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Politics & Government

Stories about politics and government actions

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Preparing Flint’s water plant to treat water from a new Lake Huron pipeline will take a few years.

Problems at the water plant helped to create Flint’s current troubles with lead-tainted tap water. 

JoLisa McDay, Flint’s interim utilities director, told a town hall meeting Wednesday that it’s about more than buying new equipment. 

Mercedes Mejia / Michigan Radio

The Michigan Legislature is back in session, and the bills are rolling in. This Week in Review, Weekend Edition host Rebecca Kruth and Michigan Radio senior news analyst Jack Lessenberry look at a bill that would phase out the state income tax, and another that would end daylight saving time in Michigan.

They also discuss Education Secretary nominee Betsy Devos' rescheduled confirmation hearing, Detroit's newly elected school board, and Gov. Rick Snyder's upcoming State of the State address.

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steve carmody / Michigan Radio

FLINT, Mich. (AP) - The state of Michigan says it has money to replace faucets in as many as 4,000 Flint homes.

  The state says brass faucets and other brass components can contribute to lead in drinking water. The state plans to target Flint homes that still are showing high lead levels, despite improvements in water quality elsewhere in the city.

  Homes that qualify will have one kitchen faucet and one bathroom faucet replaced. Some plumbing will also be replaced. Health department Director Nick Lyon says it's a "vital step" in helping residents.

Stateside 1.13.2017

Jan 13, 2017

Today, we talk to Sen. Debbie Stabenow about why she opposes the confirmation of Betsy DeVos for U.S. Secretary of Education. Plus, we chat with the head of the state Department of Transportation about Michigan’s role in developing driverless cars.

Two of the biggest topics of the week when it comes to Michigan politics involved the proposal to mandate employers to let workers earn paid sick time and the effort to put gerrymandering on the ballot in 2018.
Thetoad / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The new Michigan legislature was in session this week, and there has been no shortage of topics to discuss.

To help sort through it all in Stateside's weekly political roundup is Ken Sikkema, senior policy fellow at Public Sector Consultants and a former Republican legislative leader; and Vicki Barnett, a former Democratic legislator.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Some Michigan House Democrats are making voter reform a primary goal for the new session.

With only two session days of the year under their belt, several lawmakers have introduced legislation that would, among other things, allow no reason absentee voting and automatic voter registration.

State Rep. Abdullah Hammoud, D-Dearborn, is a bill sponsor. He said these bills packages are long overdue.

Senator Debbie Stabenow
USDAgov / Creative Commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Republicans in Congress are working quickly to set the stage for a repeal of the Affordable Care Act, also called Obamacare. The Senate’s Republican majority took the lead in the effort. At this point, it does not appear that they have a clear plan for a replacement healthcare policy.

Democratic Senator Debbie Stabenow joined Stateside on Friday to discuss these recent developments in the U.S. Capitol. She said that the lack of a replacement plan is a problem.

Water faucet
user william_warby / Flickr

In just five years, more than 35% of American households could find themselves unable to afford water bills.

That’s the startling conclusion of a new study from Michigan State University.

Today, we speak with the head of Michigan's Democratic Party, Brandon Dillon. Also, despite a scientific consensus that Flint water quality is improving, Flint residents are still skeptical. We get Congressman Dan Kildee's take on yesterday's Town Hall meeting in Flint.

Flint residents packed a town hall meeting yesterday to hear a “progress report” on their drinking water.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint residents packed a town hall meeting last night to hear a progress report on their water.

As EPA Region 5 Acting Regional Administrator Robert Kaplan said on Stateside on Wednesday, an array of scientific tests and data show that the water is improving, but as people were told last night by the EPA, Flint's tap water isn't safe to drink unless its been run through a filter.

MichiganDems.com

There is no way to sugar-coat the results of the November election if you're a Democrat. It was a disaster, anyway you cut it.

How do Democrats regroup, re-calibrate and rebuild?

That's the job of the Chairman of Michigan's Democratic Party Brandon Dillon and he joined Stateside to talk about it.

Michigan state Capitol building
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

The Michigan legislature is back in session yesterday. The House of Representatives formally welcomed 42 new state representatives, chose their seats, and formally elected new Speaker of the House Tom Leonard. 

Bipartisanism was Leonard’s main message, and the session started in that spirit with Leonard’s nomination. Democratic Leader Sam Singh seconded Leonard’s nomination also urging bipartisanism during the term.

Flint Mayor Karen Weaver (at the podium) was joined by national and local experts to discuss the latest Flint water test results.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Government and independent experts told people at a town hall meeting in Flint last night that the city’s lead-tainted tap water is improving. But audience members remained skeptical. 

Stateside 1.11.2017

Jan 11, 2017

It's a new year and a fresh start for the Michigan Legislature, with a new session kicking off today. We meet the new speaker of the state House. Plus, we hear about what happened when the state automated its unemployment claims system. 

According to Studley, the problem with Lansing's sanctuary city resolution is that it did not include a clear definition of what a sanctuary city and that it raised more questions than it answered.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio file photo

A report from the state auditor general says Michigan's Unemployment Insurance Agency isn't doing enough to collect the delinquent taxes from employers.   

In 2013, after the state began using an automated system to identify cases of unemployment insurance fraud, more than 20,000 people were wrongfully accused, with an error rate of 93%. Staff at the agency have since moved away from the automated system, and the director has been reassigned to work on special projects.

For those who were targeted by the faulty computer system, however, changes at the agency may offer little consolation.

The new House Speaker, Tom Leonard from DeWitt, wants to bring civility back to the political process in Lansing.
GOPHouse.org

It's a new year and a fresh start for the Michigan Legislature with a new session kicking off today.

In the State House, there are 43 new members and a brand-new speaker: DeWitt Republican Representative Tom Leonard.

Leonard joined Stateside to talk about his path to House Speaker. Starting out as a college kid wanting to be the next Jerry Maguire to law school and later a prosecutor and a politician.

He talked about his new role as House speaker, and what his priorities are for the Legislature in 2017. He would like to see the teacher pension system fixed and he plans to be a champion for mental health reform (especially among prisoners).

Jack Lessenberry
Michigan Radio

Some Flint residents have said they're worried that Flint's water will meet federal standards and get the "all-clear."

For This Week in Politics, Morning Edition host Doug Tribou and Michiga Radio senior news analyst Jack Lessenberry talk about what government leaders need to do to ensure that people don't feel the process in Flint isn't being rushed. 

They also talk about whether we'll see a political shift from Gov. Rick Snyder during his final two years in office, a bill that would repeal Michigan's school turnaround law, and the odd mix of electric vehicles and SUVs at the North American International Auto Show


President-elect Donald Trump.
user Gage Skidmore / Flickr - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

The NPR Politics team and reporters across the newsroom live-annotated a news conference with President-elect Donald Trump. 

Vice President Joe Biden in Detroit.
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Joe Biden made one of his final appearances as vice president at the Detroit School for Digital Technology on Tuesday.

Biden was the public face of the Obama administration’s limited efforts to help the city through its bankruptcy and aftermath.

Biden says that after eight years of slow but steady recovery, he’s confident the country remains a place that “will never bend, never break, and always go forward.”

“And Detroit is the single shining example, if you were to pick any one place in America, to demonstrate that’s who we are,” he said.

Stateside 1.10.2017

Jan 10, 2017

As the Michigan Legislature prepares to start work for the new year, we'll talk with two new state representatives on today’s show. And, we’ll hear how the people of Bolivia can teach us lessons in meeting our water challenges. 

Michigan state Capitol building
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

The state's 138-year-old state Capitol building needs $62 million in urgent repairs to its infrastructure, according to the Capitol Commission, which is responsible for overseeing the building and the grounds.

Chairman Gary Randall says there was a big effort to fix the building in the 1980's and 1990's.

The U.S. Capitol.
Crazy George / Flickr

The Affordable Care Act is shaping up to be one of the first big battles of the new congressional session. Republicans have promised to repeal it. Democrats are girded to defend it. And there’s a lot at stake for Michigan.

Republicans have still not agreed on what will replace Obamacare. But they say something needs to be done to make healthcare more affordable, and the law has not solved that problem.

thetoad / Flickr

At noon this Wednesday, state lawmakers begin a new legislative session in Lansing. There are 43 new members entering the 110 member State House of Representatives.

Many of these new members are replacing incumbents who faced terms limitations, while others defeated sitting representatives. They come from rural districts and urban districts, from the banks of the Detroit River to the Wisconsin border in the western U.P.

This week, we spoke with two of the new representatives, Beth Griffin, Republican of Mattawan, and Abdullah Hammoud, Democrat of Dearborn.

A full Senate vote on Besty DeVos' U.S. education secretary nomination is expected next week.
BetsyDeVos.com

Betsy DeVos will have to wait another week for her Senate confirmation hearing.

The West Michigan billionaire and education reform advocate is President-elect Donald Trump's choice for secretary of education. The hearing at the U.S. Capitol was originally scheduled for tomorrow in front of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions. Now it has been moved to Wednesday, Jan. 17. Why was the hearing rescheduled? 

Michigan Radio's Lansing Bureau Chief Rick Pluta joined Stateside from Washington D.C. to answer that very question.

Jennifer Guerra / Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich.  - A key senator is proposing to repeal Michigan's school-turnaround law and to overhaul a system that potentially could lead to the closure of academically failing schools.

Senate Education Committee Chairman Phil Pavlov said Tuesday he will introduce repeal legislation Wednesday, the first day of the two-year legislative term. His bill comes as Michigan prepares to soon release its latest school rankings list.

Gov. Snyder and Lt. Gov. Brian Calley at the Detroit auto show.
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Governor Snyder and Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley took in the auto industry’s latest, at Detroit’s annual North American International Auto Show Monday.

“We’re leading the world here” in the “mobility industry,” Snyder said, noting the number of start-ups related to autonomous vehicle technology at this year’s show.

Snyder also hailed what he called “great announcements” recently that signal the “re-consolidation of the auto industry back in Michigan.”

That includes Fiat-Chrysler’s confirmation this week that it will invest $1 billion in two Detroit area plants; and Ford’s announcement last week that it will invest $700 million in its Flat Rock Assembly Plant as part of a plan to bring 13 electrified cars to market (all come attached to state incentives packages; so far no one will comment on the details of packages, and Snyder again declined to do so Monday).

Stateside 1.9.2017

Jan 9, 2017

For the first time in seven years, an elected Detroit school board is in place. Today, we talk with Sonya Mays, one of the board members. And, a public health expert goes back in history to find the true cause of the Flint water crisis.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

What really caused the Flint water crisis?

The obvious and well-known answer is the April 2014 decision to start drawing the city's drinking water from the Flint River. That, in turn, caused corrosion in the city's lead water pipes, which caused lead to leach into the water.

Others point to Governor Rick Snyder's appointment of an emergency manager to control Flint's affairs. That happened in late 2011.

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Michigan State University public health expert and urban geographer Rick Sadler argues the true cause of Flint's water disaster goes back decades.

The new president, Congress and state Legislature still haven’t been sworn in but Campaign 2018 is already underway.

Former state Senator Gretchen Whitmer is the “first” candidate to launch a 2018 campaign for governor of Michigan. Whitmer is a Democrat who spent more than a dozen years in the state Legislature before being term-limited out in 2014.

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

Thousands in Michigan were wrongfully accused of unemployment fraud through the state's automated claims system. Now, the director of the Unemployment Insurance Agency has been reassigned.

This Week in Review, Weekend Edition host Rebecca Kruth and senior news analyst Jack Lessenberry talk about the long road to get things back in order at the UIA. They also talk about Gov. Snyder's emergency declaration in Macomb County and U.S. attorney Patrick Miles Jr.'s decision to step down from his post in Michigan's Western District.

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