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Far Right groups collaborate to deregulate requirements for rental properties in Michigan

August 18, 2021

Last week, the West Michigan Policy Forum (WMPF), which is one of the main organizations in the Grand Rapids Power Structure, posted an article on their Facebook page from the Mackinac Center for Public Policy.

The Mackinac Center for Public Policy is a far right Think Tank based in Midland, Michigan and is part of the State Policy Network, which coordinates far right Think Tanks from all around the US and “operates as the policy, communications, and litigation arm of the American Legislative Exchange Council. 

The article that the WMPF posted was entitled, You Shouldn’t Need a License to Work as a Property Manager. This article from the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, is essentially about proposed legislation in Michigan to eliminate any licensing requirements for those who want to be a rental property manager. The proposed bill is HB 4549, and was introduced by Rep. Michele Hoitenga (R) from the 102nd District.

The post by the WMPF of the article from the Mackinac Center for Public Policy is significant for two main reasons. First, the WMPF and the Mackinac Center for Public Policy share a similar overall ideology, which is Neoliberal Capitalism. One of the principles of Neoliberal Capitalism is to de-regulate the market, which will reduce government regulation of everything that could diminish profits, including protecting the environment and promoting safety on the job.

This is significant right now in Michigan, as property values and rent costs have risen over the past decade, thus reducing the amount of affordable housing. While housing and rental costs have risen significantly, wages have not, thus forcing hundreds of thousands of Michiganders to be priced out of the housing market. Therefore, eliminating licensing requirements for Property Managers, just makes it easier for more people to exploit the current housing market.

Not surprising, the Rental Property Owners Association of Michigan is also supporting this legislation, as is reflected on their website. The Rental Property Owners Association has spent lots of money to pay lobbyists who work to push this kind of legislation through, as well as contributing lots of money to state legislators who embrace the market-driven aspects of the current housing market in Michigan.

The second reason why it is significant for the West Michigan Policy Forum to post this article (and many others) from the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, is because the main core of the WMPF leadership are major financial contributors to the far right Think Tank. Those from the Executive Committee of the Board of Directors for the WMPF who have contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars in recent years to the Mackinac Center for Public Policy are Doug DeVos, Michael Jandernoa and Peter Secchia. Another member of the WMPF’s Executive Committee, J.C. Huizenga, sits on the Board of Directors of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy.

These types of inter-locking systems of power – financial, political and ideological – are a significant feature of the far right political movement in the US. Therefore, it is important for those of use who stand in opposition to these kinds of policy changes to be aware of how West Michigan-based groups like the West Michigan Policy Forum are connected to groups like the Mackinac Center for Public Policy and the State Policy Network, for the purposes of pushing a broad Neoliberal Capitalist agenda, which impacts most of the issues that grassroots & community-based organizers are working on. 

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