Democrats

user kulshrax / Flickr

(Editor's note: This interview was first broadcast on November 14, 2013)

Polls following last month’s partial federal shutdown make it pretty clear: Americans are tired of both Republican and Democratic lawmakers. Two-thirds of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents disapproved of the shutdown. Fifty-seven percent of Americans were angry with the way Democrats handled the shutdown. In total, eight in 10 Americans say they oppose the shutdown.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Today’s announcement that General Motors will spend $1.3 billion upgrading plants in Michigan proved to be a little awkward for one of the dignitaries on the dais.

It’s probably not a surprise that Governor Snyder got a few boos from union members in the audience, given that the first anniversary of the governor signing Right to Work into law was just last week.

Perhaps less expected, the Republican governor had to sit and listen as UAW regional director Norwood Jewell praised Snyder’s Democratic opponent in next year’s election.

primerates.com

Last night’s vote to end the federal government shutdown and raise the debt ceiling divided Michigan’s Republican congress.

The legislation reopens the government through Jan. 15th and permits the U.S. Treasury to borrow normally through Feb. 7th or perhaps a month longer.
 

Congress faced a midnight deadline Thursday. That's when U.S. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew had said the government would reach the current $16.7 trillion debt limit and could no longer borrow to meet its obligations.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

The reelection chances of three Michigan congressmen might be hurt by the federal government shutdown.

The poll numbers show Republican Congressmen Tim Walberg, Kerry Bentivolio and Dan Benishek all trailing significantly behind a generic Democratic opponent. 

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

A former state lawmaker is launching her bid to challenge mid-Michigan Congressman Tim Walberg in 2014.

Pam Byrnes announced her campaign for the Democratic Party nomination today.

She is an attorney from Chelsea with a background in family law.    She is the former Director of the Washtenaw County Friend of the Court.  Byrnes was also the Executive Director of the University of Michigan-Shanghai Jiao Tong University Joint Institute. 

Byrnes says Washington is broken and that is hurting middle class families. 

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Michigan House Speaker Jase Bolger's chief of staff is leaving to take a job in the private sector in northern Michigan.

Bolger on Wednesday announced that Suzanne Miller Allen will resign at the end of August. She's a long-time Republican staffer who splits her time between Lansing and Traverse City, an area her husband Jason represented as a state lawmaker from 1999 through 2010.

Allen also was chief of staff to former Senate Majority Leader Ken Sikkema and former House Speaker Paul Hillegonds.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

There could be a vote in the state Senate in late August on a bill to extend Medicaid health coverage to thousands of un-insured working poor people.

That’s despite Governor Rick Snyder’s call for a vote earlier than that.

The governor has said waiting until late August could jeopardize the state’s ability to get federal approval, and then sign up people in time for coverage to begin when the new federal healthcare law takes effect in January.

The state House has already passed its version of a Medicaid 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

The United States Supreme Court has agreed to hear arguments in a dispute between President Obama and congressional Republicans which is directly affecting the lives of Michigan workers.

At issue is the president’s authority to make "recess" appointments.

Recess appointments are made when the president fills a governmental position while the Congress is in recess.

In this case, President Obama filled three vacancies on the National Labor Relations Board without getting his appointees confirmed by Congress.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Michigan Governor Rick Snyder says a Democrat's call for him to convene an emergency legislative session to pressure the Senate to pass Medicaid expansion is moot for now.

The Republican governor says the Legislature has a session day scheduled on July 3rd.

Spokesman Ken Silfven said Friday that the Senate should "take care of business" on July 3rd. While the Senate technically will be in session that day and others, attendance won't be taken and no business will be voted on until August 27th.

Democrats did something unusual yesterday. They came out with some new ideas and announced a package of things and innovative reforms they are for, rather than against.

The subject was mainly women’s health care, and for once, the party seems united around a well-thought out package of bills. Tim Griemel, who is still finding his voice as House Minority Leader, told a press conference “when a woman doesn’t get the health care she needs when she is pregnant, it isn’t just her own health that’s at stake. When a woman can’t get the care she needs after a violent attack, everyone who loves and supports her suffers along with her.”

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - High-level talks over fixing Michigan's deteriorating roads are at a standstill.

Republican and Democratic leaders can't agree much on how to even proceed.

Feeling burned by passage of a right-to-work law, Democrats won't consider tax increases without public assurances that Gov. Rick Snyder will veto other legislation. Democrats want a repeal of a law guaranteeing better wages on government construction projects taken off the table, along with talk of dividing the state's electoral votes proportionally.

psmag.com

Michigan lawmakers are looking at how to get online retailers to collect state sales taxes.

Currently, shoppers are supposed to report any sales taxes they owe on online purchases, and pay them with their income tax.

But most people don’t.

State Representative Eileen Kowall’s bill would put the responsibility on the online retailer.   She’s quick to say this is not a tax increase, just making sure that the taxes that are owed are being paid.

Kowall says the current system puts Michigan’s ‘bricks and mortar’ retailers at an unfair disadvantage.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Union leaders are applauding a promise by state Democratic lawmakers to reinstate workplace safety regulations in Michigan.

The names of dozens of Michigan workers who died on the job were read aloud during a ceremony in Lansing. There are about 120 deaths in the workplace every year in Michigan.

Karla Swift is the president of the state AFL-CIO. She says Michigan workers need good safety regulations in place to protect them on the job "so that they come home after a day’s work in the same condition that they left in." 

Official portrait

State House Democrats spent “tax day” pushing a plan to repeal several state tax policies.
 

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

The conservative group that pushed for Michigan to become a Right-to-Work state wants Governor Snyder to drop his call for higher taxes to pay for repairing Michigan’s roads.

The governor wants the Legislature to approve higher gasoline taxes and vehicle registration fees to raise more than a billion dollars to fix Michigan’s crumbling roads.

Scott Hagerstrom is the state director of Americans for Prosperity. He says Michigan shouldn’t be raising taxes.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Minority Democrats in the Michigan House say pension income should no longer be taxed and other Republican-backed tax changes from 2011 should be repealed.

Democrats included the proposals in a list of budget priorities unveiled Monday in Lansing. House Democrats say their plan puts "families first," but it faces an uphill climb because Republicans control the Legislature.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - The drive to fix Michigan's roads is centered on winning support from lawmakers for at least $1.2 billion a year in additional taxes and fees.

But hardly any attention is being paid to how that cash should be divvied up.

Gov. Rick Snyder wants the bulk of new revenue to go to a new fund that would pass along additional dollars to road agencies. Yet few specifics about how the money would be distributed have been released since his budget was unveiled two months ago.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Governor Rick Snyder is cool to a proposal to roll back Michigan’s new pension tax.

The pension tax was part of a package enacted in 2011 that eliminated the Michigan Business Tax.

A group of five Republican state senators wants to repeal the pension tax and reinstate some homestead property tax credits.

Governor Snyder says the tax on pensions is just a matter of fairness, so that the tax burden falls equally. The governor insists the tax that pensioners are now paying is not too much ask.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

A new poll shows Michiganders are deeply divided over the state’s new right-to-work law. The law takes effect today.

Under Michigan’s right-to-work law, workers can't be forced to join a union.

Michigan State University’s “State of the State Survey” asked more than a thousand people whether they thought Right to Work would be good for Michigan’s economy.

42.7 percent said it would be good.  41 percent said it would be bad.  16 percent said the right-to-work law would have no effect on Michigan’s economy.

Economist Charles Ballard is the survey’s director. He says right to work supporters tend to be overwhelmingly white, male, non-union conservatives, while opponents tend to be overwhelmingly minority, female, pro-union liberals.

“It doesn’t surprise me that the public is split. I think the public really is split and these survey results are a fairly accurate reflection of that,” says Ballard.

As an economist, Ballard thinks right-to-work will have little effect on Michigan’s economy.

“And on that basis, I’m thinking this issue probably will not go away,” says Ballard.

Michigan is the 24th state to adopt a right-to-work law.

Pages