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Stateside Staff

Is civility possible for lawmakers in Lansing in 2017?
Thetoad / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The new Michigan legislature was in session this week, and there has been no shortage of topics to discuss.

To help sort through it all in Stateside's weekly political roundup is Ken Sikkema, senior policy fellow at Public Sector Consultants and a former Republican legislative leader; and Vicki Barnett, a former Democratic legislator.

Senator Debbie Stabenow
USDAgov / Creative Commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Republicans in Congress are working quickly to set the stage for a repeal of the Affordable Care Act, also called Obamacare. The Senate’s Republican majority took the lead in the effort. At this point, it does not appear that they have a clear plan for a replacement healthcare policy.

Democratic Senator Debbie Stabenow joined Stateside on Friday to discuss these recent developments in the U.S. Capitol. She said that the lack of a replacement plan is a problem.

Traffic lights
Thomas Hawk / flickr http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Michigan is competing with other states to become a leader in the nation when it comes to autonomous cars. Google is opening a development center in Novi. The University of Michigan has M-City, the Mobility Transformation Center.

And the governor recently signed laws to make Michigan more friendly to the development of driverless cars.

Kirk Steudle is the Director of the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT). He said that these recent developments have established the state as a leader in the transition to autonomous vehicles.

Stateside. 1.12.17

Jan 13, 2017

Today, we speak with the head of Michigan's Democratic Party, Brandon Dillon. Also, despite a scientific consensus that Flint water quality is improving, Flint residents are still skeptical. We get Congressman Dan Kildee's take on yesterday's Town Hall meeting in Flint.

To find individual interviews, click here or see below:

Macy's, Kmart, and Sears have closed hundreds of stores across the country, including many in Michigan.
Nicholas Eckhart / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The holiday decorations have barely been taken down when a harsh verdict was passed on the holiday shopping season.

Macy's announced it's closing 68 stores. Here in Michigan, that means Macy's stores in Lansing, Battle Creek, Harper Woods, and Westland.

Then we learned Sears is closing 150 of its Kmart and Sears stores, with 10 of them based in Michigan, including the very first Kmart located in Garden City.

And Walmart says it's cutting hundreds of jobs by month's end. The affected workers are at its headquarters and regional personnel that support its stores, mainly in HR.

It seems like tough times for brick and mortar retailers. 

Flint residents packed a town hall meeting yesterday to hear a “progress report” on their drinking water.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint residents packed a town hall meeting last night to hear a progress report on their water.

As EPA Region 5 Acting Regional Administrator Robert Kaplan said on Stateside on Wednesday, an array of scientific tests and data show that the water is improving, but as people were told last night by the EPA, Flint's tap water isn't safe to drink unless its been run through a filter.

The Honda Ridgeline won the 2017 North American Truck of the Year.
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

Reporters from around the world have spent the week checking out the offerings at the North American International Auto Show.

Today, suppliers got their turn. The black-tie charity preview is tomorrow night and Saturday morning, the doors at the Cobo Center open to the public.

Paul Eisenstein is the publisher of TheDetroitBureau.com and he joined Stateside to talk about the buzz surrounding this year's auto show, a major shift in the industry and the latest news about Chrysler getting in trouble with the EPA. 

MichiganDems.com

There is no way to sugar-coat the results of the November election if you're a Democrat. It was a disaster, anyway you cut it.

How do Democrats regroup, re-calibrate and rebuild?

That's the job of the Chairman of Michigan's Democratic Party Brandon Dillon and he joined Stateside to talk about it.

Daniel Howes: "Unless this president can repeal the laws of market economics, companies are going to go elsewhere to find production sites and sources for things"
Gage Skidmore / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

There's been something besides the shiny new cars, SUVs and trucks grabbing attention this week at the North American International Auto Show.

That something is the uncertain future for the auto industry under incoming President Donald Trump.

Detroit News business columnist Daniel Howes joined Stateside to talk about some of the anxiety that exists in the auto industry and what some experts are saying about a potential repeal of NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement)

If you have fished, or wanted to fish, or thought about fishing, or just stepped out of doors with some expectancy, Body of Water is the book for you.

Though Montana is his home now, Michigan poets know Chris Dombrowski from his elegant poetry collection, Earth Again, published by Wayne State University Press. Michigan anglers know Dombrowski as a stellar fly fishing guide. 

Stateside 1.11.17

Jan 11, 2017

It's a new year and a fresh start for the Michigan Legislature, with a new session kicking off today. We meet the new speaker of the state House. Plus, we hear about what happened when the state automated its unemployment claims system. 

To find individual interviews, click here or see below:

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A report from the state auditor general says Michigan's Unemployment Insurance Agency isn't doing enough to collect the delinquent taxes from employers.   

In 2013, after the state began using an automated system to identify cases of unemployment insurance fraud, more than 20,000 people were wrongfully accused, with an error rate of 93%. Staff at the agency have since moved away from the automated system, and the director has been reassigned to work on special projects.

For those who were targeted by the faulty computer system, however, changes at the agency may offer little consolation.

The new House Speaker, Tom Leonard from DeWitt, wants to bring civility back to the political process in Lansing.
GOPHouse.org

It's a new year and a fresh start for the Michigan Legislature with a new session kicking off today.

In the State House, there are 43 new members and a brand-new speaker: DeWitt Republican Representative Tom Leonard.

Leonard joined Stateside to talk about his path to House Speaker. Starting out as a college kid wanting to be the next Jerry Maguire to law school and later a prosecutor and a politician.

He talked about his new role as House speaker, and what his priorities are for the Legislature in 2017. He would like to see the teacher pension system fixed and he plans to be a champion for mental health reform (especially among prisoners).

What can we learn about water from the people in Bolivia?
Florence.S / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

For centuries, residents of the Great Lakes state have been able to take water for granted. But the Flint water crisis, coupled with 70,000 households in Detroit having their water shut off, have forced Michigan to confront water issues in a way we never have before.

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Valerie Vande Panne, an award-winning journalist, thinks that in order to learn from these water crises, we need to look to the south. To Bolivia. That's where people fought back, and won, against corporate water control.

Stateside 1.10.17

Jan 10, 2017

As the Michigan Legislature prepares to start work for the new year, we'll talk with two new state representatives on today’s show. And, we’ll hear how the people of Bolivia can teach us lessons in meeting our water challenges. 

To find individual interviews, click here or see below:

 

Dementia rates are going down. That’s even though dementia risk factors like diabetes are rising. What’s behind the decline in dementia? Dr. Ken Langa, associate director of the Institute of Gerontology at the University of Michigan, says higher levels of education and better treatment of diseases that lead to dementia could have a lot to do with it.

 

thetoad / Flickr

At noon this Wednesday, state lawmakers begin a new legislative session in Lansing. There are 43 new members entering the 110 member State House of Representatives.

Many of these new members are replacing incumbents who faced terms limitations, while others defeated sitting representatives. They come from rural districts and urban districts, from the banks of the Detroit River to the Wisconsin border in the western U.P.

This week, we spoke with two of the new representatives, Beth Griffin, Republican of Mattawan, and Abdullah Hammoud, Democrat of Dearborn.

Ginger Johnson, the founder of Women Enjoying Beer, and the author of the book "How to Market Beer to Women: Don't Sell Me A Pink Hammer"
Courtesy of Ginger Johnson

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Do women drink beer? It's a dumb question to be sure, but watching any random assortment of beer commercials, one might start to wonder. After all, the vast majority of beer marketing revolves around men: men watching football, men laughing at jokes, men saying "whassup."

To Ginger Johnson, the founder of Women Enjoying Beer, and the author of the book How to Market Beer to Women: Don't Sell Me A Pink Hammerthe tendency of beer marketing to ignore women is not only insulting. It's also a bad business strategy.

Betsy DeVos had her confirmation hearing moved to January 17.
BetsyDeVos.com

Betsy DeVos will have to wait another week for her Senate confirmation hearing.

The West Michigan billionaire and education reform advocate is President-elect Donald Trump's choice for secretary of education. The hearing at the U.S. Capitol was originally scheduled for tomorrow in front of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions. Now it has been moved to Wednesday, Jan. 17. Why was the hearing rescheduled? 

Michigan Radio's Lansing Bureau Chief Rick Pluta joined Stateside from Washington D.C. to answer that very question.

The realities of a world economy aren't just being felt at big companies like General Motors or Ford. Small businesses are feeling the strain of foreign competition.
earl53 / Morguefile

The Next Idea

The realities of a world economy aren't just being felt at big companies like General Motors or Ford. Small businesses are feeling the strain of foreign competition.

Our latest contributor to The Next Idea is directing a federal program aimed at helping small local businesses adjust to that foreign competition.

Stateside 1.9.2017

Jan 9, 2017

For the first time in seven years, an elected Detroit school board is in place. Today, we talk with Sonya Mays, one of the board members. And, a public health expert goes back in history to find the true cause of the Flint water crisis.

To find individual interviews, click here or see below:

NAIAS.com

The North American International Auto Show opened today with media previews and model rollouts.

The Car, Utility and Truck of the Year honors were announced

The Chevy Bolt EV was named the Car of the Year. It's made at the Orion Assembly plant in Oakland County. 

Autotrader Senior Analyst, Michelle Krebs said all three vehicles "raise the bar" in their category.  

What caused the Flint water crisis? Rick Sadler from Michigan State University argues the true cause of Flint's water disaster goes back decades.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

What really caused the Flint water crisis?

The obvious and well-known answer is the April 2014 decision to start drawing the city's drinking water from the Flint River. That, in turn, caused corrosion in the city's lead water pipes, which caused lead to leach into the water.

Others point to Governor Rick Snyder's appointment of an emergency manager to control Flint's affairs. That happened in late 2011.

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Michigan State University public health expert and urban geographer Rick Sadler argues the true cause of Flint's water disaster goes back decades.

Write Michigan authors take part in a book signing
Kent District Library

The Write Michigan short story contest is the only fiction contest exclusive to Michigan writers.

It's a joint effort of the Kent District Library and Schuler Books in Grand Rapids. The contest is embarking on its fifth year and submissions are up by 200% from last year.

Heidi Nagel from the Kent District Library joined Stateside to talk about the contest.

For the first time in seven years, an elected school board is in place in Detroit.
Matt Katzenberger / Flickr - http://bit.ly/1rFrzRK

This is an important week for Detroit schools. For the first time in seven years, an elected school board is in place. The board takes control of the schools that have been run for nearly 20 years by state-appointed managers. 63 candidates were on the ballot. The voters chose seven of them to make up the new school board.

One of those is Sonya Mays. She graduated from Detroit Renaissance High School and then went on to the University of Michigan, where she worked her way to a bachelor's degree, an MBA and then her law degree.

Stateside 1.6.2017

Jan 6, 2017

Today, we learn why it's harder than we thought for kids to do better than their parents socioeconomically. And, we hear why biologists are saying Earth is in the midst of a sixth mass extinction.

A map of the area in Oscoda Township surrounding the now closed Wurtsmith Air Force Base is shown. The red area is the base, while the area outlined in yellow is considered the affected area.
Courtesy of District Health Department No. 2

There’s an irony in Michigan. We are surrounded by the Great Lakes and have access to vast supplies of water. However, there are plenty of examples of water issues across the state. From the Flint water crisis, to the city of Ann Arbor's problem with 1,4 dioxane in the ground water. There's also dioxin in Midland and the oil spill in the Kalamazoo River

Recently, we added the contamination near Oscoda to that list of water problems in Michigan. The source looks to be the former Wurtsmith Air Force Base, which closed in 1993.

Environment Agency Survey Open / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

We could be on the cusp of learning a lot more about the native cultures that inhabited Michigan before European settlement.

Meghan Howey is a researcher at the University of New Hampshire joined Stateside to talk about how she and her team has been using technology to find Native American cache pits. 

GS Photo | Western Michigan Athletics

Western Michigan University Coach P.J. Fleck has announced he’ll leave the Broncos for the Minnesota Golden Gophers next year.

Fleck led what John U. Bacon, Michigan Radio sports commentator, called a “dormant” team to a successful 13-1 season. The Broncos were the only team, other than Alabama, to enter the bowl games undefeated.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

The new Michigan Legislature convenes for its first day of the session next Wednesday. What can we expect in 2017?

Ken Sikkema, a senior policy fellow at Public Sector Consultants and a former Republican legislative leader, joined Stateside for our weekly political roundup and looked ahead to what he expects to be a "more conservative" House of Representatives in Lansing.

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