Rick Pluta http://michiganradio.org en State orders Enbridge to fix pipeline through Mackinac straits http://michiganradio.org/post/state-orders-enbridge-fix-pipeline-through-mackinac-straits <p>Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette and the state Department of Environmental Quality have sent a warning letter to Enbridge Energy. It says the company has to do a better job of securing an oil pipeline that runs through the Straits of Mackinac.</p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">“We just want to make sure that this pipeline’s going to be safe," said Dan</span><span style="line-height: 1.5;"> </span>Wyant,<span style="line-height: 1.5;">&nbsp;director of the </span>DEQ<span style="line-height: 1.5;">. He says a leak in the pipeline would have implications throughout the Great Lakes.</span></p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">“A lot of concern about this pipeline. Sixty years it’s been safe, but we’re in a position, Attorney General </span>Schuette<span style="line-height: 1.5;">, I as the chief environmental officer of this state, to ensure we don’t have a problem on this pipeline,” he said.</span></p><p>Enbridge<span style="line-height: 1.5;"> quickly responded it would add more anchors to its pipeline. Four years ago, a break in an </span>Enbridge<span style="line-height: 1.5;"> pipe dumped about a million of gallons of oil into the Kalamazoo River.</span></p><p> Thu, 24 Jul 2014 21:46:20 +0000 Rick Pluta 18510 at http://michiganradio.org State orders Enbridge to fix pipeline through Mackinac straits AG prison report cites human, technology errors as prime cause of inmate escape http://michiganradio.org/post/ag-prison-report-cites-human-technology-errors-prime-cause-inmate-escape <p>A <a href="http://www.michigan.gov/documents/ag/Elliot_Report_web_463424_7.pdf">report by the Michigan Attorney General's office</a> has found both human and technology failures played a part in the prison escape of a convicted murderer.</p><p></p><p>Michael Elliot slipped out of the Ionia Correctional Facility last February 2 by crawling under fences during a heavy snowfall. He wore white clothes to blend into the snow. He was captured about 24 hours later in Indiana.</p><p></p> Tue, 22 Jul 2014 02:07:43 +0000 Rick Pluta 18459 at http://michiganradio.org AG prison report cites human, technology errors as prime cause of inmate escape Spying on candidates may be unsettling, but is it really such a bad thing? http://michiganradio.org/post/spying-candidates-may-be-unsettling-it-really-such-bad-thing <p>Cue the James Bond theme as we take up electoral espionage. We’re talking campaign black ops. Political spying.</p><p>We learned this week that Republicans here in Michigan sent two young operatives equipped with a tiny video camera in a pair of glasses to infiltrate a Mark Schauer for Governor campaign event -- looking for whatever they might find. And what did they get? Found out.</p><p>Our ace operatives bungled the job. Dropped the disc with the video where it was found by Democrats. Who, then, made it public, including their brief conversation with Dem lieutenant governor candidate Lisa Brown.</p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">Republicans didn’t deny the operatives were theirs.</span></p><p>Democrats and the Schauer campaign cried foul calling it sneaky, dirty tricks. They got some newspaper headlines. Effective messaging helped along by the fact that it fit did neatly into a narrative courtesy of some missteps -- or what seemed to be missteps -- by Governor Rick Snyder’s campaign.</p><p> Fri, 18 Jul 2014 16:11:06 +0000 Rick Pluta & Zoe Clark 18432 at http://michiganradio.org Spying on candidates may be unsettling, but is it really such a bad thing? DEQ says “no” to pet coke along the Detroit River http://michiganradio.org/post/deq-says-no-pet-coke-along-detroit-river <p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">State environmental officials have rejected a plan to allow piles of petroleum coke to be stored at a location along the Detroit River.</span></p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">Pet coke is an oil refinery by-product that’s used as an industrial fuel.</span></p><p>The state Department of Environmental Quality said the proposal by Detroit Bulk Storage did not address problems with blowing black dust.</p><p>Complaints about dust plumes were among the reasons why Detroit ordered the open piles of pet coke removed from a riverfront location in the city.</p> Thu, 17 Jul 2014 21:40:19 +0000 Rick Pluta 18425 at http://michiganradio.org DEQ says “no” to pet coke along the Detroit River Public hearings on proposed "fracking" rules wraps up, ballot campaign could follow http://michiganradio.org/post/public-hearings-proposed-fracking-rules-wraps-ballot-campaign-could-follow <p>State environmental regulators will put the finishing touches on new rules regarding “fracking” now that public hearings have wrapped up. They expect to have the new rules adopted by the end of the year, but the state’s rules may not be the final word on the controversial drilling process</p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">“Fracking”</span><span style="line-height: 1.5;"> is a drilling method that pushes water and chemicals into wells to force out oil and gas deposits.</span></p> Thu, 17 Jul 2014 18:58:15 +0000 Rick Pluta 18415 at http://michiganradio.org Public hearings on proposed "fracking" rules wraps up, ballot campaign could follow Non-union builders challenge local wage floors http://michiganradio.org/post/non-union-builders-challenge-local-wage-floors <p>An association of non-union construction companies has asked the state Supreme Court to strike down local prevailing wage laws. The Associated Builders and Contractors says a state law preempts the ordinances.</p><p></p><p>Nearly two dozen Michigan communities have their own prevailing wage ordinances. They’re supposed to ensure that workers on city-financed projects are paid something close to union wages.</p><p></p> Tue, 15 Jul 2014 21:40:39 +0000 Rick Pluta 18389 at http://michiganradio.org Non-union builders challenge local wage floors Signed a petition to oppose Asian carp? You actually signed a petition to allow wolf hunting http://michiganradio.org/post/signed-petition-oppose-asian-carp-you-actually-signed-petition-allow-wolf-hunting <p><span style="font-family: Arial; font-size: 15px; line-height: 1.15; white-space: pre-wrap;">This week, pretty much unnoticed, the deadline came and went for opponents to file challenges to petitions filed by the Citizens for Professional Wildlife Management campaign to initiate a law. This is part of the ongoing political battle over wolf hunting in the Upper Peninsula.</span></p><p></p><p><span style="font-family: Arial; font-size: 15px; white-space: pre-wrap; line-height: 1.15;">The </span>CPWM<span style="font-family: Arial; font-size: 15px; white-space: pre-wrap; line-height: 1.15;"> petition drive would create a new version of the law to allow wolf hunting, and it would take future decisions on designating game animals and put it with the state Natural Resources Commission instead of the Legislature.</span></p><p><span style="font-family: Arial; font-size: 15px; white-space: pre-wrap; line-height: 1.15;">Now, not everyone may recognize that petition campaign. But, if you signed a petition to oppose Asian carp in the Great Lakes, you signed a petition to allow wolf hunting in the UP. If you signed a petition to allow active duty military personnel to get free hunting and fishing licenses, you signed a petition to allow wolf hunting.</span></p><p> Fri, 11 Jul 2014 18:05:28 +0000 Rick Pluta & Zoe Clark 18349 at http://michiganradio.org Signed a petition to oppose Asian carp? You actually signed a petition to allow wolf hunting Activist groups complain that Michigan Legislature circumvents petition drives, elections http://michiganradio.org/post/activist-groups-complain-michigan-legislature-circumvents-petition-drives-elections <p>A coalition of activist groups is trying to make an issue of the Legislature passing laws to bypass petition drives and ballot measures.</p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">The groups say Republicans at the state Capitol have circumvented voters on questions including the emergency manager law, the minimum wage, and wolf hunting. In each of those cases, the Legislature passed laws that ran contrary to the results of an election or a petition drive.</span></p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">Danielle Atkinson is with the campaign to increase the state minimum wage to $10.10 an hour. She says the Legislature acted legally, but violated the spirit of the Michigan Constitution’s power to use the ballot to initiate or challenge laws.</span></p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">“This is not what the drafters of the state constitution intended when they gave people the right to petition their government.”</span></p><p> Wed, 09 Jul 2014 15:43:00 +0000 Rick Pluta 18309 at http://michiganradio.org Activist groups complain that Michigan Legislature circumvents petition drives, elections Michigan Supreme Court rules juvenile lifers not entitled to re-sentencing hearings http://michiganradio.org/post/michigan-supreme-court-rules-juvenile-lifers-not-entitled-re-sentencing-hearings <p>The Michigan Supreme Court says felons sentenced as juveniles to life without parole won’t get new sentences.</p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">That’s despite a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that says it’s cruel and unusual punishment.</span></p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">The question was whether the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Miller vs. Alabama applies retroactively in Michigan to more than 300 inmates sentenced as juveniles to life without parole, or if it only applies to future cases.</span></p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">A four-to-three majority on the state Supreme Court says it would present too many financial and logistical barriers to go back and find lost witnesses and evidence for new sentencing hearings.</span></p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">The Miller decision says mandatory life sentences for juveniles are unconstitutional because they don’t take into account each child’s circumstances.</span></p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">States have split on how to handle the Miller decision, which suggests the issue could yet be headed back one day to the U.S. Supreme Court.</span></p><p> Tue, 08 Jul 2014 20:46:04 +0000 Rick Pluta 18300 at http://michiganradio.org Michigan Supreme Court rules juvenile lifers not entitled to re-sentencing hearings Appeals court says no drilling in Pigeon River forest http://michiganradio.org/post/appeals-court-says-no-drilling-pigeon-river-forest <p>The Michigan Court of Appeals says state regulators were correct to deny a drilling permit to developers who want to put oil wells on private land surrounded by a state forest.</p><p></p><p>The developers said the state should either grant the permit, or compensate them for their lost investment. They want to put 11 wells on private property surrounded by the Pigeon River Country State Forest in northern lower Michigan. The state Department of Environmental Quality said the wells were either in designated no-drill zones, or were too close to water.</p><p></p><p>“The takeaway from this decision is that you can’t drill an oil well just any old place in the state of Michigan,” said DEQ spokesman Brad Wurful. “There are some areas that are off limits.”</p><p></p><p>And the decision says since that was clear up front, the developers don’t get a payback from the state.</p><p></p><p>“What the court said was, everybody knew this beforehand going into this and it was clear,” Wurful said. “Nobody got surprised here. They simply wanted to do something that was not allowed and the court upheld that. We’re pretty pleased with the decision, obviously.”</p><p></p><p>The developers can file a new permit request with plans to use different technology, like directional drilling. They can also take their case to the Michigan Supreme Court.</p><p> Wed, 02 Jul 2014 21:31:02 +0000 Rick Pluta 18251 at http://michiganradio.org Appeals court says no drilling in Pigeon River forest Snyder: Prison food contract troubles are “unacceptable” http://michiganradio.org/post/snyder-prison-food-contract-troubles-are-unacceptable <p>Governor Rick Snyder says a deal with a private contractor to provide food for state prisons could be terminated if there are future problems with the company. Aramark Food Services was awarded the $145 million, three-year contract last December. But the arrangement has been beset by problems since then.</p><p></p><p>Aramark has been fined by the state for unapproved menu changes and running out of food. Also, 70 Aramark employees are banned from state prisons for inappropriate relationships with prisoners.</p><p></p> Tue, 01 Jul 2014 21:05:40 +0000 Rick Pluta 18229 at http://michiganradio.org Snyder: Prison food contract troubles are “unacceptable” Court decision could affect health care, right-to-work cases http://michiganradio.org/post/court-decision-could-affect-health-care-right-work-cases <p>A U.S. Supreme Court decision that limits how unions can organize many workers who are paid with public money also upholds a two-year-old Michigan law. And it could have an effect on the ongoing litigation over home health care workers.</p><p></p><p>Unions saw an opportunity to increase their ranks by organizing home health care assistants – independent contractors, often family members, who provide home care for elderly people, patients in recovery, and children.&nbsp;</p><p></p><p>Republicans in the Legislature outlawed mandatory union membership for publicly paid home health assistants in 2012. That same year, voters also rejected a ballot proposal to allow it.</p><p></p><p>“And this really settles the issue in Michigan and nationally,” said Patrick Wright. He’s an attorney with the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, which filed a lawsuit against the organizing effort. “The United States Supreme Court has looked at something that we said was illegal and said, yes, this is illegal across the entire country.”</p><p> Tue, 01 Jul 2014 02:24:54 +0000 Rick Pluta 18215 at http://michiganradio.org Court decision could affect health care, right-to-work cases Detroit Mayor gets a lot from Lansing in his first six months, but will it last? http://michiganradio.org/post/detroit-mayor-gets-lot-lansing-his-first-six-months-will-it-last <p>It’s been almost six months since Mike Duggan took over as mayor of Detroit. He took over a city however, run by someone else: state-appointed Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr.</p><p>But, that doesn’t mean Duggan has been denied all the rites of passage of the job including the schlep to Lansing to ask the state Legislature for something. Every mayor has to do it. And Duggan had to go to Lansing with a really big ‘ask.’ We’re talking about the $195 million dollar rescue package for his city (that’s right, ‘rescue,’ ‘settlement.’ Just don’t call it a ‘bailout.’)</p><p>Getting the Republican-led state House and Senate to go along with sending almost $200 million dollars to a Democratically-controlled city was not an easy task. Fri, 27 Jun 2014 22:01:27 +0000 Zoe Clark & Rick Pluta 18193 at http://michiganradio.org Detroit Mayor gets a lot from Lansing in his first six months, but will it last? Governor signs law to speed up rape kit tests http://michiganradio.org/post/governor-signs-law-speed-rape-kit-tests <p>Governor Rick Snyder has signed a law that requires police and hospitals to handle rape evidence kits in a timely fashion. It’s a response to the discovery in 2009 of 11,000 abandoned evidence kits in a Detroit police warehouse.</p><p></p><p>Governor Snyder says the Michigan State Police is on track to clear the backlog by next May. But the goal of the new law is to ensure future backlogs don’t happen.</p><p></p> Fri, 27 Jun 2014 03:09:41 +0000 Rick Pluta 18180 at http://michiganradio.org Governor signs law to speed up rape kit tests MEDC creates fund to leverage crowdsource money http://michiganradio.org/post/medc-creates-fund-leverage-crowdsource-money <p>The Michigan Economic Development Corporation has created a fund to help leverage more money for public beautification projects. It’s a partnership with a crowdsourcing website to help local governments raise funds for parks, sculptures, tree-planting and similar projects.</p><p>Mike Finney is the director of the MEDC. He says it’s a new way to attract private investments in public projects.</p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">“It’s a great way to stretch our dollars much further than they would otherwise if this had to be a public sector project in and of itself,” Finney said.</span></p><p>The state will match up to $100,000 for approved projects raised through the website, crowdfundingmi.com. Finney says this is the first time that he’s heard of the public sector using crowdfunding to raise money for local beautification projects. &nbsp;</p><p> Wed, 25 Jun 2014 23:07:46 +0000 Rick Pluta 18154 at http://michiganradio.org MEDC creates fund to leverage crowdsource money Gov. Snyder wants more transparency in spending by schools, but not charter companies http://michiganradio.org/post/gov-snyder-wants-more-transparency-spending-schools-not-charter-companies <p>Governor Rick Snyder says he’s for more transparency in school spending, but he’s not ready to apply those standards to private companies that run charter schools.</p> Wed, 25 Jun 2014 10:59:00 +0000 Rick Pluta 18138 at http://michiganradio.org Gov. Snyder wants more transparency in spending by schools, but not charter companies Snyder signs Detroit rescue package, stresses city’s recovery http://michiganradio.org/post/snyder-signs-detroit-rescue-package-stresses-city-s-recovery <p>Gov. Rick Snyder has signed legislation that authorizes the state’s $195 million contribution to the Detroit bankruptcy settlement. The governor says the settlement is a good deal for taxpayers because it sets the stage for the city’s comeback.</p><p></p><p>Gov. Snyder called Detroit’s bankruptcy the “darkest chapter” in the city’s history. But he says the taxpayer donation shows the entire state is behind the Detroit recovery effort.</p> Fri, 20 Jun 2014 22:08:31 +0000 Rick Pluta 18098 at http://michiganradio.org Snyder signs Detroit rescue package, stresses city’s recovery Judges can't order convicts to pay court costs in all cases http://michiganradio.org/post/judges-cant-order-convicts-pay-court-costs-all-cases <p>The Michigan Supreme Court says judges can’t order people convicted of a crime to pay the costs to the legal system – unless it’s been specifically allowed by the Legislature.<br />&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;<br />It’s been routine in Michigan for judges to order defendants to pay prosecution and court costs as a part of sentencing.</p><p>In this case, Frederick Cunningham was convicted in Allegan County of a prescription drug offense. The judge ordered Cunningham to pay $1,000 in unspecified “court costs.” But Michigan’s prescription drug law doesn’t mention court costs.</p> Thu, 19 Jun 2014 14:40:50 +0000 Rick Pluta 18069 at http://michiganradio.org Judges can't order convicts to pay court costs in all cases Democrats sponsor bill to roll back abortion insurance law http://michiganradio.org/post/democrats-sponsor-bill-roll-back-abortion-insurance-law <p>Democrats in the state Legislature have rolled out a bill to repeal the state’s petition-initiated law that requires people who want abortion coverage to buy a separate insurance policy. They acknowledge they don’t have the votes to repeal the law that was approved just last year by the Legislature. They say they’re hoping to open a public conversation on the law and its effects.</p> Mon, 16 Jun 2014 22:16:02 +0000 Rick Pluta 18028 at http://michiganradio.org Democrats sponsor bill to roll back abortion insurance law Here’s why the state Senate couldn’t pass road funding http://michiganradio.org/post/here-s-why-state-senate-couldn-t-pass-road-funding <p><span style="color: rgb(0, 0, 0); font-family: Arial; font-size: 15px; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; background-color: transparent;">"Unfortunately, this is an issue that I would admit there are too much politics going on." </span><span style="color: rgb(0, 0, 0); font-family: Arial; font-size: 15px; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; background-color: transparent;"> That was Gov. Rick Snyder last night, after it became clear that a major roads funding package was not going to get passed in the state Senate.</span></p><p><span style="color: rgb(0, 0, 0); font-family: Arial; font-size: 15px; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; background-color: transparent;">"</span><span style="color: rgb(0, 0, 0); font-family: Arial; font-size: 15px; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; background-color: transparent;">...If we were sitting at the kitchen table as a big family,” he continued, “and you looked at this issue, we would have solved this problem.”</span></p><p><span style="color: rgb(0, 0, 0); font-family: Arial; font-size: 15px; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; background-color: transparent;">Sure. Or our big family would fight about who wrecked the roads in the first place and that it was your fault – you and your big truck – which is why we can’t have nice roads and don’t you know I have a primary and, by the way, I haven’t forgotten who wrecked the roads that you won’t fix because you should.</span></p><p><span style="color: rgb(0, 0, 0); font-family: Arial; font-size: 15px; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; background-color: transparent;">But, we digress.</span></p><p><span style="color: rgb(0, 0, 0); font-family: Arial; font-size: 15px; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; background-color: transparent;">There were a lot of reasons why this road-funding deal failed to come together, despite some recent instances of actual bipartisanship, like increasing the state’s minimum wage and the Detroit rescue package. But those were exceptions in this era of Republican hegemony in Lansing. Fri, 13 Jun 2014 17:34:37 +0000 Zoe Clark & Rick Pluta 17993 at http://michiganradio.org Here’s why the state Senate couldn’t pass road funding