Politics & Government

Stories about politics and government actions

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Cars started lining up at dawn today at a Flint business giving away free water.

Concerns about the safety of Flint’s tap water has created high demand for bottled water. 

But many Flint residents say they have trouble paying for what little bottled water is still sitting on store shelves. 

via city of Detroit

Detroit officials say they’re confident the fledgling Great Lakes Water Authority will work out—despite concerns and complaints from some suburban officials questioning its future.

The GLWA gives regional players a larger role in running Detroit’s city-owned water system, which services some 4 million customers in southeast Michigan.

NWF / screenshot from YouTube video

With national attention being paid to the Keystone XL pipeline, Michigan Democratic Senators Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters have introduced amendments to the controversial legislation.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Giving women a stronger voice in Michigan is the goal of a new coalition.

MI-Lead is composed of more than 30 organizations, from civil liberties and reproductive rights to business associations and unions.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

This week in Michigan politics, Jack and Emily discuss anguish over Flint’s water, a plan for some Detroiters to pay half price on auctioned homes and a new gun bill moving ahead in Lansing.


taxcredits.net

Flint's general fund deficit has gone from $19 million to $9 million in two years, and is on track to being eliminated entirely in five years.

That's according to an audit presented to the city council Monday night.

The second bit of good news for the city's fiscal health was legacy costs.

via Detroit Economic Club

Former Detroit emergency manager Kevyn Orr was back in town Tuesday for an “exit interview” before the Detroit Economic Club.

Orr reiterated that municipal bankruptcy was the only real option for Detroit, but insisted both he and the city got through the process relatively unscathed.

“We got really lucky,” Orr said of his team. “We managed to get out of here without selling anything. I managed to get out without being indicated, so that’s sort of a badge of success,” he added, to audience laughter.

police officer directing traffic
Flickr user lincolnblues / Flickr

The Grand Rapids City Commission unanimously decided this morning to approve requiring city police to wear body cameras.

Michigan Radio's West Michigan reporter Lindsey Smith says the decision is part of a $1.5 million public safety plan that was unveiled earlier this month. The plan also includes hiring more police officers, a study of racial profiling in the area, and creating more inclusive hiring practices for the city, according to Smith.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The Jackson city council tonight will discuss asking voters for a big tax hike to pay to repair the city’s crumbling roads.

Like other Michigan cities, Jackson’s roads have been getting worse for several years.

via buildingdetroit.org

Detroit city workers, retirees and their immediate relatives could soon qualify for a 50% discount off the purchase price on some city homes.

The deal would apply to vacant homes auctioned off by the Detroit Land Bank Authority. That online auction has been one of Mayor Mike Duggan’s signature initiatives.

Update Monday, January 26th:

The ax has fallen.

This afternoon, Michigan House Speaker Kevin Cotter (R-Mt. Pleasant) and the Republican caucus developed a response that was both ruthless and nuanced to the Democratic insurgency on the House Appropriations Committee.

Abby Rosenberg / Flickr

State lawmakers will try again to crack down on animal cruelty in Michigan.

A state Senate panel will take up a pair of bills on Tuesday that would increase penalties for serial animal abusers. The worst offenders – those who abuse 25 or more animals or who have three or more prior convictions – would face felony charges and up to seven years in prison.

Similar bills failed to clear the Legislature last year.

gophouse.com

Governor Rick Snyder says improving services for the mentally ill is a major civil rights issue. And he says it’s a high priority in his second term.

“Mental health is its own issue in its own right, a major issue. We’ve seen some huge progress because of Healthy Michigan. But I think we still have a lot of work to be done in general mental health and where it intersects with criminal justice,” he told the Michigan Civil Rights Commission.

Today on Stateside:

  • Dr. Matthew Davis, chief medical executive with the Michigan Department of Community Health and professor at the University of Michigan, talks about the measles outbreak, which has made it to Michigan.
House in Detroit.
Jason Irla / Flickr

DETROIT - Mayor Mike Duggan has released a plan to allow Detroit municipal workers, retirees and their families to pay half the price of their winning auction bids for city-owned houses.

Duggan told reporters Monday that the program will help strengthen neighborhoods and return more residents to home ownership.

He says the plan could be in place by mid-February if approved by City Council.

The city owns thousands of empty houses. It is tearing down those that can't be rehabilitated while attempting to sell others to buyers willing to fix them up and move in. Detroit began auctioning vacant houses last year through its land bank.

Lyle / Flickr

A controversial gun bill similar to one that was recently vetoed by Gov. Rick Snyder is likely to get a committee hearing this week.

The bill’s sponsor says the reintroduced legislation no longer contains language the governor and others worried could have put domestic abuse victims in danger. Opponents said it would have allowed people with personal protection orders (PPOs) against them to get concealed pistol licenses.

Michigan Legislature
Matthileo / Flickr

This Week in Review, Jack Lessenberry and Zoe Clark discuss calls for bi-partisanship in Lansing now that a new legislative session is underway. Do politicians really mean it though? Or are these calls for compromise just politics as usual?


Thetoad / Flickr

State Rep. Peter Lucido, R-Shelby Twp.,  plans to introduce a bill next week requiring high school graduates to pass the same citizenship test immigrants take. Students would need to score 60% or higher on the test to receive their diplomas. Lucido says that he hopes the exam will encourage participation and increase voter turnout for elections. If passed, the law would be in effect for the 2016-17 school year.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A consultant’s report says Flint police should stop responding to non-emergency 911 calls. The consultants say that would give police more time to investigate violent crimes in Flint. 

That’s just part of a report delivered by a Washington, D.C. consulting group to the Flint city council, mayor, emergency manager, as well as the city’s police and fire chiefs last night. 

Capitol Building, Lansing, MI
Matthileo / Flickr

A group of Republican state lawmakers will try again to protect religious practices against state and local government interference.

The Michigan Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) failed to pass before the legislative session ended last year.

State Sen. Mike Shirkey, R-Clarklake, introduced the bill again this week.

“It’s simply all about protecting and preserving the rights that the Constitution provides for all citizens – not just select groups of citizens,” he said.

Rick Snyder wants the U.S., not Canada, to pay for the Ambassador Bridge's customs plaza.
Michigan.gov

Each week I discuss what's happening in Michigan politics with Susan Demas, publisher of Inside Michigan Politics, and Ken Sikkema, former state Senate majority leader and senior policy fellow at Public Sector Consultants.

This week we talk about the agenda Governor Rick Snyder laid out in his State of the State address, and the likely response from the Legislature.

Photo courtesy of www.gophouse.com

In his State of the State address this week, Governor Snyder highlighted how Michigan has made a comeback since the Great Recession. But Detroit News business columnist Daniel Howes says the state still has a long recovery ahead.

Howes highlights in his recent article how Michigan has gone through a transformation that makes it impossible to truly return to where we once were. He emphasizes that Michigan shouldn’t be thinking in terms of the past, but instead focusing on truly moving forward.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint officials tried again last night to convince city residents their tap water is safe to drink. 

Most of the people at the meeting left with doubts.

Today on Stateside:

  • U.S. Reps. Dan Kildee and Mike Bishop discuss their reaction to the State of the Union address last night.
  • Craig Thiel, the Senior Research Associate with the Citizens Research Council, talks about the council’s new report, which spotlights shrinking school enrollment, and offers solutions.
  • Dr. Joel Howell talks about his team’s new theory:  Beethoven’s music was influenced by his cardiac arrhythmia.
  • Rick Pluta of Michigan Public Radio Network and our own Zoe Clark of Michigan Radio report on the State of the Union address last night.
Gov. Rick Snyder

Gov. Rick Snyder says he has faith the public will approve a May ballot proposal to boost road funding. That’s despite a recent study from a Michigan State University researcher that said the measure might already be in trouble.

The proposal would raise the state’s sales tax from six percent to seven percent. It would increase funding for roads, schools, and local governments.

Gov. Rick Snyder

Gov. Rick Snyder is following up his State of the State address on Tuesday by continuing to promote skilled trades. In the speech, Snyder highlighted skilled trades as a way to boost employment, education, and Michigan’s economy during.

The governor visited a mold and die plant in Lansing the morning after the speech to highlight programs that train skilled workers.

“They’re not jobs that go away easily,” Snyder told reporters at the event. “If you think about huge capital equipment, you need well-trained, really good people running that equipment.”

Morguefile

The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development is asking lawmakers to boost inspection fees for its food safety program over the next three years.

"Our ability to spend the quality time needed with Michigan's food businesses is hindered without an additional investment in food safety," said Jennifer Holton, spokesperson for the department. "And that's what we're asking for."

Holton said the fees have not changed in 15 years, while the department needs more inspectors to keep up with changes in the food industry.

Gov. Rick Snyder delivers his 2015 State of the State address.
Gov. Snyder / YouTube

We checked in with Zoe Clark and Rick Pluta, Michigan Radio's It's Just Politics team. They were in Lansing last night covering the governor's address. Clark and Pluta cover the highlights from Governor Snyder's 2015 wishlist.

Listen to their thoughts below.


President Obama addresses Congress for his 2015 State of the Union address.
White House

For political junkies, Tuesday night was a double feature. First Gov. Snyder’s State of the State address followed by President Obama’s State of the Union address.

We got some reaction from Michigan's members of Congress.

First up, Democratic Congressman Dan Kildee  – listen below.

Next, we spoke with Republican Congressman Mike Bishop – listen below.

State of Michigan

Governor Rick Snyder took a swipe at Washington tonight (Tue.) in his State of the State speech -- and said Lansing could serve as an example to the federal government on how to solve problems. But the governor had to spend a portion of his own speech dwelling on some things he wanted to fix last year that didn’t get done.

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