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Politics & Government

Stories about politics and government actions

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint Congressman Dan Kildee has re-introduced legislation to change the federal rules governing lead in drinking water.

Lead exposure has been linked to serious health problems in children and adults. 

The current federal action level is 15 parts per billion. Kildee wants the EPA to reduce that benchmark to five parts per billion by the year 2026.

Kildee’s bill would also tighten rules regarding water testing, service line inventories and improve public education

Michigan state Capitol building
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

The meter continues to run on the state’s legal expenses for the Flint water disaster.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

An ethics watchdog organization wants the Office of Congressional Ethics to investigate whether Congressman Justin Amash violated House rules during a twitter fight with a White House staffer. The group filed ethics related complaints against both Amash and White House Director of Social Media Dan Scavino.

Michigan History Center

100 years ago this week, the United States officially entered what was then called "The Great War." We know it today as World War I.

Lansing City Hall building
Michigan State Historic Preservation Office / Flickr

Lansing City Council officially designated itself a "sanctuary city." That move follows the Ann Arbor City Council's decision to not have police or city employees ask people about their immigration status. The Trump administration says "sanctuary cities" could lose their federal funding. Morning Edition host Doug Tribou and senior news analyst Jack Lessenberry talk about whether that would impact the two communities.

A demolition in Detroit.
City of Detroit / via Facebook

The agency in charge of most of Detroit’s demolition program is hitting back at a recent city auditor general’s report.

That report, issued late last month, accused the Detroit Land Bank Authority of poor management and dubious practices.

The DLBA has run most of Detroit’s aggressive anti-blight program under Mayor Mike Duggan, helping demolish almost 11,000 structures during his term.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

The city of Lansing is taking a stand against the Trump administration’s attack on “sanctuary cities.”

Will President Trump’s Twitter rage be turned against Michigan’s senior U.S. Senator if Debbie Stabenow votes against his nominee for the Supreme Court? And would it make a difference?

Gage Skidmore / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The tweet came at 12:33 p.m. last Saturday.

Fraser home falling into the sinkhole.
Bryce Huffman / Michigan Radio

A $3 million grant to fix the massive sinkhole in Fraser was at the center of a battle in the state Legislature this week. This Week in Review, Weekend Edition host Rebecca Kruth and senior news analyst Jack Lessenberry talk about the fight over the funding, which sparked a row between Macomb County Public Works commissioner Candice Miller and Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekoff before ending in a stalemate.

Stateside 3.31.2017

Mar 31, 2017

On today's program, Michigan Radio's Lindsey Smith stops by to explain what the recent Flint water settlement means for residents. Plus, an author shares her detailed account of a Michigan community coming together to save its dunes from development. 

Michigan state Capitol building
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

An increase in money for the private firm that's providing food for state prisoners and some cuts to water protection are a couple of the things making their way through the Michigan Legislature.

As we do every Friday, Stateside spoke with Ken Sikkema, senior policy fellow with Public Sector Consultants and the former Republican majority leader in the state Senate and Vicki Barnett, a former mayor of Farmington Hills and a former Democratic legislator in the House.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

People in Flint are still digesting the terms of this week’s legal settlement and what it’ll mean for them.

Tuesday, U.S. District Judge David Lawson signed off on the deal, under which the state and federal governments will set aside $97 million to pay for replacing 18,000 lead and galvanized service lines during the next three years.

Fraser home falling into the sinkhole.
Bryce Huffman / Michigan Radio

The state House and Senate are playing volleyball with money to fix a sinkhole in Macomb County.

A House bill originally gave the city a three million dollar grant. It also approved millions of dollars for Flint.

The Senate changed Fraser’s $3 million grant to a $5 million dollar loan.

Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof (R-West Olive) said they did this in part to encourage other communities to maintain their infrastructure – instead of waiting for a crisis to get a handout from the state. 

Money
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A campaign committee controlled by Republican leaders is facing fines and questions over how it lost track of many thousands of dollars during the last election.

PROFESSOR KIT JOHNSON / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has been picking up undocumented people, but processing their cases is hitting a bottleneck.

There are not enough immigration judges to handle the additional caseload.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

A growing number of Flint water customers are being told to pay past due bills, or risk having their service shut off.

The city is under pressure to get more water customers to pay up now that state subsidies have ended and the city faces mounting costs.

A few weeks ago, the city informed 18 delinquent customers that if they didn’t pay up, their water would be cut off.  According to city spokeswoman Kristin Moore, several paid the minimum amount due to keep their water service on.  But the rest will start losing their service next week.

AN ENBRIDGE INSPECTION VIDEO SHARED WITH THE STATE OF MICHIGAN

An oil pipeline running beneath the Straits of Mackinac could be shut down under a bill in the legislature.

The company that operates the pipeline insists it’s safe.

Nevertheless, State Senator Rick Jones wants a third party analysis of Line 5. 

BRIDGE MAGAZINE: One promise Mike Duggan can’t keep?

Mar 30, 2017

Home sales with mortgages are rare in Detroit, occurring in just a few areas. Use the slider in the middle of the image below to see where the cash sales (red) are compared with sales via mortgages (blue).

for the map/Bridge map by Mike Wilkinson:

Few mortgages in Detroit

Most home sales in Detroit require cash; only 19 percent of the 3,800 sales in 2016 involved a mortgage, reflecting the difficulty to secure loans in a city where property values are less than half what they were a decade ago. Click on a marker to get more information, including price and year the home was built.

Source: RealComp II

If Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan is to be taken at his word, perhaps he shouldn’t be running for re-election this year.

cash
Public Domain

Another tax incentive for Michigan businesses passed the state Senate Wednesday and is on its way to the House.

Tax cuts, be they for businesses or individuals, have been a hot topic in Lansing all session. The latest would let big businesses keep a portion of their employees’ income tax. So, some of the tax you would normally pay to the government would instead go to your employer.

Sen. Jim Stamas, R-Midland, is a bill sponsor. He says this would make Michigan more competitive with other states.

Ingham County

Michigan cities and towns are hurting for cash. Many have had to cut services like street and sidewalk repair. Some have had to reduce the size of their police and fire departments. 

The usual suspects of municipal finance woes—weak property tax revenues and rising employee retirement costs—share much of the blame.

But today there is another culprit: the state of Michigan itself.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Now that a judge has approved a legal settlement to replace lead pipes in Flint, the city is acting quickly to get the process moving.

Tuesday, U.S. District Judge David Lawson signed off on the deal under which the state of Michigan will set aside $97 million to pay for replacing 18,000 lead and galvanized service lines during the next three years. 

Last year, Flint removed nearly 800 lead and galvanized steel service lines. This year, the plan is to replace 6,000.         

Flint Mayor Karen Weaver says city residents are ready.

sign that says flint
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A major lawsuit over the Flint water crisis has been settled. Under the deal, the state will pay for the replacement of 18,000 lead service lines. This Week in Michigan Politics, Morning Edition host Doug Tribou and senior news analyst Jack Lessenberry talk about why the deal might set a precedent for other cities.

The center strikes back. We are seeing a resurgence in the power of moderate Republicans in D.C. and Lansing.

Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, with Michigan Sen. Gary Peters, discuss Kelly's visit near Detroit's Ambassador Bridge.
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

A handful of people representing some of Metro Detroit’s immigrant and religious communities met privately with U.S. Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly Monday.

That was one reason for Kelly’s brief visit to Detroit, which also included talk on security and infrastructure along the country’s northern border.

Kelly held small, private meetings with hand-picked members of the Arab, Muslim, and Latino communities. The idea was to air concerns about the Trump Administration’s immigration policies.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Many Detroit neighborhoods need help. A lot of blocks are little more than a couple of occupied homes, a few abandoned houses, some burned out structures, and overgrown vacant lots.

Between 1970 and 2010 Detroit lost more than 228 thousand occupied housing units according to a recent report by the Urban Institute. 

What happens when a city can't keep its promises to retirees?
Ken Teegardin / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

What happens when a city can't keep its promises to retirees?

Flint water crisis protest
steve carmody / Michigan Radio

President Donald Trump and former President Barack Obama had a hand in last week's grant of $100 million to address the lead in the drinking water crisis in Flint, despite a report that seeks to give Trump credit for the funding.

The report also says Obama refused to give money to Flint, which is false.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

The state appointed board that oversees the city of Flint’s finances is expected to approve spending more than $30 million to replace lead service lines when it meets Monday.

The Receivership Transition Advisory Board’s approval is all that’s needed before contractors can begin replacing six thousand aging lead and galvanized pipes connecting Flint homes to city water mains.

The pipes are a primary source of lead in Flint’s tap water.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

This week, the Jackson city council takes up a challenge to an ordinance barring discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

The council approved the ordinance in February, but opponents quickly collected enough signatures to force it back to the council. 

Opponents say the ordinance gives special rights to the LGBT community.

“Granted, you want to treat everyone with dignity, respect,” says Rev. Tim Nelson, “but I think the laws we have as they are do that.”

Ordinance opponents drew a sharp rebuke from an anonymous source.

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