Water quality issues are playing prominently in Flyover country, as the Environmental Protection Agency releases its plans for Great Lakes restoration, and Michigan gets a new clean water advocate. Wisconsin’s special session dealing with guns is likely over before it even starts, and a presidential candidate visits the picket line in Chicago.
Make lakes great again: Republican President Donald Trump had planned to strip the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative of funding just months ago, but reversed course after getting some guidance from Michigan lawmakers. On Tuesday, the Environmental Protection Agency released its five-year plan for the GLRI, which includes targeting invasive Asian carp, algae blooms and cleaning up polluted watersheds, cleveland.com’s Sabrina Eaton reports.
Clean slate: Michigan officially has its first Clean Water Public Advocate after Flint native Ninah Sasy accepted the job created by Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat, MLive’s Julie Mack reports. Sasy will oversee water regulation compliance and public complaints. The state has well-documented water quality problems, from elevated lead levels to algae blooms to PFAS chemical contaminations.
Mean girls: I’ve covered daily politics in three states and have been doing this newsletter now for about three months, and I have to say that Wisconsin politics never fails to top the list in terms of petty moves. After Gov. Tony Evers, a Democrat, called a special session for the legislature to deal with gun issues, Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, a Republican, said he would likely gavel out immediately after the session commences, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinels’ Patrick Marley reports.
Deliberate obfuscation: GOP Assembly Speaker Robin Vos didn’t say what he’d do about Evers’ special session, but said his constituents didn’t want background checks, despite 80% of voters in his state approving of them. Vos dismissed poll results (consistent with past results) from Marquette University, saying the questions were misleading. A Flyover investigation unearthed the text of the question: “Do you support or oppose making private gun sales and sales at gun shows subject to background checks?”
I walk the line: Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a Massachusetts Democrat, became the first presidential candidate to walk the picket line with Chicago teachers on strike, the Chicago Tribune’s Bill Ruthart reports. Thus far, the American Federation of Teachers – the Chicago Teachers Union’s parent organization – hasn’t endorsed in the presidential race, but it’s worth nothing that AFT President Randi Weingarten joined Warren on the picket line.
Meeting expectations: Warren’s picket line visit isn’t a surprise, considering she’s one of the most pro-union candidates in the race. But even beyond supporting labor generally, some of the items the CTU is asking for in their contract – as laid out by the Chicago Sun-Times’ Lauren FitzPatrick and Nader Issa – especially jibe with Warren’s philosophy. Beyond pay bumps, the teachers are asking for increased staffing like nurses and counselors, staff dedicated to homeless students and revisions to special education teachers’ standards.
Machine learning: A package of voter reform proposals in Pennsylvania would make significant changes to elections in the state, including giving $90 million to counties to buy updated voting machines, the Associated Press’ Marc Levy reports. Straight-ticket voting would be eliminated and voters would be allowed to mail in a ballot for any reason. The changes would also move the deadline to register to vote from 30 days before the election to 15 days.
Doctor, doctor, give me the news: With the opioid companies settling with two Ohio counties on Monday – staving off a trial, for now – cleveland.com’s Eric Heisig has a nice breakdown of where the rest of the opioid litigation stands.
Mixed results: There is good news and bad news when it comes to Illinois’ death rate from opioid overdoses, Capitol News Illinois’ Rebecca Anzel writes. The good news is that opioid overdose deaths slightly decreased from 2017 to 2018. The bad news is the Illinois Department of Public Health said overdose deaths continue to rise in black and Hispanic communities.
Signing bonus: Add a pair of Iowa state representatives to the list of lawmakers proposing laws allowing college athletes to cash in on their likeness, The Gazette’s James Lynch reports. Lawmakers in Pennsylvania and Illinois are pushing similar bills.
Closing time: As we’ve talked about extensively in The Flyover, a contraction in manufacturing could be a foreboding sign for Republican President Donald Trump’s re-election chances. NBC News’ Ben Popken used one factory closure – Wood-Mode in Kreamer, Pennsylvania – to outline how a recession might make what were already tight 2016 victories in Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania an even closer race in 2020.
Wanna be a baller: I’m seriously considering a change of career after finding out from Spotlight PA’s most recent piece that not only are Pennsylvania lawmakers some of the most well-paid while doing less work, but also have some of the least accountability in terms of campaign finance spending and reporting. Some of their purchases includes lavish trips to Europe, season tickets to the Pittsburgh Penguins and enough liquor to kill a horse. And that’s just what Spotlight PA could uncover, since lawmakers in Pennsylvania aren’t technically required to hand over itemized receipts for spending.
Kudos: To the Spotlight PA team for the investigation, which took nearly a year filing public records requests and combing through documents to find $3.5 million in obscured campaign spending from 2016 to 2018. Here they are with a full explanation of how they did the story.
Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler was in Detroit on Tuesday, per the Detroit Free Press.
Sen. Kamala Harris of California was in Cedar Rapids, Vinton and Iowa City on Tuesday, per the Des Moines Register’s candidate tracker.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren was in Cedar Falls, Iowa, and Chicago on Tuesday, per the campaign.
Author Marianne Williamson was in Iowa City and Mount Vernon, Iowa, on Tuesday, per the campaign.
President Donald Trump will be in Pittsburgh on Wednesday, per PennLive.
Former Vice President Joe Biden will be in Scranton, Pennsylvania, and West Point and Muscatine, Iowa, on Wednesday, per the Quad City Times. Biden will be in Maquoketa and Dubuque, Iowa, on Thursday.
Former U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julian Castro will be in Waterloo, Iowa, on Wednesday, per the campaign.
Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke of Texas will be in Mount Vernon, Iowa, on Wednesday, per the campaign.
Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont will be in Marshalltown and Des Moines, Iowa, on Thursday, per the campaign.
Castro will be in Des Moines and Cedar Falls, Iowa, on Thursday, per the campaign.
O’Rourke will be in Des Moines on Thursday, per the campaign.
Trump will be in Chicago on Monday for a fundraiser at Trump Tower Chicago and to speak to the International Association of Chiefs of Police, per the Chicago Tribune.
This Is Your Captain Speaking
“If the President wishes to learn about actual lynching, I would encourage him to read, support, & pass my bill, the Emmett Till Antilynching Act, which makes lynching a federal hate crime. Unfortunately for him, there are no anti-impeachment sections.”
-Rep. Bobby Rush, an Illinois Democrat who is black, responding to Republican President Donald Trump’s tweet likening impeachment inquiries to lynching. Trump faced immediate backlash over the tweet. According to the NAACP, there were 4,743 lynchings in the United States from 1882-1968, in which 72.7% of the victims were black.