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Political roundup: AG Schuette’s school mascot opinion, part-time legislature petition restarts

Bill Schuette
Steve Carmody
Michigan Radio
Attorney General Bill Schuette on Friday decided the state will not withhold funds from schools with potentially offensive mascots. Schools willing to change their mascots can receive money from the Native American Heritage Fund.

Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson released her response to a request from the Trump administration’s election commission for voter data on Monday. She agreed to turn over some information but not all, citing Michigan law.

Ken Sikkema, senior policy fellow at Public Sector Consultants and a former Republican legislative leader, and Vicki Barnett, a former mayor of Farmington Hills and a former Democratic legislator,  joined Stateside to discuss that and other political headlines from the past week.

“I’m quite concerned with what’s going to happen to the data,” Barnett said. “I find the request from the commission a true invasion of every voting American’s privacy rights, and it disturbs me greatly that they had the audacity to actually ask secretaries of state to turn over that kind of detailed information.”

President Donald Trump has claimed massive voter fraud took place during the November 2016 election, but has failed to provide evidence to support that assertion. Sikkema believes the president is now using the executive branch to find said evidence.

“If it’s public information and she provides it to other people that request those lists, I think she ought to be able to comply with any request from the presidential advisory commission,” Sikkema said. “But I don’t think she ought to be giving them data that’s not public information available to other people or entities.”

Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley started a petition drive to put the part-time legislature up for a vote of the people. Then he stopped the effort, scrapping thousands of signatures. But now he’s starting the effort back up again.

Sikkema said Calley realized the original language was flawed, so he had to restart the process.

“There are a lot of conservative Republicans who simply don’t like the idea of hamstringing the Legislature in terms of their oversight role over the executive branch of government,” Sikkema said. “This isn’t just going to be a free pass for him politically.”

Attorney General Bill Schuette issued an opinion saying it’s not legal for Michigan to withhold money from schools that use Native American logos or mascots. Several schools across the state use nicknames such as Redskins and Braves.

“I don’t like offensive names. But I do agree with Attorney General Schuette that you can’t just withhold public dollars from a school system just because the name of their mascot offends you,” Barnett said. “I think we should pursue encouraging some of those schools to change their names and help cover the cost.”

Listen to the entire conversation above.

Ken Sikkema and Vicki Barnett join Stateside every Friday to break down the week’s political news.

(Subscribe to the Stateside podcast on iTunes, Google Play, or with this RSS link)

Stateside is produced daily by a dedicated group of producers and production assistants. Listen daily, on-air, at 3 and 8 p.m., or subscribe to the daily podcast wherever you like to listen.
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