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Politics & Government

Stories about politics and government actions

Today, we hear why Donald Trump's message is hitting home in Macomb County. And, a geographer shows us why relying on ZIP codes led the state to mistakenly underestimate the lead in water problem in Flint. 

Savannah Halleaux

 

The United States Department of Agriculture is reaching out in a special way to women and minority farmers and growers in Michigan.

What’s behind this focus on “non-traditional” growers? And why is the USDA making its Michigan announcement in Flint?

USDA Farm Service Agency administrator Val Dolcini joined us today to talk about the USDA's push to reach out to these "non-traditional" producers, and some of the challenges facing today’s farmers and ranchers.

michigan.gov

Changes could be in store for Michigan’s veterans’ services. 

A House and Senate joint committee heard testimony Monday about a package of bills that would create a new Michigan Veterans’ Facility Authority. The Authority would oversee new veteran facilities, and eventually, lawmakers hope, the entire Michigan Veteran Health System would go under the umbrella of the authority.

The legislation comes after an audit of the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans last February revealed persistent issues like staffing shortages and not following through on abuse complaints.

State law specifically says people without photo IDs, can sign an affidavit - and still vote
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

There are 7,495,216 people registered to vote in Michigan in the 2016 presidential elections. That’s more than 40,000 more than were registered in the last presidential election, according the Secretary of State’s Office. There are more voters registered now than in 2008, the previous record.

The deadline to register to vote in the November election was last week.

Some of the biggest registration surges came from counties with a large college-age population; Washtenaw, Ingham, Isabella, Marquette, and Kalamazoo counties.

Gorchow told us that we need to be more skeptical of polls.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Indiana Governor Mike Pence brings the campaign spotlight to Macomb County tonight. He'll be speaking at the Lincoln Day dinner in Shelby Township. Organizers say it’s the largest crowd in recent memory for the Lincoln Day dinner, and it’s proof that Macomb County is still fertile ground for the GOP message.

Trump merchandise
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A state Republican leader is losing her party position because she won’t back Republican nominee Donald Trump for president. Wendy Lynn Day was elected grassroots vice chair at a state party convention last year. In the role, she served as a liaison between the Republican Party and the tea party movement.

Day backed Senator Ted Cruz in the primary, but said she cannot support Trump, whom she does not consider a Republican.

There are three weeks to go until Election Day and Republicans are in despair, while Democrats are paranoid because no one is quite sure what the Donald Trump Effect will be on the ballot come November 8th.

It appears the Trump campaign is in a free fall, the statistical analysis website 538 now rates Trump’s chances of winning Michigan at 7.7 percent.

The Michigan House of Representatives in Lansing.
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Michigan's House Democrats are looking to take control of the chamber this November, but that won't be easy.

The Democrats need to win at least 56 of 110 seats to have a House majority. They currently hold 46.

The Associated Press reports that the Democrats do have some advantages that should spur optimism going into the November election. 

More from the Associated Press:

Vice presidential candidates Republican Mike Pence (L) and Democrat Tim Kaine (R).
wikimedia commons

Both major party candidates for the next U.S. vice president plan campaign stops in Michigan this week.

Donald Trump’s running mate is up first. Indiana Governor Mike Pence is scheduled to headline a dinner hosted by the Macomb County Republican Party tonight.

Traditionally blue-collar Macomb remains one of Trump’s few bright spots in Michigan, where most recent polls show Hillary Clinton regaining a healthy lead, though none has her topping 50% of the total vote.

Clinton’s running mate, Virginia Senator Time Kaine, will pay a visit to Detroit Tuesday.

Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

The Great Lakes Water Authority put $1.3 billion worth of bonds on the market last week.

It’s the first bond offering for the new regional authority, which emerged from Detroit’s bankruptcy process. It now provides wholesale water and services to millions of people across southeast Michigan.

About $1.1 billion of that will be used to refinance existing debt at a lower interest rate, says Nicolette Bateson, the GLWA’s Chief Financial Officer. She says that should produce almost $310 million in savings over the life of the bonds.

Michigan's 10th Congressional District.
United States Department of the Interior / Wikimedia Commons

Michigan’s 10th Congressional District stretches from the tip of the Thumb to northern Macomb County. 

Voters will choose between two candidates with relatively thin resumes in the District.

Businessman Paul Mitchell is making his second run for Congress. He ran two years ago in a different district in a different part of the state.  

When asked about that, this was his initial response.

“Turn that off for a second,” Mitchell asked for the recording to stop, “I have one question for you.”

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

DETROIT (AP) - Two judges from the Detroit-area are challenging Michigan Supreme Court justices Joan Larsen and David Viviano.

  The two races are the most significant races for statewide office on the Nov. 8 ballot.

  Larsen was a law professor before she was appointed to the court last year by Gov. Rick Snyder. Viviano, a former Macomb County judge, has been on the Supreme Court since 2013. He, too, was appointed by Snyder.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Conditions are ideal for Democrats to bolster their ranks in the Michigan Legislature, but capturing a House majority to end Republican control of state government could be elusive.

  Democrats' advantages include higher voter turnout for the presidential election and the departure of dozens of Republicans who cannot run again under term limits. Democrats have gained House seats in every presidential contest since 2004.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

ST. IGNACE, Mich. (AP) - Presidential nominee Donald Trump is trying to put Michigan in the Republicans' corner for the first time in two dozen years by taking aim at trade deals and an economy that's left blue-collar workers behind.

Democrat Hillary Clinton says the billionaire businessman is no friend of workers because of using Chinese steel in his construction projects and opposing the auto bailout.

In the middle are voters, who say they're split over the candidates' trustworthiness.

Flint river
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Lawsuits keep piling up in the wake of the Flint water crisis. This Week in Review, Jack Lessenberry and I talk about a new complaint that calls for a grand jury criminal investigation into Gov. Rick Snyder's legal fees. We also talk about another challenge to Michigan's 180-day time limit on collecting petition signatures and upcoming visits from vice-presidential candidates Tim Kaine and Mike Pence.


Today, we hear that while concussions are very serious, there's a lot of misinformation and media hype out there. And, we learn that nearly a third of Michigan lawmakers are tied to secret corporate cash.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

 

This week two stories were released about secretive funds benefiting Michigan legislators and the Republican and Democratic parties.

The stories were a joint investigation of MLive and the Michigan Campaign Finance Network.

Money
Flickr user 401(K) 2012 / Creative Commons

The amount of money candidates in Michigan can get from special interest groups could get cut in half. That’s if a proposed bill finds its way through the legislature.

Currently these groups are allowed to donate ten times the amount of money an individual can. If the bill sponsored by State Representative Martin Howrylak  is passed, the donation limit would be reduced to five times the amount individuals can donate.

Craig Mauger is with the Michigan Campaign Finance Network, a nonpartisan organization.     

"For Republicans who have not distanced themselves from Trump, it may be too late," Demas told us.
flickr user Gage Skidmore / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

 

It's the political roundup with Ken Sikkema and Susan Demas.

A new Detroit News and WDIV poll shows Republican candidate Donald Trump slipping and Democrat Hillary Clinton gaining in Michigan. Her lead has widened by nearly 12 percentage points.

This week Governor Snyder called the presidential election a “huge mess” and said Trump’s comments about women were “revolting and disgusting.”

While Republicans like Snyder - who never endorsed Trump - are speaking out, other Republicans have been defending Trump’s statements as merely “locker room talk.”

It’s hardly the first Trump-centric story we’ve seen throughout this election cycle, but according to Demas, this one is “kryptonite.”

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

A garbage company involved in Flint’s trash pickup dispute is reportedly linked to a federal corruption probe in Macomb County.

The Detroit Free Press reports federal prosecutors believe a Clinton Township official was allegedly bribed by an official with Rizzo Environmental Services in an effort to get a multi-million-dollar garbage contract.

Rizzo issued a statement only saying the company is cooperating with federal officials.

Flint City Councilman Eric Mays (right) was escorted out of Thursday's special city council meeting on Flint's trash contract
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The Flint city council is trying to get the city’s state oversight board to decide who should pick up Flint trash.

The council Thursday approved keeping Flint’s old garbage hauler on the job against the mayor’s wishes. The mayor’s chief of staff attended the meeting, but declined to comment. 

Council President Kerry Nelson says Republic is the best choice to empty Flint’s trash cans.

“There’s people that live in this city…that pay taxes…pay water bills….that work for Republic…I will not close the door on them,” says Nelson.

user jdurham / MorgueFile.com

According to data from the Michigan Secretary of State, 7,481,074 people statewide are registered to vote in the November election.

That’s a very slight uptick from the 2012 election cycle.

Nearly everyone of voting age in Michigan is registered to vote, due in large part to the state’s motor voter law. But not everyone votes. Only 63% cast ballots in the 2012 election.

Some local clerks kept their doors open late on Tuesday, which was the deadline to register.

Michigan State Police

The Michigan State Police is getting $2 million from the federal government.

The money comes from three grants earmarked for separate uses.

One grant will pay for overtime for the state police lab to test sexual assault kits. Money will also go to toward investigating cases that have been hung up in backlogs.   

Nancy Bennett is the division director for MSP’s grants and community services division.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The campaign to outlaw fracking in Michigan is asking the state Court of Appeals to strike down a 180-day time limit on collecting petition signatures to put a question on the ballot.

A law signed by Governor Rick Snyder in June says signatures that are older than 180 days can’t be counted. It’s very similar to a rule that was used before that by state elections officials.

That rule has twice now thwarted the anti-fracking campaign’s efforts to get a question before voters.

Today, we hear how Michigan schools are doing in their effort to curb bullying. And, we meet Garrison Keillor's hand-picked Prairie Home Companion successor.

The "Flint Sprint" will tackle 20 different projects in the city over the next 60 days.
Wikimedia user Flintmichigan / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The Detroit bankruptcy brought government, foundations and business together, working to get through that historic crisis. Today marks the public launch of an effort to do the same for Flint.

Detroit News Business Columnist Daniel Howes joined Stateside to talk about his latest column about the "Flint Sprint." This project brings a number of businesses -- both big and small -- to tackle 20 different projects over the next 60 days. 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s sagging poll numbers in Michigan may be behind a surprising rise in TV ad buys in one state congressional race.

The plaintiffs say older, poor and impoverished people in Flint aren't getting enough water
Flickr user Daniel Orth / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

When the Flint water disaster exploded, the state began sending emergency supplies to the city: millions and millions of dollars worth of bottled water, filters and cartridges.

Detroit Free Press reporter Paul Egan's front-page story this week suggests the state overpaid for those supplies, to the tune of hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars. Egan found that instead of using a formal bidding process, the State went directly to Georgia-based Home Depot to buy the supplies. And it failed to seriously seek bids from  Michigan companies.

Transmission electron microscopy image of Legionella pneumophilia, responsible for over 90% of Legionnares' disease cases.
CDC Public Health Library / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

 

The federal government offered help with Flint’s Legionella outbreak, and the state of Michigan turned the offer down.

That’s what MLive reporter Ron Fonger has learned from Environmental Protection Agency documents released through the Freedom of Information Act.

Jack Lessenberry
Michigan Radio

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton told a crowd in Detroit Monday that we can expect "a positive message" during the last month of her campaign.

This Week in Michigan Politics, Jack Lessenberry and Doug Tribou discuss whether that will resonate with Michigan voters. Lessenberry and Tribou also look at a Detroit Free Press investigation that finds the state may have overpaid for supplies it bought in response to the Flint water crisis, and the teacher shortage that continues to plague Detroit Public Schools.


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