Politics & Government

Stories about politics and government actions

The week after Memorial Day is when Michigan’s political and business leaders pack up and head north to Mackinac Island for the annual Detroit Regional Chamber Policy Conference.

Mackinac is a major political event where political fundraisers are as ubiquitous as horse-drawn carriages, bicycles, and complimentary cocktails.

Dwight Burdette / wikimedia commons

Two politicians whose districts include Inkster say the state should forgive the $36 million debt of the city's dissolved school district.

State officials dissolved Inkster Public Schools in 2013 after deciding it had no viable plan to get back in the black.   

Representative Julie Plawecki says the students are doing well in neighboring districts, "however, Inkster still has this debt that they will pay on for years to come, and at the end they're left with nothing, not the land, not the schools, nothing."

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

FLINT, Mich. (AP) - A report obtained by a newspaper says replacing water pipes due to the lead-tainted crisis in Flint could be at least twice the price of previous estimates.

The Detroit Free Press reports  that engineering company Rowe Professional Services told the state that the average cost for replacing a service water line through a completed pilot project was $7,500.

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality previously estimated it would cost $4,000, but the company's report said costs could be higher if average permit fees of $2,400 per site are included.

Stateside 5.27.2016

May 27, 2016

Today, we talk to a couple of Detroit Reacts activists at the Venice Biennale. Also, leaded water may be bad for you, but not so much for your garden.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

This Memorial Day weekend, Flint Mayor Karen Weaver is encouraging city residents to wash their cars and water their grass.

It’s not about sprucing up the city.  It’s about flushing the city’s lead tainted drinking water.

Federal, state and local officials have been asking Flint residents this month to run faucets full blast for five minutes a day for two weeks.  The state is picking up the tab for the extra water use. 

Weaver says it’s not too late for city residents to get involved.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan National Guardsmen are no longer handing out water at Flint fire stations. The last one shut down today.

Demand remains so high that Flint Fire Station No. 3 ran out of water hours before its scheduled noon closing as a water distribution site.   

Taniesha Williams came away empty-handed when she stopped by the station around 10 a.m.

“It’s not right and it’s not fair. We really need help,” Williams said as she walked away.    

A report says as many as 15 people sent complaints to the Attorney General Bill Schuette's office more than a year before an investigation into the water crisis was launched.
Bill Schuette / Facebook.com

The U.S. Justice Department, Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette and Genesee County Prosecutor David Leyton have asked Gov. Rick Snyder’s administration to shut down its internal investigations into the Flint water crisis.

They say those internal administrative investigations may have damaged their criminal investigations. 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A state oversight board is giving the Flint City Council its power back.

The council’s powers have been limited since the Gov. Rick Snyder appointed an emergency manager to run Flint back in 2011. For much of the past four years, the nine City Council members have had little real authority at City Hall.

But today, the Receivership Transition Advisory Board repealed order  No. 3, which reinstates the powers afforded to the City Council by Flint’s city charter.

Council President Kerry Nelson says the board can now be an equal partner with the mayor at City Hall.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint’s mayor is moving forward with the next phase of the city’s lead service line removal program.

Damaged service lines are suspected of being a prime source for lead in Flint’s drinking water. But to date, only 33 lead service lines have been removed from Flint homes.  

However, Flint Mayor Karen Weaver says the city is starting the process of hiring contractors to replace hundreds more. She says the requests for proposals will be posted tomorrow.  

Weaver expects the next round of her Fast Start program will begin in about a month.

Daniel Rayzel

Michigan legislators will soon discuss a bill that would outlaw aggressive solicitation in the state and create a fine for violators.

The bill moved from the House Criminal Justice Committee to the floor this week, only a few months after Rep. Mike McCready, R-Bloomfield Hills, introduced it in December.

Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

The board of the Great Lakes Water Authority finalized its first-ever budget Wednesday.

The GLWA emerged from Detroit’s bankruptcy. It now provides wholesale water and sewer services to millions of people in southeast Michigan.

The GLWA inherited some issues when it took over operations from the city of Detroit this year—including millions in bad debt from the city of Highland Park, mostly for unpaid sewer bills dating back many years.

The Authority petitioned Gov. Snyder’s office last month to help resolve that issue.

Stateside 5.25.2016

May 25, 2016

Today, we learn that Gibson has not acknowledged the women who built guitars during World War II. And, we hear about the Beatles' Magical History Tour exhibit.

The photo Melissa Gilbert used in her announcement to run for Congress
Melissa Gilbert for Congress

Melissa Gilbert has ended her campaign as the democratic Congressional candidate in Michigan's 8th district. The actress, best known for her role as Laura Ingalls in the television series Little House on the Prairie, said in a statement emailed from her campaign that health concerns make it impossible to run.

Stateside 5.24.2016

May 24, 2016

Today, we learn about the latest move to determine a legal THC limit for Michigan drivers. And, we talk to a Russian rocker who's inspired by Detroit.

Don't do this: learning from the Flint water crisis

May 24, 2016
Gov. Snyder at a press conference in Flint
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder promoted his business skills when first running for office, but those skills are now being questioned as the Flint water crisis continues to be a government nightmare. Grand Valley State University is taking the opportunity to learn from the mistakes made by the Snyder administration.

Marie McKendall is a business professor at GVSU who will be using the Flint water crisis as a case study in her business ethics class this fall.

“It’s horrible that it happened, but it’s a wonderful case study,” McKendall said on Stateside. “There are structural problems, there are cultural problems, there are social problems and psychological problems. … It’s a far richer case than a lot of the ones we have used before.”

In the course, McKendall wants to make it clear that there isn’t a “villain” to hunt down, but that government incompetence did make the situation worse.

“I think they completely lost sight of the fact that there were people who were being affected by the decisions they were making," she said.

Stateside 5.23.2016

May 23, 2016

Today we look at how fast food has changed our food landscape, and John U. Bacon explains how "nuts" the state of college sports recruiting has become.

Hillary Clinton addressed the 2016 SEIU international convention in Detroit this May.
SEIU / via Twitter

Hillary Clinton made her second stop in Detroit this month, addressing union activists at the Service Employees International Union’s  convention on Monday.

Clinton told them the American economy and workplace have changed drastically in recent years, but too many of the policies that govern them haven’t.

She emphasized her support for worker-friendly policies like paid family leave, boosting the minimum wage, and equal pay for women.

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

The future is cloudy for groups fighting to get those marijuana and anti-fracking proposals on the November ballot in Michigan.

The House last week gave final approval to Senate Bill 776, which sets a strict 180-day window for groups to collect signatures on ballot initiatives and constitutional amendment petitions. 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The last Flint fire station distributing water to city residents will stop doing it by the end of this week.

Michigan National Guardsmen have been handing out cases of bottled water and filters at the fire station on Martin Luther King for months.

Gen. Greg Vadnais leads the Michigan National Guard. He credits the public’s support for the guard’s ability to respond to the city’s drinking water crisis.

“It’s really helped us to be able to complete our mission to provide the resources to them that they needed,” Vadnais sais last week.

Stateside 5.20.2016

May 20, 2016

Today, we speak with a Detroit sophomore who’s fed up with the lack of solutions for DPS. And, we look at Founders Brewing’s latest move to expand.

user eyspahn / flickr http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

This weekend, Michigan Democrats will select most of the state party’s delegates to this summer’s convention.

State Party Chairman Brandon Dillon expects Saturday’s district meetings will go smoothly and avoid the fights between Sanders and Clinton supporters seen recently in Nevada.

“We don’t anticipate any major problems and are confident that things will go as smoothly as possible,” says Dillon.

Steve Monti is a Bernie Sanders supporter.  He’s running to be an alternate at the Democratic convention in Philadelphia.    

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

About a dozen protesters, many wearing red paint splashed clothes, tried to get Governor Snyder’s attention today. 

They held a ‘die-in’ outside a Flint conference room where the governor met with his top Flint water crisis advisors.

"We have no say over our future, over our recovery, over what’s coming through our pipes, over the pipes still being in the ground,” says activist Melissa Mays, “All we want is to have a voice in this.”

Governor Snyder did not see the protest.  He left the building through a side door. 

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

The Detroit News reported yesterday that Michigan corporations will receive tax refunds that exceed corporate tax payments to the state. In other words, there will be a net loss. Corporations will get back more than they pay.

Two things are happening here. First, tax credits have increased as chiefly the auto companies are cashing in on those incentives. Secondly, tax revenues are down.

Rich Studley, the CEO of the Michigan Chamber of Commerce, joins Stateside to explain how this happened. 

Flickr user Images_of_Money/Flickr / HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

The Michigan Department of Treasury is projecting a $99 million net loss in revenue due to an increase of tax refunds to businesses across the state.

FLICKR USER MR_WAHLEE https://flic.kr/p/djGtgH

The word has come from Washington: By year's end, new federal rules could bring overtime protection to more than four million American salaried workers – more than 100,000 of them in Michigan. Salaried employees earning up to $47,476 dollars a year will be paid time and a half when they work more than 40 hours a week. This is compared to the current law that states salaried employees must make less than $24,000 to receive overtime.

 

Stateside 5.18.2016

May 18, 2016

Today, we examine new federal rules that would expand overtime protection. And, we look at how skin-to-skin contact could benefit mothers and babies. 

Activists form a bucket brigade to carry water from the state Capitol.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Activists came to the state Capitol today to dramatize the need for tens of millions of dollars to fix Flint’s damaged water system.

A line of people passed little buckets of water from a faucet inside the Capitol building to a 20-gallon drum outside. 

Ryan Bates with Michigan United says they wanted to show what it’s like to live in Flint without tap water people can trust. 

Bates says state lawmakers should be doing more to help.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

It’s official. Governor Rick Snyder and the Legislature have less money to work with than it appeared earlier in the year. Drops in corporate and sales tax revenues mean a budget hit of about $150 million in this fiscal year. The forecast also projects a $160 million drop for the coming fiscal year budget the governor and the Legislature are putting together right now.

John Roberts, Snyder’s budget director, says the administration will look for targeted spending cuts to meet the shortfall. And he thinks it can be done without jeopardizing money to address the Flint water crisis and the looming financial collapse of the Detroit Public Schools.

flickr user Bernt Rostad / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Detroit is joining the growing list of U.S. cities that issue municipal ID cards to residents.

The Detroit City Council approved an ordinance that sets up a city-issued ID program Tuesday.

“It is the city's intent that municipal identification cards will provide residents with an additional means of proving their residency in the citv for purposes of accessing citv programs, services, and activities, and providing identification to law enforcement,” the ordinance states.

A fire
flickr user Matt MacGillivray / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

It's back to the drawing board for the city of East Lansing. 

District court judge Andrea Larkin has ruled that a 1999 ordinance aimed at cracking down on fires after big games at Michigan State University is unconstitutional.

The ordinance made it illegal to be or stay within 300 feet of a fire unless you are helping to put it out before emergency help arrives. 

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