Detroit Regional Chamber > Advocacy > Dec. 8, 2023 | This Week in Government: High School Grad Rates Climb

Dec. 8, 2023 | This Week in Government: High School Grad Rates Climb

December 8, 2023
Detroit Regional Chamber Presents This Week in Government, powered by Gongwer, Michigan's home for Policy and Politics news since 1906

Each week, the Detroit Regional Chamber’s Government Relations team, in partnership with Gongwer, provides 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.

Report: High School Grad Rates Climb While Degree Completion Struggles

The graduation rates in Detroit regional schools are returning to pre-pandemic levels, but students continue to struggle with completing postsecondary degrees, the latest report from the Detroit Regional Chamber found.

The 2023 State of Education and Talent, was released Wednesday during the annual State of Education and Talent event hosted by the Detroit Regional Chamber. Sandy Baruah, the group’s president and Chief Executive Officer, said in a statement the report presents both good news and bad news.

“The Detroit Region is gradually increasing educational attainment, but there are significant challenges that, if not addressed, will jeopardize our ability to field a workforce that’s prepared for the jobs of the future,” Baruah said. “There are promising gains like increased bachelor’s degree attainment, yet an alarming downward trend in overall enrollment. The bottom line is that we still have too many people not earning a degree or credential after high school.”

At least 75 percent of Michigan voters surveyed do not believe four-year degrees are worth the money. Roughly 27.5 percent said it was worth the money and 26.5 percent said a college education was important to landing a job. There are 492,000 working age adults in the region who have some college credit, but no degree.

The report noted the number of students who enroll and obtain a bachelor’s degree or higher within six years of high school graduation is increasing, with rates in both the city and the region increasing by 7 percent during the past five years. The number of students in Detroit graduating high school is also increasing, going from 68 percent to 73 percent in 2022.

At least 71 percent of students in the Detroit region who enrolled in postsecondary education received a bachelor’s degree within six years of high school graduation. However, 37 percent of Detroit region students were not enrolling in postsecondary education.

Additionally, 70% of students in Detroit and 42 percent from the region have not earned a certificate or credential within six years of graduating high school.

Students who graduated from two-year institutions also increased slightly during the past five years, with students in the city at 12 percent and regional students at 32 percent.

Apprenticeships also saw increases during the past five years, with the Chamber saying they nearly doubled. The region currently has more than 7,600 active apprentices as of 2022 with the most of them in construction and manufacturing as well as retail trade, utilities and health care.

The graduation rate for Black Detroit Promise students at four-year institutions is 13 percent higher than the national average for Black students, but the share of degree completions by Black college students was 12 percent.

Racial disparities in education continue, with 27 percent of Black adults and 34 percent Latino adults aged 25 years or older earning an associate degree or higher, below the Detroit’s region rate of 44 percent. Only 12 percent of the 45,000 degree completions accounted for were from Black students in 2022.

The report also estimated the increase in postsecondary attainment and reaching the 60 by 30 goal, the region would see an estimated $42 billion return on investment. Labor force participation for individuals with a bachelor’s degree or higher was found to be 18.5 percentage points higher than high school graduates in the Detroit region. The unemployment rate was also found to be relatively low, 1.8 percent.

Though the talent pipeline is improving, the report noted that “leaks remain.” Examining a group of 100 ninth graders, 15 percent of the students in the region and 27 percent in Detroit did not graduate. Of the 83 graduates, 60 of them enrolled in college. The number dwindled to only 35 of them earning a degree or credential within six years. In 2021, the percentage of Detroit students not enrolling in postsecondary increased from 45 percent to 60 percent.

The report also said the Detroit region is “struggling to fully engage” the population in the workforce, with a 63 percent labor force participation.

To achieve the state’s 60 by 30 goal, Greg Handel, the Chamber’s vice president of education and talent, said closing the racial equity gap and ensuring more working adults finish their college degrees is important.

“Doing so takes time and a long-term commitment by the entire Detroit Region to continue to develop and scale programs that improve access and affordability while supporting students throughout their educational journey,” Handel said in a statement.

Governor Wants To See All EVs In State Fleet

Governor Gretchen Whitmer wants to electrify the state’s vehicle fleet.

The governor signed an executive directive on Tuesday to transition Michigan’s fleet to zero-emission vehicles by 2040.

“Michigan automakers are on the cutting-edge of the world’s switch to zero emission vehicles, and with today’s executive directive to transition our state-owned fleet by 2040, the State of Michigan is leading by example,” Whitmer said in a statement .”Getting this done with help drive demand of Michigan-made electric vehicles, lower gas and maintenance costs for the state since SEVs cost far less to fuel and maintain and reduce air and noise pollution in our communities.”

Light-duty vehicles must be changed over by 2033, and medium- and heavy-duty vehicles must be changed over by 2040. Whitmer leaves office January 1, 2027. There was no indication in the directive how much of the changeover will happen prior to that date.

The 2024 budget sets aside $1 million to begin the process.

Under the directive, state departments are asked to prioritize zero emission vehicles in their fleet and transitioning vehicles that travel the most miles first. Further, departments are asked to prioritize transitioning vehicles in communities that have historically been harmed by higher levels of pollution. The directive also commits to installing electric vehicle supply equipment, including publicly accessible chargers, in high-density areas.

There are clear exemption criteria for specific fleet vehicles, and alternative emission reduction options, such as hybrids, are recommended.

Automotive and climate leaders praised Whitmer’s decision.

“The UAW applauds the State of Michigan for showing that the electric vehicle transition doesn’t have to be a race to the bottom,” said UAW President Shawn Fain in a statement. “We encourage the state to purchase union-made EVs for all state vehicles, giving America’s autoworkers their fair share of this historic moment for the American auto industry. On behalf of our 400,000 active members and 600,000 retirees, I want to thank and commend Governor Whitmer on notching another win for the working class.”

Glenn Stevens Jr., executive director of MICHauto and the vice president of Automotive and Mobility Initiatives for the Detroit Regional Chamber, also celebrated the initiative.

“Moving our state vehicles to clean energy propulsion systems is a significant step towards Michigan’s leadership as a clean energy economy,” he said in a statement. “Our state fleet will be a leading example of zero-emission vehicles on our roads and will help set a precedent for all public and personal transportation to move in this direction.”

The directive is in line with state fleet officials’ tendency to use clean fuels and vehicles with good fuel economy, said a statement from Maggie Striz Calnin, director of the Michigan Clean Cities coalition, a member organization of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Clean Cities Network, but the directive takes it a step further.

“Gov. Whitmer’s commitment today sends a clear message, for the first time, that the state will lead by example in the clean transportation paradigm shift,” Striz Calnin said.

Michigan is expanding EV fueling infrastructure with plans to generate 100,000 chargers by 2030, through provisions of the Inflation Reduction Act and Whitmer’s clean energy policies.

“This is a significant step forward in Michigan’s commitment to clean mobility,” said Jane McCurry, executive director of Clean Fuels Michigan. “Thanks to Gov. Whitmer’s leadership, Michigan is yet again in the fast lane, driving growth in the advanced auto industry and ensuring Michigan communities reap the air quality benefits of cleaner vehicle technologies.”

The directive slots into the governor’s push for Michigan to produce all its energy from clean sources by 2040. Last week, Whitmer signed a slate of energy bills that she said would make Michigan a leader in clean energy (See Gongwer Michigan Report, Nov. 28, 2023).

“Today’s executive directive for electrifying the state’s vehicle fleet is a big step forward in meeting the governor’s climate goals as well as demonstrating leadership on the future of mobility,” Charles Griffith, climate and energy program director at the Ecology Center said in a statement. “We hope the state’s commitment to transition to elective vehicles will also encourage other public and private fleet operators to make the decision to go electric, saving money on fuel costs and cleaning the air at the same time.”

Several other states have set goals to convert their fleets to electric vehicles, including Virginia, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Illinois, New Mexico and Hawaii.

Courtney Bourgoin, Evergreen Action Midwest senior policy and advocacy manager, said Whitmer’s commitment to electrifying the state’s fleet was among the strongest in the country.

“The governor’s directive takes a smart step to target pollution reductions where they’re needed most by prioritizing transitioning vehicles located in communities that have been historically overburdened with higher pollution,” she said. “From committing to 100%= percent clean electricity to transitioning 100 percent of its government fleet to clean vehicles, Michigan has taken huge steps this year to combat climate change, improve public health and lead the way in building a clean energy economy.”

Justices Focus On Potential Remedy In Adopt-And-Amend Oral Arguments

Justices of the Michigan Supreme Court and attorneys robustly debated how the consequential “adopt and amend” case should be decided and what remedies were reasonably available during oral arguments held Thursday.

Before the court was Mothering Justice v. Attorney General (MSC Docket No. 165325). The lawsuit has asked the bench to decide whether the Legislature can amend a voter-initiated law it adopted in the same legislative term.

Justices also will decide whether two controversial 2018 initiative petitions can take effect: one that called for raising Michigan’s minimum wage to $12 per hour by 2022 and bringing the tipped minimum wage up to the regular minimum wage and another that mandated paid sick time for workers.

The appeal mounted by Mothering Justice and One Fair Wage seeks to reverse a holding by the Court of Appeals, which ruled the strategy as constitutional and within the Legislature’s authority. The issues were once before the Michigan Supreme Court and had been extensively briefed in this round before the case was called for oral arguments on Thursday.

Justices dove straight into questions for the respective parties, giving them little room to rehash their respective arguments, opting to test them in real time instead.

Mark Brewer, attorney for the plaintiff-appellants, began by noting Michigan’s 105-year history of allowing average citizens to initiate laws, but that changed in 2018 with the adopt-and-amend strategy deployed by the Legislature. Brewer continued by saying the structure of the Constitution, the text of Article II, Section 9, its history, precedents of the state’s high court and other authorities show the Court of Appeals decision was erroneous and should be reversed.

Brewer didn’t get far into his argument before justices started firing questions.

Justice Richard Bernstein asked if the court disagreed with his position, would their decision ultimately harm the initiative process and stymy direct democracy. Brewer said yes.

“The construction offered by the defendants here, there’s no limiting principle. They have not given the court any time in which the Legislature could not step in and do exactly what it did here,” Brewer told Bernstein. “Essentially, the right to initiative in this state will end if this adopt and amend scheme is allowed. The Legislature is the natural enemy of the initiative process. That’s why the initiative process was adopted to bypass an often hostile Legislature.”

If the power to adopt and amend is placed in the hands of the Legislature, Brewer added, “they’ll use that to eviscerate the right of initiative.”

“Why would anybody undertake an initiative knowing that a hostile Legislature can simply adopt and then gut their proposals?” Brewer said. “So, if the position of the defense is adopted, it really will be the end of statutory initiative in this state after 105 years.”

Justice Elizabeth Welch was the first to focus on potential remedies in the case. She said it was convoluted because the petitions were at first ballot initiatives that never reached the ballot, as the Legislature adopted the proposals.

Welch wanted to separate the adoption from the amendment, focusing on the phase in period of what was ultimately made law. She asked Brewer how the court would grapple with implementation if it agreed with the plaintiffs’ position that gutting the bills after adoption was unconstitutional.

Brewer said the language answers that question.

“(The originally adopted laws) were very clear that as of a certain date, employees in the state were entitled to paid sick time, and as of a certain date, they were entitled to this level of minimum wage. Where we are now in that statutory scheme, the wage would be at $13-plus by the time you factor in inflation,” Brewer asserted. “That’s the remedy. The Legislature adopted the statutes knowing there was litigation coming. They took the risk that their adopt-and-amend scheme would be struck down and that we would revert to that law.”

Justice David Viviano countered by saying his argument sounded much like a Washington state Supreme Court decision and remedy cited by the defendant-appellees. Viviano said the court ordered the question to the ballot for the people to decide, treating the amended initiative as an alternate proposal on the same ballot. He asked Brewer, following the Washington state Supreme Court’s logic, if they were required to reach the same conclusion.

“I get that you don’t like the remedy, but you follow their reasoning of trying to impose a limit on amending within the same session,” Viviano said. “I don’t think you can test that the Legislature could amend or repeal the legislation at some point in time you just want to impose a same session limitation, which is what the Washington Supreme Court did, although the language, of course, of their constitution talks about the same session. Ours only provides a 40-day period so there’s different words.”

Brewer said the 40-day window Viviano mentioned was simply a deadline, and an embargo period baked into the language may extend beyond the legislative session, and into the next session for 90 days to allow for a referendum.

As to why the justices shouldn’t see the Legislature’s actions as a sort of referendum rejecting the initiatives, Brewer said that in and of itself was an unconstitutional act.

“This court has repeatedly under provisions of the Constitution which govern the legislative process, found that if the Legislature violates those procedural rules, the underlying law is unconstitutional,” he said. “That is what should occur here. PA 368 and PA 369 should be struck down, and the laws, as enacted, should come back into effect.”

Representing the Legislature was Deputy Solicitor General Eric Restuccia, who argued the Constitution was unambiguous in its lack of limitation for the body to adopt an initiative and amend it within the same legislative session. Restuccia said that power was consistent with Article IV of the Constitution.

He added the court has held the Legislature has the authority to do anything not strictly prohibited by Language of the Constitution. If there was any limit on its ability to adopt and then amend, it would have to appear in Article II, Section 9, but no such language exists.

“All legislatively enacted laws are on the same plane and equal footing. They may be amended at any time by a simple majority,” Restuccia argued. “A second point is that the constitutional framework is a sensible one – the court really doesn’t have the authority to second-guess – but it makes sense because there may be a need to correct the law within the same legislative session.”

Restuccia cited the Court of Claims Act, which was given immediate effect in November 2013 and amended December 2013.

Bernstein asked Restuccia as he had Brewer about the people’s right to initiate laws and seek referendums. If the Legislature prevailed, Bernstein wondered if that would end the ability for referendum in Michigan.

“I don’t see why that would occur because the Legislature knows that if it has an alternative, and it places it on the ballot, and its proposal is adopted by the people, it gets a three-fourths protection going forward,” Restuccia said. “So, there’s always an incentive to the Legislature if it has an alternative to place on the ballot and allow the people to decide. Of course, there’s always a risk.”

Restuccia’s hypothesis is not supported by the past 30 years of legislative action, however. Only once, in 1996, did the Legislature put a competing proposal on the ballot alongside a voter-initiated proposal, on bear hunting. And since 2000, the Legislature and four different governors have effectively ended the right to a referendum through the use of placing appropriations in bills. Some voter-initiated acts have used the same tactic of placing an appropriation in them to prevent a subsequent referendum.

A 2001 Supreme Court ruling says a bill with any appropriation, no matter how small, is off-limits from referendum.

Bernstein asked if the Legislature was unfriendly to the ballot proposal, could they prevent it from reaching voters. Restuccia said not entirely.

“If the people thought, ‘Hey, we like 337 and 338 and now they’ve been essentially displaced,’ they could have been subjected 368 and 369 to referendum. They would have been suspended. Once they’re suspended, 337 and 338 would have been back in place and the voters have then had a chance to up or down 368 and 369,” Restuccia said. “So, the idea that somehow the voters are left without remedies, there is a scheme or a structure that’s designed. The question is the very thing that the plaintiffs and the attorney general are talking about, this next legislative session, was even discussed at the convention.”

Chief Justice Elizabeth Clement questioned how the referendum process would work should that be the people’s only remedy in situations like what happened in the adopt and amend situation. She said what Restuccia described was a case where amendments were subject to referendum and wondered if the Legislature’s adopted law – prior to amendment – could also be subjected to referendum.

Put simpler, Clement wanted to know if the people could have two referendums going on at the same time.

Restuccia said the first paragraph in Article II, Section 9 states anything enacted in that session can be subject to referendum within 90 days of the end of that session. He said it was also possible to have dueling referendums and that includes one for the adopted law and one for the amended statutes.

Welch said the Constitution was silent on when the Legislature can act to amend but gave particularly specific pathways to oppose the legislation. She said she understood the argument of that remedy being referendum of the people sometime later, yet the constitutionally mandated options for the Legislature were to either adopt, reject, place it on the ballot or do an alternative proposal. Welch wondered if the imposition of referendum as the go-to remedy was inserting a new option that isn’t spelled out in the Language of the Constitution.

Restuccia said that was a different question than what was posed in Mothering Justice.

“This would be a different case if (the Constitution) said they have to act within that session, but it doesn’t. It says those three options are only within those 40 session days, and the limits … are silent with respect to what happens to legislatively enacted initiatives.”

Restuccia said the legislative history and debates had the convention show that a requirement for action in the next legislative session was rejected because a three-fourths majority vote protection was sufficient.

“If there really were a remedy, the court was looking to design, it wouldn’t be a next legislative session, but it’s not clear to me why in January this would have been very different. Instead of it being December 13, it was January 1, or April 1. Why would that matter?” Restuccia argued. “It still seems like it’s an end run around, right? The real remedy would be if there’s an initiative that’s adopted by the people, and you wanted to provide the same protection, well give it a three-fourths protection. Make sure a three-fourths vote is required.”

Restuccia added that if the claim here was the Legislature was fearful people would have adopted it, if they had, the body has a three-fourths requirement. But the next legislative session doesn’t exist language still wouldn’t exist, and the limits proposed by the appellants still wouldn’t exist either.”

MSHDA Announces $5M Incentive Grant Program for Housing Stock

The Housing Readiness Incentive Grant Program will provide $5 million in funds for cities, villages and townships to encourage them to build more housing and make housing more affordable, the Michigan State Housing Development Authority said Thursday.

“We are moving quickly to solve problems that our local and regional partners have identified, and this new program will put state funding directly into addressing local barriers to new and affordable housing solutions,” said MSHDA Executive Director Amy Hovey in a statement. In our regional listening sessions around the Statewide Housing Plan, we heard repeatedly about the importance of streamlining local rules to help build more housing, add density, rehabilitate existing stock, and across the board address affordability.”

Applicants may receive a maximum grant of $50,000 for costs associated with adopting land use policies, master plan updates, zoning text amendments and other related matters increasing housing supply and affordability, a release from MSHDA said. The online application opens January 16, 2024, and will be open until the funding is gone.

Cities, villages and townships will have funds made available to them if they have an Engaged, Essentials or Certified designation from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation’s Redevelopment Ready Communities program. MSHDA said the initiative compels communities to develop better practices for planning and zoning with eh goal of supporting community driven development.

Municipalities will be placed into one of two categories based on their Redevelopment Ready Communities designation status. At least $3 million will be allocated to those that do have the designation and $2 million to those who do not.

Brinks: Gratifying 2023 Will Be Followed By No Shortage of Work in 2024

Senate Majority Leader Winnie Brinks said this week she was proud of the huge amount of major policy work her slim Democratic majority sent to the governor this year, adding there will be much more to accomplish in the coming year.

The first year of Democrats fully controlling state government in 40 years was spent tackling a long-time party wish-list, including the repeal of right to work and abortion restrictions, reinstating the prevailing wage, expanding LGBT protections in law, passing firearms restrictions and making sweeping changes to state energy policy.

“It was an incredible time of opportunity and enthusiasm and renewed energy for the good things that can happen when people work together in a concerted way at the state government level,” Brinks (D-Grand Rapids) told Gongwer News Service Monday during a year-end interview. “One of the most gratifying things was being able to get through so many really key significant topics for us, not just as Democrats but for the people of our state.”

Brinks said working to keep her caucus on the same page and having the votes to move legislation was a daily challenge. Democrats have a 20-18 majority.

“I’ve been very pleased with how we were able to hold our caucuses together,” Brinks said of herself and House Speaker Joe Tate (D-Detroit). “We feel really positive about our ability to get these really difficult policy matters over the finish line and to the governor’s desk, even with the varied opinions that invariably come with any caucus.”

New challenges will present themselves in 2024 after two House Democrats won mayoral races in November. The chamber will be at a 54-54 tie through at least mid-April until both seats are filled via special elections.

“We’ll be business as usual in the Senate,” Brinks said. “We’ve got a lot of things we’d still like to get done. … Next year, the House will be down a couple of members for a few months, but that doesn’t mean we can’t move things through the Senate … at a regular schedule.”

Brinks expects Senate committees to begin meeting as normal in January, with the House likely to begin committee work as well.

“They might have a difficult time with certain things on the floor, but we know that those … in some cases can just wait until April,” Brinks said. “In other cases, they’ll be working on things that are bipartisan in nature, and they can move those as well if they have the members present and the willingness of both parties to cooperate.”

The majority leader anticipates some ability to cooperate and move bipartisan items.

Work on the next budget will be a significant area of focus in early 2024, as is traditionally the case.

Areas Brinks would like to see further progress in 2024 include addressing prescription drug affordability, auto no-fault and policy dealing with the new Department of Lifelong Education, Advancement and Potential, or MiLEAP (See Gongwer Michigan Report, December 1, 2023).

Legislation to create a regulatory panel to review and cap prices on common prescription drugs passed the Senate in the fall but is still sitting in the House (See Gongwer Michigan Report, Nov. 6, 2023). Proposed changes to the state’s no-fault auto insurance law were similarly left for 2024 when lawmakers left town for the year, with advocates urging action quickly (See Gongwer Michigan Report, Nov. 14, 2023).

Brinks said she is looking forward to seeing the final report from the Growing Michigan Together Council outlining its population growth strategy recommendations by December 15, especially on the workforce and community development fronts.

Economic and community development is another area where conversations are still ongoing, she said, including with legislation that would rename the Strategic Outreach and Attraction Reserve Fund the Make It In Michigan Fund and set up new requirements for setting up some incentives to be directed for community benefits in project areas.

“We will have plenty to do,” Brinks said. “We’ll have to prioritize and see what we can get done, see where there’s alignment with the House and with the governor’s office and where we’ve got the votes.”

As to how well she works with Senate Minority Leader Aric Nesbitt (R-Porter Township), Senate, Brinks said she and Nesbitt are operating in a very polarized political climate in a narrowly divided Senate, but they have been able to work well together.

“He’s been around a while, he’s seen the ebb and flow of politics over the years, as have I, and I think that we are both in a position where we have the ability to carve out a space even within this environment to have productive conversations,” Brinks said.

The majority leader was not apologetic about the budgeting priorities Democrats pursued during the most recent budget cycle, despite Republican pushback on spending levels and the spending down of much of the state’s multibillion dollar surplus.

“We knew that it was high time that we invest in education and add more dollars and do it in a sustainable and meaningful way for K-12 schools, for higher education, and so we were really pleased to do that,” Brinks said. “It’s no surprise there that there may be a difference between us and the Republicans when it comes to supporting education and public education in particular, so we make no apologies for that.”

For the budget surplus, she said some of the monies used in the most recent budget were the remaining federal pandemic funds that needed to be spent or lost.

“We wanted to make sure that Michigan didn’t get the short end of the stick there,” Brinks said. “We took that opportunity to really invest those dollars in places that had often been ignored by the Republicans in charge for the last few decades.”

During 2023, the list of what she often called “pent-up Democratic priorities” was significant.

The repeal of several abortion restrictions was hugely important, she said, pointing to residents stressing the issue of reproductive rights to candidates and elected officials for years.

“For us to be able to get some bills over the line that really reflect those values, both in the spring and in the fall, was a huge achievement,” Brinks said.

Two items that have not yet moved through the Legislature due to some resistance from at least one House Democrat are a repeal of the ban on Medicaid-funded abortions and the 24-hour waiting period.

Enacting firearms restrictions in the wake of the Michigan State University mass shooting also was a major achievement for the majority leader.

“Gun violence prevention is similarly one of those things that we had been hearing from people, we saw polling, that showed that people really thought that was important,” Brinks said.

Bills to expand background checks for firearm purchases passed the Legislature earlier this year, along with bills to put safe storage requirements in place for guns and enact a process for allowing the temporary confiscation of an individual’s firearms if they could be a danger to themselves or others (See Gongwer Michigan Report, April 13, 2023).

Legislation meant to prohibit those convicted of domestic violence related misdemeanors from possessing or purchasing firearms for a certain period was also signed this fall (See Gongwer Michigan Report, Nov. 20, 2023).

With her pre-legislative background working in nonprofits, Brinks said tax policy was a priority for her. The Earned Income Tax Credit expansion and undoing the added taxation on retirement income passed earlier this year was a reversal of 2011 tax changes led by then-Governor Rick Snyder.

“For us to be able to restore some of that was huge,” Brinks said.

In the fall, passage of energy legislation that sets a clean energy mandate by 2040 and moves siting of large-scale renewable energy projects to the Public Service Commission Track was also a significant change in policy (See Gongwer Michigan Report, Nov. 28, 2023).

“That took up a lot of time, but a key thing is so many of our constituents were asking us to address,” Brinks said. “With global warming becoming a huge … issue in the minds of young voters, but also those of us who aren’t as young as we used to be, who are just really concerned about what’s next for our children, for our grandchildren and making sure that we are doing everything we can to mitigate any negative impact for them.”

Opponents said the changes would lead to more expensive bills for ratepayers, threaten the reliability of the electric grid and eliminate local controlfor siting. Brinks defended the policy changes by pointing to the months of work with stakeholder groups.

“We had really good analysis from people who know far more than most legislators about the impact of the policies that we are talking about,” Brinks said. “At the end of the day, we did our due diligence to ensure that we were not only making a difference when it comes to climate change, but that we did so with people in mind.”

The bills signed into law will make Michigan among the nation’s leaders in combatting change, the majority leader said.

Learn About Advocacy

Learn how the Chamber is advocating for business in Detroit and Southeast Michigan.