michigan legislature

Stateside
7:25 pm
Mon June 16, 2014

Michigan lawmakers stall plan to replace MEAP with new exams

Credit Alberto G. / Creative Commons

One of the many decisions made by state lawmakers during their budget actions last week was to keep the MEAP in place for another year.

The more than 40-year-old MEAP exam stays put even though Michigan adopted the Common Core State Standards in 2010. And the state's education department has been working for the past three years to bring in the new testing that is aligned to the Common Core. That new test is called the Smarter Balanced Assessment.

The state lawmakers' recent decision could mean that educators and students have to hit the reverse button and go back to MEAP. But State Superintendent Mike Flanagan said in April that the MEAP was simply “not an option."

Brian Smith has been reporting on the Common Core and Smarter Balanced vs. MEAP tussle. He said that as the issue moved forward, the Department of Education started to talk to testing vendors and see what could possibly be done.

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Weekly Political Roundup
4:48 pm
Thu June 12, 2014

Why has it been so difficult to get consensus on a funding package?

Credit user cedarbenddrive / Flickr

    

The intense Michigan winter has put roads funding at the top of the legislative agenda. Things lagged for the past few months but began to heat up as the Legislature prepares for summer break which begins next week.

Why has it been so difficult to get consensus on a funding package?  

Today we talk Michigan politics with Ken Sikkema, former Senate Majority Leader and Senior Policy Fellow at Public Sector Consultants, and Susan Demas, publisher of Inside Michigan Politics.

Listen to the interview above.

Opinion
10:22 am
Thu June 12, 2014

Thank God the Michigan Legislature is spending time passing laws about beaver traps

It is not exactly true that the Michigan Legislature can’t get anything done.

For example, our lawmakers did pass a bill to allow a fur dealer to hold a license to trap beaver.

Don’t you feel better about that? The governor signed it yesterday.

On the down side, they completely failed to get done the voters' most important priority, fixing our terrible roads.

You see, fixing the roads would cost money.

It would also require making hard choices, which many elected officials seem allergic to, especially in an election year.   

Some of our lawmakers seem dead set against raising any taxes, even though polls have shown this is the one thing voters are willing to pay for. Some can’t see past their narrow ideological blinders enough to simply get the job done.

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Law
10:23 am
Mon June 9, 2014

Bill would change who can make end-of-life decisions in Michigan

Credit Vu Bui / Flickr

Friends, partners or neighbors in Michigan who make legal medical decisions for a person when alive are not allowed the same right when the person passes away.

House Bill 5162 would change that by allowing someone who is not related to the individual to be designated as his or her funeral representative.

Anita Clos, assistant director of medical social work at the University of Michigan, says social workers witness the trauma families experience because of the way current law works.

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Politics & Government
10:44 am
Sat June 7, 2014

Meth production targeted by Michigan lawmakers

Rep. John Kivela of Marquette says meth abuse is "a scourge in mainly rural areas" of Michigan. He says the bills try to keep over-the-counter drugs out of the wrong hands.
Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Michigan lawmakers are trying to curb methamphetamine use by making it harder for certain people to buy its main ingredients.

The House passed bipartisan legislation Thursday to use a database to stop the sale of ephedrine or pseudoephedrine to people with meth convictions. The drugs are most commonly found in over-the-counter cough and cold medicines.

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Politics & Government
11:43 am
Mon May 26, 2014

The end of the road may be coming for Michigan's Driver Responsibility fees

People with driving violations, like drunk driving, have to pay the fees which can climb to a couple thousand dollars.
Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan is edging closer to ending its very unpopular Driver Responsibility fees.

The state fees were created a decade ago to help raise much needed-money for the state budget.

People with driving violations, like drunk driving, have to pay the fees which can climb to a couple thousand dollars.

Joe Haveman is a state representative from Holland. He says the fees are unfair.

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Politics & Government
11:23 am
Sat May 24, 2014

Where things stand on completing Michigan's budget

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Michigan lawmakers are tackling some hefty issues like fuel taxes, Detroit's bankruptcy and the minimum wage in the last weeks before their summer break.

They're also trying to finalize Michigan's next spending plan.

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Politics & Government
3:12 pm
Mon May 19, 2014

Poll shows strong support for raising taxes to pay for repairing Michigan roads

More than two-thirds of those polled said they would be willing to pay $10 a month more for gasoline, if it meant more money to fix Michigan’s roads.
Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A proposal to greatly increase Michigan’s gas tax goes before a state Senate committee tomorrow.

The proposal has already cleared the state House. Among other things, it calls for taxing fuel based on price, instead of volume. It would generate about $500 million in new tax revenue. That's about a third of what Gov. Rick Snyder and others say is needed to fix the roads.  

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Politics & Government
1:32 pm
Mon May 19, 2014

The 'Grand Bargain' may see progress this week at the state capitol

Governor Snyder hopes the State House will make progress toward approving the ‘Grand Bargain’ this week.

Critics complain it’s not fair for the rest of the state to pay for Detroit’s financial missteps. Supporters say restoring Detroit to financial health is important to all of Michigan.Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan RadioEdit | Remove

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Politics & Government
1:27 pm
Mon May 19, 2014

Gov. Snyder wants the state House to consider minimum wage legislation soon

The state Senate already approved a bill to increase Michigan’s minimum wage, in steps, to $9.20 an hour.
Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Governor Snyder hopes the state House will turn its attention soon to a proposal to increase the state’s minimum wage.

The Senate already approved a bill to increase Michigan’s minimum wage, in steps, to $9.20 an hour.

Snyder says it was good to see the bill pass in the Senate with bi-partisan support.

“I hope the House will take it up relatively soon. And make a serious review of it,” says Snyder.

Supporters say Michigan’s minimum wage has needed an increase for a long time.

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Politics & Government
10:15 am
Sun May 18, 2014

Michigan Senate eyes bigger gasoline tax increase

The talk of pumping more money into transportation infrastructure comes on the heels of a House vote to gradually allow Michigan's 19-cents-a-gallon gas tax to go as high as 32 1/2 cents over time.
Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Michigan senators are considering whether to significantly increase gasoline taxes over five years to mend roads and bridges.

The talk of pumping more money into transportation infrastructure comes on the heels of a House vote to gradually allow Michigan's 19-cents-a-gallon gas tax to go as high as 32 1/2 cents over time.

It would initially generate $450 million a year, mostly by diverting money from elsewhere in the budget.

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Politics & Government
3:19 pm
Thu May 1, 2014

Law would make "revenge porn" a crime in Michigan

A half-dozen states already have laws on the books to punish people who post nude or sexually explicit photos to the Web without the person’s consent. The photo appearing on the computer screen in this picture is actually of a painting.
Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

It may soon be a misdemeanor in Michigan to post “revenge porn” on the Internet.

A half-dozen states already have laws on the books to punish people who post nude or sexually explicit photos to the Web without the person’s consent.

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Politics & Government
10:00 am
Sat April 26, 2014

Tax cut plans dim as focus at the state capitol shifts to potholes

Legislative leaders aren't ready to give up on tax cut discussions but acknowledge that road funding could ultimately be a higher priority. New revenue estimates for the next budget in mid-May could prove crucial.
Credit Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - An income tax cut seemed inevitable just two months ago, as Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder and Republican lawmakers offered up and even began passing rival plans to use some of a budget surplus for tax relief before the 2014 elections.

Now plans for a tax reduction are waning and shifting instead to addressing pothole-ridden roads.

   Snyder says he's open to dropping his tax plan to set aside more money for transportation. He attributes the shrinking interest in tax relief among legislators to drivers who voiced frustration with crummy roads.

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Education
9:52 pm
Wed April 23, 2014

Flanagan: "The MEAP’s not an option" for next year

State Superintendent Mike Flanagan says the MEAP test is not an option at this point. He says changing now would cost the state.
Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

State Superintendent Mike Flanagan is warning Michigan lawmakers against trying to take a step back on school testing.

An amendment to next year’s school aid budget would require schools to give the MEAP exam next year. Some lawmakers are upset the state has contracted with a new company using a test tied to Common Core standards.

Flanagan says the MEAP test is not an option at this point. He says changing now would cost the state.

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Stateside
5:34 pm
Wed April 23, 2014

State legislators debate expanding state's controversial Education Achievement Authority

Credit David Schott / Flickr

Michigan Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville says he hopes there will be a final vote this week on a bill to expand the state’s controversial Education Achievement Authority.

That’s the state-run authority meant to turn around some of Michigan’s lowest-performing schools. Right now, the EAA runs 15 schools in Detroit. The bill would pave the way for it to expand up to 50 schools statewide.

Michigan Public Radio Network’s Lansing reporter Jake Neher joined us to talk about the EAA.

Listen to the full interview above.

Education
1:19 pm
Wed April 23, 2014

Student demand change to Michigan school 'zero tolerance' policies

Dozens of high school students have completed a trek from Detroit to Lansing to highlight their concern about ‘zero tolerance’ policies in Michigan schools.
Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Dozens of high school students have completed a trek from Detroit to Lansing to highlight their concern about ‘zero tolerance’ policies in Michigan schools.

The students say violating even minor ‘zero tolerance’ policies may land them on suspension.

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Politics & Government
10:12 am
Sat March 15, 2014

Metal theft bill hung up despite push by legislative leaders

Leaders in Lansing remain hopeful a compromise is within reach this month.
Steve Carmody Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Five years after Michigan targeted copper thefts plaguing cities like Detroit and disrupting railroads and utilities, plans to better restrict sales of stolen scrap metal are caught in a legislative fight.

Lawmakers are generally in agreement over giving law enforcement more tools to crack down on the problem.

But a provision to make people wait three days for payment for copper wire, air conditioners and catalytic converters is angering scrap buyers and dividing legislators.

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Politics & Government
11:19 am
Tue March 11, 2014

Compromise on emergency road funding to be announced this afternoon

The supplement funding bill is expected to include $200 million for local road agencies. Brutal winter weather has drained county and city road budgets.
Steve Carmody Michigan Radio

State lawmakers will roll out a deal this afternoon on a spending package to fix Michigan’s pothole-filled roads.

The supplement funding bill is expected to include $200 million for local road agencies. Brutal winter weather has drained county and city road budgets.

State House Speaker Jase Bolger declined to give specifics about the compromise road bill this morning, except to say it will address the state’s immediate road problems.

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Transportation
3:34 pm
Fri March 7, 2014

Drivers navigate pothole-strewn roads as Michigan lawmakers debate emergency funding

Brutal winter weather has turned many roads into a moonscape of potholes, more suited to an ATV than the family car.
Steve Carmody Michigan Radio

Many county road budgets in Michigan are idling on empty after our brutal winter.

They hope state lawmakers will agree soon on an emergency road funding bill.

Drivers in Michigan could be forgiven if they think their morning commute feels more like an off-road adventure.

Brutal winter weather has turned many roads into a moonscape of potholes, more suited to an ATV than the family car.

Denise Donohue is the director of the County Road Association of Michigan. She says some county road agencies have blown through a year’s budget in just two months.

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Politics & Government
5:14 pm
Wed March 5, 2014

Michigan should 'bite the bullet' on road funding, suggests a PA state transportation official

A Governor’s office spokesman expects a road funding plan will not be addressed until after the legislature finishes work on next year’s budget.
Steve Carmody Michigan Radio

County road commissioners meeting in Lansing today heard from a Pennsylvania transportation official on how Michigan can spend more money on its crumbling roads.

Bradley Mallory is the executive deputy secretary of Pennsylvania’s transportation department.

His state recently passed a $2.3 billion road spending plan. The plan includes a higher gas tax and other fees.

Mallory says like Michigan, Pennsylvania lawmakers know they have to do something to fix their roads.

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