legislature http://michiganradio.org en Searching for the right solution to fix Michigan's roads http://michiganradio.org/post/searching-right-solution-fix-michigans-roads <p></p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">Recently I criticized the Legislature and State Senator Jack </span>Brandenberg<span style="line-height: 1.5;"> for wanting to roll back state income taxes. He has a bill to cut the rate from 4.25% to 3.9% over three years.</span></p><p>For an average taxpayer, that would mean a tax cut of less than a hundred bucks a year. But it would leave the state with nearly a billion dollars a year less, when it already doesn’t have enough money to maintain the roads or provide other services.</p><p>After this bill sailed through the Senate Finance Committee earlier this month, I said I thought it was irresponsible election year pandering.</p><p>Later, Sen.&nbsp;Brandenberg called me.</p><p>He was warm, earnest, had a sense of humor, and said I had gotten it wrong. He wasn’t pandering in the least, he told me; this is what he genuinely believed. He said this stemmed from an agreement to roll back taxes going back to when Jennifer Granholm was governor.</p><p>I thought his calling me took class, and it was clear he really does believe in this. Brandenberg has no need to pander; he is certain to be reelected this fall to a safe Republican seat.</p><p> Fri, 14 Mar 2014 14:26:12 +0000 Jack Lessenberry 16850 at http://michiganradio.org Searching for the right solution to fix Michigan's roads Can our political system in Michigan be saved? http://michiganradio.org/post/can-our-political-system-michigan-be-saved <p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">They used to say that the definition of chutzpah was the boy who killed his parents and then asked the court for mercy since he was an orphan. But that was improved on twice this week.</span></p><p>First, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan began talking about making a bid for the Democratic National Convention two years from now.</p><p>That’s a nice “comeback kid” idea, but there are two major problems.</p><p>The entire metro area probably doesn’t have enough hotel space. Detroit could barely host the Republican Convention in 1980, and Democratic conventions have more delegates.</p><p>Plus, conventions are expensive. Fri, 21 Feb 2014 15:44:25 +0000 Jack Lessenberry 16542 at http://michiganradio.org Can our political system in Michigan be saved? Odds are against Snyder's attempt to save Detroit pensions and art http://michiganradio.org/post/odds-are-against-snyders-attempt-save-detroit-pensions-and-art <p></p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">There was a lot of rejoicing yesterday at the news that the governor had signed on to a so-called “grand bargain” to help save the collections of the Detroit Institute of Arts.</span></p><p>Detroit is, of course, going through bankruptcy.</p><p>Creditors want as much as possible of the money owed them. Those counting on city pensions want to make sure they get their money, even if the DIA’s world-class collections have to be sold.<br /><br />Selling the art would be devastating not only to art lovers, but it might deal the city a cultural blow from which it could never recover.</p><p> Thu, 23 Jan 2014 14:35:28 +0000 Jack Lessenberry 16148 at http://michiganradio.org Odds are against Snyder's attempt to save Detroit pensions and art Republican strategist says switching to a part-time Legislature would not be good for Michigan http://michiganradio.org/post/republican-strategist-says-switching-part-time-legislature-would-not-be-good-michigan <p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">Starting next month, the Committee to Restore Michigan's Part-Time Legislature says they will be looking for your signatures. They've got six months to gather 400,000 voter signatures to get a big question on the November 2014 ballot: Should we amend Michigan's Constitution to switch our state to a part-time Legislature?</span></p><p>We'll be looking at both sides of this idea. Today we welcome a Republican strategist who believes this proposal is not in the best interest of Michigan.</p><p>Dennis Lennox is a columnist for The Morning Sun and a public affairs consultant.</p><p><em>Listen to the full interview above.</em></p><p> Tue, 17 Dec 2013 22:07:54 +0000 Stateside Staff 15737 at http://michiganradio.org Republican strategist says switching to a part-time Legislature would not be good for Michigan Part-time Michigan Legislature could mean more power for bureaucrats and lobbyists http://michiganradio.org/post/part-time-michigan-legislature-could-mean-more-power-bureaucrats-and-lobbyists <p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">You might be asked to sign a petition next year to cut Michigan legislators’ pay and make their job part-time. The state constitution will have to be amended to accomplish that.</span></p><p>There could be some unintended consequences in doing that.</p> Fri, 13 Dec 2013 13:46:18 +0000 Lester Graham 15671 at http://michiganradio.org Part-time Michigan Legislature could mean more power for bureaucrats and lobbyists Legislators in Lansing pass fix to Michigan’s fireworks law http://michiganradio.org/post/legislators-lansing-pass-fix-michigan-s-fireworks-law <p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">A bill to fix Michigan’s fireworks law is headed to Governor Rick Snyder’s desk. The state Legislature passed the legislation almost unanimously.</span></p><p>Last year, state lawmakers legalized high powered fireworks for consumer use. That sparked thousands of complaints from across the state about loud blasts into the early morning hours.</p><p>Harold Haugh&nbsp;(D-Roseville) is the bill’s sponsor. He says he’s received thousands of complaints about loud blasts into the early morning hours.</p><p>"So we tried to take all of the inputs that we could and put it into a common sense approach," explained Haugh. "And obviously with the votes, my colleagues in both the House and Senate – both Democrat and Republican alike – agreed with what we had put together."</p><p>The bill would allow local governments to prohibit overnight fireworks use on and around national holidays. Municipalities are already able to restrict fireworks the rest of the year.</p><p>Haugh says he expects Governor Snyder to sign the bill in time for July Fourth. Thu, 13 Jun 2013 15:46:51 +0000 Jake Neher 13033 at http://michiganradio.org Legislators in Lansing pass fix to Michigan’s fireworks law State House panel votes to accept federal dollars to set up health care exchange http://michiganradio.org/post/state-house-panel-votes-accept-federal-dollars-set-health-care-exchange <p>A bill to set up a healthcare exchange in Michigan has passed its first hurdle in the state Legislature. A House panel today voted to accept more than $30 million from Washington to set up the exchange.</p><p>It would be a partnership between the state and the federal government under the Affordable Care Act.</p><p>House Appropriations Chair Joe Haveman says the alternative would be a federal exchange with no state control.</p><p>“Although it may appear like it was a step in the wrong direction or endorsing Obamacare, this was the conservative vote. The other vote was the liberal vote to say ‘we want the federal government to take us over.’”</p><p>Governor Rick Snyder wanted an exchange run entirely by the state. But lawmakers did not act in time, and that’s now off the table.</p><p>The bill now goes to the floor of the state House. Wed, 27 Feb 2013 20:55:04 +0000 Jake Neher 11448 at http://michiganradio.org State House panel votes to accept federal dollars to set up health care exchange State House panel moves to keep legal blood alcohol limit at .08 http://michiganradio.org/post/state-house-panel-moves-keep-legal-blood-alcohol-limit-08 <p>Bills to keep Michigan’s legal blood alcohol limit for drivers at point-zero-eight are getting little to no opposition in the state Legislature. A House panel today unanimously approved the legislation.</p><p>Without it, the state’s legal limit would revert to .10 in October. That’s when the law that sets it at .08 expires.</p><p>Republican state Representative Andrea LaFontaine says it’s common sense legislation.</p> Wed, 20 Feb 2013 20:49:20 +0000 Jake Neher 11327 at http://michiganradio.org State House panel moves to keep legal blood alcohol limit at .08 Lawsuit filed to protect Great Lakes wolf population http://michiganradio.org/post/lawsuit-filed-protect-great-lakes-wolf-population <p>The Humane Society along with several other groups filed a lawsuit in federal court today to put a stop to gray wolf hunting in the Great Lakes Region.</p><p>The lawsuit is against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service over its decision to remove gray wolves in the western Great Lakes region from the <a href="http://www.fws.gov/endangered/laws-policies/index.html">Endangered Species List</a>.</p><p>If its successful, the lawsuit would place the wolves back under federal protection. Tue, 12 Feb 2013 21:34:25 +0000 Michigan Radio Newsroom 11205 at http://michiganradio.org Lawsuit filed to protect Great Lakes wolf population Playing politics with charter schools http://michiganradio.org/post/playing-politics-charter-schools <p>It seems pretty clear that Republicans are intent on ramming through legislation that will result in a vast expansion of Michigan charter schools. Up to now, there has been a limit on how many could be authorized. Charter schools had to be sanctioned by universities, and no university could charter more than 150 of them.</p><p>Yesterday, the House Education Committee approved a bill&nbsp; removing that cap. New committee chair Tom McMillan pretty much gaveled down any attempt by minority Democrats to amend the bill, with one minor exception.</p> Thu, 01 Dec 2011 14:10:16 +0000 Jack Lessenberry 5207 at http://michiganradio.org Playing politics with charter schools Stronger fireworks may soon be available in MI http://michiganradio.org/post/stronger-fireworks-may-soon-be-available-mi <p>Michigan could soon expand the lineup of legal fireworks that consumers can buy without special permits.</p><p>The state Legislature has approved measures that would allow some consumer fireworks such as firecrackers, bottle rockets and Roman candles to legally be sold in the state. Governor Snyder likely will sign the bill in time for it to become law in 2012.</p> Sat, 12 Nov 2011 18:30:46 +0000 The Associated Press 4963 at http://michiganradio.org Stronger fireworks may soon be available in MI Consequences of eliminating mandatory no-fault auto insurance http://michiganradio.org/post/consequences-eliminating-mandatory-no-fault-auto-insurance <p>http://stream.publicbroadcasting.net/production/mp3/michigan/local-michigan-983844.mp3</p><p>The Michigan legislature is considering bills to end the state&rsquo;s mandatory no-fault auto insurance.&nbsp; Its supporters say it will give consumers more choices and help reduce cost of auto insurance.&nbsp; Opponents say it&rsquo;s a misguided effort that will have very little effect on insurance rates and could mean people who suffer injuries won&rsquo;t get the help they need to fully recover.&nbsp;</p> Mon, 29 Aug 2011 11:42:00 +0000 Lester Graham 3940 at http://michiganradio.org Consequences of eliminating mandatory no-fault auto insurance Midsummer session today at the State Capitol http://michiganradio.org/post/midsummer-session-today-state-capitol <p>The state Senate is meeting today to take up a few outstanding issues. The session comes as lawmakers are in the middle of a<a href="http://michiganradio.org/post/lawmakers-return-lansing-occasionally-july-and-august"> two-month legislative break</a>. A <a href="http://michiganradio.org/post/michigans-new-speaker-house-calls-welfare-caps">stricter limit on welfare benefits</a> is one issue that is expected to be brought up during the session. The Associated Press reports:</p><blockquote><p>One of the bills that could come up for a vote Wednesday would put a stricter four-year lifetime limit on welfare benefits into state law. The legislation would reflect welfare limits approve earlier this year as part of the state budget plan. Michigan&#39;s current law has a similar time limit but it has more exceptions than the revised plan. The current law is due to expire in late September unless it&#39;s renewed or changed by lawmakers. Critics say the limits would boot some needy families off public assistance. The House already has approved the welfare limits legislation.</p></blockquote><p>Meanwhile, State Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville says lawmakers will also likely continue debate over what to do about <a href="http://www.michiganradio.org/post/battling-asian-carp-land">wild boar on hunting ranches</a>. Laura Weber reports:</p><blockquote><p>The Department of Natural Resources has pushed back enforcement of a rule that would require hunting ranches to get rid of wild boars. Ranch operators say that would put many of them out of business. Richardville says he&rsquo;s not deeply moved by the issue, but understands it is an important to the agriculture community.</p></blockquote><p>The Senate is also expected to deal with health insurance benefits for public employees. Wed, 13 Jul 2011 11:36:54 +0000 Zoe Clark 3275 at http://michiganradio.org Midsummer session today at the State Capitol Redistricting, then and now (audio) http://michiganradio.org/post/redistricting-then-and-now-audio <p>The new redistricting maps drawn up by the Republican majorities in the Michigan Legislature are unveiled and Democrats are not happy.</p><p>Michigan Radio&rsquo;s political analyst Jack Lessenberry gives some historical context to the upcoming fight over redistricting.&nbsp; He spoke to Michigan Radio&#39;s Jenn White.&nbsp; You can here the interview here.</p><p>http://stream.publicbroadcasting.net/production/mp3/michigan/local-michigan-975488.mp3</p><p>The rules are different than they used to be, but basically all districts should have the same population, for congressional districts, exactly the same, according to Lessenberry. State legislative districts can have up to a 5% variation.</p><p>He says this was not the case in the 1960&#39;s.</p><blockquote><p>&quot;Before the U. S. Supreme Court decisions in the early 1960&#39;s there was no requirement that they have the same population. So you had, in the case of Michigan, both congressional districts and legislative districts that were several times larger than one or the other one, and they each got one representative.&quot;</p></blockquote><p>Lessenberry gives us a lesson on gerrymandering and explains the origin of the term. In 1812, Governor Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts presided over the drawing of a district that was shaped as a salamander.</p><p> Wed, 29 Jun 2011 20:37:19 +0000 Jennifer White 3083 at http://michiganradio.org Redistricting, then and now (audio) State lawmakers consider changes to Medical Marijuana Act http://michiganradio.org/post/state-lawmakers-consider-changes-medical-marijuana-act <p>Members of the Michigan legislature are considering <a href="http://www.legislature.mi.gov/%28S%28c2tr5v451ngnl2e13w5f3v45%29%29/mileg.aspx?page=Bills">several bills</a> that would amend the state&rsquo;s medical marijuana law. One bill would <a href="http://www.legislature.mi.gov/%28S%28c2tr5v451ngnl2e13w5f3v45%29%29/mileg.aspx?page=getObject&amp;objectName=2011-SB-0377">create a database</a> of marijuana license holders. Wed, 22 Jun 2011 19:05:38 +0000 Michigan Radio Newsroom 2993 at http://michiganradio.org State lawmakers consider changes to Medical Marijuana Act Redistricting: drawing the political maps http://michiganradio.org/post/redistricting-drawing-political-maps <p>http://stream.publicbroadcasting.net/production/mp3/michigan/local-michigan-967618.mp3</p><p>States must redraw congressional and legislative <a href="http://www.michigan.gov/cgi/0,1607,7-158-52927_53037_12540_13083---,00.html">maps</a> to adjust for the shifts in population when the <a href="http://www.census.gov/newsroom/releases/archives/2010_census/cb11-cn132.html">census numbers</a> are released every ten years.&nbsp; This time <a href="http://news.michiganradio.org/post/census-shows-michigan-only-state-lose-population">Michigan lost population </a>while other states gained.&nbsp; That means Michigan will lose a representative in Congress.&nbsp; But there were also shifts of population within the state which means the state house and senate districts will have to be redrawn. Mon, 09 May 2011 11:42:13 +0000 Lester Graham 2390 at http://michiganradio.org Redistricting: drawing the political maps A look at who wins, who loses under Snyder's budget proposal http://michiganradio.org/post/look-who-wins-who-loses-under-snyders-budget-proposal <p>(This story originally aired on <a href="http://marketplace.publicradio.org/show/marketplace/">Marketplace</a>)</p><p>Across the country, states are weighing competing funding priorities as they work to close gaping budget deficits.</p><p>In Michigan, Republican Governor Rick Snyder isn&rsquo;t just trying to erase $1.4 billion in red ink. He also wants to fundamentally remake the state&rsquo;s tax code. Snyder says it&rsquo;ll help reverse years of economic decline.</p><p><strong>Re-writing the tax code</strong></p> Fri, 22 Apr 2011 17:00:27 +0000 Jennifer Guerra 2175 at http://michiganradio.org A look at who wins, who loses under Snyder's budget proposal Lt. Gov says tax plan debate will continue through break http://michiganradio.org/post/lt-gov-says-tax-plan-debate-will-continue-through-break <p>State lawmakers have begun their two-week spring break, but many of them say they will still be in Lansing working on budget issues. That includes negotiating with Governor Rick Snyder on tax reforms.</p><p>Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley says he expects lawmakers to meet Governor Snyder&rsquo;s May 31<sup>st</sup> deadline to complete work on the budget.</p><blockquote><p>&ldquo;Any time that we waste right now adds time on the back end, and we really owe all the constituencies who depend on state an answer before we get to the same type of timeframe that we&rsquo;ve dealt with in the past. So, it&rsquo;s not really fair to put these things off until fall or even late summer.&rdquo;</p></blockquote><p>Snyder has proposed a tax on pensions, a new corporate income tax to replace the Michigan Business Tax, and scaling back tax credits.</p><p>Calley told lawmakers that if they don&rsquo;t like Snyder&rsquo;s plan, they need to put something else on the table that will help end the budget deficit.</p><p>Republicans in the Senate are expected to unveil a plan that includes an expanded corporate income tax, and to hold off on taxing pensions. Mon, 28 Mar 2011 10:38:22 +0000 Laura Weber 1805 at http://michiganradio.org Lt. Gov says tax plan debate will continue through break Michigan's price tag law headed for repeal http://michiganradio.org/post/michigans-price-tag-law-headed-repeal <p>Michigan has the strictest retail pricing law in the nation. But now the state is poised to repeal the law that requires individual price tags on everything from canned food to lumber.</p><p>Retailers have been trying to get rid of the law since it was passed 30 years ago to try to protect consumers from being overcharged in checkout lines.</p><p>Michigan&rsquo;s item pricing law was enacted in the 1970s just as electronic scanners were becoming commonplace. No other state has a law this expansive. Massachusetts requires item pricing for groceries.</p><p>Consumers like this law, and it was once-considered untouchable. But now with a new Republican governor and emboldened GOP majorities in the Legislature, Michigan is on the verge of repealing it.</p><p>Retired construction supervisor John McKenzie isn&rsquo;t happy about that. He says price tags ensure that he knows the cost of something before he buys it, and that he&rsquo;s being charged the correct price in the checkout line.</p><p>McKenzie says he also double checks the price against his store receipt when he gets home:</p><blockquote><p>&ldquo;If you don&rsquo;t have that price tag on there, how do you know what that item was priced at back at the store? I mean, we&rsquo;ve all picked an item off the shelf and when we get up there the item rings up differently.&rdquo;</p></blockquote><p>Michigan&rsquo;s pricing law allows consumers who find a mistake to collect a bounty of up to $5 per error.</p><p>Retailers also face fines for not putting price tags on items. Five years ago, Wal-Mart paid a record fine of $1.5 million here.</p><p>Big retailers say the law is expensive for stores and for shoppers &ndash; although no one can say how much consumers might save if the law is repealed.&nbsp; Smaller stores say it fails to take their needs into account.</p><p>Musician Mike Daniels shows off a guitar on the showroom floor of Marshall Music.</p><p>Owner Dan Marshall says his store complies with the law &ndash; mostly. There are some things, small or thin items like woodwind reeds, guitar picks, and drumsticks, that it makes no sense to price individually:</p><blockquote><p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;ve got an entire display of drumsticks and in each bin, the price is clearly marked, but on each individual stick, they&rsquo;re not.&rdquo;</p></blockquote><p>Marshall says, in some cases, labels would cover up package information that customers care about:</p><blockquote><p>&ldquo;Truth be known, practicality trumps law in some cases, and we&rsquo;re in violation of the item pricing. Not maliciously, simply because it&rsquo;s so impractical and unnecessary.&quot;</p></blockquote><p>Marshall&rsquo;s not alone. In Michigan, the price tag law may be the most widely ignored law since the 55 mile per hour speed limit.</p><p>Retailers think they&rsquo;ve made their sale to the state&rsquo;s political leaders that&rsquo;s it&rsquo;s time to close the books on Michigan&rsquo;s one-of-a-kind price tag law. Thu, 10 Mar 2011 13:13:37 +0000 Rick Pluta 1580 at http://michiganradio.org Michigan's price tag law headed for repeal Marijuana Clubs come under fire in state Senate http://michiganradio.org/post/marijuana-clubs-come-under-fire-state-senate <p>People with medical marijuana cards may soon be unable to smoke together in their support groups. A bill approved by a state Senate committee would prohibit so-called &ldquo;marijuana clubs&rdquo; or bars.</p><p>Republican state Senator Rick Jones says people who gather to smoke marijuana away from their homes could easily become a danger on the roads to other drivers.</p><blockquote><p>&nbsp;&ldquo;There&rsquo;s really no good reason for people to gather and consume marijuana. If somebody really needs to know how to use it, their care provider can go to their home and teach them. They don&rsquo;t need to gather in a bar-like atmosphere.&rdquo;</p></blockquote><p>Medical marijuana supporters say the bill is a continued attempt by lawmakers to add rules to the constitutional amendment approved by voters. The Michigan Medical Marijuana Act was approved by voters by a wide margin in 2008.</p><p>Greg Pawlowski is a representative of medical marijuana support groups. He told lawmakers that regulation of the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act is an attempt to stifle the voices of patients.&nbsp;</p><blockquote><p>&nbsp;&ldquo;I applaud you so much for taking the time to talk to us, but now you need to hear what we have to say, and not talk amongst each other that we&rsquo;re wrong. Because this is not an issue of being right or wrong, this is a human issue. I should not have to be a second-class citizen and have to have a patient card.&rdquo; Fri, 04 Mar 2011 11:41:49 +0000 Laura Weber 1505 at http://michiganradio.org Marijuana Clubs come under fire in state Senate