Politics & Government

Stories about politics and government actions

Flickr user Leonard Witzel/Flickr / HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

It’s been four years since the repeal of a Michigan law that required motorcycle riders to wear helmets – an effort that was led by American Bikers Aiming Toward Education (ABATE) of Michigan.

Vince Consiglio is the president of ABATE of Michigan and has averaged 25,000 miles a year on his motorcycle since 1974. He believes wearing a helmet should be a choice made by motorcyclists.

“If you are riding at 50 miles an hour and you hit [a car] head-on,” Consiglio said on Stateside. “There’s no helmet that can protect you.”

Stateside 6.8.2016

Jun 8, 2016

Today on Stateside, we talk with David Moran from the Michigan Innocence Clinic about how the criminal justice system handled the Davontae Sanford case.

Presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, left, and Bernie Sanders, right.
berniesanders.com/hillaryclinton.com

Depending on who you ask, referring to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee is either obvious or massively premature.

The point of contention?

Members of the Democratic National Committee who will serve as unbound delegates at the upcoming Democratic National Convention.

Children walking together
Public domain

Legislation requiring child-placing agencies to make reasonable efforts to keep siblings together in the foster care and adoption systems is going to Gov. Rick Snyder for his signature.

The bills say if siblings could not be placed together due to safety or other concerns, agencies should prioritize sibling visitation and interaction.

The state already places siblings together when feasible under provisions of federal court oversight of Michigan's child welfare system.

Jack Lessenberry
Michigan Radio

This Week in Michigan Politics, Jack Lessenberry discusses legislation to bail out Detroit Public Schools, a grassroots campaign to legalize marijuana, and takeaways from last week's Mackinac Policy Conference.


steve carmody / Michigan Radio

The city of Flint may have equipment in place by the end of the week to improve chlorine levels in city water.   

But it may not be operating.

The Environmental Protection Agency sent the city of Flint a letter last week saying there is an “urgent need” to have the ability to boost chlorine levels in the city’s water supply. They set a date of Friday June 10th to have equipment “installed and operational.”

Chlorine and other chemicals are added to water supplies to kill bacteria, like Legionella.  Warm summer weather helps bacteria to grow. 

Stateside 6.7.2016

Jun 7, 2016

Today, we look at how plastic bag bans have fared in California, and we learn about a bill that would change the way school districts offer free lunch.

Governor Rick Snyder is trying to make the best of it as a plan he endorsed to try and save the Detroit Public Schools is starting to look like it isn’t going to happen.

The Detroit Public Schools are in financial crisis. The district could go into default - bankruptcy is even an option - if the the state Legislature doesn’t adopt a bailout plan this month. If that happens, it’s possible tens of thousands of students in the city could be without a school to go to come fall.

Stateside 6.6.2016

Jun 6, 2016

Today, we learn about a celebrated young pianist's return to Detroit. And, we look at how Kalamazoo-area nonprofits are changing emergency relief.

police officer directing traffic
Flickr user lincolnblues / Flickr

The Grand Rapids City Commission tomorrow will vote on whether to hire an outside consultant to study if its police force is racially biased when pulling over drivers.

A similar study conducted in 2004 found no systemic bias in Grand Rapids. But after the riots in Ferguson, Missouri in 2014, people who spoke at community meetings still felt racial targeting was a problem in Grand Rapids. 

That's why city leaders are recommending a second study based on more current data. 

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Governor Rick Snyder is optimistic that Michigan’s budget plan for next year should be wrapped up in the next week or two. 

Time is running short. The state legislature is only has a few weeks until it is scheduled to adjourn for much of the summer and there is still a lot left to do.

The state senate is expected to tackle funding for Detroit public schools this week. Last week, the state house passed a $617 million package that Democrats complain does more to protect the interests of charter school operators than students.

State Rep. Andy Schor's second-grade son was suspended for bringing a Swiss Army knife to school.
ppdiaporama / flickr http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Legislation in the state Senate would relax Michigan's "zero tolerance" approach to discipline in public schools.

State Rep. Andy Schor, D-Lansing, introduced the bills. He says he has personal experience with the current policies.

"The pencil sharpener was broken in my son's classroom when he was in second grade, so he took my Swiss Army knife, which he shouldn't have done, but he brought it in to sharpen his pencil and another student said, you know, 'Ms. So-and-so, Ryan's got a knife,’ and he got suspended for it," Schor said.

Voters in Michigan will still be allowed to cast straight-party ballots after a judge overturned a ban on the practice Thursday.
Lars Plougmann

A citizen’s group took Detroit city clerk Janice Winfrey to court Friday, in an effort to get a proposed city ordinance on the ballot.

The ordinance would require the Detroit clerk to publicly post real-time election results.

Tom Barrow is president of the group Citizens for Detroit’s Future, which spearheaded the drive to make the ordinance city law.

Barrow says the group gathered more than enough certified petition signatures, and did everything by the book according to the city charter and state law.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. - The chairman of a legislative committee investigating Flint's water crisis says it will take longer than initially projected to produce a report with recommendations.

Republican Sen. Jim Stamas of Midland had hoped to issue findings by now. But he announced Friday that discussions continue, and the report will be issued "in the future."

Gov. Rick Snyder at the 2016 Mackinac Policy Conference
Zoe Clark / Michigan Radio

Zoe Clark from It's Just Politics is at the Mackinac Policy Conference and there's been no shortage of news at what many would consider to be the Super Bowl for political junkies. Clark joined Stateside to discuss what hasn't been discussed that much over the last few days:  The city of Flint and the water crisis that continues there.

Governor Snyder at the Mackinac Policy Conference in 2014
flickr user A Healthier Michigan / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The Detroit Regional Chamber's Mackinac Policy Conference wrapped up this morning. There was a lot of buzz up on Mackinac Island about an EPIC-MRA poll which finds Governor Snyder's disapproval rating is 52%.

Stateside 6.3.2016

Jun 3, 2016

Today, we speak with a melanoma survivor who wants others to learn from his experience. And, we learn about rising suicide rates among young people.

The Michigan House of Representatives.
steve carmody / Michigan Radio

The Michigan state House narrowly passed a bill to bail out Detroit Public Schools tonight. But critics complain the plan does more for charter schools than Detroit kids.

The main bill in the package passed by a razor-thin margin, 55 to 53 votes.    

The legislation would allocate more than $600 million for the district, including $150 million to help transition Detroit schools to a new district.  

The school system has been under state control for the past seven years. 

House Speaker Kevin Cotter says the plan will help the district succeed.

Zoe Clark / Michigan Radio

In day two of the Mackinac Policy Conference, Governor Rick Snyder seems to be in full "RPA mode." That's "relentless positive action."

 

“You get a sense among folks here that the Governor is somewhat weakened and trying to find his way back,” said Detroit News Business Columnist Daniel Howes, who is at the conference.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The cost of the state’s day-to-day response to the Flint water crisis could soon rise sharply.

It cost of the state of Michigan $29,300 a day to provide water resources to Flint residents in May. But that number may nearly quadruple, to $117,400, if and when the federal government ends its support.

The federal government has been picking up roughly 75% of the cost of emergency supplies and home testing. The president’s federal emergency declaration is set to expire August 14.

A 10-cent fee on grocery bags passed in Washtenaw County intends to incentivize the use of reusable bags and reduce waste.
faythe1 / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Beginning on Earth Day next year (April 22, 2017), Washtenaw County residents might have to bring their own bags to grocery stores to avoid a 10-cent-per-bag fee approved by the county’s board of commissioners on Wednesday in a 6-2 vote.

The fee applies to all paper and plastic bags that grocery stores provide consumers at the checkout aisle.

But the new ordinance might never be implemented.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint Mayor Karen Weaver admits pressure is building on the city to make a decision about hooking up to the new KWA water pipeline.

Flint’s water crisis is a tangential result of emergency managers' decisions to save money by switching the city off of Detroit water and on to the new pipeline from Lake Huron, and to use Flint River water in the interim.

Weaver says she still needs answers to basic questions.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

State legislative leaders are still trying to reach a deal on a bailout for Detroit Public Schools.

All the action on the bill took place behind closed doors Wednesday, with few specifics leaking out.

The $600 million package reportedly includes $150 million in new start-up funding.

But House Minority Leader Tim Greimel, D-Auburn Hills, is upset that Democrats and Detroit lawmakers have had no role in crafting the plan.

Signatures were still coming in as the MI Legalize campaign dropped off boxes of petitions at the state election office.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Supporters of legalizing marijuana in Michigan dropped off more than 350,000 petition signatures at the Secretary of State’s office today. That would be enough to put the issue on the November ballot.  

But there is a question whether the signatures were gathered within the time allowed.

“Michigan law allows you to petition beyond 180 days,” says Jeffery Hank, executive director of MI Legalize. “The current law just deals with how do you verify those signatures that are beyond 180 days.  We believe we have done everything we could to try to do that.”

Stateside 6.1.2016

Jun 1, 2016

Today on Stateside, we discuss how sometimes doing right by your kids means flipping conventional wisdom on its head.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Activists trying to ban fracking in Michigan are asking a court to give them more time to put the issue on the ballot.

Hydraulic fracturing is a technique which uses water and chemicals to crack ancient rock formations, releasing oil and natural gas. Opponents claim fracking is damaging to the environment. 

The petition campaign has fallen far short of collecting enough signatures to let voters decide whether to ban hydraulic fracturing.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Next week, Flint city officials plan to sit down with contractors interested in replacing lead service lines.

The city would like to remove 15,000 service lines, but for now they only have enough money to replace about 400.

Mayor Karen Weaver admits her “Fast Start” program has been slow to reach its second phase, partly because the sity wants to give smaller, local contractors a better chance to win contracts.

The Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island.
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

If you can't make it to the island, you can watch what's happening at the Mackinac Policy Conference on Detroit Public Television's live stream.

See below, or go here to find the stream:

The chamber in Michigan's State Capitol.
CedarBendDrive/Flickr / HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

When creating new public policies, lawmakers seek to answer the age-old question: “What’s the harm?”

Some governments are aiming to answer that question with “Nudge Units” that gather insight on public behavior before implementing new policies, ideally avoiding future disasters like the Flint water crisis.

Simon Brass / Flickr

Michigan is closing one of its 32 prisons to save $22 million in the next fiscal year.

The Pugsley Correctional Facility in Grand Traverse County will close in September. The minimum security prison has more than 1,300 beds and 230 employees. It’s been open since 1956.

The corrections department made the announcement Tuesday, a day before a legislative committee is expected to endorse the closure in the next state budget.

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