Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Affirmative action case under review

March 25, 2013
Engineering junior Andrew Cross, left, and political science junior Kyle Kueppers, right, talk during a plotting session at a wooded area owned by the Army ROTC on Dobie Road in Okemos on Tuesday, March 12, 2013. The cadets had ten minutes to plot coordinates on maps in order to find the points during a navigational skills test. Danyelle Morrow/The State News
Engineering junior Andrew Cross, left, and political science junior Kyle Kueppers, right, talk during a plotting session at a wooded area owned by the Army ROTC on Dobie Road in Okemos on Tuesday, March 12, 2013. The cadets had ten minutes to plot coordinates on maps in order to find the points during a navigational skills test. Danyelle Morrow/The State News —
Photo by Danyelle Morrow | and Danyelle Morrow The State News

From affirmative action in admissions to financial aid for MSU Army ROTC members, political news in Michigan has been buzzing. Here are some top issues to follow.

Affirmative action in university admissions

The U.S. Supreme Court agreed Monday to review a Michigan case involving a lower court’s decision to strike down a voter-approved, six-year ban against considering race and gender in admissions to Michigan universities.

Michigan’s Proposal 2 was approved by 58 percent of voters in 2006, but was ruled unconstitutional and struck down by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit in Cincinnati in November.

The court found the ban violates sections of the U.S. Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment, which guarantees American citizens the right to equal access, including equal access to education.

Justices heard arguments in October regarding a similar case at the University of Texas. The university’s admissions process considers race, among other factors, while deciding which students to admit.

MSU currently does not use affirmative action in admissions.

“We will continue to monitor actions taken by the Supreme Court as it prepares to hear arguments,” university spokesman Kent Cassella said. “We also will take into consideration the Supreme Court’s pending decision in the University of Texas affirmative action case.”

Efforts to reestablish Army’s tuition assistance

The Michigan House passed a resolution last week to restore the tuition assistance for active military groups.

A few weeks ago, the Department of Defense announced the end of tuition assistance for armed force groups, including the Army, Marine Corps and Air Force. This move cuts off funding for MSU Army ROTC students applying for financial assistance.

The program funds education for off-duty service members, including those pursuing a degree.

“The tuition assistance program is touted by military recruiters, and many young men and women enlist because of the promised benefit of education assistance,” the resolution states.

“Cutting the program takes away an opportunity for our troops to further their education and use it to support their families and contribute to their communities.”

State legislatures often pass resolutions encourage Congress or federal groups to make decisions regarding political issues that affect the state, although legislators themselves cannot restore the funding.

The resolution is awaiting discussion in the Committee on Military and Veterans Affairs.

Drunken driving limits

The Michigan House unanimously passed a bill last week to keep the state’s drunken driving blood alcohol content, or BAC, limit at 0.08 grams. Anyone found driving with a BAC higher than that level is considered to be drunken driving.

State Rep. Andrea LaFontaine, R-Columbus Township, introduced the bill to keep the allowed BAC from rising to 0.10 grams on Oct. 1.

The Michigan Legislature passed a law setting the permitted BAC level to 0.08 in 2003 under pressure from the federal government, which threatened to take away Michigan’s highway construction funding. Michigan complied, but the bill was set to expire this upcoming October.

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LaFontaine said a resident in her district notified her the bill keeping Michigan’s BAC level at 0.08 would soon expire, and she began looking into the issue.

She said keeping the BAC level low has proven to be effective and the bill “just makes sense.”

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