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Debbie Stabenow

Deborah Ann Greer Stabenow is the United States Senator for Michigan. Born in Gladwin and raised in Clare, Stabenow has long been rooted in Michigan politics. Stabenow received her Master’s from Michigan State and worked in public schools before she was elected to the United States Senate in 2000.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., says she’ll take whatever version of the farm bill she can get from the Republican-led U.S. House. The chair of the Senate’s Agriculture Committee says time is running short to get something signed into law.

Stabenow has been working for a few years to pass a new version of the massive farm bill.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Michigan’s agribusiness leaders are hoping Congress will restore food assistance programs to the 2013 Farm Bill.

House Republicans approved a Farm Bill on Thursday, without any funding for food stamp programs, like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, otherwise known as SNAP.

For decades, Congress has approved massive spending bills to help the nation’s farmers and provide help for the poor to buy food. But conservative House members passed a Farm Bill without the food stamp funding.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Congress could act this week to roll back an interest rate hike on a student loan program that many Michigan college students use.

The interest rate doubled for federally subsidized Stafford loans on July 1st.   

The rate went from 3.4% to 6.8%.

Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow says the federal government will make a $50 billion profit from the student loan interest rate hike.

Sleeping Bear Dunes
flickr user Danielle Lynch / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

On Wednesday, the United States Senate unanimously passed a bill that brings Congress one step closer to declare a portion of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, some 32,557 acres,  as a "wilderness area."

Though the Sleeping Bear Dunes is already protected, it hasn't been declared a wilderness area yet.

Congress can designates wilderness areas under the Wilderness Act:

“A wilderness, in contrast with those areas where man and his own works dominate the landscape, is hereby recognized as an area where the earth and community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain.”

Wilderness areas try erase any trace of human activity. These designations can be controversial when some believe human history in the area should be preserved. The National Park Service has faced situations like this in the past.

The bill was sponsored by Michigan Senators Debbie Stabenow and Carl Levin, and will affect almost half of the 35 miles of National Lakeshore.

Debbie Stabenow maintains a lead over Pete Hoekstra in a new Michigan poll.
Office of Senator Stabenow

The Farm Bill would cut the funding to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, by more than $4 billion over the next 10 years. And the House version of the bill has about five times as many cuts.

Michigan Democratic Senator Debbie Stabenow is the head of the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee, and the champion of the Farm Bill.

The Senator joined us today to discuss some of the concerns surrounding this bill.

Listen to the full interview above.

User: Brother O'Mara / Flickr

Farm Bill moves to U.S. House

The Michigan Farm Bureau is glad to see Congress is making progress on passing Senator Debbie Stabenow's farm bill. The U.S. Senate approved nearly a trillion dollars in support for food assistance, crop insurance and other programs this week.  Michigan Radio's Steve Carmody reports, "the U.S. House is still wrestling with its version of the bill."

Tea Party activists will sit out of governor's race

An open letter to Governor Rick Snyder released by a group of prominent Tea Party activists calls on their party to sit out next year's race for governor. They call for Snyder to change his position on Medicaid expansion. Tea Party group "Grassroots in Michigan" says Snyder is bucking the Republican platform by cooperating with the new federal healthcare law.

Duggan is out of the Detroit Mayoral race

A Wayne County judge has kicked Mike Duggan off of the ballot for Detroit Mayor. When Duggan filed for a mayoral run a month before the deadline, he didn't meet a city rule that requires candidates to be registered voters in Detroit a full year before filing.  But he did meet the rule by the filing deadline date.  Michigan Radio's Tracy Samilton reports, "Duggan says he's reviewing his legal options."

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Michigan farmers are waiting to see if Congress can reach a deal soon on a new Farm Bill.

The U.S. Senate passed its version of the nearly trillion dollar, five year Farm Bill on Monday. The U.S. House continues to work on its own version of the bill, which funds crop insurance and other programs for farmers, along with food assistance for the needy.

The Farm Bill has been stalled in Congress for more than a year. And that has made it difficult for Michigan farmers to plan for the future.

Thirty-four years ago, when Debbie Stabenow was a newly elected state representative in a very male-dominated legislature, she got the first of a number of encouraging notes from an older woman who had spent a lot of years in the fishbowl of politics.

Those notes meant a lot to Stabenow, as she went on to become a force to be reckoned with in first the state house and then the senate; in Congress and  finally in the U.S. Senate.

What made that support all the more remarkable is that Stabenow is a Democrat. And the woman who reached out to her was the wife of the Republican governor, Helen Milliken, perhaps the least likely and most effective feminist in Michigan history.

User: Brother O'Mara / flickr

State Supreme Court Justice faces sentencing

Former Michigan Supreme Court Justice Diane Hathaway is due in court today to be sentenced for fraud. Hathaway was forced to resign in January when she pleaded guilty to a scheme to cheat the bank by hiding assets.  Hathaway’s attorney is asking that she be allowed to perform community service and pay thousands of dollars in fines; however, federal prosecutors have asked for prison time of 12 to 18 months. Michigan Radio's Rick Pluta has more.

Benton Harbor EM believes deficit will be eliminated in one year

Tony Saunders, the emergency manager of Benton Harbor, says elected leaders are likely to regain control within a year when the city's structural deficit will be eliminated. Michigan Radio’s Lindsey Smith reports Benton Harbor’s new emergency manager says he’s cut more than a million dollars from the budget in just three months.

Senator Debbie Stabenow's farm bill is headed to the senate

Senator Debbie Stabenow will rally in West Michigan this week. She's trying to get farmers to pressure lawmakers to pass her new farm bill to funds crop insurance programs and research to help fight invasive insects. Last year the Senate passed the farm bill but it died in the House. The Senate is expected to vote on the farm bill early next month.

Stateside: Stabenow addresses farm bill, stresses its urgency

Jan 15, 2013

Senator Debbie Stabenow is asking Congress to pass a new farm bill.

Stabenow spoke to the Michigan Agri-Business Association at its annual conference in Lansing earlier this morning.

Stabenow, who spoke today with Stateside, was confident the bill would pass.

“It will, because our farmers and ranchers need the certainty of a five-year farm bill and consumers need to know what their choices are and our farm bill includes more investments in local food systems. When we look at the deficit we have today, we need to find ways to cut spending. We did that in our farm bill. We saved $24 billion dollars and will move agriculture toward the future,” she said.

One of the bill’s interests, said Stabenow, is preserving the quality of the Great Lakes.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Senator Debbie Stabenow is asking Michigan leaders in agriculture to push Congress to pass a new farm bill.

Stabenow spoke to the Michigan Agri-Business Association at its annual conference in Lansing Tuesday.

Stabenow chairs the Senate Agriculture Committee. She vowed not to compromise on policies important to Michigan farmers as lawmakers write a new bill.

Courtesy photo / The Lakeshore Advantage

This story was updated to correct that the $120 million goes to a a number of partners including two in Michigan.

Lindey Smith / Michigan Radio

Former Congressman Pete Hoekstra thanked his supporters in West Michigan before conceding defeat in the U.S. Senate race Tuesday night. The race between incumbent Senator Debbie Stabenow and Hoekstra was called early; before the presidential race.

Fans of the GOP at the Grand Rapids party were disappointed about Hoekstra's defeat, but still hopeful about Romney when he took the stage.

“As you have seen on the TV screens, we came up short tonight,” Hoekstra explained to the crowd of at least 300 people.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Michigan voters will choose between two long time fixtures on the state political scene in next Tuesday’s U.S. Senate race.  

The result may mark the end of one of those political careers.

Democrat Debbie Stabenow has spent the past twelve years in the U.S. Senate. 

In that time, the Democratic incumbent has acquired a certain degree of political influence, for example as the chair of the Senate Agriculture committee, and a certain comfort when it comes to raising campaign donations. 

A123 Systems Inc.'s battery manufacturing facility in Livonia, Michigan. The company filed for bankruptcy on Tuesday.
A123 Systems Inc. / Facebook

U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow is defending federal subsidies to promote green energy and advanced manufacturing businesses.

The loans, grants, and tax credits were part of the federal economic recovery package.

A company that got a quarter-billion dollar grant declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy this week. A123 employed hundreds of people in Michigan at facilities in Livonia, Romulus, and Ann Arbor.

Stabenow said the subsidies remain an important part of national energy and economic policy—even if some of the investments don’t pan out.

U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow in Studio East at Michigan Radio.
Cameron Stewart / Michigan Radio

There won't be a U.S. Senate debate this year, but that doesn't mean the candidates aren't taking questions.

This morning, U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow stopped by our studios to talk with callers from around the state.

Host of Michigan Calling Rick Pluta directed the conversation which covered topics such as jobs and the economy, green energy, education and student debt, Asian carp, and Michigan agriculture and the Farm Bill.

You can listen to the conversation above.

After the presidential race, the top of the ballot in Michigan is the U.S. Senate race.  Michigan Watch teamed up with the Center for Michigan’s Truth Squad to review recent ads produced by Republican Pete Hoekstra and Democratic incumbent Debbie Stabenow.

With just 25 days to go before the Presidential election, and a week since the first Presidential debate, a few pollsters and at least one analyst are putting Michigan into swing-state territory even though, as we’ve noted before, President Obama’s generally been given the edge in most polls in the state.

This week, Michigan enjoyed a round of visits from top flight presidential candidate surrogates starting with Republican Vice Presidential nominee Paul Ryan on Monday. And, just today, we saw Anne Romney stumping for her husband, Mitt Romney, in the couple’s native-state.

So, the question remains, after five presidential election cycles with Michigan falling into the Democratic column, is Michigan an actual battleground state in 2012?

The right-leaning website Real Clear Politics says so. A Detroit News/WDIV poll shows the Obama lead shrinking since last week’s debate and a Gravis Marketing poll also puts the race for Michigan’s 16 electoral votes much closer than it has been. President Obama still leads, according to these surveys, but the momentum is moving toward Mitt Romney.

And, as we’ve said before, Michigan seems like it should be attainable for the GOP. It’s not like a Republican can’t get elected here statewide. Just ask Governor Rick Snyder, Attorney General Bill Schuette or Secretary of State Ruth Johnson.

But, aside from the Real Clear Politics call, no one else is really putting Michigan into that list of eight or nine states that are the focus of the fiercest competition (states like Ohio, Virginia, Colorado, New Hampshire, Nevada and Iowa). And, we’re certainly not seeing a big re-allocation of resources by the campaigns that would suggest things are changing in the mitten state.

One question that gets bandied about is: if Michigan isn’t a battleground state, then why are high profile campaign surrogates making regular stops here? Well, there are lots of reasons why candidates and their surrogates visit a state – fundraising, a quick visit to make sure a safe state stays that way. But President Obama hasn’t been here since April; Romney since August. In fact, this was the first time in decades that neither presidential candidate themselves visited Michigan during the entire month of September. In 2004, George W. Bush made John Kerry work for Michigan, which maybe meant he wasn’t able to spend as much time and money in places like Ohio and Florida – true swing states with lots of electoral votes.

In this morning's Michigan news headlines. . .

Oct 12, 2012
User: Brother O'Mara / flickr

No more Senate candidate debates

"It appears there will be no debate between Senator Debbie Stabenow and former Congressman Pete Hoekstra. Stabenow called off talks to schedule the debates, saying her opponent won't negotiate in good faith. Hoestra says Stabenow is afraid to debate him. Senate candidates usually hold at least two debates. One debate has traditionally been held at the Detroit Economic Club. Hoekstra says the sticking point was holding debates in a medium that lots of voters could see. Hoekstra says he wanted debates on major TV networks," Tracy Samilton reports.

Meningitis cases continue to rise in Michigan

"There’s been a big jump in the number of people in Michigan affected by that national fungal meningitis outbreak. The Centers for Disease Control says 39 people in Michigan have contracted fungal meningitis from tainted steroid injections. Just Wednesday there were only 28 confirmed cases in Michigan. Three Michigan women have died since receiving the injections which were intended to treat back pain," Steve Carmody reports.

Medical Marijuana discussed in Michigan Supreme Court

"The Michigan Supreme Court will decide whether the state’s medical marijuana law allows dispensaries and growing cooperatives. The court heard arguments in two medical marijuana cases today Thursday. Prosecutors say patients have to either grow their own, or get it from a licensed caregiver. Prosecutors say patients have to either grow their own, or get it from a licensed caregiver. The operators of a marijuana dispensary are challenging the county’s decision to shut down their operation. A man who ran a growing cooperative is also trying to fend off a charge that he exceeded the 12-plant limit in the law. The court is expected to rule in coming months. In the meantime, the Legislature is also looking at adding some definition to the medical marijuana law that was approved by voters in 2008," Rick Pluta reports.

A new TV ad for Senator Debbie Stabenow.
screen grab

Presidential hopeful Mitt Romney and Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow are both far outspending their opponents on TV ads in Michigan.

That’s according to a report released Monday by the Michigan Campaign Finance Network.

The report says groups supporting Romney have spent about $13 million for ads in Michigan since the February primary.

The Obama campaign and supporters haven’t spent as much in Michigan, but Obama still has a lead among likely voters, according to most polls.

Rich Robinson is with the Michigan Campaign Finance Network.

Asian carp leaping out of a river.
glfc.org

Michigan congressman Dave Camp is calling out the Army Corps of Engineers for dragging its feet on a plan to prevent Asian carp from reaching the Great Lakes.

Camp released a statement this morning claiming the Corps is ignoring the timeline for completing a plan set out in the Stop Invasive Species Act, legislation he wrote with Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow.

Camp’s law called for a plan to be in place by January 2014

U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow
Studio08Denver / Flickr

This week we saw the debate showdown between President Obama and former Governor Mitt Romney. Political pundits are talking non-stop about how Romney pulled off a campaign reversal. Debates can be game changers. And, then, there are the Michigan debates, or lack thereof. We have a statewide race that pits incumbent Democratic Senator Debbie Stabenow against former Republican Congressman Pete Hoekstra. They’ve both agreed to debates. They just haven’t agreed to the same debates.

It’s a debate… about debates

Hoekstra has the most to gain by debating. It’s why he’s pushing for more than just the two that he and Stabenow have agreed upon – at least in concept. One of those two debates, to take place at the Detroit Economic Club, isn’t really a debate but more of a joint appearance. As the incumbent with what appears to be a very comfortable lead,  Stabenow has the most to lose. Certainly we saw an example of that Wednesday night: the perils of a debate to a front-runner. So, it raises the question, if Stabenow has very little to gain from a Senatorial debate, why hasn’t Hoekstra agreed to dates for the two appearances both campaigns have accepted. Holding out certainly hasn’t seemed to help the Hoekstra campaign.

Foreign affairs

If you’re the Hoekstra campaign and you can’t get your opponent to debate and you’re looking for something that changes the conversation, pulls you out of a rut, what better than to take a few days to travel… to the Middle East; Israel to be exact. This past weekend Hoekstra flew to Tel Aviv in an effort to turn the conversation to a topic where he is taken seriously: foreign policy. When Hoekstra was in Congress he chaired the House Intelligence Committee and had a security clearance.

However, when Hoekstra returned from the trip and was asked about the officials with whom he met, he said he couldn’t say. He says this was because the trip was not State Department-approved and in order to get officials in Israel to speak with him, he had to promise them their anonymity.

Well, by now there have been a zillion analyses of last night’s debate, most of which agree challenger Mitt Romney came on stronger than a curiously laid-back President Obama.

There’s not much I can add to that except perspective. I have seen every presidential debate since they became a permanent part of our political landscape back in 1976.

Pete Hoekstra is running against Debbie Stabenow for the U.S. Senate.
Rick Pluta / Michigan Radio

Former Congressman Pete Hoekstra is trying to make foreign policy a bigger issue in Michigan’s U.S. Senate race.

Jobs and the economy seem to be tops in voters’ minds, and Hoekstra says he does not expect that to change.

But the Republican nominee says the recent turmoil in the Middle East should make President Obama’s handling of foreign affairs an issue.

Hoekstra says that’s why he staged a quick visit to Israel over the weekend to meet with unnamed academics and government officials.

Hoekstra chaired the House Intelligence Committee as a member of Congress.

He says incumbent Senator Debbie Stabenow endorses the President’s foreign and energy policies.

“She’s continuing to send a signal that says, We’re going to rely on a part of the world that right now we’re screwing up. It’s going to be less stable. It’s going to be more anti-American, and that’s where we’re going to get our energy from,” says Hoekstra.

Stabenow says she thinks the President is doing a good job, and her campaign will continue to focus on jobs and fair trade.

She supports the use of more renewable energy resources.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Michigan farmers face some uncertainty, as a key federal agriculture policy expires at the end of this week.

Congress adjourned before passing a new Farm Bill.  The old federal Farm Bill expires September 30th.

Many programs affecting Michigan farmers will be disrupted if Congress does not agree on a new Farm Bill.

Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow chairs the Senate Agriculture committee. She worries if the House and Senate don’t reach an agreement the Farm Bill may be lost in the rush to avoid automatic tax increases and budget cuts at the end of the year.

The week in review

Sep 22, 2012
David Defoe / flickr

Every Saturday Rina Miller talks with Michigan Radio's political analyst Jack Lessenberry about some of the biggest stories in the week's news. This week they talk about Michigan Farm Bureau endorsing Democrat Debbie Stabenaw for the US Senate race, the Kwame Kilpatrick trail and the slew of art story headlines seen this week.

Brother O'Mara / flickr

Kilpatrick trail starts today in Detroit

"A judge has denied former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick’s request to move his trial out of Detroit. The request for a change of venue was considered a long shot by most legal experts. Kilpatrick and his three co-defendants’ lawyers argued that media coverage of the trial had become “radioactive.” They said there was no way the defendants could get a fair trial in Detroit. But Judge Nancy Edmunds dismissed those claims, saying there was no evidence of “presumptive prejudice” on the jury’s part. Opening arguments are set for Friday. Kilpatrick, his father Bernard, former city contractor and longtime friend Bobby Ferguson, and former Detroit water department head Victor Mercado face a host of federal corruption charges. The federal government alleges the four men formed a kind of criminal gang—the so-called “Kilpatrick Enterprise.” An indictment accuses them of using that enterprise to “financially enrich themselves” through various schemes, including fraudulent water department contracts and a phony non-profit organization," Sarah Cwiek reports.

Stabenow endorsed by right-leaning Michigan Farm Bureau

"Michigan Republicans are doing without a key supporter in 2012. The right-leaning Michigan Farm Bureau is endorsing Democrat Debbie Stabenow for another U-S Senate term. Stabenow is running against former U.S. Congressman Pete Hoekstra. Stabenow is ahead in most voter polls," Mark Bashore reports.

Pledge of Allegiance bill sent to Snyder's desk

"Michigan is a step closer to joining the 43 other states that require students at public schools to recite the Pledge of Allegiance each day. The state Senate passed the bill yesterday and sent it to Governor Rick Snyder’s desk. Supporters say it will help to instill a sense of patriotism in students. But a handful of Democrats say it’s a political move and a distraction. Another measure would require all classrooms to have a flag on display," Jake Neher reports.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

The Michigan Farm Bureau is throwing its support behind Democratic incumbent Debbie Stabenow in this fall’s U.S. Senate race.

The endorsement is a bit of a surprise.

The Michigan Farm Bureau supported Stabenow’s Republican opponents in her two previous U.S. Senate races.   But not this time.

The endorsement comes as Stabenow works on the 2012 Farm Bill, as chairwoman of the U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee.

Debbie Stabenow maintains a lead over Pete Hoekstra in a new Michigan poll.
Office of Senator Stabenow

A recent poll of likely voters by Lansing-based Marketing Resource Group has President Barack Obama and Senator Debbie Stabenow maintaining slim leads in Michigan.

MLive has the story:

U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI).
USDA.gov

U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow says she will participate in two debates with Republican U.S. Senate candidate Pete Hoekstra.

Stabenow made the announcement this afternoon. Hoekstra has been calling for six debates with the two-term Democrat from Lansing.

Details have not been finalized, but the Associated Press reports Stabenow has accepted debate invitations from the Detroit Economic Club and Grand Valley State University in Grand Rapids.

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