be the foundations of our three-part form of government. Republican lawmakers, dissatisfied with the will of voters who elected Democratic governor, attorney general and secretary of state, have passed bills to grab powers of the executive branch for themselves.

A lawmaker with a history of campaign finance violations has introduced a bill to weaken campaign reporting oversight and his colleagues will likely approve it.

Lawmakers ignored the will of voters and gutted measures to increase the minimum wage and to guarantee paid time off for sick workers. They’re expected to nullify parts of the recreational marijuana issue passed overwhelmingly by voters.

From scrapping wetlands protection to protecting polluters, their agenda is shameless.

And they are tinkering with bills to limit the effectiveness of the ant-gerrymandering ballot initiative that voters also approved in November. It proves how low the Republicans in Lansing will go to retain their grip on power while freely abandoning propriety, morality, accountability, transparency, democracy and conscience.

It’s disgraceful.

The near-term solution is that Gov. Rick Snyder must veto this dishonorable display of legislative malfeasance. Snyder has shown his independence — with vetoes — from the Republican Party in the past.

Snyder campaigned for governor as the tough nerd from outside government. He needs to remain tough against this onslaught of tawdry self-interest from the lame ducks. He must veto these bills. And we must encourage him; call his office at (517) 373-3400 and ask him to stand up for democracy in Michigan.

In the longer term, we must eliminate the lame duck session of the Legislature. After every election cycle, the bad behavior seems to get only bolder and bolder.

Waiting until January to take office is an archaic leftover from a horse-and-buggy era. We must amend the state constitution to eliminate the lame duck session by eliminating lame ducks. The legislative session should end when lawmakers begin campaigning for re-election. And the new session should start immediately after the general election in November sweeps the arrogant and unethical from office.

(THE PORT HURON TIMES HERALD)

State police student training could save lives

We get more than our share of blistering winter storms and the occasional flood. (Just ask the folks in the western Upper Peninsula and Copper Country about that second one).

That’s why we think a program offered by the Michigan State Police is absolutely spot on.

The MSP initiative is called the Student Tools for Emergency Planning, or STEP for short. Its principal goal is to offer elementary schools across the state the opportunity to enroll fifth-graders in a national program that teaches students how to prepare for tornadoes, storms, flooding and other emergencies.

“The STEP program equips participating fifth-graders with important and potentially lifesaving knowledge about emergency preparedness,” Capt. Emmitt McGowan, deputy state director of Emergency Management and Homeland Security and commander of the MSP/EMHSD, said in an MSP press release. “Educating students before disaster strikes means they will be better prepared in an emergency.”

The basic lesson includes one hour of instruction, but instructors have the option to expand the lessons to include eight hours of material. STEP curriculum can be taught by teachers, school officials, first responders or volunteers, the release stated.

Last year, teachers from 135 schools and 8,600 students statewide participated. The lofty, although attainable goal in the coming year, is at least 10,000 fifth-graders.

Interested schools should fill out the Application and Acceptance form at www.michigan.gov/step and submit it via mail, email or fax by Friday. We hope more than a handful of Upper Peninsula schools choose to get involved.

(THE MARQUETTE MINING JOURNAL)