Politics & Government

Stories about politics and government actions

Michigan drivers have become all too familiar with the dreaded pothole.
flickr user Michael Gil / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Gov. Rick Snyder’s mantra of “relentless, positive action” hit a great big pothole this week.

Negotiations over that elusive road funding plan hit what the governor calls “an impasse” when Democrats would not agree to an across-the-board income tax cut.

The Detroit News’ Daniel Howes makes the point in his column today that our state representatives can sit in session all night long to get rid of a couple of philandering tea partiers, but can't come up with an answer for voters all over Michigan screaming for a roads fix.

Researchers at Virginia Tech received samples of Flint water (both clear and discolored) from residents. Dr. Edwards and his team there were among the first to call attention to lead contamination in Flint's water.
Flint Water Study / Facebook

Gov. Rick Snyder is expected to quickly sign a bill containing almost $10 million to help Flint resolve its water crisis.

The bill moved swiftly through the state Legislature – winning unanimous support in both the state House and Senate.

State Sen. Jim Ananich, D-Flint, is the top Democrat in the state Senate and has championed efforts to have the state contribute financially toward the problem. He says it was critical for lawmakers to act quickly on the funding.

Capitol Building, Lansing, MI
Matthileo / flickr http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Update 12:00 p.m. October 15, 2015:

The state Senate approved the legislation this morning. The bill now goes to Gov. Snyder's desk.

Original post October 14, 10:23 p.m.:

The Legislature is close to approving the state’s share of money to help Flint with its water crisis. Children in the city are showing elevated lead levels after a state-appointed emergency manager switched water supplies. 

The state House approved the expenditure today and the state Senate’s expected to do the same tomorrow.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan has named Eric Jones as the city's interim fire commissioner.

Jones isn’t a firefighter himself. He came up through the ranks of the Detroit Police Department, rising to the rank of assistant chief.

Most recently, Jones led the city’s Buildings, Safety and Engineering Department.

Duggan says Jones has proven himself a capable administrator, and is the best person to fix the “basic process” problems still plaguing the fire department.

Today on Stateside:

The Ambassador Bridge's owner wants to turn an old neighborhood at the foot of the bridge into a secondary truck inspection plaza.
flickr user Alan Levine / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

There has been plenty of legal wrangling over Ambassador Bridge owner Matty Moroun’s desire to block the new Gordie Howe Bridge and build a second bridge right next to the Ambassador.

Across the Detroit River, the city of Windsor has taken its complaint with Moroun all the way up to Canada’s Supreme Court.

user westsideshooter / Flickr

In this Week in Michigan Politics, Michigan Radio's Jack Lessenberry and Christina Shockley discuss proposed bills to eliminate gun free zones, how road funding talks have stalled again, and an update on the Flint water crisis. 

You can listen below:

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Last night’s mayoral debate in Flint included several personal attacks between the candidates.

The moderators questioned incumbent Mayor Dayne Walling and challenger Karen Weaver for over an hour on several issues. 

But the main issue was Flint’s ongoing water problems. 

Since switching to the Flint River for the city’s drinking water, there have been numerous problems, including elevated lead levels in the water at many Flint homes.

flickr http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

A state Senate committee has adopted on party-line votes legislation that would essentially eliminate “gun-free” zones in Michigan.

The bill would also close a loophole that allows people with concealed pistol permits to open carry in schools. But schools could no longer ban licensed concealed weapons.

MDEQ Director Dan Wyant talks with the media last Thursday (Oct. 8) when the state announced its support for a move back to Detroit water.
State of Michigan / LiveStream

State and local officials have done an about-face when it comes to Flint's water crisis.

For months, residents and even experts who raised concerns about the water's safety were dismissed.

That's until mounting evidence – especially about high lead levels in kids – made the critics impossible to ignore.

Courtesy of the office of State Rep. Phil Phelps

A state lawmaker is heading to court to force the city of Flint and a state agency to release documents related to the decision to make the Flint River the city’s drinking water source.

A year and a half ago, the city switched from the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department to the Flint River.   

Initially, there were complaints about the smell, taste, and appearance of the city’s drinking water. More problems, including high levels of lead in the water in many homes, led Gov. Rick Snyder to address a $12 million plan to return the city to Detroit water, until a new pipeline from Lake Huron is completed next year. 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The city of Flint is a small step closer to switching its drinking water back to Detroit.

Tonight the Flint city council unanimously voted to spend $2 million to return to Detroit’s water system.

Appropriately, the vote that is an answer to the prayers of many Flint residents, was punctuated by City Councilman Eric Mays saying “amen,” which drew murmurs of “amen” from the audience.

my_southborough / flickr creative commons / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

State Rep. Martin Howrylak, R-Troy, has introduced a bill that would reopen the W.J. Maxey Boys Training School in Whitmore Lake.

The juvenile justice facility closed Sept. 30 after being removed from the state's budget in June.

The 60-bed facility treated youth offenders, ages 12-21, with mental illnesses.

Overseen by the Department of Health and Human Services, the Maxey School was one of three remaining state-run juvenile facilities.

* Republicans might be doing their best to break up with Dave Agema, but Dave Agema is making sure everyone knows he is now about to break up with Republicans.

* With a major recall in effect due to the emissions cheating scandal, Volkswagen owners want to know where things went wrong and what comes next. Jennifer White has some thoughts set to a Boyz II Men song.

* Sister Pat Schnapp is Roman Catholic nun, and a professor of English at Siena Heights University. For nearly three decades, Sister Pat has been teaching African American Literature to male prisoners.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint officials are still working out the details of returning to Detroit water.

Last week, Gov. Snyder announced a $12 million plan to reconnect Flint to Detroit water.   The state is putting up half the money.  The rest is coming from the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation and the city. 

A year and a half ago, Flint switched its drinking water source from the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department to the Flint River.  That was meant to be temporary while the new Karegnondi Water Authority pipeline was under construction.

Republicans may be trying to break up with Dave Agema, but Dave Agema is sending plenty of signals that he’s not about to break up with Republicans.

MDEQ Director Dan Wyant talks with the media last Thursday (Oct. 8) when the state announced its support for a move back to Detroit water.
State of Michigan / LiveStream

We should hear more specifics today about what needs to be done to return Flint to Detroit's water system.

Last week, state and local officials announced a plan to spend $12 million to reconnect Flint to Detroit's water system. But it’s not as easy as turning off one tap and turning on another. 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The federal government is being asked to investigate a city council election in Lansing. 

Voters in two city wards up for election next month have been getting robo-calls making strong accusations against two candidates. 

The robo-calls do not identify who’s behind them.

photo by Vincent Duffy

A progressive group is crying foul over the price tag a state agency requested for processing a public information request it submitted.

A spokesperson for the Michigan Department of Treasury sent an email to officials in his department and the governor’s office that said the department considered denying the request because it was too broad. But he said Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette advised it to use “the fee approach.”

Water faucet
user william_warby / Flickr

Gov. Rick Snyder will ask the state Legislature to kick in half of the $12 million needed to switch the city of Flint back to the Detroit water system. The rest of the cost will be shared by Flint and the C.S. Mott Foundation.

Today on Stateside:

Gov. Snyder is taking heat regarding decisions made by his Emergency Managers that lead to the Flint water crisis
Gov. Rick Snyder / screengrab

Gov. Rick Snyder this morning held a press conference in which he said he supports reconnecting the city of Flint’s water supply back to Detroit’s water system.

Snyder said he will ask the Legislature to provide half ($6 million) of the $12 million bill to reconnect the system. The city of Flint will pay $2 million, and the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation will contribute $4 million.

Mayor Dayne Walling said he expects the city to reconnect to the Detroit system in two weeks.

Flint water treatment plant
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Gov. Rick Snyder made the announcement at 10 a.m. this morning (Oct. 8).

You can watch the announcement below (if it doesn't load, try this link):

He was joined by Flint Mayor Dayne Walling, Director of Environmental Quality, Dan Wyant, Director of the Department of Health and Human Services, Nick Lyon, Dr. Eden Wells, Chief Medical Executive at DHHS, and Ridgway White of the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation.

Nikolai Nolan / Creative Commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

The City of Southfield has purchased the closed Northland Center mall for $2.4 million.

Northland fell into receivership last year, after years of financial struggles.

The mall closed its doors for good in March, shortly after losing its last anchor store, Macy's.

Since then, Southfield Mayor Donald Fracassi said the city has been monitoring bids and offers to redevelop the property.

Troy Holden / flickr http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

The state House has overwhelmingly approved bills to overhaul Michigan’s medical marijuana system.

The legislation creates legal protections for dispensaries and for patients using non-smokable forms of cannabis.

Bill sponsors say patients should not face prosecution for using forms of marijuana that are safer than smoking.

Today on Stateside:

jordanmrcai / Creative Commons

This Week in Michigan Politics, Michigan Radio's Jack Lessenberry and Christina Shockley discuss the latest on the Flint water problem, how Michigan State University doesn't want to release  the names of student-athletes who were suspects in criminal cases to ESPN, and Lessenberry reflects on the life of Grace Lee Boggs.


David Goehring / Creative Commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

A new state Senate bill would add the Fostering Futures Scholarship fund to Michigan’s voluntary contribution schedule.

The state-funded program helps foster youth in Michigan pay for tuition and other costs associated with college.

Under SB 543, taxpayers would be able to donate a portion of their return to the fund via a check-off a box on their tax form.

CedarBendDrive / Creative Commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Michigan State University has asked the Michigan Supreme Court to put a hold on an order to release the names of student-athletes who were suspects in criminal cases.

MSU is supposed to comply with the lower court order by the end of the month. But the university asked for a delay while the case is appealed to the state Supreme Court.

Today on Stateside: 

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