Cass County Commissioners discuss National Popular Vote Interstate Compact

Published 3:00 pm Friday, April 21, 2023

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CASSOPOLIS — The April 20th Cass County Commissioners Committee of the Whole meeting was opened with an apology from Commissioner RJ Lee. Lee had recently put forward a proposed ordinance to criminalize the distribution of sexually explicit library books to children, which drew attention across the state. 

The proposal had drawn immediate and immense pushback from librarians and their supporters over fears of the board overstepping its bounds, limiting parental decisions for their children, and creating an environment that threatened libraries, access to information, and free speech. In response, the commission withdrew consideration of the ordinance. In his remarks, Lee continued to voice his concerns over “adult content being pushed on our children”, but stated that his proposal was “clearly not the right way to go.” 

He put forth a commitment to ensure the involvement of other commissioners and to take more time in pursuing further efforts. He also stated that it was not his intent to have a “book banning” or to punish librarians.

Another topic that drew attention from many was another resolution put forward by Lee, this one to oppose Michigan entering the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, a decision that could be made at the state legislative level. Though no such legislation has passed, if adopted, it would bring Michigan into a group of states who have chosen to award their Electoral College votes based on the popular vote. If enough states were to sign onto the compact, it would essentially create a system in which the winner of the Presidential election was the person who won the popular vote nationwide. 

Multiple citizens spoke during public comment against the resolution and in support of the National Popular Vote, citing the past incidents in which the winning Presidential candidate had actually lost the popular vote and how “battleground states” received disproportionate attention in comparison to others. One resident spoke in favor of the resolution, stating that Compact would disenfranchise voters and should only be changed constitutionally to ensure it had appropriate support. The resolution was moved to the agenda for a vote at the next board meeting.

Treasurer Hope Anderson presented on forfeitures and home foreclosures in the county. Anderson explained the procedures of the foreclosure system to ensure due process and how she pursues the goal of assisting residents in keeping their homes and avoiding foreclosure when possible.

Administrator Matthew Newton reported the processes on the historic courthouse are in the works and proposed opening date of Spring 2024 is still on track. His office is working toward improved budget and planning processes for the next year. He reminded the commission of the county’s emergency repair loan program, meant to support low to moderate income citizens with emergency home repairs. The office also reported on the upcoming redesign of the county website.

The board heard details on appointments and reappointments for various boards. All were moved to the next agenda for a vote.