Politics & Government

Stories about politics and government actions

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.

We saw this week in Lansing the first big partisan kerfuffle of the new session of the Michigan Legislature; a fiercely partisan dispute with very little at stake.

The battle was over the prized position of Minority Vice Chair of the House Appropriations Committee.

Now, we really shouldn’t diminish the position. It matters.  This is the Democrats’ point person when it comes to negotiating budget deals with the Republican majority and arguing for priorities and projects that will benefit the districts of the 47 Democrats serving in the state House.

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.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint’s mayor says the governor has some responsibility to ensure that Flint residents have “clean, safe and affordable water.”

Mayor Dayne Walling sent a letter to the governor this week.   

via detroitmi.gov

Troubles with a new regional water system, uncertainty about roads and mass transit, and ongoing budget difficulties—all were topics among Detroit’s “Big Four” leaders Tuesday.

The Big Four includes the heads of Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties, along with Detroit’s mayor. In recent years, they’ve met held an annual public meet-up to discuss regional cooperation and other issues in southeast Michigan.

It's Just Politics Logo
It's Just Politics with Zoe Clark and Rick Pluta

Governor Snyder delivers his fifth State of the State address tonight and co-hosts of It's Just Politics,  Zoe Clark and Rick Pluta, are in Lansing preparing to cover the speech. They gave us a preview of what might be addressed tonight.

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

President Obama prepares to deliver the State of the Union speech tonight and Governor Snyder will also be delivering his State of the State address. In their time in office both leaders have gone through their ups and downs of approval ratings, but where do they fall now?

Michigan State economics Professor Charles Ballard keeps track of how both men fare in Michigan and says for the first time in the surveys they've conducted since Governor Snyder took office his approval ratings are higher than President Obama's in Michigan.

  Today on Stateside:

A sunset in Havana.
José Eduardo Deboni / Flickr

The United States took a major step toward establishing relations with Cuba after a deep freeze that has lasted over half a century.

A congressional delegation met yesterday with Cuban officials in Havana. Among the delegation was Michigan's senior senator, Debbie Stabenow, D-MI.

Rick Snyder for Michigan / Facebook Page

The Detroit Free Press reports that Gov. Snyder will announce plans to merge the two departments in his State of the State address tonight.

More from the Freep:

Today on Stateside:

  • A new chapter for U.S. and Cuba relations
  • Green vehicles in this time of falling gas prices.
  • The American Dialect Society has chosen its word of the year for 2014: #BlackLivesMatter
  • How much do Americans support the EPA's Clean Power Plan? A new CLOSUP survey offers some answers.
  • Our next installment of The Next Idea.
Photo by d.boyd, Flickr

There's plenty of discussion about climate change and greenhouse gas emissions, but are we ready to actually do something substantive about reducing those emissions?

Based on a national public opinion survey by CLOSUP, the Center for Local, State and Urban Policy at the University of Michigan’s Ford School of Public Policy, the answer appears to be, "yes."

Ruth Behar in Cuba on the beach.
Ruth Behar

President Obama’s decision last month to overhaul our policy towards Cuba has pushed our Caribbean neighbor to the forefront of our attention.

Ruth Behar is a professor of anthropology at the University of Michigan and the daughter of Cuban exiles. She was born in Cuba and her family left in the 1960s. Behar has recently published pieces in the Washington Post and Huffington Post about what President Obama's decision means to her and her family, and what to expect when traveling to the country.

Grand Rapids mayor George Heartwell is calling on Governor Rick Snyder to place a temporary ban on hydraulic fracturing in the state.

Heartwell made his comments today during his state of the city address.

“Our planet is sick and it is we who have infected it. So it must be we who heal it,” Heartwell said to a crowd of at least 300 people. Environmental concerns was one of the major themes of Heartwell’s speech.

gophouse.com

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Republican Governor Rick Snyder launches his second-term agenda with a State of the State speech Tuesday outlining priorities such as a focus on jobs in the skilled trades and a re-evaluation of government programs.

But he also has unfinished business from his 2014 address.

As promised, he created an office to attract immigrants and won federal approval so Michigan can run a visa center seeking foreign entrepreneurs.

The ZR2 concept features a 2.8 liter duramax diesel that will be going into the Colorado later this year.
Paige Pfleger / Michigan Radio

This Week in Review, Jack Lessenberry and Kyle Norris discuss a Republican plan to repeal the state's prevailing wage law, and whether things are looking up after a rough year for the auto industry.


gophouse.com

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder expects to make mid-year cuts in the state budget because tax revenue is $289 million short of initial predictions.

His administration and legislative economists are meeting Friday to settle on revised budget numbers. The shortfall of hundreds of millions of dollars is mostly being blamed on businesses cashing in tax credits at a higher rate than expected.

The nine justices of the U.S. Supreme Court.
U.S. Supreme Court

The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to take same-sex marriage cases from Michigan and three other states. The high court will decide this term whether the states' bans are constitutional.

In its decision to hear the case, the Supreme Court said the cases will be consolidated to answer two questions. From the decision:

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