Politics & Government

Stories about politics and government actions

Two Iraq War vets are now serving in the State Legislature
flickr user cedarbenddrive / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

There are two Iraq war veterans now serving in the state Legislature.

Sen. David Knezek, D-Dearborn Heights, and Rep. Tom Barrett, R-Potterville, both took their seats in November 2014, and they’re working hard toward a goal of improving veterans’ affairs here in Michigan.

Aramark uniforms delivery truck, Westland Michigan
Dwight Burdette / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM


After 19 months of maggoty food, traces of rodents, workers engaging in sex acts with inmates, and much more, the state of Michigan today has terminated its contract with Aramark to feed prison inmates.

The Detroit News’ Chad Livengood tells us that each side has said this decision was the result of a mutual agreement.

flickr user Thomas Hawk / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

The state of Michigan is terminating its contract with Aramark to provide prison food services.

The state and Aramark say the decision to end the $145 million contract was mutually agreed upon.

Aramark has faced fines and other sanctions since the company took over prison food services in December of 2013.

It looks like we won’t be seeing an LGBT rights question on the statewide 2016 ballot.

Yet, it was not that long ago that it seemed a near-certainty that LGBT rights groups were ready to go to the ballot next year to amend Michigan’s Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act if the GOP-led Legislature refused to act.

Michigan Democrats pick Brandon Dillon as new leader

Jul 11, 2015

PORT HURON, Mich. (AP) - The Michigan Democratic Party has elected state Rep. Brandon Dillon as its new party chairman to succeed Lon Johnson, who is resigning to run for Congress. 

The State Central Committee met Saturday in Port Huron, where delegates chose the Grand Rapids lawmaker to lead the party.

Johnson last month announced his candidacy for the 1st Congressional District that includes all of the Upper Peninsula and the northern Lower Peninsula. He was party chairman for more than two years.

wikipedia

A group of activists protesting water shutoffs in Detroit and water quality issues in Flint wrapped up a 70 mile walking journey between the two cities this week.

Members and supporters of the Detroit People's Water Board Coalition are calling on Michigan lawmakers to end shutoffs and implement an income-based water affordability plan.

 

Today on Stateside:

House Bill 4183 wants to move public notices from the pages of your newspaper to the pages of your web browser
user Jon S / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Is it time to take public notices digital?

Those pages in our newspaper, with the government notices of election dates, upcoming public hearings, and legal descriptions of property to be sold or redeveloped are the focus of House Bill 4183.

It's a bill that could cost newspapers a long-time source of revenue, and it could shut out people who don't have Internet access.


Today on Stateside:

  • People can be really bad at talking to veterans. We thank them for their service, but then what? As part of our series “Beyond the Battlefield,” we talk with a number of vets about those interactions, and find out how civilians can do better.
  • Since 2009, when a wrecking ball finally took down Tiger Stadium, volunteers calling themselves The Navin Field Grounds Crew has maintained the field. Now they fear that the field’s grass may be replaced with artificial turf.
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

People across Michigan have seen their cars, their TVs, their kids’ iPads, even their homes seized by police, often despite never having been charged with or convicted of a crime.

It’s called “civil asset forfeiture,” and it means that state or federal agents can seize your property if they so much as suspect that it has been involved in criminal activity.

The push against civil asset forfeiture is growing.

Office for Emergency Management. Office of War Information. Domestic Operations Branch. Bureau of Special Services.

Veterans returning home after World War II received a big helping hand from American taxpayers. The GI Bill helped millions get a college education. 

Today, veterans returning home from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan also get help paying for college. The Post 9/11 GI Bill can pay up to around $20,000 a year in taxpayer-funded college tuition.

Kate Boicourt / IAN

The Detroit City Council will reconsider whether to raise the city’s water rates, after the state treasurer warned that could trigger greater state oversight of the city’s finances.

Today on Stateside:

  • We cheer them as we welcome them home from Afghanistan or Iraq, but what's there for troops when it's time to change gears back to civilian life? Sherman Powell served in the Army from 1995 to 2006, and he sits down to talk with us about that transition.

Missile defense system could come to Michigan

Jul 7, 2015
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan may become the home of a new intercontinental ballistic missile defense system.

Fort Custer in Battle Creek is one of four sites the Pentagon is considering, should Congress approve the $3 billion project to install up to 60 missiles aimed at countering any attack on the East Coast. U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow and Rep. Fred Upton toured the facility yesterday. They plan on returning before Labor Day with the entire Michigan Congressional delegation in a show of support.

Marines on Flickr / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

The Department of Defense reports 20,000 service members experienced at least one sexual assault in 2014. That's virtually unchanged since 2010, despite the Department of Defense's insistence that it has tackled the problem and that "most active-duty members received effective training on sexual assault."

U.S. Department of Agriculture on Flickr / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

When veterans come home they are thanked for their service, but what is provided for them to make the transition from the military to civilian life?

From 1995 to 2006 Sherman Powell served in the Army, first as an infantry officer, then as a tank officer.  He was among the first veterans to return home from the Iraq War.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A group pushing a major revamp of the city of Lansing’s ethics rules has run into a problem.

Lansing Citizens for Ethics Reform submitted enough signatures to put its ethics reform plan on the ballot.

But Lansing’s city attorney says the proposal has "a multitude of conflicts with the Michigan Constitution, state law and the City Charter.”

South Carolina legislature is debating whether to remove the Confederate flag outside the state capitol.
flickr user Ken Lund / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Ever since the killing of nine church-goers at a historic black church in Charleston, the demands to remove the Confederate flag from its position in front of South Carolina’s state capitol have only gotten louder.

Bill McGraw believes Southeast Michigan has its own version of the Confederate flag: the 10-foot-high statue of long-time Dearborn mayor Orville Hubbard. McGraw's recent opinion piece in Deadline Detroit looks at Hubbard’s legacy.

Today on Stateside:

The Supreme Court recently ruled that state legislatures aren't the only ones that can draw congressional district lines, and that decision has one lawmaker considering legislation to give that authority to an independent commission.

At least half of Michigan voters polled think the state isn’t doing enough to help its veterans. Peter Pratt joins us to discuss the survey results.

Capitol Building, Lansing, MI
Matthileo / Flickr

State of Michigan employees in same-sex marriages can sign their spouses up for benefits during a special enrollment period this month.

The Civil Service Commission said gay state workers married after the U.S. Supreme Court's same-sex marriage ruling have until July 27th to sign their spouse up for benefits.

Gay employees married legally somewhere else before the ruling can also enroll their spouses.

John M. Cropper / Flickr

A new poll from Michigan Radio and Public Sector Consultants asks voters in Michigan about their perception of veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The survey of 600 Michigan voters found that a strong majority support the military as an employment option, despite the fact that most do not have family currently serving in Iraq or Afghanistan.

The Supreme Court’s decision to allow voters to take the authority to draw congressional district lines away from state legislatures and give it to independent commissions has many Democrats and progressives in Michigan very happy.

There’s been lots of rejoicing among those who’ve hated gerrymandering – the drawing of district lines to benefit one party over the over.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Voters in Flint face a deadline today [Monday] to register for next month’s mayoral primary. But it’s not that easy.

Anyone wanting to register to vote at the Flint city clerk’s office today will find the city hall’s doors locked.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The cost and quality of tap water in Michigan cities is the subject of a week long journey starting in Detroit today.

Activists, led by the The Detroit People’s Water Board Coalition, are upset about water shutoffs in Detroit and the quality of Flint’s troubled water system.

Potholes are a familiar obstacle on Michigan roads.
Flickr user Michael Gil / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

The Michigan Senate this week approved a package of bills that would gradually increase the state gas tax over three years and give $1.5 billion to roads funding. But the House and Senate still have to overcome significant differences in their respective plans to fund roads and infrastructure.

Zoe Clark, Michigan Radio’s co-host of It’s Just Politics, and Ken Sikkema, former Senate Majority Leader and Senior Policy Fellow at Public Sector Consultants, joined Jenn White to talk about what it will take to finally get a roads funding plan passed.

Today on Stateside:

  • Detroit News business columnist Daniel Howes takes a look at the booming popularity of paddling in Michigan.
     
  • It’s been four years since fireworks laws were loosened in Michigan, allowing the purchase of aerial fireworks. Jonathon Oosting tells us about what prompted that decision and what changes could be coming around the bend.
user adam j.w.c. / wikimedia commons

In 2011, state lawmakers loosened Michigan fireworks laws to allow the sale of just about any consumer-grade fireworks approved by the federal government.

Instead of being legally limited to low-impact ground fireworks like sparklers and poppers, consumers can now buy high-powered and aerial fireworks.

Michigan House Republicans

The state Senate has approved its $1.5 billion plan to boost road funding.

Lt. Gov. Brian Calley cast two tie-breaking votes on bills to gradually raise Michigan’s gas tax by 15 cents over three years. Calley says those votes were meant to move the process along toward reaching a final compromise on road funding.

 A state panel says Wayne County is in a state of “probable financial stress.” It was a unanimous determination by the Local Emergency Financial Assistance Loan Board. 

Board member and state Treasurer Nick Khouri says now the state will send in a review team to examine the books in Michigan’s most-populous county, which includes the city of Detroit and its suburbs.

Today on Stateside:

The state Senate could vote later today on a new plan to fund the state's roads. Jack Neher talks to us about the roads bills and the upcoming decision from the Capitol.

The Michigan Department of National Resources is keeping a close eye on the spruce budworm. It’s one of the most destructive native insects in northern spruce and fir forests, and it looks like it’s back. Bob Heyd is with us to talk budworms.

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