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Funding for Michigan road fixes, challenging a Grand Rapids pot law, and what’s next for Detroit

Nov 12, 2014

Marijuana plants. This week a Michigan appeals court will hear a challenge to a Grand Rapids law which decriminalizes pot.
Credit U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

This Week in Michigan Politics, Emily Fox and Jack Lessenberry discuss whether the legislature will be able to come up with a plan to fix Michigan's roads before the end of the year, a challenge to a Grand Rapids law decriminalizing marijuana, and what’s next on Detroit’s road to recovery.


Roads

After winning re-election last week, Governor Rick Snyder said fixing the roads is his top priority for this term’s lame duck session.

State Majority leader Randy Richardville said he thinks he can get lawmakers to vote on funding for Michigan roads soon, possibly this week.

Lessenberry said the legislation has a good chance of passing but wonders where the money will come from and how much it’ll be.

Governor Snyder originally wanted $1.2 billion per year in road funding, but the Michigan Department of Transportation said the state needs at least $2.2 billion.

Marijuana

The Michigan Court of Appeals this week is hearing a challenge to a 2012 Grand Rapids law decriminalizing marijuana.

The argument comes after last week’s election, when six additional Michigan communities voted to decriminalize the substance, either allowing for use on private property or making enforcement a low priority.

Marijuana is still illegal under state and federal law, but Lessenberry said communities can choose how intensively to enforce those rules.

“Many jurisdictions in most states still have laws against adultery, and the prisons would be quite full if those were enforced,” he said.

Detroit

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes last week approved the City of Detroit's plan to exit bankruptcy and move forward.

Though Detroit has cleared one major hurdle, others remain.

Lessenberry said a lack of jobs and an abundance of blighted buildings still cloud the city’s path to recovery.

“We have to see whether Mayor Duggan and Kevyn Orr have set up something that will have enough of a revenue stream to continue to improve services that hopefully attract more people and jobs to the city,” Lessenberry said.

Rebecca Kruth, Michigan Radio Newsroom