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Politics & Government

Stories about politics and government actions

There’s a battle over taxes emerging in Lansing.

Is it real? Or is it actually a proxy for other looming political fights?

Tax rollback

We could see action soon on a plan that would begin to rollback and eventually, after four decades, completely eliminate the state income tax.

But this idea from state House Republicans is getting the cold shoulder from Governor Rick Snyder, a lot of state Senate Republicans and, not to mention Democrats.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Nearly a year after Governor Snyder first proposed it, a package of bills addressing lead in Michigan’s drinking water should soon be in the hands of state lawmakers.

Gov. Rick Snyder has repeatedly faulted the federal lead/copper rule and how it’s been interpreted for helping to create Flint’s lead tainted tap water crisis.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan’s top 150 Political Action Committees raised a record amount during the 2016 presidential election cycle.

The Michigan Campaign Finance Network crunched the numbers and found Michigan’s largest PAC’s raised more than $48 million in 2015 and 2016. That's an increase of seven million dollars over the previous record set in the 2008 presidential election.

Executive director Craig Mauger says that well outpaced the rate of inflation.

FLICKR USER 401(K) / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Macomb County officials are sounding the alarm about scheduled budget cuts for its mental health programs.

A changed state formula for distributing Medicaid funds has hit the county disproportionately hard. Medicaid “rebasing” has cut money for mental health services there by about $30 million in the past year.

John Kinch, director of Macomb County Community Mental Health, said those cuts to Macomb’s budget are staggered, with the final one kicking in April 1.

“And then starting April 1, it will be another $12.4 million,” Kinch said. “I can’t absorb $12.4 million.”

income tax
ccPixs.com / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

A proposal to get rid of Michigan's income tax is quickly moving along in the Legislature. This Week in Review, Weekend Edition host Rebecca Kruth and senior news analyst Jack Lessenberry talk about whether the Republican-backed bill will go all the way.

They also discuss the action plan state House Republicans rolled out this week, the state Board of Education's call to hold off closing any schools this fall, and a planned set of bills to rectify the mess at the state Unemployment Insurance Agency. 

Stateside 2.17.2017

Feb 17, 2017

Today, we hear from Michigan's own Frontier Ruckus in the next rendition of our "Songs from Studio East" series. And, we learn why, if rewritten, a travel ban could mean doctor shortages in rural Michigan.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

This week, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder admonished Republicans for rushing legislation to eventually eliminate the state income tax. Meanwhile Kalamazoo, Saginaw and Detroit schools are fighting possible closings. And to top it all off, President Trump hosted a dramatic press conference yesterday that left many scratching their heads.

STEVE CARMODY / Michigan Radio

The City of Flint is considering changing its charter, which could change how city government operates, taxes and more. It could stiffen ethics rules and change other rules to make city hall more transparent.

The Flint Charter Review Commission is proposing the changes. Cleora Magee chairs that commission and she joined Stateside to discuss.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

The Michigan Civil Rights Commission is out with a report on the Flint water crisis that its authors intend will ensure that “another Flint does not happen again."

Commission chair Arthur Horwitz thanked Flint residents for sharing their stories during their year-long investigation.

“At a time when you placed  trust in virtually no government entity, you looked at this commission and department … and provided us with an opportunity to earn your trust,” says Horwitz.

Ken Sikkema expects the Michigan House of Representatives in Lansing to be even more conservative in 2017.
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

An income tax rollback, a more transparent government and reducing auto insurance rates - those are some of the main priorities for House Republicans during this session. 

They rolled out the plan Thursday.

Passing a high priority piece of legislation is already underway. The income tax phase-out is moving forward quickly – over Governor Snyder’s objections.

Detroit's Freedom House may have to close

Feb 16, 2017
Nick Hagen / Freedom House

Detroit's Freedom House has lost its federal funding for the first time in more than 20 years. And it may have to shut down or substantially reduce its services.

Freedom House provides transitional housing and comprehensive services under one roof to asylum seekers who are fleeing persecution, rape and torture in their home countries. 

Executive Director Deborah Drennan said the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development denied Freedom House's grant application in December, and Freedom House has appealed the decision.  

flickr http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

State House Republicans are aggressively pushing through an income tax cut and rollback, despite numerous questions raised during a committee hearing about what funding cuts could happen in other areas if the bill passes.

A bill that would cut the state income tax and eventually phase it out altogether over 40 years was voted out of committee Wednesday. This happened after an hour and a half of testimony and over requests to hold off on a vote from some Democratic members.

Flint residents Laura and Sean MacIntyre stopped paying their water bills in 2016.
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

People in Flint who have been getting the state to help pay their water bills appear to be losing that help.

Flint Mayor Karen Weaver met with Governor Snyder on Tuesday. She was unable to get him to budge from the decision to put an early end to the state-funded subsidy program that helped people pay for the water they can't safely drink without a filter.

Flint Mayor Karen Weaver
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint Mayor Karen Weaver says she felt “anger and disappointment” after a meeting with the governor this week, where he rejected her request to continue state credits on city water bills.

The state has spent $40 million on a credit on Flint water bills during the past 12 months.  The credits were for water that didn’t meet federal quality standards.  

However, Gov. Snyder says Flint’s water quality is now comparable to other communities.  The governor’s office says “residents don’t ‘have’ to use a filter,” though it is recommended in areas where pipes are being replaced.

Jack Lessenberry
Michigan Radio

At a meeting with Detroit parents and school administrators earlier this week, one of the governor's advisors told the crowd "there's no way in the world" the state will close 38 failing schools this year.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Tomorrow, Flint Mayor Karen Weaver will discuss what’s next for her city, now that the governor has refused to restart state credits on Flint water bills.

Gov. Rick Snyder met with Mayor Weaver Tuesday afternoon.  Snyder described the meeting as “constructive," but the governor is not budging on the decision to end state credits on city tax bills.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Detroit Police Chief James Craig has signaled his support for President Trump’s law enforcement policies, raising some eyebrows around Detroit.

Craig spoke about Trump’s recent pro-police executive orders with Neil Cavuto on Fox News last week.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Lansing is not yet Michigan’s next "sanctuary city."

After two and half hours of passionate, though civil, public comment, the Lansing city council decided to table the resolution.  

The resolution actually stopped short of declaring Lansing a “sanctuary city." Instead, it describes Michigan’s capitol city as a “welcoming” city. 

Stateside 2.13.2017

Feb 13, 2017

Today on Stateside, U.S. Senator Gary Peters talks about the current climate in Washington, Russian sanctions, Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch, Democratic resistance to the Trump administration's policies, and Peters' support of a missile defense base in Battle Creek. 

Governor Rick Snyder has laid out his budget plan for the coming year. He wants the state to save more, pay down debt and spend on infrastructure.

Republicans in the Legislature are not necessarily opposed to those ideas, but many of them are also calling for tax cuts, which means less money for those things Snyder wants.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

People for and against the idea of "sanctuary cities" are expected to be on hand for Monday night’s Lansing city council meeting.

Lansing officials have been weighing whether to make Michigan’s state capitol a "sanctuary city," by creating policies to protect undocumented immigrants from prosecution under federal immigration laws.  It’s a decision that could cost the city millions of dollars.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) - Authorities in Traverse City are reminding residents that their new congressman is a public figure but his staff uses space in a private building.

Large groups apparently have been eager to see U.S. Rep. Jack Bergman or his staff in northern Michigan, which could be discouraging others who want access to other businesses.

The Traverse City Record-Eagle  says Bergman's landlord asked sheriff's deputies to address the problem. Lt. Chris Barsheff says 50 to 100 people can't show up and "create issues."

kate wells / Michigan Radio

DETROIT (AP) - Critics and supporters of Planned Parenthood have squared off outside a Detroit clinic during a protest over federal funding for the group.

It was one of many rallies around Michigan on Saturday.

The Detroit event attracted more than 300 people. The crowds on both sides of Cass Avenue were dominated by Planned Parenthood supporters who chanted and held signs in favor of abortion rights and access to health care. President Donald Trump was also a target.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - A former chairman of the Michigan Republican party is leading the GOP again.

Ron Weiser was unanimously elected Saturday as chairman. Ronna Romney McDaniel stepped down to become head of the national party.

Meanwhile, Brandon Dillon was given another term as chairman of the Michigan Democratic Party. Both parties are holding conventions this weekend.

Weiser told 3,000 party members in Lansing that "united we win; divided we lose." McDaniel gave a farewell speech, saying President Donald Trump's victory gives Michigan "the respect it deserves."

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

A record amount of money was spent in 2016 on Michigan state House races.

The Michigan Campaign Finance Network combed through spending reports and other sources to determine $27 million was spent on House campaigns last year.   The previous record was $25.4 million in 2014. 

Wikimedia Commons

Gov. Rick Snyder rolled out his budget proposal for the coming fiscal year this week. Not everyone is happy, including some members of Snyder's own party. This Week in Review, Weekend Edition host Rebecca Kruth and senior news analyst Jack Lesseberry take a closer look at the governor's proposed budget. 

They also talk about the Detroit school board's threat to sue the state over possible school closures, Michigan's latest gubernatorial candidate, and the results of the state's election audit.

Stateside 2.10.2017

Feb 10, 2017

Today on Stateside, we hear about Trump's less-talked-about executive order on immigration and how it's affected people in Michigan. And, in response to a listener's question, we learn what Michigan would lose if the EPA is eliminated.

Andrey Belenko / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

A federal appeals panel in the 9th U.S. Circuit has upheld a lower court’s ruling against an executive order by President Donald Trump. That order temporarily banned people of seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the U.S. The three-judge panel suggested the executive order did nothing to make the nation safer, and that the Trump administration didn’t present any evidence that people from the seven countries were a threat to the U.S.

Dawud Walid, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Michigan, joined Stateside to talk about the ruling it's effect on the Muslim community.

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

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder released his budget proposal this week, and there's a lot of discussion about how the state's money will be spent, or not spent, in the upcoming year. 

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint residents are worried the burden of fixing their broken water system is once again falling on them.

Chanting “We don’t pay for poison water,” dozens of Flint residents filled the lobby at city hall to protest looming water shutoffs of people who haven’t been paying their water and sewer bills.   

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