Politics & Government

Stories about politics and government actions

Michigan’s congressional delegation is divided as a major new trade deal tops the agenda this week.

The “Trans Pacific Partnership” would cover U-S imports and exports from a dozen nations.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

State lawmakers are set to take final votes this week on the state budget.

It’s expected to include $500,000 to conduct a study on education funding. The goal is to find out how much it costs to educate a student in Michigan.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

This may be a pivotal week for efforts to get Flint’s mayor’s race back on track.

The state House may vote this week on a bill that would allow Flint to hold an August primary for mayor. 

A screw up by the city clerk meant no candidate filed their petition signatures on time.    

Khimich Alex / Wikimedia Commons

The Home Builders Association of Michigan wants to remove Arc Fault Circuit Interrupters (AFCIs) from the state's residential building code.

AFCIs use a computer chip to detect potentially dangerous arc faults in a home's wiring system. If one is detected, the AFCI shuts down power before an electrical fire can start.

Jake Neher / MPRN

Jeb Bush says Michigan is a critical state for Republicans running for president in 2016. The former Florida governor made multiple stops in Michigan on Thursday.

In the afternoon, Bush was in Lansing giving the kind of speech you’d expect from someone eyeing the Republican nomination in 2016. He touted his record as governor of Florida a decade ago and criticized the Obama administration’s economic policies.

Michigan Radio's Jennifer White and Eugene Robinson with the Washington Post.
Zoe Clark / Michigan Radio

Eugene Robinson, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and columnist for The Washington Post, is joining Michigan Radio’s Jennifer White for a discussion on race, health, education and culture during a session hosted by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation at the Detroit Regional Chamber’s 2015 Mackinac Policy Conference.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

State lawmakers want Flint’s city clerk to get more training and supervision.

Or she can resign or be replaced.   

The demands are part of a bill to let Flint hold a mayoral primary in August. 

The city clerk threw the mayor’s race into chaos when she gave the candidates the wrong filing deadline.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

When a struggling city is on its knees, every dollar is precious.

So the idea that millions in federal funds are being lost is appalling.

But a new report from the Government Accountability Office shows that's exactly what's happening in Detroit and Flint, as well as Camden, New Jersey and Stockton, California.

Liz Farmer is a public finance writer for Governing Magazine.

Today on Stateside:

  • What do voters think of Gov. Rick Snyder’s plan to overhaul public education in Detroit?
     
  • Chris Benson is getting ready to retire after serving almost 20 years as a tour guide at the state Capitol.
     
  • The poetry of Tarfia Faizullah gives a voice to hundreds of thousands of Bangladeshi women who were raped during the that country's Liberation War.
     
  • A new report from the Government Accountability Office shows federal grant money is being lost in Detroit and Flint, as well as Camden, New Jersey, and Stockton, California as those cities lose city employees after austerity cuts.
     
  • Gang members, like everyone it seems, are increasingly using social media. But what are they using it for? A new study sheds some light on this question.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Voters believe providing education for Detroit students is the state's duty, but don't think Governor Snyder's recent proposal is the way to do it, according a recent poll conducted by Public Sector Consultants and Michigan Radio.

Of the 600 likely voters polled, 82% agreed the state has an obligation to provide a quality education to all kids in Detroit, but answers varied when it came down to how to fund that education. 

user elioja / Flickr

A state elections board has given a green light to a petition drive to ban prevailing wage requirements in Michigan.

The petition language mirrors legislation currently in the state House that would end laws requiring union-level pay and benefits for workers on publicly-funded construction projects. Those bills appear to be stalled.

Medical Marijuana
Dank Depot / Creative Commons http://tinyurl.com/oall5zn

The state is holding a public hearing Wednesday on a request to add autism to the list of conditions that qualify for medical marijuana. 

Lisa Smith of Van Buren Township filed the request to add the disorder to the list.

Smith said her autistic son's severe behavior stopped after taking medical marijuana orally to treat a different condition.

Colleen Allen, president of the Autism Alliance of Michigan, said alternative treatments for the disorder require more study.

On today's program:  

  • There are some 37,000 names in the Michigan Public Sex Offender Registry, but there are questions about whether the registry is doing what it is intended to do.
  • A discussion with Chris Skellenger of “Buckets of Rain.” Skellenger moved from a landscape company on the Leelanau Peninsula to urban farming near Detroit.
  • Viviana Pernot talks about her short film about the homeless in Ann Arbor and those who help them. The film is called “The M.I.S.S.I.O.N.”
  • There’s a new idea floating around the state Capitol about how to boost funding for roads. Some say legalizing and taxing marijuana would help.
  • The name “Fruehauf” is an iconic one in American transportation history. It was a Detroit-based blacksmith, August Fruehauf, who invented a semi-trailer to haul lumber.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

There are some 37,000 names listed in the Michigan Public Sex Offender Registry.

According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, Michigan has the fourth-highest per-capita number of people on its list.

But there are questions about Michigan's registry – whether it's really keeping us as safe as we like to think.

People with misdemeanor offenses are listed alongside rapists, pedophiles, and hard-core offenders.

A federal judge recently declared parts of Michigan's registry law to be too vague, even unconstitutional.

J.J. Prescott is a law professor at the University of Michigan. And he's a widely recognized authority on sex offender laws.

Prescott says the state's attempt to monitor these sex offenders may actually contribute to recidivism, as those on the public list are ostracized from society. 

"It's public shaming to the point where somebody might actually say, what's the difference? I'm living as a pariah, miserably, outside of prison," says Prescott.

Legally grown marijuana in Colorado.
Brett Levin / creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

As state lawmakers search for ways to come up with the money needed to fix Michigan’s battered and bumpy roads, one state representative tossed out this idea: Legalize and tax marijuana, and then put that new revenue to work.

State Rep. Brandon Dillon, D-Grand Rapids, joins us today to talk about this idea.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The clock is ticking for Flint mayoral candidate Eric Mays to find enough validate signatures to guarantee a spot for him on the November ballot.

Flint voters are electing a mayor this fall.     

Councilman Eric Mays fell 48 signatures short of the 900 needed for a spot on the ballot. 

This week, the Detroit Regional Chamber’s annual Mackinac Policy Conference gets underway on Mackinac Island. This is when Lansing, political Lansing at least, empties out of town and heads north to rub shoulders – and click cocktail glasses – with Michigan’s movers and shakers in businesses, finance and philanthropy.

Gov. Rick Snyder

Michigan really is lucky to have a friend like Canada and its Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

Canada will foot most of the $2 billion bill for building the newly named Gordie Howe International Bridge, connecting Detroit to Windsor.

Live from the Grand Rapids Art Museum.
Larry Jonas / Michigan Radio

Stateside with Cynthia Canty went on the road for a live show from the Grand Rapids Art Museum.

The show aired on May 21, 2015 and featured the following guests:

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

After the failure of Proposal 1 in the May 5 election, Michigan Radio and Public Sector Consultants wanted to figure out why. This past weekend we polled 600 likely voters about their thoughts on the recent ballot proposal.

Proposal 1 was meant to fund Michigan road repair and included increased funding for schools and other provisions.

Sean Davis / Flickr http://tinyurl.com/ndp3cbj

Detroit's police chief will keep his job for at least another two years.

James Craig was hired by Kevyn Orr, the state-appointed emergency manager who took the city through bankruptcy.

Mayor Mike Duggan says it turned out to be a good choice, and he wants Craig to stick around.

According to columnist Nancy Kaffer, there are now 500 security cameras operated by private security companies in the downtown Detroit area.
user Tom Page / flickr


As Dan Gilbert keeps buying buildings in downtown Detroit – more than 70, now – we're seeing the prospect of new businesses, new tenants, and new people downtown.

Detroit Free Press columnist Nancy Kaffer wonders what this means in terms of private security and public space.

State House bill 4540 would exempt information regarding energy infrastructure from Michigan's Freedom of Information Act.
user toffehoff / flickr

  

A bill just introduced in the State House would draw a veil over information about oil and gas pipelines, electrical lines and other key pieces of energy infrastructure.

Under House Bill 4540, backed by State Rep. Kurt Heise, R-Plymouth, that information would be exempt from the Michigan Freedom of Information Act, making it no longer available to the public.

Today on Stateside:

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The state Senate has taken a critical step toward giving candidates another chance to be on the Flint mayoral ballot.

Legislation adopted on Tuesday would set a new deadline for candidates to qualify for the August mayoral primary. It would be a one-time exception to state elections law after no candidates qualified for the August ballot based on erroneous information from the Flint city clerk.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero says the city council is “flirting with disaster."

The council voted tonight to override Bernero’s veto of a change the council made to his city budget plan. 

The council rejected the mayor’s desire to hire an inspector general to oversee Lansing’s utility. 

Ford Motor Company Collection, Gift of Ford Motor Company and John C. Waddell, 1987

Imagine choreographing thousands of people into formations to look like famous things like the Liberty Bell, or the Statue of Liberty.

Sound like a stunt? Maybe a little nutty?

Well, that's exactly what Arthur S. Mole and John D. Thomas did in the early 20th century.

Former Congressman Joe Schwarz.
U.S. House of Representatives / Wikipedia

 

    

State lawmakers have hit the accelerator pedal in their effort to reform Michigan's no-fault insurance law. The law provides all victims of catastrophic crashes with a lifetime of unlimited medical benefits. 

The package of bills moved quickly through the state Senate and is now before the state House. 

The legislation would limit what hospitals could charge insurance companies. The overhaul would also cap what insurers can be charged for in-home care for people who have been severely injured in car accidents. 

In Lansing, state Senate leaders say they’re scrubbing plans for a summer break in order to work toward a road funding solution. They say they heard John Q. Public loud and clear after the massive failure of Proposal One and that, this time, they’re going to get a roads-fix done.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The Saginaw fire department faces deep cuts in a proposed budget going before the city council Monday night.

The budget calls for laying off 13 firefighters, reducing the department from 51 to 38 officers. Two of Saginaw’s four fire stations would also close.

An expiring federal grant is the reason for the cuts. 

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