Politics & Government
10:04 pm
Tue April 1, 2014

Orr turns up the heat on Detroit pensioners; they push back

Retirees protest outside federal court in Detroit.
Credit Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Detroit pensioners are trying to turn up the heat on emergency manager Kevyn Orr Tuesday – just as he’s doing the same thing to them.

Protesters filled the street in front of Detroit’s federal courthouse on Tuesday to slam Orr’s proposed cuts to city pensions.

Orr filed a revised version of his bankruptcy restructuring plan there Monday. An earlier version, known formally as a plan of adjustment, was filed in February.

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Business
6:08 pm
Tue April 1, 2014

Lt. Gov. Calley signs personal property tax repeal compromise, now it heads to voters

Lawmakers from both political parties, business owners, city and school officials join Lt. Gov. Calley as he signs the personal property tax repeal in Grand Rapids Tuesday.
Credit Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Voters will decide in August if businesses should get out of paying taxes on equipment each year. 

Michigan’s personal property tax applies to all kinds of things: Carmakers pay the tax on heavy machinery, restaurants pay it on ovens and dishwashers. It doesn't matter if the equipment is new or old. The tax amounts to several hundred million dollars each year.

The effort to repeal the personal property tax was bi-partisan. A previous version replaced only a portion of the lost revenue to local governments.

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Education
5:45 pm
Tue April 1, 2014

State fronts Muskegon Heights schools cash so district can pay teachers, staff

Teachers at MHPSA will be paid this week, thanks to the state fronting the district $231,000.
Credit Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Updated 4/2/14:

An attorney for the MHPSA board says all employees have been paid as of today. He said there was a "glitch" in payroll but declined further comment on this story at this time.

Original post 4/1/14:

The state is fronting $231,000 to the charter school district in Muskegon Heights so it can pay its employees. Teachers and staff didn’t get paid like they were supposed to on Monday.

The new Muskegon Heights Public School Academy System was set up in June 2012 when the old school district there went broke.

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Politics & Government
4:26 pm
Tue April 1, 2014

Michigan's Medicaid expansion goes into effect today

Credit Andrian Clark / Flickr

    

Healthy Michigan” is available to more than 470,000 low-income Michiganders between the ages of 19 and 64.

Joining us today is Krista Nordberg, director of enrollment at the Washtenaw Health Plan.

Nordberg says the Healthy Michigan Plan is “extremely comprehensive health care coverage” for low-income individuals. The kind of coverage available includes medical benefits, prescription coverage, dental, vision and mental health services.

But under the new plan, people will be responsible for some of the cost of their health care.

“The co-pays range from about $1 to $3 for the dental and the vision and the prescriptions. And for people with higher incomes – incomes between 100-133% of poverty – they will be asked to contribute to a health savings account, and that is still something being worked out with the state as to how that would be administered through their health plan, and how they will pay into that,” said Nordberg.

For more information about Healthy Michigan click here, or call 1-855-789-5610. 

Stateside
4:14 pm
Tue April 1, 2014

New report breaks down inequality among Michigan children by race

Credit Ann Arbor Public Schools / http://www.aaps.k12.mi.us/academics/files/pre3.jpg

A newly released report is breaking new ground in the study of inequality among our children.

The report is from the Annie E. Casey Foundation for Kids Count. It's titled "Race for Results: building a path to opportunity for all children."

For the first time, it creates an index that looks at conditions for children by race.

Our next guest believes it contains troubling findings for Michigan children and the need for a major call to action.

Jane Zehnder-Merrell is project director of Kids Count in Michigan with the Michigan League for Public Policy, and she joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

Stateside
3:52 pm
Tue April 1, 2014

Congressman Dave Camp will not be running for re-election

Credit user republicanconference / Flickr

Another hugely surprising retirement from Congress: Republican Congressman Dave Camp, who represents Michigan's 4th district, announced that he will not run again for re-election. Camp has served in Congress for 24 years and has been chair of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee.

Zoe Clark and Rick Pluta, co-hosts of Michigan Radio's It's Just Politics, joined us today to talk about what’s next for Camp and what this means for Michigan in Congress.

Listen to the full interview above.

Stateside
3:51 pm
Tue April 1, 2014

Affordable Care Act enrollment is closed; attention now turns to Michigan Medicaid expansion

Credit Twitter

The Affordable Care Act shop door now has a "closed" sign on it, for the most part.

The open enrollment deadline passed at midnight.

Attention in Michigan now swings over to Healthy Michigan.

That's the official name for Michigan's expanded Medicaid program. It allows the state to bring more low-income residents into the Medicaid fold using funding available through the Affordable Care Act.

And Michigan's Medicaid expansion is something other states are watching because of a couple of important new twists to the program.

MLive Capitol reporter Jonathan Oosting joins us now.

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Stateside
3:49 pm
Tue April 1, 2014

How do school consolidations affect students and teachers?

Credit Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

There are 545 local school districts in Michigan and 56 Intermediate School Districts, or ISDs.

Around 50 of those districts were in the red at the end of the last school year.

And that leads to talk of consolidations, of mergers; streamlining, becoming more efficient and joining forces.

But as policymakers, educators and parents debate the merits of consolidation, what about those who will feel what that is like, day in and day out – the students and their teachers?

That’s the question Bridge Magazine writer Ron French explores in his series of reports for Bridge called 13 Miles to Marshall.

When struggling Albion High School closed at the end of the last school year, it meant more than 150 Albion high schoolers had to be bused to nearby Marshall High School. It made sense in business terms for both districts. But what kinds of challenges did this consolidation present? And were those challenges met and overcome?

Ron French joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

Opinion
3:19 pm
Tue April 1, 2014

Michigan will be weaker in Washington than we’ve been in ages

This isn’t an especially good April Fool’s Day, for a reason you might not suspect.

In the last few days, we’ve learned that our state is going to be considerably weaker in terms of political clout in Washington than we have been in many years.

Yesterday, Congressman Dave Camp of Midland, R-Michigan, the chair of the powerful Ways and Means Committee, suddenly announced he wouldn’t run for reelection.

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Station news
2:40 pm
Tue April 1, 2014

Lindsey Smith finalist for Young Journalist of the Year

Reporter Lindsey Smith

The Detroit Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists announced today that Michigan Radio reporter Lindsey Smith is a finalist for Young Journalist of the Year. Lindsey Smith is Michigan Radio's West Michigan Reporter, and has worked at the station since 2010.

Other finalists for Young Journalist of the Year are Nathan Bomey of the Detroit Free Press, and Deepa Seetharaman of Thomson Reuters.

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Transportation
2:05 pm
Tue April 1, 2014

Watch GM CEO Mary Barra testify before Congress

GM CEO Mary Barra prepares to give her testimony in front of a subcommitte of the U.S. House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee.
screen grab U.S. House of Representatives

The new head of General Motors, Mary Barra, is on Capitol Hill today starting what will be two days of testimony.

She'll be questioned about a safety defect that's been linked to at least 13 deaths and has sparked a 2.6 million-vehicle recall.

At issue: What did GM know about the problems with ignition switches in its cars, and when did the company know it?

Watch it below:

Auto
12:42 pm
Tue April 1, 2014

The Long Road To GM's Ignition Switch Recall

Chevy Cobalts on the assembly line in Ohio in 2008. Documents show General Motors was aware of problems with the car's ignition switch years before, but failed to act.
Ron Schwane AP

Originally published on Tue April 1, 2014 12:08 pm

The new head of General Motors, Mary Barra, goes to Capitol Hill Tuesday to begin two days of testimony.

It's the first time she'll be questioned about a safety defect that's been linked to at least 13 deaths and has sparked a 2.6 million-vehicle recall.

At issue for the Detroit CEO is a classic question: What did GM know about the problems with ignition switch problems in its cars, and when did the company know it?

And just as important for GM and government regulators is the follow-up question: Why did no one act sooner?

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Arts & Culture
11:42 am
Tue April 1, 2014

Banjos will be banned at this year's Water Hill Music Festival in Ann Arbor

Five-string banjos, four-string, SIX string... it doesn't matter. They will all be banned.
user WolfgangW Wikimedia Commons

A collective sigh of relief was heard today in Ann Arbor when the organizers of the Water Hill Music Festival announced a ban on banjo playing during this year's fest.

From the Water Hill Music Fest:

Today Water Hill Music Fest organizers received a petition with over 500 signatures urging a ban on banjos at the festival.  

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The Environment Report
11:04 am
Tue April 1, 2014

Zebra mussel-killing bacteria could help native species in the Great Lakes

Zebra mussels on a Higgins eye mussel
Credit USFWS

You can hear Peter's story above.

A treatment that kills zebra and quagga mussels could soon be available for use in lakes and rivers. It’s very effective and safe.

But it is not likely to undo much of the ecological damage done to Michigan waters by invasive mussels.

It could be good news, though, if you’re a clam.

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Politics & Government
9:25 am
Tue April 1, 2014

Students wait for tickets to see President Obama speak in Ann Arbor tomorrow

Students wait in line this morning for tickets to see President Obama speak.
Megha Satyanarayana Michigan Radio

President Obama will fly to Michigan tomorrow aboard Air Force One. He's scheduled to deliver a speech on raising the national minimum wage at around 3 p.m. on the campus of the University of Michigan in the Intramural Sports Building.

The event is open to those with tickets and the media.

Students on the campus of the University of Michigan started lining up last night for tickets. They had to wait overnight with their sleeping bags as the Michigan Union just started distributing tickets at 9 a.m. this morning.

MLive's Ben Freed spoke with students in line last night who told him that seeing the president speak is a "pretty unique opportunity." Janie Brown, Freed writes, was one of the first in line:

“I came down here to get food at about four and then I decided to just set up out here so that I wouldn’t get shafted and not get a ticket,” [Brown said]... 

“The last thing I waited this long for was the midnight showing of the last Harry Potter movie. I showed up more than 15 hours early for that and I was in full costume,” she said.

“But that was in daylight, and for a Harry Potter movie. Hopefully this is a bit more impressive.”

The president's last visit to Michigan was on Feb. 7, 2014 when he signed the Farm Bill into law on the campus of Michigan State University. This will be Obama's third trip to U of M while president. The Ann Arbor News' Kellie Woodhouse points out that no other president has visited more while in office.

Families & Community
6:07 am
Tue April 1, 2014

Report: Michigan's African-American children at serious risk

The latest Kids Count report ranks the well-being of Michigan’s African-American children at the bottom of the national survey, only slightly better than Mississippi and Wisconsin. One in six Michigan children is African-American.
Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A new report paints a bleak picture of the well-being of African-American children in Michigan.

The Annie E. Casey Foundation has studied the economic and societal challenges facing children for a long time.

The foundation’s latest study finds Michigan’s children face more challenges than most American children. 

But when the study breaks its findings down by race, Michigan's African-American children face substantially greater problems.

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Politics & Government
6:00 am
Tue April 1, 2014

Detroit City Council approves lease deal that closes the book on Joe Louis Arena

Credit Wikipedia

With a 5-4 vote, the Detroit City Council has narrowly approved a controversial lease deal for the Detroit Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena.

The lease is retroactive to 2010, and runs through 2015. It has five one-year extension options.

The deal will cover the Wings’ remaining playing days at the Joe. The city has already cleared the way for the team’s owners to build a new, $450-million arena complex elsewhere in Detroit.

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Politics & Government
5:11 pm
Mon March 31, 2014

U.S. Rep. Dave Camp says he won't seek re-election

Credit user republicanconference / Flickr

Michigan Congressman Dave Camp has announced he will not seek reelection this year. Camp joins a string of Michigan congressional veterans who’ve said they plan to sit out this year’s election.

Camp’s office sent out this statement:

“Today, I am announcing that I will not seek re-election to the United States House of Representatives.  This decision was reached after much consideration and discussion with my family.

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Stateside
5:10 pm
Mon March 31, 2014

Does the land of opportunity include gender equality?

Are women equal to men in the land of opportunity?
Credit pixabay.com

We often talk about the U.S. as being the land of opportunity. This is the country where you can fulfill your dreams; that is certainly the view of America from many other countries. But is that view justified? 

Here in Michigan, one in four kids lives in poverty. And are girls in Michigan really seen as equals to boys?

We may say, of course they are. But does that belief holdup to close scrutiny?

The BBC's Ros Atkins wanted to find out if there is anyplace in the world that girls and women are treated the same as boys and men.

He has produced a special hour-long documentary tracing the lives of four girls in four countries. It's called "All That Stands in the Way". 

We get Atkins' perspective on this, and we bring in Dustin Dwyer from Michigan Radio's State of Opportunity project to look at how we talk about the American dream as this big grand idea – which may not work out that way in reality.

Listen to the full interview above. 

Health
5:01 pm
Mon March 31, 2014

Last day to enroll for health-care coverage under the Affordable Care Act

Today is the day.

If you don’t sign up for health-care coverage by midnight tonight, you might not be able to get coverage until next year. And if you choose not to get covered, you might get dinged on your 2014 taxes –also known as the "individual shared responsibility payment."

If you can afford health coverage, but you decide to do without, here's how much you might have to pay:

  • In 2014, it's 1% of your yearly income or $95 per person, whichever is higher.
  • In 2015, it’s 2% of your yearly income or $325 per person, whichever is higher.
  • In 2016 and later years, it’s 2.5% of your yearly income or $695 per person, whichever is higher. 
  • After 2016, the fee is adjusted for inflation.

To avoid any potential fees, you need to sign up by tonight.

There are exceptions.

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