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Politics & Government

Stories about politics and government actions

Artist rendering of proposed Lansing casino.
Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians

Plans for new tribal casinos in downtown Lansing and Romulus have hit a roadblock.

The U.S. Department of the Interior has turned down a request from the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians to take land in Lansing and Romulus into trust. 

Federal officials denied the request because the application failed to show how acquiring this land would “consolidate or enhance” tribal lands. 

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

The multi-million dollar Pure Michigan campaign is getting an evaluation. The state auditor general started a review this week.

Representatives Steven Johnson, R-Wayland and Martin Howrylak, R-Troy, asked for the audit. Johnson said he wants to make sure the campaign is a good deal for taxpayers.

“I like the ads, too. I think they’re, you know, they’re nice to see on TV. They make me feel good about Michigan,” he said. “But it’s millions of dollars that we’re spending and that money doesn’t come from nowhere. That comes from the hardworking taxpayers of Michigan.”

Ali Elisabeth / Michigan Radio

 


Last year, more than 27,000 Detroit homes had water shut off because of what the city says were unpaid bills. In some neighborhoods, one in five homes lost water access.

In 2014, the cash-strapped city started getting tough on people who couldn’t keep up with paying for water. City officials predicted the shutoffs would taper off as residents got on payment plans and bills started being paid, but Bridge Magazine reports residential shutoffs last year rose 18% over the previous year.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

In a sign that the Flint water crisis is possibly nearer its end than the beginning, the state of Michigan is closing more than half of the bottled water distribution centers Flint residents have relied on since the crisis began.

For more than a year, Flint residents have included a stop at their neighborhood distribution center to pick up a case or two or more of bottled water during their errands.

A worker in a bright-green vest loads bottled water into a silver SUV.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

City and state officials will talk about the future of bottled water distribution centers in Flint Wednesday morning.

A trip to the neighborhood distribution center has become a regular chore for many people in Flint since the city’s tap water became contaminated with lead.

But things are changing.

Flint Mayor Karen Weaver, along with local pastors, met with Governor Snyder on Tuesday.

Wednesday, Weaver and the state officials responsible for the state’s water distribution effort will announce the “next steps” in the program.

Michigan Agribusiness Association

Local communities in four Michigan counties hard hit by flooding last month are getting some help from the state.

In late June, more than seven inches of rain fell on parts of Bay, Gladwin, Midland and Isabella Counties last month, causing widespread floods. In many cases, damage to roads and other infrastructure has overwhelmed local resources.

Now local governments can apply for up to $100,000 from the state Disaster and Emergency Contingency Fund.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint police are investigating allegations some city residents were misled into signing a petition to recall Flint Mayor Karen Weaver.

According to a news release from the Flint Police Department:

michigan.gov

Eleven former caregivers face felony charges of falsifying records related to the neglect of patients at the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans.

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette says they made false entries in logs to reflect patient checks that never happened.

“And that violates their security and safety, and people were not doing the required checks, but the video surveillance caught that,” he said.

The Attorney General’s Health Care Fraud Division spent 13 months on the investigation.

After this week, we’re starting to get a clearer picture of what the 2018 governor’s race will look like in Michigan.

In just a little more than a year, Republicans and Democrats in Michigan will choose their candidates for governor in the August primary. Governor Rick Snyder is term-limited so, it’s a wide open field.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Some state lawmakers want to stop unmarried state employees from getting health insurance benefits for domestic partners.

Nearly a decade ago, the state of Michigan expanded benefits coverage as a way to accommodate same-sex couples who couldn’t legally marry.   But the U.S. Supreme Court legalized gay marriage in 2015.

State Senator Rick Jones (R-Grand Ledge) says the state is still spending more than a million dollars a year on benefits for unmarried couples.

The historic marker in Gordon Park at 12th St. and Clairmount.
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Fifty years ago this week, Detroit exploded in violent unrest that still marks the city to this day.

Now, the place where it all began is also marked as an official state historic site.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement - or ICE - agents
U.S. Air Force / Creative Commons

The Ingham County Sheriff's Office announced this week it will no longer detain people at the request of immigration, without a judge's order. It says immigration violations are "civil, not criminal, in nature, and are between the individual and the U-S Government." The Wayne County Sheriff's Office has a similar policy in place. This Week in Review, Weekend Edition host Rebecca Kruth and senior news analyst Jack Lessenberry talk about whether other counties will follow suit.

A house for sale on the Detroit Land Bank's online auction site.
Detroit Land Bank Authority

A new incentive program hopes to entice more Detroit educators to live in the city.

The Detroit Land Bank sells former city-owned properties through an online auction.

Now, Detroit school employees who bid on those homes can receive a 50% discount on the final sale price.

Nikolai Vitti, superintendent of the Detroit Public Schools Community District, wants more teachers who work in Detroit to live there too.

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.

Courtesy Patrick Colbeck

A state senator is entering the Republican race for governor.

Patrick Colbeck, R-Canton, hopes to succeed term-limited Governor Rick Snyder. He will formally announce his campaign Saturday at noon, at the Yankee Air Museum near Ypsilanti.

Colbeck was a design engineer for Boeing before he became a senator in in 2011.

“I came in with a fresh perspective, a business perspective,” he said. “And with the simple perspective says, ‘What I say I’m gonna do on the campaign trail is exactly what I’m gonna do when I’m serving.’”

Shawn / flickr

The state of Michigan is dropping charges and arrest warrants against nearly 200 people accused of illegally collecting unemployment benefits.

The warrants were issued against people who never showed up for court hearings after they were accused of defrauding the unemployment system. In many cases, the accused never knew they were charged with a crime.

The Michigan Talent Investment Agency asked for the arrest warrants to be dismissed because there’s a good chance the people accused actually didn’t do anything wrong.

A National Guardsman patrols a Detroit street during the July 1967 rebellion.
Tony Spina / Walter P. Reuther Library/Wayne State University

To understand why African-American Detroiters hit a breaking point with the city's police force in July 1967, we must turn to the history of the Detroit Police Department, and how white officers treated black men, women and children.

Matthileo / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Michigan’s lobbyists have given $3.7 million to politicians at the state level since 2012.

That’s the total calculated by the Michigan Campaign Finance Network.

Craig Mauger is its executive director. He says most of the money was given after an elected official took office, not during the campaign. And the highest amounts went to the people in the most powerful positions.

"These lobbyists are representing interests," Mauger says. "They are, in some cases, employees of a business. And they want to see it succeed just like the CEO wants to see it succeed.

The civil unrest began in the early hours of July 23, 1967 following a police raid on an unlicensed after-hours bar on the corner of 12th and Clairmount.
Public Domain / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

It was almost 4 a.m. on July 23, 1967 when police raided the Detroit blind pig owned by William Scott II. As they led the occupants of the illegal after-hours drinking club out to waiting paddy-wagons, a crowd gathered. Frustrated by years of racism and police abuse, the crowd soon grew angry with the police.

These were the beginning moments of the 1967 Detroit Riot, which would last five days, eventually claiming 43 lives.

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

A group called Voters Not Politicians is trying to get a question about gerrymandering on the 2018 statewide ballot. Gerrymandering refers to the process of drawing voting districts to favor certain politicians or populations. Their plan would create a 13-member citizens panel to oversee redistricting. It would be made up of five independent voters, four Democrats, and four Republicans. 

Senior political analyst Jack Lessenberry talks to Morning Edition host Doug Tribou about how this ballot initiative could change current voting districts.

Bytemarks / flickr http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The Michigan Court of Appeals dismissed a lawsuit claiming the state wrongfully accused thousands of people of unemployment fraud.  

In 2013, the state started using an automated system to flag fraud cases. But the system wrongly identified tens of thousands of people – and some of them sued to get their money back, plus fees and interest.

But the court says they waited too long to file the lawsuit.

Stefan Fussan / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The Founding Fathers crafted a Constitution that has stood the test of time. But it has required tweaking.

One very important tweak happened on this day in 1947.

Looking up into the rotunda of the Michigan Capitol.
user cedarbenddrive/Flickr / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Democratic lawmakers in Lansing have rolled out bills to give a stronger advantage to Michigan companies bidding to do business with the state.

One bill would do give a preference to Michigan-based businesses that bid on state contracts. Another would let Michigan companies get a second chance if they are underbid by an out-of-state firm.

State Senator Curtis Hertel, D-East Lansing, is a bill sponsor. He says other states have similar preference laws.

Joan Larsen faces a tangled path to a plum spot on a federal appeals court. The only thing standing in her way is Michigan’s two U.S. Senators.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint voters will decide if they want to make changes to their city charter on August 8.

If it passes, it will be the first time the city’s charter will be changed in four decades. A special panel has spent two years designing the 83-page charter update.

teacher with student
BES Photos / creative commons http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Governor Rick Snyder signed a handful of bills this week, including one that will change the retirement system for new teachers starting in 2018. This Week in Review, Weekend Edition host Rebecca Kruth and news analyst Jack Lessenberry talk about the implications when it comes to attracting new teachers to Michigan.

state capitol
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

The state officially has a spending plan for 2018. Governor Rick Snyder signed a $56.5 billion budget Friday.

Typically the governor wants the budget signed by July 1 of every year. But things got a little bumpy this time.

The governor was even kicked out of negotiations for a little while. But state Senate Appropriations Chair Dave Hildenbrand, R-Lowell, said eventually differences got settled.

“Glad to see this one got done because it was a little bit more of a challenge than in the past. But we got it done,” he said.

Worker at the Flint Engine plant.
Steve Fecht / General Motors

It's common knowledge that most politically conservative-leaning people are no fans of organized labor. The popular thinking is that labor unions damaged the economy and led American corporations to move overseas. In short, unions hurt capitalism. Good riddance.

However, there are some conservatives who don't subscribe to that thinking. 

Money
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Governor Rick Snyder got what he wanted from the state legislature this week. Wednesday, state lawmakers passed a package of bills designed to give big tax incentives to large employers that create new jobs in Michigan.

Mary Hornbeck and her husband struggle to support themselves and their four children in Albion.
Alli Billings / Michigan Radio

President Donald Trump's budget plan contains cuts to programs like housing subsidies, child care assistance, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, Medicaid, the Children's Health Insurance Program, and other programs that serve the poor.

With so many of the programs under threat, Stateside set out to talk to people who are struggling with living paycheck to paycheck. The series takes a look at the so-called "working poor" – who they are, what challenges they face, and what policy changes might help the most people.

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