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Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Today is the only day this month that Michigan's lawmakers are in session, and the House used it to vote on a major new tax incentive for businesses.

Months of lively debate ended when the tax incentive package passed with bipartisan support. It was a vote that defied House Republican leaders and Speaker Tom Leonard, and served up a big win for Governor Rick Snyder.

The Michigan House of Representatives in Lansing
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio file photo

Ten Michigan state Representatives have sent a letter to Detroit Immigration and Customs Enforcement, criticizing the agency for some of its practices. The letter was sent in response to news that ICE has been sending people apprehended in Detroit to be detained in Youngstown, Ohio. That's over 230 miles from Detroit.

These representatives  five Democrats and five Republicans  say the distance from Michigan restricts important access to resources.

A courtroom
Bill Ledbetter / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Legislation passed by the Michigan House calls for increased penalties and tougher sentences for anyone who assaults courthouse workers.

Both the Michigan House and Senate introduced identical bills today to address teacher pensions.
Pkay Chelle / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Both the Michigan House and Senate introduced identical bills today. What message are legislative leaders trying to send by doing that?

An American flag, an elephant and a donkey.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

In Michigan, the news report Inside Michigan Politics ranks the most conservative and the most liberal members of the state legislators. Among conservatives, ranking among the most conservative lawmakers is “branding.” It’s going to be on campaign literature.

For the second year, there's another ranking for most conservative legislators in Michigan. It's put out by the national group American Conservative Union.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

 


A Facebook post from Representative Andy Schor​, D-Lansing, caught some attention this week. He accused the Republican Speaker Pro-Tempore Lee Chatfield of violating the rules of the House and the state’s Constitution.

The Michigan House of Representatives in Lansing
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio file photo

The Michigan House of Representatives approved a spending bill last night that would provide $39.5 billion in general spending.  The bill passed 60-47, mostly along party lines.

The Republican majority says the plan would fund priorities such as roads and public safety and give local governments more in revenue sharing than under Snyder's plan. It would also add $265 million to savings, as requested by the Republican governor.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - The Michigan House has approved legislation to prohibit a lawmaker who resigns or who has been expelled from office from running in the special election to fill the seat.

The bill passed 72-36 Thursday is a response to former Reps. Todd Courser and Cindy Gamrat running in special elections to finish the remainder of their terms in 2015. He had resigned and she had been expelled after being accused of misusing state resources to try to cover up their extramarital affair.

thetoad / Flickr

At noon this Wednesday, state lawmakers begin a new legislative session in Lansing. There are 43 new members entering the 110 member State House of Representatives.

Many of these new members are replacing incumbents who faced terms limitations, while others defeated sitting representatives. They come from rural districts and urban districts, from the banks of the Detroit River to the Wisconsin border in the western U.P.

This week, we spoke with two of the new representatives, Beth Griffin, Republican of Mattawan, and Abdullah Hammoud, Democrat of Dearborn.

Self-driving vehicle from Ford
Ford Motor Company

More cars without human drivers could soon be on the road, pending the governor's signature.

Self-driving cars are in Michigan's future now that the state house of representatives has approved autonomous vehicle legislation.

Brandt Iden is on the House Communications and Technology Committee.

He says the safety of these vehicles provides opportunity for auto makers.

"As more companies realize the safety of these vehicles and having them on the road," Iden says, "they're obviously going to up production."

The Michigan House of Representatives in Lansing
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio file photo

Michigan's House Democrats are looking to take control of the chamber this November, but that won't be easy.

The Democrats need to win at least 56 of 110 seats to have a House majority. They currently hold 46.

The Associated Press reports that the Democrats do have some advantages that should spur optimism going into the November election. 

More from the Associated Press:

dog biting leg
U.S. Air Force / Wikimedia Commons http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Dogs that bite could end up on a "dangerous dog" registry, and their owners could end up behind bars. That's the idea behind a new bill from State Representative Jon Hoadley.

Missile Defense agency logo
United States Missile Defense Agency

All but one member of Michigan's congressional delegation have sent a letter of support to the Missile Defense Agency to show their support of the proposed new missile site.

Both Republican and Democratic members of the U.S. House and Senate sent Vice Admiral James D. Syring, director of the Missile Defense Agency, a letter urging his agency to select Fort Custer as the new missile site. 

Fort Custer, which is in Battle Creek, Mich., is being considered along with Camp Ravenna Joint Military Training Center in Ohio and Fort Drum in New York.

Terrance Guido Gerin aka "Rhino" (right) and his partner Heath Slater after their WWE victory.
Vote for Rhino Facebook page

Terrance Guido Gerin knows how to win in professional wrestling, and this November he's looking for another win.

Gerin, or "Rhino" as he's called (sometimes spelled Rhyno), won the Republican primary for Michigan's 15th House district seat last month. And as of Sunday night, he also won the first ever World Wrestling Entertainment SmackDown Tag Team Championship. 

State House Speaker Kevin Cotter, R-Mount Pleasant
Michigan House Republicans

Summer vacation is now just a fond memory for students in Michigan's schools -- and our state lawmakers. 

We sat down today with state House Speaker Kevin Cotter, R-Mt. Pleasant, to explore some of the issues before the State House of Representatives. 

Courtesy of Jewell Jones

The sudden death this summer of State Representative Julie Plawecki forced Democrats to take quick action.

She had been running unopposed for the State House seat in the 11th District, which covers Dearborn Heights, Inkster, Garden City, Livonia and Westland.

21-year-old Inkster City Councilman Jewell Jones is the party’s choice to run in Plawecki’s place.

If he wins in November, he’ll become the youngest person ever elected as a state lawmaker.

Jewell Jones
Campaign video screen grab

Democratic precinct delegates have selected a new candidate to run for a Detroit-area state House seat.

Inkster City Councilman Jewell Jones will replace the late Rep. Julie Plawecki on the August 2 primary ballot.

Jonathan Kinloch, chair of the 13th Congressional District Democratic Party, says delegates selected Jones based on his active engagement in the party and in his community.

Julie Plawecki
http://housedems.com/

The sudden death of state Rep. Julie Plawecki last weekend left a vacancy on the August Democratic primary ballot. 

Plawecki was running unopposed in the 11th House District, which includes Dearborn Heights, Inkster and Garden City. 

Jonathan Kinloch, chair of the 13th Congressional District Democratic Party, says precinct delegates will meet next week to start the process of finding a new candidate.

Michigan state Rep. Plawecki dies at age 54

Jun 26, 2016
http://housedems.com/

State Rep. Julie Plawecki, D-Dearborn Heights, has died while hiking with a daughter in Oregon. She was 54.

State Sen. David Knezek, a fellow Democrat from Dearborn Heights, announced Plawecki's death late Saturday night on Facebook. House Minority Leader Tim Greimel released a statement Sunday saying the caucus was deeply saddened by her death. A spokeswoman for Greimel, Katie Carey, said Plawecki's family said she died of an apparent heart attack.

The Michigan House of Representatives in Lansing
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio file photo

The future is cloudy for groups fighting to get those marijuana and anti-fracking proposals on the November ballot in Michigan.

The House last week gave final approval to Senate Bill 776, which sets a strict 180-day window for groups to collect signatures on ballot initiatives and constitutional amendment petitions. 

Donald Trump is now the presumptive GOP presidential nominee so, what does that portend for Republicans further down the ballot?

For Donald Trump to win the presidency, he’ll have to change the Electoral College map to win states Republicans don’t usually win. And, based on Trump’s apparent appeal to blue collar voters in old Rust Belt states, Michigan is high on that list.

Michigan Republican Congresswoman Candice Miller endorsed Trump last week.

Michigan's lame duck session ends on Thursday.
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

It took 15 hours and an all-nighter, but the state House narrowly managed to approve a package of six bills aimed at fixing the Detroit Public Schools. 

Michigan Radio's It's Just Politics team Zoe Clark and Rick Pluta sit down with us today to talk about the bills, and about how the House and Senate have different views about how to keep DPS doors open. 

The Michigan House of Representatives in Lansing
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio file photo

An article in The Free Press reported 2016 is "shaping up as a raucous and competitive election season with incumbent politicians facing strong challenges up and down the ballot, and a presidential race that could influence the control of every race."

Rick Pluta and Zach Gorchow join us to talk about upcoming State Representative races, voter turnout, and how the Michigan legislature might change after this election year.

Michigan's lame duck session ends on Thursday.
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.

Rep. Lisa Lyons speaking in National Harbor, Maryland in 2013
flickr user Gage Skidmore / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Last December, in the final hours the Legislature was in session for 2015, a bill passed both Houses and was later signed by Governor Snyder.

That bill had originally been 12 pages, but was replaced by the 53-page Senate Bill 571. Several legislators say they didn't know the contents and the changes, but it still passed. Some legislators say they later regretted voting for it.

Inside the Michigan Senate
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Legislation that would eliminate the straight-ticket voting option on Michigan ballots is headed to Gov. Rick Snyder’s desk.

Rick Pluta, co-host of It’s Just Politics and the Bureau Chief for the Michigan Public Radio Network, tells us that if signed, this legislation would have three effects:

The Michigan House of Representatives in Lansing
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio file photo

As of today, our state legislators have nine session days left before heading home for the holidays on December 17.

So it’s a good time to review who’s been most effective in getting bills passed and what we might see come out of the final few sessions before we bid farewell to 2015.

Repair trucks on a Michigan road.
Michigan Municipal League / Flickr

A $1.2 billion road funding plan has cleared the state Senate.

The new "compromise" plan takes $600 million from existing revenues to the state's General Fund, $400 million from a seven-cent-per-gallon increase in the state's gas tax, and $200 million from an increase in vehicle registration fees.

Former Michigan Representatives Todd Courser and Cindy Gamrat.
From Courser/Gamrat websites

LANSING, Mich. - Two conservative ex-lawmakers who had an extramarital affair and attempted to conceal it have been sued by former aides. 

The Detroit News and MLive.com report former state Reps. Todd Courser and Cindy Gamrat were sued Friday by Keith Allard and Ben Graham in Ingham County Circuit Court. 

The Michigan House of Representatives in Lansing
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio file photo

In a turn of events that surprised many, Rep. Todd Courser resigned his position on Friday, while Rep. Cindy Gamrat became the fourth state legislator in Michigan’s history to be expelled.

John Lidstrom was one of the veteran Lansing political observers watching that expulsion vote, and based on the editorial he wrote about the episode, it’s clear he did so with a sense of dismay.

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