Politics & Government

Stories about politics and government actions

Today on Stateside:

flickr user bobdoran / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

We’ve reviewed the movements pushing for marijuana legalization in Michigan, we’ve taken a look at how legal pot has treated Colorado, and we’ve heard the viewpoint of a medical marijuana caregiver in Ann Arbor.

Today, we get the law enforcement perspective.

Bob Stevenson is the former Livonia Police Chief. Now he is the executive director of the Michigan Association of Chiefs of Police.

Donald Trump speaks at the 2015 CPAC in Maryland
flickr user Gage Skidmore / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

It's no secret that voters here in Michigan and across the country are angry and cynical about the notorious gridlock in Washington that has brought the country to its knees with budget showdowns.

It doesn't help that Michigan lawmakers have returned to their summer vacations without a deal to repair our decaying roads.

But as Detroit News business columnist Daniel Howes points out, the state House found time to devote to a sex scandal.

Nhandler/wikipedia / Jonesy22/creative commons

Berrien County Commissioners voted unanimously Thursday to stop using carbon monoxide to euthanize unwanted animals that end up at its animal control facility.

The gas chamber has been used for decades in Berrien County to kill dogs, cats and other wildlife. Now that it’s building a new facility, public pressure to stop the practice has been increasing.

Lawmakers have tried passing bans statewide, but they’ve never gotten to the governor’s desk.

Complaints by Ann Arbor residents have prompted Scio Township to look into an odor problem originating with the township's waste system. Sewage pumped from Scio Township's wastewater treatment system enters Ann Arbor's system near the corner of Arborview Boulevard and Miller Avenue. At times, especially on hot summer days, the sewage produces a powerful odor that residents say forces them to stay indoors.

DIA

The Detroit Institute of Arts’ chairman says top museum officials — including the museum’s recently-departed director — deserve bonuses and other perks.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

In October, people will have to pay more money to ride the bus in Grand Rapids.

Cash fares will cost a $1.75. That’s more than it costs to ride the bus in Ann Arbor, Kalamazoo, Lansing and Detroit.

“I’m not trippin’ about it,” Trill Bettison said, while waiting at Central Station Wednesday night.

Today on Stateside:

flickr user Thomas Hawk / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Almost six years ago, Michigan’s only women’s prison settled a huge lawsuit after officers raped multiple female inmates.

Changes have been made since then, but are they enough?

Today on Stateside:

flickr user Eljoja / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

When it comes to the issue of marijuana – to legalize or not to legalize – Michigan seems to be about where Colorado was not too long ago.

Colorado had over a decade to experiment with medical marijuana before legalizing its recreational use in November 2012, which Colorado Public Radio’s Ben Markus tells us gave the state ample opportunity to figure out how marijuana can fit into the political and business landscape.

“Medical marijuana was huge. The state then decided, hey, we need to regulate this thing,” he says.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint may soon cut its water bills to comply with a court injunction.  Maybe.

The injunction requires the city to reduce its rates, stop disconnecting delinquent water customers and reimburse the city’s water fund for $15 million. 

The city announced Monday it plans to utilize a lower rate structure with its next water bills.

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

Can Democrats flip three Michigan districts in the 2016 election?

Nancy Kaffer tackled that question in her recent column for the Detroit Free Press.

In her column, Kaffer looked at the 1st, 7th, and 8th Congressional districts in Michigan. Voters in each of those districts elected Republicans in the last election, “by pretty narrow margins.”

Today on Stateside:

Can Democrats flip three Michigan districts in 2016? Nancy Kaffer tackled that question in her recent column for the Detroit Free Press.

The latest Ideas for Innovation event, hosted by Detroit Future City, focused on what to do with 23 square miles of vacant land in Detroit. Dara O’Byrne and Guy Williams continue the conversation with us today.

user A7nubis / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Getting high in Michigan has certainly changed over the past few years.

Voters legalized marijuana for medical purposes in Michigan in 2008. Soon, it could be legal just for fun.

A number of groups seeking to legalize cannabis in Michigan are working to put ballot proposals on the 2016 ballot.

Senator Debbie Stabenow
USDAgov / Creative Commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow will support an international deal to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons. On Monday, Congresswomen Debbie Dingell and Brenda Lawrence announced they’ll do the same.

The agreement gives international inspectors a lot more access to monitor Iran’s nuclear activities. In exchange, countries would lift economic sanctions to help Iran’s economy.

Rep. Todd Courser, R-Lapeer, and Rep. Cindy Gamrat, R-Plainwell.
From Courser/Gamrat websites

State representatives Todd Courser and Cindy Gamrat engaged in misconduct and misused taxpayer resources. State House Speaker Kevin Cotter, R-Mt. Pleasant, says those are preliminary findings of a House Business Office investigation into a sex-and-cover-up scandal involving the lawmakers.

 

Cotter’s office says the full report will be made public after outside legal counsel has a chance to review it.

 

But Michigan Democratic Party Chair Brandon Dillon says the public shouldn’t have to wait.

Once again lawmakers are starting over as another road funding plan collapsed late last week in Lansing.

What really happened?

The latest effort to come up with more than a billion dollars for roads had pitted Republicans against Republicans. The GOP has a 63 to 46 advantage over Democrats in the state House, and a 27 to 11 margin in the state Senate. Those numbers led to the idea that GOP leaders could develop a Republican-only roads solution without having to deal with the Democrats.

Robbie Wroblewski / Creative Commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

The debate over county animal shelters using gas chambers to euthanize sick or unwanted animals is heating up in southwest Michigan.

In the beginning of 2015, only 4 of Michigan’s 83 counties still used the “inhalation method,” or “gas chamber” to kill unwanted animals at county animal control facilities.

Cass County, southwest of Kalamazoo, still uses a chamber. Branch County, south of Battle Creek, probably still would too, but its animal shelter burned down earlier this year.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Detroit’s long-suffering firefighters are getting some much-needed new equipment.

The city unveiled five brand-new fire engines Friday. They’re part of a total ten new vehicles the department added to its fleet this month.

The rigs will go to five fire stations spread across the city, says Detroit fire commissioner Edsel Jenkins.

Kyle Mahan / flickr http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

There's another squabble between an anti-public-union group and the union that represents most of Michigan's teachers. 

The Mackinac Center for Public Policy actively encourages teachers to quit the Michigan Education Association. The group posts videos of teachers giving the reasons why they quit, and advising others to follow their example. 

Gregory Vadon / flickr

Another Republican presidential hopeful dropped in on the Detroit Economic Club Tuesday.

Florida senator Marco Rubio was the latest Republican candidate to address the Economic Club, which has already hosted Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, and Ohio Gov. John Kasich.

Lapeer County politicians want Todd Courser's seat

Aug 20, 2015

Two Lapeer County politicians have announced they want Todd Courser's state House seat.

Ian Kempf and Gary Howell say they will run for the Republican nomination, whether it's the 2016 election or a special election. Jake Davison announced he would be challenging Todd Courser before The Detroit News revealed Courser was having an affair with fellow representative Cindy Gamrat and attempted to cover it up. 

Lansing Capitol
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Jennifer White spoke to Ken Sikkema, former Senate Majority Leader and Senior Policy Fellow at Public Sector Consultants, and Susan Demas, publisher of Inside Michigan Politics, about legislative progress towards a roads funding package.

Sikkema says there hasn't been real progress made and Republicans have failed to identify the cuts they would make in the state budget to pay for road improvements. He also says he thinks Republicans need to be willing to make the cuts they identify, rather than leave them for a later legislature to handle.

Today on Stateside:

  • Michigan Congressman Dan Kildee is urging people to contact the Canadian Ministry of the Environment about a proposed nuclear waste storage facility near Lake Huron. 

  • There's less than a month to go before the clock runs out and contracts between the UAW and the Detroit Three automakers expire. Detroit News business columnist Daniel Howes talks with us about the delicate balance that both sides are trying to pull off.

A campaign banner with a slogan derived from "Tippecanoe and Tyler Too," used in the 1840 U.S. presidential election.
user Pharos / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM


When Donald Trump announced his candidacy for the White House, he did it to the tune of Neil Young’s “Rockin’ in the Free World.”

It didn’t take very long for Young to issue an icy statement declaring that Trump did not have permission to use the song, and that, “Neil Young, a Canadian citizen, is a supporter of Bernie Sanders for President of the United States.”

Rep. Todd Courser, R-Lapeer, and Rep. Cindy Gamrat, R-Plainwell, returned to the state capitol today.
images from Courser/Gamrat offices

The state House has taken an initial step toward disciplining two lawmakers caught up in a sex-and-cover-up scandal. The House adopted a resolution to create a special committee to “examine the qualifications” of state Representatives Todd Courser, R-Lapeer, and Cindy Gamrat, R-Plainwell.

The tea party-affiliated lawmakers face questions over whether they used public resources in a plot to cover up their extra-marital affair. 

Echologics

Flint knows it has a problem with water leaks.  It just doesn't know how many, or where, the leaks are.

Spokesman Jason Lorenz says the city may be losing up to 30% of its water from leaks.

WFIU Public Radio / Creative Commons

Update, 11:05 p.m.:

The House adjourned late Wednesday night without a vote on a road funding deal after hours of negotiations. The House has adjourned until September.

Original post: 

State House Democrats want to protect Michigan’s prevailing wage law as part of a road funding deal.

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