Today—March 12, 2013—Michigan State Representative Douglas A. Geiss, with the support of seven co-sponsors from both parties, introduced House Bill 4407 (2013) to create an arts fundraising automobile license plate for the State of Michigan. The bill will create an account in the state treasury, funded by license plate fees, that will support the grants of Michigan Council for the Arts and Cultural Affairs. In turn, the Michigan Arts Council will disburse the money in the form of grants to artists, arts organizations, and arts education initiatives throughout the State of Michigan.
The roots of the bill lead in part to my daughter Hannah and her friends Stina and Sophie—each students at Ann Arbor Skyline High School. They were assigned a research project by their teacher Ms. Pat Jenkins to explore public policy and chose to research arts funding in the United States. Based on the example of states like Alabama, California, Hawaii, Indiana, Kansas, New York, Nevada, South Carolina, and Tennessee, the three budding public policy experts proposed in their paper that the state of Michigan consider an arts funding license plate. Through a chance meeting with a member of Representative Geiss’s staff and with the support of Representative Irwin of Ann Arbor, what was once a research paper is now an official bill in the Michigan State Legislature!
As the fund supports arts throughout the state and for every Michigander or Michiganian, the bill has already received co-sponsorship from representatives from both parties and across the state, including the Upper Penninsula. Arts license plate co-sponsors include: Rudy Hobbs (D-Southfield / District 35), Jeff Irwin (D-Ann Arbor / District 53), Bill LaVoy (D-Wayne / District 17), Rose Mary Robinson (D-Wayne / District 4), Phil Potvin (R-Cadillac / District 102), Ed McBroom (R-Vulcan / District 108), and Wayne A. Schmidt (R-Traverse City / District 104). Representative Schmidt also serves as chair of the Michigan House of Representatives Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, which offers prominent support to the initiative.
To make the bill a reality, all who support the arts in Michigan—from every community and each party—need to write their House Representative (click here to find your representative). Use the contact link on your representative’s page or locate their direct email; it’s probably in the form of FirstNameLastName@house.mi.gov
Most helpful will be to send a personal email saying that you support MI House Bill 4407 (2013) and that you would purchase a Michigan Arts License Plate. Explain why the arts are important to you and what kinds of arts activities (performances, museums, orchestras, education projects, schools, our students, etc.), you’d like to see thrive in the State because of this funding. You might write about how the arts — music, visual art, dance, theatre, design, etc. — contribute to our economy, jobs, and educational success for all students. A personal note will carry a lot more weight than a form letter. Also, copy your email to the following addresses: Representative Schmidt (chair of the transportation committee) at WayneSchmidt@house.mi.gov ; Speaker of the House Jase Bolger at JaseBolger@house.mi.gov ; and Senate Majority Leader Randy RichardVille at SenRichardville@senate.michigan.gov . It is especially important to tell Governor Synder, who has expressed concern that there are too many fund raising license plates and that no one will buy a Michigan plate for the art. Click here to fill out Governor Snyder’s contact form. Select “Ideas & Suggestions” from the topic list identify “House Bill 4407” in your message.
Here’s the full bill…