michigan house of representatives

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

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 House of Representatives
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

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 House of Representatives
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

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

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.

user GPDII / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

People across Michigan have seen their cars, their TVs, their kids’ iPads, even their homes seized by police, often despite never having been charged with or convicted of a crime.

It’s called “civil asset forfeiture,” and it means that state or federal agents can seize your property if they so much as suspect that it has been involved in criminal activity.

The push against civil asset forfeiture is growing.

The Michigan State House of Representatives in Lansing, Michigan
user CedarBendDrive / flickr

It’s hard to argue against the fact that informed citizens are the cornerstone of democracy.

That’s the idea behind the Open Meetings Act: keeping the business of public entities open, transparent, and accessible to the public.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

The Michigan house is considering a package of bills that would require an electronic recording of interviews with kids during a child abuse or neglect investigations.

House bills 4547, 4548 and 4549 would also allow the video recordings to be considered in a probation violation hearing or a hearing to get information removed from the statewide Child Abuse and Neglect Central Registry.

Rep. Klint Kesto, R-Commerce Township, and Harvey Santana, D-Detroit, speak of their experiences in Wayne County with parolees looking to find suitable jobs so they do not re-enter the corrections system.
user mihousegop / flickr

State Rep. Harvey Santana, D-Detroit, is a long-time proponent of bipartisan action in the House.

Once kicked out of the Democratic Caucus as punishment for locking horns with caucus leaders once too often and for occasionally crossing party lines and voting with Republicans, Santana is now serving his third and final term in the state House as vice chairman of the House Appropriations Committee.

The Michigan State House of Representatives in Lansing, Michigan
user CedarBendDrive / flickr

Todd Courser, the conservative freshman Republican state Representative from Lapeer, describes his early years as a "Huckleberry Finn childhood."

Now, he describes himself as "a barbarian warlord" who is "the conscience" of his party.

Nancy Derringer wrote a profile of Courser for Bridge Magazine titled, “Todd Courser hits Lansing like a cannonball.”

House considers bill to limit local government power

May 15, 2015
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

The state House is considering a bill that would limit local governments’ powers to enact policies for employers.

House Bill no. 4052 would prohibit local governments from creating policies and ordinances regulating the relationship between an employer and its employees.

Michigan House and Senate take on new leadership

Jan 15, 2015
Michigan's Capitol.
Graham Davis / flickr

The Michigan legislature has begun its new session and that means new leadership in the House and Senate. Republicans have strong majorities in both after the last election.

Ken Sikkema, former Senate Majority Leader and Senior Policy Fellow at Public Sector Consultants and Susan Demas, publisher of Inside Michigan Politics joined us to talk about the new leadership.

user futureatlas.com / flickr http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

This Week in Review, Jack Lessenberry and Rina Miller discuss a bill aimed at protecting religious freedom, another that would cut off welfare payments to recipients who fail drug tests, and whether Michigan’s low gas prices will stick around.


USFWS Midwest

This Week in Michigan Politics, Emily Fox and Jack Lessenberry discuss what could happen to the state Legislature after the election, possible surprises in congressional races and the wolf hunting proposal votes which may not matter.


Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

The state House has voted to reinstate funding for the Common Core state school standards.

More than 40 other states have chosen to adopt the standards, which set yearly expectations for what students should learn at every grade level in math and language arts.

But earlier this year, Michigan lawmakers temporarily barred the state from spending money to implement Common Core. A legislative panel was formed to study the issue over the summer, and its chair, Rep. Tim Kelly (R-Saginaw Twp.) crafted a resolution based on more than 17 hours of public testimony.

I travel to Toledo once a week, and if you make that trip, you know how wretched the roads are in some places.

The governor does too. For two years, he’s been trying to get the legislature to come up with new money to pay for the roads. Unfortunately, I can now report that our lawmakers have gone from doing nothing about Medicaid to doing nothing about the roads, unless moaning and finger-pointing count.

Yesterday, the Gongwer News Service produced a story which said there was finally optimism something would happen. Unfortunately, there was little evidence of it.

It did quote Speaker of the House Jase Bolger literally whining, “It is true the House Democrats have failed to offer any solutions for transportation funding, but that is par for the course.” The Speaker  added, “Some people might get the idea that Democrats would rather complain than cooperate.”

World Resources Institute

Democrats in the state House are calling for more state regulations on hydraulic fracturing – or “fracking” in Michigan. Fracking releases oil and gas from deep underground by cracking open rock with a high-pressure mix of water, fine sand and chemicals pumped into wells.

The state has seen an influx of energy producers since companies started using this controversial process to extract natural gas.

Democratic state Representative Sarah Roberts is a co-sponsor of this package of eight bills. She represents the 18th District from St Clair Shores. She joined us today to talk about 'fracking.'

Listen to the full interview above.

Columbine High School

The Michigan House of Representatives is considering a new program to help prevent school violence.

The OK-2-SAY hotline would be available for students, teachers, parents or community members to call and report incidences of violence in schools.

Joanne Spry is the superintendent of Cadillac Area Public Schools. She implemented a similar program when she worked as an administrator in Colorado after the school shootings in Columbine. Spry says students are more likely to report something anonymously.

Eusko Jaurlaritza / Flickr

Eight Democrats in the Michigan House are introducing legislation to tighten regulations on a practice used by the oil and gas industry known as hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking."

The drilling technique is at the center of national environmental debates. It uses water and chemicals deep underground to harvest natural gas.

Neeta Lind / Flickr

A state House panel is likely to take up a bill soon that would revive medical marijuana dispensaries in Michigan. Republican lawmakers are starting to take interest in the issue.

Earlier this year, the Michigan Supreme Court handed down a ruling that effectively stopped most marijuana dispensaries from operating in the state. The court ruled that the dispensaries can be shut down as a public nuisance. Now state lawmakers say they’re close to a deal on legislation that would allow and regulate the facilities.

Thomas Anderson / Flickr

The state House has approved a plan to overhaul and expand Medicaid in Michigan. The bill passed the House with bipartisan support.

State lawmakers have been debating for months whether to add hundreds of thousands of Michiganders to the Medicaid rolls under the federal healthcare law. It also creates incentives for healthy lifestyles, and would eventually require some Medicaid patients to pay more toward the cost of their healthcare.

Democratic state Representative Brandon Dillon praised Republican House leadership for taking a vote on the bill.

The Parade Company / via theparade.org

A bill to fix Michigan’s fireworks law is headed to Governor Rick Snyder’s desk. The state Legislature passed the legislation almost unanimously.

Last year, state lawmakers legalized high powered fireworks for consumer use. That sparked thousands of complaints from across the state about loud blasts into the early morning hours.

Harold Haugh (D-Roseville) is the bill’s sponsor. He says he’s received thousands of complaints about loud blasts into the early morning hours.

"So we tried to take all of the inputs that we could and put it into a common sense approach," explained Haugh. "And obviously with the votes, my colleagues in both the House and Senate – both Democrat and Republican alike – agreed with what we had put together."

The bill would allow local governments to prohibit overnight fireworks use on and around national holidays. Municipalities are already able to restrict fireworks the rest of the year.

Haugh says he expects Governor Snyder to sign the bill in time for July Fourth.

Brother O'Mara / Flickr

Former Michigan Supreme Court Justice sentenced to jail time

“Former Michigan Supreme Court Justice Diane Hathaway was sentenced to one year and one day in federal custody, for the crime of bank fraud. Federal prosecutors say Diane Hathaway illegally concealed a million dollars in assets, so she could qualify for favorable terms on a short sale of one of her homes in Michigan. The defendant had hoped to avoid prison time,” Michigan Radio's Vincent Duffy reports.

Michigan schools could see increase in state funding

“Michigan public schools would see more state funding under a budget plan approved by the state House. Every school would see at least a five-dollar per-pupil boost. Schools getting the minimum amount from the state could receive up to 60 dollars more per student. The state Senate is expected to take up the education budget today,” Michigan Radio’s Jake Neher reports.

Strong winds and funnel clouds cause damage in Michigan

"The National Weather Service reported several funnel cloud sightings in Michigan last night, including a tornado that landed near Goodrich High School southeast of Flint. No injuries were immediately reported. The weather service says high winds in the same severe thunderstorm system heavily damaged several homes, toppling numerous trees and power lines," the Associated Press reports.

User: Brother O'Mara / Flickr

Legislation in Michigan House could cap FOIA fees

There is new legislation up for initial hearing this week in Lansing. It is a response to local governments and state agencies charging hefty fees for people to see government records.

"One of the bills would limit most charges for requests filed under the state’s Freedom of Information Act to no more than 10 cents a page. Another would create a Michigan Open Government Commission to hear challenges to government denials of information requests," Michigan Radio's Rick Pluta reports.

Lansing City Council vs. Mayor Virg Bernero

The Lansing city council will vote tonight on a budget for next year. Michigan Radio's Steve Carmody reports that "the vote will likely put the council at odds with Mayor Virg Bernero." 

The mayor wants to add annual fees for city water and electricity customers. Conversely, the council wants to make several spending cuts including eliminating several new positions the mayor wants to add to the city's payroll. Mayor Virg Bernero will have until Thursday to veto parts of the city budget he doesn’t like. The Lansing city council has until early June to try to override the mayor’s expected vetoes.

Higher education opportunities piloted in Michigan prisons

"After years without funding for prisoners to access higher education, the Michigan Department of Corrections is immersed in several efforts to teach community college courses and vocational training in-house to a small number of inmates who are near parole. Michigan will join a pilot project that hopes to gather enough evidence to possibly resurrect publicly supported postsecondary education in prisons nationally," reports The Detroit News.

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