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A roundup of recent Michigan newspaper editorials

August 19, 2019

The Detroit News. August 14, 2019

Protect election integrity in driver’s license debate

Michigan officials are considering whether to offer driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants, and while there may be valid safety reasons for doing so, the state must also ensure the integrity of its voter rolls.

State Sen. Stephanie Chang, D-Detroit, is proposing a bill that would give undocumented immigrants access to driver’s licenses — the third session in a row she has sponsored such a bill. The previous two attempts went nowhere.

But this time, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer supports the idea, giving it a better chance of at least being debated.

“The governor supports a path for undocumented immigrants to get an identification and would support legislation to do so,” Whitmer’s spokesperson Tiffany Brown said in an email.

Critics say the legislation would reward lawbreakers and give those who are here illegally the same rights as legal residents.

Rep. Jim Lower, R-Greenville, for example, pointed out in a statement that such a measure “would make our system more susceptible to voter fraud and abuse.” In addition, Lower said the measure “would send the wrong message to law abiding citizens and individuals who choose to follow the legal path to citizenship.”

House Speaker Lee Chatfield, R-Levering, agrees: “This is a bad plan that has the potential to hurt election activities,” noting the measure could make Michigan a “safe haven for criminal activity.”

But Chang contends it’s “a bill that fixes problems” and that it would improve the lives of all, not just immigrants.

The state’s agricultural economy relies on migrant workers and safe roads, Chang says. Without a driver’s license, the undocumented workers can’t get to jobs, and can’t obtain auto insurance.

“Ensuring that migrant drivers have taken driver’s tests and gotten car insurance would be a benefit to all of us,” she says, citing an AAA study that claims unlicensed drivers are significantly more likely to be involved in fatal car crashes.

Chang notes the conservative Michigan Farm Bureau has long supported the concept.

The danger, however, is that issuing driver’s license will give non-citizens a free pass to the voting booth. In Michigan, the Secretary of State Office oversees both driver’s licenses and voter registration, and the office has made registering new voters a priority.

Chang says this bill, like those she has introduced in the past, would mandate the licenses for those who could not prove legal residence “include a recognizable feature on the front of the license indicating that it is not valid for official purposes.”

But Hans von Spakovsky, manager of the Election Law Reform Initiative at the Heritage Foundation, is not so sure that would be enough to deter voter fraud.

The problem, he says, is that the National Voter Registration Act mandates that citizens must be given the opportunity to register to vote on applying for a driver’s license.

“Supervisors did not want their clerks making decisions on voting issues. They don’t see that as their job,” von Spakovsky says. “So, when someone comes in to get a license, they just give them the option to register to vote.”

Are secretary of state officials going to set up procedures to specifically prepare their clerks to distinguish between citizens and non-citizens?

Drivers ought to be licensed, but this bill should not pass without precautions necessary to ensure that undocumented immigrants are not given the opportunity to vote.

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The Mining Journal (Marquette). August 13, 2019

Study suggest carp would do well in Lake Michigan

If anyone among us thought the fight to keep the Asian carp out of the Great Lakes was all but won, a new report just out in recent days should put a stop to those thoughts.

The University of Michigan research paper found that the species would likely flourish if it ever made it to Lake Michigan. Previous thinking held that Asian carp wouldn’t do all that well in the Great Lakes because of a drop-off in plankton, the tiny plants and animals on which bighead and silver carp typically feed, The Associated Press reported Monday.

“Our study indicates that the carp can survive and grow in much larger areas of the lake than previous studies suggested,” said Peter Alsip, an ecological modeling data analyst and lead author of the paper published in the journal Freshwater Biology.

What that means is the fish, which were imported in the late 1960s to eat algae in Deep South sewage lagoons and fish farms before escaping into the Mississippi River, migrating northward, branching into dozens of tributaries, absolutely must be stopped. But it won’t be cheap. Just this year, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers proposed equipping the Brandon Road Lock and Dam near Joliet, Illinois, with noisemakers, electric barriers and other deterrents at a cost of at least $778 million.

And that’s on top of the many, many millions of dollars that have already been spent in the effort, with no end in sight.

So there it is. Do nothing, let nature take its course and the Great Lakes $7 billion annual fishery is threatened. Or keep the fight up, on the other hand and continue to pour vast amounts of increasingly hard to come by public dollars into a war that may, or may not, be winnable.

We wish there was a third choice.

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The Alpena News. August 15, 2019

Do what you can for our furry hero

As we write often in this space, we are routinely thrilled by the generosity of Northeast Michigan’s people.

We volunteer.

We donate.

We step up.

We solve problems.

We take care of our friends and neighbors.

Now, one of our furry neighbors needs our help, and we hope Northeast Michigan will again answer the call.

Last week, reporter Julie Riddle introduced us to Kaiser, a 4-year-old German shepherd who works with the Alpena County Search and Rescue Team. The animal has saved at least one life and is suffering from hip dysplasia, which could sideline his young and promising career.

Owner/trainer Chris Moe-Herlick is currently paying the roughly $13,000 in medical bills for the dog’s treatment out of pocket, because Moe-Herlick believes Kaiser “has many more lives to save.”

But you can help, Northeast Michigan.

If you visit the Search and Rescue Team’s website, alpenacountysar.com, and scroll to the bottom, there is a button to donate to the team. Follow that donation up by reaching out to the team at 989-354-9836 or alpenacountysar@gmail.com and letting them know you’d like your donation to go toward Kaiser’s treatment.

The animal is playing an important role in our community. Not only does he work search and rescue, he also helps train Boy Scout and Girl Scout troops on how to stay safe in the woods.

And he needs our help to keep doing it.

We hope he gets the help he needs.

Good boy, Kaiser!

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