Characteristics of Michigan State Representatives from the Metro Detroit Tri-County region

Michigan voters elect all 110 members of the state House of Representatives every two years.  Of these 110 members, 45 represent districts within the geographic boundaries of Macomb, Oakland, and Wayne counties.  One way to consider these legislators is to look at several key characteristics that reflect their demographics, political inclinations, and seniority.  This post examines five characteristics in particular: political party, gender, membership in the legislature’s Black Caucus, length of service, and committee leadership.


The chart above reveals that, of the 45 representatives from the region, 30 (two thirds) are Democrats and 14 (31.1%) are women.   Twelve representatives (26.7%) from the tri-county area are members of the legislative Black Caucus (which is not synonymous with racial identification, but rather certain ideological principles.), and 22 (48.9%) serve in a committee leadership position.  A legislator is considered a committee leader if s/he is a chairperson, vice chairperson, or minority ranking member of a committee.  This definition allows members of the minority party to be considered despite their inability to serve as committee chairs.

The chart above shows the length of service breakdown for the 45 tri-county representatives. The great majority (88.8%) of them are serving their first or second term(s), and are thus eligible to seek re-election in 2012 (The Michigan Constitution limits each member of the State House to three terms).

Another way to examine the characteristics of state representatives is to distinguish between those representing Detroit’s districts and those representing the other State House districts in the tri-county area.  The charts below consider this relationship.  (Note: a district is considered to be a “Detroit” district if the majority of the district is geographically within the boundaries of the city; the same reasoning is used for tri-county districts.)

All of Detroit’s 11 state representatives are members of the Democratic Party and the legislative Black Caucus. In the other tri-county districts, Democrats outnumber Republicans as well (55.9% to 44.1%),but only one representative is a member of the legislative Black Caucus.  A greater percentage of Detroit’s state representatives are women (44.5%,) compared to the outlying tri-county districts (26.5%,) and only two of Detroit’s state representatives (18.2%) serve as committee leaders, as opposed to 20 (58.8%) of their counterparts from the rest of the tri-county area.

The two charts above show that 54.5% of Detroit’s state representatives are serving their first term; that is, they were first elected in 2010.  A smaller percentage of representatives of other tri-county districts are “first-termers.”  In addition, only one Detroit state representative is serving a third term.  This represents 9.1% of the Detroit delegation, compared to the 11.8% of other tri-county state representatives who are serving their third term.

A third way to examine this data is to compare Detroit’s state representatives to those of Macomb, Oakland, and ‘outer’ Wayne counties individually, as seen below.

Democrats constitute a majority of state representatives in Detroit and outer Wayne County, but this is not so in Macomb and Oakland counties.  Women do not represent a majority of state representatives in any of these four geographical areas, although women constitute nearly half (45.5%) of state representatives in Detroit.  All of Detroit’s state representatives are members of the legislative Black Caucus, but only one Oakland County representative and no Macomb and outer Wayne county representatives are members of the caucus.  Of the four areas, outer Wayne County and Oakland County currently have the greatest number and percentage of committee leaders in the State House (66.7% and 61.5%, respectively), whereas only two committee leaders (18.2%) represent Detroit.

The above charts show the percentage of representatives from each of the four areas by their number of terms in the State House.  More than half of Detroit and Macomb County’s representatives are serving their first term, meaning they were first elected in 2010.  An earlier chart showed third term representatives are relatively rare in the tri-county area for the 2011-13 term.  The above charts reveal most of these third term representatives represent Oakland and outer Wayne Counties, although the absolute number (two representatives each) is small for both.


October reports for monthly economic indicators

•Unemployment rate decreases, while the number of employed increases (monthly)
•Purchasing manager’s index increases (monthly)
•Commodity price index slightly decreases (monthly)
•Consumer price index increases (bi-monthly)

According to the most recent data provided by the Michigan Department of Technology, Management, and Budget the jobless rate was at 19.6 percent in Detroit in August; it was at 9.2 percent for the state. Both Michigan and the city of Detroit show the same trend.

Please note this also shows Michigan’s unemployment rate for the month of September, which was 9.3 percent, but no unemployment data for Detroit has been released for September.

Although there was a sharp decline in the number of employed in the city of Detroit from June to July, that number increased in August to the number reported for June. According to the most recent data, the number of employed  for Detroit was 279,199 in August; that is 2,107 more people employed than in July.

According to the most recent data released on South Eastern Michigan’s Purchasing Manager’s Index, the number increased over 5 points from August to September. The Purchasing Manger’s Index is a composite index that is derived from five indicators of economic activity: new orders, production, employment, supplier deliveries, and inventories; a PMI above 50 means the economy is expanding. With a PMI of 50.6 for September this means the economy is generally expanding, although it is still about 2.5 points lower than it was at this time last year. The August PMI of  45.7 was a low of 2012.  According to the Institute of Supply Management the September number increased to 50.6 because of production, new order and vendor deliveries; employment was the lagging indicator.

The Commodity Price Index , which is a weighted average of selected commodity prices, for Southeast Michigan has fluctuated throughout 2012, beginning at 55 in January, peaking at 83 in May and dropping to a low of 43.5 in June. Most recently, the Commodity Price Index slightly decreased from 61.3 in August to 60 in September. This is similar to where the Commodity Price Index was for September of last year, which was at 58.3.

The Consumer Price Index, which is reported every two months, rose 1.2 percent from June to August and rose 1 percent from August 2011 to August 2012 in the Detroit-Ann Arbor-Flint area. The Consumer Price Index measures the change in prices in a fixed market. The prices which are measured are based on prices of “food, clothing, shelter, fuels, transportation fares, charges for doctors’ and dentists’ services, drugs, and the other goods and services that people buy for day-to-day living,” according to the BLS. Higher prices for energy (an 8 percent increase), shelter and apparel were noted for the August 2012 increase; there was a decrease in food (a 3 percent decrease) and new and used motor vehicle prices.

The Consumer Price Index, minus the prices of energy and food, shown in the second Consumer Price Index graph, does not fluctuate as much as the price index that includes all the indicators. From June to August of 2012 the energy price alone increased by 8 percent, and from April to June it decreased by 7.2 percent. Food prices remained unchanged from April to June but increased by .3 percent from August to June.  The overall index for items, not including food and energy, increased by .5 percent from June to August.

Key Healthy Homes Hazards in Detroit: Preliminary Evidence

The Healthy Homes Screening Tool (HHST) is being tested by the Wayne State University Center for Urban Studies as a tool to examine the health risks in homes. This screening tool is intended to help non-housing professionals to provide a first indication of the extent of risks that tend to increase sickness, injuries, and death among inhabitants of the home.  The first version of this survey was administered on paper, either during a face-to-face interview or completed by the resident and returned by mail.  If a resident was unable to participate in a face-to-face interview the survey was then administered by an interview over the phone.  A total of 519 households in a central city neighborhood of Detroit were surveyed using the first version of the HHST.  Below are five graphs from the preliminary analysis of the HHST indicating some of the greatest health risks within homes surveyed. We are now improving this instrument and preparing to test the reliability and validity of that version. In the long range we expect that the HHST may indicate when a more thorough examination of housing risks must be completed using the HUD-sponsored Healthy Homes Rating System.

The households surveyed within Detroit showed elevated  rates  of asthma diagnosis among both adults and children.  Of the 516 households that responded, 28.1% reported an adult in the household had been told they had asthma. Nearly a quarter (23.1%) of the 368 households that answered the question reported that children (under 18) had been told by a doctor or other medical professional that they had asthma.  Chronic breathing problems were also reported in children in 21.6% of all households surveyed.  In the state of Michigan in 2007 the Michigan Department of Community Health reported a statewide prevalence of asthma at 9.5%.

Certain household allergens such as dust mites, cockroaches, mold, furry pets, tobacco smoke, and certain chemicals may potentially trigger or increase the severity and frequency of asthma attacks.  Volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which can be found in air fresheners, candles, plug-ins and incense, may also increase the severity and frequency of these attacks.  The HHST found that 43.5% of households included at least one person who smoked.  The survey also found 54.8% of households used candles, 46.3% used plug-in air fresheners, and 37.8% used incense.  These conditions may contribute to the high proportion of households reporting asthma and chronic breathing problems.

A large proportion of homes surveyed, 39.1%, reported water had leaked into their home from the outdoors in the last 12 months, excluding plumbing or other inside leaks.  Such water leaks can cause dampness and high humidity, leading to an increase in dust mites, mold, and fungal growth.  These conditions can cause an increase in both the prevalence and severity of allergy and asthma symptoms.  The population most affected by these conditions is children under 14 years of age, according to the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Healthy Homes Rating System – Operating Guidance.  This high proportion of water leaks from outdoors likely contributes to the high proportions of asthma reports demonstrated in the graphs above.

Lead is a heavy metal that can cause lead poisoning and have “toxic effects on the nervous system, cognitive development and blood production.”  The population most severely affected by lead is children under 6 years of age, according to the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Healthy Homes Rating System – Operating Guidance.  Lead was commonly used in household paint until it was banned in 1978.  Of the households in Detroit, 87.3% were built before 1978, meaning a majority of these homes likely contain lead-based paint.  When this paint chips or peels, it becomes easy for children to ingest, causing irreversible damage to their cognitive development.  Lead also has a sweet taste, encouraging children to ingest the toxic substance.  Having your home tested for lead and regularly having your children tested for lead poisoning is recommended if your home was built prior to 1978.

Chipping or peeling paint was visible in 60.4% of the homes surveyed with the HHST, the vast majority of which were built prior to 1978. However, only 44.3% of homes had been tested for lead, and only 50% of households had their children tested for lead poisoning.

Home fires kill many people in Detroit and Michigan every year as well as injuring people through burns and smoke or gas inhalation.  Ensuring there is a working smoke detector present on every level and in every sleeping area of a home can help make sure residents are alerted in time to safely escape.  However, 29% of homes surveyed did not have a smoke detector on every level and in every sleeping area.  Sleeping with a bedroom door closed will also delay the spread of fire and smoke into a bedroom, allowing extra time to escape. However, only 46.2% of homes surveyed reported using this practice.  Making sure exits from the building are accessible in the event of a fire and having fire extinguishers present and readily accessible for use are also important fire safety practices and were largely reported to be followed among those surveyed.

Carbon monoxide is a toxic gas that, at high concentrations, can cause “headaches, dizziness, weakness, nausea, confusion”, disorientation, fatigue, and even “unconsciousness and death.”  Due to the fact it is both colorless and odorless, a working carbon monoxide detector is one of the few ways to detect a leak besides physical symptoms just mentioned.  Common sources of carbon monoxide include improperly vented gas, oil, or solid fuel burning appliances such as dryers and stoves.

Of the 515 homes that responded to the above question in the survey, 81.6% reported they had gas appliances such as a stove or dryer, but 27.6% reported the appliance was not vented to the outside . Only 38.1% of households surveyed reported having a carbon monoxide detector in their home.

Michigan ballot proposals

On November 6, Michigan voters will be asked to cast their vote on six general election proposals. This post provides for each proposal:

1) the exact language that will appear on the ballot;

2) who filed the petition to add the proposal to the ballot;

3) the direct campaign financing information (through July 20, 2012); and

4) the results of a September 2012 statewide poll of active and likely voters.

The Michigan Secretary of State makes the ballot proposal language available online:

The Michigan Secretary of State also makes the petition information available online:


Public Act 4 of 2011 would:

•Establish criteria to assess the financial condition of local government units, including school districts.
• Authorize Governor to appoint an emergency manager (EM) upon state finding of a financial emergency, and allow the EM to act in place of local government officials.
•Require EM to develop financial and operating plans, which may include modification or termination of contracts, reorganization of government, and determination of expenditures, services, and use of assets until the emergency is resolved.
•Alternatively, authorize state-appointed review team to enter into a local government approved consent decree.

Should this law be approved? o YES   o NO

PETITION FILED BY:Stand up for Democracy

  • 100% of the the direct campaign finance contributions for Proposal 1 is provided by Michigan AFSCME Local 25


This proposal would:

·  Grant public and private employees the constitutional right to organize and bargain collectively   through labor unions.

·  Invalidate existing or future state or local laws that limit the ability to join unions and bargain   collectively, and to negotiate and enforce collective bargaining agreements, including employees’   financial support of their labor unions. Laws may be enacted to prohibit public employees from striking.

·  Override state laws that regulate hours and conditions of employment to the extent that those laws conflict with collective bargaining agreements.

·  Define “employer” as a person or entity employing one or more employees.

Should this proposal be approved? o YES   o NO

PETITION FILED BY: Protect our Jobs



This proposal would:

·  Require electric utilities to provide at least 25% of their annual retail sales of electricity from renewable energy sources, which are wind, solar, biomass, and hydropower, by 2025.

·  Limit to not more than 1% per year electric utility rate increases charged to consumers only to achieve compliance with the renewable energy standard.

·  Allow annual extensions of the deadline to meet the 25% standard in order to prevent rate increases over the 1% limit.

·  Require the legislature to enact additional laws to encourage the use of Michigan made equipment and employment of Michigan residents.

Should this proposal be approved? o YES   o NO

PETITION FILED BY: Michigan Energy, Michigan Jobs


This proposal would:

·  Allow in-home care workers to bargain collectively with the Michigan Quality Home Care Council (MQHCC). Continue the current exclusive representative of in-home care workers until modified in accordance with labor laws.

·  Require MQHCC to provide training for in-home care workers, create a registry of workers who pass background checks, and provide financial services to patients to manage the cost of in-home care.

·  Preserve patients’ rights to hire in-home care workers who are not referred from the MQHCC registry who are bargaining unit members.

·  Authorize the MQHCC to set minimum compensation standards and terms and conditions of employment.

Should this proposal be approved? o YES   o NO

PETITION FILED BY: Citizens for Affordable Quality Home Care

  • 100% of the the direct campaign finance contributions for Proposal 4 is provided by Home Care First Inc.


This proposal would:

·  Require a 2/3 majority vote of the State House and the State Senate, or a statewide vote of the people at a November election, in order for the State of Michigan to impose new or additional taxes on taxpayers or expand the base of taxation or increasing the rate of taxation.

·  This section shall in no way be construed to limit or modify tax limitations otherwise created in this Constitution.

Should this proposal be approved? o YES   o NO

PETITION FILED BY: Michigan Alliance for Prosperity


This proposal would:

·  Require the approval of a majority of voters at a statewide election and in each municipality where “new international bridges or tunnels for motor vehicles” are to be located before the State of Michigan may expend state funds or resources for acquiring land, designing, soliciting bids for, constructing, financing, or promoting new international bridges or tunnels.

·  Create a definition of “new international bridges or tunnels for motor vehicles” that means, “any bridge or tunnel which is not open to the public and serving traffic as of January 1, 2012.”

Should this proposal be approved? o YES   o NO

PETITION FILED BY: The People Should Decide

  • 100% ($465,700,500) of the the direct campaign finance contributions for Proposal 6 is provided by DBIC Inc., which is Michigan billionaire and Ambassador Bridge Owner Matty Moroun’s company.

The  chart below reflects the total amount of direct campaign contributions for each proposal as of July 20, 2012.

CUS featured in the news

Over the last several days Center for Urban Studies staff members have been featured in local media outlets because of their knowledge of politics, the city of Detroit, volunteerism, and crime. Be sure to check out these articles with the links below.

  • Center for Urban Studies Director Lyke Thompson speaks with WXYZ-DET on Mike Duggan setting up an exploratory committee for the Detroit mayoral race next year.
  • Center for Urban Studies Director Lyke Thompson comments on the Presidential Debate.
  • Ramona Washington, researcher-program director of the AmeriCorps Urban Safety Project at Wayne State University’s Center for Urban Studies, comments on the importance on house board-ups in the city of Detroit. The next 100 Houses board-up date is set for Oct. 27 in the area around Cody High School; AMUS also performs one board-up a week.
  • David Martin, research associate with the Center for Urban Studies at Wayne State University, comments on parolee supervision in an article about the Michigan Department of Corrections.

Domestic violence in Michigan

This post first defines domestic violence and then attempts to portray it statistically in Michigan and in one neighborhood in Detroit. This is a first cut on a topic we hope to cover more fully later.  In 2007 there were 73,927 domestic violence offenses reported, according to the Michigan State Police, along with 101,388 domestic violence victims.

According to the Michigan State Police, the term domestic violence is a pattern of learned behavior in which one person uses physical, sexual, and emotional abuse to control another person. Domestic violence can occur within relationships between spouses or former spouses, dating or formerly dating couples, individuals with a child in common, or residents or former residents of a common household. Although most acts of violence occur within the place of residence, it should not be considered a ‘family problem’. Physical abuse is used to gain power and control over another person, and barriers often prevent victims from making a police report or leaving an abusive relationship.

Beyond physical altercations domestic abuse can be sexual, emotional, psychological, and economic. Leaving an abusive relationship is not an easy option for victims. Barriers to getting out of an abusive relationship include social and cultural pressures, lack of community resources, low self-esteem, self-guilt, concern for children, fear of increased violence, and economic constraint (displayed in the above figure). Lethality can also occur when a victim decides to end a relationship and she/he may not know where to seek assistance such as legal aid, shelter, counseling, etc.

If you or someone you know are looking for assistance contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233. If you are being threatened or are fearful of your safety, report it.

The above graphs show information on domestic violence as reported to the Michigan State Police in 2007; this is the most recent data available. As can be seen by the information provided, the 20-29 age group was most affected by domestic violence, as are females, in the state of Michigan. Of the 101,388 domestic violence victims, 27,751 were males, 73,545 were females and 92 were unknown, according to the Michigan State Police.

Most incidents of domestic violence result in an apparent minor injury or no injury, or are classified as unknown.  The number of incidents of domestic violence is likely to be a low estimate of actual incidents, since cases often go unreported.

The incidence of domestic violence occurring in this specific Detroit neighborhood is substantially higher than the State of Michigan average. In 2011 there were approximately 400 incidents of domestic violence within the neighborhood. Based on population, the number of incidents was approximately 1 per 51 persons in this neighborhood and 1 per 136 in Michigan. This indicates the rate of domestic violence in the neighborhood was approximately 2.5 times higher than the state average in 2011. In the neighborhood, the incidence of domestic violence decreased by nearly one quarter from 2007 to 2011. Approximately 80 percent of domestic violence cases were classified as assault, which includes threats, physical altercations, or weapons.  These incidents most often occur between intimate partners at the place of residence.