A news service for the people of Michigan from the Mackinac Center for Public Policy

MichiganVotes.org has the details on a resolution to support "International Talk Like A Pirate Day" introduced last week by state Sen. Roger Kahn, R-Saginaw.

Sen. Kahn playfully sported an eye patch while his proposal was discussed, but the moment of frivolity is bound to remind observers of how members of a full-time Legislature can be full-time mischief makers, whether they intend to or not.

Another resolution introduced last week by Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker, R-Lawton, officially recognizes June — and no other month! — as the "official" start of summer. Another bit of lightheartedness, but really — haven't Michiganders successfully figured this out on their own for untold generations without any help from politicians?

These resolutions hold no force of law, but sometimes such unnecessary and silly measures do propose ensconcing real-live laws in the state's statute books. For example, in March Sens. Rebekah Warren, D-Ann Arbor, and Howard Walker, R-Traverse City, (among others) introduced  a bill that would mandate that the cherry be the official fruit of Michigan. There are more than 60 cherry varieties, but unlike previous cherry bills this one wouldn't compel residents to only recognize just one of them as the state's official fruit.

In 2012 Sen. John Moolenaar, R-Midland, introduced a bill declaring that Iosco County should be the official birding capital of Michigan. As this site wryly concluded, apparently all of Michigan’s other problems had been solved by then.

Starting in 2008, no less than three bills were introduced to establish an official Scottish tartan of Michigan. One actually stipulated a thread count description. While this may warm the hearts of highlanders, it does little to advance civil society.

In the video below you can see actual official state testimony being taken on the subject. It's laughable really — lawmakers commanding from on high: "There shall be man skirts and they must have red to represent the red-breasted Robin!" They certainly entertained the idea.

These legislative fads tend to come in waves. In 2004 at least 11 new bills dealing with state symbols were introduced. They covered everything from the official "state game bird" to an official state song of Michigan.

It may all seem like harmless fun, but Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer, D-East Lansing, connected the dots after Sen. Kahn finished buckling his swash on the pirate talk measure.

She told the body, "I would like to thank the senator from the 32nd District for making the most compelling argument that he could for a part-time Legislature."

Northern Michigan University economist Hugo Eyzaguirre discusses how raising the minimum wage will hurt emerging local economies. See more at "Raising the Minimum Wage, Lowering Opportunity."


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