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It's Just Politics
3:30 pm
Fri September 12, 2014

Hopes of adding LGBT protections to civil rights law dashed as focus pivots to politics

It's Just Politics with Zoe Clark and Rick Pluta

Democrats in Lansing are not waiting any longer to push civil rights protections for gays, lesbians, and transgender people.

And the fact that Democrats are now out in front, signals this is no longer about adopting a policy, this is now political.

For several sessions, Democrats have introduced legislation to add LGBT protections to Michigan’s Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act. But last year they were persuaded to wait by civil rights groups who at long last saw a policy success in their grasp. That’s if they could get a Republican to take the lead (because, of course, the GOP runs the show in Lansing).

This week, however, those hopes essentially fell apart as prospective Republican co-sponsors bailed, and GOP leaders put unacceptable conditions on taking up the bill.

Now, the sole, lonely Republican publicly backing LGBT rights in the civil rights law, says he has not given up. “We’re still working and talking with colleagues and educating,” said Republican state Representative Frank Foster. Interestingly enough, as we talked about last month on It's Just Politics, Foster lost his primary in August to a more socially conservative Republican. There's continued debate over whether or not  his loss was do in part because of his support for adding LGBT rights to Elliott-Larsen.

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Health
3:18 pm
Fri September 12, 2014

Michigan health centers receive $8.5 million in Affordable Care Act funding

Genesee Health System in Flint, MI. One of the MI health service centers to receive Affordable Care Act funding.
Credit Genesee Health System / Facebook

Three-dozen health care centers in Michigan are being given more than $8.5 million in Affordable Care Act funding. 

The announcement was made Friday by U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell. In all, $295 million was awarded to 1,195 centers across the country. 

According to a press release from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the funding will enable targeted health centers to:

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Law
2:52 pm
Fri September 12, 2014

Flint rejoining Genesee County 911

Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The city of Flint is rejoining Genesee County’s 911 system.

Since 1997, the city has been using its own operators to handle emergency calls, but the city’s system is aging and out-of-date.

Flint Emergency Manager Darnell Earley says the plan is to fold Flint into the county’s 911 system by the middle of next year.

“Our citizens will have access to the most up to date features of next-generation 911, which will include the ability to send text or photos to 911 and other more cutting edge technology,” says Earley.

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Politics & Government
1:46 pm
Fri September 12, 2014

Gov. Snyder signs bill to avert potential $1.1 billion loss

The Michigan State Capitol.
Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. - Gov. Rick Snyder has signed a bill to clarify that Michigan never intended to give out-of-state companies a lower tax liability in a 2007 business tax overhaul.

The legislation is designed to ensure the state isn't forced to pay $1.1 billion in refunds in 134 cases after a July ruling from the Michigan Supreme Court in a case involving IBM. The administration and lawmakers worried the court's 4-3 decision could affect other cases in the 2008, 2009 and 2010 tax years.

Snyder said in statement Friday that the bill is a "common-sense solution" encouraging companies to invest and create jobs in Michigan. The state estimates most of the $1.1 billion in refunds would have been paid in the fiscal year that starts in October, throwing the budget out of balance.

Culture
1:07 pm
Fri September 12, 2014

University of Michigan band will help mark 'Star-Spangled Banner' bicentennial

The flag flying at Fort McHenry today. Francis Scott Key wrote the poem "Defence of Fort McHenry" on September 14, 1814. He was inspired by a battle he witnessed there.
user Bohemian Baltimore Wikimedia Commons

A tune that reverberates through ballparks, auditoriums and community gatherings is getting an amped-up workout during its 200th anniversary.

One of the biggest and flashiest salutes to "The Star-Spangled Banner" comes Saturday at the University of Michigan. The Ann Arbor school's marching band, a 500-voice choir and dance team combine during a football halftime show.

The university also plans a sing-along Friday, the same day it opens an exhibit on the national anthem's cultural history.

More from AP:

Major festivities also are happening in Baltimore, including a flag-raising ceremony Sunday at Fort McHenry National Monument. That's where Francis Scott Key wrote the lyrics on Sept. 14, 1814, during a pivotal War of 1812 battle.

Many events nationwide are encouraged by the Star Spangled Music Foundation. It's founded by Michigan musicology professor Mark Clague.

Opinion
10:19 am
Fri September 12, 2014

Senator Warren’s bill reminds me of Harry Truman’s "do-nothing Congress" move

State Senator Rebekah Warren, D-Ann Arbor, looks absolutely nothing like Harry Truman, the 33rd President of the United States. Yet yesterday, when Warren introduced legislation to amend Michigan’s Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act, he instantly came to mind.

And here’s why: Many people, especially the LGBT community and their allies, were excited when, with considerable fanfare, Warren introduced her bill. SB 1053 would make it illegal for anyone hiring employees or providing housing to discriminate against anyone based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

Identity, or expression. Her bill, as I understand it, would also make it illegal to refuse to hire or sell or serve or rent to anyone because you don’t like the way they dress or define themselves.

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Education
6:54 am
Fri September 12, 2014

Kalamazoo College among best in nation at enrolling (and graduating) low-income students

Kalamazoo College President Eileen Wilson-Oyelaran
Credit Kalamazoo College

An analysis by the New York Times ranks Kalamazoo College 12th in the nation among elite colleges that enroll a large percentage of PELL-grant eligible students.

The eligibility for PELL grants is a strong marker for low-income status, since many students in families above the poverty level are not eligible for the grants.

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Education
5:08 am
Fri September 12, 2014

Michigan students are being told it's 'OK-2-Say' to prevent school violence

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette holds up a smart phone during a news conference in Flint to show how students can access OK-2-Say. Genesee County Prosecutor David Leyton looks on.
Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan students have a new way to report potential threats in state schools.

Starting this fall, students who believe they have information about potential criminal activities at schools can use the OK-2-Say hotline to call, text or email tips to law enforcement.

Genesee County Prosecutor David Leyton joined other officials at a Flint area school today to promote the statewide program.

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Stateside
5:39 pm
Thu September 11, 2014

Grand Rapids businesswoman shares challenges that came with rise to success

Credit Failure:Lab / failure-lab.com

A story of failure from Failure Lab Grand Rapids:

Kathy Crosby is the CEO of Goodwill Industries of Greater Grand Rapids. The Grand Rapids Business Journal named her one of the 50 Most Influential Women in West Michigan. But, as Crosby shares her story, she tells of pain she experienced in her early childhood in the form of rejection by other children.  

Watch her story here:

To learn more about Failure Lab and hear more stories visit failure-lab.com.

*Listen to Kathy Crosby telling the full story above.

Health
5:33 pm
Thu September 11, 2014

Health director calls for reluctant parents to get vaccine counseling

The state's top health official says more parents would vaccinate their kids if they had better information.
Credit morgueFile

Michigan’s top health official says parents who want to opt out of vaccinating their children should first have to be counseled about the risks.

Michigan has one of the highest rates of parents who opt out of vaccinating their childen for preventable diseases such as mumps and measles.

Michigan Department of Community Health Director Jim Haveman says too many people are picking up “misinformation” on vaccines from friends, the internet, and celebrities, “and so they just say, ‘we’re not going to do it’ without thinking about the options and alternatives and dangers.”

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Politics & Government
5:30 pm
Thu September 11, 2014

What will happen in the Michigan Legislature between now and the election?

State capitol
Credit Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

The Legislature is back in session. Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville says in the 20 session days left between now and the end of the year he wants to find a plan to fix Michigan’s crumbling roads and a way to ease term limits on Michigan lawmakers.

However, adding LGBT protections to Michigan's civil rights law is proving to be an ongoing battle in the Legislature.

I spoke with Ken Sikkema, former Senate Majority Leader and Senior Policy Fellow at Public Sector Consultants, and Susan Demas, publisher of Inside Michigan Politics.

Here's our conversation.

Stateside
5:27 pm
Thu September 11, 2014

Indian mission churches in northern Michigan face financial pressures

Credit User: Linda Stephan / Interlochen Public Radio

More than 100 years ago, Methodist missionaries set up Indian Mission churches in northern Michigan. The goal was to bring Christianity and to do away with traditional American Indian beliefs.

Today the missions blend those traditions. But they serve small congregations that can’t afford to pay their pastors.

The United Methodist missions have survived with lots of financial help from the denomination, but now leaders say they have to scale back.

For one mission pastor, it feels like a broken promise.

Interlochen Public Radio’s Linda Stephan reported this story.  

* Listen to the story from Linda Stephan above.

Stateside
5:24 pm
Thu September 11, 2014

U of M football coach Brady Hoke on the hot seat after big loss to Notre Dame

Brady Hoke
Credit User: MGoBlog / Flickr

 

After the University of Michigan's football blowout loss to Notre Dame last Saturday, there's some talk about Michigan head coach Brady Hoke and his job security. 

John U. Bacon is Michigan Radio's sports commentator. He says Michigan hasn't proven to be tough facing road games.

"This team under Hoke is 0-12 on the road against ranked teams. In other word, whenever they play anybody good on the road, they lose, every single time, " says Bacon.

Bacon says Hoke was brought to Michigan with high hopes. Hoke's goal every year is to win Big Ten title, which Michigan failed to achieve during the past three years of his term.

"This year, if it's not make or break for Hoke, it sure is close," says Bacon.

* Listen to our conversation with Bacon above.

Stateside
5:20 pm
Thu September 11, 2014

Michigan Dems push news bills on LGBT protections

Credit Guillaume Paumier/Flickr

You can be fired, denied a job or housing in Michigan if you are gay. Michigan's civil rights law, the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act, does not include LGBT protections, the same way it does for race, ethnicity, and gender. 

But yesterday, Democrats at the state capitol proposed legislation to add sexual orientation and gender identity to Elliott-Larsen. 

Jonathan Oosting of MLive says whether or not that public debate leads to action remains to be seen.

"There's certainly some belief that it's time to have this debate, although the way things went down this week has sort of raised some questions about how feasible it's going to be to get this through the Legislature," says Oosting.

* Listen to the interview with Jonathan Oosting above.

Law
5:02 pm
Thu September 11, 2014

First person arrested for fungal meningitis outbreak pleads not guilty

The fungal meningitis outbreak hit Michigan especially hard.
Credit Center for Disease Contorl / http://www.cdc.gov/hai/outbreaks/meningitis-facilities-map.html

The first person arrested for sending tainted drugs to doctors, causing the 2012 fungal meningitis outbreak, pleaded not guilty today.

Glenn Adam Chin is a Massachusetts pharmacist who supervised so-called “clean rooms” at the New England Compounding Center.

He’s being charged with one count of mail fraud, which carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, according to reports.

Chin’s employer, the New England Compounding Center, was supposed to be tailoring medications for individual patients whose doctors sent in a valid prescription.

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Education
4:35 pm
Thu September 11, 2014

State superintendent backs “early warning system” for districts in financial trouble

Credit Sharon Drummond / Flickr

Michigan’s top education official says he supports legislation designed to prevent schools from getting into financial trouble.

State Superintendent Mike Flanagan today released a report showing the number of districts with budget deficits has not improved in recent months. He says the legislation would create an “early warning system” so the state can intervene before districts fall into deficit.

But Flanagan says the legislation should not be so broad that hundreds of schools get flagged.

“I think right now they have to reduce the number of factors so that you don’t have 250 on call. You want a reasonable number that you’re watching that are potentially deficit, not so many that you can’t really do justice to it.”

The bills would free up money in state loans and bonds for schools that show signs of budget problems.

Republican state Senator Howard Walker is sponsoring the legislation. He says it would also make it easier for the state to appoint an emergency manager if districts don’t cooperate.

“Let’s identify them early. Let’s help them. And if districts are willing to blow through those red flags, well, then there’s going to be consequences. And I think those consequences being out there will serve as a deterrent.”

Schools groups worry it would be too easy for the state to put districts under an emergency manager. They also say hundreds of districts would be flagged the way the legislation is currently written.

Politics & Government
4:17 pm
Thu September 11, 2014

Looks like the "Dean of the House" is back on his feet

Rep. John Dingell, D-MI, the longest-serving member of Congress, was admitted into the Henry Ford Hospital earlier this week to treat an infection.

Dingell, 88, took to Twitter to announce his release:

ABC News reports that Dingell is expected back at the Capitol next week, "on Sept. 16 when Congress returns after a four-day weekend."

Environment & Science
3:58 pm
Thu September 11, 2014

Report: There will be no wolf hunt in Michigan this year

Michigan Department of Natural Resources

Michigan lawmakers recently went around two ballot proposals that sought to end wolf hunting in Michigan.

They passed a law that allows wolf hunts to continue, but they apparently didn't pass their law in time for a hunt this year.

Kathleen Gray of the Detroit Free Press has it:

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Detroit bankruptcy
2:59 pm
Thu September 11, 2014

Judge orders Detroit's creditors into closed-door mediation with city

Gerald Rosen, the bankruptcy judge in charge of mediation, issed the order today.
Credit Detroit Legal News

One big creditor, Syncora, appears to have agreed to a deal with the city this week.

That left one very big fish to fry - the bond insurer Financial Guaranty Insurance Co.

The city owes the group more than $1 billion, and they're not walking away from the money that is owed to them without a fight.

Now the bankruptcy court overseeing Detroit's bankruptcy has ordered FGIC, along with several others, into mediation with the city.

From the order:

It is hereby ordered that, unless otherwise excused by the mediator, the above-named noticed parties shall appear, with counsel and party-representatives with full and complete settlement authority, for continuing mediation on Friday, September 12, 2014, at 10:00 a.m., and continuing day-to-day thereafter as deemed necessary, until released by the mediators…

Robert Snell of the Detroit News reports that FGIC negotiators walked out of talks with the city two weeks ago.

Now, with the Syncora deal close to inked, FGIC is being compelled to try it again.

In a statement Wednesday, FGIC said the firm remains open to a good-faith settlement following the Syncora deal.

“The latest deal reinforces our view that the city has abundant sources of incremental value available ...,” the company said. “However the issue at hand is their willingness to distribute this value fairly and equitably...”

Syncora went from a deal that was going to give the company around 10 cents on the dollar, to a deal that's giving them around 26 cents on the dollar.

Aside from Syncora and FGIC, the other creditors ordered into mediation are:

  • UBS AG
  • SBS Financial Products Co., LLC
  • Merrill Lynch Capital Services, Inc.
  • Ambac Assurance Corp.
  • Black Rock Financial Management
  • Official Committee of Retirees
  • Wilmington Trust Company, National Association, as successor to U.S. Bank National Association, as Trustee and Contract Administrator

Stateside
1:30 pm
Thu September 11, 2014

Detroit's bankruptcy trial: What happened this week and what comes next

Credit Ian Freimuth / Flickr

We saw big news out of Detroit this week: a deal over a southeast regional water authority and a tentative deal between the city and one of its largest creditors.

Meanwhile, lawmakers are back to the state capitol after their summer recess. And the two big statewide races for governor and the open U.S. Senate seat in Michigan are heating up.

Today on Stateside, we take a step back and see how these events fit together and impact one another.

Daniel Howes is a columnist with Detroit News. He says the good news in Detroit this week shows that leadership matters.

"What you're seeing here is a remarkable alignment of both political and business leadership across the state behind this Detroit bankruptcy effort," says Howes. 

Rick Pluta is the capitol bureau chief for the Michigan Public Radio Network and co-host of It's Just Politics. He says in the next few weeks, he's watching for what Detroit emergency manager Kevyn Orr puts in place in his final days to set the city up for what comes next. 

"A high level of control will have to be restored to the city," says Pluta.

* Listen to our conversation with Daniel Howes and Rick Pluta on Stateside today at 3 pm. We'll post the audio around 4:30 pm.

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