Gov. Rick Snyder did the right thing last week: He vetoed an absolutely horrible bill that would have prevented the Department of Natural Resources from taking steps to protect biodiversity in managing our lands.
The author of this bill was an amazing oaf from Escanaba, state Sen. Tom Casperson, who apparently never saw a tree he didn't think should be made into a coffee table.
Casperson once told me on the radio that he was in favor of having the Ten Commandments on display in public buildings because "when the Founding Fathers came to the Capitol to write the Constitution, they were there."
Only trouble is that the Constitution wasn't written in the Capitol, since it didn't then exist. Washington, D.C., was in fact a mostly uninhabited swamp. But why let facts get in the way of a good story? Casperson, by the way, has also been the main mover promoting wolf hunting in the Upper Peninsula.
Although there is no record of wolves ever killing anyone in Michigan, Casperson told the legislature a lurid story of a pack of menacing wolves repeatedly showing up in the backyard of a day care center. Eventually, he had to admit that none of this was true. "I was mistaken. I am sorry," he said.
But does that mean he was changing his mind about killing the wolves? Not for a second. Tom Terrific explained that this way: "Years ago, when I worked for my family's trucking company, we didn't scrap a log truck because it had a flat tire."
Well, nobody can say Michigan doesn't have a great communicator.
Snyder isn't exactly a liberal, nor does he have a stellar record on the environment. Matter of fact, he signed a bill last week that will weaken environmental cleanup standards.
But actively preventing the DNR from saving species was evidently too much for the governor. Yet while he did speak of "a clear understanding of the need to protect biodiversity," as a good Republican, he mainly complained that threatening biodiversity might be bad for business.
Such an anti-environment bill might, he said, "weaken existing industries and make Michigan less competitive in attracting additional forest products investment."
Casperson whined that our lily-livered governor was listening too much to environmental groups, and then vowed to come back with another bill this session.
Which brings us to the worst news of all. Namely, that the legislature is back in session. Think they were bad last year?
You may well think they were a bunch of statesmen compared to the new lot. To be sure, the Republicans have fattened their legislative majorities. But that's not the main problem. For one thing, Speaker of the House Kevin Cotter and Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof are probably shrewder than their predecessors and certainly far harder right.
For another, a lot of the new lawmakers are authentic tea party crazies, like Todd Courser, who really does think God speaks to and through him, and his mini-me, Cindy Gamrat.
They vowed to start their careers with something called a "Life and Conception Act," which states that the minute the old sperm hits the ovum, presto — that ball of cells is a human being.
That would mean, naturally, that all abortion is first-degree murder. Now, full disclosure here: I think that's nuts.
But that doesn't matter. I would think it was totally wrong for them to do this even if I agreed they were morally right.
And here's why. Courser and Gamrat either don't know or don't care what their jobs, powers, and responsibilities are.
Trying to change national laws and defying the U.S. Supreme Court is not something state legislators can do.
We pay these buggers $71,685 a year to make and reject laws and policy for the state of Michigan, pass budgets, etc.
Neither state legislatures nor Congress, for that matter, can pass laws that conflict with the U.S. Constitution. The U.S. Supreme Court is the final interpreter of the Constitution, and they have ruled that abortion is a right, like it or not.
There are only two ways to change that: Get the highest court to reverse itself, or get three-quarters of the states to ratify a Constitutional amendment banning abortion.
If Cindy and Todd's cockamamie law passes, and Snyder is foolish enough to sign it, here's what will happen: The ACLU, or someone else, will haul it into federal court immediately, where a judge will rule it unconstitutional in about five minutes.
Meanwhile, a big chunk of the state's time and money will have been wasted. Michigan does have a lot of real problems the legislature can and should do something about.
Except, oh, I forgot. That would be a lot of work.
And speaking of the wolves: As you probably know, this state has been fighting for the past few years over whether hunters should be allowed to bang away at the 650 or so wolves conservationists have carefully cultivated in the western Upper Peninsula. Well, there's an easy and sensible solution.
Capture several wolf packs, which are family units of 10 or so animals, and transport them to Isle Royale, a 206-square-mile island and national park in the middle of Lake Superior. There are only nine or so wolves left there, and their numbers have been shrinking due to abnormalities from inbreeding.
Meanwhile, the moose population on Isle Royale has been exploding. Moose are severely damaging the vegetation and upsetting the ecology, and soon may starve to death en masse.
Moving wolves there would be a win-win for everybody. Ron Kagan, the Detroit zoo director, is now in the process of building a new wolf exhibit at the zoo.
He told me last month he would volunteer his resources to help responsibly capture and move the wolves.
So ... why don't we just do it?
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