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It’s clear that our grossly gerrymandered legislature is painfully out of touch with the needs and desires of Michigan citizens.


The Supreme Court’s decision to allow voters to take the authority to draw congressional district lines away from state legislatures and give it to independent commissions has many Democrats and progressives in Michigan very happy.

There’s been lots of rejoicing among those who’ve hated gerrymandering – the drawing of district lines to benefit one party over the over.

9-11 veterans: Jamaine Atkins, Sherman Powell, Russ Dotson (top, L-R), Cassie Michael, Curtis Gibson, Andrew Hunter (middle), Eric Fretz, Cody Barnhart, Brendan Lejeune (bottom).
Mark Brush, Paula Friedrich, Mercedes Mejia / Michigan Radio

There used to be a time in our country's history when many people had a connection to someone serving in the Armed Forces - people had a brother, a cousin, an uncle or an aunt who served in WWII, Korea, or Vietnam.

Today, having that connection to the military is not as common. Volunteers fill the military's ranks, and civilians have grown farther apart from those who put their lives on the line.

All this week, we're bringing you stories about Michigan's post 9/11 veterans - stories about what life has been like since their return home.

Blue Ocean Faith is an all-inclusive Christian community in Ann Arbor
user Marlith / Flickr

Democrats hope the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage will provide momentum for adding LGBT protections to Michigan’s civil rights law.

Ten Democrats have sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof (R-West Olive) asking him to hold a vote on Senate Bill 315.

They say the fact that Michiganders can be fired or denied housing for being gay reflects poorly on legislative leaders.

“It’s an embarrassment and people are laughing at them right now.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

After spending years of taking orders in the military, a growing number of Michigan veterans are now giving orders in the civilian world. 

"A couple years ago, I had a few home-brew beers with a buddy of mine," Erik May says. "And I started asking him where the beer geographically came from.  Where the ingredients came from.  Pretty quickly I realized there was a big need for local malt."

From that realization, Air Force veteran Erik May launched his West Michigan malt-making business.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A new poll shows shifting views on the safety of childhood vaccines.

The University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children's Hospital National Poll on Children's Health asked parents how their views have changed during the past year.

Poll director Matt Davis says a third of parents say they believe vaccines are safer and more effective than they thought a year ago. A smaller percentage have more doubts.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Voters in Flint face a deadline today [Monday] to register for next month’s mayoral primary. But it’s not that easy.

Anyone wanting to register to vote at the Flint city clerk’s office today will find the city hall’s doors locked.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

People could soon pay more to ride the bus in Grand Rapids.

A proposal to help balance The Rapid’s operating budget would hike regular fares from $1.50 to $1.75. That’s what regular fares cost in Flint, but more than it costs to ride the bus in Ann Arbor, Kalamazoo, Lansing or Detroit.

The Rapid spokeswoman Jennifer Kalczuk says staff compared prices with systems in Michigan and beyond. “We’re comfortable that the proposal keeps us within that peer group range,” she said.

Sometimes we wake up on the wrong side of bed, and most of us find the sunshine the next day. But an ancient fellow by the name of Richard Grant White seemed to always be a bit cranky, and he took his crankiness out on language.

There were many words and phrases that White griped about in his 18th century grammar book, Words and Their Uses Past and Present.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A new University of Michigan study finds teenage girls are less likely to use contraception if they are obese.  

Researchers from the U of M Health System surveyed 900 18- and 19-year-old Michigan women.  

The researchers found obese teens are less likely to use contraception than their normal weight peers.  Obese girls who do use contraception are less likely to use it consistently.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

You may see fewer Confederate flags at next month’s NASCAR race at Michigan International Speedway.

A spokesman for the race track in Brooklyn says they want events at the track to be “the most fan-friendly and welcoming environments”. 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan’s effort to prepare for threats like Ebola is getting a boost from the federal government.

Michigan’s Special Pathogen Response Network is getting a $5.5 million dollar grant from the Centers for Disease Control and another federal agency. 

morguefile.com

Veterans who prefer a quieter Fourth of July weekend can find fireworks-free celebrations at a dozen state parks between now and Sunday.

Park officials say the idea for the events came from conversations with veterans. They say the sound of loud fireworks can trigger distressing memories for many vets – especially those with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The cost and quality of tap water in Michigan cities is the subject of a week long journey starting in Detroit today.

Activists, led by the The Detroit People’s Water Board Coalition, are upset about water shutoffs in Detroit and the quality of Flint’s troubled water system.

Scott Schopieray / Flickr

This weekend cherry growers in southwest Michigan will begin to harvest their crop.

Despite a hard freeze in late May, Michigan is expected to produce 134 million pounds of tart cherries, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.  That’s about a third less than last year, but still, more than any other state.

A few days ago, I went to see Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan in his downtown office. I’ve visited a lot of mayors in that office, and generally they have a large picture of their families in the space behind their desk.  Duggan doesn’t.

Instead, he has a picture of the famous civil rights march down Woodward Avenue in 1963, the place where Martin Luther King first gave a version of the “I have a dream,” speech.         

World War II ended 70 years ago in September. Here are three stories from veterans who live in Michigan.

We'll start with a love story.

Bill Berkley, U.S. Navy, Pacific

Bill Berkley was just a kid without a care in Paducah, Kentucky until December 7, 1941.

“I was 14 years old, but I can remember that day just like it was yesterday. We had been playing football and I got home and mom was crying,” Berkley says, recalling when he first learned of the attack and the death of so many sailors.

Jake Neher / MPRN

The race is on to legalize marijuana in Michigan in 2016.

At least three groups are working to put the question in front of voters. But money will play a big role in deciding which of those groups actually makes the ballot.

Gray wolves.
USFWS / Flickr

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says it won’t change the status of the gray wolf in Michigan and other Great Lakes states from “endangered” to “threatened.”

Michigan wildlife officials cheered the decision, even though it denies them a measure of flexibility to manage wolves in the western Upper Peninsula.

Joe Gratz / Flickr Creative Commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

The Michigan Supreme Court has ordered that 36th District Judge Brenda Sanders be removed from office due to mental illness.

The ruling was in agreement with a March recommendation from the Judicial Tenure Commission.

The commission said Sander's mental disability was preventing her from doing her job.

DarkRoomIllusion / flickr http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

The Cuban Chamber of Commerce has chosen Troy, Michigan, as its third location and national headquarters.

Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Dana McAllister says the choice was a natural fit because of affinities between Detroit and Havana, a significant presence of Cuban-Americans in Michigan, and support from the Oakland County government and city of Troy.

Potholes are a familiar obstacle on Michigan roads.
user Michael Gil / Flickr

The Michigan Senate this week approved a package of bills that would gradually increase the state gas tax over three years and give $1.5 billion to roads funding. But the House and Senate still have to overcome significant differences in their respective plans to fund roads and infrastructure.

Zoe Clark, Michigan Radio’s co-host of It’s Just Politics, and Ken Sikkema, former Senate Majority Leader and Senior Policy Fellow at Public Sector Consultants, joined Jenn White to talk about what it will take to finally get a roads funding plan passed.

Today on Stateside:

  • Detroit News business columnist Daniel Howes takes a look at the booming popularity of paddling in Michigan.
     
  • It’s been four years since fireworks laws were loosened in Michigan, allowing the purchase of aerial fireworks. Jonathon Oosting tells us about what prompted that decision and what changes could be coming around the bend.
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

Under current state law, utilities in Michigan must get 10% of their power from renewable sources, like wind and solar, by the end of the year.  

After a year of work, Republican lawmakers have outlined an energy policy to replace Michigan’s renewable energy standard.

State Sen. John Proos, R-St. Joseph, says the new policy wouldn’t require utilities to have a certain amount of renewable energy, like wind or solar.

yingmeishow2011 / mandatory

Law enforcement officials are concerned about iPhone cases that look like guns. 

Numerous websites sell the cases, but police officers are urging the public not to buy them. 

Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard says the cases are dangerous because people may mistake them for real guns. 

Courtesy of Phil Stagg

You’ve heard of storm chasers and tornado chasers.

Phil Stagg is a waterfall chaser.

He runs a business in Cadillac, but his real passion lies in taking photographs of Michigan.

He’s especially interested in the hundreds of waterfalls in the Upper Peninsula.

user adam j.w.c. / wikimedia commons

In 2011, state lawmakers loosened Michigan fireworks laws to allow the sale of just about any consumer-grade fireworks approved by the federal government.

Instead of being legally limited to low-impact ground fireworks like sparklers and poppers, consumers can now buy high-powered and aerial fireworks.

user Tyrone Warner / Flickr

Michigan's Christian colleges don't need to worry about losing tax exemptions for their stance on same-sex marriage.

Amid questions about whether an institution could receive governmental funds and still discriminate against gay couples, schools have moved to reevaluate their positions. Yet they can rest easy on this one – at least for now.

Bridge Magazine

If Mike Duggan wants to remove a major barrier keeping people from moving to Detroit, he may have to deal with an even bigger barrier: Michigan’s guaranteed lifetime benefits for catastrophic auto accident injury.

Several bills wending through the Legislature's attempt to alter a popular state benefit: no-fault auto insurance. Among those proposals, the one sparking the most chatter doesn’t even address no-fault insurance for most of the state. Duggan’s plan, called “D-Insurance,” would create first-ever coverage caps that could drastically lower rates in Detroit.

Read the story here.

american flag in autumn with car and fence
Vox efx / Flickr

Over 70,000 people in Michigan served in the U.S. armed services during Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan.

Beginning Monday, July 6,  Michigan Radio’s Beyond the Battlefield project will take a look at how those post-9/11 vets are faring. Through news features, interviews, and online video profiles, Michigan Radio will explore issues like employment, entrepreneurship, and reintegration into civilian life.

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