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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 the executive producer of the daily news-magazine Stateside and oversees interviews on All Things Considered. She is a better parallel parker than Rick.

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

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?

The center strikes back. We are seeing a resurgence in the power of moderate Republicans in D.C. and Lansing.

The effort to allow any Michigan voter to request an absentee ballot may be close to critical mass in the state Senate. That’s as more Republicans are accepting the idea that anyone who wants to mail in or drop off their ballot should be allowed to without having to lie to do it.

(Support trusted journalism like this in Michigan. Give what you can here.)

What’s a Republican governor to do when his own political party is the problem?

We’re hearing a lot about the divide among Republicans in D.C. over the “repeal and replacement” of Obamacare.

President Donald Trump and the House Republican leadership have a plan. But, conservatives don’t like it. Democrats don’t like it. Interest groups like the AARP are already piling on, and let’s add to the list: Republican governors like Ohio Governor John Kasich and Michigan’s own Rick Snyder.

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In elections, it’s all about who shows up.

And last year, Democrats didn’t.

The Democrats’ historic loss in Michigan is due pretty much to the fact that too many voters who would typically vote Democratic simply sat out Election 2016. While Republicans, true to form, showed up at the polls.

State House Speaker Tom Leonard (R-DeWitt) is figuring out his next move after his income tax rollback tanked in the House last week. It was an embarrassing defeat largely the result of putting the bill up before the Speaker knew the votes were there. And he ran into a hard-dozen fellow Republicans who, along with all but one of the Democrats, torpedoed what was supposed to be a marquee moment in the early days of this session.

There’s a battle over taxes emerging in Lansing.

Is it real? Or is it actually a proxy for other looming political fights?

Tax rollback

We could see action soon on a plan that would begin to rollback and eventually, after four decades, completely eliminate the state income tax.

But this idea from state House Republicans is getting the cold shoulder from Governor Rick Snyder, a lot of state Senate Republicans and, not to mention Democrats.

Governor Rick Snyder has laid out his budget plan for the coming year. He wants the state to save more, pay down debt and spend on infrastructure.

Republicans in the Legislature are not necessarily opposed to those ideas, but many of them are also calling for tax cuts, which means less money for those things Snyder wants.

A legal battle over redistricting in Michigan could soon be underway.

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Letters are being sent to some 60 attorneys, legislators and ex-legislators, staffers and ex-staffers, Governor Rick Snyder, and many others, telling them: Anything you have related to the 2011 redistricting process, you better keep it. We’re talking drafts of maps, emails, instructions, and confidential analysis.

Thousands of protesters gathered yesterday at Detroit Metro Airport and in Dearborn, Hamtramck, Grand Rapids and Ann Arbor to demonstrate against President Donald Trump’s ban on immigrants from seven majority Muslim countries.

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“Our goal should be, we can reach 10 million people again.”

That was Governor Snyder’s goal delivered at his 2017 State of the State speech Tuesday night.

The new president, Congress and state Legislature still haven’t been sworn in but Campaign 2018 is already underway.

Former state Senator Gretchen Whitmer is the “first” candidate to launch a 2018 campaign for governor of Michigan. Whitmer is a Democrat who spent more than a dozen years in the state Legislature before being term-limited out in 2014.

A lot of attention is being paid today to the usually almost-anonymous job of being a presidential elector.

This afternoon at the state Capitol, in the state Senate chamber, Michigan’s 16 votes for president will be cast by presidential electors - one vote for every congressional district in the state, plus two at-large electors.

It’s a little-noted honor to be an elector. Typically, it’s held for party stalwarts looking to be a footnote to history.

There’s one more week of “lame duck” in Lansing as the Michigan Legislature wraps up its 2015-2016 session.

Lame duck - the period between the November election and the end of the year - is when the going gets weird in Lansing.

The largest vote recount in Michigan’s history has been ordered to begin this afternoon at noon.

Very early this morning, federal judge Mark Goldsmith ordered the state to, “cease any delay in the commencement of the recount of the presidential vote cast in Michigan as of noon…”

This afternoon, the Michigan Board of State Canvassers will, in all likelihood, certify the results of the November 8th election - bringing Campaign 2016 to an official close and opening the door to Recount 2016.

Unprecedented

Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania are about to become the center of the U.S. political universe as the Green Party and its presidential candidate, Dr. Jill Stein, try to upset the order of things and make elections officials in those three states go back and check their work.

After Tuesday’s historic election, Republicans will continue their firm control of Lansing.

Going into last week, predictions, even among Republicans, were that the GOP would lose at least some seats in the state House of Representatives. There were times, in fact, during the campaign, that some even wondered whether Democrats might take control of the House.

Michigan is getting the battleground treatment in the final days of Election 2016 with visits from both Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. But there is more at stake than the White House.

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