michigan senate

Get ready for more potholes this upcoming spring season.
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This Week in Review, Jack Lessenberry and Rina Miller discuss a move to fix the state’s roads, the most recent ruling involving same-sex laws, and a new standardized test for Michigan’s public schools.


Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The state Senate is back in Lansing tomorrow for one day before resuming its summer recess.

It appears likely the Senate will vote on petition-initiated legislation to allow wolf hunting in Michigan, and give a state commission direct control over decisions on which species may be hunted.

The state House is expected to follow suit later this month.

The initiative is meant to circumvent two referenda on wolf-hunting laws adopted by the Legislature.

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.

splorp / Flickr

These days, more and more people are so attached to their cell phones that they've decided they don't need a landline at home.

The FCC tells us the number of landline customers in Michigan was around 7 million in 2000. By 2012, that number had dropped to about 3 million.

And, during that same 12-year stretch, the number of wireless phones more than doubled from nearly 4 million to more than 9 million.

A bill sponsored by Battle Creek Republican Senator Mike Nofs is working its way through the State Senate. It would allow phone companies to phase out traditional landline service beginning in 2017, letting phone companies discontinue the service to homes so long as some type of newer phone service is offered, such as voice-over Internet Protocol.

Many in Michigan might just shrug that off: They've already dropped their landlines. But others are deeply concerned.

Matt Resch, public affairs director for Michigan AT&T, and Melissa Seifert, the Associate State Director of the Michigan AARP, joined us today to talk about Senate Bill 636.

Listen to the full interview above.

Something historic happened last night. The Michigan Senate finally cast a vote that means that nearly half a million citizens without health care will be able to have it. And they will be able to do so at no cost whatsoever to our state for three years, and only a pittance afterwards.

I thought of the former students I know with chronic pains they have to ignore because they can’t possibly afford a physician. Some of these people now clog our hospital emergency rooms for problems they should be taking to a neighborhood doctor.

You might have thought there would be dancing in the streets. But no. Most of the attention went to Tea Partiers and other sore losers snarling bitterly over “Obamacare,” which is not what this is.

If there's one song that captures the feel of Motown, Detroit, and America in the 1960s, it's Martha Reeves singing "Dancing in the Streets." On today's show we talked about the historical importance of this Motown classic.

And, we explored the concept behind community cafes, how they work and where you can find one near you.

Also, Ontario Power Generation is proposing to build a nuclear waste dump site on the shore of Lake Huron. How will this affect the drinking water?

First on the show, this promises to be an important week for the State Senate. This could be the week the Senate decides whether or not to expand Medicaid to more low-income adults in Michigan.

You may recall, the Senate broke off for its summer break in June without taking a vote on Medicaid, something that so incensed Governor Snyder that he came home early from a trade trip to Israel in order to publicly scold the Senate.

So, two months later, it appears a vote is at hand.

Rick Pluta, the Lansing Bureau Chief for the Michigan Public Radio Network, joined us today.

Inside the Michigan Senate.
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

This promises to be an important week for the State Senate. This could be the week the Senate decides whether or not to expand Medicaid to more low-income adults in Michigan.

You may recall, the Senate broke off for its summer break in June without taking a vote on Medicaid, something that so incensed Governor Snyder that he came home early from a trade trip to Israel in order to publicly scold the Senate.

So, two months later, it appears a vote is at hand.

Rick Pluta, the Lansing Bureau Chief for the Michigan Public Radio Network, joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

User: Brother O'Mara / Flickr

State Senate delays road legislation

Leaders in the state Senate say that plans to fix Michigan roads aren't likely to appear on the November ballot.  Governor Rick Snyder has pushed to raise registration fees and gas taxes to pay for road repairs.  Michigan Radio's Jake Neher reports that lawmakers are instead favoring an increased sales tax to raise the money. 

Michigan's panhandling ban overturned

Yesterday a federal appeals court struck down Michigan's ban on panhandling. The American Civil Liberties Union filed the suit in 2011 on behalf of two Grand Rapids men who had been repeatedly penalized for begging in public.  Michigan Radio's Mark Brush reports the court ruled that "begging, panhandling, or asking for money in a public place is protected as free speech under the First Amendment."

Fate of new Wayne County jail debated

Wayne County officials are considering scrapping a half-finished jail construction.  Michigan Radio's Sarah Cwiek reports that Governor Rick Snyder is pushing for the county to stop the project, sell the property, and lease an older state-owned jail facility.  The Detroit Free Press also reports that the Wayne County Building Authority is considering firing the project manager who authorized "more than $42 million in major changes without the needed written approval of the Building Authority."

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A State Senate panel has voted to make more than 300,000 Michiganders eligible for Medicaid in 2014. And that's not all: the GOP-led Government Operations Committee said yes to two alternative plans.

So, from the Senate ticking off Governor Snyder by adjourning without voting on the House-passed Medicaid expansion plan, to this Senate Panel serving up not one, not two, but three Medicaid proposals, it's a lot to keep track of.

We turned to Michigan Public Radio Network's Lansing reporter Jake Neher for a little help in sorting this all out.

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.

State Senator Randy Richardville
Photo courtesy of www.senate.michigan.gov

A state Senate panel is expected to start discussing a bill next week to expand Medicaid in Michigan.

Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville (R-Monroe) expects a vote in the full Senate before September.

The Majority Leader has been taking some heat from Governor Rick Snyder since last week.

That’s when Richardville allowed the Senate to leave on its summer recess before taking a vote on Medicaid expansion. But Richardville defended the decision today on the Michigan Public Television program Off the Record.

“I don’t think this legislation is complete. I don’t think we had the votes to get things done that day, and it would have been forcing a less-than-adequate package to his desk,” said Richardville.

The governor says the state stands to lose millions of federal dollars if the legislation isn’t approved soon.

That’s because the plan needs to be approved by Washington – a process that will likely take months. But Richardville said he doesn’t want to rush the legislation if it’s not ready.

"I understand that he has to talk to the federal government, and these waivers are going to be difficult to negotiate," said Richardville. "But I think we’ll have a product for him to look at before July is over."

Richardville says he generally supports the idea of overhauling and expanding Medicaid.

“But we have some other reforms, some other things that we think should be done to make this legislation better. And we need a little time to look at it,” he said.

Meanwhile, a legislative workgroup is also trying to get the bill ready for a vote. The workgroup originally consisted of six Republican senators.

But Richardville now says he plans to add some Democrats to the group as well.

Richardville says he expects to have a proposal in place before August, and a vote of the full Senate before September.

Matthileo / Flickr

This week in Michigan politics, Jack Lessenberry and Emily Fox discuss the state Senate's failure to expand Medicaid before summer recess, how states will be affected by the Voting Rights Act, and legislation in Lansing to re-consider the state's outlaw on same-sex marriage.

 I don’t think we’ve ever seen Governor Rick Snyder really angry before. But he was yesterday. He’d cut a trade mission in Israel short to rush back to Lansing to try and pass the Medicaid expansion.

But while the state house of representatives did so a few days ago, the Michigan Senate refused to even take a vote despite the governor’s pleas. This means hundreds of thousands of Michiganders will remain without health care coverage.

They could have been made eligible for Medicaid without a dollar in cost to the state for a couple years. After that, Michigan would never pay more than a small fraction of the cost, and save far more than that in a variety of ways, including the benefits of a healthier workforce.  So why did the Senate refuse?

courtesy of Richardville's office

Governor Rick Snyder is calling on state Senate Republicans to return to Lansing.

That’s after the Senate adjourned for its summer recess without voting on a Medicaid expansion under the new federal healthcare law.

The episode left hard feelings, and dimming prospects for extending health coverage to many thousands of low-income working households.

One Tough Nerd angered by lack of action

Matthileo / Flickr

This week in Michigan politics, Jack Lessenberry and Emily Fox discuss the state of Medicaid expansion in the Michigan Senate, Governor Snyder's trade mission to Israel, and the political future of Mike Duggan in Detroit.

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

Tea Party activists are threatening to put up primary challengers against Republican lawmakers who vote to expand Medicaid in Michigan.

The bill would add hundreds of thousands of Michiganders to the Medicaid rolls under the federal healthcare law.

The legislation cleared the state House last week. The state Senate is likely to take up the legislation this week.

Tea Party groups claim it would be the biggest expansion of state government in more than four decades.  They say Republican votes in favor of the bill warrant a primary challenge next year.

user cedarbenddrive / Flickr

Governor Rick Snyder’s administration is working to wrap up a deal with the Legislature this week to extend Medicaid coverage to thousands more low-income families in Michigan. Republicans remain divided on the proposal.

It took a bipartisan vote of Republicans and Democrats to get the expansion through the state House last week and it will take a similar coalition to get the bill approved this week by the state Senate.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Republicans in the state Senate are demanding changes to a bill that would facilitate state takeovers of struggling schools. Legislation to expand the state’s Education Achievement Authority passed in the state House last month.

But Senate Education Committee Chair Phil Pavlov says lawmakers made several changes that undermine the original intent of the bill.

Senate Bill 136 would allow health care providers, facilities and insurance providers to deny service based on religious, moral or ethical objections. State Senator John Moolenar, a Republican representing Michigan’s 36th District is the bill’s sponsor. He spoke with Jennifer White earlier this week.

Listen to full interview above.

State capitol
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

After a two week recess state lawmakers are back in Lansing. Here is a quick look into what ­­­ exactly the Legislature will be focusing on now that they are back in session.

This session will mark the return of the controversial no fault auto insurance policy.

Republican lawmakers, including Governor Rick Snyder, want to place a cap on benefits for individuals who receive serious injuries in auto accidents.

Michigan is the only state that provides unlimited health benefits to those who have suffered serious injuries. 

Republicans and insurance companies argue that is why insurance rates are so high in Michigan. Republicans have mentioned that the possible cap could be around $50,000.

Changing this policy has stalled regularly in the Legislature in the past.

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