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.

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.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

DETROIT (AP) - Michigan workers can choose not to financially support unions that bargain on their behalf under a right-to-work law now in effect.

The measure that took effect at midnight will apply to labor contracts that are extended or renewed after Wednesday. Many unionized employees won't be affected for months or years.

Union organizers are asking people to wear red Thursday to protest Michigan becoming the 24th right-to-work state - a once-unthinkable change in a place where organized labor has played a central role.

Supporters plan to celebrate the law's passage.

Republican Gov. Rick Snyder is expected to see protesters at unrelated events in Detroit. He said Wednesday the continued political fighting, lawsuits and protests over right to work are "part of democracy" and he appreciates that "change is difficult for people."

DETROIT (AP) - The longtime leader of the Michigan Democrats is losing his job.

Mark Brewer on Saturday withdrew from the race for party chairman at the state Democratic Party convention in Detroit. He said he wishes challenger Lon Johnson all the best.

Brewer announced his decision to thousands of delegates rather than continue an uphill climb to retain his seat after unions and Michigan's Democratic congressional delegation got behind Johnson. Brewer said he wishes Johnson all the best.

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. 

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Political campaigns in Michigan are turning their focus to getting out the vote.

In campaign offices across Michigan, a small army of volunteers is busy calling voters just to confirm who they’re voting for.

In the basement of the Michigan Republican Party headquarters, volunteers use telephones which automatically dial the telephone numbers of eligible Michigan voters. 

When someone answers the phone, the volunteer’s first question is “If you are going to vote…are you going to vote for Mitt Romney…or Barack Obama?”

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Delegates to the Democratic National Convention are gathering in Charlotte, North Carolina to nominate Barack Obama for a second term as president. Others are in Charlotte trying to build political momentum for a cause.

Yesterday the streets of downtown Charlotte were filled with protestors.

(Sound of drums and chanting) "Education not deportation!"

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Michigan’s U.S. Senate race is getting attention from top Congressional GOP leaders at the Republican National Convention.

“It’s not just carrying it for Mitt Romney…we need a new senator from Michigan as well,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell told Michigan delegates this morning, “Because I would like to be setting the agenda in the Senate instead of (Democratic Senate Majority Leader) Harry Reid.”

McConnell told the delegates that Republican control of the U.S. Senate depends on Michigan.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Political shenanigans are nothing new at national political conventions.

But Michigan Democrats are the ones having fun today at Mitt Romney’s expense.

It started, as many things at a national political conventions do, with a press release.

But this press release had the eye catching title “Michigan GOP to Hold “No One’s Ever Asked to See My Birth Certificate” party.   The press release claimed the party was to show support for Mitt Romney, who raised the issue of President Obama’s birth certificate last Friday in Michigan.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

A conservative group picketed outside U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow’s offices in East Lansing and Flint today.

The focus of the protests was Stabenow’s support for the federal health care law.

A new group is asking the state of Michigan to pick up the cost of a special election to fill the unexpired term of former Republican Congressman Thaddeus McCotter.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - A hearing is scheduled in Lansing on Wednesday on a package of bills that would prevent some patients from suing doctors for malpractice.

The hearing is 8 a.m. before the state Senate Insurance Committee in Lansing.

Leaders of the 16,000-member Michigan State Medical Society say the Patients First Reform Package closes a legal loophole that allows unnecessary suits to be filed and prevents trial lawyers from artificially inflating awards.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - The Michigan Senate is expected to vote on legislation that would end state-provided health care coverage in retirement for new public school hires and require current employees to pay more toward pensions.

The Wednesday legislative session is the only one scheduled for July. The Senate is expected to take up the bill passed last month by the House.

The bill doesn't contain earlier language that would force new teachers into a 401 (k)-style plan. The measure calls for studying how ending the pensions would affect the state.

Michigan Democratic Party Chairman Mark Brewer
Dwight Burdette / Wiimedia Commons

The Democratic National Committee will hold a Platform Committee meeting next month in Detroit, a major stop on the road to party's September convention in Charlotte, N.C.

The Democratic Party announced yesterday that the platform committee will meet Aug. 10 through 12. Participants are expected to discuss the party's draft platform, submit amendments and present it to convention delegates at the Charlotte convention.

Michigan Democratic Party Chairman Mark Brewer said the decision to hold the meeting in Detroit highlights Michigan's political importance.

In a statement on the Michigan Democratic Party website, Brewer said,

The Platform Committee has the critical task of drafting and voting on a platform to present to the delegates at the Democratic National Convention in September, and we are honored to host the committee members in Detroit. This distinction shows how important Michigan is to the Democratic Party and to the 2012 election effort. We welcome the elected officials and dignitaries of the committee to Michigan.

The 2012 Republican National Convention will be held in Tampa, Fl. this August.

-Elaine Ezekiel, Michigan Radio Newsroom

You may not have realized this, but the best thing President Obama may have going for him in November is that the Detroit Tigers are having a pretty disappointing season.

That may sound nuts to you, but there is documented evidence of this:  Throughout history, whenever the Tigers have done spectacularly well in an election year, the Republicans almost always win. When they’ve disappointed fans, the Democrats usually triumph.

How many people do you know who really love politics? I don’t necessarily mean those politically active or intense about the issues. I know lots of people like that, conservative and liberal. But I don’t sense that many of them are having a good time.

(Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

State lawmakers have passed a budget plan for most of state government for next year.

The House and Senate passed an Omnibus spending bill that covers all of state government, except education.   The state House passed the bill on a 61 to 49 vote.   The bill passed the state Senate on a 20 to 16 vote.

(Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

A state House committee today approved speeding up an income tax break for Michigan taxpayers.


The state House voted today to exempt drink pouches from Michigan’s bottle deposit law.  The bill passed on a 91 to 19 vote.

(Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - The Michigan House plans to begin consideration of measures moving up an income tax cut from January to October and increasing how much income someone can earn before taxes kick in.

For many years, there was a big difference between the two major parties when it came to their internal affairs. Democrats often didn’t get along behind closed doors and on convention floors.  And they often didn’t mind letting their disagreements show. Nor did their intra-party brawls usually seem to hurt them. That’s because the Democrats were a collection of different interest groups who didn’t necessarily like each other very much.