A New Year is upon us. And as we reflect on 2019, it’s easy to focus on the negative headlines that dominated much of the news cycle the last 12 months. From impeachment and immigration struggles, to mass shootings and a deepening contempt among citizens, there’s plenty worth worrying about.

But let’s set aside some of the bad that happened, and focus on the positive developments that took place in 2019. There is a lot to celebrate at both the national and state level. 

Here are some of the highlights: 

►The U.S. economy continues to boom. Job growth remains strong, and the unemployment rate fell to 3.5% in September, marking a 50-year low. A tight labor market has also led to an increase in wages, even for low-income workers. For instance, in November, the 25% lowest earners got a 4.5% wage boost, outpacing the gains made by the highest earners. And the Census Bureau reports median household income for the nation is up.

►Women certainly had a banner year in 2019, following the “pink wave” in November 2018. A record number of women ran, and won, in elections around the country. Most of these women were Democrats fighting against President Donald Trump, but regardless of their agenda, the fact that more women are getting involved in politics is a positive development and should encourage others to follow their lead — on both sides of the aisle. 

Michigan also felt the effects of the pink wave, with the top three statewide elected leaders being all women: Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, and Attorney General Dana Nessel. In addition, women fared well in races for the state Legislature and Congress, among others. 

►Women’s achievements weren’t limited to Earth. The first ever all-female spacewalk took place on the International Space Station in October. Astronauts Christina Koch and Jessica Meir are no doubt helping many young girls all over the world dream big. 

►Although Michigan is operating with a divided government, elected officials were able to tackle some important challenges facing the state. That includes civil asset forfeiture reform, which we’ve long advocated. Now, in most cases, the government will need a criminal conviction before taking an individual’s property. 

Similarly, the state passed a law related to juvenile justice; Michigan will no longer automatically charge 17-year-olds as adults. Other criminal justice reforms are on the docket. 

►Whitmer and GOP lawmakers also came to an agreement this spring to reform Michigan’s highest in the nation auto insurance rates. Finally giving drivers a choice in the amount of personal injury protection they carry will have the greatest impact on lowering rates, which are 83% higher than the national average. Michigan drivers have been forced to fund unlimited lifetime medical care for severely injured crash victims under the state’s no-fault system. 

Detroit’s rates are even more costly, which has created a situation where the majority of Motor City drivers forgo insurance altogether. The reforms also ended other abuses of the system that drove costs for consumers, and drivers should start feeling relief by mid-2020 and early 2021. 

We aren’t burying our heads in the sand and ignoring the realities that lie ahead, including what’s lining up to be a bitter presidential election. Yet America is capable of greatness — and goodness — and we should all be grateful for the liberty and opportunity that still abounds in this country.

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