Politics & Government

Stories about politics and government actions

A fire
flickr user Matt MacGillivray / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

It's back to the drawing board for the city of East Lansing. 

District court judge Andrea Larkin has ruled that a 1999 ordinance aimed at cracking down on fires after big games at Michigan State University is unconstitutional.

The ordinance made it illegal to be or stay within 300 feet of a fire unless you are helping to put it out before emergency help arrives. 

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Detroit police are about to start recording far more of what they do.

The Detroit City Council approved a $5.2 million contract for police body cameras and in-car video systems Tuesday.

The move has the support of Detroit Police Chief James Craig, and the city’s police unions.

Craig says the department just escaped more than a decade of federal oversight for unconstitutional policing practices. Now, the challenge is sustaining the progress it made.

the city of Flint
wikimedia user Flintmichigan / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The flood of headlines coming out of the water crisis in Flint comes down to a basic problem: The city was starved for cash. And that led to the series of bad decisions that in turn led to the catastrophe of lead-poisoned water. 

But Flint isn’t the only city caught in a cash crunch. All across the state cities are starved for cash. Most of them not because of something the city has done, but because of things the state has done.

dictionary definition of tax
Flickr user Alan Cleaver/Flickr

The so-called "dark store" approach to valuing property — an approach which allows stores to base their property taxes on the stores that have closed around them — has allowed big box stores in Michigan to cut their taxes by at least $100 million. It has left communities around the state struggling to find the money they need to pay for municipal services.

 

Some politicians, including state Rep. David Maturen, R-Vicksburg, hopes to close the dark store tax loophole with bipartisan legislation, House Bill 5578.

Under Michigan law, Governor Snyder is exempt from the Freedom of Information Act.
Flickr user Michigan Municipal League / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

There is only one state in the entire country where, under the law, the governor is exempt from the Freedom of Information Act.

You guessed it: it's Michigan.

Stateside 5.17.2016

May 17, 2016

On today's show, we learn about "Flint syndrome" and what it means that cities all across the state are starved for cash. 

Gov. Snyder delivers his opening statement in the congressional hearing.
YouTube - screenshot

Governor Rick Snyder now says it’s possible he deleted some e-mails related to Flint, even though he earlier told a congressional committee that he had not. The governor still insists it’s unlikely he deleted any Flint-related e-mails, it’s just not impossible.

lockers lining a school hallway
Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

The Detroit Public Schools needs a financial lifeline from Lansing to keep going beyond this school year.

But efforts to get that done in the state Legislature have largely been hijacked by big donors with different views on a separate but related issue: oversight of the city’s charter schools.

At least, that’s the conclusion of a report from the Michigan Campaign Finance Network.

It's Just Politics Logo
It's Just Politics with Zoe Clark and Rick Pluta

The state’s revenues are going to be lower than expected this year. Zoe Clark and Rick Pluta, Michigan Radio’s It’s Just Politics team, discuss why that is, and what it means for the state’s hot-button issues.

Pluta said the economy is recovering, but not as quickly as anticipated.

“And so what we’re seeing is, in particular, corporate income tax and state sales tax revenues are coming in less than expected,” he said.

This is happening as “some big new demands are being made on the state,” Pluta said, those being infrastructure issues and Detroit Public Schools deficits.

Stateside 5.16.2016

May 16, 2016

Today, we look at how self-driving vehicles could benefit people with disabilities. And, we find out how and why that AMBER Alert woke you up at night.

Donald Trump is now the presumptive GOP presidential nominee so, what does that portend for Republicans further down the ballot?

For Donald Trump to win the presidency, he’ll have to change the Electoral College map to win states Republicans don’t usually win. And, based on Trump’s apparent appeal to blue collar voters in old Rust Belt states, Michigan is high on that list.

Michigan Republican Congresswoman Candice Miller endorsed Trump last week.

A photocopy of a photo of Line 5 being installed in 1953.
State of Michigan

The state of Michigan, environmental groups, and reporters like myself have been asking Enbridge for more specific information about the condition of the pipelines for more than two years now.

The company has released limited information in the past, but stopped short of releasing detailed reports that show the condition of the pipelines. When it comes to this kind of information, the company holds all the cards. 

It's Just Politics Logo
It's Just Politics with Zoe Clark and Rick Pluta

We check in with Michigan Radio’s It’s Just Politics team for a roundup of the past week’s political news.

Rick Pluta and Zoe Clark talk about the large pool of money the state house and senate are at odds over for Detroit Schools. They also discuss “rebuttable presumption” and whether or not petition signatures that are more than 180 days old should be counted.

candicemiller.house.gov

Michigan Congresswoman Candice Miller surprised many last May when she announced she would retire from Congress. But she surprised even more folks in March when she announced she would run for Macomb County public works commissioner. She will challenge Anthony Marrocco, the longtime county public works commissioner, this fall.

Miller joined Zoe Clark on Stateside to explain why she decided to leave Washington to run for office as a county public works commissioner. 
 

Stateside 5.12.2016

May 12, 2016

Stateside goes on the road for a live show from the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit.  

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder
Gov. Rick Snyder

The Michigan State Police wrapped up an investigation into what happened at the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality during the Flint water crisis more than a month ago. But Gov. Rick Snyder says he hasn’t seen the final report.

According to a state police spokeswoman, on Jan. 24, 2016, MDEQ Director Keith Creagh requested assistance from the MSP with conducting an internal, administrative investigation of MDEQ employees for violations of DEQ policies and work rules.

An investigator from MSP’s Professional Standards Section assisted DEQ’s human resources staff.

bathtub faucet running
Jacob Barss-Bailey / flickr http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Starting tomorrow, a multi-media ad campaign will urge Flint residents to flush their pipes.

Television, radio and online messages will urge people in Flint to turn their faucets on full blast for 10 minutes a day (five minutes for bathtub spigots and five minutes for kitchen faucets) for the rest of May.

The public relations blitz comes nearly two weeks after government officials urged Flint residents to start flushing their pipes. 

Gov. Rick Snyder says the state is picking up the tab for the water going down the drain.

Stateside went on the road for a live show from the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit on Thursday, May 12, 2016.

You can watch the live broadcast below as host Cynthia Canty interviews several guests, including:

Virg Bernero, mayor of Lansing.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Lansing's mayor has vetoed a city council decision on affordable housing, which may or may not be about affordable housing.

The city council approved a moratorium on tax breaks for affordable housing on a five to three vote.   

Mayor Virg Bernero says the moratorium discriminates against low income residents, so he vetoed it Wednesday.  It will take six votes to override his veto. 

The veto is the latest salvo in a conflict between the mayor and city council involving affordable housing.  

Drawing of a pothole forming.
Paula Friedrich / Michigan Radio

With pints in our hands, we talked about Michigan’s crumbling infrastructure Tuesday night at our Issues & Ale event.

Host Jack Lessenberry spoke with experts from around Michigan. Together, they tried to find the source of the state’s infrastructure problems.

Expert Mike Nystrom represents the Michigan Infrastructure and Transportation Association. The group represents the companies that are trying to rebuild the state’s bridges, sewers, roads and waterlines.

Stateside 5.11.2016

May 12, 2016

Free Press reporter Keith Matheny and Enbridge’s Jason Manshum talked about a 1980 oil spill in the U.P. and whether more spill sites should be reexamined.

Flickr user anderfhart/Flickr / HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

It's been 20 years since the Telecommunications Act of 1996 was passed during the Clinton administration, and the TV and radio industry claims to still feels its effects.

The legislation sparked public controversy because of the changes it brought to broadcasting, having introduced media cross-ownership and being the first update in government policies for communications in over 60 years. Today, smaller, independent programmers continue to compete with growing media giants in securing a hold on the market.

State lawmakers at odds over best DPS rescue package

May 11, 2016
Sen. Goeff Hansen, R-Hart, speaks to reporters on the Senate floor after the Senate passed Senate Bills 710, 711, and 819 - 822, measures that would reform Detroit's public schools.
senatorgoeffhansen.com

Michigan lawmakers are at odds over the best rescue package for Detroit Public Schools, including one plan that could leave the district $80 million in debt by September.

A new memo from State Treasurer Nick Khouri predicts a dark future for DPS if an agreement cannot be reached among lawmakers, with teachers missing paychecks and the district going severely into debt.

Map showing the location of Waukesha, WI.
Screencap from Google Maps / Google

The request of Waukesha, Wisconsin to divert water from the Great Lakes should be rejected, according to a resolution introduced today in the Michigan Senate.

The resolution says Waukesha's request does not meet some of the requirements set by the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact for permitting a water diversion.

Jack Lessenberry
Michigan Radio

This Week in Michigan Politics, Jack Lessenberry talks about the end of Flint water hearings in Lansing and whether Detroit's struggling school district will get the cash infusion it needs from the state.


Senators Jim Stamas and Jim Ananich at a hearing on the Flint water health emergency with local officials and members of the public at the University of Michigan
senatorjimstamas.com / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The legislative committee in charge of examining what went wrong with the Flint water crisis has concluded.

When Midland Republican Sen. Jim Stamas was appointed chairman, he promised to take testimony on the mistakes that led to the Flint water disaster "at all levels of government,"and to ensure that something like this never happens again. 

However, neither Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder nor any of the former emergency managers in charge of the city of Flint were called to testify. 

flickr user Ted Eytan / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

"What bathrooms can transgendered people use?" has become a hot-button question not only in Michigan, but across the United States.

Public comments pour in as the Michigan Board of Education continues to draft its voluntary guidelines to assist schools in addressing the needs of their LGBTQ students.

flickr user amboo who? / HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

Gender identity has become a big issue in the public discourse over the last few years. There has been a heated debate over legislation involving so-called "bathroom bills" and others involving the fight for legal protections for members of the LGBTQ community.

Members of Parliament in the United Kingdom are saying that Britain has a long way to go before transgender people achieve equality. Some MPs are seeking to follow the Republic of Ireland's lead and pass laws that would allow people to declare which gender they are, regardless of what doctors or anyone else says.

Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero has not spoken about why Lansing's former city attorney Janene McIntyre resigned, nor why she was given $160,000 in salary and accrued benefits upon doing so.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

There are still unanswered questions and a growing pile of legal bills swirling around the sudden resignation of Lansing's former city attorney.

Janene McIntyre resigned March 4, but was still paid $160,000 in salary and accrued benefits. Now legal costs related to the separation are mounting.

In the meantime, neither McIntyre nor Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero will say why she left and why she was given such a generous payout. 

Stateside 5.10.2016

May 10, 2016

Judi Brown Clarke joined us to discuss the mysteries surrounding the sudden resignation of Lansing's former city attorney. And, Dr. Eden Wells laid out how concerned residents of Michigan should be about Zika, dengue and chikungunya.

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