News

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette's office has delivered the state's defense of its same-sex marriage ban to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The state argues the case is not specifically about marriage, but who gets to decide the question. The brief says the U.S. Constitution is silent on the issue, so the decision on defining who can get married is left to states or their voters. Michigan voters approved the ban in 2004.

The Supreme Court hears oral arguments in the case next month.

One of the most significant stories in America is also one of the most neglected by both the politicians and the media. Over the last thirty-five years, there has been a massive redistribution of income in Michigan  and the country from the poor to the rich.

Mike Mozart / Creative Commons

Governor Rick Snyder used his pardon powers to erase the drunken driving conviction of a politically connected lawyer who was appointed to a state economic board in 2011.

Snyder followed the recommendation of the Michigan parole board and pardoned Alan Gocha Jr. in December — one of only 11 pardons out of roughly 750 applications since the governor took office.

All next week, Michigan Radio will air a special series of reports looking at teaching and how well Michigan’s colleges and universities are doing at turning out effective teachers.

There is wide agreement among education experts that teacher quality is the most important school-based factor in how students do in school. But how do we define what makes a good teacher? 

Mercedes Mejia / Michigan Radio

Michigan charter school authorizers are trying to come up with independent ways to evaluate themselves.

Authorizers help create charter schools and are supposed to hold them accountable. They’ve been under a lot of scrutiny lately.

Energy drink founder pours money into politics

18 hours ago
Mike Mozart / Creative Commons

Manoj Bhargava isn't a household name, but a report from the Center for Public Integrity says the Michigan-based billionaire’s campaign contributions rival the Koch Brothers'.

Bhargava is the founder of 5-hour Energy drinks.  Since 2009, he’s made about $5.3 million in state and national campaign contributions through his Michigan-based companies.

Cedar Bend / Flickr

Michigan families could lose their cash assistance if one or more of their children persistently miss school. That’s under a bill approved by the state House on Thursday.

The Michigan Department of Human Services already cuts off welfare payments due to child truancy. House Bill 4041 would put that policy into state law.

Dan Moyle / Flickr Creative Commons

States like Michigan that allow employers to enforce non-compete clauses may be inadvertently hurting their economies, according to a recent study.

Employers sometimes require new employees to sign a non-compete agreement promising they won't go work for another company in the same industry for one or two years after leaving their job.

Chalkboard
user alkruse24 / Flickr

Each week, Jennifer White talks Michigan politics with Susan Demas, publisher of Inside Michigan Politics, and Ken Sikkema, former Senate Majority Leader and Senior Policy Fellow at Public Sector Consultants. 

This week 's conversation focuses on  how education funding is shaping up in Lansing. 

MorgueFile /

The Michigan State Police has opened an investigation into the beating of a black driver by white police officers in Inkster.

Inkster police stopped Floyd Dent back in January, but some of the police dash-cam video of Dent's arrest and beating went viral this week.

State police Lieutenant Mike Shaw says the Inkster police chief asked them to step in on Monday.

Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

Detroit Public Schools is $53 million behind in pension payments with no end in sight for the financial free-fall.

According to Chad Livengood of The Detroit News, the district is predicting a deficit of $166 million.

"The biggest driver to the DPS deficit is legacy costs and past debt," Livengood says.

Tom Izzo talking to a referee
MGoBlog on Flickr / Flickr

On Friday night Michigan State faces Oklahoma in the Sweet 16 portion of the NCAA March Madness. It's Michigan State's seventh Sweet 16 in eight seasons.

Elaine Fogel

The Next Idea

For new ideas to flourish, for innovations to truly take hold and change our communities, we hear all the time that we in Michigan need to connect and collaborate more and be more civil to each other. But how, exactly?

Collaboration and civility are feel-good abstractions that well-meaning folks use, but often without offering a clear pathway to actually achieving improvement. Instead, we are left with flimsy takeaways that basically say, “Just try harder to be more open” or "Just go meet people." 

Kalamazoo College will no longer require students to provide their ACT or SAT scores when they apply. 

Instead, admissions officials will look more closely at the classes applicants took in high school, and their GPA. 

Martin Schwalbe

There’s plastic trash in every one of the Great Lakes.

That plastic includes junk people leave at the beach, microbeads from consumer products such as shower gel, face wash and toothpaste, and pellets from plastic manufacturing.

Detroit native Steffanie Christi’an is a musician and writer. She has collaborated with some of the top producers in New York City, including Big Proof of D12 and Emanuel (Eman) Kiriakou.

If you don’t live in the Flint area, you may be wondering what on earth is going on with the politicians and the water.  For many years, Flint, like many other communities, bought its water from Detroit.  Then, less than a year ago, they switched to save money.

Tracy Samilton / Michigan Radio

The Ohio state Legislature has passed bills to try to cut down on the nutrients flowing into Lake Erie that feed cyanobacteria. 

Cyanobacteria looks like algae, and some forms are toxic. 

A cyanobacteria bloom shut down Toledo's water supply briefly last summer. 

Manure, untreated sewage, sediment, and phosphorus all encourage the growth of cyanobacteria.

The legislation establishes fines against farmers caught applying manure on a frozen field or right before a heavy rain.

Kate Wells / Michigan Radio

No union member likes the fact that pay for entry-level workers at GM, Ford, and Chrysler is capped at about $19 an hour.

Not the workers themselves, known as "tier two."

Not the higher-paid workers, known as "tier one," like Jeep assembly line worker Samantha Price, who says the system creates inter-personal conflict at her Toledo plant "every day.  Every single day."

crash below I-96
Ray Dumas / Creative Commons

The Michigan Catastrophic Claims Association says it will lower the fee that gets tacked onto all drivers' insurance policies. 

Starting this July, the fee will drop from $186 to $150 per car annually. The announcement comes after some lawyers complained earlier this month that the fee was too high.

FLICKR USER OMAR CHATRIWALA / FLICKR

No swearing in front of women or children, and don’t you dare sell dyed chicks or bunnies!

Those are just a couple of the extremely old laws still on the book in Michigan.

There’s an effort underway now in Lansing to scrub some of these outdated laws away – an effort to shrink the size of the state’s criminal code.

Midland could see 300 new jobs this year

Mar 25, 2015
XALT Energy

A multi-year export contract will bring more than 300 new high-tech and manufacturing jobs to Midland, according to XALT Energy, a Midland-based developer and manufacturer of lithium batteries.

XALT announced this week that it has agreed to supply its lithium titanate batteries to HK Group, a Chinese manufacturer of all-electric buses. 

Michigan State University

This week will bring a gathering of doctors, psychologists, social workers and religious leaders to Dearborn for the 7th Annual Muslim Mental Health Conference.

It's the only conference of its kind in the nation, if not in the world.

Dr. Farha Abbasi is an assistant professor of psychiatry at Michigan State University and a practicing Muslim. She founded this conference in 2008.

A package of bills to protect victims of domestic violence was introduced to the state House today.

Together, the bills would create a confidentiality program for victims, allow them to get unemployment benefits if they leave their jobs because of abuse, use sick leave to meet with legal and medical professionals, and prohibit landlords from evicting tenants over disruptions that happen because of domestic violence.

Daniella Segura / Creative Commons

Meijer retailers have recalled store branded frozen chopped spinach due to a possible listeria contamination.

Washington-based distributor Twin City Foods, Inc. says 16 oz. packages of Meijer Organics Chopped Spinach with UPC 41250 02363 and a best used by date of February 2017 are at risk for listeria.

Piping plover.
USFWS

RJ Wolcott of the Grand Rapids Press spoke with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Vince Cavalieri about the return of the piping plover.

The endangered birds winter along the Gulf of Mexico, the southern Atlantic coast and in the Caribbean. Cavalieri says breeding pairs will soon arrive along the coasts of the northern Great Lakes. 

MichigansChildren / YouTube

State Superintendent Mike Flanagan says seven charter school authorizers in Michigan are no longer at risk of suspension. Charter school authorizers help create charter schools and are supposed to hold them accountable.

But last summer Flangan warned 11 charter authorizers they were at risk of being prevented from opening new schools until they did a better job holding their existing schools accountable.

The U.S. National Archives on Flickr / Flickr

Patricia Majher's book Great Girls in Michigan History profiles 20 girls in Michigan who accomplished great feats before the age of 20.

Majher says while the girls were from all over the state with different areas of expertise, they all shared some personality traits. She describes them as precocious, self-driven, and not allowing obstacles to stand in their way.

The book includes stories of Betty Ford's dedication to dance at a young age. Ford founded her own dance studio in Grand Rapids at the age of 15, where she taught little girls and their mothers too.  Her career eventually led her to dance at Carnegie Hall.

Money
Flickr user 401(K) 2012 / Creative Commons

A new study from the Government Accountability Office shows municipalities in fiscal crisis have more difficulty applying for and managing federal grants.

The GAO focused on several financially-stressed cities including Flint and Detroit.  

The report found that budget cuts and personnel shortages made it difficult for cities to carryout the grant application process.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Northern Michigan’s congressman says he plans to run again in 2016.

Dan Benishek represents Michigan’s first congressional district, and plans to run for a fourth term.

"I’m happy to serve the people of northern Michigan if they’ll have me. And I’ve decided that I’m gonna try to stay a little longer,” Benishek said.

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