WUOMFM

political roundup

Rebecca Williams / Michigan Radio

More than 185 species of foreign fish, algae, plants, insects, and viruses have been brought into the Great Lakes. Many of them are invasive species that are damaging the lakes, such as zebra mussels, quagga mussels, round gobies, and Phragmites.

About a third of those invasive species were brought here in the ballast water of ocean-going ships. As they picked up their ballast water in foreign ports, they sucked up aquatic life along with it.

Don Harder / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

​Some members of the Legislature want to eliminate the elected Michigan Board of Education. They say the Board of Education has become little more than a debating society. But, if it’s so irrelevant, one has to wonder why those legislators get so worked up about the education board’s actions.

Ken Sikkema, senior policy fellow at Public Sector Consultants and the former Republican majority leader in the state Senate, along with Vicki Barnett, the former mayor of Farmington Hills and a former Democratic legislator, joined Stateside to discuss the Board of Education.

michigan state capitol
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

The Michigan Senate has approved a plan to give local tax dollars to charter schools. It would require any millage for intermediate school districts to be distributed to both public schools and privately-owned charter schools. Four Republican Senators voted against this, as did all of the Democrats.

As part of its weekly political roundup, Stateside broke down the issue with Ken Sikkema, a senior policy fellow with Public Sector Consultants and a former Republican majority leader, and Vicki Barnett, a former mayor of Farmington Hills and a former Democratic legislator.

factory
Thomas Hawk / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

Wisconsin recently offered up to $3 billion in tax incentives to FoxConn of Taiwan. In Detroit, there have been hundreds of millions of dollars in incentives for a new arena for the Red Wings and Pistons and for developments by businessman Dan Gilbert, as well as huge tax credits for auto manufacturers.

Now, states and cities are trying to put together incentives to get Amazon’s new massive Headquarters 2. But the question remains: will citizens actually benefit from their tax dollars being spent to attract or retain business?

Open Grid Scheduler / Grid Engine / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

This week, Representative Jason Sheppard, from southeast Michigan, and Senator Joe Hune, from Livingston County, both Republicans, introduced identical bills that propose barring local governments from restricting short-term rentals of private dwellings, such as Airbnb accommodations.

Meanwhile, Republicans in the state legislature and the mayor of Detroit agree on a position: the need to eliminate Michigan’s system of driver responsibility fees, and amnesty for drivers who still owe them.

michigan state capitol
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

This week the Michigan Civil Service Commission unilaterally restricted state labor union workers' rights.

Emily Lawler for MLive reports:

“The rule changes prohibit some issues as subjects of collective bargaining and take away specific provisions unions have negotiated for around bumping, overtime scheduling, and transfers. They also restrict the paid union leave time state employees are able to use to work on union issues.”

picture of Michigan legislative chambers
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

 


The Michigan Senate yesterday passed legislation that could vastly increase corporate and special interest spending on campaigns.

Vicki Barnett, a former mayor of Farmington Hills and a former Democratic legislator, and Joe Haveman, a former chair of the Michigan House Appropriations Committee and a current candidate for state Senate joined Stateside on Friday to discuss.

A Flint water protest
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

 


As the aftermath of the Flint water crisis drags on, attention has now largely turned toward the repercussions for those involved. Fifteen state and local government officials now stand accused of a combined 51 criminal charges. 

And this has led to a rather strange situation where the government is paying both the legal fees to prosecute the officials, as well as the legal fees to defend them. So far that has cost Michigan taxpayers $15.2 million.

Orange construction barrels
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

 


Gov. Rick Snyder signed a $1.2 billion road funding package in 2015 that called for increased vehicle registration fees and gas taxes, many of which went into effect this year.

In an interview with Stateside this week, Michigan Department of Transportation director Kirk Steudle said the state was “still trying to manage the deterioration,” but the overall quality of roads was yet to rise, despite the fresh tax revenue. But he noted the general fund component of the 2015 funding package has yet to kick in.

A photograph of the Michigan Capitol building
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio file photo

Not much is happening with Michigan’s legislature. They’re out of session for much of August. But a state budget of more than $56 billion dollars was passed on time this year.

A recent report from the nonprofit, nonpartisan Citizens Research Council of Michigan indicates that the $10 billion general fund — the only part of the budget the Legislature can influence — will be hit hard in the next few years general fund obligations grow.

a computer that says foxconn
Christopher Bulle / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

 


On Wednesday, Gov. Rick Snyder signed into law a tax incentive package designed to attract large companies to the state and boost job growth.

Snyder supported the legislation with an eye toward attracting one specific company: Foxconn, a Taiwanese electronics manufacturing giant looking to open a new plant in the Midwest. But that same day, the White House announced Foxconn had chosen Wisconsin, instead.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

 


This week, the state of Michigan dropped charges and arrest warrants against 186 people — almost all of them Detroit residents — after accusing them of illegally collecting unemployment benefits. This group is among about 28,000 people the state wrongly accused of unemployment benefit fraud due to serious flaws in its automated fraud detection system.

Ken Sikkema, senior policy fellow at Public Sector Consultants and a former Republican legislative leader, and Vicki Barnett, a former mayor of Farmington Hills and a former Democratic legislator, joined Stateside to discuss this week's political news.

Capitol Building in Lansing, MI
Matthileo / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Governor Rick Snyder wanted a tax incentive package to lure big employers. A majority of Republicans and Democrats like the idea. But then, Speaker of the House Tom Leonard yanked the legislation because of a rumor the governor had cut a deal with Democrats for their support.

pile of one  dollar bills
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The state legislature is sending Governor Snyder a package of bills that will change retirement benefits for teachers.

Vicki Barnett, the former Mayor of Farmington Hills and a former Democratic legislator, says the switch to a defined contribution retirement model for new public school employees increases costs for local school districts.

“I have no problem with the concept of what they’re trying to do. It’s the underlying reason they’re doing it which will again lead to failure of the system,” Barnett said.

child's drawing on chalkboard
iRon leSs / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

This week, The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services issued a news release about a federal court update concerning how well Michigan protects children in the state’s child welfare system. The State agency’s release claims Michigan has made significant progress in better protecting children. Yet, an advocacy group is countering the state’s claim, saying there’s a long way to go before the state can guarantee the safety and welfare of children in foster care.

More than a dozen state senators have sponsored a bill that would eliminate Michigan's income tax by 2022.
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

The Michigan Legislature is debating concealed guns and a sweetheart deal for a salt mine.

To discuss those bills, Stateside welcomed Vicki Barnett – a former mayor of Farmington Hills and former democratic legislator – alongside Ken Sikkema, Senior Policy Fellow with Public Sector Consultants and a former Republican legislator.

Regarding concealed weapons, some members of the legislature support repealing a law that requires training and a permit in order to carry and conceal firearms. Supporters say Michigan law currently lets anyone openly carry firearms, so people should not have to pay more, and file extra paperwork simply to carry firearms inside jackets or other clothing.

Michigan Legislature
Michigan Municipal League

The State of Michigan received some good news and some bad news this week. Projections show income tax revenue over the next couple of years will likely be less than expected: around $300 million less for the state’s general fund.

But the sales tax-based School Aid Fund is projected to bring in more than expected – about $340 million more.

The Michigan state capitol building
Thetoad / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Two sticking points in Lansing lately are prisons and infrastructure.

exterior of the Michigan state capital
Pkay Chelle / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The weekly political roundup on Stateside tackles a few of the biggest stories of the week. Ken Sikkema, senior policy fellow at Public Sector Consultants and a former Republican legislative leader, along with Vicki Barnett, former mayor of Farmington Hills and a former Democratic legislator, joined the show to break it all down.

A police officer wearing a body camera
https://www.flickr.com/photos/pennstatelive/32513699213

 


This week’s political roundup examines two instances of government trying to restrict access to information.

Ken Sikkema, Senior Policy Fellow at Public Sector Consultants and former Republican Majority Leader in the state Senate, and Darci McConnell, president & CEO of McConnell Communications, which consults for state Democratic causes and clients, joined Stateside to explain the issues.

A photograph of the Michigan Capitol building
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio file photo

The Michigan legislature is considering a number of controversial bills on topics as diverse as concealed weapons and vaccinations.

Our political roundup duo joined Stateside today, as they do most Fridays, to break down the bills. That duo includes Vicki Barnett, former mayor of Farmington Hills and former Democratic legislator, and Ken Sikkema, senior policy fellow at Public Sector Consultants and former Republican majority leader in the state Senate.

michigan state capitol
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

An increase in money for the private firm that's providing food for state prisoners and some cuts to water protection are a couple of the things making their way through the Michigan Legislature.

As we do every Friday, Stateside spoke with Ken Sikkema, senior policy fellow with Public Sector Consultants and the former Republican majority leader in the state Senate and Vicki Barnett, a former mayor of Farmington Hills and a former Democratic legislator in the House.

Gage Skidmore / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

President Donald Trump’s proposed budget shifts spending from domestic areas to security areas. One of the programs that would be cut under the proposal is the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI).

That money has been used to do the following: clean up polluted areas called Great Lakes Areas of Concern, prevent and control invasive species, reduce nutrient runoff that contributes to harmful blooms of algae (which led to Toledo's water system shut down), and restore habitat to protect native species.

STEVE CARMODY / Michigan Radio

A House committee has approved a package of bills to expand the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to cover the governor and the legislature, with a few exemptions.

That has happened before, but Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof buried it. It looks like he might do that again this year.

Two of the biggest topics of the week when it comes to Michigan politics involved the proposal to mandate employers to let workers earn paid sick time and the effort to put gerrymandering on the ballot in 2018.
Thetoad / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

When it comes to Michigan politics, two of this week's biggest topics were a proposal to mandate that employers let workers earn paid sick time and an effort to put gerrymandering on the ballot in 2018.

A photograph of the Michigan Capitol building
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio file photo

First, Michigan Republican legislators proposed phasing out the income tax over a 40-year period, then that was changed to reduce it from 4.25% to 3.9% over four years. This week Michigan Speaker of the House Tom Leonard, R-DeWitt Township brought it up for a vote and in the wee hours of the morning on Thursday, it failed.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

This week, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder admonished Republicans for rushing legislation to eventually eliminate the state income tax. Meanwhile Kalamazoo, Saginaw and Detroit schools are fighting possible closings. And to top it all off, President Trump hosted a dramatic press conference yesterday that left many scratching their heads.

Two of the biggest topics of the week when it comes to Michigan politics involved the proposal to mandate employers to let workers earn paid sick time and the effort to put gerrymandering on the ballot in 2018.
Thetoad / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder released his budget proposal this week, and there's a lot of discussion about how the state's money will be spent, or not spent, in the upcoming year. 

MATTHILEO / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

This week, Republicans and Democrats in Lansing seem to agree that it’s time to expand the state’s open record laws to cover the governor and the Legislature. Michigan is one of only a couple states that don’t already require all lawmakers to be subject to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests.

Ken Sikkema, senior policy fellow at Public Sector Consultants and a former Republican legislative leader, along with Vicki Barnett, a former Democratic legislator, joined Stateside and said it might not be smooth sailing to the governor's desk. 

President Donald Trump
Gage Skidmore / Flickr - http://bit.ly/1rFrzRK

It's been a busy week in the world of politics. For instance: Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette was accused of posturing, and President Donald Trump continues to stir things up in Washington.

Ken Sikkema, senior policy fellow at Public Sector Consultants and a former Republican legislative leader, along with Vicki Barnett, a former Democratic legislator, joined Stateside to break it all down. 

Pages