michigan legislature

Politics & Government
10:31 am
Mon September 2, 2013

Michigan lawmakers return to work in Lansing this week

(file photo)
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

The Labor Day weekend signals an end to summer, and this week the Legislature returns to a full-time schedule.

The first order of business is final votes on expanding Medicaid.

Legislative leaders hope to wrap up the controversial question of expanding Medicaid to thousands of working poor people. The Senate has to vote on whether the coverage will begin January first, and a House vote is needed to send the bill to Governor Rick Snyder.

Read more
Opinion
9:46 am
Fri August 30, 2013

Declining unions and Michigan's paycheck blues

Lessenberry commentary for 8/30/2013

  There’s a bumper sticker I occasionally see that says: Unions: The People Who Brought You the Weekend. For most Americans, that is certainly true. Unions created not only the weekend, but the modern middle class, something we tend to forget these days.

Yes, unions became complacent and some became corrupt. Some did not do enough for women or minorities. But all in all, they did far more good for America and the American worker than harm.

Unions are, however, widely unpopular with a sizable section of the public these days, and an even larger percentage of politicians.

The Republican majority in the Michigan legislature seems to have essentially declared war on unions, especially public sector unions. Unions have been in a long membership decline, something that may accelerate as the effects of becoming a Right-to-Work state kick in.

Read more
Politics & Government
5:10 pm
Wed August 14, 2013

State lawmakers still far from agreeing on plan to fix Michigan's roads

(file photo)
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

A plan to improve Michigan’s roads and infrastructure will probably not be on the November ballot. That’s according to leaders of both parties in the state Senate.

Governor Rick Snyder wants the state Legislature to boost road funding by more than a billion dollars a year. But lawmakers have not embraced his plan to raise registration fees and the state’s gas tax to pay for it.

Instead, multiple plans have surfaced that would include asking voters to increase the state’s sales tax.

Read more
Politics & Government
2:57 pm
Mon May 20, 2013

Snyder officials to meet with Michigan residents

Credit michigan.gov

Officials from Republican Gov. Rick Snyder's administration are planning to travel across the state this week to take suggestions and answer questions from Michigan residents.

Representatives from the Office of Constituent Services will visit locations in Washtenaw, Livingston, Ingham, Shiawassee, Clinton and Ionia counties on May 23 and 24.

Snyder's office says topics that are open for discussion include the state budget and opportunities for getting involved in state government.

Read more
Politics & Government
1:58 pm
Sat May 11, 2013

Michigan road funding talks still at standstill

(file photo)
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.

Read more
Law
1:00 am
Tue May 7, 2013

State lawmakers to discuss proposed fixes to Michigan's "broken" indigent defense system

(file photo)
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

The State Senate Judiciary Committee takes up bills today that would greatly change Michigan’s indigent defense system.   

James Samuels is the president of the Criminal Defense Attorneys of Michigan.    He says the current system Michigan uses to provide attorneys for poor defendants is “broken”.

Samuels likes the proposed changes, including the way attorneys get contracts to represent indigent defendants.

Read more
Politics & Government
2:48 pm
Sun May 5, 2013

Making antifreeze safer for children and animals

Animals and children are sometimes drawn to antifreeze's sweet smell and bright colors.
Credit Flickr user "Steve and Sara"

Antifreeze often looks like a sports-drink or Kool-Aid and it can have a sweet smell that attracts animals and kids. A bill in the Michigan legislature would require that a bittering agent be added to antifreeze so humans and animals don’t want to drink it.

Read more
Business
5:01 pm
Tue April 30, 2013

Michigan lawmakers look for ways of closing the online sales tax loophole

psmag.com

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.

Read more
Stateside
5:26 pm
Mon April 29, 2013

Budget showdown at the State Capitol

State Capitol Building, Lansing, MI
Ifmuth Flickr

Last week, we saw a flurry of voting at the State Capitol as lawmakers put together the next state budget, which is expected to total about $48 billion.

The Republican controlled State House approved spending for schools and colleges as well as a budget to fund the rest of state government.

The State Senate, also controlled by Republicans, approved about half of its budget plan with more votes scheduled this week.

The votes set the stage for negotiations between the two chambers in May.

Read more
Politics & Government
3:15 pm
Sun March 24, 2013

Michigan's sex offenders could face annual fees

Credit Flickr user borman818

A bill to require the more than 40,000 people on Michigan's sex offender registry to pay an annual fee is igniting a debate over who should bear the costs for operating the system that tracks offenders.

Read more
Health
2:28 pm
Sat March 16, 2013

Michigan hospitals may be asked to be more 'transparent' about their 'futility' policies

When is it time for hospitals to deny treatment on the grounds it would be 'futile?'
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

There’s a bill making its way through the state legislature that would require Michigan hospitals to reveal when they will withhold treatment from severely ill patients.

Many hospitals have ‘futility’ policies.   The policies outline when the hospitals will withhold treatment from a patient on the grounds that further care would be futile and would simply waste hospital resources.

The policies are mainly for internal use and not widely disclosed.

Read more
Politics & Government
12:36 am
Fri March 8, 2013

Conscience vs Care? Bill protecting religious beliefs of health care providers before lawmakers

Members of the state senate Health Policy committee listen to testimony during Thursday's hearing on SB 136
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

A state Senate committee took testimony Thursday on a bill that would allow doctors, nurses and other health care providers to opt out of providing medical care if they feel it violates their personal or religious beliefs.

The legislation could affect patients seeking a variety of treatments, including approval for medical marijuana or a prescription for the ‘morning after’ pill.

Tim Schultz is the legislative policy director of the group, American Religious Freedom. He says the legislation respects an individual’s ‘conscience’.

Read more
Politics & Government
3:57 pm
Mon March 4, 2013

Michigan lawmakers to consider blocking local 'paid sick leave' ordinances

For many low wage workers getting sick means making a choice between their job and staying home. For many employers, 'paid sick leave' is something they believe they can not afford.
gov.cbia.com

A state House committee this week will discuss whether to prevent local cities and towns in Michigan from passing laws requiring businesses to offer paid sick leave to their employees.

San Francisco, Seattle and several other major cities have passed ‘paid sick leave’ ordinances in recent years.  The intent is to protect people in low paying jobs, who stand to lose their job, if they try to take a sick day.

Read more
Politics & Government
4:24 pm
Tue February 26, 2013

Michigan lawmakers will discuss 'Caylee's Law' on Wednesday

Caylee Anthony (file photo)

State lawmakers will discuss legislation tomorrow inspired by the disappearance and death of a Florida toddler.

Two year old Caylee Anthony was missing for a month before her mother informed the police. The mother, Casey Anthony, was later acquitted of the child’s 2008 murder, though she was convicted of providing police with false information. 

State Representative Tom Hooker says his bill would require parents or guardians to report missing children to law enforcement agencies after 24 hours.  If they don’t, they could face up to four years in prison.

Read more
Politics & Government
2:15 pm
Thu February 21, 2013

Blue Cross changes approved without abortion provision

Blue Cross Blue Shield building
Wikipedia

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - A state House committee has approved bills to overhaul Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, leaving out anti-abortion provisions that torpedoed an earlier effort to change the status of the state's largest insurer.

Bills headed to the House don't include language to prevent insurers and businesses from providing elective abortion coverage in employee health plans.

Gov. Rick Snyder vetoed a similar bill less than two months ago over last-minute abortion provisions.

Some lawmakers discussed restoring abortion restrictions.

The proposed overhaul seeks to modernize but not sell Blue Cross, which is governed by a separate law from other insurers and waits longer for its rate changes to be reviewed.

Before Thursday's 11-0 vote, senior advocates testified about concerns that costs will rise because of the legislation. Three Democrats abstained from voting.

Law
4:58 pm
Tue February 19, 2013

State House approves bill to add more people to sex offender registry

Michigan State Police

People convicted of crimes such as possessing child pornography and indecent exposure might soon be added to the state’s public sex offender registry.

Lawmakers in the state House today voted overwhelmingly in favor of the legislation.

Democratic state Representative Jeff Irwin was one of only three votes against it. He admits it’s not a popular position to take.

Read more
Politics & Government
4:19 pm
Thu January 31, 2013

Labor unions and Michigan ACLU file suit against right-to-work legislation

Police vehicles line up outside the state capitol during right-to-work protests
david_shane flickr

Several labor unions and the Michigan ACLU have filed a lawsuit in Ingham County Court to overturn Michigan's right-to-work legislation.

This is several days after Gov. Rick Snyder requested that the Michigan Supreme Court review the constitutionality of the law.

The lawsuit argues that the closure of the Capitol to the public during the  passage of  the right-to-work legislation was in violation of  the First Amendment and the Michigan Constitution.

It specifically cites the violation of the Open Meetings Act, which states that meetings of a governing body are open to the public unless the meeting is held in a "closed session."

The lawsuit is amended from an earlier complaint filed Dec. 6 2012 after state police blocked off entry to the Capitol.

Police said the closure was a safety precaution, but opponents argue it prevented public input during the session.

Here is what members of the ACLU said in their press release:

“Rushing controversial bills through a lame duck session is a bad way to make public policy under the best of circumstances; doing so on such important issues while the public is shut out of the debate every step of the way is illegal and shameful,” said Kary L. Moss, ACLU of Michigan executive director. “We have a sacred right to peacefully assemble and petition our government. When there is dissent and emotions are running high, our elected leaders should encourage more open debate, not close the doors to concerned voters.”

The lawsuit does not address the actual content of the right-to-work law rather the manner in which the law was passed.

The court brief currently sits in front of County Circuit Judge William Collette for review.

- Marlon Phillips, Michigan Radio Newsroom

Politics & Government
5:23 pm
Thu January 10, 2013

First state bills of 2013 aim to end “lame duck” sessions and cut FOIA filing costs

Ifmuth Flickr

One day into their new session, state lawmakers already have an influx of bills to consider.

One resolution in the state Senate seeks to effectively end so-called “lame duck” sessions. On even-numbered years, Lawmakers would be barred from holding regular sessions between November elections and the end of the year.  

Democratic state Senator Glenn Anderson said lawmakers would only be able to act if there’s an emergency.

Read more
Politics & Government
5:05 pm
Wed January 9, 2013

Rep. Jase Bolger re-elected House speaker on first day of legislative session

Republican Jase Bolger was re-elected to his post as speaker of the House.
gophouse.com

State legislative leaders on both sides of the aisle say they hope to put partisan wrangling aside in 2013.

State lawmakers began their new session Wednesday.     

All but two Democrats voted to re-elect Republican state Representative Jase Bolger speaker of the House. Traditionally, the speaker receives bi-partisan, unanimous votes during opening ceremonies.

Democratic House leader Tim Greimel followed another tradition by seconding Bolger’s nomination for the position.

Read more
Politics & Government
3:36 pm
Wed January 9, 2013

Union members protest in Lansing on first day of new legislative session

Union members demonstrate outside the state Capitol on the first day of the 2013-14 legislative session Wednesday.
Jake Neher MPRN

More than 200 people showed up at the state Capitol Wednesday to protest on the first day of the new legislative session.

The union-backed group criticized state lawmakers for making Michigan a “right-to-work” state, and quickly passing a number of other contentious bills during their “lame duck” session.     

Kim Dennison is a unionized nurse in Lansing.

“It’s important that legislators know that we did recognize what they did in December as a wrong move, and that we haven’t gone away, and that we expect better from them in the coming year,” Dennison said.

Calling their protest a “walk of shame,” demonstrators lined walkways leading to entrances to the Capitol. They booed Republicans and cheered Democrats as they entered the building.

The protests were organized by the same group behind the “right to work” protests last month that drew thousands of people.

Pages