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It's Just Politics

Mondays at 8:50 AM

Politics can be messy. Politics can be confusing. But, that certainly doesn't mean politics can't be a joy-ride. Join It's Just Politics hosts Zoe Clark and Rick Pluta Monday mornings on Morning Edition as they drill down on what’s happening in Michigan politics.

Rick and Zoe tell us how the game of politics is not only fun and thrilling, but has a real impact on the policy-making that affects all of us.

Want to know what's really going on inside the state Capitol building? Or, why your lawmaker really voted the way they did? They've got the answers... and much more.

It's Just Politics – every Monday morning at 8:50 am on Michigan Radio.

Rick Pluta has covered Michigan government and politics since 1987. His first big Michigan political story was the brutal GOP presidential primary battle that pitted Vice President George H.W. Bush against former Congressman Jack Kemp and televangelist Pat Robertson. That battle spawned two competing state political conventions and the now-famous “I Survived the 1988 Michigan Republican Delegate Selection Process” t-shirt. He would pay money now that he did not pay then to get one. He collects political pins - a professional side hobby that’s hit the skids as cost-conscious campaigns have taken a tragic turn toward stickers. He is an excellent parallel parker. 

Zoe Clark is Michigan Radio’s resident political junkie. She fell in love with all things political when she was eight years old and begged her parents to let her stay up late to follow the 1992 presidential election returns. No way, they said. But she did convince them to wake her up when the race was called. (Which they did.) It was her job to wake up early for four years as the producer of Morning Edition on Michigan Radio. Now, in addition to being Michigan Radio’s resident political junkie.  Zoe is Michigan Radio's Program Director. In that role, Clark oversees all programming on the state's largest public radio station - including the station's award-winning newsroom, commentary from voices like Jack Lessenberry and John U. Bacon, and daily news-magazine Stateside

Follow Rick on Twitter at @rickpluta and Zoe at @ZoeMelinaClark

There’s a new battle in Lansing pitting business groups against unions and it could wind up playing out next November with dueling ballot proposals.

A group of trade unions will launch a petition drive tomorrow to try and preserve Michigan’s prevailing wage law. This is the law that requires contractors to pay union-scale wages on state construction projects.

Michigan’s Legislature does not like voters checking its work. Case in point: lawmakers are back to referendum-proofing controversial legislation.

Referendum-proofing is a maneuver that’s become common in the Rick Snyder years in Lansing. If lawmakers pass legislation that has some kind of money involved in it - an appropriation - voters can’t repeal it.

It’s always hard to save money. We know that’s true for many people, and it’s true for Lansing, as well.

And, politics makes it even harder.

A recent report by the nonpartisan Citizens Research Council says Michigan is not ready for another recession. The report says lawmakers are short-changing the state’s savings-account, officially known as the Budget Stabilization Fund, but commonly referred to as the “rainy day” fund.

Was last year’s Trump-wave a one-time deal? This past Tuesday’s election results are a hint at what might be in store for Election 2018.

Democrats pretty much ran the table last week in Virginia and New Jersey so Republicans have to face some tough political truths. That President Donald Trump has a very low approval rating. That voters upset with him were motivated to get out and vote. And, that it’s tough in mid-terms to be the party that controls the White House and Congress.

It is petition signing time in Michigan.

When you go vote tomorrow it is very likely that you will be greeted by a petition circulator.

These circulators look for registered voters because they need to submit enough signatures to the state in order to quality for next year’s ballot. Maybe you’ve already met folks trying to get you to sign onto a petition regarding marijuana legalization, redistricting, or whether Lansing should move to a part-time Legislature.

We are now a year away from Election 2018. It’s the time when the concept of who a candidate might be is starting to create the reality of who that candidate will be.

We are in the period of time when candidates running for office in 2018 are trying to solidify their status as the front-runner, figuring out who’s got that all important political momentum.

Governor Rick Snyder’s election seven years ago was supposed to represent the political triumph of “economic gardening,” the idea that government doesn’t offer big incentives to land big companies and, thus, pick winners and losers.

Instead, the idea goes, economic gardening works to create an overall environment that allows businesses and startups to grow organically. The benefits are supposed to be fairness to both small and large businesses and that tax breaks and incentives are more across the board.

Here’s a scoop: We already know who’s on the ballot next year. Even though you won’t see their names in the voting booth.

Election 2018 is a little more than a year away but we are looking forward to the past.

Are you persuadable? A persuadable voter, that is. The research says, probably not.

There’s new research by political scientists at Berkeley and Stanford that says voters in general election campaigns are largely unpersuaded by political ads. And a lot of political pros say this matches with their experience in recent years.

It’s not always gridlock and stalemate in Lansing. The left and right seem to have come together to solve a lingering controversy. But, can it last?

A plan in the state Legislature that would hurry up getting rid of driver responsibility fees appears to be on a fast track in Lansing. These fees are surcharges tacked onto traffic fines. Lawmakers approved them in 2003 in order to fill what was then a big hole in the state budget.

Michigan Republicans have packed their bags - and their hangovers - and returned home after a weekend of politics and partying on Mackinac Island.

There was a lot of celebrating over the GOP sweep in 2016, including President Trump winning Michigan, the first Republican to do so in 28 years.

S(c)huette and Trump

Sep 18, 2017

Apparently, President Donald Trump and Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette agree: Spelling counts in their “winning” strategy.

Schuette announced this past week that he’s running for Governor in 2018 and Trump tweeted, and then had to retweet, a message of support.

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It's Just Politics with Zoe Clark and Rick Pluta

Representative David Trott announced Monday morning that he will not seek reelection in 2018. The announcement comes after speculation by various pundits and the retirement of two other Republican congressmen last week.

It’s been 15 years since Michigan lawmakers reversed a Governor’s veto but it could happen again this week when the Legislature returns to Lansing from its summer recess.

Some members of the GOP are getting a little fed up with their fellow Republican Governor Rick Snyder and they want to try and muster the two-thirds majority needed to override his veto of a bill they passed earlier this year. It was a pretty innocuous piece of legislation that accelerated tax breaks for car buyers who trade in their vehicles.

Imagine a blind date without someone in the other chair. This week, we are on the political dating circuit, meeting some of Michigan’s statewide hopefuls who will not appear on next year’s August primary ballot.

We’re talking about ticket-building and why some candidates for statewide office aren’t waiting until after next year’s primaries to go public with their aspirations.

Can a politician who breaks the law be forced to quit his job and be ordered not to run again?

That question could interrupt the Michigan Supreme Court’s summer recess.

The Michigan Supreme Court this week said “not yet” to a group trying to stop fracking in Michigan.

The group, The Committee to Ban Fracking in Michigan, is now on its third attempt to get a question on the ballot to ban the controversial process used to drill hard-to-reach pockets of natural gas.

After this week, we’re starting to get a clearer picture of what the 2018 governor’s race will look like in Michigan.

In just a little more than a year, Republicans and Democrats in Michigan will choose their candidates for governor in the August primary. Governor Rick Snyder is term-limited so, it’s a wide open field.

Joan Larsen faces a tangled path to a plum spot on a federal appeals court. The only thing standing in her way is Michigan’s two U.S. Senators.

Michigan’s long-time and highly regarded elections director is retiring with a dire warning about “dark money.”

“Clearly those who give money, I think, have more influence, doors open easier,” former Michigan Elections Director Chris Thomas told It’s Just Politics. He says secret donations are undermining fair and honest elections.

Governor Rick Snyder was overseas last week as his top legislative priority tanked in the state House. And now he has to pick up the pieces.

'Good jobs'

The state’s economic developers have big dreams of landing big employers offering thousands of workers big paychecks. So, they hatched this idea of letting big businesses keep the state income taxes paid by their employees in exchange for creating jobs in Michigan. The legislation is known as “Good Jobs for Michigan.”

It’s been almost two weeks since the Legislature approved a state license plate in order for an anti-abortion group to fundraise off it, but the legislation still hasn’t been put in front of Governor Rick Snyder for his signature.

The Michigan Constitution says a governor has two weeks to sign or veto a bill once it’s adopted by the Legislature and placed before him. But there is no timeline for when the Legislature, once it’s approved a bill, has to actually send it to the governor.

The fiercest rivalry in Michigan politics right now is between two candidates for governor who still have not actually announced they’re running.

We are seeing this rivalry play out between Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette and Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley in the nascent petition drive to make the state legislature part-time.

Everyone’s back to the political games in D.C. and Lansing now that lawmakers are back from the annual Mackinac Island Policy Conference where one of the agenda items on the to-do list was restoring political civility.

A ballot campaign to make Michigan a part-time Legislature state could be on the horizon - an effort, perhaps, to make state government more efficient, but the effort carries at least a whiff of gubernatorial politics.

A petition campaign that collapsed in scandal last year is re-launching and some GOP leaders are concerned the issue could threaten Republican control over Lansing.

There’s a face off between Governor Rick Snyder and Republican leaders over an issue that’s not even at the top of anyone’s to-do list.

The state Legislature is working away on the state budget and Republicans have been cutting Snyder’s budget proposal. They’re squirreling away money but they haven’t decided what to do with it yet.

Schools in Michigan are not supposed to start the year until after Labor Day.  It is state law.

A third Snyder term?

Apr 17, 2017

Rick Snyder cannot run for governor again because he’s term-limited.

But that doesn’t mean Michigan’s CEO Governor isn’t working on a succession plan. Snyder’s Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley seems to be making moves toward a run for the top job.

Will President Trump’s Twitter rage be turned against Michigan’s senior U.S. Senator if Debbie Stabenow votes against his nominee for the Supreme Court? And would it make a difference?

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