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Politics & Government
3:16 pm
Wed April 2, 2014

U.S. Supreme Court ruling on campaign donations may affect Michigan politics

The U.S. Supreme Court has struck down limits in federal law on the overall campaign contributions the biggest individual donors may make to candidates, political parties and political action committees.
Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A campaign spending watchdog is worried about the potential effect on Michigan’s politics by a U.S. Supreme Court decision today. 

The Supreme Court has struck down limits in federal law on the overall campaign contributions the biggest individual donors may make to candidates, political parties and political action committees.

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Politics & Government
2:48 pm
Wed April 2, 2014

Watch President Obama's speech in Ann Arbor

President Obama delivering his speech in Ann Arbor, Michigan, on raising the federal minimum wage.
Melanie Kruvelis Michigan Radio

President Obama is in Ann Arbor on the campus of the University of Michigan today to give a speech on raising the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour by 2016.

You can watch his speech below (or you can follow this link):

Politics & Government
2:35 pm
Wed April 2, 2014

President Obama stops at Zingerman's in Ann Arbor

President Barack Obama visits with patrons during a stop for lunch at Zingerman's Delicatessen in Ann Arbor, Mich., April 2, 2014.
Pete Souza White House

President Obama was in Ann Arbor today to give a speech on raising the federal minimum wage. Prior to the speech, Mr. Obama stopped at Zingerman's Delicatessen and ordered a Reuben sandwich. 

From the White House pool report:

POTUS and motorcade stopped at Zingerman's Deli in Ann Arbor just before 1:30 p.m. With his suit coat off and U.S. Rep. Gary Peters by his side, the president ordered a Reuben sandwich.

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Politics & Government
1:28 pm
Wed April 2, 2014

President Obama in Ann Arbor today calling for a minimum wage increase

President Obama delivering his 2014 State of the Union speech. He called on Congress to raise the federal minimum wage during this speech.
Pete Souza White House

A minimum wage increase is something President Obama has been calling for since he was a candidate.

Buzzfeed has a whole collection of "I'm going to raise the minimum wage" videos from campaign stops Obama made in 2008.

Here's one of them:

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Opinion
11:27 am
Wed April 2, 2014

Mary Barra might be the right CEO to steer GM through this crisis

General Motors is clearly now in a crisis which could be far worse than bankruptcy was five years ago – one that may threaten the very survival of what once was the world’s biggest corporation.

Gregg Harper, an obscure Republican congressman from Mississippi, spoke for America yesterday, when he and other congressmen were grilling GM’s new CEO.

“We don’t trust your company right now,” he told Mary Barra, who endured more than two hours of hostile questioning from the House Oversight and Investigations subcommittee.

What Harper thinks is what millions of Americans think.

Many of them stopped buying GM products long ago, tired of inferior quality and of being lied to by sales and service personnel.

They are like a man I know who bought a top-of-the line Buick in 1986, only to find the car afflicted with electrical problems the company couldn’t or wouldn’t fix. He traded it for a Honda Accord, and says he would never touch a General Motors car again.

He’s far from alone.

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Politics & Government
8:24 am
Wed April 2, 2014

The week in Michigan politics

Credit NOAA

This Week in Michigan Politics, Jack Lessenberry and Christina Shockley discuss the impact of a fourth member of the state's congressional delegation who won't seek re-election, Medicaid expansion, President Obama's trip to Michigan to talk about the minimum wage, and Detroit's latest plan for bankruptcy.

Week in Michigan Politics interview for 4/2/14

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Environment & Science
6:55 am
Wed April 2, 2014

State replies to Army Corps invasive species report

Credit Rebecca Williams / Michigan Radio

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette has filed the state’s response to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' invasive species report. Schuette says his biggest complaint is the report fails to outline an aggressive plan to stop Asian carp from reaching the Great Lakes.              

The report came out in January, and it outlines possibilities without making specific recommendations on what should happen next.

That was a disappointment, says Joy Yearout, Schuette’s communications director.

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Politics & Government
10:04 pm
Tue April 1, 2014

Orr turns up the heat on Detroit pensioners; they push back

Retirees protest outside federal court in Detroit.
Credit Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Detroit pensioners are trying to turn up the heat on emergency manager Kevyn Orr Tuesday – just as he’s doing the same thing to them.

Protesters filled the street in front of Detroit’s federal courthouse on Tuesday to slam Orr’s proposed cuts to city pensions.

Orr filed a revised version of his bankruptcy restructuring plan there Monday. An earlier version, known formally as a plan of adjustment, was filed in February.

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Business
6:08 pm
Tue April 1, 2014

Lt. Gov. Calley signs personal property tax repeal compromise, now it heads to voters

Lawmakers from both political parties, business owners, city and school officials join Lt. Gov. Calley as he signs the personal property tax repeal in Grand Rapids Tuesday.
Credit Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Voters will decide in August if businesses should get out of paying taxes on equipment each year. 

Michigan’s personal property tax applies to all kinds of things: Carmakers pay the tax on heavy machinery, restaurants pay it on ovens and dishwashers. It doesn't matter if the equipment is new or old. The tax amounts to several hundred million dollars each year.

The effort to repeal the personal property tax was bi-partisan. A previous version replaced only a portion of the lost revenue to local governments.

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Education
5:45 pm
Tue April 1, 2014

State fronts Muskegon Heights schools cash so district can pay teachers, staff

Teachers at MHPSA will be paid this week, thanks to the state fronting the district $231,000.
Credit Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Updated 4/2/14:

An attorney for the MHPSA board says all employees have been paid as of today. He said there was a "glitch" in payroll but declined further comment on this story at this time.

Original post 4/1/14:

The state is fronting $231,000 to the charter school district in Muskegon Heights so it can pay its employees. Teachers and staff didn’t get paid like they were supposed to on Monday.

The new Muskegon Heights Public School Academy System was set up in June 2012 when the old school district there went broke.

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Politics & Government
4:26 pm
Tue April 1, 2014

Michigan's Medicaid expansion goes into effect today

Credit Andrian Clark / Flickr

    

Healthy Michigan” is available to more than 470,000 low-income Michiganders between the ages of 19 and 64.

Joining us today is Krista Nordberg, director of enrollment at the Washtenaw Health Plan.

Nordberg says the Healthy Michigan Plan is “extremely comprehensive health care coverage” for low-income individuals. The kind of coverage available includes medical benefits, prescription coverage, dental, vision and mental health services.

But under the new plan, people will be responsible for some of the cost of their health care.

“The co-pays range from about $1 to $3 for the dental and the vision and the prescriptions. And for people with higher incomes – incomes between 100-133% of poverty – they will be asked to contribute to a health savings account, and that is still something being worked out with the state as to how that would be administered through their health plan, and how they will pay into that,” said Nordberg.

For more information about Healthy Michigan click here, or call 1-855-789-5610. 

Stateside
4:14 pm
Tue April 1, 2014

New report breaks down inequality among Michigan children by race

Credit Ann Arbor Public Schools / http://www.aaps.k12.mi.us/academics/files/pre3.jpg

A newly released report is breaking new ground in the study of inequality among our children.

The report is from the Annie E. Casey Foundation for Kids Count. It's titled "Race for Results: building a path to opportunity for all children."

For the first time, it creates an index that looks at conditions for children by race.

Our next guest believes it contains troubling findings for Michigan children and the need for a major call to action.

Jane Zehnder-Merrell is project director of Kids Count in Michigan with the Michigan League for Public Policy, and she joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

Stateside
3:52 pm
Tue April 1, 2014

Congressman Dave Camp will not be running for re-election

Credit user republicanconference / Flickr

Another hugely surprising retirement from Congress: Republican Congressman Dave Camp, who represents Michigan's 4th district, announced that he will not run again for re-election. Camp has served in Congress for 24 years and has been chair of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee.

Zoe Clark and Rick Pluta, co-hosts of Michigan Radio's It's Just Politics, joined us today to talk about what’s next for Camp and what this means for Michigan in Congress.

Listen to the full interview above.

Stateside
3:51 pm
Tue April 1, 2014

Affordable Care Act enrollment is closed; attention now turns to Michigan Medicaid expansion

Credit Twitter

The Affordable Care Act shop door now has a "closed" sign on it, for the most part.

The open enrollment deadline passed at midnight.

Attention in Michigan now swings over to Healthy Michigan.

That's the official name for Michigan's expanded Medicaid program. It allows the state to bring more low-income residents into the Medicaid fold using funding available through the Affordable Care Act.

And Michigan's Medicaid expansion is something other states are watching because of a couple of important new twists to the program.

MLive Capitol reporter Jonathan Oosting joins us now.

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Stateside
3:49 pm
Tue April 1, 2014

How do school consolidations affect students and teachers?

Credit Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

There are 545 local school districts in Michigan and 56 Intermediate School Districts, or ISDs.

Around 50 of those districts were in the red at the end of the last school year.

And that leads to talk of consolidations, of mergers; streamlining, becoming more efficient and joining forces.

But as policymakers, educators and parents debate the merits of consolidation, what about those who will feel what that is like, day in and day out – the students and their teachers?

That’s the question Bridge Magazine writer Ron French explores in his series of reports for Bridge called 13 Miles to Marshall.

When struggling Albion High School closed at the end of the last school year, it meant more than 150 Albion high schoolers had to be bused to nearby Marshall High School. It made sense in business terms for both districts. But what kinds of challenges did this consolidation present? And were those challenges met and overcome?

Ron French joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

Opinion
3:19 pm
Tue April 1, 2014

Michigan will be weaker in Washington than we’ve been in ages

This isn’t an especially good April Fool’s Day, for a reason you might not suspect.

In the last few days, we’ve learned that our state is going to be considerably weaker in terms of political clout in Washington than we have been in many years.

Yesterday, Congressman Dave Camp of Midland, R-Michigan, the chair of the powerful Ways and Means Committee, suddenly announced he wouldn’t run for reelection.

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Station news
2:40 pm
Tue April 1, 2014

Lindsey Smith finalist for Young Journalist of the Year

Reporter Lindsey Smith

The Detroit Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists announced today that Michigan Radio reporter Lindsey Smith is a finalist for Young Journalist of the Year. Lindsey Smith is Michigan Radio's West Michigan Reporter, and has worked at the station since 2010.

Other finalists for Young Journalist of the Year are Nathan Bomey of the Detroit Free Press, and Deepa Seetharaman of Thomson Reuters.

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Transportation
2:05 pm
Tue April 1, 2014

Watch GM CEO Mary Barra testify before Congress

GM CEO Mary Barra prepares to give her testimony in front of a subcommitte of the U.S. House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee.
screen grab U.S. House of Representatives

The new head of General Motors, Mary Barra, is on Capitol Hill today starting what will be two days of testimony.

She'll be questioned about a safety defect that's been linked to at least 13 deaths and has sparked a 2.6 million-vehicle recall.

At issue: What did GM know about the problems with ignition switches in its cars, and when did the company know it?

Watch it below:

Arts & Culture
11:42 am
Tue April 1, 2014

Banjos will be banned at this year's Water Hill Music Festival in Ann Arbor

Five-string banjos, four-string, SIX string... it doesn't matter. They will all be banned.
user WolfgangW Wikimedia Commons

A collective sigh of relief was heard today in Ann Arbor when the organizers of the Water Hill Music Festival announced a ban on banjo playing during this year's fest.

From the Water Hill Music Fest:

Today Water Hill Music Fest organizers received a petition with over 500 signatures urging a ban on banjos at the festival.  

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The Environment Report
11:04 am
Tue April 1, 2014

Zebra mussel-killing bacteria could help native species in the Great Lakes

Zebra mussels on a Higgins eye mussel
Credit USFWS

You can hear Peter's story above.

A treatment that kills zebra and quagga mussels could soon be available for use in lakes and rivers. It’s very effective and safe.

But it is not likely to undo much of the ecological damage done to Michigan waters by invasive mussels.

It could be good news, though, if you’re a clam.

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