Rick Pluta http://michiganradio.org en Signed a petition to oppose Asian carp? You actually signed a petition to allow wolf hunting http://michiganradio.org/post/signed-petition-oppose-asian-carp-you-actually-signed-petition-allow-wolf-hunting <p><span style="font-family: Arial; font-size: 15px; line-height: 1.15; white-space: pre-wrap;">This week, pretty much unnoticed, the deadline came and went for opponents to file challenges to petitions filed by the Citizens for Professional Wildlife Management campaign to initiate a law. This is part of the ongoing political battle over wolf hunting in the Upper Peninsula.</span></p><p></p><p><span style="font-family: Arial; font-size: 15px; white-space: pre-wrap; line-height: 1.15;">The </span>CPWM<span style="font-family: Arial; font-size: 15px; white-space: pre-wrap; line-height: 1.15;"> petition drive would create a new version of the law to allow wolf hunting, and it would take future decisions on designating game animals and put it with the state Natural Resources Commission instead of the Legislature.</span></p><p><span style="font-family: Arial; font-size: 15px; white-space: pre-wrap; line-height: 1.15;">Now, not everyone may recognize that petition campaign. But, if you signed a petition to oppose Asian carp in the Great Lakes, you signed a petition to allow wolf hunting in the UP. If you signed a petition to allow active duty military personnel to get free hunting and fishing licenses, you signed a petition to allow wolf hunting.</span></p><p> Fri, 11 Jul 2014 18:05:28 +0000 Rick Pluta & Zoe Clark 18349 at http://michiganradio.org Signed a petition to oppose Asian carp? You actually signed a petition to allow wolf hunting Activist groups complain that Michigan Legislature circumvents petition drives, elections http://michiganradio.org/post/activist-groups-complain-michigan-legislature-circumvents-petition-drives-elections <p>A coalition of activist groups is trying to make an issue of the Legislature passing laws to bypass petition drives and ballot measures.</p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">The groups say Republicans at the state Capitol have circumvented voters on questions including the emergency manager law, the minimum wage, and wolf hunting. In each of those cases, the Legislature passed laws that ran contrary to the results of an election or a petition drive.</span></p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">Danielle Atkinson is with the campaign to increase the state minimum wage to $10.10 an hour. She says the Legislature acted legally, but violated the spirit of the Michigan Constitution’s power to use the ballot to initiate or challenge laws.</span></p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">“This is not what the drafters of the state constitution intended when they gave people the right to petition their government.”</span></p><p> Wed, 09 Jul 2014 15:43:00 +0000 Rick Pluta 18309 at http://michiganradio.org Activist groups complain that Michigan Legislature circumvents petition drives, elections Michigan Supreme Court rules juvenile lifers not entitled to re-sentencing hearings http://michiganradio.org/post/michigan-supreme-court-rules-juvenile-lifers-not-entitled-re-sentencing-hearings <p>The Michigan Supreme Court says felons sentenced as juveniles to life without parole won’t get new sentences.</p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">That’s despite a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that says it’s cruel and unusual punishment.</span></p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">The question was whether the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Miller vs. Alabama applies retroactively in Michigan to more than 300 inmates sentenced as juveniles to life without parole, or if it only applies to future cases.</span></p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">A four-to-three majority on the state Supreme Court says it would present too many financial and logistical barriers to go back and find lost witnesses and evidence for new sentencing hearings.</span></p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">The Miller decision says mandatory life sentences for juveniles are unconstitutional because they don’t take into account each child’s circumstances.</span></p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">States have split on how to handle the Miller decision, which suggests the issue could yet be headed back one day to the U.S. Supreme Court.</span></p><p> Tue, 08 Jul 2014 20:46:04 +0000 Rick Pluta 18300 at http://michiganradio.org Michigan Supreme Court rules juvenile lifers not entitled to re-sentencing hearings Appeals court says no drilling in Pigeon River forest http://michiganradio.org/post/appeals-court-says-no-drilling-pigeon-river-forest <p>The Michigan Court of Appeals says state regulators were correct to deny a drilling permit to developers who want to put oil wells on private land surrounded by a state forest.</p><p></p><p>The developers said the state should either grant the permit, or compensate them for their lost investment. They want to put 11 wells on private property surrounded by the Pigeon River Country State Forest in northern lower Michigan. The state Department of Environmental Quality said the wells were either in designated no-drill zones, or were too close to water.</p><p></p><p>“The takeaway from this decision is that you can’t drill an oil well just any old place in the state of Michigan,” said DEQ spokesman Brad Wurful. “There are some areas that are off limits.”</p><p></p><p>And the decision says since that was clear up front, the developers don’t get a payback from the state.</p><p></p><p>“What the court said was, everybody knew this beforehand going into this and it was clear,” Wurful said. “Nobody got surprised here. They simply wanted to do something that was not allowed and the court upheld that. We’re pretty pleased with the decision, obviously.”</p><p></p><p>The developers can file a new permit request with plans to use different technology, like directional drilling. They can also take their case to the Michigan Supreme Court.</p><p> Wed, 02 Jul 2014 21:31:02 +0000 Rick Pluta 18251 at http://michiganradio.org Appeals court says no drilling in Pigeon River forest Snyder: Prison food contract troubles are “unacceptable” http://michiganradio.org/post/snyder-prison-food-contract-troubles-are-unacceptable <p>Governor Rick Snyder says a deal with a private contractor to provide food for state prisons could be terminated if there are future problems with the company. Aramark Food Services was awarded the $145 million, three-year contract last December. But the arrangement has been beset by problems since then.</p><p></p><p>Aramark has been fined by the state for unapproved menu changes and running out of food. Also, 70 Aramark employees are banned from state prisons for inappropriate relationships with prisoners.</p><p></p> Tue, 01 Jul 2014 21:05:40 +0000 Rick Pluta 18229 at http://michiganradio.org Snyder: Prison food contract troubles are “unacceptable” Court decision could affect health care, right-to-work cases http://michiganradio.org/post/court-decision-could-affect-health-care-right-work-cases <p>A U.S. Supreme Court decision that limits how unions can organize many workers who are paid with public money also upholds a two-year-old Michigan law. And it could have an effect on the ongoing litigation over home health care workers.</p><p></p><p>Unions saw an opportunity to increase their ranks by organizing home health care assistants – independent contractors, often family members, who provide home care for elderly people, patients in recovery, and children.&nbsp;</p><p></p><p>Republicans in the Legislature outlawed mandatory union membership for publicly paid home health assistants in 2012. That same year, voters also rejected a ballot proposal to allow it.</p><p></p><p>“And this really settles the issue in Michigan and nationally,” said Patrick Wright. He’s an attorney with the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, which filed a lawsuit against the organizing effort. “The United States Supreme Court has looked at something that we said was illegal and said, yes, this is illegal across the entire country.”</p><p> Tue, 01 Jul 2014 02:24:54 +0000 Rick Pluta 18215 at http://michiganradio.org Court decision could affect health care, right-to-work cases Detroit Mayor gets a lot from Lansing in his first six months, but will it last? http://michiganradio.org/post/detroit-mayor-gets-lot-lansing-his-first-six-months-will-it-last <p>It’s been almost six months since Mike Duggan took over as mayor of Detroit. He took over a city however, run by someone else: state-appointed Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr.</p><p>But, that doesn’t mean Duggan has been denied all the rites of passage of the job including the schlep to Lansing to ask the state Legislature for something. Every mayor has to do it. And Duggan had to go to Lansing with a really big ‘ask.’ We’re talking about the $195 million dollar rescue package for his city (that’s right, ‘rescue,’ ‘settlement.’ Just don’t call it a ‘bailout.’)</p><p>Getting the Republican-led state House and Senate to go along with sending almost $200 million dollars to a Democratically-controlled city was not an easy task. Fri, 27 Jun 2014 22:01:27 +0000 Zoe Clark & Rick Pluta 18193 at http://michiganradio.org Detroit Mayor gets a lot from Lansing in his first six months, but will it last? Governor signs law to speed up rape kit tests http://michiganradio.org/post/governor-signs-law-speed-rape-kit-tests <p>Governor Rick Snyder has signed a law that requires police and hospitals to handle rape evidence kits in a timely fashion. It’s a response to the discovery in 2009 of 11,000 abandoned evidence kits in a Detroit police warehouse.</p><p></p><p>Governor Snyder says the Michigan State Police is on track to clear the backlog by next May. But the goal of the new law is to ensure future backlogs don’t happen.</p><p></p> Fri, 27 Jun 2014 03:09:41 +0000 Rick Pluta 18180 at http://michiganradio.org Governor signs law to speed up rape kit tests MEDC creates fund to leverage crowdsource money http://michiganradio.org/post/medc-creates-fund-leverage-crowdsource-money <p>The Michigan Economic Development Corporation has created a fund to help leverage more money for public beautification projects. It’s a partnership with a crowdsourcing website to help local governments raise funds for parks, sculptures, tree-planting and similar projects.</p><p>Mike Finney is the director of the MEDC. He says it’s a new way to attract private investments in public projects.</p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">“It’s a great way to stretch our dollars much further than they would otherwise if this had to be a public sector project in and of itself,” Finney said.</span></p><p>The state will match up to $100,000 for approved projects raised through the website, crowdfundingmi.com. Finney says this is the first time that he’s heard of the public sector using crowdfunding to raise money for local beautification projects. &nbsp;</p><p> Wed, 25 Jun 2014 23:07:46 +0000 Rick Pluta 18154 at http://michiganradio.org MEDC creates fund to leverage crowdsource money Gov. Snyder wants more transparency in spending by schools, but not charter companies http://michiganradio.org/post/gov-snyder-wants-more-transparency-spending-schools-not-charter-companies <p>Governor Rick Snyder says he’s for more transparency in school spending, but he’s not ready to apply those standards to private companies that run charter schools.</p> Wed, 25 Jun 2014 10:59:00 +0000 Rick Pluta 18138 at http://michiganradio.org Gov. Snyder wants more transparency in spending by schools, but not charter companies Snyder signs Detroit rescue package, stresses city’s recovery http://michiganradio.org/post/snyder-signs-detroit-rescue-package-stresses-city-s-recovery <p>Gov. Rick Snyder has signed legislation that authorizes the state’s $195 million contribution to the Detroit bankruptcy settlement. The governor says the settlement is a good deal for taxpayers because it sets the stage for the city’s comeback.</p><p></p><p>Gov. Snyder called Detroit’s bankruptcy the “darkest chapter” in the city’s history. But he says the taxpayer donation shows the entire state is behind the Detroit recovery effort.</p> Fri, 20 Jun 2014 22:08:31 +0000 Rick Pluta 18098 at http://michiganradio.org Snyder signs Detroit rescue package, stresses city’s recovery Judges can't order convicts to pay court costs in all cases http://michiganradio.org/post/judges-cant-order-convicts-pay-court-costs-all-cases <p>The Michigan Supreme Court says judges can’t order people convicted of a crime to pay the costs to the legal system – unless it’s been specifically allowed by the Legislature.<br />&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;<br />It’s been routine in Michigan for judges to order defendants to pay prosecution and court costs as a part of sentencing.</p><p>In this case, Frederick Cunningham was convicted in Allegan County of a prescription drug offense. The judge ordered Cunningham to pay $1,000 in unspecified “court costs.” But Michigan’s prescription drug law doesn’t mention court costs.</p> Thu, 19 Jun 2014 14:40:50 +0000 Rick Pluta 18069 at http://michiganradio.org Judges can't order convicts to pay court costs in all cases Democrats sponsor bill to roll back abortion insurance law http://michiganradio.org/post/democrats-sponsor-bill-roll-back-abortion-insurance-law <p>Democrats in the state Legislature have rolled out a bill to repeal the state’s petition-initiated law that requires people who want abortion coverage to buy a separate insurance policy. They acknowledge they don’t have the votes to repeal the law that was approved just last year by the Legislature. They say they’re hoping to open a public conversation on the law and its effects.</p> Mon, 16 Jun 2014 22:16:02 +0000 Rick Pluta 18028 at http://michiganradio.org Democrats sponsor bill to roll back abortion insurance law Here’s why the state Senate couldn’t pass road funding http://michiganradio.org/post/here-s-why-state-senate-couldn-t-pass-road-funding <p><span style="color: rgb(0, 0, 0); font-family: Arial; font-size: 15px; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; background-color: transparent;">"Unfortunately, this is an issue that I would admit there are too much politics going on." </span><span style="color: rgb(0, 0, 0); font-family: Arial; font-size: 15px; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; background-color: transparent;"> That was Gov. Rick Snyder last night, after it became clear that a major roads funding package was not going to get passed in the state Senate.</span></p><p><span style="color: rgb(0, 0, 0); font-family: Arial; font-size: 15px; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; background-color: transparent;">"</span><span style="color: rgb(0, 0, 0); font-family: Arial; font-size: 15px; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; background-color: transparent;">...If we were sitting at the kitchen table as a big family,” he continued, “and you looked at this issue, we would have solved this problem.”</span></p><p><span style="color: rgb(0, 0, 0); font-family: Arial; font-size: 15px; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; background-color: transparent;">Sure. Or our big family would fight about who wrecked the roads in the first place and that it was your fault – you and your big truck – which is why we can’t have nice roads and don’t you know I have a primary and, by the way, I haven’t forgotten who wrecked the roads that you won’t fix because you should.</span></p><p><span style="color: rgb(0, 0, 0); font-family: Arial; font-size: 15px; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; background-color: transparent;">But, we digress.</span></p><p><span style="color: rgb(0, 0, 0); font-family: Arial; font-size: 15px; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; background-color: transparent;">There were a lot of reasons why this road-funding deal failed to come together, despite some recent instances of actual bipartisanship, like increasing the state’s minimum wage and the Detroit rescue package. But those were exceptions in this era of Republican hegemony in Lansing. Fri, 13 Jun 2014 17:34:37 +0000 Zoe Clark & Rick Pluta 17993 at http://michiganradio.org Here’s why the state Senate couldn’t pass road funding Michigan Supreme Court takes two more medical marijuana cases http://michiganradio.org/post/michigan-supreme-court-takes-two-more-medical-marijuana-cases <p>The state Supreme Court has agreed to hear two more medical marijuana cases. Two medical marijuana cardholders want the state’s highest court to rule that a voter-approved law shields them from criminal charges.</p><p></p><p>In both cases, the defendants say the fact that they have medical marijuana cards should protect them from prosecution even if they did not abide by the letter of the law.</p><p></p><p>In one case, a cardholder who was also allowed to provide marijuana to two patients was charged after he sold pot to an undercover police officer posing as a patient. In the other case, the cardholder had more marijuana than he needed for his patients, and the plants were not kept in a separate locked location.</p><p></p><p>They both say the medical marijuana law offers sweeping protections to state-issued cardholders from criminal charges. Michigan’s medical marijuana statute was approved by an overwhelming majority of the state’s voters in 2008. More than 130 thousand Michigan residents have registered for cards.&nbsp;</p><p> Fri, 13 Jun 2014 10:44:00 +0000 Rick Pluta 17984 at http://michiganradio.org Michigan Supreme Court takes two more medical marijuana cases Right-to-work part of discussions on roads package http://michiganradio.org/post/right-work-part-discussions-roads-package <p>Negotiations between Republicans and Democrats at the state Capitol over road funding may have resurrected the controversy over Michigan’s right-to-work law.</p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">There’s a lot of deal-making happening in Lansing as the Legislature enters the final days before its summer recess. The two biggest issues are finishing the state budget, and coming up with more than $1.2 billion new dollars a year for roads – Governor Rick Snyder’s top priority before lawmakers leave Lansing.</span></p> Wed, 11 Jun 2014 10:13:00 +0000 Rick Pluta 17944 at http://michiganradio.org Right-to-work part of discussions on roads package Reform group calls for end to "adult-time-for-adult-crime" http://michiganradio.org/post/reform-group-calls-end-adult-time-adult-crime <p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">A new report by the Michigan Council on Crime and Delinquency is calling for an end to the state’s policy of automatically charging 17-year-olds as adults, and sending them to prison – even for non-violent offenses.</span></p><p>The Michigan Council on Crime and Delinquency says teens sent to prison are more likely to re-offend after they’re released. The vast majority of teens sent to prison are 17 and the average stay is five years.</p> Mon, 09 Jun 2014 22:05:31 +0000 Rick Pluta 17928 at http://michiganradio.org Reform group calls for end to "adult-time-for-adult-crime" Why presidential politics could stall a deal in Lansing to fix our roads http://michiganradio.org/post/why-presidential-politics-could-stall-deal-lansing-fix-our-roads <p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.15;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"><span style="font-size:15px;font-family:Arial;color:#000000;background-color:transparent;font-weight:normal;font-style:normal;font-variant:normal;text-decoration:none;vertical-align:baseline;">With money to fix roads hanging in the balance, presidential politics could stand in the way of the new trend of bipartisan action on big, controversial issues.</span></p><p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.15;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"><span style="font-size:15px;font-family:Arial;color:#000000;background-color:transparent;font-weight:normal;font-style:normal;font-variant:normal;text-decoration:none;vertical-align:baseline;">But, really, any notion that there’s a new era of bipartisanship at the state Capitol should be shelved, despite the Democratic and Republican coalitions in the Legislature that pushed through deals on increasing the minimum wage and the Detroit rescue package. And that’s because each was an anomaly that brought Democrats to the bargaining table in Republican-controlled Lansing. </span></p><p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.15;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"><span style="font-size:15px;font-family:Arial;color:#000000;background-color:transparent;font-weight:normal;font-style:normal;font-variant:normal;text-decoration:none;vertical-align:baseline;">When you break down the Detroit votes, for example, you see two very different pictures in the House and in the Senate. In the House, almost all the Republicans voted for the rescue. A few Democrats were the holdouts. In the Senate, Democrats made up the difference as most Republicans</span><span style="font-size:15px;font-family:Arial;color:#000000;background-color:transparent;font-weight:bold;font-style:normal;font-variant:normal;text-decoration:none;vertical-align:baseline;"> </span><span style="font-size:15px;font-family:Arial;color:#000000;background-color:transparent;font-weight:normal;font-style:normal;font-variant:normal;text-decoration:none;vertical-align:baseline;">-- 16 out of 26 -- voted “no” on the main bills in the Detroit package.</span></p><p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.15;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"><span style="font-size:15px;font-family:Arial;color:#000000;background-color:transparent;font-weight:normal;font-style:normal;font-variant:normal;text-decoration:none;vertical-align:baseline;">What this says is the parameters of each deal were different (even when we’re talking about the exact same legislation) depending on whether it’s the House or the Senate. &nbsp;For example, a larger proportion of the Republicans in the Senate have serious primaries. Fri, 06 Jun 2014 17:52:09 +0000 Zoe Clark & Rick Pluta 17894 at http://michiganradio.org Why presidential politics could stall a deal in Lansing to fix our roads Schuette turns up the heat on energy company with criminal charges http://michiganradio.org/post/schuette-turns-heat-energy-company-criminal-charges <p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">&nbsp;</span></p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">The state says Chesapeake Energy signed lease agreements with eight landowners, assuring them that mortgages on the property would not be a problem.&nbsp; The options shut out competitors from buying leases. The allegations say Chesapeake then used the mortgages as a pretext to cancel the contracts.</span></p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">Chesapeake is the nation’s second-largest producer of natural gas. In a statement, the company says the charges are “without merit,”</span><span style="line-height: 1.5;">&nbsp;and will fight them in court.</span></p><p>Chesapeake is also facing a separate criminal lawsuit in Michigan. It alleges the company was part of a collusion scheme to keep down the cost of leases up for auction. The other company that was charged has pleaded no contest.</p><p> Thu, 05 Jun 2014 21:35:11 +0000 Rick Pluta 17889 at http://michiganradio.org Schuette turns up the heat on energy company with criminal charges Michigan Supreme Court names workgroup to improve system for collecting fines http://michiganradio.org/post/michigan-supreme-court-names-workgroup-improve-system-collecting-fines <p>A group of judges, prosecutors, and defense attorneys goes to work Thursday on finding new and better ways to collect fines and fees from defendants, and to ensure that people are not sent to jail because they don’t have the money to pay.<span style="line-height: 1.5;">&nbsp;</span><span style="line-height: 1.5;">&nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;</span></p> Wed, 04 Jun 2014 22:19:13 +0000 Rick Pluta 17871 at http://michiganradio.org Michigan Supreme Court names workgroup to improve system for collecting fines