Politics & Government

Stories about politics and government actions

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

These days, many people in Flint choose not to drink the city’s water. 

Many others have no choice. They cannot afford to pay their water bills. 

During the last few years, Flint water rates have soared, as city officials have struggled to maintain its aging water system. 

field of hay with red barn
Flickr user Julie Falk / Flickr

This Saturday marks the one-year anniversary of President Obama's trip to Michigan State University where he signed the massive, almost $1 trillion U.S. Farm Bill into law.

Michigan Oil and Gas Association

Michigan's zoning law bars counties and townships from regulating the drilling and operation of oil and gas wells, meaning oil can be drilled as close as 450 feet from your property line without prior notification.

Detroit Free Press reporter Keith Matheny talked to homeowners living next to an oil well in their neighborhood who were given no forewarning of its construction.

Marsha Caspar and Glenna DeJong with Frizzy. They were the first same-sex couple married in Michigan on March 22, after a federal judge struck down the state’s same-sex marriage ban. The ban was restored by the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.
Rick Pluta / MPRN

More than 300 gay and lesbian couples in Michigan are legally married now that Governor Rick Snyder has decided not to contest a court order. It says the state has to recognize the marriages that took place last spring.

But, the state will continue to defend the same-sex marriage ban in a case before the U.S. Supreme Court.

www.michigan.gov/snyder

Thanks to a new package of laws that took effect last week, Michigan has a tougher new approach to human trafficking and the sex trade.

Bridgette Carr, a University of Michigan law professor, served on the state task force whose human trafficking report helped guide the Legislature as it crafted the new law, which has garnered lots of praise.

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder
Gov. Rick Snyder

The Michigan Bureau of Elections says Gov. Rick Snyder did not break campaign finance laws during his State of the State speech last month.

The bureau dismissed a complaint accusing the governor of using taxpayer dollars to advocate for a May ballot proposal to raise the sales tax. Snyder told voters to “vote yes” on the question at least six times during the speech.

Today on Stateside:

  • Rick Pluta, Lansing Bureau Chief for the Michigan Public Radio Network, joins the show to discuss the implications of Governor Snyder deciding not to appeal a decision allowing 300 same sex couples to be legally recognized in Michigan.
  • Chad Livengood of the Detroit News Lansing Bureau joins us to discuss how the Michigan State Police could soon become the first police force in the country to use aerial drones throughout the state.

Rowse/DeBoer

On January 16, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear arguments this spring in four cases that could lead to legally recognizing same-sex marriage in all 50 states.

One of those four cases was brought by Jayne Rowse and April DeBoer of Hazel Park. The couple hopes to marry so they can co-adopt their four children. Dana Nessel is the attorney that will help them through the case.

But the nation’s big civil rights and gay rights groups are not stepping up to support this potentially historic case. Here’s why:

Update 2/4/2015:

And, it's now been made official: Governor Snyder says the state will recognize the more than 300 gay and lesbian marriages that were performed in Michigan last March. Snyder says his administration will not challenger a judge's order issued last month to recognize the marriages performed during the window when they were legal.

Marsha Caspar and Glenna DeJong with Frizzy. They were the first same-sex couple married in Michigan on March 22, after a federal judge struck down the state’s same-sex marriage ban. The ban was restored by the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.
Rick Pluta / MPRN

Gov. Rick Snyder says the state will recognize the marriages that were performed in Michigan last March. Those marriages were performed on March 22, 2014 - a day after a federal judge struck down Michigan's ban on same-sex marriage, and before another court put more of those marriages on hold while the case worked its way up through the courts.

The Snyder's new block on Main Street in Ann Arbor.
user ifmuth / Flickr

That's according to a report from Ryan Stanton of the Ann Arbor News. Stanton writes architect Tamara Burns confirmed the news:

images money / flickr

This week, Jack and Emily discuss what’s missing from President Obama’s proposed budget, a grant to help Flint’s water woes, and a new bill that would make it legal for unmarried people to jointly adopt children.


Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The city of Flint is getting some help from the state to fix some problems with its aging, problem plagued municipal water system.

The governor’s office announced today that Flint will receive $2 million from the state’s Financially Distressed Cities, Villages, and Townships Grant Program.

The city will use the money to detect leaks in its water lines and replace its Water Pollution Control Facility Incinerator.

White House

This week, President Obama released his budget recommendations for fiscal year 2016 and Detroit Free Press Washington reporter Todd Spangler says not much in it is for Michigan.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

People lined up in single digit cold outside a church on Flint’s south side to get some free water this morning.  A few blocks away, others lined up outside a union hall. 

Combined, Catholic Charities and the UAW were giving away several thousand gallons of water.

Mary Stevenson with Catholic Charities was helping coordinate today’s water giveaway.

John Bieniewicz was refereeing an adult league soccer match in Livonia last June. 

He died a few days later.

Bieniewicz was allegedly struck by a player who was upset at being ejected from the game. 

user cedarbenddrive / Flickr

Two unmarried people would be able to jointly adopt children together under a bill in the state House. Under current law, only married couples or single individuals can be grated parental rights to an adopted child.

Today on Stateside:

  • Dr. Jeff Masters of Weather Underground joins us to talk about last night’s 16.7 inches of snowfall – Metro Detroit’s third-biggest snowstorm in recorded history.
  • Dana DeBenham, director of the Howell Conference and Nature Center, talks about the prediction made today by Michigan’s understudy groundhog.

  • Al Steinman, Director of the Annis Water Resources Institute at Grand Valley State University, describes the Great Lake’s high water levels, their causes and their consequences.
  • Blair Garrou, partner and co-founder of startup venture capital firm Mercury Fund, is an investor from outside Michigan who's interested in Michigan startups. Hear our conversation with him here, in The Next Idea story.
  • “Godfather of techno” Juan Atkins joins us to talk about techno music and its beginnings in Detroit.
  • Jeff Potter, Lansing resident and creator of OutYourBackdoor.com, chats about how now is the time to embrace winter.
  • It’s Just Politics co-hosts Zoe Clark and Rick Pluta discuss the possibility that Michigan legally recognize 300 same-sex marriages by the end of the week.
  • John Stempien joins us to talk about his experience as a pre-1980 adoptee in Michigan.

Michigan could see 300 same-sex marriages legally recognized by the end of the week if Governor Snyder decides not to appeal a federal judge's opinion on the matter. 

Listen above to hear “It's Just Politics” co-hosts Zoe Clark and Rick Pluta give the lowdown, and check out their story here.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Tomorrow morning, Catholic Charities and UAW workers plan to distribute two thousand gallons of free water to Flint residents. 

It’s just the latest water giveaway in Flint. 

Last week, dozens of people lined up for cases of bottled water being given away by local businesses. 

Photos of people standing in line waiting for water have been seen around the state and the country.

http://toledo.oh.gov/government/mayors-office/

TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) - A high-ranking city official says the mayor of Toledo is unresponsive while being treated at a hospital after suffering an apparent coronary episode and crashing his car into a utility pole. 

Road in need of repair.
Peter Ito / Flickr

This week, Jack Lessenbery and Zoe Clark discuss some consequences of governing under a deadline. Gov. Rick Snyder’s 11th hour plan to fix Michigan’s infrastructure won support from legislators last month, but this week, the measure is hitting some potholes.


Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

In the very final hours of lame duck last December, state lawmakers slapped together a complicated road funding package that is proposal one, which citizens will be voting on in May.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint’s search for a consultant to help with its water problems is down to one, by default.

Only one company applied for the water consultant job.  

Emergency Manager Jerry Ambrose says he “would have preferred more.” 

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - The Snyder administration says an official overseeing Michigan's prison food contract with Aramark Correctional Services has left the job after five months.

Ed Buss is an ex-Florida and Indiana prison chief. He began work Sept. 2 overseeing Michigan's three-year, $145 million contract with Philadelphia-based Aramark.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero saved the biggest news in his tenth State of the City address tonight until the end. 

The mayor proposed three city charter changes that would make Lansing's electric utility more accountable to city hall.

The Lansing Board of Water & Light has been under fire for more than a year.  

LisaW123 / Flickr

Some state lawmakers want to give voters an alternative to the May 5th ballot proposal to boost funding for roads. That measure would raise the sales tax from six percent to seven percent.

State Representative Anthony Forlini wants to pass a backup plan to raise the money. It would only take effect if voters reject the sales tax increase.

row of houses
Flickr user Michigan State Historical Preservation Office / Flickr

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan recently announced that more than half of Detroit home owners will see their property tax assessments drop by 10% .

"Here you have a mayor of Detroit who has, effectively, cut taxes two times in the last two years. When has that ever happened before?" asks Daniel Howes, whose article published in the Detroit News today evaluates the mayor's decision.

Steven Depolo / Creative Commons

Surprising no one who follows Grand Rapids politics, City Commissioner Rosalynn Bliss has announced she’s running to be the next mayor.

Michigan’s second largest city has never elected a female mayor, and Bliss has a good chance to become its first. 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Lansing’s mayor is expected to call for a major restructuring of the city’s electric utility tonight.

When Mayor Virg Bernero takes to the podium tonight to deliver his tenth State of the City address, who will run the Lansing Board of Water & Light will top of the agenda.

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