Politics & Government

Stories about politics and government actions

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

The future is cloudy for groups fighting to get those marijuana and anti-fracking proposals on the November ballot in Michigan.

The House last week gave final approval to Senate Bill 776, which sets a strict 180-day window for groups to collect signatures on ballot initiatives and constitutional amendment petitions. 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The last Flint fire station distributing water to city residents will stop doing it by the end of this week.

Michigan National Guardsmen have been handing out cases of bottled water and filters at the fire station on Martin Luther King for months.

Gen. Greg Vadnais leads the Michigan National Guard. He credits the public’s support for the guard’s ability to respond to the city’s drinking water crisis.

“It’s really helped us to be able to complete our mission to provide the resources to them that they needed,” Vadnais sais last week.

Stateside 5.20.2016

May 20, 2016

Today, we speak with a Detroit sophomore who’s fed up with the lack of solutions for DPS. And, we look at Founders Brewing’s latest move to expand.

user eyspahn / flickr http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

This weekend, Michigan Democrats will select most of the state party’s delegates to this summer’s convention.

State Party Chairman Brandon Dillon expects Saturday’s district meetings will go smoothly and avoid the fights between Sanders and Clinton supporters seen recently in Nevada.

“We don’t anticipate any major problems and are confident that things will go as smoothly as possible,” says Dillon.

Steve Monti is a Bernie Sanders supporter.  He’s running to be an alternate at the Democratic convention in Philadelphia.    

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

About a dozen protesters, many wearing red paint splashed clothes, tried to get Governor Snyder’s attention today. 

They held a ‘die-in’ outside a Flint conference room where the governor met with his top Flint water crisis advisors.

"We have no say over our future, over our recovery, over what’s coming through our pipes, over the pipes still being in the ground,” says activist Melissa Mays, “All we want is to have a voice in this.”

Governor Snyder did not see the protest.  He left the building through a side door. 

Capitol Building, Lansing, MI
Matthileo / flickr http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The Detroit News reported yesterday that Michigan corporations will receive tax refunds that exceed corporate tax payments to the state. In other words, there will be a net loss. Corporations will get back more than they pay.

Two things are happening here. First, tax credits have increased as chiefly the auto companies are cashing in on those incentives. Secondly, tax revenues are down.

Rich Studley, the CEO of the Michigan Chamber of Commerce, joins Stateside to explain how this happened. 

Flickr user Images_of_Money/Flickr / HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

The Michigan Department of Treasury is projecting a $99 million net loss in revenue due to an increase of tax refunds to businesses across the state.

FLICKR USER MR_WAHLEE https://flic.kr/p/djGtgH

The word has come from Washington: By year's end, new federal rules could bring overtime protection to more than four million American salaried workers – more than 100,000 of them in Michigan. Salaried employees earning up to $47,476 dollars a year will be paid time and a half when they work more than 40 hours a week. This is compared to the current law that states salaried employees must make less than $24,000 to receive overtime.

 

Stateside 5.18.2016

May 18, 2016

Today, we examine new federal rules that would expand overtime protection. And, we look at how skin-to-skin contact could benefit mothers and babies. 

Activists form a bucket brigade to carry water from the state Capitol.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Activists came to the state Capitol today to dramatize the need for tens of millions of dollars to fix Flint’s damaged water system.

A line of people passed little buckets of water from a faucet inside the Capitol building to a 20-gallon drum outside. 

Ryan Bates with Michigan United says they wanted to show what it’s like to live in Flint without tap water people can trust. 

Bates says state lawmakers should be doing more to help.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

It’s official. Governor Rick Snyder and the Legislature have less money to work with than it appeared earlier in the year. Drops in corporate and sales tax revenues mean a budget hit of about $150 million in this fiscal year. The forecast also projects a $160 million drop for the coming fiscal year budget the governor and the Legislature are putting together right now.

John Roberts, Snyder’s budget director, says the administration will look for targeted spending cuts to meet the shortfall. And he thinks it can be done without jeopardizing money to address the Flint water crisis and the looming financial collapse of the Detroit Public Schools.

flickr user Bernt Rostad / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Detroit is joining the growing list of U.S. cities that issue municipal ID cards to residents.

The Detroit City Council approved an ordinance that sets up a city-issued ID program Tuesday.

“It is the city's intent that municipal identification cards will provide residents with an additional means of proving their residency in the citv for purposes of accessing citv programs, services, and activities, and providing identification to law enforcement,” the ordinance states.

A fire
flickr user Matt MacGillivray / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

It's back to the drawing board for the city of East Lansing. 

District court judge Andrea Larkin has ruled that a 1999 ordinance aimed at cracking down on fires after big games at Michigan State University is unconstitutional.

The ordinance made it illegal to be or stay within 300 feet of a fire unless you are helping to put it out before emergency help arrives. 

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Detroit police are about to start recording far more of what they do.

The Detroit City Council approved a $5.2 million contract for police body cameras and in-car video systems Tuesday.

The move has the support of Detroit Police Chief James Craig, and the city’s police unions.

Craig says the department just escaped more than a decade of federal oversight for unconstitutional policing practices. Now, the challenge is sustaining the progress it made.

the city of Flint
wikimedia user Flintmichigan / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The flood of headlines coming out of the water crisis in Flint comes down to a basic problem: The city was starved for cash. And that led to the series of bad decisions that in turn led to the catastrophe of lead-poisoned water. 

But Flint isn’t the only city caught in a cash crunch. All across the state cities are starved for cash. Most of them not because of something the city has done, but because of things the state has done.

dictionary definition of tax
Flickr user Alan Cleaver/Flickr

The so-called "dark store" approach to valuing property — an approach which allows stores to base their property taxes on the stores that have closed around them — has allowed big box stores in Michigan to cut their taxes by at least $100 million. It has left communities around the state struggling to find the money they need to pay for municipal services.

 

Some politicians, including state Rep. David Maturen, R-Vicksburg, hopes to close the dark store tax loophole with bipartisan legislation, House Bill 5578.

Under Michigan law, Governor Snyder is exempt from the Freedom of Information Act.
Flickr user Michigan Municipal League / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

There is only one state in the entire country where, under the law, the governor is exempt from the Freedom of Information Act.

You guessed it: it's Michigan.

Stateside 5.17.2016

May 17, 2016

On today's show, we learn about "Flint syndrome" and what it means that cities all across the state are starved for cash. 

Gov. Snyder delivers his opening statement in the congressional hearing.
YouTube - screenshot

Governor Rick Snyder now says it’s possible he deleted some e-mails related to Flint, even though he earlier told a congressional committee that he had not. The governor still insists it’s unlikely he deleted any Flint-related e-mails, it’s just not impossible.

lockers lining a school hallway
Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

The Detroit Public Schools needs a financial lifeline from Lansing to keep going beyond this school year.

But efforts to get that done in the state Legislature have largely been hijacked by big donors with different views on a separate but related issue: oversight of the city’s charter schools.

At least, that’s the conclusion of a report from the Michigan Campaign Finance Network.

It's Just Politics Logo
It's Just Politics with Zoe Clark and Rick Pluta

The state’s revenues are going to be lower than expected this year. Zoe Clark and Rick Pluta, Michigan Radio’s It’s Just Politics team, discuss why that is, and what it means for the state’s hot-button issues.

Pluta said the economy is recovering, but not as quickly as anticipated.

“And so what we’re seeing is, in particular, corporate income tax and state sales tax revenues are coming in less than expected,” he said.

This is happening as “some big new demands are being made on the state,” Pluta said, those being infrastructure issues and Detroit Public Schools deficits.

Stateside 5.16.2016

May 16, 2016

Today, we look at how self-driving vehicles could benefit people with disabilities. And, we find out how and why that AMBER Alert woke you up at night.

Donald Trump is now the presumptive GOP presidential nominee so, what does that portend for Republicans further down the ballot?

For Donald Trump to win the presidency, he’ll have to change the Electoral College map to win states Republicans don’t usually win. And, based on Trump’s apparent appeal to blue collar voters in old Rust Belt states, Michigan is high on that list.

Michigan Republican Congresswoman Candice Miller endorsed Trump last week.

A photocopy of a photo of Line 5 being installed in 1953.
State of Michigan

The state of Michigan, environmental groups, and reporters like myself have been asking Enbridge for more specific information about the condition of the pipelines for more than two years now.

The company has released limited information in the past, but stopped short of releasing detailed reports that show the condition of the pipelines. When it comes to this kind of information, the company holds all the cards. 

It's Just Politics Logo
It's Just Politics with Zoe Clark and Rick Pluta

We check in with Michigan Radio’s It’s Just Politics team for a roundup of the past week’s political news.

Rick Pluta and Zoe Clark talk about the large pool of money the state house and senate are at odds over for Detroit Schools. They also discuss “rebuttable presumption” and whether or not petition signatures that are more than 180 days old should be counted.

candicemiller.house.gov

Michigan Congresswoman Candice Miller surprised many last May when she announced she would retire from Congress. But she surprised even more folks in March when she announced she would run for Macomb County public works commissioner. She will challenge Anthony Marrocco, the longtime county public works commissioner, this fall.

Miller joined Zoe Clark on Stateside to explain why she decided to leave Washington to run for office as a county public works commissioner. 
 

Stateside 5.12.2016

May 12, 2016

Stateside goes on the road for a live show from the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit.  

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder
Gov. Rick Snyder

The Michigan State Police wrapped up an investigation into what happened at the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality during the Flint water crisis more than a month ago. But Gov. Rick Snyder says he hasn’t seen the final report.

According to a state police spokeswoman, on Jan. 24, 2016, MDEQ Director Keith Creagh requested assistance from the MSP with conducting an internal, administrative investigation of MDEQ employees for violations of DEQ policies and work rules.

An investigator from MSP’s Professional Standards Section assisted DEQ’s human resources staff.

bathtub faucet running
Jacob Barss-Bailey / flickr http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Starting tomorrow, a multi-media ad campaign will urge Flint residents to flush their pipes.

Television, radio and online messages will urge people in Flint to turn their faucets on full blast for 10 minutes a day (five minutes for bathtub spigots and five minutes for kitchen faucets) for the rest of May.

The public relations blitz comes nearly two weeks after government officials urged Flint residents to start flushing their pipes. 

Gov. Rick Snyder says the state is picking up the tab for the water going down the drain.

Stateside went on the road for a live show from the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit on Thursday, May 12, 2016.

You can watch the live broadcast below as host Cynthia Canty interviews several guests, including:

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