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8:41 pm
Thu March 14, 2013

GM looking to expand its Lansing Grand River plant

General Motors Lansing Grand River plant
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

General Motors is considering spending nearly $40 million to expand its Lansing Grand River plant.

On Monday, the Lansing city council will consider granting tax abatements to GM.

The abatements are tied to the automaker’s plan to spend $38 million to expand its Lansing Grand River plant. The expansion would add about 150 jobs.

GM already makes its Cadillac ATS at the plant.   The ATS recently won the North American Car of the year award at the North American International Auto Show. 

Politics & Government
11:23 am
Thu March 14, 2013

Selling Lansing city hall, privatizing some city services proposed to ease city budget woes

For Sale? Prime location downtown Lansing. Current owner may be motivated seller.
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

A mayor's task force is recommending major changes to help the city of Lansing fix its budget issues.

The committee says city leaders should consider selling city hall and privatizing many city services.  Another recommendation is to consolidate city departments with other local governments.

Former mayor David Hollister heads the mayor’s financial health team.  He says the proposals will be unpopular, but he believes they're necessary to end Lansing’s chronic budget problems.

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Politics & Government
11:11 am
Thu March 14, 2013

'It's not just Detroit,' hundreds of Michigan cities face huge unfunded liabilities

State capitol building, Lansing, Michigan
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Hundreds of Michigan cities are not saving enough to cover their future retiree health care costs.

A new report says more than 300 Michigan municipalities have in excess of $13 billion in unfunded liabilities for health care costs of retired public employees.

Michigan State University researchers found only half of the municipalities are prefunding retiree health care. The rest are setting aside no money despite longer lifespans and rapidly rising health costs.

While the collective bill of funding those benefits is $12.7 billion, the bulk of it, almost $11 billion, is attributable to local governments in a 10-county region of Southeast Michigan including Oakland, Macomb and Wayne counties. The city of Detroit alone will owe $5 billion in retiree health care costs.

But MSU professor Eric Scorsone says cities like Grand Rapids, Flint, Lansing and Saginaw also face difficult choices.

“That’s already happening today….these cities…are paying millions of dollars in retiree premiums so it’s already having an effect and it will have an even bigger effect in the future,” says Scorsone.

Scorsone says the new national health care law may help some.   But tax increases, budget cuts or broken promises to retirees are inevitable, unless the state takes action.

Economy
6:36 pm
Tue March 5, 2013

Craps: Lansing casino project in jeopardy

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

Plans for a casino in downtown Lansing are in jeopardy this evening.

The Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians wants to build a $245 million casino next to Lansing’s convention center.  However, before the tribe could build the casino, the U.S. Department of the Interior would have to agree to take the land for the casino into trust.

But Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette filed a lawsuit trying to block the tribe's trust request.

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Politics & Government
2:54 pm
Tue March 5, 2013

Pack of Lansing dog owners fill city council session on vicious dogs

Bad dog or bad owner?
watchsonomacounty.com

A large crowd of dog owners packed a Lansing city council meeting on the city’s vicious dog ordinance.  The city council's public safety committee heard from about a dozen speakers during its hour long meeting.

Mayor Virg Bernero wants Lansing to adopt a new law that requires additional insurance and fencing requirements on the owners of specific breeds of dog, including pit bulls.

Beth Contreras is the vice president of Voiceless Michigan, an animal welfare group. She says the mayor’s proposal is the wrong approach.

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Economy
3:20 pm
Mon February 18, 2013

Stateside: The impact of increasing minimum wage

Proposed increase in minimum wage could put more money in Michigander's pockets
wikimedia commons

The following is a summary of a previously recorded interview. To hear the complete segment, click the audio above.

The subject of minimum wage is on the front burner these days nationally, and in Lansing.

President Obama announced in his State of the Union address that he wants to raise the federal minimum wage to $9 an hour.

And now, there's a proposal afoot in Lansing to boost the state minimum wage to $10 an hour.

We had MPRN's Jake Neher and Michigan State University economics professor Charley Ballard tell us just what would the impact be on Michigan's economy, its businesses and its workers, if the minimum wage was boosted.

Politics & Government
12:07 am
Tue February 12, 2013

For sale soon? A former Lansing golf course may soon be on the real estate market

The old Waverly golf course has been idle for years, but may soon be attracting developers
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

A former city-owned golf course will soon be for sale in Lansing.

Lansing closed the Waverly golf course in 2007.    Since then the grass has grown high on the fairways and putting greens.

Last year, Lansing voters gave their OK to sell the 120 acres.   Last night, the city council gave its approval to put the land on the market.

Randy Hannan is with the mayor’s office.  He says they’re optimistic the land will draw interest from developers since the real estate market is starting to rebound.

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Politics & Government
11:43 pm
Mon February 4, 2013

Lansing is facing 'painful' cuts

Members of Lansing's Financial Health team address the city council during last night's meeting
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

“Painful” cuts to Lansing’s city budget are being predicted by the man heading a task force studying the capitol city’s budget problems.

David Hollister leads the mayor’s Financial Health team. He appeared before the Lansing City Council last night to update them on his committee’s work.

Hollister didn’t mince words telling the council that “painful” choices will have to be made to eliminate a projected nine million dollar budget shortfall next year.

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Offbeat
12:05 am
Mon February 4, 2013

Lansing will hold a gun buyback event this week

(file photo)
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

This week, Lansing will conduct its second gun buyback program in six months.

Violent crime declined in Lansing in 2012, according to the FBI.   But still the capital city recorded a dozen homicides last year.

The gun buyback taking place Saturday is intended to take a few weapons off the streets that might otherwise be used in violent crimes.

People who turn in firearms will receive gift cards worth between $50 to $150, depending on what kind of weapon is surrendered.

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Politics & Government
10:48 pm
Thu January 31, 2013

Looking for other ideas to solve Lansing's budget woes

The turnout at last night's public hearing was not enough to fill the auditorium at Pattengill Academy
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

A special committee set up to study the city of Lansing’s financial problems heard from the public last night.

The committee’s preliminary report is due March 1st. The panel is looking at changes to Lansing’s retirement plan and other possible spending cuts.

Several dozen people showed up last night to share their ideas. UAW vice president Stan Shuck doesn’t want any more cuts to city employees and city services.  He wants to see ideas for raising revenue.

Politics & Government
10:04 pm
Mon January 28, 2013

Lansing's mayor says privatizing the city's power company is not going to happen on his watch

Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero (D) delivers the 2013 State of the City address
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Lansing mayor Virg Bernero’s State of the City address celebrated recent positive economic news for the capitol city.

But perhaps the biggest applause line in the speech last night involved the future of Lansing’s city-owned utility.

Last year, Mayor Virg Bernero appointed a committee to study ways of solving Lansing’s chronic budget problems.   One option the panel has been looking at is privatizing the Lansing Board of Water and Light.

But Bernero says he wants that idea off the table.

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Politics & Government
12:42 am
Mon January 28, 2013

Lansing mayor to deliver State of the City address tonight

Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero (D) (file photo)
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Lansing’s mayor plans to celebrate the city’s recent growth in manufacturing in his State of the City address tonight night.   

But the city’s lingering financial problems will also be on the agenda.

Lansing mayor Virg Bernero has used his previous seven State of the City addresses to highlight positive economic news in the capitol city. He’ll do the same thing this year.

Bernero says he plans to talk about expanding auto production in the Lansing area as well as mention other downtown development projects.

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Law
3:28 pm
Tue January 22, 2013

Federal judge will hear arguments over Lansing's proposed downtown casino

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

A federal judge in Grand Rapids will hear arguments Wednesday in a case that may determine if Lansing will get a downtown casino.

A year ago, the Sault Ste Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians announced plans to build a casino that would wrap around Lansing’s downtown convention center.   The plan included the construction of a temporary casino along Michigan Ave.  

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Politics & Government
1:58 pm
Mon January 14, 2013

Local government and religious leaders in Michigan call for more federal gun control laws

Flint mayor Dayne Walling (left) listens as Lansing mayor Virg Bernero outlines changes being requested for the nation's gun laws
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Government and religious leaders from Lansing, Flint and Saginaw came together today to call for new federal gun control laws.

All three cities saw an increase in murders in 2012.

The group, Mayors Against Illegal Guns, wants the federal government to require background checks for all gun sales.    It also wants a ban on assault weapons and an expansion of gun trafficking laws.

Darnell Earley is Saginaw’s city manager.   He says something must be done to stop what he calls “neighborhood warfare.”

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Economy
3:02 pm
Tue January 8, 2013

Lansing is lending a helping hand to low income people facing financial problems

Lansing city and civic leaders join together for today's announcement of a $1.5 million dollar grant to pay for one-on-one financial counseling
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Low income families in Lansing will soon have access to a special financial counseling program.

The city is getting a $1.5 million grant from Bloomberg Philanthropies and the Living Cities-Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund to underwrite the three year program.

Politics & Government
3:27 pm
Thu January 3, 2013

Lansing City Council chooses Carol Wood as its new president

2013 Lansing City Council president Carol Wood (to the right), outgoing council president Brian Jeffries and councilwoman Kathie Dunbar listen to a speaker at today's city council meeting
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

The Lansing city council chose a longtime critic of the capitol city’s mayor as its next leader.

Carol Wood was selected as the city council’s new president at a meeting today.

Wood has frequently criticized the way Mayor Virg Bernero has run Lansing’s city government, both as a councilwoman and when she ran against him in 2009’s mayoral election.

Wood says she wants to “start on the right foot” with the mayor this year.

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Politics & Government
11:32 pm
Mon December 17, 2012

Lansing city leaders concerned about apparent problems with Ingham County's 911 system

(file photo)
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

The Lansing City Council received a report last night looking at serious problems with Ingham County’s 911 system.

The new 911 center opened last summer. It dispatches fire and EMS crews for Lansing and East Lansing, as well as Ingham County.

But the system has trouble pinpointing mobile phone calls, and that’s led to dispatching mistakes and slow response times. A new report suggests three deaths may be connected to problems with the 911 system.

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Politics & Government
6:32 pm
Tue December 11, 2012

State employees will move into vacant office space in downtown Lansing

Over the past decade, the number of Michigan state government workers has shrunk, and that's left some state-owned buildings with lots of vacant space.

Now the state is hoping to fill in those gaps and save money at the same time.

The idea is to move some workers from leased offices across Lansing into Constitution Hall and the Mason Building.  Both of those state-owned buildings will undergo renovations to prepare the new workspace.

Kurt Weiss is with the state. He says Constitution Hall is 30 percent vacant.

"So as you can imagine, as you're walking down some of those hallways, there's a lot of empty cubicles," he said.

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Newsmaker Interviews
4:43 pm
Tue December 11, 2012

Michigan Nurses Association against 'right-to-work'

Nurses at the Michigan State Capitol Monday afternoon.
NBCnews.com MNA Facebook page

With Michigan poised to become the country’s 24th so-called "right-to-work" state, thousands of protestors have flooded the State Capital today to demonstrate against the legislation. Michigan Radio's Jennifer White talks with Katie Oppenheim, a registered nurse, and president of the University of Michigan Nurses Union. Oppenheim is also affiliated with the Michigan Nurses Association.

Politics & Government
4:00 pm
Thu December 6, 2012

Stateside: The politics behind right-to-work

By law in Michigan, workers in unionized work places are required to pay union dues. There's an option to not be part of the union, but an "agency fee" still has to be paid. That covers the cost of the union's collective bargaining and grievance handling.
user "Dmitri" Beljan Flickr

Governor Snyder announced today that right-to-work bills will be placed in the state’s Legislature.

This means that union membership would be voluntary in Michigan.

"Stateside with Cynthia Canty" Executive Producer Zoe Clark and MPRN’s Rick Pluta discussed the politics behind this issue.

Here is what they had to say:

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