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Politics & Government

Stories about politics and government actions

Kaye LaFond / Michigan Radio

A group called Kalkaska for Peace will begin collecting signatures on Saturday to try to force a recall election of its notorious village president, Jeff Sieting.

Sieting's Facebook posts, which contain violent rhetoric against Muslims and other marginalized groups, have attracted national attention.  

David Marvin / FLICKR - http://bit.ly/1xMszCg

More than 40,000 Michigan residents were wrongly accused of fraudulently claiming unemployment benefits. The Legislature is considering laws to try to make sure something like that doesn’t happen again.

The Governor and the Legislature are also trying to figure out how to do something beyond just restitution. Some of the people accused of fraud went bankrupt, lost homes, and suffered other consequences. The question is how far can, or should, the state go to make those people whole?

Rep. Paul Mitchell
mitchell.house.gov

Congress has a substantial “to-do list” this year, and with Republicans controlling the House, Senate, and White House, they have a lot of say in what gets done.

To learn more about the GOP goals for the New Year, Stateside sat down with Congressman Paul Mitchell, who represents Michigan’s 10th district.

He discussed the upcoming budget deadline, challenges with saving the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, and more.

Courtesy of Carma Lewis

Today marks two years since Governor Rick Snyder declared a ‘state of emergency’ in Flint because of lead contamination in the city's water.

Michigan Radio's Steve Carmody reported that water quality has improved since the city switched back to Detroit system after using the Flint River, whose improperly treated water corroded pipes. The city has also seen almost 6,000 lead lines replaced. That’s around a third of the number to be replaced.

But there’s still a lot of confusion among Flint residents. 

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

It’s been two years since Governor Rick Snyder followed the lead of local officials and declared a state of emergency in Flint.

Officials say progress is being made.

Stateside 1.4.2018

Jan 4, 2018

Congress is starting the New Year with a hangover from the old one. Today on Stateside, we get the Democrats' take on the issues from Rep. Dan Kildee, D-Flint. And, we learn how Battle Creek students are getting emotional and social support in a new type of classroom.

U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee, D-Flint.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

It’s a New Year, but for Congress, it all begins with a hangover from the Old Year: problems and issues left unresolved.

The government is due to run out of funding on January 19, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program ends in March, and looming over everything, this week's erratic tweetstorm from President Trump.

To see how Congress plans to deal with all this, Stateside talked to Democratic Congressman Dan Kildee of Flint.

You can listen to the full conversation above, or read highlights below.

michigan state capitol
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

The new federal tax bill could mean lower federal taxes, but Governor Snyder and some economists say that it could lead to higher state income taxes.

That’s stirring up fresh talk in Lansing about cutting Michigan’s personal income tax to cushion the effects of the federal tax reform.

Ellen Lipton
Ellen Lipton for Congress

Former Democratic state Rep. Ellen Lipton has entered the race to succeed longtime U.S. Congressman Sander Levin. Levin has announced he will retire from his 9th Congressional District seat at the end of his term in 2019.

bus side angle
SMART

A new bus service is operating along three main traffic arteries in Metro Detroit. The FAST service connects the city to points in Macomb, Oakland, and Western Wayne county.

Morning Edition host Doug Tribou and senior news analyst Jack Lessenberry discuss whether this smaller-scale project will be enough for public transit in Detroit.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

What will this New Year bring in Michigan politics?

To answer that question, Stateside turned to Michigan Radio’s It’s Just Politics team, Zoe Clark and Rick Pluta.

They discussed the political stories likely to surface in 2018, including the upcoming election and how Washington might influence state politics this year.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Lansing has a new mayor.

Andy Schor took his oath of office at noon today.

He’s the capitol city’s first new mayor in a dozen years.

Schor struck an optimistic tone in his inaugural address at the Lansing Center before hundreds of supporters and dignitaries.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Monday, the city of Lansing will swear in its first new mayor in a dozen years. 

Former State Rep. Andy Schor will take his oath of office during a midday ceremony at the Lansing Center. 

Schor won November's general election with nearly three-fourths of the votes cast.

The soft-spoken Schor replaces the at-times combative Virg Bernero, who has sat in the mayor's office since 2006. 

Among the challenges the new mayor faces is tackling Lansing's looming legacy costs. 

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

Legislation prompted by potential payouts related to former MSU sports doctor Larry Nassar is scheduled to be introduced next month. Lawmakers in Lansing want to prevent schools and colleges from using tax dollars to pay for legal settlements in sexual misconduct cases.

“The dollars that we as taxpayers pay should be used to better institutions, to better higher education, not to pay out for lawsuits and settlements," said state Rep. Klint Kesto, R-Commerce Twp., who is drafting the legislation.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint's mayor says city employees are focused first and foremost on replacing lead water pipes but are also working to provide status reports required under a legal settlement.

Karen Weaver issued a statement Thursday in response to plaintiffs asking a federal judge to intervene because they say Flint hasn't been sharing information, as it agreed to do.

Weaver says no one wants to get the lead out of Flint more than her.

JVALASIMAGES / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCLO

The new year will be filled with uncertainty for thousands of young immigrants whose lives are in limbo, and their advocates say their loss would be felt by all.

Nearly 600,000 young people -- including 5,400 in Michigan who were brought to this country as children by their undocumented parents -- have been living with fear since President Donald Trump rescinded the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which provides them protections to live and work here.

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

Between President Trump's first year in office and several major policy battles in Congress, national politics garnered many, many headlines this year.

And while Lansing may have had a slow legislative year, that doesn't mean Michigan wasn't affected by the goings-on in D.C.

Here are the political stories followed throughout 2017:

Michigan's Unemployment Insurance Agency (UIA) has wrongly accused tens of thousands of people of cheating on their unemployment claims.
Bytemarks / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Gov. Snyder signed end-of-year bills to “modernize” the state’s unemployment system, but some say they don’t do enough to repair the damage caused when the state switched to an automated claims processing system.

Between 2013 and 2015, the Michigan Integrated Data Automated System (MiDAS) wrongly accused more than 40,000 people of fraud, sometimes going back as far as six years, and collected over $46 million in penalties. State assessments of the program during that time found false fraud error rates of at least 70%.

FOIA
Vincent Duffy / Michigan Radio

Government bodies should be under a firm deadline to turn over documents that citizens have requested under Michigan's Freedom of Information Act, according to Rep. Gary Glenn, R-Midland.  

Glenn said he plans to introduce legislation in January that would make that happen.

On December 12, Attorney General Bill Schuette issued an opinion that the current FOIA law does not set a timetable for the government to release requested documents.

Glenn said this means the government can take as long as it wants to fill a FOIA request.

Michigan State Police patrol vehicle shield
Michigan State Police

Wayne County Prosector Kym Worthy has charged a former Michigan State Police trooper with 2nd degree murder. Last summer, Mark Bessner fired his Taser from a patrol car during a chase in Detroit. The Taser struck a teenager who was fleeing police on an all-terrain vehicle. The 15-year-old crashed the ATV and died. This Week in Review, Weekend Edition host Rebecca Kruth and senior news analyst Jack Lessenberry discuss the case.


Michigan's oddly-shaped 14th congressional district, currently represented by Brenda Lawrence, is one example of political gerrymandering.
Public Domain

The Michigan League of Women voters is taking on the state. It says Michigan's legislative districts as currently drawn are unfair. It accuses the state and Republican controlled Legislature of drawing the district lines in secret back in 2011, then rushing the electoral map through the legislative process.

The lawsuit asks a court to declare the current electoral map unconstitutional. It also asks the court to require the state to redraw the lines fairly.

A Lockheed-Martin F-35 Lightning II.
Wikipedia

Macomb County’s Selfridge Air National Guard base has lost its bid to house a fleet of next-generation warplanes.

Selfridge was one of five U.S. bases competing to host the new F-35 fighter jets.

But the Air Force announced Thursday it chose bases in Wisconsin and Alabama as winners in this round.

A bipartisan group of Michigan political leaders lobbied hard in Washington to land the F-35 and boost Selfridge’s long-term prospects.

Michigan Department of Health and Human Services

Lansing has put Michigan’s biggest mental health agency on notice that its state certification may be in jeopardy.

That agency is the Detroit-Wayne Mental Health Authority. This year, it doled out over $700 million to community mental health service providers serving about 80,000 people.

The warning came in a December 18th letter from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services to DWMHA leaders, after Michigan Radio reported on concerns about how the Authority conducts business.

Today on Stateside, former Congressman and longtime tax reformer Dave Camp says the tax bill is a "positive move forward." And, did the federal government spend $21 trillion that wasn't authorized by Congress? And finally, we hear from the head of the "Harvard of Santa Schools."

rolls of cash
Flickr user Pictures of Money / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

The owner of multiple Southeast Michigan towing companies pleaded guilty Wednesday to paying bribes to a Macomb County official to in order to get a municipal towing contract.

Gasper Fiore pleaded guilty to conspiracy. He admitted to paying $7,000 to Dean Reynolds, a trustee in Macomb County's Clinton Township.

health insurance claim form
Franchise Opportunities / Flickr - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCl0

 

 

As he prepares to sign the newly-passed GOP tax bill, President Trump saluted the measure  by claiming it fulfills his campaign promise to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

 

The bill does away with the individual mandate that was a central component of the ACA.

dictionary entry for the word tax
Alan Cleaver / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

 

 

President Trump and Congressional Republicans are celebrating today after the House and Senate delivered an epic overhaul of our tax laws.

 

The GOP is hailing the package as a gift to the middle class, although the biggest tax cuts go to corporations and the wealthiest Americans.

 

Dave Camp is a former Michigan Congressman. He served in the House from 1991 to 2015.

 

Tax reform was one of his main priorities. In fact, he served four years as Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, the House's tax writing body. He is now a Senior Policy Advisor for PwC.

 

Pictures of Money / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

Now that the GOP has gotten its tax reform plan passed, leaders like House Speaker Paul Ryan are saying the next item on the agenda is reining in government spending.

Perhaps the work of Michigan State University economist Mark Skidmore, his team of graduate students, and a former government official, will give them a place to start.

Skidmore and his team dug into government websites and reports, and they may have found unauthorized spending in the Department of Defense (DOD), and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to the tune of $21 trillion from 1998-2015.

Senior news analyst Jack Lessenberry joins Morning Edition host Doug Tribou to reflect on the major stories of 2017: 

Wikimedia Commons

The state Office of the Inspector General is recommending new language be included in the next contract between the state and its 46 mental health authorities and community mental health agencies.

That's after a botched CEO search brought attention to the Detroit Wayne Mental Health Authority board's pattern of not recouping millions of dollars in over billing and waste from its subcontractors.

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