Politics & Government

Stories about politics and government actions

Today on Stateside:

Another road funding plan is moving in Lansing but, after four years of debate, one has to wonder: has a real solution become an impossible dream?

In the state Legislature, the Senate now has the House plan. The House has the Senate plan. But, even though it’s Republicans calling the shots in Lansing, Republicans can’t agree on what to do about fixing the roads.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

One of three remaining Democrats in the Presidential race stopped in Dearborn Friday.

Former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley met with Syrian and Iraqi refugees now living in Metro Detroit, before addressing the Arab American Institute’s National Leadership Conference.

O’Malley condemned what he calls “xenophobic immigrant hate” coming from Republican candidates.

And he says Democrats should be talking more about Syrian refugees.

via Loveland Technologies

Bidding on this year’s glut of tax-foreclosed homes in Wayne County has wrapped up.

Final numbers aren't available yet. But the annual auction has become a real estate mega-event in recent years, as tax foreclosures have soared and flooded the market with delinquent properties.

Gov. Snyder at a press conference this month announcing his plan to overhaul the Detroit Public School District.
screenshot / Livestream

Gov. Rick Snyder this week announced his plan for overhauling Detroit Public Schools. It includes splitting the district and leaving the debt with the old DPS, while a new district would move forward with school operations and education. 

Thetoad / Flickr

  Republican leaders in the state Senate say they’re willing to consider a road funding plan approved late Wednesday night by the state House.

That $1 billion plan eventually raises taxes and fees by $600 million. It also makes $600 million in unspecified cuts to other parts of the budget. And the legislation includes a possible rollback in Michigan’s income tax rate.

Today on Stateside:

Flint water treatment plant.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

US Rep. Dan Kildee, D-Flint Township, is calling on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to conduct a thorough investigation into what led to Flint's unsafe drinking water.

In a letter to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, Kildee seeks answers to questions about the adequacy of the EPA's oversight of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality.  

Representatives Gary Glenn and Jeff Irwin
Rick Pluta, Michigan Public Radio Network

A bipartisan package of bills is being considered by the Michigan Legislature that would subsidize homes, businesses, and churches that generate their own electricity using solar power or other methods of home-grown generation.

The big power-generating companies aren’t happy. They say other ratepayers would end up paying for part of the cost of that renewable energy production.

Representatives Gary Glenn, R-Midland, and Jeff Irwin, D-Ann Arbor, are two of the co-sponsors of the package along with Scott Dianda, D-Calumet, and Ed McBroom, R-Vulcan.


Opponents of a proposed nuclear waste dump along Lake Huron are optimistic a new Canadian government will reject the plan.

The stunning victory of Justin Trudeau will have reverberations beyond Canada's borders after the Liberal Party leader emphatically put an end to a decade of rule by the most conservative leadership in the country's history.

WFIU Public Radio / Creative Commons

The state House met into the night to adopt a road-funding plan, but it seems that a final deal on paying for road repairs remains elusive.

The $1 billion package relies on new fuel taxes and vehicle fees. But half the money would also come from cutting other parts of the budget.

Civil asset forfeiture grants state and federal agents the ability to seize any property they think could be connected to criminal activity.
user GPDII / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

The state Legislature has given its OK to create an alert system for people suspected of killing or injuring on-duty police officers.

The “blue alert” system would be similar to amber alert systems for missing children. It would use media broadcasts and highway signs to send out information on suspects who are at-large and considered a public threat.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Tomorrow, a state Senate committee takes up legislation that would require state agencies to pay the court costs of people who sue the state and win. 

State Sen.Tom Casperson, R-Escanaba, says state agencies have an unfair advantage over people in disputes over taxes and permits.

“The weight of the government against the small guy, there seems to be an imbalance there,” says Casperson. “We’re trying to find a way to at least balance that out.”

A Flint resident holds a jug of tainted Flint water.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Gov. Rick Snyder announced the creation of an “independent advisory task force” that will look into the actions surrounding the management and testing of Flint’s drinking water system.

The goal, according to a press release from the governor’s office, is to investigate what happened and to prevent the kind of problems that occurred with Flint’s drinking water system in other systems in the state.

This Week in Michigan Politics, I talk with Michigan Radio's political analyst Jack Lessenberry about the investigation into the Flint water crisis, Governor Rick Snyder's plan to overhaul Detroit schools, and proposed changes in how teachers are evaluated.

The City of Ypsilanti is considering renaming Columbus Day "Indigenous Peoples Day."

Mayor Amanda Edmonds wrote the resolution to make the change.

She said renaming Columbus Day would be a "relatively simple" symbolic gesture to recognize the region's Native American heritage.

“[This isn't] the only thing that needs to be done to recognize, to celebrate, to honor [indigenous peoples] and to right some of the wrongs, but it is one step,” Edmonds said.

Today on Stateside: 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A formal review is underway into the state agency that made mistakes in its monitoring of Flint’s drinking water.

via dwsd.org

The new Great Lakes Water Authority held a national search for its first CEO, but the authority’s board ended up choosing a familiar candidate.

That candidate is Sue McCormick, the GLWA’s interim CEO. Prior to that, she headed the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department for more than three years.

She was praised by some for leading DWSD through Detroit’s bankruptcy, in which the water department played a key role.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

People in Flint say the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality needs to do more than admit mistakes in the handling of the city’s tainted water crisis.

Last week, Flint switched back to Detroit water after numerous problems with lead and other issues in the city’s drinking water. The head of MDEQ admits monitoring errors were made and a top agency official has been reassigned.    

Today on Stateside:

Governor Rick Snyder is facing a tough sell today as he tries to re-start the conversation on fixing Detroit’s schools. And, that’s just one of the political tough sells the Second Term Nerd is facing.

Paul Hitzelberger / United Photo Works

The new regional authority in charge of southeast Michigan’s water is set to choose a leader Monday.

The Great Lakes Water Authority emerged from Detroit’s bankruptcy process. It essentially regionalizes Detroit’s water system, which has long served most of southeast Michigan.

Supporters of overhauling Michigan’s parole system are pushing back against Attorney General Bill Schuette’s claims about the bill.

Schuette says House Bill 4138 would compromise public safety by allowing violent criminals to be released from prison early.

Courtesy of Detroit Dog Rescue

Detroit officials announced a major overhaul of the city’s animal control operations Friday.

Animal Control will again become part of the city’s health department. It’s been under police department oversight since 2012.

And the city’s animal shelter will reverse its no-adoption policy, allowing the Michigan Humane Society to help transfer “dozens of dogs a month” to animal rescue and foster groups.

People upset about the safety and qualitPeople upset about the safety and quality of Flint's tap packed a public meeting last January.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

After a failed experiment with Flint River water, city officials announced late this afternoon that Flint is returning to Detroit's system for its drinking water.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A federal task force will help the city of Flint with its drinking water problems.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has been criticized for not being more involved in solving Flint’s water crisis.  

William Warby / flickr

The Detroit Water and Sewerage Department will lay off about 100 more employees this month.

That’s prompted some workers to sound the alarm. They warn that DWSD is already understaffed, and say laying off more workers could compromise water safety.

“We’ve lost chemists, engineers, instrument technicians … a whole range of people,” says Michael Mulholland, President of AFSCME Local 207, which represents some workers at the wastewater plant. “We’re concerned that what they’re doing is running it on a business model that is inappropriate and irresponsible.”

Today on Stateside: 

Steve Carmody

The Michigan Legislature has approved $9 million to deal with the fallout from the Flint water crisis. That price tag has turned attention to how the state’s rainy-day fund is used.

Gov. Rick Snyder has made replenishing that fund a budget priority since he entered office.

Jennifer White spoke to Susan Demas, publisher of Inside Michigan Politics, and Ken Sikkema, former Senate Majority Leader and Senior Policy Fellow at Public Sector Consultants about the state of the rainy-day fund.

Demas says as of the last budget cycle there's about $386 million in the fund.