Politics & Government

Stories about politics and government actions

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Genesee County officials say they want the state to cover their costs of responding to the Flint water crisis.

Genesee County has spent more than a million dollars during the past six months dealing with Flint’s tainted drinking water.

County Commission Chairperson Jamie Curtis says the state should pay because the state is largely responsible for the crisis. 

Curtis notes Governor Snyder has promised to fix the problem. He says fixing the problem should include paying the county’s tab.

There were political fireworks at two hearings in Washington D.C. last week that overshadowed the almost simultaneous beginning of hearings by a state legislative committee on the Flint water crisis.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Michigan lawmakers are pushing to require that all signatures for a statewide ballot initiative be collected within a six-month period.

  The move could stymie pro-marijuana and anti-fracking activists from potentially receiving more time thanks to improved technology.

  Legislation approved along party lines by the Republican-controlled Senate would mandate that a voter signature for a constitutional amendment or initiated bill not count if it's written more than 180 days before the petition is filed. The bill is pending in the House.

Flint River and water plant
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The governor’s Flint water crisis task force is turning its attention to the city’s hot water heaters.

Gov. Rick Snyder
gophouse.com

Governor Rick Snyder is standing by Michigan’s emergency manager law. The law was repeatedly criticized at a Congressional hearing into Flint's water crisis on Thursday, and the governor admitted emergency managers failed in Flint.  

Capitol Building, Lansing, MI
Matthileo / flickr http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The water crisis in Flint and the financial crisis in Detroit Public Schools appear to be taking a toll on Michigan’s credit outlook.

Standard and Poor’s, one of the three major credit ratings agencies, revised Michigan’s outlook for general obligation debt down a notch, from “positive” to “stable” this week.

  • 150 Flint residents took a long ride on buses to be at Congressional hearings on the Flint water debacle. We meet two of them.
  • Recently, dozens of crows were found dead. The birds were scattered along train tracks in Springfield, Michigan.
senate.michigan.gov

It’s Sunshine Week, when Americans celebrate access to public information (and highlight instances where there isn't enough transparency). The Freedom of Information Act became law in Michigan in 1976. But it came with a big loophole:, exempting the governor and the lieutenant governor and their staff. 

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Governor Snyder was grilled by a congressional committee yesterday investigating the Flint water crisis. 

But the governor also spent some time in Washington D.C. asking for more federal money for Flint.

The governor says he spent some time before the hearing voicing support for a bill that would spend more than $200 million on Flint’s water woes. The bill includes $100 million for Flint’s water infrastructure and more money for children’s health programs. 

Gov. Snyder is taking heat regarding decisions made by his Emergency Managers that lead to the Flint water crisis
Gov. Rick Snyder / screengrab

Governor Rick Snyder was questioned today by the House Oversight Government Reform Committee as it continued probing the Flint water crisis.

Michigan Radio’s Lansing Bureau Chief Rick Pluta was in Washington for the hearing.

  • Gov. Rick Snyder testified today before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee in Washington. We have more from Michigan Public Radio's Rick Pluta.
  • Detroit News business columnist Daniel Howes weighs in on the governor’s testimony.
  • His investigative journalism helped rip open the Flint water disaster.
Gov. Rick Snyder
gophouse.com

Gov. Rick Snyder joined Environmental Protection Agency administrator Gina McCarthy today to testify before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee in Washington today. This was the third Flint water hearing by this House panel.

Detroit News business columnist Daniel Howes tells us that of all the people the panel has questioned, Snyder has come the closest to admitting and accepting his mistakes.

A Flint water protest
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Before Flint's water problems were widely known to the public, Snyder administration officials spent a lot of time emailing back and forth about the city and its water. 

We wouldn't know that if the governor hadn't voluntarily released batches of emails. That’s because he and the Legislature are exempt from Michigan’s Freedom of Information Act.

But that could change.

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder and EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy were sworn in before their testimony in Congress on the Flint water crisis on March 17, 2016.
YouTube - screenshot

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder and EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy testified before a congressional committee on Thursday, March 17.

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee held two previous hearings on the Flint water crisis. You can watch those hearings here and here.

Watch part 1 of Thursday's hearing below:

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder testifies today before a congressional committee. He's there to explain how the water in Flint became undrinkable.

american flag and lgbt flag
Flickr user Praveen / flickr http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Michigan has revised its policy for changing a person’s gender on a state driver’s license or identification. 

Until last week, the Secretary of State’s Office required an amended birth certificate. Now Michigan will also accept a U.S. passport or a court order.

According to Jay Kaplan, staff attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan, the change makes it easier for transgender people – but doesn’t go far enough.

  • There’s major bipartisan support for new bills that would open the governor and the Legislature to public information requests.
Wikimedia Commons

It’s Sunshine Week, which was created to raise awareness and appreciation for our access to public information and the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). However, there is one segment of our population that is not allowed to use FOIA: prisoners.

Attorney General Bill Schuette (left) and Ingham County Sheriff Gene Wriggelsworth announce the charges against Stuart Dunnings lll.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A Lansing advocate for domestic violence victims says there's one piece of good news in the arrest this week of longtime Ingham County Prosecutor Stuart Dunnings III for hiring prostitutes: He got caught.

Dunnings stands accused of paying for sex hundreds of times with many women between 2010 and 2015.

screengrab/YouTube

A U.S. House committee held a second hearing on the Flint water crisis Tuesday, taking testimony from some key players in that disaster.

Former Flint emergency manager Darnell Earley, former mayor Dayne Walling, former EPA official Susan Hedman, and Virginia Tech engineering professor Marc Edwards – whose independent research team helped reveal the high levels of lead in Flint water late last year – all testified.

But the hearing was defined largely by blistering criticism leveled at the U.S. EPA for failing to step in sooner.

  • For Sunshine Week: Rodd Monts with the Michigan ACLU tells us more about the ACLU’s stance on body-worn cameras and recommendations.
  • As the nation's creative community focuses on SXSW in Texas for the next couple of days, they will get a chance to discover Michigan.
Photo courtesy of the Reuther Library

by Bill McGraw, Bridge Magazine

Was it a riot or a rebellion?

Or both?

Nearly five decades after the last fire was extinguished, the discussion continues over what to call the events in Detroit during July 1967.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

A special state legislative committee started looking into the Flint water crisis today.

Committee chairman Sen. Jim Stamas (R-Midland) set the tone for the four Republicans on the six member joint Senate-House panel.

“It is my sincere hope that this committee will stay focused on solutions and not finger pointing and political positioning,” Stamas told the committee as it began its session this morning.

The two Democrats on the panel stressed the need for accountability.

WATCH: Flint water hearings

Mar 15, 2016
YouTube / House Oversight Committee

Ex-Flint mayor Dayne Walling and former emergency manager Darnell Earley testified before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee in Washington, D.C., earlier today. While no longer live, you can watch this morning's hearing below. For text highlights, follow the conversation through the Twitter hashtag #FlintMR. 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

WASHINGTON (AP) - The state-appointed emergency manager who oversaw Flint, Michigan, when the city's water source was switched to the Flint River says he relied on state and federal experts, but the experts failed him and Flint.

  Darnell Earley says in prepared testimony for a House hearing Tuesday that he was overwhelmed by challenges facing the impoverished city and relied on experts from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to advise him.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The city of Flint could get some additional federal money to help it recover from its water crisis.

U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro met with Mayor Karen Weaver and Congressman Dan Kildee in Flint today.

Castro says they talked about giving Flint additional Community Development block grant funds.

“We believe there is merit to that package, and would like to work with them to pencil in exactly what that would look like,” says Castro.

  • For Sunshine Week: Jane Briggs-Bunting of the Michigan Coalition for Open Government explains the importance of laws like the Freedom of Information Act.
  • March Madness is here: How will Michigan do as an underdog? Does MSU have enough to win a national title? Michigan Radio’s sport commentator John U.
Capitol Building, Lansing, MI
Matthileo / flickr http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

It is well-documented that the state of Michigan is one of the worst states when it comes to transparency and openness in government. Now, with the Flint water crisis, the issue has been brought to the forefront.

To kick off Sunshine Week, a celebration of Americans' access to public information, Stateside welcomed Jane Briggs-Bunting, the president of the Michigan Coalition for Open Government, to the show.

Remember that time when there was just nothing better than being a Republican governor? When it was almost a given that the next Republican candidate for president would come from the current or former GOP Gubernatorial ranks?

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

People in Flint say they have questions they want answered at this week’s congressional hearings into the city’s water crisis.

Starting Tuesday, former emergency manager Darnell Earley, former Flint Mayor Dayne Walling and Gov. Rick Snyder are scheduled to testify before the U.S. House Oversight and Government Reform committee.  

Current and former officials with the Environmental Protection Agency are also scheduled to appear before the committee.

Flint Mayor Karen Weaver says she has a list of questions.

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