Politics & Government

Stories about politics and government actions

University of Michigan

The recent lack of indictments in the police killings of young, unarmed black men in several states has raised strong emotions in Michigan and across the nation, and one group is turning the outrage into action.

The Rev. Jamie Hawley is a chaplain for the University of Michigan Hospital and one of the organizers of a group that will head to Washington this weekend to take part in a national march against police violence.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

An angry crowd told the Shiawassee County Commission tonight not to lay off more than a dozen sheriff’s deputies.  

But the commission did any way.

Faced with the need to close a $1 million hole in the county budget before the end of the year, Shiawassee County commissioners dropped the ax on the sheriff’s road patrol. The move effectively slices the county sheriff’s staff in half. 

Joe Gratz / Flickr

The Michigan Supreme Court will decide whether local governments can require contractors to pay union wages on public projects. The court agreed to hear a challenge to Lansing’s prevailing wage ordinance. But there are at least two dozen other Michigan counties, cities, and townships that have similar rules.

user cedarbenddrive / Flickr

The state Senate has approved legislation that would require internet retailers such as Amazon.com to collect a six-percent tax on all sales to people in Michigan.

Supporters say it is unfair to businesses that choose to open brick-and-mortar locations in Michigan that people can avoid paying the tax by shopping online.

Inside the Michigan Senate.
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Coercing someone to have an abortion would carry tougher penalties under bills approved by the state Senate on Thursday.

The crime could result in criminal penalties under Senate Bills 1156 and 1157.

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. 

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.

Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, University of Michigan / Flickr

Detroit emergency manager Kevyn Orr resigned today. Gov. Rick Snyder had a little send-off for him in Detroit. Here to discuss that and other Michigan politics is the It’s Just Politics team, Rick Pluta and Michigan Radio’s resident political junkie Zoe Clark.

Click on the link above to hear Rick and Zoe discuss Orr's resignation and Michigan politics 

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.

Today on Stateside: 

  • Detroit emergency manager Kevyn Orr announced his resignation. Rick Pluta and Zoe Clark discuss this and more Michigan politics.
  • Nicolette Hahn Niman, vegetarian and environmental-lawyer-turned-cattle rancher, discusses her new book, Defending Beef: the Case for Sustainable Meat Production
  • Entrepreneurship is on the decline, and that’s not good for the economy. Listen to University of Michigan professor of entrepreneurial studies Stewart Thornhill discuss why entrepreneurship is so important for economic growth.
  • Two years have passed since the passage of the right-to-work law in Michigan. What has or hasn’t changed? Patrick Anderson, CEO of Anderson Economic Group, and Charles Ballard, economics professor at Michigan State University, discuss the first two years of right to work in Michigan.
  • On Dec. 14, 1799, the nation’s first president, George Washington, died in his home. Washington’s death wasn’t a particularly pleasant one, largely due to his treatment. Dr. Howard Markell, physician and medical historian at the University of Michigan, discusses Washington’s final day. 
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.


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.

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.

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.

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. 

Today on Stateside:

  • A lawsuit filed against the emergency manager law alleges racial discrimination against minorities. University of Michigan professor Reynolds Farley discusses why so many minorities find their communities and school districts in bad financial shape.

  • There are a number of vacant lots in Flint and many of these lots have grass. Continually having to mow vacant lots is a financial strain on the city. Doug Weiland, Executive Director at the Genesee County Land Bank discusses a recent solution to this problem.

  • A new documentary, Vanishing Borders, directed and produced by Michigan State University assistant professor Alexandra Hidalgo, explores immigration from the perspective of women. Listen to Asst. Prof. Hidalgo discuss her powerful documentary and what she hopes audiences gain from viewing it.

  • In Stateside’s project, The Next Idea, Prof. Rex LaMore, Director of Michigan State University’s Center for Community Economic Development pens an essay on consumerism in relation to economic growth. Listen to Prof. LaMore discuss this concept and why it needs to be reexamined. 

  • When Whole Foods opened in Detroit, there were questions on whether or not the vast majority of Detroit could afford the upscale grocer. Goals were set into place to make the grocer more accessible to the citizens of Detroit. The results, however, have been a mixed bag. Traci McMillan wrote a piece for Slate.com entitled ‘Can Whole Foods Change the Way Poor People Eat.’ Listen to McMillan discuss her piece.

*Listen to the full show above

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint’s City Council may reject a new contract the city’s emergency manager wants to impose on Flint’s firefighters.

The contract calls for wage cuts, pension changes, and a cap on retiree health care costs. 

wikimedia commons

Congressional Democrats say there are enough votes on both sides of the aisle to strike down a Trans-Pacific Partnership if it doesn't include key measures to protect U.S. jobs., including protections against currency manipulation.

via gophouse.org

A new House bill would prevent local governments from setting their own minimum wage laws, putting other additional conditions on employers, or attaching community benefits agreements to development projects.

State Representative Earl Poleski, a Jackson Republican, is the bill’s sponsor. He says it aims to combat the “fragmentation” that results from letting municipalities set their own standards.  

“Those different rules make it complex—and when I say complex, read ‘expensive’—to comply, and frankly impairs businesses abilities to expand and hire people,” Poleski says.

Official photo / House Democrats

Officials in Kalamazoo County will begin counting nearly 82,000 ballots by hand Monday morning.

Democrat Sean McCann lost his bid for state Senate by 59 votes – less than one-tenth of one percentage point.

Besides it being a tight race, McCann also heard of several problems on Election Day, like ballot tabulator machines getting jammed.

McCann will pay for the recount. It’ll take at least a couple days to complete.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

LANSING   (AP) - Michigan Republicans are exploring whether to change the rules so their presidential candidate can net electoral votes without having to win the state's popular vote.

Legislation before the GOP-led Legislature would make Michigan the third - and by far the largest - state to move away from a winner-take-all system to one that allocates electoral votes proportionally. 

user futureatlas.com / Flickr

This Week in Review, Jack Lessenberry and Rina Miller discuss a bill aimed at protecting religious freedom, another that would cut off welfare payments to recipients who fail drug tests, and whether Michigan’s low gas prices will stick around.


Rick Pluta / MPRN

Governor Rick Snyder says a plan adopted by the state House to shift sales taxes collected on fuel sales to roads won’t work. He says that could rob schools and local governments of money they need to operate.

The state House passed the Michigan Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) yesterday and it’s fair to say it was a little dose of Republican Speaker Jase Bolger’s “here’s-how-bad-it-can-get-if-you-don’t-play-along.”

The RFRA was supposed to move in tandem with a measure that would add protections based on sexual orientation to the state’s civil rights law. That was a version that Bolger said he would accept, as long as there was a separate bill that would provide some cover for people who have religious objections to gay rights.

But LGBT advocates said there also should be explicit protections for transgender people. Bolger said he wouldn’t support that.

So, Bolger got the RFRA passed last night, without moving on the LGBT protections, showing the LGBT community just what can happen when you cross him.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The state House has approved bills meant to reduce prison costs in Michigan. But the sponsor of the legislation says the bills have been “gutted.”

State Representative Joe Haveman, R-Holland, says provisions were taken out that would have kept more people out of prison.

Wikipedia

State lawmakers are considering bills in this “lame duck” session that would provide one-time relief for property owners facing tax foreclosure in the coming year.

The situation is particularly dire in Wayne County, where the County treasurer has already served foreclosure notices on about 75,000 tax-delinquent properties—about 62,000 in Detroit alone. 

State Capitol
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

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. 

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