Politics & Government

Stories about politics and government actions

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A state Senate committee has adopted on party-line votes legislation that would essentially eliminate “gun-free” zones in Michigan.

The bill would also close a loophole that allows people with concealed pistol permits to open carry in schools. But schools could no longer ban licensed concealed weapons.

MDEQ Director Dan Wyant talks with the media last Thursday (Oct. 8) when the state announced its support for a move back to Detroit water.
State of Michigan / LiveStream

State and local officials have done an about-face when it comes to Flint's water crisis.

For months, residents and even experts who raised concerns about the water's safety were dismissed.

That's until mounting evidence – especially about high lead levels in kids – made the critics impossible to ignore.

Courtesy of the office of State Rep. Phil Phelps

A state lawmaker is heading to court to force the city of Flint and a state agency to release documents related to the decision to make the Flint River the city’s drinking water source.

A year and a half ago, the city switched from the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department to the Flint River.   

Initially, there were complaints about the smell, taste, and appearance of the city’s drinking water. More problems, including high levels of lead in the water in many homes, led Gov. Rick Snyder to address a $12 million plan to return the city to Detroit water, until a new pipeline from Lake Huron is completed next year. 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The city of Flint is a small step closer to switching its drinking water back to Detroit.

Tonight the Flint city council unanimously voted to spend $2 million to return to Detroit’s water system.

Appropriately, the vote that is an answer to the prayers of many Flint residents, was punctuated by City Councilman Eric Mays saying “amen,” which drew murmurs of “amen” from the audience.

my_southborough / flickr creative commons / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

State Rep. Martin Howrylak, R-Troy, has introduced a bill that would reopen the W.J. Maxey Boys Training School in Whitmore Lake.

The juvenile justice facility closed Sept. 30 after being removed from the state's budget in June.

The 60-bed facility treated youth offenders, ages 12-21, with mental illnesses.

Overseen by the Department of Health and Human Services, the Maxey School was one of three remaining state-run juvenile facilities.

* Republicans might be doing their best to break up with Dave Agema, but Dave Agema is making sure everyone knows he is now about to break up with Republicans.

* With a major recall in effect due to the emissions cheating scandal, Volkswagen owners want to know where things went wrong and what comes next. Jennifer White has some thoughts set to a Boyz II Men song.

* Sister Pat Schnapp is Roman Catholic nun, and a professor of English at Siena Heights University. For nearly three decades, Sister Pat has been teaching African American Literature to male prisoners.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint officials are still working out the details of returning to Detroit water.

Last week, Gov. Snyder announced a $12 million plan to reconnect Flint to Detroit water.   The state is putting up half the money.  The rest is coming from the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation and the city. 

A year and a half ago, Flint switched its drinking water source from the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department to the Flint River.  That was meant to be temporary while the new Karegnondi Water Authority pipeline was under construction.

Republicans may be trying to break up with Dave Agema, but Dave Agema is sending plenty of signals that he’s not about to break up with Republicans.

MDEQ Director Dan Wyant talks with the media last Thursday (Oct. 8) when the state announced its support for a move back to Detroit water.
State of Michigan / LiveStream

We should hear more specifics today about what needs to be done to return Flint to Detroit's water system.

Last week, state and local officials announced a plan to spend $12 million to reconnect Flint to Detroit's water system. But it’s not as easy as turning off one tap and turning on another. 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The federal government is being asked to investigate a city council election in Lansing. 

Voters in two city wards up for election next month have been getting robo-calls making strong accusations against two candidates. 

The robo-calls do not identify who’s behind them.

photo by Vincent Duffy

A progressive group is crying foul over the price tag a state agency requested for processing a public information request it submitted.

A spokesperson for the Michigan Department of Treasury sent an email to officials in his department and the governor’s office that said the department considered denying the request because it was too broad. But he said Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette advised it to use “the fee approach.”

Water faucet
user william_warby / Flickr

Gov. Rick Snyder will ask the state Legislature to kick in half of the $12 million needed to switch the city of Flint back to the Detroit water system. The rest of the cost will be shared by Flint and the C.S. Mott Foundation.

Today on Stateside:

Gov. Rick Snyder taking questions this morning after the announcment.
Gov. Rick Snyder / screengrab

Gov. Rick Snyder this morning held a press conference in which he said he supports reconnecting the city of Flint’s water supply back to Detroit’s water system.

Snyder said he will ask the Legislature to provide half ($6 million) of the $12 million bill to reconnect the system. The city of Flint will pay $2 million, and the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation will contribute $4 million.

Mayor Dayne Walling said he expects the city to reconnect to the Detroit system in two weeks.

Flint water treatment plant.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Gov. Rick Snyder made the announcement at 10 a.m. this morning (Oct. 8).

You can watch the announcement below (if it doesn't load, try this link):

He was joined by Flint Mayor Dayne Walling, Director of Environmental Quality, Dan Wyant, Director of the Department of Health and Human Services, Nick Lyon, Dr. Eden Wells, Chief Medical Executive at DHHS, and Ridgway White of the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation.

Nikolai Nolan / Creative Commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

The City of Southfield has purchased the closed Northland Center mall for $2.4 million.

Northland fell into receivership last year, after years of financial struggles.

The mall closed its doors for good in March, shortly after losing its last anchor store, Macy's.

Since then, Southfield Mayor Donald Fracassi said the city has been monitoring bids and offers to redevelop the property.

Troy Holden / flickr http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

The state House has overwhelmingly approved bills to overhaul Michigan’s medical marijuana system.

The legislation creates legal protections for dispensaries and for patients using non-smokable forms of cannabis.

Bill sponsors say patients should not face prosecution for using forms of marijuana that are safer than smoking.

Today on Stateside:

jordanmrcai / Creative Commons

This Week in Michigan Politics, Michigan Radio's Jack Lessenberry and Christina Shockley discuss the latest on the Flint water problem, how Michigan State University doesn't want to release  the names of student-athletes who were suspects in criminal cases to ESPN, and Lessenberry reflects on the life of Grace Lee Boggs.

David Goehring / Creative Commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

A new state Senate bill would add the Fostering Futures Scholarship fund to Michigan’s voluntary contribution schedule.

The state-funded program helps foster youth in Michigan pay for tuition and other costs associated with college.

Under SB 543, taxpayers would be able to donate a portion of their return to the fund via a check-off a box on their tax form.

CedarBendDrive / Creative Commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Michigan State University has asked the Michigan Supreme Court to put a hold on an order to release the names of student-athletes who were suspects in criminal cases.

MSU is supposed to comply with the lower court order by the end of the month. But the university asked for a delay while the case is appealed to the state Supreme Court.

Today on Stateside: 


It's the biggest refugee crisis since World War II.

Syrian men, women, and children are fleeing the war and carnage in their homeland, desperately trying to get to a country that will welcome them, and let them begin new, safe lives.

It's forced the White House to consider admitting more refugees to the United States, with Secretary of State John Kerry recently pledging the U.S. will accept 100,00 refugees a year by 2017. That's up from the current 70,000 a year.

Detroit mayor nominates water department leaders

Oct 6, 2015
Detroit Press Office

A new leadership team is planned for the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department. Mayor Mike Duggan has nominated Gary Brown as director of the department and Palencia Mobley as deputy director and chief engineer.

The Board of Water Commissioners is expected to vote on the nominations Wednesday, according to the mayor's office. 

City of Detroit

As Lansing gears up to debate a radical reorganization of Detroit schools, Mayor Mike Duggan is pushing for a larger role in the city’s future education system.

Duggan outlined his vision for a complete education overhaul earlier this year.

It shares the same basic structure as Gov. Snyder’s proposal for Detroit schools, but differs on a few key points.

Both call for a bankruptcy-style restructuring — without the actual bankruptcy filing — that would split the Detroit Public Schools into “old” and “new” districts.


Republican candidate Ted Cruz brought his presidential campaign to Michigan and Kalamazoo today.

Cruz, a U.S. senator from Texas, was greeted enthusiastically.


“We need to bring the power out of Washington and back to ‘we the people!” That is what this campaign is about!” Cruz told the cheering crowd of several hundred people.

Today on Stateside:

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Today was the last day for Flint residents to register to vote in next month’s mayoral election. 

But some people in Flint don’t want to wait for a change at city hall.

Chanting “Walling gotta go,” a small group of protesters marched in a circle outside Flint city hall. 

Boggs Center

Philosopher, activist, and writer Grace Lee Boggs has died at her home on the east side of Detroit. She was 100.

Over the past 70-plus years, she played roles in most of the major social movements this country has known: labor, civil rights, Black Power, women's rights, and environmental justice.

It’s hard to sum up the life of someone who kept changing. But that was Grace Lee Boggs. At different times in her life, she was a Marxist, a socialist, a Black Power advocate, and feminist. 

Robert Scott / Creative Commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Michigan Sen. Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge, this week introduced legislation that would get rid of health benefits for domestic partners of state employees.

Right now, domestic partners may apply for benefits as long as they live together.

Under the bill, public employers would be banned from offering domestic partner benefits.