You are here

Year-end review, and some news

What's New at MIPFS.org
Year-end review, and some news
Dear Friends,

Before we all become fully enmeshed in the holiday season, I wanted to bring you up to date on issues that concern parents like us as well as share some news.

In this issue:

  •  "Guns in schools" bills, and "teen concealed carry" bill, held over until January
  •  "Vouchers for the wealthy" bills also waiting until January
  •  Taking a "gap year," and holding lawmakers accountable


Legislative news

First off, the state House has adjourned for the year without taking action on the "guns in schools" bills (SB 584-586) and the "teen concealed carry" bill (SB 366). They remain in the House Judiciary committee, which is likely to take them up when the Legislature returns in January. Here is what they would do:

  • SB 584 would remove restrictions on where concealed pistol license holders could carry a concealed weapon, allowing them in current "gun free zones" such as schools and churches, as long as some additional training is taken.
  • SB 586 would strip schools, libraries, and some other public institutions of their ability to set their own rules restricting firearms on their property.
  • SB 366 would allow 18-year-olds to apply for a new "provisional" CPL, instead of waiting until age 21. But a "provisional" CPL appears to be the same as a regular one, except with a different age limit.

We remain strongly opposed to all these bills, and strongly in favor of clarifying that gun-free zones should be gun free - whether concealed or not - with exceptions only for law enforcement.

Second, the "vouchers for the well-heeled" bills (SB 544-549) are also in the House, awaiting action by the Education committee in January. These bills would allow families to claim a tax deduction on contributions to Michigan college-savings accounts that were used on K-12 expenses, including private schools. They also would require public schools to calculate individual price tags on all their services (think: kindergarten art class, 5th grade science class). Of course, the ability to make such contributions, and the value of a tax deduction, is much greater for families of means - which should tell us a lot about who our legislature cares most about. However, the latest version of the Federal tax bill would allow the use of "529" savings account contributions for K-12 expenses across the country, potentially making opposition to these state bills moot.


Shifting gears for a while

Finally, there is some MIPFS news. As my youngest prepares to attend college, my family's time as active public school parents is coming to a close. While neither of my children took advantage of a "gap year," I thought this was a good time for me to take one and enjoy this latest family transition. I'm not going anywhere: MIPFS will still help you follow education issues of great concern (like the gun bills), and offer our assistance to local parent groups which want to organize to fight for change. But I'll be winding down our more direct work in Lansing for a while.

Partly, this is to make space for a new effort to bring education issues to the forefront in state elections. As all of you have seen, state lawmakers have been shockingly willing to ignore the concerns of public school parents, apparently because they think it will not affect their re-election chances. It's time for that to change. So my gap-year project is to help get our political action arm in gear for the 2018 elections and beyond. Michigan Parent PAC is a political action committee which will support (or oppose) candidates for state office based on their positions and past votes on key K-12 education issues. (MIPFS, as a 501c4 nonprofit, is not permitted to do this.) We will be scrupulously non-partisan in our efforts, and expect to focus on primaries as much as general elections. Our hope: to show that support for public education matters in the voting booth, too. We want to let people running for state office know that their position on education issues is important to voters, and that we'll be watching what they do in office as well. Voters need to know when officials say one thing at home but their votes in Lansing say another. Voters also need to know when lawmakers do the right thing - especially if it was difficult or risky for them to do so.

So that's our hope, and my work. If you want to know more, or participate in these efforts, please click this link to join the MI Parent PAC mailing list!

From all of us at MIPFS, we wish you joy and peace this holiday season!

Steve Norton

Executive Director

Drupal theme by pixeljets.com D7 ver.1.1