bipartisanship

Steven Johnson was surprised to learn he might be heading to Lansing next year to represent Michigan's 72nd District.
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio


A funeral service is set for today for Curtis Hertel Sr. The former state Speaker of the House died suddenly this week of natural causes in his home.

The Democrat served in the state House for nearly two decades. Remarkably, during that time he wound up sharing the role of House Speaker with Republican Paul Hillegonds.

Website of Tom Barrett for State Representative

State Rep. Tom Barrett, R-Potterville, and state Sen. David Knezek, D-Dearborn Heights, are two Iraq War veterans who were “heartbroken and outraged” when a recent audit revealed the poor quality of care being given to military veterans at a state facility.

Barrett and Knezek decided to fight for the veterans.

A recent audit of the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans revealed the state facility was understaffed, that the workers were mishandling complaints of abuse and neglect, and that they were not conducting mandated safety checks. 

Sen. Peters is hoping a bipartisan push will secure federal resources to assist in Michigan's efforts in Flint
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

The FBI has now joined the investigation into the contamination of Flint’s drinking water. That’s in addition to the U.S. Prosecutor and State Attorney General Bill Schuette.

The announcement comes in advance of tomorrow’s House committee hearing on the public health disaster.

In the meantime, leaders at local, state and federal levels are trying to piece together money and strategies to get the lead out of the water and to help the children who have been exposed to lead.

U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee, D-Flint.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

This week, a bipartisan group of House members is  joining forces in an attempt to revive the Export-Import Bank.

The Ex-Im Bank, as it’s known, is a federal agency that finances exports. It’s been around for 80 years, but stopped doing business July 1, after House leaders let its charter lapse.

Among the lawmakers trying to get the bank up and running again is Michigan Congressman Dan Kildee, D-Flint.

Two Iraq War vets are now serving in the State Legislature
flickr user cedarbenddrive / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

There are two Iraq war veterans now serving in the state Legislature.

Sen. David Knezek, D-Dearborn Heights, and Rep. Tom Barrett, R-Potterville, both took their seats in November 2014, and they’re working hard toward a goal of improving veterans’ affairs here in Michigan.

user GPDII / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

People across Michigan have seen their cars, their TVs, their kids’ iPads, even their homes seized by police, often despite never having been charged with or convicted of a crime.

It’s called “civil asset forfeiture,” and it means that state or federal agents can seize your property if they so much as suspect that it has been involved in criminal activity.

The push against civil asset forfeiture is growing.

The Michigan State House of Representatives in Lansing, Michigan
user CedarBendDrive / flickr

It’s hard to argue against the fact that informed citizens are the cornerstone of democracy.

That’s the idea behind the Open Meetings Act: keeping the business of public entities open, transparent, and accessible to the public.

Rep. Klint Kesto, R-Commerce Township, and Harvey Santana, D-Detroit, speak of their experiences in Wayne County with parolees looking to find suitable jobs so they do not re-enter the corrections system.
user mihousegop / flickr

State Rep. Harvey Santana, D-Detroit, is a long-time proponent of bipartisan action in the House.

Once kicked out of the Democratic Caucus as punishment for locking horns with caucus leaders once too often and for occasionally crossing party lines and voting with Republicans, Santana is now serving his third and final term in the state House as vice chairman of the House Appropriations Committee.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

When Governor Snyder pushed through a repeal of the the personal property tax — aka the PPT — in late 2012, it was seen as a good step towards encouraging businesses to set up and expand in Michigan.

But local governments took it right on the chin. As the PPT phased out, many were in line to lose a significant source of revenue.

But there's good news for municipal officials worried about a great big hole in their budgets.

A package of bills has been introduced in the State Senate that would plug that hole, without having to revert to anything like the PPT, which Governor Snyder called "the second-dumbest tax" in Michigan.

And this package seems to have just about everyone on board, including both Democratic and Republican lawmakers.

Here to tell us more is Kathleen Gray from the Detroit Free Press, and MLive’s Jonathan Oosting.

Listen to the full interview above.