It was an historic moment at the State Capitol as Garlin Gilchrist II became the first African-American lieutenant governor to sign a bill into law.
There was history in the making on the glass floor of the Capitol rotunda. With Governor Gretchen Whitmer in Israel, Lt. Governor Garlin Gilchrist III was front and center as his proud family looked on as he became the first African-American lt. governor to sign a bill and only the second African-American in Michigan to sign any legislation.
The first was Michigan’s long-time former Secretary of State Richard Austin in 1988.
“I’m standing on the shoulders of greats who came before me,” said Gilchrist. “Richard Austin was the first African-American to sign a bill in 1988 and he paved the way for a person like me.”
Suffice it to say the acting governor never thought he would be making history like this.
“I never thought that I was going to be here two years ago. It’s a tremendous honor and I take it very seriously and I’m working to do my best,” adds Gilchrist.
The measure he signed allows rehabilitated felons to sell insurance, which is part of a new attitude in Lansing to treat former criminals differently.
“Leaders are finally catching up to where the people are in saying rehabilitation, we must honor, we must give people a chance to succeed,” explained gilchrist. “We can not define people by their biggest mistake on the worse night of their life. we need to give them ways to contribute.”
And his attitude extends to the state’s new marijuana law as he embraces legislation to automatically expunge the convictions of those who broke the previous anti-pot laws.
Gilchrist: “I’m good with expunging peoples records, in general.”
Skubick: “But there are people in TV-land who say you are being soft on crooks.”
Gilchrist: “We need to recognize the people of Michigan spoke with a clear voice in terms of how we should treat possession of marijuana.”
Legislation is pending here to wipe those pot records clean.