Bill Schuette

Politics & Government
4:43 pm
Thu December 13, 2012

Schuette says right-to-work will survive court challenge

Firefighter unions will be exempt from Michigan's new right-to-work law.
Michigan Municipal League flickr

State Attorney General Bill Schuette says he expects Michigan’s new right-to-work law will be challenged in court, and he expects it will survive those lawsuits.

One possible challenge would focus on different treatment for different types of unions.         

The law will allow workers for unionized employers to opt out of paying dues or fees. But the law won’t apply to police and firefighter unions.

Schuette said that could create too much disharmony in public safety units that require order and discipline.

“Firefighters, first-responders, law enforcement – they’re on the front lines of public safety. They have a very important, unique responsibility, making sure our streets and our neighborhoods are safe and secure, so this is a very appropriate carve-out. It was a correct carve-out,” he said.

Schuette said the law does apply to the state’s 35,000 civil service employees.

Some interpretations of the state constitution say the law can’t touch civil service workers. That’s because they are governed by the Michigan Civil Service Commission.

Politics & Government
7:04 am
Fri November 30, 2012

Michigan Attorney General asks U.S. Supreme Court to decide affirmative action ban

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette wants the U.S. Supreme Court to decide on the state's affirmative action ban.
US Supreme Court

State Attorney General Bill Schuette is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold Michigan’s ban on affirmative action.

Schuette filed to submit the case to the land’s highest court Thursday.

Last month, a lower court threw out a voter-approved state ban on affirmative action.

Joy Yearout is a spokesperson for the attorney general.

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Law
12:42 pm
Wed November 28, 2012

Lansing judge says medical marijuana law "screams for legislative clarification," dismisses cases

Neeta Lind Flickr

A Michigan judge has ruled against the state Attorney General’s office in a series of criminal cases brought against four employees of Lansing-based medical marijuana dispensaries.

Lansing District Court Judge Hugh Clark Jr. dismissed the felony drug-dealing charges last week, saying the state’s medical marijuana law "screams for legislative clarification in numerous areas."

The Lansing State Journal has more:

The case surrounded multiple purchases of marijuana last year by four undercover police officers at HydroWorld locations on South Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and West Barnes Street.

They bought about 1/8-ounce of marijuana each time.

The Attorney General’s office filed charges against the employees, saying that the undercover officers were able to purchase marijuana even though they didn’t have state-issued medical marijuana cards.

The officers, according to testimony, filled out applications for the ID cards and a doctor — without ever seeing the officers — approved them.

Clark based his ruling on a recent Michigan Supreme Court decision that said a doctor’s diagnosis serves as a defense against possession charges for someone without a medical marijuana card.

The Attorney General’s office may seek an appeal, while civil lawsuits seeking to shut down the HydroWorld locations are still pending, the Lansing State Journal reports.

- Jordan Wyant, Michigan Radio Newsroom

Politics & Government
4:35 pm
Mon November 19, 2012

Schuette: Changes to Blue Cross overhaul bills not enough to protect seniors

Bill Schuette for Michigan Attorney General

Michigan’s attorney general says state lawmakers must add more safeguards for seniors to legislation that would overhaul Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan.

Bill Schuette testified Monday before the House Insurance Committee.

Schuette said bills passed last month by the Senate did not do enough to make sure Blue Cross continues to offer Medigap plans to seniors.

The program covers costs that Medicare doesn’t.

The attorney general said the proposal would drastically cut funding for Medigap, and only requires Blue Cross to offer it through 2016.

“I think the last thing we want is to have skyrocketing Medigap rates, or Medigap disappear altogether,” Schuette said.

Blue Cross officials say the measure gives seniors plenty of time to switch to more comprehensive and affordable plans.

The legislation would end Blue Cross’ tax exempt status. In return, the state would have less oversight of the Michigan’s largest health insurer.

Law
12:47 pm
Thu November 15, 2012

Charges filed against Michigan medical marijuana centers

Proposed changes to the medical marijuana law in Michigan could add regulations to how users can grow and store the plant.
user elioja Flickr

Michigan voters passed a medical marijuana law in 2008, but state prosecutors say its being abused.

The Times Herald of Port Huron reports on charges being leveled against a marijuana dispensary group:

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette filed charges Wednesday against six people connected to an investigation of the Blue Water Compassion Centers in St. Clair, Sanilac and Tuscola counties.

Authorities raided the centers, which distributed information about medical marijuana and other products, on Dec. 9, 2011 in Kimball Township in St. Clair County, Denmark Township in Tuscola County, and Worth Township and Lexington in Sanilac County.

Authorities also raided a greenhouse in Worth Township as well as the home of Debra Amsdill.

Six people face multiple felony charges, according to information and warrant documents from the attorney general’s office.

Debra Amsdill, an owner of the Blue Water Compassion Centers, said she would issue a statement on the charges tomorrow.

Politics & Government
5:23 pm
Wed November 14, 2012

State lawmakers introduce "juvenile lifers" bills

A group of state lawmakers say it is time for Michigan to change the way it sentences juveniles convicted of murder.

This summer, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled it is unconstitutional to sentence juveniles to mandatory life sentences without the chance of parole.

Bills in the state House would strike that type of sentence from state law.

An important question is whether the ruling applies to people already serving mandatory life sentences. Democratic state Representative Mark Meadows said it does.

“If it’s a violation of the Constitution to sentence individuals in this manner, then it was unconstitutional prior to that time too,” said Meadows.

Sponsors of the legislation say they will push to apply the ruling retroactively. But they say they are willing to pass bills that only apply it to new cases.

State Attorney General Bill Schuette says re-sentencing convicted offenders would be too painful for victims’ families.

Law
1:25 pm
Tue November 13, 2012

Tribe asks federal court to dismiss "meritless" state lawsuit to block Lansing casino

Artist's conception of the proposed Kewadin Lansing casino
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

The Upper Peninsula Native American Tribe says a lawsuit trying to prevent it from building a casino in Lansing is “utterly without merit”.

Michigan’s Attorney General filed a lawsuit in September challenging the right of the Sault Ste Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians to build a casino in downtown Lansing.

Attorney General Bill Schuette says the casino project would violate federal law, as well as a gaming compact with the state.

But in its response to the state’s lawsuit this week, the tribe describes the state’s case as “meritless”.

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Law
3:26 pm
Wed October 17, 2012

Michigan Appeals Court could determine resentencing of juvenile lifers

Michigan Court of Appeals
Mike Russell Wikimedia Commons

The Michigan Court of Appeals began hearing arguments Tuesday on a case that could determine the fate of Michigan’s “juvenile lifers.”

The case comes in the wake of a ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court in June determining  that mandatory life sentences without the possibility of parole for minors constituted cruel and unusual punishment.

MLive’s Jonathan Oosting has more:

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Politics & Government
7:08 am
Tue October 2, 2012

Felons with "four strikes" now face at least 25 years

Violent felons convicted of four offenses now face at least 25 years in prison, under a law signed by Governor Rick Snyder.

In a written statement, Governor Snyder says the new law holds chronic offenders accountable, while giving some peace of mind to victims and their families. 

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Politics & Government
8:46 am
Wed September 26, 2012

The week in Michigan politics

cncphotos flickr

Every Wednesday Michigan Radio's Morning Edition host Christina Shockley and Michigan Radio's political analyst Jack Lessenberry talk about what's been going on in the news when it comes to Michigan politics. This week they talked about a Michigan family's request to release a Marine Veteran imprisoned in Iran in order to see his ailing father in Flint, where the state's incarceration system stands when it comes to inmates releases in Genesse County and Attorney General Bill Schuette's stance on juvenile lifers, and the Kwame Kilpatrick trial.

morning news roundup
7:29 am
Tue September 25, 2012

In this morning's Michigan news headlines. . .

User: Brother O'Mara flickr

Michigan Attorney General fights to keep juvenile lifers behind bars

"State Attorney General Bill Schuette has not given up on trying to keep so-called juvenile lifers behind bars. Next week, he plans to file to join a case before the state Court of Appeals involving a 21-year-old man convicted in 2006 of assisting a murder. The US Supreme Court in June struck down mandatory life sentences without parole for juveniles as unconstitutional. Schuette spokeswoman Joy Yearout says the attorney general believes the ruling should not apply to people who are already serving sentences. The ACLU of Michigan says the state cannot continue to keep people in jail without a new hearing if the US Supreme Court says the sentence is cruel and unusual. Michigan has more than 360 people serving mandatory life sentences for crimes committed when they were under the age of 18," Jake Neher reports.

Flint family pleas for Marine's release

"The family of a Marine veteran  imprisoned in Iran for more than a year, says time is running out for the family to reunite. The Marine's father, a professor at Mott Community College, has been diagnosed with an aggressive brain tumor. Amir Hekmati is still being held in Iran on charges of spying for the United States. Both his family and the US government say he is not a spy. But their pleas for his release haven't worked - although his death sentence was overturned by an Iranian court. The family is pleading for their son's release while Amir's father is still alive. The Hekmatis are holding a candlelight vigil in Flint today. They hope their case will be discussed with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad while he's in New York this week for a meeting at the UN," Kate Wells reports.

Research buoy shows wind in Lake Michigan averages 22 mph

"Wind speed in the middle of Lake Michigan appears to be some of the best in the state for developing wind energy. That’s according to preliminary data from a high-tech research buoy that’s been anchored there all summer. Early data show the average offshore wind speed is at least 22 miles an hour. Wind farms have been built on land in Michigan where wind speeds average around 17 miles an hour. The research buoy will continue collecting data through December. Ultimately it could determine whether an offshore wind farm is viable in Lake Michigan," Lindsey Smith reports.

Politics & Government
5:08 pm
Mon September 24, 2012

Michigan AG continues fight to keep juvenile lifers behind bars

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette.
Bill Schuette Facebook.com

State Attorney General Bill Schuette has not given up on trying to keep juvenile lifers behind bars.

Next week, he plans to file to join a case before the state Court of Appeals involving a 21-year-old man convicted in 2006 of assisting a murder.

The U.S. Supreme Court in June struck down mandatory life sentences without parole for juveniles as unconstitutional.

Schuette spokeswoman Joy Yearout says the attorney general believes the ruling should not apply to people who are already serving sentences.

"For many of these cases it's been years, decades even, since the crime occurred. And these victims’ families thought they had a sense of closure. This could result in them having to be hauled back into court, relive the crime, be re-victimized again. And it would really be a mess for our justice system here in Michigan," says Yearout.
    
The ACLU of Michigan says the state cannot continue to keep people in jail without a new hearing if the U.S. Supreme Court says the sentence is cruel and unusual.

Michigan has more than 360 people serving mandatory life sentences for crimes committed when they were under the age of 18.

Health
1:40 pm
Thu September 20, 2012

State Senate committee begins examination of Blue Cross Blue Shield overhaul

Blue Cross Blue Shield would undergo major changes under proposed legislation.
Wikipedia

State Senate hearings began today on a proposed overhaul of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan.

The plan calls for Blue Cross to become a customer-owned not-for-profit corporation that’s regulated just like other insurance companies.

Right now, Blue Cross has to accept all applicants, regardless of their health. Starting in 2014, the Blues’ role as “insurer of last resort” will become unnecessary. Due to the federal healthcare law, insurance companies will no longer be able to reject people because of their health conditions.

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Politics & Government
5:35 pm
Thu September 13, 2012

Plan to overhaul Michigan's public defense system hits Schuette roadblock

Brian Turner Flickr

The state Attorney General has stalled a plan to overhaul Michigan’s public defense system.

Almost everyone agrees Michigan needs to improve its system for providing defense attorneys to those who can’t afford one.

The state is consistently ranked as one of the worst in the country.

But Bill Schuette’s legislative relations director Alan Cropsey came to the hearing with a long list of concerns about the bill.

He said it would open the state to lawsuits, and doesn’t provide enough oversight.

Cropsey’s testimony ate up a big chunk of the hearing, which was forced to adjourn without a vote.

Republican Representative John Walsh chairs the House Judiciary Committee. He scolded Cropsey and the Attorney General for not bringing their criticisms forward sooner.

“Your card indicates neutrality. There was nothing in your presentation that would indicate neutrality," said Walsh.

Supporters of the bill hope to have another hearing this month.

Lansing
9:18 pm
Mon September 10, 2012

Michigan's Attorney General files suit to block proposed Lansing casino

Artist's conception of proposed Kewadin Lansing casino
Sault Ste Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians

Michigan’s Attorney General has filed a lawsuit to block plans for a casino in Lansing.

The Sault Sainte Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians announced plans in January to build a $245 million casino next to Lansing’s convention center.

Attorney General Bill Schuette claims the casino project violates federal law and a gaming compact with the state.

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Politics & Government
9:18 pm
Fri September 7, 2012

Lesbian couple challenges Michigan's same-sex marriage ban

April DeBoer, left, Jayne Rowse, and their children.
DeBoer Rowse Adoption Legal Fund

A lesbian couple from the Detroit suburb of Hazel Park is using an ongoing lawsuit to challenge Michigan’s ban on same-sex marriages.

April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse are jointly raising three special-needs children, who initially came to them through the foster care system, since birth. They’ve already filed suit in federal court, challenging the state code that forbids unmarried couples from adopting.

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Politics & Government
5:25 pm
Mon August 27, 2012

Michigan AG weighs in on collective bargaining ballot proposal ruling

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette
Bill Schuette Facebook.com

The Michigan Court of Appeals said a proposed ballot question to put collective bargaining rights in the state’s constitution should be put before voters in November.

The court ruled today that the petition campaign collected enough signatures to qualify for the ballot.

Opponents are expected to file an appeal to the Michigan Supreme Court.

Attorney General Bill Schuette is among those opposed to the ‘Protect Our Jobs’ amendment.

He said the proposal’s potential effect is too complex for the simple wording of a constitutional amendment.

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Politics & Government
1:47 pm
Fri August 10, 2012

Three former McCotter staffers arraigned on election fraud charges

Attorney General Bill Schuette
Bill Schuette Facebook.com

Not guilty pleas were entered today on behalf of three former staff members accused of forging or falsifying signatures on nominating petitions for former Republican Congressman Thaddeus McCotter.

McCotter's former deputy district director Don Yowchuang and district director Paul Seewald appeared in court in Livonia for arraignment. Both are free on $50,000 personal bond.

Mary Turnbull was a district representative for McCotter in Howell. She appeared this morning in Troy district court and was released on $5,000 bond.

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Education
11:22 am
Fri August 10, 2012

Michigan Attorney General sues to block Detroit school board from resuming power

School districts with emergency managers have been plunged into uncertainty, now that the state’s emergency manager law has been suspended.

In Detroit, the Michigan Attorney General is suing to make sure the elected school board doesn’t take power back there.

Detroit’s elected school board went from having very little power, to no power whatsoever when the state broadened the powers of emergency managers under Public Act 4.

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Commentary
9:26 am
Fri August 10, 2012

Be Careful What You Wish For

Sometimes I think Detroit should adopt a new motto, something like: “Be careful what you wish for, because you just might get it."

This time, the focus is on the Detroit Public Schools, which for years have been famous for incompetence, corruption, and the squandering of money. There were almost two hundred thousand kids in the schools at the turn of the century, a dozen years ago.

This fall, there may be fewer than fifty thousand left. In recent years, the schools have been under state control much of the time. Most recently, they’ve been run by an Emergency Financial Manager with sweeping powers over the system’s finances and academics. But this week, the Emergency Manager law was suspended until after a referendum in November that may repeal it.

In the meantime, the state believes that means that the old Emergency Financial Manager law is back in place.  According to a judge’s ruling, when Emergency Financial Managers were named to run school districts, they had power over finances - but not  academics. The stronger Emergency Manager law gave them both.

But with that gone, at least temporarily, the Detroit School Board moved to reassert itself. You might think they would move slowly and sensibly, reviewing Emergency Manager Roy Roberts’ academic plan and keeping it, as far as possible.

But instead, the board is acting as if they were terribly afraid someone might accuse them of common sense.

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