Politics & Government

Stories about politics and government actions

A Detroit water shutoff notice
Ali Elisabeth / Michigan Radio

Detroit will start shutting off water to residential customers behind on their bills next week.

23,000 households that have defaulted on payment plans could face service interruption.

This is the third straight year that Detroit is pursuing its controversial, aggressive shutoff policy. Just a little over 23,000 households were shut off last year.

Stateside 4.26.2016

Apr 26, 2016
  • A planned vote on the 180-day signature window on gathering signatures for statewide petition drives came to a sudden end Monday, when State Board of Canvassers Vice-Chair Norm Shinkle abruptly left the meeting.
steve carmody / Michigan Radio

“They poisoned the wrong city, everybody!” one speaker shouted at today’s rally at Flint city hall to mark the second anniversary of the city’s mishandled switch to its namesake river as its drinking water source.

In 2014, the city started getting its tap water from the Flint River as part of plan to save the city millions of dollars. But the river water was not properly treated with anti-corrosives. As a result, the corrosive river water damaged city pipes, which continue to leach lead into the drinking water. 

Flint River and water plant
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The state’s health director says an outbreak of Legionnaires' disease in Genesee County did not get the attention it deserved from his agency. He says it was partially due to the department’s focus on a different health threat that never materialized.

Flint water crisis protest
steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Two years ago today, the city of Flint switched its drinking water source from the Detroit River to the Flint River ​– water we now know was not treated with corrosion control chemicals. Water that went on to corrode pipes and cause lead to leach into people's drinking water.

Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaking with supporters in Manchester, New Hampshire
Gage Skidmore / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

The United States could be on the brink of electing its first woman president. It’s a glass ceiling that has waited a long time to be broken. But why has it taken us so long to reach this point?

Nancy L. Cohen asks this very question in her new book Breakthrough: The Making of America's First Woman President.

Governor Snyder left for Europe this weekend in a quest for jobs and economic investment for Michigan but he’s also heading overseas in an effort to reclaim the two and half years he has left in office.

Since January, Snyder has basically been the governor of Flint (not that Flint residents are too happy about that).

DTE Energy

Michigan’s US Senators want the Environmental Protection Agency to step in if the state doesn’t act on a plan to curb Wayne County air pollution soon.

In a letter to EPA head Gina McCarthy Friday, Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters urged “swift completion” of that plan.

In 2013, part the county was found to be in “non-attainment” with new National Ambient Air Quality Standards for sulfur dioxide emissions.

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality was supposed to submit a plan to fix that to the EPA in April 2015. But to date, MDEQ still hasn’t done that.

  • Bill McGraw takes a look at Detroit's police department and how its relationship with the public has changed over the decades. 
     
  • Tammy Coxen shares with us a delicious sazerac with a Michigan twist.
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

There's an argument that Michigan's system of redistricting - the decennial redrawing of legislative districts - distorts the voters' will.

Groups such as Common Cause and, recently, the League of Women Voters have made efforts to find a better way to redraw the congressional and legislative maps. That most recent effort died quietly earlier this month. 

The Michigan House of Representatives in Lansing
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

An article in The Free Press reported 2016 is "shaping up as a raucous and competitive election season with incumbent politicians facing strong challenges up and down the ballot, and a presidential race that could influence the control of every race."

Rick Pluta and Zach Gorchow join us to talk about upcoming State Representative races, voter turnout, and how the Michigan legislature might change after this election year.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

A governor’s task force is urging state lawmakers to approve more money to deal with the Flint water crisis.

The Flint Water Interagency Coordinating Committee approved a resolution during its weekly meeting today, asking Michigan lawmakers to speed up the budget process.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

State officials want Flint’s elected leaders to make a decision “soon” as to whether the city will hook up to the new KWA pipeline.

But city officials say there are questions that need to be answered first.

Construction of the new Karegnondi Water Authority pipeline from Lake Huron to Genesee County should be complete this summer. But more work must be done to connect the city to the new pipeline and that may take months. 

Bill would sack local bans on plastic bags

Apr 22, 2016
velkr0 / Creative Commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Local bans on plastic grocery bags wouldn't be permitted, under a bill in the state Senate.

The bill would block local ordinances that regulate bags, take-out food containers and other types of packaging.

Sen. Jim Stamas, R-Midland, says the bill would allow the state to set one standard for plastic bags and other materials, as opposed to "piecemeal" bans that vary between communities.

Gov. Rick Snyder talks about Wednesday's criminal charges against two MDEQ employees and one Flint official.
SnyderLive / screen grab

Two state water quality experts and a Flint utility official have been charged with felonies and misdemeanors related to the city's drinking water crisis. 

The charges include misconduct and neglect of duty, and lying to cover up the lead contamination. 

When asked specifically whether Governor Snyder was being looked at as part of the state's ongoing investigation, state Attorney General Bill Schuette simply responded that "no one is above the law."

  • Criminal charges related to Flint’s drinking water crisis have been filed against two state water quality experts and a Flint water utility supervisor. Michigan Radio’s Steve Carmody reports.
  • Talia Buford is an environmental reporter from Flint, but when her own mother complained about brown water, she passed over the story.
Gov. Rick Snyder talks about Wednesday's criminal charges against two MDEQ employees and one Flint official.
SnyderLive / screen grab

Gov. Rick Snyder says two state employees charged with crimes in the Flint water crisis have been suspended. Snyder spoke about the criminal charges filed by Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette today.

Michigan Department of Environmental Quality District Engineer Mike Prysby, former supervisor of the MDEQ’s Lansing District Office Stephen Busch, and Flint Utilities Administrator Mike Glasgow were all charged.

Read more about the charges here.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Members of Michigan’s congressional delegation see today’s criminal charges as just a step in the right direction.

On a conference call with reporters, U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee, D-Flint, welcomed the filing of criminal charges against two state regulators and a Flint city employee in the Flint water crisis.

“But it would be incomplete if that justice did not also include those who did this to Flint … meaning the state government,” says Kildee.

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette announces charges in his team's investigation into the Flint water crisis on April 20, 2016.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

An official in the state Attorney General's office says warrants were issued this morning in 67th District Court against Flint Utilities Administrator Mike Glasgow, Michigan Department of Environmental Quality District Engineer Mike Prysby, and former Supervisor of the MDEQ’s Lansing District Office Stephen Busch.

The charges stem from their involvement in the Flint water crisis.

Attorney General Schuette launched the investigation three months ago.

In addition to the charges against the three individuals, Schuette said more people will be charged.

  • Flint Democratic Congressman Dan Kildee is pressing for federal aid for the city as it tries to recover from the water disaster. But has that momentum stalled out on Capitol Hill?

Courser announces run for Lapeer County prosecutor

Apr 19, 2016
Courser web site

The Lapeer County Clerk's Office confirmed today that former representative Todd Courser is one of three candidates who've filed to run in the Republican primary. One of his opponents is incumbent Prosecutor Timothy Turkelson. 

Courser resigned his House seat in September as his colleagues were about to vote on expelling him. 

Courser and fellow lawmaker Cindy Gamrat were involved in a sex and cover-up scandal that rocked the state Capitol for weeks. 

Courser tried to regain his House seat in a special election and lost.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint Mayor Karen Weaver is “not impressed” by Governor Snyder’s pledge to drink only Flint water for the next 30 days. 

The governor made the pledge to drink filtered Flint water yesterday.

“I’m going to start drinking that tonight and do that for the next 30 days … when I’m at work and at home,” Snyder told reporters on Monday. The governor says he wants to be a “role model” to show filtered Flint tap water is safe to drink.

A taxpayer-financed prison from the tough-on-crime era is back in the news. The Northlake Correctional Facility in Baldwin, Michigan has been a conundrum for taxpayers since it was opened in 1999 (amid more than a little controversy).

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Governor Rick Snyder is pledging to drink filtered Flint tap water for the next 30 days. 

People in Flint don’t trust that special filters are enough to clean lead from their tap water. In many homes, the level of lead in unfiltered tap water is well above the federal action level of 15 parts per billion. 

In Flint today, the governor encouraged city residents to trust the filters. Snyder says he filled up several gallon jugs today at a home with a lead service line that has tested above the federal action level for lead in the past.

Gov. Rick Snyder said in a press release: "Heidi [Grether] has decades of experience in environmental quality issues, and has effectively served during times of crises and recovery."
Michigan Radio

Democrats in the Legislature say they’ll try to stop the state from spending taxpayer dollars on Governor Rick Snyder’s criminal defense team.

State Rep. Sam Singh, D-East Lansing, says the state is responsible for defending the governor against civil lawsuits. But he says the governor should pick up the costs of his own criminal 

“You know, I would suggest the governor do what other elected officials have done and create his own legal defense fund, which the law allows for, and do it that way, and not use our taxpayer dollars for criminal defense lawyers.”

  • Cruise ships have plied the Great Lakes since the 1800s. Starting this summer, the Pearl Mist will stop in Muskegon as she travels between Chicago and Toronto.
  • It’s playoff time for a pair of Michigan sports teams, as the Detroit Red Wings and the Detroit Pistons have kicked off their respective post-seasons. We check-in with Michigan Radio’s sports commentator John U.
steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Gov. Rick Snyder does not appear to like a state Senate plan to close two prisons and lease a private prison.  

A Senate subcommittee approved the plan last week as a way to save $15 million.  

Snyder asks,“If you’re closing prisons, why lease another?”

“I view this as part of the normal budget process…..that wasn’t part of our budget recommendation,” Snyder told reporters.

Senators are proposing closing prisons to save money as Michigan’s prison population declines.  

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

A Michigan State University pollster says new survey numbers suggest Governor Snyder has suffered “some permanent” damage from the Flint water crisis.

MSU’s State of the State Survey polled nearly 1,000 people between December and March, during the height of the crisis.

Survey director Charles Ballard says the percentage of people rating Snyder’s job performance as “poor” more than doubled, from 21% to 44%. 

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Political pressure for seats in the Michigan House is revving up as the candidate filing deadline approaches on Tuesday.

While Republican strategists largely contest the opinion, some Democrats say 2016 could be the best shot they have had to seize back the House from GOP control since 2010, when Republicans scored a landslide 20-seat victory. That was the largest seat swap since 1964.

Ann Arbor Democratic Rep. Adam Zemke, a Democrat campaign leader, says, "Everything is lined up for us in 2016."

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