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Something good came from Michigan's recount

Well, regardless of your politics, you can’t say nothing good came out of the aborted Michigan recount.

Chris Thomas, the state’s longtime elections director, said last night that Detroit will get new voting machines before the city elections next year.

Earlier, Janice Winfrey, Motown’s much-criticized city clerk, told the Detroit Free Press’s Rochelle Riley that she hoped new machines were coming, but if not...

“We’re going to do like we always do in this raggedy city. We’re going to make it work.”

You have to admire her spirit.

Unfortunately, things didn’t work very well in last month’s presidential election, in which ballots were improperly handled, containers not properly sealed, and voting lists were often inaccurate.

This wasn’t primarily an equipment problem, but a personnel one. Chris Thomas told the newspaper he would go to Detroit to try and help Winfrey figure out how to do the job better. He suspects the blame largely falls with the mainly elderly precinct inspectors and, “either their training or their ability to handle the job.”

Lame Duck in full flight

Speaking of ability to handle a job, things seem to be moving at a remarkable pace over in Lansing, where the lame-duck Legislature has been flapping its wings. I hadn’t really expected a lot out of this lame-duck session, in part because there will be no change in the partisan composition of the Legislature next year.

But our often languid lawmakers do seem determined to get as much done as possible. I can happily report that both Houses have now outlawed the outdated and barbaric practice of “seclusion and restraint” that some schools were still using, even with autistic children.

The governor is expected to sign these bills, and Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley deserves thanks for pushing to make this happen.

Yesterday, I reportedthat a major attempt was being made to mess with the state’s auto insurance system, in an effort to deny uninsured motorists full compensation if they are terribly injured.

Well, that has apparently collapsed of its own weight – and perhaps because too many people became aware of what was going on.  Now it appears that the Legislature is instead making one last effort to solve a problem they’ve wrestled with for months – energy legislation.

The sticking point has had to do with how prices are set for alternative energy, and the proper relationship and balance between alternative sources and conventional utilities.

Actually, the mechanics are much more complex than that. Given that we are about to have an administration  in Washington  that seems to favor burning soft coal without scrubbers anywhere, so long as it creates jobs, it will be interesting to see what Lansing does.

Many of the bills now being passed you may never hear of. I can tell you that cities will now find it easier to win lawsuits if people trip on cracks in the sidewalks, as long as there was an “open and obvious danger” apparent to any thinking pedestrian.

That is, as long as the governor signs it. And you will also now be able to pick wild morel mushrooms without having every one of them inspected by an approved mushroom identification expert. Which makes me have to say -- is this a great state, or what?

Jack Lessenberry is Michigan Radio’s Senior Political Analyst. Views expressed in his essays are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of Michigan Radio, its management or the station licensee, The University of Michigan.

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