The Advance’s best stories of 2019 you may have missed

Michigan Capitol | Susan J. Demas

Quotable of the Year:

“One of the great drawbacks of being in Congress is that I must receive insulting letters from weak-minded jackasses like yourself. Will you please take two running jumps and go to hell.”

— Former U.S. Rep. John Dingell (D-Dearborn) in a 1957 letter 

Susan J. Demas graphic

In the last days of 2019, the Advance is running a series of our best stories from a few of the many issues we cover, from the environment to the 2020 election. With more than 2,000 stories to choose from, it was hard to pare the list down.

Here’s our roundup of some of our best stories you may have missed the first time:

There have been a lot of touching remembrances of the Dean of Congress, John Dingell, who passed away in February at age 92. The Michigan lawmaker also was known for his acerbic wit and the Advance tracked down a legendary letter where it was on full display.

1957 legendary Dingell letter: ‘Please take two running jumps and go to hell’

On the five-year anniversary of when the first same-sex couples were able to legally marry in Michigan, the Advance gave you the behind-the-scenes story of the brief, five-hour window that changed many people’s lives.

March 22, 2014: When marriage equality first (briefly) ruled in Michigan

The Upper Peninsula has turned much redder over the last decade, but here’s a look at one county bucking that trend.

Why Is Gogebic County an island of blue in a sea of red in the U.P.?

There was a lot of very similar coverage of Michigan’s budget fight between Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and the GOP-controlled Legislature and some scolding editorials about the need to compromise. But this didn’t take place in a vacuum. The Advance looked back at the dynamic at play during Michigan’s 2018 Lame Duck session and took an exhaustive look at Republican power grabs in states across the country, from Oregon to North Carolina.

Michigan Republicans want to quash Whitmer’s power. Here’s a roundup of GOP power grabs in other states.

Much of the coverage of health care issues in 2019 concentrated on theoretical fights among Democratic presidential contenders on iterations of Medicare for All. Meanwhile, as the President Trump administration continues to roll back Obamacare provisions, the Advance reported on 7,000 fewer Michigan children having health insurance.

Health study: 7,000 more Michigan children were uninsured in 2018

As low-income students continue to struggle to afford college amid rising costs, the Advance looked at what the actual price is at Michigan’s 15 public universities by income bracket.

Michigan tuition prices are lower than advertised, but sticker shock hits low-income students hard

With growing rates of suicide and drug overdoses, new research shows that raising the minimum wage and Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) could help stop some of these “deaths of despair.”

Study: ‘Deaths of despair’ could drop with EITC, minimum wage boosts

When the University of Michigan instituted a new policy on STI testing, students swung into action with online activism and got it quickly reversed. The Advance reported not just on how they did it, but connected this fight to the university’s long history of progressive activism.

How students used social media and memes to change a University of Michigan sexual health policy

Republicans went after Attorney General Dana Nessel over everything from settling a case allowing same-sex couples to adopt in Michigan to continuing the clergy sexual abuse investigation her GOP predecessor began. The Advance broke the story on the death threats she’s received.

Nessel has received violent, anti-Semitic threats over Catholic Church investigation

After every mass shooting, leaders offer thoughts and prayers. The Advance took a look at all the legislation Michigan’s GOP-led Legislature could take up if it wanted to actually take action.

After Ohio, Texas mass shootings, here’s the legislation Michigan’s GOP Legislature could take up

The New York Times’ acclaimed “1619 Project” chronicling the 400th anniversary of slavery in America came to Detroit this fall, with journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones answering conservative critics.

New York Times’ ‘1619 Project’ on the history of slavery comes to Detroit

The Democrats’ sweep of all the top statewide offices in 2018 has meant a huge turnaround for LGBTQ rights from the previous eight years of total Republican control.

Pro-LGBTQ officials running Michigan is a sea change

As Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report on 2016 Russian election interference dropped, the Advance profiled national security blogger and West Michigan native Marcy Wheeler.

Meet the ‘ridiculously well-sourced’ Michigan journalist at the heart of the Mueller investigation

Before a lawsuit was filed to stop Michigan’s Medicaid work requirements, which are set to take effect Wednesday, the Advance reported on a New England Journal of Medicine study on Arkansas, the first state to enact the policy. The study found the requirements didn’t decrease the jobless rate but did increase the uninsured rate.

Study: Medicaid work requirements failed to increase employment rate

While Republicans have fought Whitmer’s gas tax increase to pay more road repairs and school funding, arguing taxes shouldn’t be raised, we’re actually $10 billion below the Headlee limit on taxes in the state.

Michigan needs to fix roads, while state is $10B below Headlee tax limit

After longtime Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson died this summer, Advance reporter Ken Coleman wrote an unflinching column about the Republican, race and history.

Ken Coleman: When it comes to L. Brooks Patterson’s bigotry, I refuse to be silent

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Susan J. Demas is a 19-year journalism veteran and one of the state’s foremost experts on Michigan politics, appearing on MSNBC, CNN, NPR and WKAR-TV’s “Off the Record.” In addition to serving as Editor-in-Chief, she is the Advance’s chief columnist, writing on women, LGBTQs, the state budget, the economy and more. Most recently, she served as Vice President of Farough & Associates, Michigan’s premier political communications firm. For almost five years, Susan was the Editor and Publisher of Inside Michigan Politics, the most-cited political newsletter in the state. Susan’s award-winning political analysis has run in more than 80 national, international and regional media outlets, including the Guardian U.K., NBC News, the New York Times, the Detroit News and MLive. She is the only Michigan journalist to be named to the Washington Post’s list of “Best Political Reporters,” the Huffington Post’s list of “Best Political Tweeters” and the Washington Post’s list of “Best Political Bloggers.” Susan was the recipient of a prestigious Knight Foundation fellowship in nonprofits and politics. She served as Deputy Editor for MIRS News and helped launch the Michigan Truth Squad, the Center for Michigan’s fact-checking project. She started her journalism career reporting on the Iowa caucuses for The (Cedar Rapids) Gazette. Susan has hiked over 3,000 solo miles across four continents and climbed more than 60 mountains. She also enjoys dragging her husband and two teenagers along, even if no one else wants to sleep in a tent anymore.