STATE SENATE - 13TH DISTRICT
McMorrow, of Royal Oak, has a degree in car and industrial design from Notre Dame. She is a self-employed industrial designer.
Michigan has a rich history of protecting the environment but in recent years there have been several legislative attempts to restrict the DEQ as to rule-making to implement laws of the state, including the now pending legislation that would place control of future rule-making with an appointed committee comprised of special interests, including factions of the business community. There has long been a realization that the DEQ is underfunded in terms of being able to carry out its mission of protecting the quality of life in the state. Do you agree with recent attempts to curtail the DEQ? Do you feel that more funding needs to be allocated to the DEQ for enforcement purposes?
Environmental protection is one area where we can’t afford to let the market decide. As the Great Lakes state and home to 21 percent of the world’s fresh water supply, we have a unique responsibility to protect our water and environment. We need an independent body to oversee that protection. I’ll always support collaborative efforts with the business community to develop sustainable solutions that move us all forward, but we should not let biased corporate interests self-regulate. I support more funding for the DEQ to adequately protect our water and environment for generations to come, especially in the wake of reductions in the EPA on the federal. We must protect our Great Lakes.
Because Congress has failed to act on proposed increased regulation of gun ownership, a number of states have taken the initiative to address the issue. Should Michigan be taking the lead on gun control? Would you support requiring expanded background checks? Background checks at gun shows? Banning bump stocks? Raising the age on the purchase of weapons? Banning military style weapons? Red flag laws?
Michigan is in the Top 10 Most Concerning States for violence and threats of violence against schools. Suicide is the second leading cause of death for young people ages 10-24, with research indicating that the decision to take one’s life is often impulsive and made more dangerous by easy access to a firearm. We need to take lobbying for gun-maker profits out of politics and pursue common-ground legislation that protects Michiganders while respecting the Second Amendment. Research shows that despite rhetoric from organizations like the NRA, a majority of Americans favor various measures on regulation, including expanded background checks, banning bump stocks, and passing Red Flag laws that would temporarily remove firearms from those deemed a threat to themselves or others. I support these efforts and would work collaboratively with conservationists, hunters, gun owners and non-gun owners alike to forward solutions that put the safety of residents first.
While the state has announced that $175 million will be disbursed this year for road and bridge repairs, do you feel that is sufficient while we wait three more years for the road funding proposal to finally kick in? Should the state rainy day fund be tapped in the interim, as some have suggested?
On roads alone, Oakland County residents pay an average of $865 per year on car repairs due to bad roads. A recent analysis from the Detroit Free Press of Governor Snyder’s 2011-2017 budgets highlights a staggering shift in tax burden from corporations to residents. While corporate taxes shrunk by $1.2 billion, or 57.1 percent, personal income taxes increased by $2.5 billion, or 32 percent. Businesses benefit from these public services and infrastructure as much as residents and they should be required to pay their fair share to ensure we have adequate funds to provide public services and infrastructure.
CHARTER SCHOOL REFORMS
Michigan has developed a reputation as one of the most deregulated school environments in the country, with the largest number of charter schools – 80 percent of which are for-profit ventures. Charter schools were originally billed as a cure for declining student achievement and inequality, but a number of reports in the last few years show that 70 percent of the state’s charter schools are in the lower rungs of student achievement reviews. Lawmakers in Lansing, however, have on more than one occasion rejected tightening the overview of charter schools and have allowed for their continued growth. Should there be more state control over charter schools for performance and finances? Does the ongoing expansion of charter schools threaten the public schools K-12 system that we have relied on for education?
We need to authorize and oversee charter schools the same way we oversee public schools. While Michigan’s education rankings continue to drop to some of the worst in the nation, we should take a page from Massachusetts which consistently ranks at or near the top for both public and charter schools. We should disallow private, for-profit charters who put their financial bottom line before students. We should hold all charters to the same standards as public schools. Charter and public schools can co-exist to benefit all students and should be overseen by one unifying State Board of Education.
What is your position on the marijuana legalization proposal appearing on the November ballot?
I support the ballot proposal to legalize and regulate marijuana like alcohol.
Although Michigan has 1973 Act (196) to regulate conduct of public officials, it is considered less than rigorous when it comes to legislative ethics and transparency, leaving Michigan ranked near the bottom in comparative studies with other states. Would you support financial disclosure by state lawmakers? What about including the governor’s office and the legislature when it comes to the Michigan Freedom of Information Act, from which they are now exempt? Would you support a bill that prohibits “Pay to Play” when it comes to lawmakers approving contracts with companies or people who are campaign contributors? Are there any other areas that need to be addressed if we are to strengthen ethics/transparency laws/rules in Michigan as they apply to the legislature and administrative offices?
Transparency, accountability, and accessibility are some of my top priorities – and further some of my strongest personal values. I know that much of our cultural and political divide stems from people lacking trust in those who purport to represent them. We need to do everything in our power to make the process transparent. I support opening up the Governor’s office and legislature to FOIA, requiring disclosure of finances and potential conflicts of interest, prohibiting “Pay to Play” and reversing Michigan’s “Citizen’s United on Steroids” law which has allowed unlimited amounts of money into our campaign process. Additionally, I wholly support Proposition 2 which would eliminate partisan gerrymandering of the state’s electoral districts and create an independent redistricting commission, ensuring every voter that their voice and vote truly matters.
Are you pro-life or pro-choice? If you are pro-life, are there any exceptions to prohibitions on abortions that you find acceptable? Explain your position on this issue.
I am fiercely pro-choice and will always fight for a woman’s right to choose and have access to necessary reproductive healthcare. I’m against any efforts to limit that access. Recent efforts in states like Colorado have shown that the most effective way to reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies and abortions is to increase access to science-based sex education and contraception, and in that state’s case – they were able to reduce the overall rate of teen pregnancies and abortions by over 40 percent over a six-year period by providing long-term contraceptive devices to young women free of charge. As a woman who was raised Catholic and attended the University of Notre Dame, I deeply understand how personal this issue is for so many, but I challenge the notion that we cannot find common ground on this emotionally-charged issue to protect women’s healthcare while simultaneously reducing unwanted pregnancies. The data is there.
CODIFYING CIVIL RIGHTS
Should the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act be amended to extend civil rights protections in housing and employment to include sexual orientation? Why or why not?
Yes. Legislators have a responsibility to serve and protect all Michiganders, and it’s shameful that in 2018 our LGBTQ residents are not guaranteed the same protections from discrimination as the rest of us. I was heartened to see the Civil Rights Commission vote in May to expand the interpretation of the term “sex” to include sexual orientation but was incredibly disheartened to see Lansing Republicans then move to have that interpretation invalidated only a few short months later. It’s time we amend Elliott-Larsen to explicitly include all Michiganders, once and for all.
Why should a voter choose you over an opponent on the ballot?
I got into this race for no other reason than to try to make Michigan better – for us, and for the next generation. I bring more than a decade of proven high-level management, creativity, collaboration and problem-solving as an industrial designer and creative director for companies like Mattel, Mazda, and Gawker Media to offer a fresh new approach to our politics. I’m the only candidate who has committed, if elected, to relinquish my current job in order to focus 100 percent of my time and energy on being your state Senator. Like so many people I talk to, I’m tired of feeling like our system is broken, and of the divisive rhetoric we hear every day that keeps us apart more than it brings us together. I’d be honored to represent you, to hear and share your stories, and to work with you to create a Michigan that works for everyone.
Knollenberg, of Troy, is a lifelong Oakland County resident and graduate of Bloomfield Hills Schools and Albion College. He was an Oakland County commissioner from 2003-2007, a state Representative, 2007-2012, and since 2014, the state Senator for the 13th District. He owns an insurance company and Sedona Taphouse in Troy.
Stakeholders impacted by DEQ decisions should have a voice at the table, but ultimate DEQ rulemaking and enforcement should – and does – reside with the department. I support a robust DEQ that has the resources and tools to protect our environment, using measurable and scientifically proven methods. Further, I oppose the untrue scare tactics that some are using for political purposes. I was disappointed to hear my opponent tell an interviewer that Birmingham's water supply is tainted with lead. It's not. This sort of intentional fearmongering has no place in our public discourse, and makes it more difficult for those of us who care about the environment to achieve consensus.