Bert Johnson

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In 2004, 58% of Michigan voters voted yes to a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage.

But that was nearly a decade ago. Since that vote, there's been an annual survey testing Michiganders' attitudes towards the issue. And the latest survey by the Glengarriff Group shows a major turnaround in the way we view same-sex marriage.

Today, Michigan voters back gay marriage by a 57% to 37% margin — almost an exact reversal of the vote on the constitutional ban.

With that backdrop, four Democratic senators have proposed a package of legislation that would advance recognition of same-sex marriage in our state.

Christopher Webb / Flickr

The Michigan Senate has passed a budget bill that would boost state funding to public schools by about 3%. Universities and colleges would also get a roughly 2% increase.

Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville (R- Monroe) praised the schools budget, saying it addresses issues like teacher retirement costs while giving more money to districts.

“The education budget this year may be the best that I’ve seen since I’ve been up here,” said Richardville.

But many Democrats say the plan does not do enough to make up for cuts to education over the past couple of years.

JSFauxtaugraphy / Flickr

A lawmaker from the Upper Peninsula says every region in the state could benefit from a strong and vibrant Detroit.

Republican state Senator Tom Casperson has become an unlikely advocate for a regional transit system in southeast Michigan that would connect Wayne, Macomb, Oakland and Washtenaw counties.

Casperson’s district in the U.P. would not benefit directly from the transit system. But the U.P. could benefit long term from newfound political ties to Detroit.

Photo courtesy of Senate Democrats.

At the beginning of the year Governor Snyder appointed an emergency manager, Jack Martin, for Highland Park public schools. Shortly after that Martin was “de-activated” from the position. And now it’s unclear when he might be reinstated.

Democratic Senator Bert Johnson represents Michigan’s 2nd District, which includes Highland Park.

Opponents of Michigan’s emergency manager law say they’re ready to tackle the problems underlying the financial distress of many Michigan communities.

Members of the  Financial and Academic Reinvestment Commission (FARC) met in Highland Park Thursday night.

State Senator Bert Johnson, who helped launch FARC last month, says they have a plan to help communities fix fiscal problems without emergency managers.

Johnson says the point is to draw attention to what he calls the “real, human issues” underlying communities in financial crisis.

Governor Rick Snyder and leaders in the Legislature hope to begin voting tomorrow on a plan to keep Highland Park students in school when the district runs out of money this week.

Control of the district reverted to the school board after Snyder removed the emergency manager to comply with a court ruling.

House Speaker Jase Bolger (R-Marshall) said the district won’t get any more money while the school board is in charge.

He said the district is guilty of mismanaging its funds.

When you talk to State Senator Bert Johnson about running for Congress next year, the first thing he’ll tell you is that “this is not about John Conyers,” the man he‘s taking on in the Democratic primary next August.  That‘s true, in a sense.

The newly configured Thirteenth Congressional District is slightly more than half Detroit; the rest is mainly blue-collar Wayne County suburbs. Conyers, who has been in Congress since nineteen sixty-five, doesn‘t live in the district, not yet, anyway.

Republican Conference / Flickr

13th District: Johnson Is In

State Senator Bert Johnson just got into the race for Michigan’s 13th Congressional District. Johnson made the announcement yesterday in Highland Park. Many political observers believe Johnson will face U.S. Rep. John Conyers in a Democratic primary for the seat. Though Rep. Conyers currently represents the state’s 14th Congressional District, it’s believed, due to redistricting, that he’ll run in 2012 in the 13th District. U.S. Rep. Hansen Clarke, who currently represents the state’s 13th District, announced earlier this month his intention to run in 2012 in the new 14th Congressional District.

Miller Supports Hoekstra

Michigan Republican Congresswoman Candice Miller says she supports former West Michigan Congressman Pete Hoesktra in his bid to become the GOP challenger in the 2012 election against incumbent Senator Debbie Stabenow. Earlier this week, Governor Rick Snyder formally endorsed Hoekstra as well. Hoekstra faces fellow Republicans Clark Durant, a Detroit charter school executive; Randy Hekman, a former Kent County Probate Judge; Gary Glenn, President of the American Family Association of Michigan; and businessman Pete Konetchy.

Melton Steps Down

Democratic State Representative Tim Melton of Pontiac is stepping down from his seat in the state legislature. Melton, who made the announcement yesterday, is taking a job in California with StudentsFirst, an education reform group lead by Michelle Rhee, former chancellor of the Washington D.C., public school system. When Democrats controlled the state House, Melton was chair of that chamber’s Education Committee. Melton is the third state lawmaker in recent years to leave office early for another job. Melton says term limits could make leaving early a trend for state politicians.