News

State Senator Randy Richardville
Photo courtesy of www.senate.michigan.gov

The state Legislature is taking steps to hammer out a road funding compromise in the final days of its 2014 session.

The House and Senate passed plans that are drastically different. The Senate approved legislation that would essentially double the state’s gas tax to pay for road improvements. The House plan would divert revenues from schools and local governments and would not raise any taxes.

Michigan Legislature
Matthileo / Flickr

Each Thursday, we talk Michigan politics with Susan Demas, publisher of Inside Michigan Politics, and Ken Sikkema, former Senate Majority Leader and senior policy fellow at Public Sector Consultants.

This week we talked about the bills heading to Gov. Rick Snyder's desk this lame-duck session and whether he'll sign them.

Large solar energy farm proposed for Ann Arbor airport

Dec 11, 2014
DTE Energy

Ann Arbor and DTE Energy are working on plans for a 10-acre solar farm at the city's airport just south of Interstate 94 in Pittsfield Township.  

DTE spokesman Scott Simons said if approved, it would be the company's largest solar energy installation. 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

About 20% of Michigan’s inmates suffer from some kind of mental health condition.

So if the state could divert people away from prison and into treatment, the prison population would drop.

That’s the thinking behind a “diversion” program being tested in a few areas of Michigan.

Rowan Renstrom-Richards

More than 200 students and faculty gathered on University of Michigan's campus yesterday for a "die-in protest". 

Those participating lay down on the Diag for 45 minutes, in protest of the deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and Eric Garner in New York. The 45 minutes was symbolic for the four-and-a-half hours that Michael Brown's body remained on the street after his death.

Flooding in Detroit in August 2014.
Michigan State Police

LANSING, Mich. - Gov. Rick Snyder has approved more than $2.7 million to provide financial assistance to Michigan counties and communities impacted by last spring's flooding and last winter's deep freeze.

NOAA

The Great Lakes go up and down. It's just a fact of life. 

Water levels in Lakes Superior, Michigan and Huron continue to be above their monthly averages for the first time in 16 years.

Image from an MRI brain scan video.
Jon Olav Eikenes / Flickr

LANSING, Mich. - Michigan is expanding efforts to offer more treatment options for people with mental illness and developmental disabilities who are at risk of being imprisoned.

Detroiters woke up this morning in a city run by an exuberant, can-do mayor, in a city finally out of bankruptcy and with a spirit of optimism that hasn’t been seen for at least half a century.

Wikipedia

The Michigan Department of Community Health is urging parents in Michigan to have their children vaccinated against the measles, after five unvaccinated children came down with the highly communicable disease.

"Measles can result in complications that include hospitalization, pneumonia, encephalitis and in severe cases, death," says spokeswoman Jennifer Smith. "So it isn't something to be taken lightly."

David Shane / Flickr

It's been two years since hordes of people descended on the state Capitol to protest the passage of "right-to-work" legislation in the lame-duck session.

Lawmakers and Gov. Rick Snyder argued it was only fair that union workers decide whether they actually wanted to pay dues to the union. They also said businesses would move to Michigan if it became a right-to-work state. Labor leaders and others called it a ploy to weaken unions and Democrats.

Brad McGinley / Flickr

You’ve no doubt heard that eating red meat is not healthy, or that beef production is a big contributor to greenhouse gases. It’s been suggested often that we’d all be better off if we reduced or eliminated beef from our diet.

A new book challenges much of what we’ve been told about raising cattle, and consuming dairy and beef. Defending Beef: the Case for Sustainable Meat Production was written by Nicolette Hahn Niman,  an environmental lawyer and a vegetarian-turned-cattle-rancher. 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Columnist George Will may get a cool reception when he delivers a commencement speech in East Lansing this weekend. 

A crowd of about three dozen Michigan State University students voiced their displeasure with the choice of Will to talk to graduates on Saturday.

It should already be perfectly clear why they call what the Legislature is doing now the “lame-duck session.” Much of what they are doing has been pretty lame.

Jake Neher / MPRN

What is the Education Achievement Authority?

Opened in the fall of 2012, the idea was to create a bold new kind of school district that was run by the state and less restricted by administrative red tape, in order to do some radical turn-around work in some of Michigan’s worst schools.

Courtesy photo / Holland BPW

This week, Jack Lessenberry and Emily Fox discuss Detroit’s pending bankruptcy exit, confusion over the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, and a Senate bill that would count the burning of tires, used oil and other waste products as renewable energy.


Turning a dreamer into an entrepreneur

Dec 10, 2014
Flickr

Once someone learns that I’m an entrepreneurship professor, sooner or later I’ll be asked: “Can you really teach entrepreneurship?” This seems to come from the long-held – and consistently disproved – belief that entrepreneurs are special and if you aren’t born that way (props to Lady Gaga), there’s no point in trying. So let’s get that out of the way right now. Yes, entrepreneurship can be taught and learned, and entrepreneurs are just like the rest of us.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

School officials are worried about the Legislature’s latest plan to help financially troubled school districts.

The state House Financial Liability Reform committee is expected to take up seven bills on Thursday that would create an early warning system to identify financially troubled schools. The bills would require enhanced deficit elimination plans and increase the cap on emergency loans to school districts.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

DETROIT (AP) - Detroit's emergency manager says the city no longer will be in a financial emergency when it officially exits bankruptcy.

  That means Kevyn Orr's job will be done once the bankruptcy court approves the exit. He's recommending that he relinquish his position as emergency manager.

Michigan can expect “brisk” job growth at the start of 2015, according to a new report.

Twenty-five percent of Michigan employers tell Manpower they expect to hire new people during the first three months of 2015. Only Hawaii and North Dakota posted higher numbers.   

Two separate investigations are looking into reports of patient and staff abuse at the Kalamazoo Psychiatric Hospital.  

The state-run hospital has been embroiled in controversy since a patient died from a lack of oxygen in March.

Meanwhile, staff at the hospital are being repeatedly injured by violent patients, says AFSCME's Stacie Dineen.

Northwestern University / Athletics

Student athletes at Michigan’s public universities would be banned from unionizing under a bill approved by the state House on Tuesday. House Bill 6074 passed on a party-line vote.

“I don’t think we want to send the message to high school athletes that, gee, we want you to come to college and be a part-time university employee,” said Rep. Al Pscholka, R-Stevensville, who sponsored the bill.

“We want you to come to college and get a great education. We want you to come to college and get an education that’s going to give you lifetime benefits.”

But state Representative Andy Schor, D-Lansing, points to the fact that there have been no reports of student athletes trying to unionize in Michigan.

Tracy Samilton / Michigan Radio

A bill that would forbid the state Department of Natural Resources from considering biodiversity along with other uses of state lands, such as public recreation, or logging rights, is moving swiftly in the state Legislature.

More than 130 researchers who oppose it hope Gov. Rick Snyder will veto the bill.

user reinistraidas / Flickr

Gov. Rick Snyder will decide whether to extend Michigan’s film credit program through 2021.

The incentives are currently set to expire in 2017. The state Senate gave final legislative approval to the extension Tuesday morning with bipartisan support.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

A new umbrella group says Michigan’s leaders need to hear their concerns about fairness in law enforcement.

The Coalition for Justice and Fairness to Reform Law Enforcement has come up with a list of priorities it wants state and local officials to address, members announced in Detroit Tuesday.

Michigan Supreme Court Justice Bridget McCormack.
Bridget Mary McCormack for Justice

In 2014, the Michigan Supreme Court has decided 52 cases, dealt with judicial misconduct, and endured another contentious election cycle.

But despite widespread perception of the court as a politically-driven institution split along ideological lines, things behind the scenes are actually quite “collegial and high-functioning,” according to Justice Bridget Mary McCormack.

A long board.
user DieselDemon / Flickr

When I took wood shop in high school, the project was a step stool. I know. Not very exciting.

To get high school students more excited about woodworking and to get them more active, an industrial arts teacher and a gym teacher got together and came up with a new kind of class. Kids can make their own longboard skateboard, surfboard, snowboard, or skis.

The class at Forest Hills Eastern High School in Grand Rapids is called Gone Boarding.

Michigan Radio

Kevyn Orr is expected to resign tomorrow after signing the order sealing Detroit’s bankruptcy. And Detroit News business columnist Daniel Howes says Orr was judicious about wielding the power he had.

Howes is a regular guest on Stateside. He told host Lester Graham that Orr could have stripped pay and power from Detroit’s mayor and City Council, and could have been more aggressive about extracting concessions from the city’s unions in bankruptcy court.

User: West Midlands Police / Wikimedia Commons

In the wake of the shooting of Michael Brown in Missouri and the death of Eric Garner in New York, there's been a national and local conversation about body-worn cameras for cops. Here in Michigan, Ann Arbor is one of the more recent communities to bring up this discussion.

The positives of these cameras are obvious: They help the public hold police officers accountable for their actions, supply evidence for potential cases of misconduct, and hopefully help to restore some of the trust in law enforcement. 


 

One of the books making many of the best books of 2014 lists was set largely in Michigan. But a book about life in Michigan after a pandemic might not be what you want to read when you are sick.

 

I found this book when I was Up North on a rainy weekend with only 100 pages left in the last book on my reading list.

 

Luckily, Petoskey has a real bookstore.

"Can I help you?" asked the guy working at McLean and Eakin.

"I don't know what to read next."

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