lansing

Politics & Government
11:00 am
Tue August 6, 2013

Jackson National Life expansion moving forward after Lansing city council approves agreement

An artist's rendering of the proposed expansion is shown during the announcement of the project earlier this year
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

An insurance company’s planned $100 million expansion in Ingham County took an important step forward Monday night.

The Lansing City Council approved an agreement with a neighboring township which allows the city to collect taxes from the new Jackson National Life headquarters expansion. In exchange, the township would receive some city services.

“This puts us in a position where we can start construction in the fall,” says John Brown, the company’s vice president for government relations,  “And we are very excited about the continuation of the project.”

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Politics & Government
12:48 am
Mon August 5, 2013

Detroit's mayoral primary isn't the only race on the ballot in Michigan on Tuesday

Voters in more than 50 Michigan counties will be casting ballots on Tuesday (file photo)
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

A lot of attention has been paid to Detroit’s mayoral primary on Tuesday. But that’s not the only election in which Michigan voters will be casting ballots this week.

Voters in more than 50 Michigan counties will be casting ballots on Tuesday.

There’s the usual mix of school and library millages.

There are also numerous local primary elections.

Voters in parts of Ann Arbor, Jackson, Grand Rapids, Lansing and other cities will be voting for local city council seats.

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Business
5:30 pm
Thu July 25, 2013

Private businesses in Michigan to partner with the state on transportation projects?

user theed17 wikimedia commons

The Michigan Department of Transportation is asking businesses whether they’re interested in partnering with the state for certain projects. That could include taking over the building, operating, or financing of infrastructure projects from the state.

Joe Pavona is Governor Rick Snyder’s special advisor on public-private partnerships.

“I think that this is the direction of the future, and I think is consistent with providing improved customer service and value for Michigan,” he says.

Lawmakers in Lansing are debating how to boost transportation spending by more than a billion dollars a year. Pavona says including private businesses in transportation projects could save the state money and time.

But Michigan’s largest state employees union doesn’t like the idea. Ray Holman is with UAW Local 6000.

“You’re talking about services and responsibilities that are vital. And you’re talking about issues of safety, of course. And we believe that certain things are best handled by the state workforce,” he says.

Right now, MDOT is exploring public-private partnerships involving bridge work, freeway lighting, and two rest areas in Northern Michigan.

It says it’s too early to say whether the partnerships would shift public sector jobs to the private sector.

Politics & Government
10:21 pm
Mon July 22, 2013

The clock may soon be ticking on Lansing's sister city relationship with St. Petersburg, Russia

A view of the Capitol building in Lansing.
Matthileo Flickr

The Sister Cities relationship between Lansing and St. Petersburg, Russia might have a limited future. 

Lansing has had a sister cities relationship with St. Petersburg since the early 1990’s, though the exchange program has been dormant for many years.     The push to formally sever the relationship came after St. Petersburg enacted an anti-gay ordinance and arrested LGBT activists in recent weeks.

Jody Washington is a Lansing city councilwoman.   She plans to introduce a resolution next week setting a timeline for reviewing the relationship.

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Politics & Government
6:45 am
Mon July 22, 2013

In this morning's news: Detroit bankruptcy, Flint school district deficit, St. Petersburg, Russia

Morning News Roundup for Monday, July 22, 2013
User: Brother O'Mara flickr

Detroit bankruptcy is topic of national conversation

Snyder, Detroit's emergency manager Kevyn Orr and Detroit Mayor Dave Bing appeared on Sunday morning talk shows yesterday to talk about filing bankruptcy for Detroit. Snyder said he will push to protect the retired city workers whose pensions are on the table. He said the bankruptcy filing included protections for retirees and urged them to remain calm. Orr said on "Fox News Sunday" that there are going to have to be "concessions." Bing on ABC's "This Week" said now that bankruptcy has been filed, leaders have to take a step back before making a decision on a federal bailout.

Flint school district faces more budget cuts

The Flint School Board will take up a Deficit Elimination Plan tomorrow night. The district is wrestling with a nearly 16 million dollar deficit. The Flint school district has made deep budget cuts but more cuts are likely if the district follows the plan to eliminate its deficit by June 2016. The Flint School Board has until July 31st to send its deficit elimination plan to the state.  

Lansing may end its relationship with St. Petersburg, Russia

The Lansing city council will be meeting tonight to discuss its sister city relationship with St. Petersburg, Russia. St. Petersburg recently passed an anti-gay ordinance and police there arrested people at an LGBT rally. Members say they want to send a message to St. Petersburg officials by canceling Lansing’s two decade sister cities relationship with the city.

Politics & Government
3:09 pm
Sun July 21, 2013

Lansing leaders will discuss their Sister-City relationship with St. Petersburg, Russia

Lansing City Hall (file photo)
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Possibly ending the city of Lansing’s sister city relationship with St. Petersburg, Russia will be the topic of a meeting tomorrow evening.

St. Petersburg recently passed an anti-gay ordinance and police there arrested people at an LGBT rally.

Some Lansing city council members say they want to send a message to St. Petersburg officials by canceling Lansing’s 2 decade old sister cities relationship with the Russian city.

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Stateside
5:15 pm
Thu July 11, 2013

Summer vacation for Congress and state Legislature

The Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, or "Super Committee," failed to come up with a compromise to reduce the deficit. Michigan members of the Super Committee spoke about the experience.
U.S. Congress congress.gov

An interview with Todd Spangler and Jack Lessenberry.

What are your summer vacation plans? For many in Michigan, it's time at the cottage or beach up North.

If you're a lawmaker, either state or federal, "summer vacation" has a different meaning. It gives you time to be in your district, take the pulse of voters, hear their concerns.

Covering the Washington angle is Todd Spangler, the D.C.-based reporter for the Detroit Free Press. And looking at Lansing is Jack Lessenberry, Michigan Public Radio's political analyst.

They joined us today to talk about summer vacation for members of Congress and state Legislature.

Listen to the full interview above.

Business
4:15 pm
Thu July 4, 2013

A bicycle built for you? Company tries to set up a bike share program in Lansing

A2B's Carl Vitulo rides the company's prototype bike in Lansing
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

A fledgling bicycle share company hopes to get rolling in Lansing in August.

A group of college students have founded a company that will provide bikes for temporary rentals.

The idea would be to set up bike rental stations at bus stops and other commuting locations in Lansing to give people an option for the next short leg of their journey.

Politics & Government
12:38 pm
Mon July 1, 2013

New Lansing power plant follows national trend toward natural gas

The city of Holland is planning to move away from coal as it builds a new gas fired power plant.
Holland BPW

Michigan has a new commercial scale power plant; the first new power plant in Michigan in 25 years.

Coal is still the dominant fuel source in the state, but this plant's existence means there will be a little less coal being imported into Michigan.

At the ceremony today celebrating its opening, the Lansing Board of Water & Light sang the new "REO Town" plant's praises:

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Law
6:27 pm
Sun June 30, 2013

Some communities hope to silence fireworks (at least at night so people can sleep)

Quiet Down, people are trying to sleep. That's the message being sent to late night pyrotechnicians.
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

The Fourth of July holiday is fast approaching. 

Many Michigan cities and towns are looking for ways to quiet home-made fireworks shows.

Last year, a new state law opened the door to sales of bigger and louder fireworks in Michigan.   That led to some sleepless nights in many parts of Michigan last summer, as the whirl and bang of newly legal fireworks often sounded into the wee hours of the morning.

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Environment & Science
3:15 pm
Fri June 28, 2013

New power plant will go online in Lansing, Michigan this Monday

Inside Lansing's new gas-fired power plant.
Lansing Board of Water & Light

The Lansing Board of Water & Light say this new power plant will be "the first new utility power plant built in Michigan in 25 years."

Following a national trend away from coal, this power plant will burn natural gas.

According to their press release, the municipally-owned utility expects to cut is greenhouse gas emissions by 50% compared to the coal-fired steam and electric units the new power plant will replace. They list other benefits as well:

- Eliminate the need to burn 351,000 tons of coal compared to the steam and electric units that the new plant will replace.

- Lower mercury and SO2 (sulfur dioxide) emissions by over 99 percent, and NOx (oxides of nitrogen) by over 85 percent compared to the coal-fired boilers that are now retired.

The power plant called the "REO Town plant" will be fully operational Monday.

It's part $182 million project that also includes a headquarters building and a restored Grand Trunk Western Railroad depot for the BWL Board of Commissioners meetings.

The plant is expected to generate up to 300,000 pounds of steam for 225 steam customers in downtown Lansing, replacing the Moores Park Steam Plant. It also will provide 100 megawatts of electricity, about 20 percent of the utility's electric generation.

The Lansing Board of Water & Light offers water, electric, steam and chilled water service to more than 100,000 residential and business customers.

Transportation
11:57 pm
Wed June 26, 2013

Mid-Michigan bus company to get controversial federal grant, Lansing airport officials disappointed

Michigan Flyer bus
Michigan Flyer

A private bus service will get a federal grant, despite the objections of Lansing’s Capitol Region International Airport.

The Tri-County Regional Planning Commission last night approved a $595,000 federal grant to the Michigan Flyer. The Flyer currently operates 8 daily round trips from Lansing to Ann Arbor to Metro Airport. The grant will allow its buses to run four more round trips each day.   

Airport officials fear the added bus service will siphon off potential air passengers from Lansing.

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Politics & Government
9:22 am
Tue June 18, 2013

Commentary: Remember Virg Bernero?

Lessenberry commentary for 6/18/2013

Everyone knows, of course, that Rick Snyder was elected governor three years ago. And by now it is safe to say that everyone has an opinion about him. Some think he is saving the state.

Others are vowing to do everything they can to prevent him from winning a second term. But stop for a minute.

Do you remember who Snyder defeated to be elected governor in the first place? Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero, the Democratic nominee in what was an impossible year for his party.

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Business
5:50 pm
Mon June 17, 2013

Lansing anthrax vaccine maker celebrates expansion

Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero (left) joined Emergent Biosolutions Executive Chairman of the Board Fuad El-Hibri and President Daniel Abdun Nabi in cutting the ribbon
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

A Lansing bio-pharmaceutical company has opened a ten million dollar expansion at its Lansing facility.

Emergent Biosolutions produces an anthrax vaccine at its facility in Lansing.

“The government is purchasing as much as we can produce,” says Daniel Abdun Nabi, the company’s president, “So one of the reasons we have expanded here on the Lansing campus is to address the nation’s requirement for a broader stockpile of BioThrax.”

The company hopes to triple its Lansing production of the anthrax vaccine by 2015.

Health
3:13 pm
Thu June 13, 2013

When you can't afford to go to the emergency room: Michigan families and Medicaid

Jen and Todd Nagle can't afford the ER right now. But they and 470,000 would get covereage if Medicaid expands.
Kate Wells Michigan Radio

Hear the full story above.

For a lot of uninsured families in Michigan, this is a big week.

Lawmakers in Lansing are sloooowly moving ahead with expanding the state’s Medicaid program.

That would give another 470,000 Michiganders coverage.

So who exactly are we talking about here?

The morning I meet Jen and Todd Nagle, we have no clue the day will end with Todd being rushed to the doctor for chest pains.

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Politics & Government
4:58 pm
Mon June 10, 2013

Watch Michigan change over time using Google's 'Earth Engine'

Images from Google's Earth Machine.
Google

My kids love using Google Earth. With the push of a button they "fly" from Ann Arbor, Michigan to Newfoundland, the Panama Canal, the Great Barrier Reef, or some other place they're curious about.

Now Google has mined satellite images from the U.S. government that allow us to fly back in time.

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Politics & Government
1:14 pm
Mon June 10, 2013

Metro Lansing fire departments plan to work more closely together

The six local fire departments have signed "shared service" agreements.
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Lansing is joining with five of its neighbors to create something close to a regional fire department. Fire departments in Lansing, East Lansing, Delhi Township, Lansing Township, Meridian Township and Delta Township have signed "shared service" agreements. 

Under the agreements, the closest fire station will respond to local emergencies, whether the emergency is in their town or not. Under existing "mutual aid" agreements, the outside fire department has to be asked to respond. 

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Offbeat
1:10 pm
Fri June 7, 2013

Lansing Christmas Tree search begins

Credit http://www.wnem.com/

School’s out and summer means sun tans, barbeques, beach days, and…searching for Christmas Trees?

The hunt for the state holiday tree has begun. Michigan needs a 65-foot-tall evergreen that can sparkle on the lawn of the Capitol building in November.

“Everyone laughs that the process starts in June,” said Kurt Weiss with Michigan’s Department of Technology, Management and Budget, “But that’s when the process starts.”

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Economy
12:38 am
Thu June 6, 2013

Looking for a little 'fixer-upper?' Try Detroit or Lansing

All it needs is a little TLC. (file photo)
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Potential home buyers looking for a fixer-upper may want to look in Detroit or Lansing.

Realty Trac is out with a list of the 15 cities with the largest number of bank-owned homes on the market that were built before 1960 and valued at under $100 thousand.

Detroit tops the list, with nearly four thousand older homes with an average estimated value of just over $40 thousand. Lansing comes in 15th, with more than 500 pre-1960 homes with an average estimated value of $56 thousand.

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Politics & Government
11:48 pm
Mon June 3, 2013

Lansing city council fails to override mayor's budget veto

Lansing city hall (file photo)
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

As expected, the Lansing city council last night failed to muster enough votes to override the mayor’s budget veto.

But Lansing’s budget drama is not over yet.

The Lansing city council needed six votes to reinstate the changes it made to the city budget last month.

But only five council members voted to override Mayor Virg Bernero’s veto.

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