LANSING, Mich. (AP) — With their grip on power set to loosen come January, Republicans in several states are considering last-ditch laws that would weaken existing or incoming Democratic governors and advance their own conservative agendas.
In Michigan, where the GOP has held the levers of power for nearly eight years, Republican legislators want to water down a minimum wage law they approved before the election so that it would not go to voters and would now be easier to amend.
Republicans in neighboring Wisconsin are discussing ways to dilute Democrat Tony Evers’ power before he takes over for GOP Gov. Scott Walker. And in North Carolina, Republicans may try to hash out the requirements of a new voter ID constitutional amendment before they lose their legislative supermajorities and their ability to unilaterally override vetoes by Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper.
Republicans downplay the tactics and point out that Democrats have also run lame-duck sessions, including in Wisconsin in 2010 before Walker took office and the GOP took control of the Legislature. But some of the steps Republicans are expected to take will almost surely be challenged in court, and critics say such maneuvers undermine the political system and the will of the people, who voted for change.
“It’s something that smacks every Michigan voter in the face and tells them that this Republican Party doesn’t care about their voice, their perspective,” House Democratic Leader Sam Singh said of the strategizing to control the fate of minimum wage increases and paid sick leave requirements.
The moves would follow midterm elections in which Democrats swept statewide offices in Michigan and Wisconsin for the first time in decades but fell short of taking over their gerrymandered legislatures. That gives Republicans a final shot to lock in new policies, with Democrats unable to undo them anytime soon.
Michigan’s new minimum wage and sick time laws began as ballot drives but because they were preemptively adopted by lawmakers in September rather than by voters, they can be altered with simple majority votes rather than the support of three-fourths of both chambers.
One measure would gradually raise the minimum wage to $12 an hour and increase a lower wage for tipped workers until it is in line with the minimum. The other would require that employees qualify for between 40 and 72 hours of paid sick leave, depending on the size of their employer.
It is unclear how the laws may be changed to appease an anxious business lobby. The Michigan Chamber of Commerce says mandatory sick time — 10 other states also require it — will place “severe compliance burdens” on employers, including those with paid leave policies in place currently. The group also is urging lawmakers to “be pragmatic, not extreme” and revisit the wage hikes that would make Michigan’s minimum the highest in the Midwest.
Republicans seem unfazed by criticism that scaling back the measures would thwart the will of voters who resoundingly elected Democrat Gretchen Whitmer to replace GOP Gov. Rick Snyder, who reached his term limit. The Michigan Senate’s majority leader, Arlan Meekhof, said changes to the laws are needed to “continue to keep our economy on track and not put a roadblock or hindrance” in the way of businesses.
Lame-duck sessions, which are commonplace in Congress but rare among many state legislatures, are frenetic, as legislators rush to consider bills that are controversial or were put on the backburner during election season. Michigan’s 2012 session, for example, produced right-to-work laws and a contentious revised emergency manager statute for cities in financial peril, despite voters having just repealed the previous law.
The lame-duck period may be especially intense this year in Michigan and Wisconsin because they are among just four states in which Republicans are losing full control the governorship and both legislative chambers. Lawmakers in the other two states, Kansas and New Hampshire, will not convene until next year.
Six states with a split government now will be fully controlled by Democrats in 2019, and Alaska will be fully controlled by Republicans.
Wisconsin Republicans plan to consider a variety of ways to protect laws enacted by Walker . Those include limiting Evers’ ability to make appointments, restricting his authority over the rule-making process and making it more difficult for him to block a work requirement for Medicaid recipients. They might also change the date of the 2020 presidential primary so that a Walker-appointed state Supreme Court justice has better odds to win election.
In North Carolina, GOP legislators may use the session for more than approving additional bipartisan Hurricane Florence relief. They are expected to implement a voter photo ID requirement passed this month by the electorate and to consider other legislation that the Democratic governor would be powerless to stop until Republicans can no longer easily override his vetoes come 2019.
Two years ago, they reduced Cooper’s powers before he took office. He successfully sued over a law that diminished his role in managing elections. Other suits remain pending.
Michigan’s outgoing governor, Snyder, hasn’t weighed in on the plan to amend the minimum wage and sick leave laws, which would require his signature, unlike when they were passed. He is trying to persuade his fellow Republicans to boost and add new fees for environmental cleanup and water infrastructure upgrades, and he wants the Legislature to help facilitate a deal to drill an oil pipeline tunnel beneath the Straits of Mackinac. The agreement is opposed by Whitmer and the state’s Democratic Attorney General-elect, Dana Nessel.
Supporters of the existing wage and sick time laws have been mobilizing to keep them intact. MI Time to Care — the campaign backing guaranteed paid time off for workers who are sick or need to stay home with an ill family member — launched ads, mailed postcards and went door to door before the election reminding people of their rights under the law that is scheduled to take effect in March.
Chairwoman Danielle Atkinson said the sick leave proposal would have been approved in a “landslide” if it had been on the ballot.
“It’s clearly why the Legislature moved to pass it, and now they should uphold it as the promise that they made to the voters,” she said.
Piano Sensation and Ohio Native Jim Brickman Brings His “A Joyful Christmas” Tour to the Southern Theatre December 23
“Brickman makes magical music and evokes warm sentiments.”
– Billboard Magazine
Be part of the holiday concert tradition of the season with Grammy-nominated songwriter and piano sensation Jim Brickman. His 22nd annual holiday tour, A Joyful Christmas, delivers the sounds and spirit of the season with carols, classics, and original songs, bringing yuletide memories to life and keeping days merry and bright. Celebrate the faith, love, and togetherness of the season, and share in the celebration of A Joyful Christmas.
CAPA presents Jim Brickman: A Joyful Christmas at the Southern Theatre (21 E. Main St.) on Sunday, December 23, at 2 pm. Tickets are $33.50-$68.50 and can be purchased in-person at the CAPA Ticket Center (39 E. State St.), online at www.capa.com, or by phone at (614) 469-0939 or (800) 745-3000.
Brickman’s blends yuletide memories and traditional carols with his popular songs like “The Gift,” “Sending You a Little Christmas,” “Angel Eyes,” and “If You Believe.” From Thanksgiving through New Year’s Eve, the ever-popular pianist will fill theatres with laughter, joy, and musical holiday spirit.
Jim Brickman’s live concerts have become an annual holiday tradition. The gathering of family and friends, with a beautiful holiday backdrop of musical warmth and nostalgia.
About Jim Brickman
Jim Brickman’s distinctive piano style and captivating live performances have revolutionized the popularity of instrumental music, making him a driving force behind modern American music. The hit-making songwriter is the best-selling solo pianist of our time, earning 21 No. 1 albums and 32 Top 20 radio singles in the industry bible, Billboard Magazine. He’s garnered two Grammy nominations, gospel music’s Dove Award, two SESAC Songwriter of the Year Awards, and the Canadian Country Music Award. He also has a music scholarship named for him by his alma mater, the prestigious Cleveland Institute of Music.
Born and raised in Shaker Heights, Ohio, Brickman is one of pop music’s most fascinating success stories. He jumped from a career writing famous advertising jingles to reviving the romantic standard of the popular song. His first album, No Words, was released in 1995, and he’s gone on to sell eight million albums worldwide.
His and star-studded vocal collaborations have crossed genres to feature luminaries like Martina McBride, Carly Simon, Lady Antebellum, Michael W. Smith, Herb Alpert, Michael Bolton, Donny Osmond, Kenny Rogers, Olivia Newton-John, Johnny Mathis, Kenny Loggins, Jane Krakowski, and a host of country, Broadway, pop, and jazz musicians.
He’s written three best-selling books, starred in four TV concert specials, and is in the 21st season of hosting the popular syndicated radio program, “The Jim Brickman Show.”
CAPA presents JIM BRICKMAN: A JOYFUL CHRISTMAS
Sunday, December 23, 2 pm
Southern Theatre (21 E. Main St.)
Be part of the holiday concert tradition of the season with Grammy-nominated songwriter and piano sensation Jim Brickman. His 22nd annual holiday tour, A Joyful Christmas, delivers the sounds and spirit of the season with carols, classics, and original songs, bringing yuletide memories to life and keeping days merry and bright. Celebrate the faith, love, and togetherness of the season, and share in the celebration of A Joyful Christmas. Tickets are $33.50-$68.50 and can be purchased in-person at the CAPA Ticket Center (39 E. State St.), online at www.capa.com, or by phone at (614) 469-0939 or (800) 745-3000. www.capa.com
The Ohio Arts Council helped fund this program with state tax dollars to encourage economic growth, education excellence, and cultural enrichment for all Ohioans. CAPA also appreciates the generous support of the Barbara B. Coons and Robert Bartels Funds of The Columbus Foundation and the Greater Columbus Arts Council.
Owner/operator of downtown Columbus’ magnificent historic theatres (Ohio Theatre, Palace Theatre, Southern Theatre) and manager of the Riffe Center Theatre Complex, Lincoln Theatre, Drexel Theatre, Jeanne B. McCoy Community Center for the Arts (New Albany, OH), and the Shubert Theater (New Haven, CT), CAPA is a non-profit, award-winning presenter of national and international performing arts and entertainment. For more information, visit www.capa.com.
Technology giants didn’t deserve public trust in the first place
November 19, 2018
Ph.D. Student in History and Sociology of Science, University of Pennsylvania
Zachary Loeb does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.
Amazon may have been expecting lots of public attention when it announced where it would establish its new headquarters – but like many technology companies recently, it probably didn’t anticipate how negative the response would be. In Amazon’s chosen territories of New York and Virginia, local politicians balked at taxpayer-funded enticements promised to the company. Journalists across the political spectrum panned the deals – and social media filled up with the voices of New Yorkers and Virginians pledging resistance.
Similarly, revelations that Facebook exploited anti-Semitic conspiracy theories to undermine its critics’ legitimacy indicate that instead of changing, Facebook would rather go on the offensive. Even as Amazon and Apple saw their stock-market values briefly top US$1 trillion, technology executives were dragged before Congress, struggled to coherently take a stance on hate speech, got caught covering up sexual misconduct and saw their own employees protesting business deals.
In some circles this is being seen as a loss of public trust in the technology firms that promised to remake the world – socially, environmentally and politically – or at least as frustration with the way these companies have changed the world. But the technology companies need to do much more than regain the public’s trust; they need to prove that they deserved it in the first place – which, when placed in the context of the history of technology criticism and skepticism, they didn’t.
Looking away from the problems
Big technology companies used to frame their projects in vaguely utopian, positive-sounding lingo that obscures politics and public policy, transcending partisanship and – conveniently – avoiding scrutiny. Google used to remind its workers “Don’t be evil.” Facebook worked to “make the world more open and connected.” Who could object to those ideals?
Scholars warned about the dangers of platforms like these, long before many of their founders were even born. In 1970, social critic and historian of technology Lewis Mumford predicted that the goal of what he termed “computerdom” would be “to furnish and process an endless quantity of data, in order to expand the role and ensure the domination of the power system.” That same year a seminal essay by feminist thinker Jo Freeman warned about the inherent power imbalances that remained in systems that appeared to make everyone equal.
Similarly, in 1976, the computer scientist Joseph Weizenbaum predicted that in the decades ahead people would find themselves in a state of distress as they became increasingly reliant on opaque technical systems. Countless similar warnings have been issued ever since, including important recent scholarship such as information scholar Safiya Noble’s exploration of how Google searches replicate racial and gender biases and media scholar Siva Vaidhyanthan’s declaration that “the problem with Facebook is Facebook.”
The technology companies are powerful and wealthy, but their days of avoiding scrutiny may be ending. The American public seems to be starting to suspect that the technology giants were unprepared, and perhaps unwilling, to assume responsibility for the tools they unleashed upon the world.
In the aftermath of the 2016 U.S. presidential election, concern remains high that Russian and other foreign governments are using any available social media platform to sow discord and discontent in societies around the globe.
Facebook has still not solved the problems in data privacy and transparency that caused the Cambridge Analytica scandal. Twitter is the preferred megaphone for President Donald Trump and home to disturbing quantities of violent hate speech. The future of Amazon’s corporate offices is shaping up to be a multi-sided brawl among elected officials and the people they supposedly represent.
Is it ignorance or naivete?
Viewing the present situation with the history of critiques of technology in mind, it’s hard not to conclude that the technology companies deserve the crises they are facing. These companies ask people to entrust them with their emails, personal data, online search histories and financial information, to the point that many of these companies proudly tout that they know individuals better than they know themselves. They promote their latest systems, including “smart speakers” and “smart cameras,” seeking to ensure that users’ every waking moment – and sleeping moments too – can be monitored, feeding more data into their money-making algorithms.
Yet seemingly inevitably these companies go on to demonstrate how unworthy of trust they actually are, leaking data, sharing personal information and failing to prevent hacking, as they slowly fill the world with a disturbing techno-paranoia worthy of an episode of “Black Mirror.”
Technology firms’ responses to each new revelation fit a standard pattern: After a scandal emerges, the company involved expresses alarm that anything went wrong, promises to investigate, and pledges to do better in the future. Some time – days, weeks or even months – later, the company reveals that the scandal was a direct result of how the system was designed, and trots out a dismayed executive to express outrage at the destructive uses bad people found for their system, without admitting that the problem is the system itself.
Zuckerberg himself told the U.S. Senate in April 2018 that the Cambridge Analytica scandal had taught him “we have a responsibility to not just give people tools, but to make sure that those tools are used for good.” That’s a pretty fundamental lesson to have missed out on while creating a multi-billion-dollar company.
Rebuilding from what’s left
Using any technology – from a knife to a computer – carries risks, but as technological systems increase in size and complexity the scale of these risks tends to increase as well. A technology is only useful if people can use it safely, in ways where the benefits outweigh the dangers, and if they can feel confident that they understand, and accept, the potential risks. A couple of years ago, Facebook, Twitter and Google may have appeared to most people as benign communication methods that brought more to society than they took away. But with every new scandal, and bungled response, more and more people are seeing that these companies pose serious dangers to society.
As tempting as it may be to point to the “off” button, there’s not an easy solution. Technology giants have made themselves part of the fabric of daily life for hundreds of millions of people. Suggesting that people just quit is simple, but fails to recognize how reliant many people have become on these platforms – and how trapped they may feel in an increasingly intolerable situation.
As a result, people buy books about how bad Amazon is – by ordering them on Amazon. They conduct Google searches for articles about how much information Google knows about each individual user. They tweet about how much they hate Twitter and post on Facebook articles about Facebook’s latest scandal.
The technology companies may find themselves ruling over an increasingly aggravated user base, as their platforms spread the discontent farther and wider than possible in the past. Or they might choose to change themselves dramatically, breaking themselves up, turning some controls over to the democratic decisions of their users and taking responsibility for the harm their platforms and products have done to the world. So far, though, it seems the industry hasn’t gone beyond offering half-baked apologies while continuing to go about business as usual. Hopefully that will change. But if the past is any guide, it probably won’t.
TJ Martin: Here are the most fundamental problems when it comes to todays Tech Giants and their overall lack of responsibility towards the very public that put them into power and why we should of never trusted them ;
1) To a number all came into far too much money far too early in life never having had to work their way up the ladder .. deal with adversity .. nor participate in civic duty / responsibility . Thus none have matured beyond at best the level of a 16 year old child
2) To a number each and every one is an has been since day one an adherent if not a blatant worshiper before the alter of the Gospel of Ayn Rand which at its very foundations claims charity , social responsibility and concern for one’s fellow man and country are inherently evil … whereas blatant greed and avarice to one’s own benefit regardless of the detriment incurred to others is the highest of ideals and goals to be attained
3) All to a number motivated by their money and power have deluded themselves into thinking that they are the saviors of the world and that they and they alone know how life should be … and that you and I overall are in fact … superfluous
4) All to a number are completely aware of the consequences of their actions . The simple fact is they do not care ;
( as is evidenced by the fact that they send their children to schools such as Waldorf completely devoid of all technology as well as keeping their children from participating in social media etc )
etc – et al – ad nauseam
Suffice it to say I could go on for pages … but due to the constraints both on my time and the site’s ability I will not .. leaving you with a recent article that reveals all too clearly who and what the tech giants are .. along with highly recommending the author in questions book “ 21 Lessons for the 21st Century ”
… as well as a book from 1995 that presaged all we’re currently dealing with e.g. “ Silicon Snake Oil ” by Clifford Stoll
( A couple of years after his book was published Mr Stoll was bullied into printing a retraction by Silicon Valley … the reality is though … other than his opinions on internet commerce … he was dead right to the letter in each and every prediction he made . And though Mr Stoll to date has been unwilling to write a retraction to his retraction … suffice it to say in all recent interviews etc Mr Stoll has been displaying a justified level of schadenfreude as well as an overall attitude of “ I told you so ” … so please .. everyone … encourage Mr Stoll to come out again swinging )
Associated Press writers Scott Bauer in Madison, Wis., and Gary Robertson in Raleigh, N.C., contributed to this report.
Follow David Eggert on Twitter at https://twitter.com/DavidEggert00 . His work can be found at https://apnews.com/search/David%20Eggert.