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Politics & Government

Stories about politics and government actions

Inside the Michigan Senate
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Plans to overhaul how Michigan deals with struggling schools will see continued discussion this week in a state Senate committee.

 

State lawmakers have been working for weeks to overhaul how Michigan deals with struggling schools. The committee is currently trying to find the best ways to judge student performance, and grade schools.

 

Stateside 2.27.2017

Feb 27, 2017

Michigan has a choice to make: Make small cuts to energy use, or build new power plants. We'll hear about that decision today. And, the superhero Cyborg got a promotion a few years ago when he joined Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman as part of the Justice League. We learn what Detroit has to do with his history. Finally, what do ginseng, ferns and orchids have in common? Listen to learn.

Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

(Support trusted journalism like this in Michigan. Give what you can here.)

Michigan has a law on the books that grants the police immunity from prosecution if they’ve had sex with a prostitute during an investigation.

Michigan is the only remaining state we know of which still grants that immunity, but that might change.

Michigan state Capitol building
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

 

A bill in the Michigan Legislature would require all state contractors and subcontractors to check the citizenship status of their employees. Bill sponsor State Representative Jim Runestad, R-White Lake, wants to prevent Michigan citizens from losing jobs to “black market” labor.

The origin of the term "gerrymandering" comes from a political cartoon from March of 1812. This was drawn in reaction to the newly-drawn state senate election district of South Essex created by the Massachusetts legislature to favor
J. Albert Bowden II / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

If you ask a roomful of voters if they think gerrymandering is an issue, it's a fair bet most of the people would raise their hands, regardless whether they were a Republican, Democrat, or independent.

There are several groups in the state looking at the issue for the 2020 the ballot. The group Voters Not Politicians is not waiting that long. It wants to put something on the ballot in 2018.

Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

After 12 years as Lansing’s mayor, Virg Bernero says he won’t seek re-election this fall.

Bernero says he will step down as mayor when his term ends in 10 months, citing his family as his reason to not seek re-election.

During his tenure, the Capitol city has weathered the Great Recession, which forced deep budget cuts due to lost tax revenue. Nevertheless, Bernero says Lansing received millions of dollars of economic development during that time as well.

Downtown Jackson, Michigan.
user hor Criticalthinker / Wikimedia Commons

DETROIT (AP) - A full federal appeals court will consider whether a Michigan county's tradition of Christian-only prayers at public meetings violates the U.S. Constitution.

The order on Monday by the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals vacates a ruling earlier this month by a three-judge panel of the court that said prayers by the Jackson County Board of Commissioners were unconstitutional. In that 2-1 decision, the court ruled in favor of a Jackson County resident who was offended after he began attending county commissioner meetings in 2013 to discuss environmental issues.

State House Speaker Tom Leonard (R-DeWitt) is figuring out his next move after his income tax rollback tanked in the House last week. It was an embarrassing defeat largely the result of putting the bill up before the Speaker knew the votes were there. And he ran into a hard-dozen fellow Republicans who, along with all but one of the Democrats, torpedoed what was supposed to be a marquee moment in the early days of this session.

Gerrymandering allows political parties or groups to gain some political advantage by manipulating district boundaries. Some critics argue that it distorts the real views of the voters.
wikimedia user Jeremy Kemp / Public Domain/http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

A citizens group wants to change how political boundaries are drawn in Michigan. Right now, the Legislature draws new lines for legislative and congressional districts every 10 years following the Census.

John Hanieski is an economist who says, right now, the numbers don’t add up. He says the state is evenly divided between Republicans and Democrats. But he says the GOP wins a lot more seats. 

He says the current system allows lawmakers to put their interests ahead of their constituents.

Jodi Westrick / Michigan Radio

Formerly nicknamed the “Dan Gilbert bills” after the prominent Detroit businessman and developer, legislation to give developers a tax incentive for building on blighted land sailed through a full Senate vote and is now awaiting a hearing in the House.  

The same kind of incentives came up in Lansing last year. But they didn’t go anywhere, because some lawmakers were worried it would only help big cities like Detroit.

This time, supporters on both sides of the aisle say the legislation is for cities big and small.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

This week, Flint residents will lose a state subsidy on their monthly water bills.

The state has spent more than $40 million subsidizing Flint’s water bills, as part of the response to the city’s lead-tainted tap water crisis. However, the governor’s office says the credits are ending this month because Flint’s water quality is improving.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Congressman Bill Huizenga held a town hall meeting today north of Grand Rapids that last more than four hours, a bit longer than he anticipated.

“And that’s okay,” he said. “What I knew was going to happen was, after two hours or even three hours if I had said ‘OK, you know maybe we’ve had enough,’ there would be all these calls of, you know, ‘He shut it down early!'”

chairs stacked on a desk in a classroom
Flickr user janine / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

A Republican-backed bill to rollback Michigan's income tax died on the floor of the state House early Thursday morning. This Week in Review, Weekend Edition host Rebecca Kruth and senior news analyst Jack Lessenberry talk about fallout from the bill's failure, including a leadership change in Lansing.

We're also talking about the Trump administration's withdrawal of Obama-era guidance on transgender students' rights in schools, the state's delay on announcing which low-performing schools will be closed in the fall, and a new "fake news" course at the University of Michigan.

From left: Mark Young, head of the Detroit Police Lieutenants and Sergeants Association; Mayor Mike Duggan; and Detroit Firefighters Association President Mike Nevin.
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

The Detroit mayor’s race is barely underway, but incumbent Mike Duggan is already picking up some key support.

Leaders of Detroit’s police and firefighter’s unions endorsed Duggan Thursday morning.

They say under Duggan’s leadership, their departments are gradually re-building from the devastation following years of cutbacks and the city’s bankruptcy.

A photograph of the Michigan Capitol building
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio file photo

First, Michigan Republican legislators proposed phasing out the income tax over a 40-year period, then that was changed to reduce it from 4.25% to 3.9% over four years. This week Michigan Speaker of the House Tom Leonard, R-DeWitt Township brought it up for a vote and in the wee hours of the morning on Thursday, it failed.

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan
City of Detroit

Detroit is still on track to exit state financial oversight next year, despite having to make unexpected pension payouts out of its annual budgets.

That’s what Mayor Mike Duggan told the City Council at a preview of his proposed 2017-18 budget on Thursday.

The pension liabilities are not included in the city’s bankruptcy-court mandated plan of adjustment—something Duggan says was “concealed” from him by former emergency manager Kevyn Orr during the bankruptcy.

STEVE CARMODY / Michigan Radio

The Next Idea

With all the talk of reforming health care, what if we are missing the bigger picture?

What if all this emotional debate about whether to dismantle the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare, was a waste of time?

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

There’s disarray among House Republicans in Lansing today.

The bill to cut Michigan’s personal income tax was defeated very early this morning.

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

In the first vote of the session, Republican leaders in the state House came up short.

In the wee hours of Thursday morning, the House took a roll call vote on legislation that would roll back the state income tax.

It was significantly different from its first iteration, but Republican leaders still couldn’t shore up enough votes to gain the majority.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The Flint Islamic Center held a meeting tonight to go over what the Trump administration’s immigration policies could mean for Muslim families in Michigan.

Trump had said his administration would unveil the new order this week, but a White House official says that has been delayed until next week.

The original order temporarily banning all entry into the U.S. from seven Muslim-majority nations and pausing the entire U.S. refugee program was blocked in the courts. The directive sparked confusion at airports and protests across the country.

Stateside 2.22.2017

Feb 22, 2017

Today we learn why Trump's immigration policies could compound restaurants' struggle to attract workers. And, we speak with (and hear tunes from) the oldest pipe band in the state of Michigan. It brought new immigrants together over 100 years ago.

STEVE CARMODY / Michigan Radio

Within days of being sworn into office, President Trump signed executive orders calling for tougher enforcement of immigration laws and increased border security.

This week Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly signed off on new rules that show us how the government will be implementing this immigration crackdown.

A recent survey by the National Restaurant Association shows that 27% of restaurant owners say recruiting and retaining employees is their No. 1 problem.
Strangely-Brown / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Restaurants depend on immigrants. Nationally, nearly one in five restaurant employees are foreign born. So what could President Trump's new immigration policies mean for the workers, and ultimately for the food service industry?

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Some Michigan members of Congress have been criticized lately for avoiding constituents. But two Republican congressmen from West Michigan are hosting in-person events over the next few days.

U.S. Rep. Bill Huizenga, R-2nd Dist., has his first in-person town hall of the year set for this Saturday at noon in Baldwin. The tiny town about an hour north of Grand Rapids was supposed to be a part of Huizenga’s annual snowmobile tour. There’s not enough snow this year, but he didn’t cancel the event.

Jack Lessenberry
Michigan Radio

The Department of Homeland Security revealed dramatic changes to its policies on Tuesday. This Week in Michigan Politics, Morning Edition host Doug Tribou and senior news analyst Jack Lessenberry talk about what those changes could mean in Michigan, where a number of cities have sanctuary measures in place or are considering them.

State capitol
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

A survey of local officials across the state finds wide interest in overhauling Michigan’s emergency manager law.       

The survey of officials from 1,300 cities, counties, townships, and villages was conducted by the University of Michigan’s Ford School of Public Policy.

There was no consensus on what to about financially struggling local governments, says survey director Tom Ivacko. But he says says there was general agreement that emergency managers have too much power.

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

Lawmakers in Lansing might not try to do away with the state income tax after all; but, they are still looking to reduce it.

A new version of the bill would gradually cut the tax from 4 point 25 percent to 3 point 9 percent.

Bill sponsor Representative Lee Chatfield says he is happy with the changes.

“Our goal all along has been to deliver on the promise made to the people back in 2007, and we think the legislation in its current form with the substitute accomplishes that goal,” he said.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

The Trump administration’s new immigration policies are causing “fear, anxiety, anger and confusion” among Michigan’s Latino communities.

The new guidelines under President Donald Trump call for the deportation of any individuals in the country illegally if they are convicted, charged or suspected of a crime, which could include traffic infractions.

Stateside 2.21.2017

Feb 21, 2017

Today on Stateside, progressive constituents explain why they think Republican Congressmen Dave Trott (R-Birmingham), Mike Bishop (R-Rochester) and Tim Walberg (R-Tipton) are avoiding them. Also today, a recent report found that Michigan is the only state where students have not improved on a national reading and math test. We hear from the author of that report as well.

Constituents of Rep. Dave Trott protest at his office in Troy, demanding that the Congressman hold in-person town hall meetings.
Sarah Scwiek / Michigan Radio

Across the country, members of Congress have been holding town halls and some have gotten a little heated.

Here in Michigan, constituents of Republican Congressmen Dave Trott (R-Birmingham), Mike Bishop (R-Rochester) and Tim Walberg (R-Tipton) are calling on their representatives to hold in-person town halls.

Three constituents of those elected officials joined Stateside to discuss the challenges they've faced while seeking audiences with their respective congressmen.

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