Politics & Government

Stories about politics and government actions

USDA loans available for some Michigan businesses

Mar 20, 2015
401(K) 2012 / Flickr

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has $25 million in loan guarantees available for qualifying small businesses in Michigan.

The loans can go towards building purchases, new equipment, refinancing, or just about anything a small business needs to run.

Scott Smithson / Flickr

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources director has approved a controversial land deal in the Upper Peninsula.

Canadian mining company Graymont can now move ahead with plans to mine thousands of acres in the U.P. for limestone. 

DNR director Keith Creagh says the nearly 10,000 acre land deal “balances the public interest in natural resources and economic development in the Upper Peninsula.”  

Archives of Michigan

The Archives of Michigan has added to its free online collection of death certificates. 

A new batch covering the years 1921 to 1939 have joined certificates from 1897 to 1920 that were already available online.

State Archivist Mark Harvey says the indexed certificates are a treasure trove for historical researchers who can search four different data fields.

State Capitol
user aunt owwee / Flickr

The Michigan House yesterday approved legislation that would allow faith-based adoption agencies that receive state money to turn away couples based on religious objections. Today, legislative Democrats introduced bills to overturn Michigan's same-sex marriage ban.

Detroit City Council
Detroit City Council / Facebook

The Detroit bankruptcy is over, and now Detroit City Council President Brenda Jones and City Clerk Janice Winfrey want pay raises.

The request came just about the time city pensioners started feeling the cuts to their health care and pensions exacted by the Detroit bankruptcy.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The city of Flint wants to restructure some bond payments to pay for two million dollars of recommended fixes to the city’s troubled water system.

A year ago, the city ended its contract with the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department, and opted to treat water from the Flint River instead.

Alan Cleaver / Flickr

A new report from the Public Interest Research Group in Michigan gives the state a “B+” when it comes to keeping citizens informed of government spending habits.

The study said Michigan is doing especially well when it comes to making that information available online.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Michigan Radio’s political junkie Zoe Clark and Michigan Public Radio Network’s Bureau Chief Rick Pluta – who together host “It’s Just Politics” – say Democrats are asking that state government be a bit more transparent. They’re talking Freedom of Information Act reforms.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint fired its long-time water provider, the city of Detroit, last spring, and began treating its own water from the Flint River.

There were problems right away, including complaints by residents about the taste, smell and appearance of the water.

wikipedia

In 1945, Grand Rapids was the first city in the U.S. to add fluoride to its water.

But a candidate for mayor doesn't see that as a bragging point today.

John George says "more than a thousand" studies show risks from fluoridated water, including links to higher levels of ADHD, hypothyroidism, and lower IQs in kids.

Today on Stateside:

  • Rick Pluta of Michigan Public Radio Network and Zoe Clark of Michigan Radio talk about what's going on in Lansing.
  • Former residents of the Brewster-Douglass housing projects talk about what it was like growing up in the Detroit housing.

  • The Freep Film Festival's artistic director, Kathy Kieliszewski joins us to talk about the festival, which begins its four-day run tomorrow.

Ian Britton / Flickr

You might have seen reports about a small town, fewer than 300 people, with a force of 110 reserve police officers. How and why is this happening in Oakley, Michigan?

Oakley, Michigan, according to reporter Ryan Felton from Metro Times, is "a textbook definition of a small town.” 

FLICKR USER KENNETH GARCIA / FLICKR

Local government officials believe they and their colleagues are pretty ethical. They seem to feel differently about state officials, however.

Those are some of the findings of the latest Michigan Public Policy Survey by the Center for Local, State, and Urban Policy at the University of Michigan.

Ann Arbor schools considering new weapons policy

Mar 18, 2015
user westsideshooter / Flickr

The Ann Arbor School Board is exploring options for a weapons-free school policy.

This comes after a March 5 incident in which a man caused concern after openly carrying a pistol to a Pioneer High School choir performance.

Michigan open-carry laws allow people with concealed carry permits to openly carry guns in schools.

Utility executive Nick Khouri will be Michigan’s next state treasurer. But Khouri also comes to the job with a lengthy state government resume – including time as a deputy treasurer.

Khouri was named to the job by Governor Rick Snyder and will start the job next month, a just a few days after the April 15 tax filing deadline. As well as collecting taxes, the state treasurer plays a key role in declaring local governments and school districts in financial distress, and naming emergency managers. 

Flickr user Betsy Weber / Flickr

Ticket scalping, or reselling concert or sports tickets for more than their face value, is illegal under state law. State Rep. Tim Kelly, R- Saginaw Twp., wants to change that.

He reintroduced a bill this month to lift the ban on scalping after a similar effort stalled last year when the legislation didn't pass the state Senate.

  Today on Stateside:

  • State Representative Brandon Dillon, D-Grand Rapids, explains the bill he introduced that would stop FOIA exemptions for the governor and legislators.
  • We look at why the Brewster-Douglass Housing Projects were built in the 1930s in Detroit.
  • Detroit News’ Bill Loomis explains the history of St. Patrick’s Day in Detroit.
  • This year a house on the outskirts of Austin’s South by Southwest Festival will feature creative design products and people from Michigan.
  •  State Representative Tim Kelly, R-Saginaw, tells us why he wants to lift the ban on ticket scalping.
  • Roosevelt elementary is starting to introduce project-based arts education to accompany their focus on science, technology, engineering and math. We discuss how this could be the future for all of Michigan.
Michigan State Capitol Building
Nikopoley / Wikimedia Commons

In Michigan, the Governor’s Office and state legislators are not subject to Michigan’s Freedom of Information Act.

State Representative Brandon Dillon,  D-Grand Rapids, wants to change that.

Dillon says he believes that the Governor's Office and state legislators should be subject to the same laws as other elected officials, such as school board members, city commissioners, county commissioners and many more, who aren't protected under the exemption.

Update, March 17th, 2015 1:15 PM:

In response to Governor Snyder's Executive Order moving the state School Reform Office (see original story below) out from control of the state Department of Education and into the state Department of Technology, Management and Budget, the State Board of Education released the following statement, calling into question the constitutionality of the Governor's order:

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Highland Park officials say they want to board up more blighted homes with steel, rather than wood.

Steel is really good at keeping out squatters. Problem is, it's also really expensive.

The city started using steel shutters on a handful of houses after an 11-year-old girl was raped in December in an abandoned house.

   Today on Stateside:

  • Assistant professor of sports management at the University of Michigan’s School of Kinesiology Dae Hee Kwack says you may have better odds with your March Madness bracket by making your picks with a coin flip.
  •   Writer Ilene Wolff talks about her story for the latest edition of DBusiness, in which she pays tribute to some venerable long-time Michigan businesses.
  • Action Baby Carriers are made in Michigan and Andrea Govender chats about their design, manufacturing process, and her goals for the company.
  • Detroit Free Press Lansing Bureau reporter Kathy Gray discusses the long list of bills and resolutions introduced thus far in March.
  • PJ Ryder from PJ’s Lager House in Detroit’s Corktown talks about the recent car thefts, the precautions he’s taken for his business, and suggestions he has for people parking in Detroit.

Detroit orders inspections to find broken hydrants

Mar 16, 2015
Downtown Charlottesville fire hydrant
Ben Schumin

Detroit officials have ordered inspections for all 30,000 of the city’s fire hydrants to figure out which are frozen or broken.

The city’s firefighters have reported about 1,000 broken hydrants since the beginning of December.

Jeff Pegg, president of the Detroit Fire Fighters’ Association, said broken hydrants mean big risks for fire fighters and the citizens they’re supposed to protect.

“If the hydrant is frozen, then you have to go to the hydrant down the street,” Pegg said. “The further you go, the more problems, because of the longer distance you have to travel.”

DMedina / morgueFile

Some Michigan nurses would be able to prescribe drugs without a doctor’s consent. That’s under a bill up for a state Senate committee hearing on Tuesday.

Senate Bill 68 would allow nurses with additional training to be licensed to treat, diagnose, and prescribe drugs to patients. Advanced practice registered nurses would include certified nurse midwives, certified nurse practitioners, and clinical nurse specialist-certifieds. 

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder.
Photo courtesy of Governor Snyder's office

Governor Rick Snyder has rolled out a new state department with the job of matching skilled workers with employers.

Meet TED. That’s the new state Department of Talent and Economic Development. Governor Snyder created the department by executive order to look at better ways to train and place workers with businesses that are hiring.

“It’s a new way of looking at government,” said Snyder. “Let’s take care of people. Let’s deal with root causes, and let’s give ‘em great opportunity.”

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The Flint city council will do something today it hasn’t done in four years: play a role in writing the city’s budget.

An emergency manager has made all Flint’s budget decisions since 2011.

But that’s changing.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Michigan's public records law allows anyone to request information that can help shine a light on what government is doing, but not all of government is subject to those disclosure requirements.

  Michigan's Freedom of Information Act does not cover the governor, lieutenant governor, their offices or legislators. It does, however, cover state departments, local governments and schools.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan voters may decide in 2016 if they want to legalize marijuana.

Organizers hope to start a petition drive this summer to put the issue on the ballot.

Rick Thompson is with the Michigan Comprehensive Cannabis Law Reform Initiative Committee.

He says the path has been laid by decriminalization votes in nearly two dozen Michigan cities.

flickr

When it comes to schools, pot and guns in Michigan, who's the boss? This week, Jack Lessenberry and Rina Miller discuss an executive order that puts control of the state's worst performing schools in the governor's hands, whether legalizing recreational marijuana would be good for Michigan, and a skirmish in Ann Arbor over openly carrying weapons in schools.

 

Gov. Snyder presented his goals for energy policy in Michigan Friday at an electrician training facility in Warren.
Jake Neher / MPRN

Gov. Snyder's goal of boosting renewable energy to between 30% and 40% in the next decade includes increased energy efficiency to get to those numbers. The governor says increased efficiency should play a central role in Michigan’s energy future.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint is facing a BIG bill to clean up thousands of blighted properties.

A third of Flint properties are blighted. It’s estimated it will cost roughly $100 million during the next five years to fix the problem.

That’s according to Flint’s Blight Elimination Framework. 

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