Detroit chamber limits field for Michigan GOP gubernatorial debate in June on Mackinac

Detroit Free Press
Dave Boucher
May 12, 2022

Only five of the 10 declared Republican candidates for governor were invited to participate in the Detroit Regional Chamber’s primary debate, slated for early June at the organization’s annual policy conference on Mackinac Island.

The chamber ultimately did not invite either of the two women running for the party’s nomination to participate in the debate, instead opting to go by the most well-known and supported candidates among recently surveyed Republican primary voters.

Candidates James Craig, Perry Johnson, Ryan Kelley, Kevin Rinke, and Garrett Soldano made the cut, according to a news release. But that means Tudor Dixon, Michael Brown, Donna Brandenburg, Ralph Rebandt, and Michael Markey won’t be onstage with their competitors.

“The Mackinac Policy Conference is pleased to welcome Michigan’s Republican Gubernatorial hopefuls to Michigan’s Center Stage as they present their vision for our state’s future,” Sandy K. Baruah, president and chief executive officer of the Detroit Regional Chamber, said in a statement. “We look forward to the candidates for governor giving our attendees and a statewide audience their perspectives on Michigan’s future beyond campaign soundbites.”

Every candidate invited to participate in the debate received at least 5% support in a recent poll conducted for the chamber. The remaining candidates were invited to the conference, but not to take part in the debate.

The chamber indicated it may change the debate lineup if a candidate drops out, is disqualified from the ballot, or if “new, public, independent polling” shows additional competitive candidates.

The chamber worked with the Michigan Republican Party to set its debate lineup based on a poll it commissioned. The party and chamber agreed to the questions in the poll and additional metrics used to set the debate field, according to the chamber’s announcement.

The poll was conducted by the Glengariff Group and surveyed 500 likely Republican primary voters between April 29 and May 1. The margin of error was plus or minus 4.4 percentage points.

Although almost 45% of those surveyed said they were undecided, former Detroit police chief Craig garnered the most support of those with a preferred candidate at 23%.

Soldano, a Kalamazoo chiropractor who has frequently come in second in Republican primary polls, earned 8.2% support. Bloomfield Hills businessman Rinke received 5.6%, Ottawa County realtor Kelley notched 5.4%, and Oakland County businessman Johnson obtained 5.2%.

No other candidate earned more than 5% in the poll.

The field is far from settled ahead of the Aug. 2 primary, but overcoming a substantial polling deficit at this point in the race could prove difficult. Dixon polled at less than 2%, despite being the only gubernatorial candidate named by former President Donald Trump during a recent visit to the state

Dixon earned the only praise among gubernatorial candidates when former President Donald Trump recently visited the state. But almost 43% of those surveyed said Trump’s endorsement was not important in helping them decide their preferred candidate, despite 81% saying they had a favorable opinion of the previous president.

The news comes the same day Republican candidates were set to square off in the first primary debate of the campaign season, hosted in Livingston County.

Craig, Johnson, and Dixon all face challenges to the signatures collected by their campaigns to place their names on the primary ballot. In Michigan, gubernatorial candidates must submit nominating petitions with at least 15,000 signatures, but there are questions about the veracity of thousands obtained by the Craig and Johnson campaigns and an incorrect date that appeared on Dixon’s nominating petitions.

The chamber’s debate is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. on June 2.

View the entire article.

Tina Freese Decker

Tina Freese Decker is the president and chief executive officer of BHSH System—formed by the joining together of Beaumont Health and Spectrum Health in 2022. She provides executive leadership for 22 hospitals, 300+ outpatient locations, 11,500+ physicians and advanced practice providers, 64,000+ team members, and a health plan, Priority Health, serving 1.2+ million members throughout Michigan. Prior to her current role, Decker served as president and chief executive officer of Spectrum Health.

Decker serves on the boards of the American Hospital Association, Business Leaders for Michigan, The Economic Club of Grand Rapids, and the Gerald R. Ford Foundation. She is currently board chair of the Michigan Health & Hospital Association and The Right Place. Her recent accolades include Crain’s Detroit Business’ 100 Most Influential Women in Michigan, Modern Healthcare’s Top 25 Women Leaders in Healthcare, and Grand Rapids Business Journal’s 50 Most Influential Women in West Michigan.

Decker holds a Bachelor of Science in finance from Iowa State University and a Master of Health Administration and Master of Industrial Engineering from the University of Iowa.

Metro Detroit county executives address rumors, mental health crisis

Detroit Free Press
Carol Cain
May 14, 2022

DETROIT — It was as if we hadn’t skipped a beat Wednesday as Wayne County Executive Warren Evans, Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel, and Oakland County Executive Dave Coulter gathered with me to talk about things at the Detroit Regional Chamber’s Advocacy in Action event at The Mint in Lathrup Village.

This was among the chamber’s first in-person gatherings since the pandemic started and was attended by about 200 people who seemed happy to see other people, versus Zoom screens.

The last in-person gathering I moderated with the county executives was for the Detroit Free Press’ “Breakfast Club” speakers forum, held just before things turned upside-down. That 2020 gathering included the three county executives plus Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan and Jason Morgan, former chair of the Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners. The topic then was regional transit.

On Wednesday, the focus with the three county leaders shifted a bit as we talked about how to make the region more competitive, particularly in the electric space, picking up the pieces as the pandemic still has its hold, how to take advantage of things like the two airports (Detroit Metropolitan and Willow Run, which are only 4 miles apart as Evans noted, calling that area, “a diamond in the rough”), and why it’s paramount to dedicate more funds for mental health.

May is Mental Health Month and Evans, Hackel, and Coulter talked about the need for additional dollars to address this crisis, which has been exacerbated by the pandemic.

“We need to pay as much attention to our mental health as we do physical health,” said Coulter.

Hackel, former sheriff of Macomb County, came to office with his slogan, “Make Macomb Your Home” and joked he might change the slogan to “Make Macomb Your Electric Home,” given the vast amount of economic development and jobs growing from the electric sector. The auto industry remains the bedrock of our region as it goes through seismic change as we move from gasoline-powered vehicles and communities to electric.

Coulter talked about his open invitation issued to President Joe Biden, who visited Ohio last week and talked up 3-D printing opportunities in the Buckeye State.

“We invited him to come to Oakland County to see what’s taking place here. … We already have firms doing that,” Coulter added.

Hackel also talked about an issue near and dear to him: roads.

“We can fix any road or bridge that needs it,” Hackel said. “That’s not the problem. We need to fix the model of how to pay for it. … That’s the issue.”

And there was talk of politics, too, which is inevitable as they are the top three elected executives who oversee the region.

Hackel, who is running for reelection this year, as is Evans, talked about how he is doing his job and focusing on it, and will let the voters decide in November.

Evans, who helped steer his financially beleaguered county when he stepped in seven years ago, finds it in a healthier space.

Evans added a quick “no comment” when asked what he thought about prospects of former Detroit City Council President Monica Conyers, who has filed paperwork to run for Wayne County executive.

Hackel addressed rumors he is looking ahead and considering running for governor in 2026 when Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (if she wins reelection this fall) would be term-limited.

“I would not say I would not consider it,” he said. He talked about running for governor in 2010 and 2014 and decided against it both times.

Latest rumors suggest Hackel, who describes himself as a moderate Democrat, might consider switching parties to run as a Republican. In response to the idea he would run as a GOP candidate, Hackel added: “I am very much a Democrat.”

Regional transit was also discussed, though not much changed from where we left off in our last gathering two years ago. Between opt-in and opt-out communities, and differing opinions about what metro Detroit needs when it comes to meaningful regional transit, the needle hadn’t moved.

Then again, the three executives have had to contend with a pandemic, issues evolving including social justice and equity, and growing talent needs as the workforce has changed dramatically.

“There was no playbook for dealing with these things,” said Coulter, as he summed up what the past two years has been like.

Up close and personal
One thing most agree on is that there is something to be said about having important conversations in person and it made sense for the chamber to have this particular event with participants together onstage with an audience.

“Like many, we’re slowly returning to many pre-pandemic routines,” said Sandy Baruah, president and CEO of the chamber. “This event with our county execs really needed to be in person. These guys have great chemistry and the conversation would not be nearly as dynamic if it were on Zoom.”

Baruah is looking ahead to the Mackinac Policy Conference at the end of this month when folks from across the state gather on Mackinac Island. The chamber has protocols in place and has limited attendance to 1,300 versus 1,700. The conference is booked with a wait-list.

“Society is in the process of transitioning from pandemic to endemic,” said Baruah. “It’s still too early to tell what pandemic habits and protocols might be a part of a new post-pandemic normal. We feel comfortable returning the conference to in-person and the steps we have taken to protect Michigan’s top leadership — but that doesn’t mean we are back to normal yet.”

Claude Molinari, president and CEO of Visit Detroit (aka the Detroit Regional Convention and Visitors Bureau), was among those in the audience Wednesday. We chatted after the program about our region getting back to normal when it comes to events and meetings.

“I’m pleased to see shows coming back,” Molinari said. “My biggest concern is that labor shortages will make it difficult to provide the level of outstanding service that our clients expect when they come to the metro Detroit region.”

Pamela Dover, senior director of marketing and business development at Comcast Business, was also in the audience and talked about the state of gatherings.

“I don’t think we will return to the same normal,” Dover said. “Because of a hybrid workforce and, at events, some people still will be masked up and others won’t participate at all.”

Yes, I think we can also count gatherings and events among things that will be changed going forward thanks to a health crisis that changed so much.

View the original article.

May 13 | This Week in Government: 5 Republicans Invited To Mackinac Conference Gubernatorial Debate; Term Limits, Financial Disclosure Changes Headed To Ballot

Each week, the Detroit Regional Chamber’s Government Relations team, in partnership with Gongwer, will provide members with a collection of timely updates from both local and state governments. Stay in the know on the latest legislation, policy priorities, and more.

  1. 5 Republicans Invited To Mackinac Conference Gubernatorial Debate
  2. Term Limits, Financial Disclosure Changes Headed To Ballot
  3. Disclosing Dollars Spent By Detroit Zoo, DIA Debated By Senate Panel
  4. Shirkey, Industry Leader Tout Proposed Blockchain, Crypto Study
  5. MI Opts Out Of Fed Requirements For Physician Supervision Of CRNAs


5 Republicans Invited to Mackinac Conference Gubernatorial Debate

James Craig, Perry Johnson, and Kevin Rinke are three of the five Republican candidates invited to the Detroit Chamber of Commerce’s Mackinac Policy Conference gubernatorial debate on June 2, assuming they all make it on the ballot.

Also invited to the debate are Ryan Kelley and Garrett Soldano. Notably missing from the list is Tudor Dixon who, along with Mr. Craig and Mr. Johnson, is facing petition challenges.

All three have since filed responses to the challenges (See Gongwer Michigan Report, May 11, 2022). Mr. Craig appears in the most serious trouble for being blocked from ballot access.

In its release, the chamber said its members and the Michigan Republican Party determined the selection process and a recent statewide survey of Republican primary voters informed the selection. The survey collected its votes from 500 anticipated August 2022 Republican primary voters between April 29 and May 1.

“The Mackinac Policy Conference is pleased to welcome Michigan’s Republican gubernatorial hopefuls to Michigan’s Center Stage as they present their vision for our state’s future,” Sandy Baruah, president and chief executive officer of the Detroit Regional Chamber, said in a statement. “We look forward to the candidates for governor giving our attendees and a statewide audience their perspectives on Michigan’s future beyond campaign soundbites.”

If the Board of State Canvassers rules on ballot petition challenges, the chamber will switch up the debate participants. The other five candidates – Mike Brown, Ralph Rebandt, Donna Brandenburg, and Michael Markey Jr. – will not appear on stage, however they have been invited to attend the conference.

Related: [Chamber Invites Top 5 Candidates To Participate In GOP Gubernatorial Debate]

Term Limits, Financial Disclosure Changes Headed to Ballot

The Legislature took historic votes Tuesday morning to send the first significant changes to the state’s 30-year-old term limits law to the November ballot, but not before weakening the proposed financial disclosure requirements within the ballot measure in an amended form.

Introduced Tuesday by House Speaker Jason Wentworth (R-Farwell), HJR R was passed by a 76-28 vote in the House and then quickly passed by the Senate 26-6, obtaining the necessary two-thirds votes for sending the proposed constitutional amendment directly to the ballot.

The joint resolution contained much of the language being pushed by the coalition Voters for Transparency and Term Limits (See Gongwer Michigan Report, March 1, 2022).

House lawmakers are currently capped at three, two-year terms of service, though can go on to be elected to the Senate and serve for two, four-year terms for a total of 14 overall years of public service. That would be lessened to 12 years under this joint resolution, though a person could choose to serve all 12 years in a singular chamber.

In addition to the stipulations surrounding cumulative years served, the proposal also would require financial disclosures from officials for the first time.

It specifies that by April 15, 2024, the Legislature, the governor, the lieutenant governor, the secretary of state, and the attorney general must electronically file an annual financial disclosure report with the Department of State.

The disclosure would require a description of assets and sources of unearned income, sources of earned income, description of liabilities, and positions currently held. That would include a position held as an officer, director, trustee, or employee of any business enterprise, nonprofit, labor organization, or institution other than the state itself.

The positions required for disclosure would not apply to positions held in any religious, social, fraternal or political entity, or positions that are solely of an honorary nature.

Additional disclosure requirements would include:

  • Agreements or arrangements with respect to future employment, a leave of absence while serving as a legislator or state officer, continuation or deferral of payments by a former or current employer other than the state or continuing participation in an employee welfare or benefit plan maintained by a former employer;
  • Gifts received and required to be reported by a lobbyist or lobbyist agent, as prescribed by state law;
  • Travel payments and reimbursements received and required to be reported by a lobbyist or lobbyist agent as prescribed by state law; and
  • Payments made by lobbyists or a lobbyist agent to a charity in lieu of honoraria.

Of significance, however, were the several changes to the proposed financial disclosure requirements contained in the coalition’s proposal that were weakened prior to coming before the Legislature.

Language in the ballot group’s proposal stating the financial disclosure rules must be at least as strict as those for Congress was removed. Also removed in the resolution was language referring to a requirement to disclose “purchases, sales or exchanges of a security or real property.”

The coalition’s language would have required the reporting of liabilities, income, and assets. Under HJR R, that language instead requires a description of liabilities, assets, and sources of income.

For reporting gifts and travel reimbursements, the proposal dictates that lawmakers must report all gifts and travel reimbursement. The resolution only requires what is currently required for lobbyists to report.

Asked why the House felt the need to move the joint resolution Tuesday, Mr. Wentworth was short in saying that the caucus has “been talking about this for weeks as a caucus and as a Legislature.”

“When the votes are there, you move it,” he said. “So, that’s what we did.”

There is, though, a massive caveat in the joint resolution which relies heavily on yet-to-be-passed legislation.

Gideon D’Assandro, spokesperson for Mr. Wentworth, said that would include what qualifies as a conflict of interest along with how to implement this portion of the joint resolution. Residents would be able to bring legal action against the state directly to the Supreme Court should the Legislature not enact legislation by December 31, 2023.

“The alternative was to just adopt the congressional standard which doesn’t fit … existing Michigan requirements – for example, lobbyist interactions – but then … it creates a standard for what is a conflict of interest for our congressmen, which may not apply to be a conflict of interest for a state rep,” Mr. D’Assandro said.

Mr. Wentworth said that aligning lawmaker reporting requirements with lobbyist reporting requirements would make it so both parties are playing by the same rulebook. Therefore, if a lobbyist doesn’t report something that a lawmaker does, it would be easy to see where reports are falling through the cracks.

“I think it’s absolutely a slam dunk,” Mr. Wentworth said of reporting requirements. “Right now, under current law, it’s on lobbyists to report, right? This would actually require the legislator to report as well so that checks and balances. If a lobbyist were not to report something, there’s no (current) balance, there’s no check on that.”

He continued: “If a legislator then actually discloses, and the lobbyist doesn’t, then there’s a check and balance there. I think this is actually much stricter of an approach we need to make, to make sure that this is a focus.”

Asked why the House didn’t carve out terms within the joint resolution ahead of passing it out of the lower chamber, Mr. Wentworth said it was important that voters knew what they were voting on and that there was only “a certain amount of space you can do that with.”

“To make sure that they know that these are the priorities of financial disclosure and term limit changes is key,” he said. “Then the Legislature can enact the policy going forward.”

Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey (R-Clarklake) did not make himself available to reporters following session, but in a statement praised the proposal as being a solid option for the voters to weigh in on the fall.

“By enabling lawmakers to serve out all their time in one chamber, even if for an overall shorter period of 12 years instead of the current 14, individuals would be free to focus on issues that are important to the communities they represent rather than on their next career move,” Mr. Shirkey said. “Likewise, it is also important that we strike a reasonable balance when it comes to the financial information elected officials must disclose to help make government more transparent, and not further discourage good folks from running for office.”

Mr. Shirkey has long been a supporter of changing the state’s laws on term limits. He has also been opposed to certain levels of financial disclosure, which he has repeatedly said might dissuade otherwise qualified persons from running for office.

Patrick Anderson from the Term Limits Defense Fund slammed the Legislature’s action as lacking any discussion. He said he was in the lobby in the Senate when the 26th vote went on the board and “the lobbyists around me quietly cheered.”

“This was adopted with no notice to the voters. It was hastily passed it with no debate. They even suspended the rules so they could avoid reading it out loud,” he said in a statement. “Whether you like term limits or not, this is a disgrace. These elected officials just reminded voters why they need to limit the power of incumbency. The stench of this ambush of the voters will last all the way to November.”

The breakdown of Tuesday’s House vote on HJR R split members of both caucuses:

HOUSE DEMOCRATS VOTING YES: Breen, Bolden, Cambensy, Camilleri, B. Carter, T. Carter, Cavanagh, Cherry, Clemente, Coleman, Ellison, Garza, Harris, Hertel, Hood, Hope, Jones, Koleszar, Kuppa, LaGrand, Liberati, Manoogian, Morse, Neeley, O’Neal, Pepper, Peterson, Pohutsky, Sabo, Scott, Shannon, Sowerby, Steckloff, Steenland, Tate, Thanedar, Weiss, Whitsett, Witwer, Yancey, and Young.

HOUSE DEMOCRATS VOTING NO: Aiyash, Brixie, Haadsma, C. Johnson, Rabhi, Rogers, Sneller, and Stone.

HOUSE REPUBLICANS VOTING YES: Alexander, Beeler, Bellino, Berman, Beson, Brann, Calley, Clements, Eisen, Filler, Frederick, Green, Griffin, Hall, Hoitenga, Hornberger, Howell, Kahle, Lightner, Lilly, Marino, Meerman, Mekoski, O’Malley, Outman, Paquette, Posthumus, Slagh, Tisdel, Vansingel, Wakeman, Wendzel, Wentworth, Whiteford and Yaroch.

HOUSE REPUBLICANS VOTING NO: Albert, Allor, Bollin, Borton, Carra, Damoose, Farrington, Fink, Glenn, Hauck, S. Johnson, LaFave, Maddock, Markkanen, Martin, Mueller, Reilly, Rendon, Roth, and VanWoerkom.

HOUSE MEMBERS NOT VOTING: Anthony, Brabec, Lasinski, Puri, and Bezotte.

In the Senate, the six members who voted against the resolution were Sen. Betty Alexander (D-Detroit), Sen. Tom Barrett (R-Charlotte), Sen. John Bizon (R-Battle Creek), Sen. Ruth Johnson (R-Groveland Township), Sen. Jim Runestad (R-White Lake) and Sen. Curt VanderWall (R-Ludington).

Six members were absent and did not vote Tuesday. Those included Sen. Jim Ananich (D-Flint), Sen. Jon Bumstead (R-North Muskegon), Sen. Stephanie Chang (D-Detroit), Sen. Erika Geiss (D-Taylor), Sen. Kim LaSata (R-Niles) and Sen. Sylvia Santana (D-Detroit).

Related: [Advocacy In Action Update: Chamber Supports Term Limit Reforms]

Disclosing Dollars Spent By Detroit Zoo, DIA Debated By Senate Panel

A pair of bills that would require the Detroit Zoological Society and the Detroit Institute of Arts to disclose how they spend their money saw some pushback during a Tuesday testimony before a Senate committee, with some questioning if this was a move to make now private nonprofits subject to regulations reserved for public and government entities.

SB 818, heard by the Senate Oversight Committee on Tuesday, would amend the Open Meetings Act to include accredited zoological institutions and art institutes that receive tax money and require all meetings to be open and available to the public. A separate bill, SB 819, would amend the Freedom of Information Act to also include zoological institutions and art institutes to disclose how they spend the money they receive upon request.

Sen. Jim Runestad (R-White Lake), SB 818’s sponsor, said the issue at hand was about transparency. Mr. Runestad said approximately $22 million annually is dedicated to the DIA and $5.8 million is given to the Detroit Zoo.

Wayne, Macomb, and Oakland counties have authority boards that levy taxes for each of the institutions, and once the millages are approved by the voters, the authority boards allocate the money to the DIA and the Detroit Zoo. These authorities are subject to FOIA, however, the Detroit Zoo and DIA do not have to disclose how they spend those dollars.

“What happens with the money once it’s at the two institutions? We don’t know,” Mr. Runestad said. “We are told that the entities, they’re private, so you shouldn’t be able to look at them. Well, are they, when 70 percent of (the DIA’s) funding, 33 percent of (the Detroit Zoo’s) funding is from public taxpayer dollars?”

Mr. Runestad said he is open to including a prohibition of disclosing the donors and open to modifying the bill to allow for leaders at the DIA to discuss purchasing art in a closed session.

Sen. Jeff Irwin (D-Ann Arbor) raised some concerns about the bills, asking why the two institutions were explicitly named and were the only vendors subject to the Open Meetings Act and FOIA while other vendors the authorities use, such as a vendor for accounting and a vendor for auditing, would not be included.

“It’s concerning to take a private entity and make it public through government action,” Mr. Irwin said.

Mr. Runestad replied he saw a real difference between a private company that’s among a multitude of private companies competing for the business of the authority, adding these two entities do not operate like other private companies.

“The way I see it and I think the general public sees it as nothing more than a pass-through entity – the authority – to a quasi-governmental agency, Mr. Runestad said.

Speaking on behalf of the Detroit Zoo was Kirk Profit, the director of Government Consultant Services, while Honigman LLP attorney Peter Ruddell spoke on behalf of the DIA. Both said they valued transparency and Mr. Profit said the entities receive the funding they do because of their transparency with the public.

“You look across different budgets – community health, education, social services, roads, transportation, public safety – a lot of that money is going to go to a private vendor,” Mr. Profit said. “By exposing those private vendors to this kind of sunshine, by law that is appropriate, and we embrace it for government entities … should we expand the notion of a public body to a nonprofit private entity?”

Mr. Ruddell clarified the DIA does not receive 70 percent of its funds from public entities. He also said the bills’ language is so vague it could be argued for example if Sen. Doug Wozniak (R-Shelby Township) donated to the DIA in his will, his will could also be subject to FOIA.

No other action was taken on the bills. Committee Chair Ed McBroom (R-Vulcan) said he hopes to discuss the bills again in the coming weeks.

OTHER BUSINESS: A bill that would require the Legislature to appropriate and disburse each year the amount needed for local governments to pay mandates required by the state saw no action.

Mr. McBroom, the bill’s sponsor, said an amendment for SB 449 is currently being worked on.

Under this bill, local governments could choose not to provide a new service required by the state unless a fiscal note is prepared, and the state appropriated the necessary funds.

If the money is not appropriated to the local governments, the bill would also prohibit the state from imposing a penalty, withholding funds, or imposing any form of monetary sanction on the local governments for failing to comply with the state requirement under certain circumstances.

The Department of Treasury would also be required to develop an account system to assist in the fiscal note process and the Department of Technology, Management, and Budget would be required to adjust the necessary funding to meet the state’s funding responsibility for each fiscal year.

Depending on the workload, the Senate Fiscal Agency estimates an additional full-time employee may be needed in the Legislature. Treasury would also experience additional costs to develop the accounting system.

Shirkey, Industry Leader Tout Proposed Blockchain, Crypto Study

Senators were told Thursday a proposed study of blockchain and cryptocurrency could eventually open the state up to the technology while making Michigan attractive to an educated workforce and new financial capital.

Before the Senate Economic and Small Business Development Committee for testimony only was SB 888, a bill that would create a Blockchain and Cryptocurrency Commission.

Membership of the 16-member commission would include a member apiece appointed by the House and Senate majority and minority leaders, two gubernatorial appointees, the heads of the departments of Attorney General, Treasury, Technology, Management, and Budget or their designees, and several others.

The duties of the commission would be to investigate blockchain and cryptocurrency and develop a set of recommendations for the expansion of blockchain technology and the cryptocurrency industry in the state.

“I can’t think of a topic today that is more pertinent than making sure Michigan is welcoming to the trends in the use and application of blockchain technology and everything associated with cryptocurrency,” Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey (R-Clarklake), a co-sponsor of SB 888, told the committee. “This is not simply to create a commission. This is really sending a signal to the nation and the world that Michigan is paying attention.”

Mr. Shirkey testified in the place of Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich (D-Flint), the bill’s main sponsor, who was not available to testify Thursday.

Bob Burnett, co-founder of Florida-based Divvy Systems and Barefoot Mining, told the committee bringing blockchain technology and cryptocurrency mining to Michigan could have huge implications.

Mr. Burnett said advantages include having a finite amount of currency in the system, being able to make transactions more quickly than a traditional bank and there being a permanent chronological record of all transactions.

He also explained, when asked about prices for bitcoin cratering in recent days, that the currency is better for investment rather than attempts at short-term gain.

“It’s an appropriate place to save money in the long term,” Mr. Burnett said, using the example of placing some bitcoin aside for a grandchild’s college education.

For mining purposes, Mr. Burnett said Michigan is an advantageous location due to its moderate climate and diverse resources.

When asked about environmental concerns of mining, Mr. Burnett said the industry’s percentage of renewable energy is higher than other industries. Further, he said mining can locate right next to an energy source, saving on expensive transmission methods and potential increases in emissions.

The time to begin researching blockchain technology and cryptocurrency is now, he said.

“By doing nothing … you’ll get ignored,” Mr. Burnett said, adding relationships and infrastructure may be in place elsewhere if Michigan were to wait to get involved.

Under SB 888, factors to be studied would include the feasibility and risks of the technology’s use in state and local government and Michigan-based businesses would be among the commission’s areas of investigation.

Areas of government use to study would include government records, delivery of services, use in statewide registries including for firearms, marijuana, and elections processes.

For business use, areas of study would include whether it is advisable for businesses to maintain corporate records through blockchain technology.

Other areas of study would include the impact on state revenues, what changes to the state’s tax structure may be needed, whether cryptocurrency transactions should be part of state sales tax, the feasibility of regulating energy consumption associated with cryptocurrency, and best practices for its use to government, businesses, and residents.

A report containing the commission’s recommendations and draft legislation for implementing recommendations would be due to the House and Senate within one year of the commission being appointed and seated.

MI Opts Out Of Fed Requirements For Physician Supervision Of CRNAs

Michigan will become the 20th state to opt-out of federal requirements for a physician to supervise certified registered nurse anesthetists after Governor Gretchen Whitmer late last month penned a letter to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid asking to do so.

“I have concluded that it is in the best interest of Michigan Citizens to opt-out of the current physician supervision requirement, as provided in the federal regulations, and that the opt-out is consistent with Michigan state law,” Ms. Whitmer wrote in an April 18 letter to the CMS. “This letter constitutes my formal notification of the State of Michigan opt-out.”

The decision was informed after her own review of the topic and done in consultation with both the Michigan Board of Nursing and the Board of Medicine, as well as on the advice of legislative leaders, Ms. Whitmer noted in the letter.

It directly follows the creation of PA 53 of 2021 – formerly HB 4359, sponsored by Rep. Mary Whiteford (R-Casco Township) – which allowed CRNAs to work in accordance with national standards while also mandating that a CRNA hold a specialty certification for at least three years before practicing without supervision.

Another requirement would be for physicians, podiatrists and dentists to be part of a patient-centered care team (See Gongwer Michigan Report, July 13, 2021).

Michigan Association of Nurse Anesthetists President Adam Kuz praised the move in a Thursday statement, saying: “Governor Whitmer’s action in signing the opt-out ensures Michigan’s patients have access to efficient and value-based, high-quality care which optimizes healthcare teams across our state.”

Roughly 2,600 CRNAs are currently practicing in Michigan making up 70 percent of all anesthesia providers in the state.

Chamber Invites Top 5 Candidates to Participate in GOP Gubernatorial Debate

DETROIT (May 12, 2022) – Today, the Detroit Regional Chamber invited five candidates for Michigan Governor to participate in a Republican Gubernatorial debate. The Chamber is hosting the debate, in coordination with the Michigan Republican Party, during its 2022 Mackinac Policy Conference on Thursday, June 2, at 4:30 p.m. at Grand Hotel. The candidates invited today are:

  • James Craig
  • Perry Johnson
  • Ryan Kelley
  • Kevin Rinke
  • Garrett Soldano

The candidate selection process was determined jointly by the Chamber and the Michigan Republican Party. A recent statewide survey of Republican primary voters conducted by The Glengariff Group Inc., the Chamber’s polling partner, informed the selection. The survey polled 500 likely August 2022 Republican Primary voters between April 29 and May 1, 2022.

The selection was based on the following survey question: respondents were read the names of all 10 filed candidates in alphabetical order and asked who they would support to be the Republican nominee for Governor. Each of the selected candidates received a response of 5% or higher to this question. The entire survey is available online.

“The Mackinac Policy Conference is pleased to welcome Michigan’s Republican Gubernatorial hopefuls to Michigan’s Center Stage as they present their vision for our state’s future,” said Sandy K. Baruah, president and chief executive officer of the Detroit Regional Chamber. “We look forward to the candidates for Governor giving our attendees and a statewide audience their perspectives on Michigan’s future beyond campaign soundbites.”

While five candidates were invited to participate in the debate, the Chamber also extended an invitation to the additional five candidates to attend the Conference. The Chamber reserves the right to modify debate participants if the Board of State Canvassers rules on ballot petition challenges or if new, public, independent polling further identifies additional competitive candidates. Candidate polls will not qualify as independent polling. Candidates that exit the race will be excluded.

View the latest Conference updates at

Advocacy In Action Roundup: County Executives Give Outlook on Regional Transit, Talent Shortage

On May 11, the Detroit Regional Chamber hosted the county executives from Macomb, Oakland, and Wayne counties to discuss the significant business issues of the region. Hosted at the Mint Conference Center in Lathrup Village, this was the first time that all three were in-person together since early 2020 when they last held an event to discuss regional transit. Carol Cain, senior producer and host for CBS 62 Michigan Matters and columnist for the Detroit Free Press, led the conversation.



Leading Through COVID-19 Brought Valuable Lessons on Problem Solving

Cain started with the topic of what the past two and a half years have been like as a county executive dealing with COVID-19 and the fallout in their communities.

Oakland County Executive David Coulter said nothing really prepared him for this job. He lamented that there’s “hardly ever a training manual for your job, but you will do just fine if you let your values and style guide you.”

Wayne County Executive Warren Evans said that Wayne County, and he personally, faced “difficult and troublesome” times, but he was able to learn from the situation.

Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel looked at COVID-19 as an insightful experience, learning who would “step up and address the current problems, instead of sitting back and creating more problems.”


Unified Regional Transit Services Have “Larger Price Tag” But Should Introduce More National Opportunities

The topic of discussion quickly shifted to regional cooperation and a transit system to service Metro Detroit.
Coulter pointed out that the pandemic highlighted the need for regional transit and that it “holds the region back” from more significant events like hosting the Super Bowl again.

Evans agreed with a unified approach to transit but said that the solutions could be “hard to swallow due to their larger price tags.”

Finishing the group off, Hackel pointed to Macomb’s “all in” approach with transit. Every community in Macomb is a SMART community, paying an annual mileage to the transit service. Hackel believes that a regional transit system would exist if the other two counties opted entirely into SMART, saying it would be “SMART-er.”


To Solve Talent Shortage, Schools and Employers Must Strengthen Requirement Coordination

Later in the discussion, the topic became the talent shortage that the region is currently facing.
Coulter wants to connect Oakland County employers with Michigan’s colleges and trade schools to ensure students graduate with the relevant experience employers seek.

Evans pointed to some of the extreme requirements employers put on potential job seekers, saying that some testing and education requirements may be “too strenuous in this employment market.”

Macomb County currently has 35,000 job openings, for which Hackel blamed a lack of coordination between schools and employers.


“Economic Competitiveness” and Infrastructure are Expected Conversation Topics at Mackinac Policy Conference

Wrapping up the event, Cain asks what issue they hope to discuss on the porch of the Grand Hotel during this year’s Mackinac Policy Conference.

Coulter finds that our economy should be the number one topic. He says we need to focus on site readiness and economic competitiveness as a state.

Evans agreed with the economy being a central point of discussion but instead primarily focused on the backfilled tax losses with the new investment that the region is receiving. Evans specifically pointed to all of the investment coming to the airport.

Hackel joked that the topic of discussion should be three things: “sustainable funding for roads, roads, and roads.” Finishing off the discussion, he warns if the region “does not get serious about infrastructure problems now, it will be too late in the future.”

Watch the full discussion below.


Fortune 500 Companies Step Up to Appoint More Women on Boards

Marie Leech

May 12, 2022

Fortune 500 boards appointed a record number of women in 2021, although Latinx, Asian and Asian American women continue to be underrepresented, according to a new report released by executive search firm Heidrick & Struggles.

The 2022 Board Monitor report found that 45% of the 449 board seats filled in 2021 were women directors, up from 41% the previous year.

According to the report, global events like the pandemic, climate change, increased calls for racial and social justice, and the war in Ukraine have prompted corporations to focus more attention on “organizational purpose.” In response, the report states, Fortune 500 boards of directors notably shifted to bringing in a wider range of experience, including more directors who are women, diverse and serving for the first time in the boardroom.

“Boards continue to seek fresh thinking as evidenced by the appointment of directors with more diverse backgrounds,” said Bonnie Gwin, vice chair and co-managing partner of Headrick & Struggles’ global chief executive officer and board of directors practice. “And the truly cutting-edge boards are taking a strategic, holistic approach to board succession by continuously monitoring refreshment opportunities to meet today’s challenges and respond with resilience when the unexpected occurs.”

While the number of women board members continues to trend up – 29% of all directors on Fortune 500 boards are women, up from 19% in 2015 – the number of Asian/Asian American and Hispanic/Latinx directors continue to be underrepresented at 9% and 6%, respectively. Those percentages have not risen in recent years, the report found.

“We are encouraged to see the trend toward more equitable representation on boards,” said Lyndon Taylor, regional managing partner of Headrick & Struggles’ North American CEO and board of director practice. “We expect that more progress will be made on DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion) when diverse directors hold more influential board positions, especially as board chair or chair of the nominating and governance committee, but this will require that boards take a comprehensive perspective on diversity from gender experience to continue pursuit of aspiring directors that are racially and ethnically diverse.”

Other notable findings in the report include:

  • While current or former chief executive officers and chief financial officers continue to fill the majority of appointments, the trend is on a gradual decline. In 2021, 40% of appointees were current or former chief executive officers, down significantly from the high of 60% in 2018. Current or former chief financial officers made up 14% of appointments in 2021, down from a high of 21% in 2020. Notably this year, 16% of newly appointed women directors have chief financial officer experience compared to 11% of men.
  • The average age of new board members continues – for the sixth year – to hold steady at around 57, with 64% of the seats in 2021 going to people 55 and older; 6% to those under 45.

Only 31% of Hispanic/Latinx appointments and 33% of Asian/Asian American appointees are women compared to the higher gender diversity among Black (43%) and white (49%) appointees.

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Van Dyke Horn Public Relations New Strategic Partnership Brings New Capabilities & Hires

Van Dyke Horn New Hires Include More Than 30 Years of Combined Experience and Creative Services, Multimedia and Website Capabilities to Clients

DETROIT–April 18, 2022– After the initial announcement of Van Dyke Horn Public Relations (VDH) and Lambert joining forces on March 30, we asked, what’s next? VDH today announced the hiring of four seasoned staff who make up the agency’s 11-member team.

VDH announced a strategic partnership with Lambert, a national integrated communications agency, on March 30, joining two of Michigan’s top PR agencies. VDH remains a Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) business as it has for the last 24 years. The new alliance provides both firms with new opportunities and capabilities, including creative services, multimedia production, website, social media management and digital marketing. Both firms are already bringing shared assets and services to the table for their clients to help achieve goals. VDH plans to rename and rebrand in the next few weeks.

Kelsey Hartung and Antonice Strickland, MPS, join VDH as Senior Account Executives. Jerel Jones and Sabira Rahman have both joined as Account Executives.

Hartung has nearly 15 years of experience in public relations, community engagement, and event planning and management. Before VDH, Hartung handled corporate communications for Ilitch Holdings, Inc. in Detroit. Prior to that, she led communications and event planning for the legal staff at General Motors, served as director of communications and public affairs for the Public Lighting Authority, and worked at VDH from 2011 to 2014, when the agency was Berg Muirhead and Associates. She is eager to return to the storied agency where commitment to the community is the cornerstone of its work. Hartung received a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from Oakland University. She is a member of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) Detroit and the Rotary Club of Detroit.

Strickland is an award-winning public relations and communications professional with experience across nonprofit, fortune 500, and entertainment industries for a decade. In her previous roles, Strickland headed up marketing and public relations for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Southeastern Michigan, served as a senior account executive with Truscott Rossman, and was the communications manager for Black Women’s Health Imperative from Washington, D.C. She holds a Master of Professional Studies in Public Relations and Corporate Communications from Georgetown University and a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from Michigan State University. Strickland is a board member of PRSA Detroit and formerly served as chapter president of the National Black Public Relations Society.

“Our new hires join our existing staff and senior leadership, bringing more skills and talents into the fold,” said Georgella Muirhead, APR, founder and CEO of VDH, “We continue to break down walls, and barriers to serve our employees, clients and community. This is our home.”

Rahman is an experienced communicator with a concentration in PR, digital marketing, content creating and writing. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in communications and public relations, summa cum laude, from Wayne State University. Prior to VDH, she supported Featherstone, the Children’s Foundation and Beaumont Health with PR, digital marketing and media relations. Rahman is fluent in English, Bangla and Arabic.

Jones previously worked as a freelancer for Upwork and supported the Detroit Health Department with communications and social media before joining VDH. He has experience leading media relations and marketing campaigns for diverse clients through Lovio George, a communications and design agency. Jones received a Bachelor of Arts in communication from the University of Michigan-Dearborn.

“We remain committed to providing the highest quality of services to our clients and our community,” said Marilyn Horn, president and CFO of VDH. “We are eager to bring new capabilities to the table alongside Lambert–including creative services, video production, website design and more. VDH continues to grow in size, services and spirit. We are going back to our roots, which will be at the core of our new name and brand.”

Hartung and Strickland will serve as day-to-day contacts for clients and teams in their new roles. They will lead the development of communications plans, reporting and analytics, communications campaigns, and marketing strategies. Jones and Rahman will play a critical role in implementing program strategies, assisting in PR and marketing plans, while conducting thorough research, media monitoring and drawing analytics.

“The team keeps knocking it out of the park to attract top talent to the agency,” said Lambert CEO Michelle Olson, APR. “And, our partnership has already opened the doors to opportunities and clients we both would have walked away from alone. The two agencies have skills that continue to set each other apart — and together, we make a stronger team.”

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Media Contacts:
Brenda Hu;; 517-599-1360
Kelsey Hartung;; 313-799-0201

Comcast RISE to Award $1M in Grants to Small Businesses Owned by Women and People of Color in Detroit, Highland Park, and Hamtramck

On Thursday, May 12, Comcast announced it will award $1 million in grants to 100  Detroit, Highland Park, and Hamtramck small businesses owned by women and people of color, including Black, Indigenous, Hispanic, and Asian American owners, among others. Detroit was one of five cities, including Atlanta, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, and Twin Cities, selected for the program. Comcast will award a $10,000 grant to 100 local businesses from the Comcast RISE Investment Fund, for a total of $5 million across 500 businesses. This brings the amount awarded to $16 million to date.

The application process will open to qualifying businesses June 1-14, and prospective owners must have their businesses located within the geographic boundaries of Detroit, Highland Park, and Hamtramck.

“The Comcast RISE Investment Fund supported my business at a very critical time in the midst of the pandemic when parents, particularly those who were considered essential workers, needed a safe, reliable environment for their pre-K-aged children,” said Nina Hodge, Above and Beyond Learning Childcare Center on Detroit’s east side.

To help drive outreach about the program and provide additional support, training and mentorship, Comcast is also awarding $60,000 in grants to four community-based organizations in Detroit, including Build Institute, Metro-Detroit Black Business Alliance, Michigan Women Forward and TechTown Detroit.

In addition, Comcast RISE invests in ongoing mentorship and resources to help businesses succeed over the long-term. The program has partnered with Ureeka, an online platform for entrepreneurs, to provide grant recipients with business coaching to help build skills in company foundation, growing customers and financial stability.

All Comcast RISE recipients will also have a specialized online networking community within Ureeka with access to educational resources, sources of capital, and vetted experts such as U.S. Black Chambers, National Asian Pacific Islander Chamber of Commerce & Entrepreneurship, U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Association for Enterprise Opportunity, Walker’s Legacy and Operation Hope.

“Ureeka is proud to partner with Comcast RISE to grow small businesses nationwide with coaching and digital services,” said, Melissa Bradley, co-founder of Ureeka. “We know there are stark disparities in access to capital and resources for entrepreneurs of color and women entrepreneurs. The additional coaching and digital resources that these businesses receive, in addition to potential monetary funding, will help these businesses gain valuable skills and opportunities that will help them move from survive to thrive.”

Comcast RISE was formed in late 2020 to give small businesses owned by people of color, from bakeries and barbershops to child care centers and cleaning services, the grants needed to not just survive, but thrive. The 4,700 recipients are from 422 cities across 34 states. In November 2021, Comcast RISE announced a major expansion to all women-owned businesses nationwide.

Comcast RISE Marketing and Technology Services

In addition to the Investment Fund, Comcast RISE, which stands for “Representation, Investment, Strength and Empowerment,” provides the opportunity for small businesses owned by people of color and women nationwide to apply for grants for one or more of the following support focus areas with the opportunity to receive one.

  • Marketing Services Grant: The following services from Effectv, the advertising sales division of Comcast Cable, and its creative agency, Mnemonic, are designed to help recipients with their marketing and media campaigns, including:
    • Media: A linear TV media campaign to run over a 90-day period.
    • Creative Production: Turnkey 30-second TV commercial production, plus a media strategy consultation and a 90-day linear TV media campaign.
    • Consult: Digital audits by Ureeka in the form of Website Repair Reports and SEO Keyword reports to target website mechanics and effective organic marketing
  • Technology Makeover Grants: The state-of-the-art equipment and technology upgrade from Comcast Business includes computer equipment as well as internet, voice and cybersecurity services for up to a 12-month period. (Taxes and other fees may still apply for tech makeover services.)
  • Monetary Grants: In round one, which was announced in April of 2021, the Comcast RISE Investment Fund provided $5 million in grants to 500 small businesses owned by people of color in five cities: Detroit, Philadelphia/Chester, Houston, Atlanta and Chicago. In round two, which was announced in September of 2021, the Comcast RISE Investment Fund provided $6 million in grants to 600 small businesses in six cities: Miami, Houston, Oakland, Seattle, the Twin Cities, and Washington, D.C. As noted above, the Comcast RISE Investment Fund will provide an additional $5 million in grants to 500 small businesses owned by people of color and women in five cities: Detroit, Atlanta, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, and the Twin Cities.

All eligible applicants will receive a monthly Comcast RISE newsletter with educational content, and all small business owners can visit the Comcast RISE destination on the X1 platform featuring aggregated small business news, tips, insights, and more. Just say “Comcast RISE” into the X1 voice remote.

Comcast’s Ongoing Commitment to Advancing Digital Equity

Comcast RISE is part of Comcast’s ongoing efforts to advance digital equity and help provide underrepresented small business owners with access to the digital tools and funding they need to thrive. Over the next 10 years, Comcast has committed $1 billion to programs and partnerships that will reach tens of millions of people with the skills, opportunities, and resources they need to succeed in an increasingly digital world.

More information and the applications to apply for either the grant program or marketing and technology services are available at

MSU’s Cook Makes History as First Black Woman on Fed Board of Governors

The Detroit News
Melissa Nann Burke and Riley Beggin
May 10, 2022

MSU Professor Lisa Cook.

Michigan State University economist Lisa Cook made history after the U.S. Senate voted along party lines Tuesday to approve her nomination to the Federal Reserve, where she will be the first Black woman to serve on the Board of Governors.

The vote was 51-50, with Vice President Kamala Harris breaking a tie. Senate Democrats lauded Cook’s credentials, and Republicans cast doubt about her economic views and independence from partisan politics.

If the Senate goes on to confirm Fed nominee Philip Jefferson to the Fed, it would be the first time the board has included more than one Black governor at once, according to research by Kaleb Nygaard at the Yale Program on Financial Stability.

Democrats have been pushing for nearly four months to confirm Cook, whose pick was lauded by bankers, former Federal Reserve governors and top-tier economists but has faced united opposition from Senate Republicans. The central bank’s mandate is to promote stable prices and maximum employment.

Tuesday was the Democrats’ second attempt after senators tried and failed to advance Cook’s nomination two weeks ago by a vote of 47-51. That occurred amid the absences of two Democratic senators who had COVID-19, as well as  Harris.

“Dr. Lisa Cook is the right person at the right time to serve at the Federal Reserve,” said Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Lansing. “Today’s confirmation comes at a moment when the Federal Reserve needs the best and the brightest to help us recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. Dr. Cook’s perspective and experience is unmatched and will be instrumental in our nation’s recovery.”

A Georgia native, Cook has taught since 2005 at MSU, where she is a professor of economics and international relations. She was named a director of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago in January and previously served as a senior Treasury Department adviser and on President Barack Obama’s White House Council of Economic Advisors from 2011-12.

“The depth and breadth of my experience in both the public and private sectors qualify me to serve as a Federal Reserve governor,” Cook said at her hearing in February. “And should I be confirmed, I would be honored to work with my colleagues to help navigate this critical moment for our nation’s economy and the global economy.”

Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey, the top Republican on the banking panel, for months has urged his GOP colleagues to reject Cook, saying she would politicize the nonpartisan Board of Governors and that she doesn’t have enough expertise in monetary policy, points he reiterated in a floor speech Tuesday. Other GOP senators have called her economic views “radical.”

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on the floor Tuesday again claimed that Cook has “no proven expertise in modern economics” or fighting inflation.

“Professor Cook is a proven partisan who has promoted left-wing conspiracy theories and called for a fellow academic to be fired because that person did not support defunding the police,” McConnell said. “The American people deserve an independent, nonpartisan inflation fighter for this important post.”

Democratic Ohio Sen. ​​​​​​Sherrod Brown, chair of the banking committee, said Thursday that hundreds of prominent economists have sent letters to the panel supporting Cook’s nomination.

“She understands how economic policy affects all kinds of different people in different parts of the country, from the rural South where she grew up to the industrial Midwest where she built her career,” Brown said.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat, has said GOP senators are working to obstruct her “purely for political purposes.”

“Her qualifications are irrefutable,” Schumer said last month.

“Michigan’s own Dr. Lisa Cook has the experience and leadership needed to help strengthen our economy and support families across our state,” said Sen. Gary Peters, D-Bloomfield Township. “I was proud to support her historic confirmation and am confident her perspective will serve our nation well on the Federal Reserve.”

Inflation jumped 7.9% over the past year, according to a March report by the U.S. Department of Labor, the sharpest spike since 1982. Critics have argued the Federal Reserve waited too long to combat inflation as the board last week raised its benchmark interest rate by a half-percentage point — its most aggressive move since 2000.

Cook at her March hearing said she backed the direction taken by the Fed to counter the highest inflation in decades, but she didn’t detail how she would vote on policy or what other tools she would support using to counter inflation.

In response to GOP questions about her expertise in monetary policy, Cook pointed to her publications related to banking reform and recognizing systemic risk, as well as her doctorate in economics from the University of California, Berkeley.

Cook described her economic specialty as managing financial crises, noting her post with the Financial Crisis Think Tank at the U.S. Department of the Treasury and that she was in charge of managing the eurozone crisis during her time on the White House Council of Economic Advisors.

Cook’s published work has focused in part on policies that boost economic opportunity and innovation, including how tackling inequality can promote economic growth and the effects of gender and racial disparities on wealth inequality.

A 2014 research paper studied patents and found violence against Black Americans between 1870 to 1940 had depressed their innovation, suggesting that political conflict can affect the direction and “quality of invention of economic growth over time.”

She’s also written about supporting small businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic and in the area of international finance “in places of uncertainty and emerging markets and developing countries,” she said at her hearing.

Cook in her hearing testimony also said she’d follow the example of economist and former Fed Chairman Paul Volcker, “whom I greatly admire for his unwavering dedication to a nonpolitical and independent Federal Reserve.”

“My approach to complex problems is to be guided by facts, data and analysis and to work collaboratively,” she said. “I have served in the administrations of presidents from both parties and when I make decisions, I do so based on the facts and not politics.”

Cook’s nomination and other Fed nominations were held up for about a month earlier this year after Republicans on the banking committee boycotted meetings over their objections to one of Biden’s picks, Sarah Bloom Raskin, who has since withdrawn her nomination.

Biden this month nominated Michael Barr, the dean of the University of Michigan’s Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, to be the Federal Reserve’s vice chairman of supervision.

Before becoming dean, Barr was an assistant Treasury secretary for financial institutions during the Obama administration who helped design the 2010 Dodd-Frank regulations after the devastating 2008 financial crisis.

Barr is also a Rhodes Scholar who clerked for former Justice David Souter on the Supreme Court and served during the Clinton administration at the White House, the Treasury Department and the State Department.

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