2010 Michigan Democratic Party Platform
The Michigan Democratic Party believes that government must be open, honest, responsive, and accountable to the people it serves. All citizens should have the freedom and the opportunity to rise as high as their talents and initiative will allow. Our Platform expresses our dedication to the belief that those who work hard should be assured the opportunity to achieve greater economic security, and that all should be able to live with basic human dignity. This Platform is a promise to the people of Michigan, based on our tradition and our commitment to a better future for the people of our state and nation, and embodying our core values of caring and responsibility.
In the 21st Century, Michigan faces new opportunities and challenges. When Barack Obama became President in January of 2009, he inherited from the Bush Administration the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. The national economic and trade policies put in place by the Bush Administration have especially damaged our state’s economy in numerous ways. During George Bush’s presidency, the country lost more than three million manufacturing jobs, over 250,000 of them in Michigan. With rising unemployment, many families have lost their homes and health care, and have been forced to resort to unemployment benefits, Medicaid and food stamps in large numbers. With the Recovery Act, health care reform and Wall Street reform, Democrats have begun to turn the economy around. But there is still much to do.
Democratic leaders such as the President, Senators Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow and our Democratic Members of Congress have the creativity, courage and conscience to find innovative and imaginative ways to help secure our future. As a Party, we will demand that we move forward together within the American values of hard work, community, diversity, faith, family, and personal responsibility. We are deeply committed to these values as the bedrock strength of our state and of our nation.
There was a time when Americans were challenged to ask not what their country could do for them, but what they could do for their country. However, in recent years, we seem to have become less interested in looking first to the needs of others –– especially the needs of the most vulnerable –– and more interested in meeting only the needs of ourselves. America is always at its best when we ask, “What can I do to give back?” rather than, “What is in it for me”
The Michigan Democratic Party understands this basic principle. That is why Democrats in this state are seeking the Common Good –– the best life for each person of this state. We include everyone: the unemployed, the employed, the veteran, the student, the disabled, the sick, the healthy, the senior, the child, the wealthy, the poor, the citizen, the stranger, the first and the last. Seeking the Common Good is not difficult for Michigan’s citizens to understand. Just ask the woman who watches her neighbor’s son so mom can work to pay her heating bill. Ask the pastor, rabbi, or imam who walks the street at night praying for the crime in his neighborhood to cease. Ask the dentist whose staff keeps telling her she’s got to start charging families who don’t have insurance. The people of Michigan deserve leadership with the moral courage that matches their own.
By holding ourselves to this vision of the Common Good, Democrats have their guidepost to deal with the great challenges that face Michigan today. We address Michigan’s economic situation while holding the “least of these,” our unemployed, our most impoverished, our least advantaged, at the forefront of our minds. We address security concerns while holding the “stranger” –– immigrants and our brothers and sisters who live abroad –– in the highest respect. We address our health care needs remembering the ill, the elderly, and the unemployed. In short, we do what is difficult, and we do what is right.
Michigan is showered with blessings, from our beautiful sand dunes to our industrious assembly line workers. The people of Michigan deserve leaders who treasure our people and our land. In the Michigan Democratic Party and its candidates, Michigan’s citizens will find such leaders, dedicated to furthering the Common Good.
As Democrats, we are committed to continuing our focus on the issues that matter most to working families in Michigan: creating good-paying jobs; preparing children to succeed in life through our public education system; providing high quality, accessible and affordable health care to all; promoting financial security through economic growth and secure retirement benefits; stopping discrimination in all its forms; protecting voter rights; reforming government to be transparent and accountable; improving our state and local roads; improving public transportation; and protecting our priceless natural resources for future generations.
The 2010 campaign is a campaign to continue the changes in the direction and priorities of our country after the eight disastrous years of the Bush Administration. We are committed to supporting President Barack Obama so he can continue delivering change we can believe in, and retaining and electing more Democratic Members of Congress. We need to elect another Democratic governor to succeed Governor Jennifer Granholm. Democrats must retake the Secretary of State and Attorney General offices. We seek to break the obstructionist GOP control over the Michigan Senate and extend Democratic control of the Michigan House. We will continue to work electing Democrats to Education Boards and helping Democrats win offices in their local communities. We must evict right-wing Republican Justice Robert Young from the Michigan Supreme Court. He is not fair and impartial, as he has consistently ruled in favor of large corporations and against ordinary people.
II. INVESTING IN THE PEOPLE OF MICHIGAN
Education has long been the means that people rely upon to achieve a better quality of life. In our current, knowledge-based, technology-driven economy, the value of education is magnified. Michigan must provide affordable educational opportunities for everyone from the youngest child to the oldest adult. We must help our universities and community colleges continue to be centers of research, thought, and knowledge. We must invest in post-secondary education and training for high-tech and other contemporary jobs. By improving the marketability of individuals, we will enhance the appeal for new companies to invest and expand in Michigan.
Our goal is to make sure that no one is left behind, and to ensure those seeking work in Michigan can find jobs they want and qualify for right here at home.
A. Supporting a high quality of life
People examine quality of life issues when deciding where to live, locate a business, or educate their children. Today, these factors drive economic development: Are there good schools? Are there cultural and recreational opportunities? Are there green spaces and clean lakes to enjoy? Is the area safe and free of crime? Is there a vibrant community with shops, nightlife, and entertainment? Are there educational and career opportunities? Quality of life considerations mean that we in Michigan must redouble our efforts at keeping our citizens safe, rebuilding our cities, protecting our outdoors, enriching our culture, improving our schools, and supporting our colleges and universities.
B. Forging community out of racial diversity
In Michigan, as in the nation as a whole, the lines dividing our population are becoming increasingly blurred. Our challenge is to make diversity our strength and lead the way for the rest of the nation in building a successful pluralistic society. However, strong forces are still at work that continue to separate us by race and income. We have some of the most racially segregated cities, suburbs, schools, and housing markets in the nation. Income inequality translates into a lack of opportunity in other areas, and may take many generations, even centuries, to completely overcome. Although we have a long way to go to rectify these problems fully, the Michigan Democratic Party is committed to eradicating racial discrimination and reducing income inequality. We support affirmative action to help groups that have suffered from a history of discrimination.
C. Restoring confidence in our government
When the GOP holds power, our government is often stacked in favor of wealthy special interests and against ordinary people. If we are to rebuild respect and support for our public institutions, we must be committed to high ethics, meaningful elections, and campaign finance reform. The public needs leadership, access, integrity, transparency, and accountability.
D. Standing up for the under-represented
Some of the greatest tests for society have always been: Do we respect the rights of all? Do we become the voice for those of us who have little say in our society? Do we ensure that each and every person is given full representation in decision-making? Do we offer a helping hand when our citizens encounter hardships? We must make sure everyone shares in our prosperity and renew our commitment to reach out to those in need.
III. MICHIGAN DEMOCRATIC PARTY CORE VALUES AND POLICY POSITIONS
The Michigan Democratic Party reaffirms its commitment to our core values of opportunity, community, security, and accountability. The Democratic Party is committed to closing the opportunity gap by investing in the people of our state and is fighting to implement measures which will make a difference in the lives of everyone. To further advance our goals, we will foster a greater sense of community and celebrate our rich diversity as a people and as a state. We must be secure as a state and nation. We will demand accountability from our government, leaders, and business community to ensure that the interests of our people are secure. We are firm in our protection of constitutional liberties, particularly as we fight to improve the future of our people. This Platform is our plan to advance these values through vigorous political action and responsible public policy.
(1) Education: Improving Public Education for Children and Adults
The key to opportunity in the new economy is public education, the cornerstone of our social, economic and political structure. It is of the utmost significance in the development of our moral, ethical, spiritual, and cultural values.
We want our Michigan public schools to successfully prepare citizens to be productive members of the new economy and to be thoughtful and active participants in government. We also value public schools as places that provide our communities with the common experiences that bind us together despite our unique differences. These common experiences allow us to teach our children to recognize and celebrate cultural, social, political and religious differences.
The Democratic Party is committed to improving public education to support these ideals, because our future as a state depends on the ability of all Michigan citizens to realize their full promise as individuals. Democrats promote this set of measures to improve public education:
Strict accountability for results, strong incentives for success. Every school in Michigan must succeed at reaching high academic standards and be held accountable for results. Michigan created rigorous new high school curriculum standards to ensure that our children will be ready to succeed in the 21st Century economy. We will equip teachers with all the resources, including professional development, needed to meet these higher standards.
Provide the needed educational funding. Providing a good education is critical to our way of life. In addition, access to a good education is an essential ingredient to attracting new businesses to our state. We support adequate funding of a quality education system as an investment in our children, our economy, and our future.
Provide local school boards with the needed state financial information by July 1. School boards are required to adopt a budget by this date. This could be done by starting the state fiscal year earlier (it starts October 1) or requiring the state budget for education be approved by July 1.
Expand preschool opportunities. The importance of early education is well proven. Michigan Democrats support quality preschool opportunities for children age three and four, adding to the existing network of Head Start, Great Start, pre-K, and related school programs.
Supply schools with the latest technology equipment as well as basic supplies. Democrats will ensure that our students are equipped with the information technology needed to meet the challenges of the 21st Century. In order to accomplish this goal, all of our schools must have ready access to the Internet. Teachers, support staff, students, and parents must be educated to use technology to facilitate enhanced learning opportunities, communications and collaborations. While it should be taken for granted that supplies, books, and technology are supplied by the school district, many teachers and staff now reach into their own pockets to provide these. Our educational budgets must be adequate to support our goals.
Maintain secure, safe, and orderly schools. We now have tough new laws to keep sex offenders away from our schools and child care centers. In addition, we must take steps to keep violent criminals and drug dealers away from our children. We must also prevent school violence from the students themselves. Democrats propose to train school personnel to identify potential violent behavior and to educate students in peer mediation and conflict resolution. The Michigan Democratic Party is committed to implementing anti-bullying measures in all of our schools. Reports of these types of behavior must be taken seriously and corrective remedies must be applied.
Provide up-to-date school modernization and repairs. Michigan Democrats believe that students need safe, updated classrooms and school facilities. We must address the serious need for renovation and/or replacement of many of our older school buildings and inspect them regularly.
Provide adequate pay and professional development for teachers and staff. Parents deserve to know that their children’s teachers and staff are well trained and certified. To attract and retain talented professionals to educate our children, we also must make sure teachers and staff are well paid, provided job security, and treated with the respect and dignity that they deserve. Too many teachers and staff are leaving the profession, and many young adults never consider teaching because of the cost of becoming a teacher and staff and the uncertainty of being able to find and keep a teaching position that allows one to financially support a family. Democrats favor loans and dedicated scholarships to attract the best students to the teaching profession, plus implementation of pay scales that retain dedicated teachers and staff. We back strong certification standards at state and national levels and ongoing re-certification requirements, while asking for public support of enhanced compensation for teachers and staff who are educating our children.
Fully staff our schools and protect educational funding. In the midst of budget worries that have generated teacher and staff layoffs as well as retirement offers for our most experienced teachers, we must face and address the issues of failing schools. Small, effective classrooms require more teachers.
Fully fund No Child Left Behind. The federal government must fully fund this federal mandate, and amend it to lift schools up through researched-based effective strategies and programs. We must adjust our methods and curriculum to meet the high goals for our students.
Follow through on the commitment to education contained in the 2010 health care bill. The Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 includes larger and more stable funding for Pell Grants, greater investment in community colleges, expanded income based repayment, and guaranteed federal student loans.
Make higher education available for all. Higher education is vital to success in the new economy. Under the leadership of Lt. Governor John Cherry, the Lt. Governor’s Commission on Higher Education and Economic Growth devised a comprehensive plan to double the number of Michigan residents with a college degree or other valuable educational credential. Michigan Democrats vigorously support the plan and applaud the progress toward implementation.
Democrats want to make sure higher education and technical training in high-growth fields are accessible and affordable to everyone. This support is urgently needed by students and should be fully funded.
We would like our state to incentivize students receiving state financial aid to stay in Michigan, especially those in technical fields that are badly needed in our state.
Provide public school choice. Michigan now provides public school choice throughout public education, within school districts, and across districts. However, when funds are not provided for transportation, this choice may not be equally available for everyone. Since 1993, school choice has included charter schools, which are public schools financed with public tax dollars. Democrats believe our State Board of Education should have the authority and resources to hold charter school authorizers accountable. Charter schools must conform to the same communication, freedom of information, financial disclosure, academic, collective bargaining, teacher certification standards, and accessibility requirements as traditional public schools. We believe an essential step in enhancing accountability is to limit the involvement of for-profit and private management companies with charter schools. Ultimately, the charter schools are not intended to replace public education, but to spur public schools with examples of creativity and achievement that can be models for improvement in the public system.
Avoid subsidizing private or religious schools with public dollars. We need improved public schools to bring us together. We do not need taxpayer money to underwrite schools that separate us by race or religion. While we put our resources and commitment into enhancing public school education and choice, we believe it to be inappropriate and counterproductive to allow public tax dollars to subsidize private and religious schools.
Our state’s Board of Education should base science class subject matter on current scientific knowledge, not religious beliefs.
Academic textbooks should be written only by recognized experts in each subject. Teaching material for our public schools should not be subject to modification by people who have a political, religious, or other agendas to advance by discarding legitimate educational material and compelling the use of their own version of scientific knowledge or historical events.
Use smaller class sizes. Smaller class sizes contribute to improved academic success, especially in the early grades. Michigan Democrats have championed and funded smaller class size programs in selected schools. We will work to take the next step to make certain that this successful program is expanded to all school districts in Michigan.
Improve under-achieving schools. Although many of our schools excel, we should focus on bringing all of Michigan’s public schools up to world-class standards. In order to accomplish this goal, Michigan Democrats will focus on strengthening and improving education in our neighborhoods of greatest need. The number one way to improve education is to have a fully qualified teacher in every classroom, teaching subjects in which she/he is proficient.
Fully fund special education. Our students with special needs have been too often shortchanged. Michigan Democrats will ask Congress to pay the federal government’s fair share of special education expenses.
Provide educational funding by a GI Bill for all veterans who seek a higher education. We support the troops who defend our nation. We support financial help to further their education when they get home.
Support legislation that would make Michigan a member state in the interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children. This is an agreement intended “to remove barriers to educational success imposed on children of military families because of frequent moves and deployment of their parents.” We oppose the inclusion of vouchers in the Compact.
Support university and college faculty. The undermining of tenure-track and tenured faculty positions as well as the exploitation of adjunct faculty must end.
Fully fund retraining of disabled veterans. The special needs of disabled veterans, especially our Michigan guard veterans, should be accommodated in terms of educational methods, locations, transportation, and other considerations to create real opportunities for our disabled veterans to reenter the work force.
Support after-school programs. These enrich student learning and provide supervised recreation. Michigan Democrats support before and after school programs, summer tutoring, and year round use of schools for students and the community at large.
Engage families in their student’s education. We believe that parents of students should also be equipped to participate in their student’s efforts. “Parent Universities” are one method used to teach parents how best to support their child’s mastery of language, mathematics, science, history, and all the subjects of K-12. We must take the best of these programs and aid the concerned parents to help their struggling students. The engagement of family members is essential to the vital dynamic that high quality teachers create in good schools.
Develop training for personal financial skills. Public school curriculums should include training on the financial choices that will confront each individual, especially in regard to credit, educational choices, debt, home ownership, auto loans, and so forth. Adult education programs should also offer this training. Educational brochures and website information sources should be developed for people applying for credit to ensure that the benefits and consequences of credit and debt are clear to the individual.
(2) The Economy: Using Aggressive and Comprehensive Economic Development Policies
President Obama inherited the worst economic crisis since Great Depression from the Bush Administration. The President’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, supported by our Democratic Senators and Members of Congress, is helping America and Michigan recover. With the cooperation of Governor Granholm’s administration, the Recovery Act is putting people to work today while helping us build a new Michigan economy for tomorrow. In the 18 months since the Recovery Act became law Michigan has received more than $12 billion in Recovery Act funds for education, health care, public safety, energy, infrastructure, workforce, natural resources, human services, unemployment benefits, food assistance and more.
Michigan has used these federal funds to create or retain more than 54,000 jobs. Thanks to the Recovery Act, people are building roads, improving water systems, educating our children and making our homes and public buildings more energy efficient. And Recovery Act funding has helped ensure that even in the midst of a global economic downturn, we can still provide vital assistance to our most vulnerable citizens.
The Recovery Act is doing more than just creating immediate jobs and fortifying the social safety net. Priorities built in to the Recovery Act are supporting our economic diversification efforts, putting Michigan at the forefront of the new energy economy such as batteries, wind and solar, and securing our position as the center for advanced automotive technologies in North America. Recovery Act funds are hard at work helping Michigan companies build batteries, wind turbines, solar panels and their components.
Even before the Recovery Act, Governor Jennifer Granholm had developed the nation’s most comprehensive and aggressive economic plan for diversifying our economy by attracting the high-growth industries of tomorrow such as life sciences, alternative energy (batteries, wind, solar), advanced manufacturing, and homeland security. From 2003 through 2010, Michigan Economic Development Corporation programs and incentives have generated over $52 billion in private investment by nearly 1000 companies, creating or retaining hundreds of thousands of jobs.
Companies that receive tax incentives to do business in Michigan should be accountable to fulfill their promises regarding the number of jobs and the duration of business activities in Michigan. Likewise, these companies should be able to expect that the promised tax breaks and benefits will be available.
Michigan Democrats are expanding efforts to market Michigan to attract business investment, tourism, and new dollars to the Michigan economy. The “Pure Michigan” advertising campaign to boost tourism must be adequately funded.
New incentives for the production of films and digital media in Michigan supported by Michigan Democrats already are creating new high-paying jobs and promoting our state. We need to keep these state incentives for the film industry in place to reassure other companies we are trying to attract that we keep our word when they are enticed to relocate here. Like all such incentives, they should be monitored to ensure their effectiveness.
America must revitalize its manufacturing sector, for the good of our workers, for the good of our economy, and for the strength of our national security. We cannot cede our manufacturing industry to other nations.
During the Bush Administration, America lost over 3 million manufacturing jobs. Michigan was hit particularly hard, losing over 250,000 of those jobs — almost one out of every three manufacturing jobs we had in 1999. Not only does this problem hurt these workers and their families, but it’s also a crisis for our country as a whole. America’s economy and well-being are directly connected to the health of our manufacturing sector.
The rise and fall in the number of manufacturing jobs directly affects the rise and fall of median family income. Further, throughout our history, manufacturing has contributed significantly to American economic growth — even during the “tech boom” of the 1990s, manufacturing was responsible for 22 percent of economic growth.
We support the American Manufacturing Initiative (AMI) proposed by Senator Levin, Senator Stabenow, and the Michigan Democratic Congressional Delegation. The AMI is a comprehensive economic plan to revitalize our domestic manufacturing industry and reverse the loss of millions of U.S. manufacturing jobs. It provides for: research and development tax credit; advanced technology and flexible fuel vehicle tax credits; programs to support U.S. manufacturing; fair trade enforcement; health care tax incentives; initiatives for longer-term advanced technologies; environmental technology innovation; biofuel mandate and development of infrastructure; and Department of Defense manufacturing initiatives.
(3) Job Training: Improving the Skills of our Workforce
Democrats want to build a system that promotes lifelong learning with job training and preparation that helps both those entering the workforce and those on-the-job, continually improving their marketability and skills to take advantage of new opportunities by:
Improving literacy and expanding basic education. Basic literacy and education are requirements in today’s economy. Democrats support enhancement of the adult education system to make sure all citizens get the basic tools necessary for success.
No Worker Left Behind. This initiative by Governor Granholm is a national model which has been resoundingly successful by providing training to over 131,000 workers. It is helping Michigan citizens upgrade their skills for new jobs that demand more specialized skills and knowledge. By reorganizing and augmenting federal funds currently used for workforce development, NWLB provides up to two years of free tuition at any Michigan community college, university, or other approved training programs for qualifying participants.
Support Michigan workers. Democrats support Hire Michigan First legislation and the building of a second bridge across the Detroit River.
Building a system for continuous job training. The federal Workforce Investment Act (WIA) gives states unprecedented flexibility to design a system that prepares the workforce for tomorrow. We should use that freedom to bring employers, unions, workers, and educators together, decide on basic skills necessary for all adult entry-level workers, and then set up a training system that develops these skills. Workers should have access to in-person counseling and receive information on jobs and training providers. The freedom to use the Internet is good for many; others need access to in-person counseling, personal post-placement assistance, and the additional support of an advocate. The system that we propose must provide both sets of these crucial services.
Democrats support augmenting the pool of resources for basic and employability skills training. Democrats also favor increasing unemployment benefits at the maximum benefit rate, increasing benefits for those receiving less than the maximum, and restoring the indexing of benefits to inflation.
Democrats will work with key business sectors, including information technology, health sciences, autos, and plastics to ensure that the current business/labor roundtable groups truly drive and shape the standards and programming for occupations in the state’s technical schools, community colleges, and vocational education systems.
(4) Trade: Using an Approach Based on a Level Playing Field
Increased international trade could increase economic opportunity in Michigan and with our trading partners, but only if attention is paid to ensure that trade benefits aren’t one-sided. Workers must benefit, not just multi-national corporations, corporate executives, and shareholders. For trade to be a net benefit, labor and human rights, the environment, and the collective health of all workers must be safeguarded. Michigan Democrats strongly support fair trade, insisting that competitor markets are as open as our own. We believe government and corporations must provide assistance to workers who lose jobs because of trade. Corporations and government must work to ensure health care and job retraining are in place as workers seek employment. Not only is the individual displaced worker a key consideration, but their families and local economies suffer greatly when local jobs disappear in unfair job exportation.
We believe that all nations should be required and held accountable to maintain standards for working conditions, including health and safety standards and the right to organize unions. Effective trade monitoring and enforcement processes must be in place to ensure that no violations go unpunished. To advance these goals Michigan Democrats will act to:
Provide tax incentives for production and jobs in the U.S. and eliminate tax incentives for moving business operations and jobs overseas. Senator Stabenow led efforts to pass $2 billion in tax cuts for manufacturers who create jobs in the U.S. rather than overseas.
Renegotiate NAFTA/CAFTA to strengthen labor, environmental, import surge, and dumping provisions, and improve investment sections which give corporations the right to sue governments to strike down health, safety, environmental, and other laws and regulations.
Require NAFTA/CAFTA countries to raise their environmental standards to U.S. levels.
Oppose the continuation of the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) negotiations based on the flawed NAFTA/CAFTA model, with no effective labor and environmental protections and seriously inadequate import surge protections.
Oppose removal or reduction of the 25 percent U.S. tariff on imports of pickup trucks from Thailand and reject any trade agreement with Thailand which alters this tariff.
Urge Congress to demand that worker rights protections are included in any World Trade Organization (WTO) negotiations and that U.S. trade laws must not be subject to any weakening.
Oppose the systematic use of child labor by any employer.
Create a Trade Prosecutor, as advocated by Senator Stabenow, to crack down on currency manipulators, technology pirates, and trade law violators.
Strictly enforce Communist China’s market-opening commitments to the WTO; violations of such commitments should result in the filing of complaints against Communist China in the WTO. Push Communist China to increase the value of its currency against the dollar so that the artificial advantage it provides Chinese goods will be removed and the trade deficit can decline.
Reduce the overall trade deficit and make this issue a national priority.
Include human rights and worker rights language in all trade agreements.
Help developing countries systematically raise their environmental standards to protect their own citizens and avoid creating incentives for production shifts to evade environmental standards.
Provide adequate Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) funding for training and income support for all workers displaced by trade; implement improvements in the TAA program made in 2002; and improve income support benefits under the TAA program so workers will not suffer a serious loss of income while enrolled in training.
Instruct U.S. directors of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank to insist on votes on all issues of interest to the United States, and to vote against proposals that conflict with U.S. positions on worker rights and sustainable development.
Add new criteria that companies must meet to qualify for “Buy American” preference. Companies must demonstrate fair treatment of their workers, including non-violation of internationally defined worker rights by the company, its suppliers, and its subcontractors.
Strictly enforce domestic and international tax laws to ensure proper payment of corporate taxes by all multinational corporations and the U.S. operations of foreign-based corporations.
The opportunities and problems associated with trade are a two-way street. The Michigan Democratic Party wants trade to work, both for U.S. workers and for our brother and sister workers abroad who are seeking their own better living standard. Our trade agenda offers workers around the world the opportunities we have here in the U.S. We have a moral obligation both to help poor nations develop and to help their workers reap the benefits of their labor. We must develop trading partners who respect the civil, labor, and human rights of their workforce while protecting their health and the global environment we all share.
(5) Economic Development: Improving Depressed Urban and Rural Areas
We will develop our urban centers and rural communities, proceeding within a framework that protects the environment. Democrats will promote policies and programs that create jobs and healthy neighborhoods. Democrats support investments in neighborhood essentials such as schools, health care, and infrastructure, including transportation options that help connect people with jobs. Democrats support the redevelopment of urban brownfield sites, rather than extending urban areas, which often add to sprawl and the cost of public services.
(6) Agriculture: Protecting our Farms and Rural Communities
Agriculture, beginning with the family farm, has always been a bedrock of the Michigan economy. With exciting new developments in biofuels, from corn-based to cellulosic ethanol production, biodiesel, solar and wind power, and the development of new, biobased materials, agricultural is providing new jobs and opportunity for thousands of Michigan families across our state. Currently agriculture is the second largest industry in Michigan, contributing nearly $70 billion to the state’s economy and employing over 500,000 Michigan workers. Agriculture is a growing industry. From potato and other specialty crop processing to meet local and global demand, to local farm markets and agri-tourism, the diversity of Michigan agriculture is our strength. From producing more than 125 different crops to serving as home for many internationally recognized food brands, the future of agriculture in Michigan is bright. As agriculture explores new opportunities, the innovation that Michigan agriculture has always shown will sustain the industry at all levels from the field to the fork, and Michigan’s economy and citizens will benefit. We should regulate Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) to protect water and air quality.
(7) Transportation: Providing Access to Opportunities
A diverse and accessible transportation system, including regional transportation and public transit, is essential for the overall economic growth of the state, particularly in connecting people with jobs and opportunity. Not everyone is able to own a car or drive one. An adequate city bus system is necessary to enable such people to be gainfully employed or pursue their education. Democrats will continue to advocate and support improved funding and better planning and coordination of the public transportation system in the state budget. We will continue to focus transportation dollars on regional transportation and metropolitan needs and options, including local roads, bridges, and public transportation, and identify new opportunities to expand public transit options.
It is essential that the Michigan highway budget be adequately funded, as failing to have the matching funds for federal funding creates a greatly increased loss (the federal government provides eighty percent of the money).
One method of helping local food-producers and other local businesses is to support communities with a mix of business areas and residential areas. When an employee can bike or walk to work, the environmental impact is reduced for the family, the community, and the business.
(8) Information Technology: Expanding Access to and Use of Information
Information technology (IT) is fundamentally changing our lives. Democrats want everyone to learn about and have access to IT resources, and be able to use those resources to learn, communicate, and improve the workings of government, business, and society. To achieve these goals, Democrats believe that:
All state residents must have access to the same modern technology such as competitive cable TV and other high tech products. In today’s information economy, “red-lining” technology can be as destructive as red-lining mortgages. Democrats want to make the Web universally available in part by supporting Internet access at public facilities –– libraries, schools, community centers, employment centers, and public agencies –– particularly those in low-income areas where families are less likely to own computers. We support the passage of Net Neutrality legislation in Michigan and at the federal level. Public and private sectors should increase efforts to expand high-speed wireless communications, and provide computers and Internet access to more workers, students, and communities.
Michigan should continue to be a leader in providing information and services online. Digitalizing government cuts costs and improves performance, making government functions easier to use for the citizen. We can deliver services and information that help the public make informed decisions, and perform more transactions with the government online. The benefit will be lower costs to both the government and the people.
We support the use of 2-1-1 as a national abbreviated dialing code for free access to health and human services information and referrals. It connects individuals and families in need with the appropriate community-based organizations and services and enables people to better navigate the complex maze of governmental departments.
We want to provide better information for consumers. The public can then make improved decisions with more accurate information about the performance of both public agencies and private actors. With public monitoring and oversight, strong incentives for improvements in public and private services will be created. That is why Michigan Democrats support the following:
We should post the ratings of health care organizations to inform the public and motivate improvement in health care services. For example, we support a required public rating of health plans by the state and would post the results of nursing home inspections.
We should provide online data about all schools, job training providers, and their performance.
Government budget information should be available online.
Information about elected officials should be reported online, such as wealth, income, political contributions, voting records, and contact information.
We should develop an available online child-care service report, in order to share the results of state monitoring of childcare facilities.
The right to privacy should be protected on the internet. The expansion of information available via the internet should proceed with sensitivity about personal information being made public.
(9) Small Business: Nurturing Entrepreneurship, and Self-employment
We must build a culture of innovation that can lead us into the new economy. Owners of small businesses, the self-employed, and their families have much more in common with the working people of Michigan than with those who run large corporations. They share the financial struggles, demands of long hours, and uncertainty about the future. The Democratic Party understands the contribution of small employers to the Michigan economy: The vast majority of businesses in the state have fewer than 500 employees and they employ more than half the workers. These business owners have taken risks that benefit us all. The hundreds of thousands of self-employed people also make a substantial contribution.
In order to make the state more friendly to small firms, Michigan Democrats propose the following small business agenda:
Assure real competition in energy prices. Energy deregulation can create unregulated energy monopolies. Small firms and consumers as well as big business must share in the benefits of energy deregulation.
Simplify obtaining permits for small firms. Businesses with only a handful of employees do not have a human resources department, a tax department, or an environmental department. Getting online permits for businesses has been shortened to as little as 3 months (from 1½ years under the previous administration) and is establishing a one-stop shop for businesses with the state.
(10) Income: Rewarding Work
Our opportunity policies make work pay, encourage participation in the work force and make sure lower and middle income people are paying only their fair share of tax, not carrying the brunt of the load. That is why Democrats want to:
Increase the minimum wage. If we want people to work, poverty shouldn’t be the reward for holding a full-time job. A minimum wage that keeps up with inflation has never had the negative effects predicted by critics, and has always served to boost the overall standard of living and economy. In our current weak economy, the need for an adjusted minimum wage is greater than ever. In 2006, Michigan Democrats led a petition drive to increase the minimum wage, forcing an obstructionist Republican Legislature to raise the minimum wage for the first time in many years. Permanent indexing to inflation, updating the tip credit, and eliminating unfair exclusions still need to be addressed.
Expand the Michigan earned income tax credit. The federal earned income tax credit allows workers and their families who are on the borderline between working and public assistance, extra credits for working. In 2006, Michigan added to this credit, which is an effective incentive to work and to stay off welfare. The Michigan credit should be expanded.
Help people move from welfare to work. To get welfare recipients into jobs, Michigan Democrats advocate providing the training, affordable child care, and transportation, and support to help them stay on the job and move up in their careers.
Promote pay equity. On the average, women in Michigan are paid substantially lower than men for performing the same work. Michigan Democrats continue to support equal access to employment and pay. We applaud the successful effort of President Obama and Democrats in Congress to change the statute of limitations on pay discrimination lawsuits from six months from the time the discrimination starts to six months from the time the discrimination ends.
(11) Taxes: Providing a Sufficient, Stable and Fair Tax System
We must restore fairness to the tax system, and ensure that it is adequate to meet society’s requirements. The state needs sufficient revenue to meet the needs of its citizens. Democrats support a system of fair taxation, one where corporations and wealthy individuals pay their full share, because we recognize that all the citizens have the responsibility to pay for our common expenses. The labor of working families is the reason for the long-term success of the American economy. People who work to build our great economy have earned the right to a fair share of the fruits of their productivity, enabling them to buy a home, save for a secure retirement, and fund a college education. Workers should not be burdened with disproportionate taxes that infringe on their ability to live a satisfying life.
The disparity of wealth in the United States between the most wealthy and the rest of us has accelerated over the last quarter-century. This disparity causes tremendous hardship on those with limited income and assets. Their health, their life expectancy, and even the future economic status of their children are adversely affected. This trend must be stopped.
Use a tax structure fair to workers. With Republican economics, workers take home less money in their paychecks, because the burden of paying taxes falls disproportionately upon working families, both middle class and poor people. With billions in corporate welfare, subsidies, tax shelters and tax cuts, large corporations and the wealthy few fail to pay their fair share of the tax burden. Meanwhile, working people and small businesses pay more than their fair share. For example, during 2006, under the Bush and Republican federal tax cuts, households with incomes of more than $1 million –– the richest two-tenths of one percent –– received an average tax cut of $112,000, while middle class and poor taxpayers received a very small fraction of that. Our country’s largest corporations and the wealthy few should pay their fair share.
Some U.S. citizens use offshore tax havens and avoidance scams to avoid paying an estimated $100 billion in federal taxes each year. Ending offshore tax abuses would crackdown on tax dodgers who offload their tax burden onto the backs of honest taxpaying Americans, and we could recover unpaid taxes needed for health care, education, manufacturing support and more.
About 50 tax havens operate in the world today. A tax haven is a jurisdiction with low or no taxes and secrecy laws and practices that make it hard for other countries to discover if their taxpayers are concealing assets there. In effect, tax havens sell secrecy to attract tax cheats, peddling their services by evoking terms like “financial privacy” and “wealth management.” Tax havens have, in effect, declared war on honest taxpayers, by giving tax dodgers the means to avoid their tax bills and leave them for others to pay.
The federal government should take a leadership role in international efforts to end tax haven secrecy and strengthen tax information exchange. Congress should also enact legislation such as Senator Carl Levin’s “Stop Tax Haven Abuse Act” to stop tax haven abuses and recover the unpaid taxes that honest taxpayers are now forced to shoulder.
(12) Health Care: Providing Health Security for Families and Individuals
Working families face challenges in today’s struggling economy. Often, two parents have to work, and many individuals are forced to raise their children alone. Seniors sometimes cannot make ends meet and face a choice between food or medical care. We all need affordable, quality health care.
After more than a half-century of trying to achieve universal health care, we have made the largest stride our country has ever taken toward that dream. For this, we express our gratitude to President Obama and our Democrats in Congress. We oppose Republican efforts at the federal and state levels by lawsuit or legislation to block or repeal the many benefits of the 2010 health care reform legislation.
In 2010 the health care reform legislation will:
- Make providing employee coverage more affordable for small businesses by giving a tax credit of up to 35% of premiums to small businesses that choose to offer coverage.
- Create a temporary high-risk pool to provide affordable insurance options to adults who are denied coverage because of pre-existing conditions.
- Provide a $250 rebate for Medicare recipients who fall into the Part D donut hole – the first step towards closing the donut hole for good. The legislation will also provide a 50% discount on prescription drugs which fall into the donut hole beginning in 2011.
- Require new private plans to cover preventative care – with no co-payments or deductibles. Medicare will also provide free preventative care beginning January 1, 2011.
- Create a temporary reinsurance program for early retirees – this will help employers and retirees age 55-64 struggling to pay expensive premiums.
- Prohibit insurers from denying children coverage because of pre-existing conditions – this applies to new plans and grandfathered group plans. Never again will insurance companies be able to deny coverage to a child because of his or her health.
- Allow young adults to remain on their parents’ insurance policy until they turn 26 – this applies to new and grandfathered plans.
- Guarantee Americans access to the care they need. Insurance companies will no longer be able to drop coverage when someone gets sick, or to impose lifetime caps on benefits.
- Ensure consumers can appeal decisions private insurers make about their plans by creating a new, independent appeals process.
- Prevent insurers from discriminating based on income. For new group plans, insurers will not be able to implement eligibility rules that unfairly benefit higher-wage employees.
In the next fiscal year the health care reform legislation will:
- Double the number of patients community health centers treat over the next 5 years with additional funding.
- Help states create consumer assistance offices to handle complaints against insurance companies.
- Increase the number of medical professionals throughout the country – we’ll have more primary care doctors, nurses, nurse practitioners and physician assistants.
In 2011, the health care reform legislation will:
- Crack down on insurance companies and ensure they are spending premium dollars on medical services – in the individual and small group market, insurers will be required to spend 80 percent of premiums on medical services and for the large group market, they’ll be required to spend 85 percent. Insurers who don’t meet those requirements will have to send rebates to policyholders.
- End the practice of unreasonably hiking up rates. Insurance companies will be required to submit justification for all premium increase requests. Companies who make excessive increases or cannot justify increases, may not be allowed in the new health insurance exchanges.
As further steps toward improving health care coverage, Democrats support the following actions:
Provide portable health care. Lifetime or even longtime employment with one employer is less frequent in today’s economy. Health care should be portable from employer to employer at an affordable cost and managed by the employee.
Reform HMO practices. We will reform HMOs so doctors are not prevented from prescribing medically appropriate treatment, and patients can get redress that includes the right to sue HMOs for wrongdoing or negligence. The Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) should be amended to permit state legislatures to establish remedies to hold HMO’s accountable.
Support Embryonic Stem Cell Research. Passage of the 2008 ballot proposal has opened the way for this promising research. We must make sure those who oppose this research do not encumber the researchers with excessive and unreasonable paperwork designed to impede its progress.
Protect Medicaid. Michigan Democrats have fought to protect the Medicaid program that provides health insurance for the poorest, particularly people with children and the elderly, who otherwise cannot afford it.
Improve childcare and nursing home conditions. The safety and quality of Michigan’s childcare facilities and nursing homes have not been sufficiently addressed. Democrats will ensure conformance to appropriate safety standards, good hygiene practices, and appropriate caregiver training. Corporations that profit from the care of children, the elderly, or the incapacitated must be held accountable for the safety and quality of their service through appropriate regulation.
Improve services to the mentally ill. The closure of many mental health facilities and continued discrimination against the mentally ill by health plans and insurers have compounded the challenges faced by those needing these services and their families. Many people populating our prisons suffer from mental illnesses. A significant percentage of homeless individuals also suffer from mental illness. All the citizens of Michigan are hurt by these problems. Michigan Democrats do not believe the solution to these issues is privatization of mental health services, but rather the strengthening of our public commitment to mental health.
Improve services to returning veterans. Michigan’s brave veterans, both U.S. soldiers and members of the Michigan National Guard, often return from active duty with severe medical conditions. Many have failed to receive needed care, both for their physical injuries and psychological problems such as post-traumatic stress disorder. Democrats believe that we must take care of our injured veterans, not abandon them or ignore them. They have our pledge to provide health care and to help them rejoin civilian life in Michigan.
(13) Child Care: Providing Help for Working Parents with Children
All Michigan families and their children should have basic health care, education, and safe childcare available. Too many children in Michigan are still falling through the cracks. Many parents worry about whether their schools and day care facilities are safe and providing a positive learning environment. Democrats support:
Ensuring quality, affordable childcare. On average in Michigan, yearly childcare costs about $6,500 per child. There are almost 445,000 young children in need of childcare and only about 355,000 licensed childcare slots. Many Michigan parents must turn to unlicensed, unregulated childcare providers; Democrats will ensure all childcare providers are properly licensed and regularly inspected. We will close down unsafe and unhealthy centers and end the fall-off in oversight of childcare services.
Providing school-based health care. Children need to be in good health to get the most from their education. Democrats support school-based health centers to ensure all children get the medical attention they need.
Providing breakfast and lunch to hungry children. We should do our best to identify and provide meals for hungry children. It is hard to effectively educate anyone whose basic needs like adequate food have not been met; first things first.
Creating family friendly workplaces. Democrats, who brought the Family and Medical Leave Act into existence, applaud and encourage voluntary measures that many employers are making to create “family friendly” workplaces, including flexible hours, telecommuting, and onsite day care facilities. We support efforts to find ways to underwrite family leave opportunities.
(14) Coping With Misfortune: Bankruptcy, Foreclosure, and Homelessness
Michigan’s families face serious economic hardships: a mortgage foreclosure crisis, falling incomes, rising unemployment, and soaring health care costs. Many families are one health care emergency away from bankruptcy. Illness and medical bills are the leading causes of personal bankruptcies. Meanwhile, CEO’s leave major corporations and collect millions in golden parachute payouts, while corporations they led use bankruptcy laws to avoid paying pension and retiree health benefits workers earned. Big businesses can get a fresh start following insolvency,, but current bankruptcy laws offer no such relief to working people. Democrats support legislation to restore the protections of the bankruptcy laws for working people in effect before George W. Bush took office.
- Reducing the high home foreclosure rate. Foreclosures deprive families of their largest and most important asset, produce neighborhood blight, undermine banks and other financial institutions, and cast doubt on the assets underpinning the financial system. We encourage lenders and homeowners to work together modifying mortgages by cutting the loan principal when the property value has fallen to less than the mortgage amount. This restores some equity to borrowers while lowering payments. Offering the bankrupted family the opportunity to rent their foreclosed home at market rates would assist both the family and the local economy.
- Enforcing the Michigan law that requires a court proceeding before a foreclosure. The practice of sending a trash-out squad to remove any portion of a home or the property prior to a court proceeding is a vile practice in violation of the law that should be condemned and prevented, with serious penalties for violations.
- Address the increasing homelessness. Eighty percent of the homeless families had never been homeless before. This shows the homeless problem is growing, and affecting a wider range of people. We need to provide shelter and transitional support for these devastated families to return to a normal life. Children of homeless families particularly require services and assistance. We can help homeless persons who require medication by trying to contact their families and getting them proper medical attention.
A core value for Democrats is strengthening our sense of community. Michigan Democrats believe strongly that what we do together is important and makes life rewarding. Working together, we can achieve more than working separately. We all want to live in a place where we have ties to family, friends, and neighbors; where we roll up our sleeves to work together with our neighbors on issues that improve our lives.
The Democratic Party is built on willingness to help those who need a hand. Democrats call on the people of Michigan to reach out to each other, especially to support those at the beginning and the end of life. As Hubert Humphrey said, Democrats hold that the moral test of government is how we treat those who are in the dawn of life, the children; those that are in the twilight of life, the elderly; and those who are in the shadows of life, the sick, the needy, and the disabled. A community is based on its members reaching beyond self-interest to care about each other.
Key building blocks of a vibrant, prosperous community include:
- Promoting active and vigorous participation in civic life –– voting, debating, agreeing.
- Being good stewards of Michigan’s natural resources and beauty.
- Keeping our air, water, and neighborhoods clean and safe.
- Appreciating each other as people and individuals, not as stereotypes and strangers.
- Tackling common problems, from what our kids have to do after school to what we want our streets and communities to look like.
- Enhancing our arts, cultural resources, and the quality of life in our communities.
- Caring about each other and reaching out to those who have no one to care for them.
- Ensuring an equitable and collaborative work environment, enabling a shared accountability between businesses and employees, thus enhancing the growth of the community.
In improving our community, Michigan Democrats embrace a unified vision of environmental protection, community, and economic development. We reject the notion that protecting our environment is in conflict with fostering economic growth and thriving communities. To achieve our vision for Michigan communities, we place a priority on the following key concerns:
(1) The Environment: Protecting Our Land, Water, Air and Open Space
Our Michigan is a very special place. To generations who have moved here and generations yet to come, Michigan’s appealing beauty and natural resources offer wonderful benefits. Our woods and fields, the Great Lakes, over 11,000 inland lakes, and 50,000 miles of rivers and streams provide an important outdoor life to Michigan families. Democrats will fight fiercely to protect this heritage.
We recognize that our rich natural environment has long been enjoyed by visitors to our state, especially those who appreciate recreation connected with an abundance of water. Fishing, boating, and beach-going are extremely popular activities. Democrats recognize that protecting our environment will also have economic benefits. Tourism is an important commercial activity connected to the beauty and variety of environments in Michigan. Democrats want to encourage tourism and have supported increased tourism promotion efforts as an important part of our overall economic development plan.
We all want our drinking water, where our children play, and where we live to be clean and safe. Michigan Democrats have one message –– we insist on clean water, clean air, and open space for our children and ourselves. We support the interests of bow hunters and those who legally and responsibly use firearms for hunting and shooting, and we know that many of them are active conservationists. We have expanded public access for hunting and fishing and worked hard to protect woodlands.
Michigan has become a dumping ground for Canada’s trash, which threatens the health of Michigan’s people and its precious wildlife. Legislative Democrats forced passage of landmark legislation to curb the flow of out-of-state and Canadian garbage. Senator Stabenow led the fight for tougher border inspections to turn away trash containing hazardous wastes and illegal drugs. The powerful garbage lobby is now using the courts to thwart the people’s will, but we will fight them until the trash trucks stop.
Michigan has the intellectual, industrial, and political resources to become a leader in environmental planning, development, and conservation for the 21st Century. We must encourage manufacturers, suppliers, retailers, and consumers to reduce the amount of waste in our environment and encourage waste reclamation. Democrats support:
Cleaning up the water. Michigan citizens place a premium on high quality water for drinking, swimming, fishing and boating. With the Great Lakes, our water is a treasure. Michigan citizens should expect an environmental policy that prevents contamination, rather than allowing it to occur and then forcing taxpayers to cover the costs of an expensive cleanup. Michigan has passed legislation to keep toxic waste and invasive species out of the Great Lakes.
Protecting against damage caused by pursuing mineral wealth and obtaining energy fuels. Actions that might damage the environment require close governmental supervision. Safety precautions for workers require regular inspections and strong penalties for failing to remedy identified deficiencies. We demand that our aquifers retain their purity and our animals, birds, and fish have their habitats preserved. The public interest must be protected from those people and corporations who put their bottom line first and ignore the possible harmful consequences of their actions.
Protecting the Great Lakes. Great Lakes water has been diverted by Illinois since the 1800s and coveted by Sunbelt states and entrepreneurs since the 1980s. As the state with the most to gain or lose in protecting the Lakes, Michigan must protect this world-class public resource from water raids and oil spills. We applaud the efforts of Governor Granholm and the Legislature to approve the Great Lakes Compact and related legislation which will help protect Great Lakes water from diversion. Now that Congress has approved the Compact, Michigan must vigorously enforce these laws. Senator Debbie Stabenow wrote the first-ever federal law banning oil and gas drilling in the Great Lakes, supplementing the Michigan ban. We support her efforts to get Canada to stop drilling operations in the Great Lakes.
Monitoring the Michigan bottled water industry. Michigan’s water withdrawal law allows bottled water to be sold outside of the Great Lakes basin provided it is shipped in bottles smaller than 5.7 gallons. The worldwide demand for additional fresh water and drinking water will continue to increase. We need closer monitoring of the bottled water industry and its effect on the environment, and need a policy for the Great Lakes that is better coordinated with the other states that border on them.
Updating aquifer laws. Michigan conservation law concerning aquifers needs updating. We know much more about tracking aquifers and the large influence of aquifers on nearby bodies of water and wells than we did when the law was written.
Despite these achievements, the Great Lakes still face many challenges. Over many years, the Great Lakes and their tributaries have been polluted by industrial discharges, PCBs, heavy metals, and other toxic substances. Contaminated sediments that have settled at the bottom of harbors and tributaries must be cleaned up quickly, before they move into the open waters of the Great Lakes. Additionally, over 160 non-native species, including the zebra mussel, Eurasian ruffe, and lamprey eel, have invaded the Great Lakes watershed and disrupted the native wildlife, competing with native species for food and habitat. The Asian carp must be kept out of the Great Lakes, where it would produce a multibillion dollar disaster. Fighting these invasive species has proven to be a significant economic drain — every year, the Great Lakes region spends $30 million to keep water pipes from becoming clogged with zebra mussels. Michigan Democrats support the Great Lakes Collaboration Implementation Act as introduced by Senator Carl Levin to reduce the threat of invasive species, restore fish and wildlife, clean up contaminated sediments in the lakes, and coordinate water quality management.
Polluter pay. Michigan law should make polluters responsible for the costs of cleaning up their pollution.
Protect Children: We are especially eager to prevent pollution and contamination that threatens the health of our children, so we support:
- Launching an all-out effort to prevent and treat lead poisoning in children.
- Cleaning up industrial emissions that cause levels of ozone unsafe for kids and supporting energy efficient technologies and mass transit that reduce such emissions.
- Requiring businesses using hazardous chemicals to develop pollution prevention plans.
- Banning the establishment or relocation of new sources of toxic pollution close to schools, day care centers, and other places where children live and play.
Smart Growth: Michigan Democrats propose smart growth strategies and better land use that foster livable communities, protect our farms and open space, and support reinvestment in our great cities. Our smart growth agenda will focus development where our infrastructure of roads, sewers, and utilities exist, saving the taxpayer money while encouraging urban redevelopment.
Alternative and renewable energy: The 21st Century Jobs Fund, Alternative Energy Centers of Excellence and other policies will help encourage the use of solar, wind, ethanol, biodiesel, and other alternative energy sources. Michigan has its first biodiesel plant and cellulosic ethanol plants are on the way. Senator Stabenow has successfully passed federal tax incentives to develop alternative fuels such as ethanol from Michigan crops.
Connecting communities: New development focuses attention on the need for roads, sewers, new schools, and communications connections, as well as concerns over pollution, sprawl, traffic, and the costs of growth. These issues increasingly spill over the boundaries of our individual 2,000 units of government. Furthermore, thanks to urban sprawl and economic polarization, Michigan is becoming even more separated by race, income, and ethnicity. Michigan’s housing markets have the highest indicators of racial segregation in the nation and our schools are among the most segregated in the country. Binding our communities together with respect for one another and an acceptance of our diversity is the Democratic goal in order to create a successful pluralistic society. There are steps we can take to encourage a working community of Michigan citizens.
Regional solutions to regional problems: The transportation, economic development, environmental, and related issues of the metro regions of Detroit, Grand Rapids, Traverse City, Flint, Kalamazoo, and Lansing are regional in nature and require regional solutions. Democrats will encourage planning and decision-making that transcend arbitrary political boundaries and solve problems effectively on a regional basis by working together. Part of our strategy will be the encouragement of regional land management plans and tools that help local government’s growth, such as transfer of development rights program, regional impact coordination, regional revenue sharing, impact fees, urban growth boundaries, land banks, and urban service districts.
Equal and affordable housing: Democrats affirm a commitment to equal access to decent and affordable housing for every person regardless of race, religion, ethnicity, age, gender, marital status, sexual orientation and gender identification. We support aggressive enforcement of current fair housing laws to ensure an equal share in the American dream to all Michigan citizens. We encourage policies that make housing affordable and encourage more integrated communities, including the expanded use of housing subsidies and mixed income housing developments. We applaud steps taken by Democrats to address the mortgage foreclosure crisis. The Legislature must study the economics of mobile and pre-manufactured home purchases, lot rental, and repossession. This will address grievances of mobile and manufactured home residents and surrounding communities, the claims of the “affordability” of this type of housing, and the economics and adequacy of state and local inspection of multiple family housing. In response to mobile home owner problems, Democrats will enact a Mobile Home Owners Bill of Rights.
Regional transportation solutions: Transportation systems that help people commute and connect the community are essential. Michigan Democrats will continue to advocate for enhanced funding and better planning and coordination of transportation investments in our metropolitan regions.
(2) Social Justice: Achieving Equal Treatment Under the Law
A community is based on trust that all are treated equally. In America all are supposed to be equal before the law. Democrats celebrate the fact that our society is increasingly diverse. We maintain our longstanding commitment to social justice, freeing individuals to pursue their dreams. In order to reap the benefits of diversity, we must continue to fight discrimination by breaking down barriers based on race, color, national origin, gender, religion, philosophy, language, marital status, sexual orientation and gender identification, age, height, weight, physical or mental disability –– or any other characteristic irrelevant to ability. We must instill a spirit of cooperation between cities, suburbs, and rural communities to build an inclusive society at all levels.
We will champion the cause of civil rights for all citizens, working to eliminate all forms of discrimination. We will not stand for the trampling of civil rights by anyone, including individuals, employers, companies, or government. We believe in affirmative action and seek the repeal of 2006 Proposition 2. We seek more than merely tolerance; we want to build the person-to-person interactions between all people that will ultimately produce trust and equality.
We oppose the insurance industry’s unfair practice of redlining and credit scoring when setting insurance premiums. This discrimination disproportionately and unfairly exploits the working poor and people of color in our urban communities.
We believe collective bargaining is a basic right of all employees and has brought greater economic security, job safety, and dignity for Michigan workers. To spread these benefits, pioneered in Michigan, the Democrats of our state fully support organizing and collective bargaining throughout the private and public sectors to facilitate these rights and benefits. Michigan Democrats seek to outlaw the use of permanent replacement workers in economic strikes; promote automatic card check recognition in organizing campaigns and mandatory arbitration in first contracts that don’t reach agreement; establish severe penalties against employers who illegally discharge workers or close facilities for union activity; ensure equal time and place access to workers for union organizers; and prevent bankruptcy courts from canceling collective bargaining agreements. We support the federal Employee Free Choice Act.
We oppose so-called “right to work” laws, which prohibit any agreement between an employer and its employees which require the joining of a union as a condition of employment. These laws are actually an attempt to weaken the bargaining power of workers, and would more aptly be named “right to work for less” laws. By any measure, residents of so-called “right to work” states are less well-off than residents of states which encourage collective bargaining. Please see our “Employees Bill of Rights” at the end of our Platform.
We believe that women should have access to reproductive medical services and professional advice when they need it. We pledge our support for reproductive freedom, giving a woman the right to make her own choices in this matter. But we respect the individual conscience of each American on this difficult issue. We strongly support family planning, child care, and adoption programs such as those in Governor Granholm’s pregnancy reduction initiative.
We will vigorously promote measures that ensure the full civil rights of Michigan’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) citizens. The Michigan Democratic Party supports the inclusion of LGBT persons in the Elliot-Larsen Civil Rights Act and Michigan’s Ethnic Intimidation Act. We support full inclusion of LGBT families in the life of our state and seek equal responsibilities, benefits, and protections for those families, including the right to adopt and raise children. The Michigan Civil Service Commission has prohibited discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity in state employment We call for the repeal of 2004 Proposition 2, which adds discrimination to our State Constitution. Moreover, we oppose measures that aim to criminalize same-gender relationships and conduct.
We believe Michigan citizens have the right to personal safety and security in their homes, workplaces, and communities, including protection from sexual harassment.
We will insist on ending the insidious practices of racial profiling and unlawful targeting of African-Americans, Arab-Americans, Latinos, Muslims and LGBT citizens (among others) for harassment, entrapment, and selective law enforcement.
We will fight age discrimination in all its forms.
We seek to ensure justice before the bench. The State Bar of Michigan has recognized that the courts today are stacked against the people, particularly minorities and women. As the Party that has worked to turn the civil rights revolution into a living reality for all people, Michigan Democrats pledge to continue our commitment to maintain the gains won, and maintain our fight for equality. We condemn the under-representation of African-Americans and low-income citizens on Wayne County juries. The law says people have the right to be tried by a jury of their peers. Discrimination in jury selection prejudices the right to a fair trial. The system for providing legal counsel to indigent people accused of a crime must be improved.
We stand for the rights of legal immigrants and will work to bring about their acceptance as citizens and part of the Michigan family. We applaud efforts by the Open Justice Commission to provide language interpreters in court and to take other steps to make the legal process more user friendly to those unaccustomed to English.
We continue our commitment to Native American tribes and their sovereignty, self-governance, and self-determination. We support the development of constructive government-to-government and person-to-person relationships.
We believe the time has come to promote an “Economic Bill of Rights,” which includes:
- The right of workers to a decent job and to bargain collectively for fair wages and safe working conditions.
- The right of non-represented workers to have a bill of rights in use.
- The right to decent and affordable housing and medical care.
- The right to social services sufficient to meet basic human needs.
- The right to clean air, water, and renewable energy sources, and to be free from discriminatory invasion of toxic pollutants into our communities and workplaces.
- The right to economic and social security for older Americans.
- A shareholder’s bill of rights empowering individuals to protect and properly manage their investments.
(3) Seniors: Providing Retirement Security and Needed Services for Seniors
Michigan seniors deserve dignity and security in retirement. Michigan should have affordable health care, public services, and accommodations to help provide ease and comfort for seniors.
We must recognize the growing age of our population. From 2000 to 2020, the population of citizens over 65 will increase over 30%, and the number of people aged 85 and older in Michigan will rise over 28%. Caring for our parents is an increasing concern and financial challenge for Michigan families. Only one percent of state citizens have long-term care insurance, and the cost of this insurance is skyrocketing. Seniors deserve the opportunity to live independently and the availability of a wide range of quality options for living when they need assistance.
Michigan Democrats promote new options for homecare, independent living tax credits for dependent care for Michigan families, and additional protections for seniors’ homes and property, allowing them to keep their homes and still get quality care where possible. We must:
Protect Pensions. Millions of Michigan citizens depend upon pensions for their primary or sole source of income. Recent economic circumstances, and in some cases corporate malfeasance, have had a drastic negative effect upon many pensions and other retirement benefits. The Michigan Democratic Party is committed to ensuring that companies that benefit from the investment of pension funds adhere to strict independent accounting standards. These companies should provide for prompt resolution of accounting discrepancies; auditor independence; strong prohibitions against companies improperly influencing or misleading an auditor; audit committee oversight; shareholder proposals and participation; shareholder approval of stock options; and strict limits on preferential treatment, loans and gifts to management and directors. Bankruptcy courts should not be able to take away pension rights.
Keep Social Security and Medicare solid. Democrats advocate plans at the federal level to keep Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid fully funded and dependable for future generations. We oppose privatization of Social Security. Medicare should also be given the freedom to use its marketplace leverage for drug discounts from the drug manufacturers, who have built their profits upon the results from federally funded grants for basic research in our universities. The people of Michigan should not have to go into Canada to find more affordable drug prices.
Improve nursing home conditions. Michigan’s nursing homes are an important refuge for our ailing senior citizens. These facilities and their residents have too often been neglected. Minimum staffing standards have been ignored and training for staff is inadequate. There have been incidents of actual physical abuse. Democrats will make sure staffing is adequate, inspections are frequent, and that training and incentives are provided for nursing home workers. This must include both incentives to reward quality nursing homes and sanctions adequate to ensure that irresponsible facilities and their operators do not betray the important responsibilities placed in the nursing home industry.
Monitor the reverse mortgage industry more closely. A reverse mortgage is a new financial tool available to people of age 62 and older that own their own home. We support requiring all lenders to meet acceptable standards for protecting reverse mortgage customers, mandating independent pre-loan counseling for all reverse mortgage applicants, and limiting lending fees. Predatory and exploitative practices must be stopped.
(4) Voting: Nurturing Democracy and Promoting Civic Participation
Voting is the major way we make our voice heard in a democracy. Michigan Democrats propose bold action to improve public participation. We intend to make voting easier, make sure every vote counts, and ensure that all eligible voters are able to make their voices heard. We should:
Abolish the Electoral College. We support abolishing or reforming the undemocratic Electoral College and electing our President by direct popular vote.
Provide new voting options. Democrats will foster increased voter participation by expanding existing vote-by-mail capability, facilitating electronic voter registration, promoting election-day registration, exploring weekend voting, , establishing early voting and no-reason absentee voting, working to require employers to accommodate employees’ voting rights and investigating the promise and potential pitfalls of new technologies such as Internet balloting. The successful use of vote by mail and Internet voting in our 2004 Presidential Caucuses should encourage innovation. All voting devices must have a verifiable and recountable paper trail.
We should make election day for federal offices a national holiday. People who do not vote on election day give “insufficient free time” as their most frequent explanation. Many people work two jobs. Making election day a holiday would increase voter turnout and give more people the opportunity to participate in the democratic process.
Enforce and improve voting rights laws. The federal Voting Rights Act makes it clear that it is the job of state election officials to encourage participation and make it easier for citizens to exercise their rights –– not harder. Voter intimidation and harassment are unacceptable. Student voting turnout is lowered because Republican legislation makes a student vote only at their legal residence. This effectively makes them go home from college if they wish to vote, as there are important items such as educational funding fees and health policy qualifications that are linked to one’s legal residence. Republicans try to suppress Democratic turnout by cloaking legislation as fraud prevention, placing photo identification requirements on the right to vote. The Board of State Canvassers provides an important safeguard against a partisan Secretary of State; the Board should not be weakened. Fraud in petition signature gathering, such as occurred in the 2006 effort to ban affirmative action, must be made illegal. The National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) and Help America Vote Act (HAVA) must be strengthened, such as by establishing national election standards.
Reform the redistricting process to end partisan gerrymanders. Promoting competitiveness between the two major parties statewide and within voting districts is a desirable goal when redistricting. The general election should be more important than the primary election whenever possible.
Reform the Presidential primary schedule. We strongly support the fight lead by Michigan’s Senator Carl Levin to make the presidential nomination system a fairer process by ending the monopoly on going early held by Iowa and New Hampshire. States holding their primary or caucus early clearly have a far greater voice in determining the nominee. They also derive extra revenue from more intense campaign spending and have greater attention paid to the issues that affect them the most. An early Midwest industrial state’s primary or caucus is particularly needed to raise globalization and international trade issues for the candidates and nation to address.
Reform the U.S. Senate rule that permits filibusters. Republicans are using the Senate rule on filibusters far more than has been done in the past, with the intention of blocking many of President Obama’s legislative programs that have been enacted by the House.
Amend the U.S. Senate rule that allows individual U.S. Senators to place a “hold” on appointments. This privilege is being been misused by Republicans to unfairly hold up confirmation of Obama appointments.
Extend or eliminate legislative term limits. Michigan limits state representatives to three 2-year terms and state senators to two 4-year terms. We need experienced legislators who can tackle the tough problems government confronts. Term limits prevents legislators from acquiring valuable experience. That experience is especially helpful in acquiring enough knowledge about a political topic to resist special-interest lobbyists.
Inform Voters about the Party Affiliation of Supreme Court Candidates. Up to 40 percent of Michigan’s voters fail to cast a vote for any candidate for Michigan Supreme Court on the nonpartisan portion of the ballot. Most observers conclude the “drop-off” in voting for Supreme Court candidates is because voters are denied the most basic information needed when casting a ballot, i.e., whether the core values and sense of justice of a Supreme Court candidate and the party nominating him/her are similar to the voter’s. Most voters identify with the core values of their chosen party and its candidates. Political parties nominate candidates for the Michigan Supreme Court. Unlike other offices, Michigan law deprives voters of information on the ballot as to the party affiliation, and, hence, the values, of each Supreme Court candidate. We support laws to restore the requirement of full disclosure, printed on the ballot, of the identity of each political party together with the name of its chosen nominee for Supreme Court.
(5) Faith: Connecting Our Party With People of Faith
Throughout our country’s history, people of faith have played a major role in many of the great reforms of American society, such as the abolition of slavery and the Civil Rights movement. Leaders of those reform movements — people like Abraham Lincoln and the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. — were inspired by faith and used religious terminology in advocating their causes, allowing them to appeal to the best aspects of our nature and to call our nation to the better futures they envisioned.
The voices of the faithful have been an important part of our past, and they remain important as we confront new problems and challenges in the future. At times, Democrats have struggled to strike the difficult balance between abiding by the Constitutional mandate to protect freedom of religion while also preventing the establishment of state-supported religion.
The central role that faith plays in the lives of millions of Americans, and millions of Democrats, cannot be ignored. Democrats recognize the important contributions the faith community has made throughout American history in caring for the least and last among us and helping to keep our country’s moral compass true. As Democrats, we welcome and encourage the involvement of people of faith in shaping the values, priorities, and policies of the Michigan Democratic Party, our state, and our nation as we seek the Common Good.
(6) Foreign Policy: Building a Global Community
While our attention is focused on Michigan, no one can deny the importance of recognizing the issues facing our state and nation in the international arena. The world is too interconnected to have us ignore what is going on in other countries.
We must discourage the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and fight terrorism.
The economic health of Michigan is helped by maintaining open borders. We need to implement safety measures at our borders without impairing our trade and travel routes.
We must establish and enforce stronger international labor rights and effective environmental protection. Michigan and America should work for these policies:
With Africa. We support helping the people of Africa nurture their continent’s extraordinary potential and address its serious problems such as ethnic cleansing, famine, poverty and AIDS. Our involvement is both the right thing to do and ultimately in all of our interests. The humanitarian crisis in Sudan, especially in the Darfur region, must be ended. All nations have the responsibility to pressure the Sudanese government to end this slaughter. American leadership on these issues is vital.
With Asia. We support efforts to work for economic stability and human rights in Asia. We applaud the important security charter with Japan and close cooperation with the Republic of Korea toward the goal of a unified and non-nuclear peninsula. We support a policy of steady engagement to encourage a stable, secure, open and prosperous China, and we support a “One China” policy and peaceful resolution of cross-Straits issues. The desire of Tibetans to play a greater role in governing their region must be honored. We must improve relationships with Central and South Asian countries like India and Pakistan in order to advance our common interests in that region, such as nuclear non-proliferation and peaceful resolution of differences.
With Europe. We believe that the security of Europe remains a vital American interest. We applaud efforts to foster a peaceful, democratic, and undivided Europe, including expanded support for reform in the former Soviet and other communist states and increased assistance to these states. We are committed to the political and economic development and independence of the former Soviet states. We seek a democratic, prosperous, and peaceful Russia.
With Latin America. We are committed to working toward the continued growth of democracies in Latin America. We are also committed to further consolidating democracy and stability throughout the hemisphere.
With the Middle East. Michigan is a state with many families whose country of origin is in the Middle East; we have strong interest in building a better international situation there. We fully support a Middle East peace process, including the Oslo Agreements signed by the Palestinian Authority and Israel, which call for negotiations to guarantee the territorial integrity, security and political rights of the parties to the negotiations. We need to get a responsible conclusion to the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, which have been consuming our country’s blood and treasure since March of 2003. We support President Obama’s efforts and plans to end those wars. The many difficult, sensitive situations in the Middle East require a multi-national diplomatic effort, an approach fully supported by the Democratic Party.
In North America. We are committed to a continuing strong relationship with Michigan’s largest trading partner, Canada. Speedy cross-border access between Michigan and Ontario is important to both countries, and can be done in a manner that meets mutual security requirements. We believe another bridge across the Detroit River to Windsor would be mutually beneficial to both America and Canada. We need an improved trade agreement with Mexico that leads to prosperity on both sides of the border, while environmental and human issues are managed fairly. We encourage the purchase of an Enhanced Michigan Driver’s License, which can be used as ID in border crossings with our neighboring nations.
The Democratic Party believes that our nation, state, and communities can be secure only when individuals and families are secure. We want to prevent people from “falling through the cracks” or being driven to antisocial behavior from preventable causes. Democrats believe in personal responsibility; we hold individuals accountable for their criminal or terrorist acts. When adults or juveniles have been released from incarceration, Democrats believe that we must help to reintegrate the person returning to society. Security also entails the economic security of our nation; Democrats will be proactive in planning for our nation’s future energy sources. We need green energy sources to prevent climate change, maintain pure air and water, become more self-sufficient, and provide new jobs.
(1) Crime: Achieving Security by Prevention and Rehabilitation
We incarcerate people when they fail the first test of personal accountability by violating our laws and the rights of others. We have taken dramatic steps in recent years to toughen sentences for violent crime, lock up criminals and fugitive felons, and protect our children by expelling juveniles from schools for acts of violence.
However, simply continuing to lock up an increasing number of people is not in our best interest, considering the high costs of housing prisoners and building new facilities to replace those that are outdated or augment those that are overcrowded. We need to do more to prevent crime. Michigan’s incarceration rate is the highest of all the Great Lakes states and the ninth-highest in the whole country. We spend more on prisons than on higher education. The corrections budget eats up over two billion dollars a year. Each year, hundreds of those locked up under these tough laws have done their time, and are returning to Michigan communities. In many cases, they are worse off than when they went in. We need to do more in preparing these people to return to society.
We support the Michigan Prisoner ReEntry Initiative (MPRI), designed to reduce crime and enhance public safety through rehabilitation. The MPRI provides a system of services for offenders from the time of their entry to prison to their return to society, which is designed to assist them in successfully completing parole and becoming productive citizens.
Prison reform. We need to expand efforts to educate and train prisoners, and help them deal with substance abuse and mental health issues, so they can reenter our communities with a chance at successful rehabilitation. Michigan prisons must stop serving as our mental health institutions.
Stopping crime before it starts. We must increase our activities dedicated to crime prevention by stopping the costs and problems before they occur. Building more prisons is not an anti-crime program. We must get illegal guns off the streets and out of the hands of dangerous felons while protecting the rights of law-abiding responsible gun owners.
Rehabilitating juveniles. Expulsion from school has an adverse and profound effect on the future life of any young person. We should not be so rigid as to let a zero tolerance policy push kids out of our school system for a petty offence that can be dealt with in some way other than expulsion. Once expelled from school, juveniles cannot be left to roam the streets, but must be required to be enrolled in effective alternative education programs, structured to teach discipline, responsibility, and the academic skills they need to be productive citizens. We must restore judicial discretion in the adjudication and sentencing of juveniles.
Michigan is a full partner in the federal 21st Century Schools initiative providing after school learning activities in our most distressed neighborhoods. Democrats propose more grants and incentive programs for after school and in-school peer mediation programs that are proven to reduce juvenile violence and delinquency. Democrats will expand local Safe Haven before and after school programs, pass truancy legislation to notify parents of a child’s absence, and expand school readiness programs to provide additional preschool learning to at-risk children.
We need substance abuse and mental health intervention and treatment before crimes are committed. A large majority of those in prison have drug or alcohol abuse problems. Prevention of drug and alcohol problems will reduce crime.
We need to prevent and reduce domestic violence with its terrible costs to victims and society. Law enforcement and the courts must give priority to domestic violence.
(2) Terrorism: Combating Those Who Would Harm Us
We support the fight against domestic and international terrorism in all their forms. However, we should not and will not sacrifice civil rights and liberties, nor permit discrimination in this fight. The Patriot Act, even after being amended, still has serious flaws. Proper treatment of detainees is a necessary ingredient in our battle for the high ground in combating terrorism. Torture is contrary to American values. Important constitutional rights such as habeas corpus cannot be shunted aside.
Republicans who support inhumane and unconstitutional policies instituted by the Bush-Cheney administration do not seem to understand that we are in a struggle for the hearts and minds of people. We can defeat terrorism without surrendering the values for which we are fighting.
(3) Energy: Providing Power to the People
Reducing dependency on foreign energy and becoming energy self-sufficient, both as a nation and a state, are paramount to maintaining our security, freedom, and standard of living. With the problem of climate change, our energy policies must also take into account our responsibilities toward our planet and our coming generations. Scientific opinion overwhelmingly supports the belief that man-made climate change is occurring and is going to cause irreparable harm to our planet unless curbed. The Democratic Party supports:
- Passing a federal comprehensive energy bill. Passing such a bill would help the economy by creating new green jobs, help the environment by reducing emissions, and help national security by reducing our dependence on oil-producing countries.
- Supporting research and development of renewable and alternative energy sources. The threat of climate change and the growing scarcity of petroleum mandate that other forms of energy be found and developed with immediate attention. The world’s largest manufacturer of crystals used for solar energy, Hemlock Semiconductor, is located in Saginaw County. Wind energy use in Michigan is rapidly increasing. We must keep our state on the cutting edge of alternative energy.
- A strong state renewable energy standard.
- Be confident we have fully adequate procedures and safety measures to protect us before we allow drilling for oil under the seabed, especially when deep-water drilling. Regulatory agencies should not be taking the word of an oil company, especially one with a troubled history like BP, that deep-water wells can be quickly capped if there is trouble. Our environment must be protected.
- Instituting energy-saving and conservation measures for both families and industry, reducing the need for energy. People should be given incentives to use better insulation and energy-conserving appliances for their homes.
- Creating incentives for families and small businesses to invest in pollution-free solar or wind alternative energy solutions by requiring utility companies to purchase, at a reasonable price, the surplus power produced by their residential and business customers. These measures will help make alternative energy systems more affordable to families and business, promote a cleaner, carbon-free environment and reduce dependency on foreign oil.
- Using the most modern technology for protecting human health and the environment in our power plants.
- Passing legislation to prevent price-gouging and ensure that Michigan citizens are paying a fair price for energy. The oil companies are making record profits, yet continue to get subsidized by the government.
- Assisting those who need help in paying their energy bills.
Democrats believe government and corporations must be accountable to people. In a civil society, all institutions, private and public, must be accountable for their actions. Democrats believe we must take strong measures to improve the connection between the public and our government, and help the public hold those that deal with them, including corporations, clearly accountable for mistreatment and misdeeds. Regulatory agencies must put service to the people first. We must forge a culture that encourages individuals to take responsibility for their lives and for how they interact with others. Here are major challenges we face in trying to increase government, corporate, and individual accountability.
(1) Judicial System: Serving the People, not Special Interests
Justice is the foundation of democracy. When the administration of justice is influenced by money, as has been the case with the current Republican majority on the Michigan Supreme Court, our most treasured values suffer. Democrats want to restore balance to a judicial system that has become the handmaiden of the powerful and rich.
Special interests have given millions of dollars in political contributions to the Republican justices who rule for them and for laws that benefit corporate interests. The ultra-conservative and extremist Republican judges have used their positions on the Michigan Supreme Court to attack long-standing civil rights laws, consumer protection laws, labor laws and environmental regulations. When conscientious lawyers complained about the Supreme Court’s transparent pandering to big money, the Court tried to silence their critics. Michigan needs a Supreme Court that will protect and defend the Constitution and the individual.
(2) Government: Freeing Politics from Money Influence and Special Interests
Democrats want to make sure government is not for sale to the highest bidder and that the people’s voice is heard. Democrats will relentlessly push for reforms that diminish the role of special interests and make government more accountable and comprehensible. We insist on openness and integrity from our elected officials.
We believe the 2010 U.S. Supreme Court 5-4 Citizens United decision permitting unlimited corporate spending runs counter to a century of precedents in election law and is unhealthy for our political system. We support federal and state legislation to prevent corporate and foreign money from corrupting the integrity of the political process, which this decision has now threatened.
Michigan Democrats’ campaign and governmental reform agenda includes:
Institute new contribution limits. Limit contributions from all sources to all political committees (PACs) and parties each year as well as keep limits on contributions to candidate campaigns. Right now, some rich individuals and organizations can give unlimited amounts to a variety of groups to buy influence in elections and government. The rich should not have more voice than others in getting government attention and action.
Provide full disclosure of political contributions to candidates, parties, political foundations, and independent groups. Currently many campaign donors and sources of money aren’t disclosed. Democrats would extend reporting requirements to the new political foundations, contributions to parties, independent expenditure organizations, and other groups used to evade disclosure requirements. The Democrats would prohibit the use of contributions until all contributor information has been collected and reported.
Require politicians to disclose their personal finances. Candidates and officeholders need to reveal their income and personal wealth when they seek and hold office. Federal elected officials already do so. State and local elected officials should as well, using the federal disclosure model.
Put in place stronger ethics legislation requiring candidates and elected and appointed officials to reveal and avoid conflicts of interest, prohibit the payment of honoraria to state officials, ban the solicitation or receipt of political contributions in state buildings, and require public disclosure of legal defense fund contributions and expenditures.
Substantially reduce the use of soft money and require accurate “labeling” on independent ads run on behalf of candidates. Organizations and individuals steer money through other organizations where it is spent on campaigns with no disclosure of its source. A growing number of ads for and against candidates during an election are paid for by “third parties” and “independent groups.” Democrats would close the soft money window by limiting the amount of money individuals and any organization can give to other organizations and require all organizations to report the source and nature of contributions. All ads run by independent groups, committees, and organizations would include acknowledgement of the funding source so the public would know exactly which group is behind the ad. Such groups would be prevented from using a cute cover name like “Alliance for Progressive Good Things,” and required to furnish the name of the individuals or organizations that paid for the ad. These steps will not inhibit any groups from getting their message out.
Provide public airwaves for public decision-making. Money drives campaigns, and a large proportion of expenditures is for costly TV and radio ads. Michigan Democrats encourage our Congressional Delegation to enable our publicly-funded communications channels and the companies that operate them to participate in a plan for free TV communication during campaigns.
Facilitate positive active issue discussion between candidates. We need to get away from mud-throwing and focus on the problems of real people.
Voluntary public financing program for all statewide elected officials. A program now operating in several states and in Michigan for gubernatorial elections allows candidates for office to voluntarily limit their spending on campaigns in return for a share of a public financing pool. Without the need for non-stop fundraising, candidates and elected officials can avoid being beholden to interest groups. They can devote their time to getting to know the voters they will represent and then doing their job. Democrats encourage a statewide system that includes many of the above measures and a public financing component as a first step the Michigan gubernatorial system should be expanded to include all statewide-elected officials, including judges.
End the contractor-contributor merry-go-round. Campaign contributions from recipients of state and local funds present an obvious conflict of interest. Contractors should not be able to buy consideration from elected officials. Democrats will ban such donations at the state level and encourage local communities to do the same.
Close the lobbyist revolving door. Prohibit former state officials from lobbying their former agencies for at least one year after their government service ends.
(3) Corporations: Insisting on Corporate Accountability
Democrats believe corporations must be held accountable for their behavior when they step over the line. We pledge to have our government committed to holding corporations, their accountants, boards, and executives accountable for their actions, and fighting for the public interest. In many areas, the state should take up its proper role as the guardian of the health, safety, and public interest against greed and negligence in the private sector. This responsibility particularly applies to corporations who receive government research funds or operate under a government contract.
Staff and fund regulatory agencies. Michigan and the United States both have many good laws, enforced by regulatory agencies. Unfortunately, in many cases, we do not have fully-staffed and impartial regulatory agencies who actually enforce the laws and regulations. We must close the gap between the laws and their enforcement to ensure the safety and prosperity of our state.
Improve workplace safety. Workers should not risk death, illness or injury on the job. The Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MIOSHA) must protect the safety of workers. When workers are injured on the job, they need a reasonable safety net provided by worker compensation, with predictable benefits to tide them over until they can return to work.
Increase corporate responsibility. The current economic and corporate environment has resulted in significant losses for those who invested their money in public companies. Their expectation was that their interests would be protected, and that companies would act with integrity in safeguarding those investments. The Michigan Democratic Party supports strong investor protections, including a shareholder’s bill of rights; public company oversight board; inspections, investigations and disciplinary actions; auditor independence; strong federal regulation of the accounting industry; corporate responsibility on the part of CEOs, CFOs and other executive officers; and enhanced financial disclosure.
Enact corporate bankruptcy reform. We must protect American workers. Too often, corporations reward executives for the company’s failure, while using current bankruptcy laws to hide off-shore assets and cut wages and benefits for workers and retirees. Workers must retain solid pension plans so in the event of a corporate bankruptcy, they are first among creditors.
Respect employees. Democrats recognize that employees are also customers of companies doing business in our state. Without appropriate compensation for their efforts, these workers will be unable to purchase products and services. We understand that the majority of individuals inherently want to use their skills and talents to contribute to the good of society, and we can tap into this reservoir in our efforts to promote the Common Good. Democrats are committed to protect and defend employee constitutional rights and freedoms, both in and away from the workplace.
Preserve food safety. We support food safety legislation to ensure adequate inspection, testing, and comprehensive and informative labeling of all domestic and imported food, including organic food.
(4) Consumer Protection: Protecting People in the Marketplace
Consumer rights can too easily be trampled by the unscrupulous. Reasonable and effective consumer safeguards are essential to holding corporations, insurers, financial institutions, and all those who operate in the marketplace accountable. We propose to elect officials such as an Attorney General who will be an advocate for the people, and do the following:
- End the practices of redlining and credit scoring.
- Give prosecutors expanded legal authority to investigate price-fixing and gas-gouging at Michigan’s gas pumps.
- Make the Michigan Consumer Protection Act applicable to insurance companies.
- Make the Michigan Insurance Commissioner directly accountable to the voters and provide for direct election of the Insurance Commissioner.
- Give the Insurance Commissioner stronger enforcement authority to hold health, disability, and auto insurance companies accountable.
- Restore accountability for negligent product design and manufacturing defects.
- Restore joint and several liability so that the innocent victim is not penalized, but that all the wrongdoers are punished.
- Allow for punitive damages.
- Allow aggrieved consumers the right to obtain a legal remedy for “bad faith” against insurance companies who do not negotiate claims in good faith. We would include a provision for recovery of the consumers’ cost and attorney fees.
- Amend Michigan’s Constitution to protect a person’s right to a trial by jury in all civil actions to determine the amount of damages which are appropriate to be awarded in a case free from any legislative restrictions.
Many Michigan motorists are injured in automobile accidents, losing the ability to earn an income and incurring massive medical expenses. Too often, these accident victims suffer further when their No-Fault insurance carrier fails to honor a promise in their insurance contract. We must protect Michigan’s drivers and passengers by:
- Requiring auto insurance companies to advise claimants –– in plain English –– of the personal injury protection benefits to which they are entitled if they are involved in a covered auto accident.
- Requiring No-Fault insurance carriers to justify the rates they charge to consumers by opening up their books to public scrutiny.
- Requiring auto insurers to notify drivers that Uninsured Motorists and Under Insured Motorists coverage exists and to disclose whether they offer these coverages.
- Increasing the residual liability insurance (minimum required third party liability auto insurance benefit coverage) to $100,000 from the $20,000 set in 1973 and increase the no-fault replacement services benefit to $100/day from the current $20/day. Neither has been indexed for inflation since 1973.
- Amending the government immunity statute so that state and county governments and their employees are held accountable for serious injuries and death suffered by victims of defective signage and design of public roads.
- Ensuring that doctors with a history of malpractice errors are no longer protected by the silence of their accrediting institutions or employers.
Today’s E-commerce world is providing new opportunities to deceive the public. These schemes must be exposed and stopped. New approaches to deal with Internet fraud and other new forms of fraud are needed in these areas:
- Unsafe and defective products.
- Counterfeit drugs.
- Internet privacy protection against companies that illegally resell information about consumers and their personal and buying habits to third parties.
- Unscrupulous investment schemes preying on the elderly.
- Bogus estate tax and tax shelter operators.
- Insurance companies failing to pay valid claims submitted in good faith.
- Excessive ATM fees and other padded credit and service charges levied by financial institutions.
- Phone and cable bills that obscure charges, services, and costs.
- Pricing and contract terms cloaked in opaque or misleading language.
- Lack of affordable auto insurance with adequate benefits.
(5) Financial Services: Protecting People in Credit and Banking Transactions
Debit and Credit Cards. Abusive practices by credit card companies are widespread, well-entrenched, and unlikely to end without a legislative ban. In an effort to ban unfair practices and to protect consumers who seek to pay off their debts in good faith, Michigan’s Senator Carl Levin introduced the “Stop Unfair Practices in Credit Cards Act” in 2007. We commend Senator Levin on his long fight to correct abusive and unfair credit card practices. We welcome the fact that most of the ideas in his original bill have been enacted into law by becoming part of the Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility, and Disclosure Act (Credit CARD Act) of 2009 and the Restoring American Financial Stability Act of 2010. We are proud of the role our Democratic Senators and Representatives in Washington have played in this vital legislation.
(6) Monetary Policy: Providing Proper Oversight of Our Financial System
We are presently digging our way out of a deep economic crisis created during the Bush Administration. Much of the reason for this crisis is that Bush administration officials permitted the financial sector to operate with minimal oversight. This was in keeping with the flawed Republican philosophy that less regulation is always better. Many hedge funds, mortgage companies, and other financial institutions were able to make a lot of money speculating and acting unscrupulously. The bubble created from the lack of oversight has burst, and the severe impact is being felt throughout the world.
We are thankful for Wall Street reform due to the passage of the Restoring American Financial Stability Act of 2010, which was supported by our Democratic Senators and Congressional Democrats and opposed by Republicans. Regulators now have the power to properly oversee the financial system–but they need to be willing to use the tools they are given. Voters need to be mindful that we should not put the Republicans who created these problems back in charge.
Wall Street reform will:
- Create tough new rules to protect the economy against the reckless, casino-style investments that led to the financial meltdown
- Stop taxpayer-funded bailouts of big banks and financial institutions and create a means to shut down failing institutions
- Rein in excessive pay and bonus schemes for CEOs, creating new safeguards against reckless investing
- Create an independent Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection which will develop and enforce tough new protections for consumers using financial products such as credit cards, car loans, student loans or mortgages, including cracking down on the predatory mortgage lending that helped create the housing bubble
- Separate proprietary trading from the business of banks and limit banks’ investments in hedge funds and private equity funds.
- Tighten mortgage lending and investment requirements.
- Increase transparency of financial markets
- Create a council of regulators to identify threats to the financial system.
- Regulate financial derivatives and require them to be traded openly.
Democrats recommend the following additional preventative and remedial actions be taken:
- Promote full employment, which goes hand-in-hand with financial stability.
- Increase public confidence in the government and financial system, which is critical in getting through tough times.
- Educate our citizens to more effectively manage their personal finances.
(7) Responsible Healthcare: Holding the Healthcare Industry Accountable
People must be protected against medical mistakes and refusal of insurers to pay legitimate claims. According to the National Academy of Sciences, up to 98,000 people are killed each year as a result of medical errors in hospitals; far more than die from car accidents, breast cancer, or AIDS. The impact of these blunders by the healthcare industry on families is tragic and permanent, and the impact of these blunders on our economy is significant. Total national costs (lost income, lost household production, disability, and healthcare costs) of hospital negligence are estimated to be between $17 billion and $29 billion each year. Only a small minority of the victims of health industry malpractice ever file a claim, and even fewer ever receive compensation for those blunders. However, the healthcare and insurance industries have used their powerful resources to mislead lawmakers and consumers into believing that the centuries-old right to hold a careless medical provider accountable before a jury of your peers is the reason why these powerful industries are failing to provide quality medical care to our families.
As a result, the health insurance industry regularly gets away with unreasonable refusals to pay the medical care that your doctor has determined you or your loved ones need. In addition, the healthcare and insurance industries and their political action committees have supported Republican legislators and judicial candidates who changed the law so as to severely restrict the right of a victim of medical industry malpractice to obtain any remedy in a court of law. To protect patients, we propose the following:
• Require insurance companies to pay doctors, clinics, and hospitals for the services rendered, or provide a justified rejection of a claim for payment, within 30 days of submission of the claim (similar to the no-fault act, and laws in a number of other states).
• Eliminate procedural obstacles now imposed under Michigan law which prevent victims of serious medical malpractice from obtaining a reasonable remedy and from holding the medical industry accountable for preventable serious permanent injury or death.
• Restore the centuries-old right of a jury to judge the evidence and to determine damages in wrongful death and malpractice cases without artificial limits set by recent statutes, which protect special interests at the expense of the health of Michigan’s people.
• Require disclosure of all documents produced in any hospital investigation into an adverse event, so as to ensure that careless providers are identified and held accountable, and to develop means of preventing future malpractice.
• Allow a living person, whose provider carelessly failed to diagnose a serious medical condition (such as breast or colon cancer), to sue for a lost opportunity to survive.
• Protect patients from discriminatory practices resulting in neglect of treatment because of disability, race, religion, gender, age, or sexual orientation and from abuse in healthcare institutions such a nursing home.
- Repeal Michigan’s unique drug immunity law which prevents drug companies from being held accountable when their drugs injure or kill people.
(8) Local Government: Emphasizing Decentralization and Local Control
The most accountable government is the government closest to the people. The Democratic Party supports local control of decision-making functions, and opposes efforts by Lansing to dictate all local environmental, civil rights, and employment decisions. This is why Governor Granholm vetoed Republican legislation preempting local living wage ordinances and other laws interfering with local control. The Michigan Democratic Party is committed to revenue-sharing and to protecting the safety and fiscal integrity of every
Michigan community. Within a community, overlapping units of government, including public universities and the state, should abide by the standards established in the community by ordinance, especially those that relate to character of the community. Such ordinances include community master planning, zoning, and those that define the community’s quality of life, such as living wage ordinances or noise regulations.
E. Employee Bill Of Rights
The Michigan Democratic Party believes that all Michigan workers have the right to develop and present their individual skills and talents in the marketplace. We also believe that the workers who become employees do not lose their overall constitutional rights as citizens and workers, but need to gain additional rights as employees. The following represents the Michigan Democratic Party’s call for an Employee Bill of Rights, which lays out those principles and challenges for all citizens to provide for themselves, their families and for society as a whole.
(1) Employees must be treated with honesty and respect
The Michigan Democratic Party asserts that honesty and respect are essential ingredients in any relationship, especially between employer and employee. These virtues are the foundation for a successful business and satisfaction of its employees. Honesty requires both truthfulness and completeness in imparting information to the employee.
The following are some areas that the MDP believes require employer honesty to achieve a successful relationship: Any information affecting future compensation or benefits must be conveyed to the employee; layoffs and terminations are calamities that require as much advance notice as possible; an employer must conduct business within legal guidelines and communicate them as needed; and the employer must clearly communicate job requirements, such as schedules and procedures, compensation agreements and levels, available training, advancement paths and reasons for dismissal or termination.
The MDP believes that respect means treating employees with consideration, valuing them as individuals and recognizing their right to lead a private life. The employer must honor the line that separates the private life of the employee, and not threaten loss of employment or retribution for engaging in private behavior that takes place outside of the workplace. The employer should make every effort to accommodate the employee in addressing events of great personal importance such as births, deaths, sickness, emergencies and the caring of parents and dependents.
(2) Employment must provide a sustainable standard of living
Michigan workers must be able to earn wages, which provide them and their families with a sustainable standard of living without depending on help from other sources.
The Michigan Democratic Party fully supports mechanisms such as federal and state minimum and prevailing wage laws and local living wage ordinances, which help produce this sustainable standard of living.
The MDP also supports the rights of all workers to band together in unions or other organizations of their own choosing to collectively bargain for fair and just wages and benefits or to support other issues to protect their economic and social interests. Toward this end, the MDP supports passage of the Employee Free Choice Act to guarantee all employees a timely and unfettered choice of collective bargaining agents. Although wages are a huge part of guaranteeing a sustainable standard of living, they are not the only necessity for family success. Also needed are improved unemployment benefits to protect families during temporary periods of unemployment and universal access to quality and affordable health care for the unexpected illness or accident. Also needed are fully protected pension and retirement benefits earned while employed and access to education and vocational training, which allows employees to move with their jobs.
All of these current and proposed laws and policies are powerful tools in the country’s anti-poverty arsenal, and coupled with the hard work of a well trained and educated workforce will provide an employee a standard of living worthy of America.
The Michigan Democratic Party will accept nothing less.
(3) Workplaces must be free of discrimination
The Michigan Democratic Party firmly believes that all persons should have equal access and opportunity to employment and advancement. We oppose discrimination against any person because of irrelevant characteristics, including actual or perceived race, religion, ancestry, national origin, color, sex, age, height, weight, student status, marital status, familial status, veteran status, political affiliation or belief, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, internet footprint, mental or physical limitation, or source of income, except when such characteristics conflict with an entity’s bona fide requirements. For example, we do not oppose a church’s right to limit hiring to applicants of the same denomination or a political organization’s right to limit employment to members of a particular party.
The MDP strongly believes that employers do not own their employees. To that end, the MDP supports a worker’s right to engage in legal behavior outside of the workplace without fear of repercussions from his or her employer, provided such actions or activities do not directly conflict with the employer’s mission. We support efforts by Democratic legislators to ban employers from discriminating against workers on the basis of non-germane, legal activities conducted outside of “company time.”
The MDP strongly supports affirmative action programs and is disappointed by the 2006 passage of the so-called “Michigan Civil Rights Initiative,” which banned affirmative action by public entities. As President Lyndon B. Johnson said more than 40 years ago, “You do not take a person who for years has been hobbled by chains and liberate him, bring him up to the starting line of a race and then say, “You are free to compete with all the others”, and still justly believe that you have been completely fair.”
Finally, the MDP vigorously supports legislative efforts to provide full pay equity for women performing the same work as men, when all other factors are equal.
(4) No worker or person should be without health insurance
The Michigan Democratic Party holds firm the belief that no Michigan citizen should be without access to affordable, quality health care. To that end, the MDP maintains that the best way to achieve universal health care is through a federal, single-payer system.
The MDP recognizes that our society is increasingly becoming divided between those who can readily access the highest level of care and those that are prevented from receiving quality care. The lack of universal health care is detrimental to Michigan citizens and to the survival and recovery of our state and national economy.
While some say that we cannot afford to extend coverage to the uninsured, the MDP asserts that we can’t afford not to cover ever man, woman and child in the United States. Michigan’s economic crisis isn’t a reason to avoid health care reform — rather it is the primary reason why we can’t wait any longer to ensure every citizen has quality, affordable health care.
The MDP believes that health care is a right, not a privilege, and will vigorously advocate for universal health care.
(5) Workers are entitled to a dignified and secure retirement
The Michigan Democratic Party envisions a day when all senior citizens can enjoy a retirement at a reasonable age of their own choosing and be supported by social security, pension and savings, along with a public health care program. To accomplish this goal, we must continue to strengthen and protect the national Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid programs, which are the backbone of the safety net for senior citizens.
We support the right of all workers to negotiate with employers and take advantage of pension and long-term savings programs, which must be guaranteed and protected from being retroactively modified after they have retired.
All workers must be guaranteed comprehensive health care coverage at the time of their retirement that includes hospitalization, medical care and prescription drugs at an affordable rate that remains stable over time. Retirees must be able to live in a comfortable and safe environment, either at home, an assisted living facility or at a nursing home, with all the protections guaranteed by the Older Americans Act.
(6) Employees deserve the protection of workers’ and unemployment compensation laws
The Michigan Democratic Party supports modernizing our unemployment compensation system to meet the needs of a changing world. Workers‟ disability compensation has the twin goals of assuring minimum income and health care for those who have been injured on the job. It caps costs to employers and eliminates the need to prove “fault” in the case of industrial accident or related disease. The MDP strongly believes that all workers should have the security of knowing that their medical costs and basic needs will be met if they are injured on the job. In this day of escalating health care costs, no one should face bankruptcy because of an on the job injury or industrial disease. Unfortunately, long delays in processing claims and insurer coverage disputes can prove the adage that “justice delayed is justice denied.”
The sudden loss of a job can mean immediate poverty. The ups and downs of the business cycle should not be borne by hard working Michigan families. The needs of unemployed workers are even more critical as a result of an economy in transition. Displaced workers need the breathing room offered by unemployment compensation benefits as they seek work and prepare for new jobs. In addition to protecting workers, unemployment compensation is a valuable tool in combating economic downturns by maintaining a level of demand critical to helping a challenged economy avoid further decline and get back on its feet. Therefore, the MDP believes all workers deserve the security of an unemployment insurance system designed to allow them to survive in times of economic struggle.
(7) Every workplace must be as safe as possible
The Michigan Democratic Party strongly believes that employees have a right to a safe and healthy workplace environment. Workplace safety should be the responsibility of all employers, suppliers, vendors and all applicable enforcement agencies to collaboratively assess, implement, administrate and promote policies and practices toward continuous safety and health improvements in the workplace.
The personal safety and health of each and every employee must be of primary importance at all times. To the greatest degree possible, employers must provide all of the information, equipment, procedures, training and other tools necessary to ensure employees a safe and healthy work environment.
To this end, the MDP believes employees have the right to be made aware of all potential workplace hazards, including those that present a risk of harm or injury or other health hazards. In the presence of these workplace hazards, employees must have the right to refuse any work that presents a significant risk. Furthermore, employees must have the right to address unsafe working conditions and/or practices for the resolution thereof and be protected against any form of reprisal as they exercise their rights in accordance with state and federal laws and regulations.
(8) Every worker should enjoy the security and growth provided by job training and lifelong education
The Michigan Democratic Party strongly believes that employees should have the security and growth that job training and lifelong learning provides. In a global market, employees must continue to acquire skills and knowledge in order to be competitive. The increased demand for a highly trained workforce requires that employees have access to enriched job training and lifelong learning.
Growing Michigan’s economy is the most pressing issue currently facing the state. The creation of jobs and economic opportunities is paramount to strengthening Michigan’s middle class. Job creation alone is not enough. Job training and lifelong education are necessary components of a strategy designed to restore and improve Michigan’s workforce and economy.
The Michigan Democratic Party supports the right of employees to receive further career training and education. In addition, the MDP believes that employers should encourage employees to seek further training as a means of personal and professional betterment. Job training and lifelong education are essential to foster a successful worker and workplace. Improved employment prospects through job training and lifelong learning for individuals will aid families, communities and employers.
As Michigan moves forward, the focus has been increasingly placed on sustainability. Job training and lifelong education ensures that Michigan has a sustainable, educated workforce. In addition, job training will allow employees to participate in a move towards green, clean energy jobs. The MDP believes that it is only through lifelong learning and job training that Michigan will become a more attractive venue for further economic opportunities.
(9) All workers should have the right to choose a union
The MDP strongly affirms its commitment to the right of all employees to organize, form unions and collectively bargain without restraint or harassment. The accelerating globalization of finance, wealth, and corporate power has only served to make working families more vulnerable as they fight for their jobs. Labor unions provide security for workers and balance the playing field for all workers.
In the process of forming unions, proof of majority for purposes of recognition should be a speedy, unencumbered process. Once organizing has begun, organizers within a company should have prompt access to lists of all potential bargaining unit members and should be free to work towards their goal without constraint or reprisal, or threat to their person or livelihood. A simple majority should establish a worker’s right to have a union. Active sabotage of the free exercise of these rights, whether by companies or their surrogates, should be legislated to be a felony with fines and punishments that will strongly serve to deter such behavior. Effective enforcement of this and other worker-related protections must be a priority of government and law enforcement, and that’s why the MDP urges Congress to adopt the Employee Free Choice Act.
The Michigan Democratic Party will work diligently not only to secure passage of legislation to strengthen protections for people exercising their right to organize, but also to insure that the spirit of the law is upheld in every workplace. The MDP also opposes the weakening of current labor laws and will vigorously work to defeat any proposal to make Michigan a so-called “Right to Work” state.
(10) Children must be protected in the workplace
The Michigan Democratic Party believes that child labor laws must be strictly enforced and that agencies charged with enforcing such laws are adequately funded. Furthermore, employers who hire minors must take special precautions to ensure that children are protected in the workplace.
The MDP advocates for the following measures to protect children in the workplace: Child labor laws must continue to be published in different languages to ensure everyone has access to critical information; the state of Michigan must create a special Web site dedicated to providing child labor information and providing an easy-to-use gateway for filing complaints against employers; children must be made fully aware that they have the right to access their employment records upon request; and child labor laws and relevant resources should be made available for review at all public schools.
Finally, the MDP believes that while employment makes for a valuable life experience for teens, employers must be sensitive to a child’s educational needs and take all steps necessary to ensure that a minor’s employment does not conflict with or otherwise impede his or her educational needs.
The Michigan Democratic Party puts people first. The policy positions in this Platform address the needs and concerns of ordinary people in our state. Democrats ask for your support so we can change our country and improve our quality of life.