Politics & Government

Stories about politics and government actions

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The cost and quality of tap water in Michigan cities is the subject of a week long journey starting in Detroit today.

Activists, led by the The Detroit People’s Water Board Coalition, are upset about water shutoffs in Detroit and the quality of Flint’s troubled water system.

Potholes are a familiar obstacle on Michigan roads.
user Michael Gil / Flickr

The Michigan Senate this week approved a package of bills that would gradually increase the state gas tax over three years and give $1.5 billion to roads funding. But the House and Senate still have to overcome significant differences in their respective plans to fund roads and infrastructure.

Zoe Clark, Michigan Radio’s co-host of It’s Just Politics, and Ken Sikkema, former Senate Majority Leader and Senior Policy Fellow at Public Sector Consultants, joined Jenn White to talk about what it will take to finally get a roads funding plan passed.

Today on Stateside:

  • Detroit News business columnist Daniel Howes takes a look at the booming popularity of paddling in Michigan.
     
  • It’s been four years since fireworks laws were loosened in Michigan, allowing the purchase of aerial fireworks. Jonathon Oosting tells us about what prompted that decision and what changes could be coming around the bend.
user adam j.w.c. / wikimedia commons

In 2011, state lawmakers loosened Michigan fireworks laws to allow the sale of just about any consumer-grade fireworks approved by the federal government.

Instead of being legally limited to low-impact ground fireworks like sparklers and poppers, consumers can now buy high-powered and aerial fireworks.

Michigan House Republicans

The state Senate has approved its $1.5 billion plan to boost road funding.

Lt. Gov. Brian Calley cast two tie-breaking votes on bills to gradually raise Michigan’s gas tax by 15 cents over three years. Calley says those votes were meant to move the process along toward reaching a final compromise on road funding.

 A state panel says Wayne County is in a state of “probable financial stress.” It was a unanimous determination by the Local Emergency Financial Assistance Loan Board. 

Board member and state Treasurer Nick Khouri says now the state will send in a review team to examine the books in Michigan’s most-populous county, which includes the city of Detroit and its suburbs.

Today on Stateside:

The state Senate could vote later today on a new plan to fund the state's roads. Jack Neher talks to us about the roads bills and the upcoming decision from the Capitol.

The Michigan Department of National Resources is keeping a close eye on the spruce budworm. It’s one of the most destructive native insects in northern spruce and fir forests, and it looks like it’s back. Bob Heyd is with us to talk budworms.

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The Detroit City Council voted down a proposed jump in water rates Tuesday — and that means city officials have to figure out what to do now.

The Detroit Water and Sewerage Department says it needs the roughly $27 million that 7.5% rate hike would have provided.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

This story has been updated to reflect Sen. Jones' apology.

A race-related debate is causing some tensions in the state Senate after an attempt to rewrite a resolution commemorating the end of slavery.

Senate Resolution 75 celebrates Juneteenth, a holiday commemorating Texas’ formal recognition of the abolition of slavery in 1865.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Starting today, the Export-Import Bank can't offer new loans to foreign customers.

The bank helps American companies sell their goods overseas when regular banks won’t take on the risk. Congress did not reauthorize the 80-year-old bank before leaving for the Fourth of July recess, allowing it to expire.

Focus: HOPE / focushope.edu

A $5 million U.S. Department of Labor grant will help the city of Detroit provide more job training and placement services.

The initiative will target some of the hardest-to-employ city residents — particularly returning prisoners.

Wikimedia Commons

The state Senate could vote as soon as Wednesday on a road funding proposal that includes a possible income tax rollback.

A state Senate panel approved a plan Tuesday afternoon that could generate about $1.5 billion annually for roads, in part by raising Michigan’s gas tax by 15 cents a gallon over three years. It would also shift about $700 million in existing state funds to roads.

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder.
Photo courtesy of Governor Snyder's office

Governor Rick Snyder has signed a bill that stops local governments from adopting their own ordinances that cover wages and working conditions.

The new law does not affect existing ordinances, but it does preempt nascent efforts to adopt local “living wage” and mandatory sick leave ordinances. In a written statement, Governor Snyder says it makes sense to ensure consistency in local ordinances that regulate jobs and employment.

Today on Stateside:

  • A 3.3 magnitude earthquake shook things up near Battle Creek this morning. The quake was centered 13 miles southeast of Battle Creek and only a few miles from where a 4.2 magnitude quake happened May 2.
     
  • Reports disagree on the effectiveness of the “Pure Michigan” campaign as state lawmakers look for money to fix the roads. Michigan State University economics professor Charley Ballard helps us sort it out.
     
  • Just a few years ago, no one knew the word “selfie,” but now they’ve invaded social media. Michigan Radio’s Kimberly Springer takes a look at how selfies fit in to our social and cultural landscape.

Michigan Radio, The Grand Rapids Press and the Michigan League of Conservation Voters  will host a Grand Rapids mayoral candidate forum at the Grand Rapids Public Museum at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, July 22. All four mayoral candidates, including Rosalynn Bliss, Robert Dean, John George and Willard Lee, will participate.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint residents will soon get another letter saying there’s a problem with their tap water. It’s a letter they’ve seen before.

The city remains technically in violation of the Safe Drinking Water Act for higher than acceptable levels of the disinfectant byproduct Total Trihalomethanes, otherwise known as TTHM.

The "Pure Michigan" campaign highlights beautiful and memorable places and experiences in Michigan.
user PunkToad / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

State lawmakers are searching for money to fix the roads, and they’ve been eyeing the budget of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and its “Pure Michigan” campaign.

The MEDC’s funding was reduced by $15 million with the recently passed budget.

barbed wire fence
FLickr user H. Michael Karshis / Creative Commons https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/legalcode

How much does crime really cost? Millions of dollars per day and billions per year. The high cost has jail and prison administrators seeking ways to ease this burden on taxpayers.

One way to do that is charging the inmates fees.

In Michigan, inmates are required to pay for necessities. It's called "pay to stay." Backers say it teaches the prisoners a lesson and keeps them from making frivolous and wasteful requests. But what happens when a prisoner's small paycheck doesn't cover the expenses?

Lansing Capitol
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Two bills are being considered by the Michigan Legislature that would give some former Michigan State Police troopers higher pensions.

Senate bills 21 and 22 would give 96 ex-troopers who retired before Oct. 1, 1986, a pension of at least $16,000 a year.

* The U.S. Supreme Court has spoken on gay marriage, but LGBT groups say their work is not done here in Michigan

* For our The Next Idea segment, one computer scientist tells us why new technologies designed to help fix society's problems often fall short. Read that piece here

* Now that the city of Detroit has put bankruptcy in the rear-view mirror, it is able to start tackling its deepest problems. One of those is finding solutions to homelessness.

* One West Michigan group tries to bridge the gap between evangelical Christians and science.

The Supreme Court’s ruling on gay marriage has many people happy and relieved. None more so, politically speaking, than Republicans who’ve wanted to see the issue go away.

Moderate Republicans like Governor Rick Snyder have always detested getting wrapped up in the culture wars. 

University of Michigan, School of Natural Resources and Environment

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan is out and about in Detroit, trying to drum up support for a controversial land deal.

The proposed deal involves the city receiving almost 5 acres of riverfront property, currently owned by the Ambassador Bridge Company, along with $3 million. The city will use that to expand and improve Riverside Park, which is adjacent to the bridge in southwest Detroit.

Reactions are coming in from across Michigan to the Supreme Court's ruling that same-sex marriage is now legal throughout the U.S. 

We'll update this page with reactions.

Do you have something to say about the reactions? Tell us on our Facebook page, tweet us, or share your photos with us on Instagram.

In a 5-4 decision today, the U.S. Supreme Court changed the lives of millions of gay Americans, allowing them to have the same legal rights of marriage as heterosexual couples.

The state of Michigan played a big part in the case, as April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse challenged Michigan's ban on same-sex marriage in federal court – a case that made it all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

This timeline shows the path of how we got here. If you don't see the timeline below, you can view it in full here.

The winning team from Michigan. April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse (seated), and their legal team - L-R - Robert Asedler, Dana Nessel, Carole Stanyar, and Kenneth Mogill.
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled in a 5-4 decision that gay marriage is now legal throughout the U.S.

The sweeping ruling clears up years of confusion around a patchwork of state laws both banning and allowing same-sex marriages.

Read the historic opinion here.

Today on Stateside:

*A nonpartisan, non-profit group called the Citizens Alliance for Prisons and Public Spending is offering strategies for cutting the prison population by 10,000 inmates.

*Are leaders in Wayne doing what's needed to meet its financial crisis?

*Michigan writer Barbara Stark-Nemon talks about her debut novel Even in Darkness.

*The wage gap between men and women: how wide is it in Michigan?

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

There's no denying that state spending and budgets are stretched tight, and it's forcing a fresh look at the soaring costs of our prisons.

What are we really getting for the $2 billion we spend per year on corrections? And how can we trim that corrections bill?

6/25/2015 Update:

Lon Johnson will make his candidacy for Michigan's 1st Congressional District official this afternoon in the Upper Peninsula. A press release sent to reporters this morning states:

Democrat Lon Johnson will announce his candidacy for Congress in Michigan’s First Congressional District, challenging Republican incumbent Dan Benishek. Johnson will make the announcement at the Marquette County Democrats’ annual Summer Sizzle Picnic in Ishpeming, MI. 

Lon Johnson grew up in a family with five generations of Northern Michigan history and has worked in American manufacturing and as a civilian in Iraq. Lon, 44, lives in Kalkaska County and is married to Julianna Smoot. Lon is currently the Chair of the Michigan Democratic Party.

The U.S. Supreme Court.
Supreme Court of the United States

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled in favor of one of the central parts of the Affordable Care Act, keeping the law in place in states throughout the country.

Their decision comes three years after the high court upheld the constitutionality of the law.

The case before the court, King v. Burwell, centered on health care exchanges run by the federal government – as is the case in Michigan.

Kevin Rosseel / morguefile

Republican and Democratic lawmakers at the state Capitol say it’s time for prison kitchens to be inspected by local health agencies. That’s after the most recent instance of maggots found in a corrections food service facility.

  

Prison kitchens are exempt from local health inspections. 

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