Politics & Government

Politics & Government
6:11 pm
Thu May 15, 2014

Michigan’s economy improves, but at a slower pace

Credit Matthileo / Flickr

The long, harsh winter slowed the state’s economic recovery. And it took a bite out of tax revenues, leaving Gov. Rick Snyder and the Legislature with less money to work with as they put the finishing touches on a new state budget.

A budget conference today looked at all kinds of factors affecting the state’s economy, to come up with a new revenue forecast for lawmakers to use.

There are still a few variables that could affect the state’s short and long-term economic future. New home building is one. The auto industry is another.

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Politics & Government
5:48 pm
Thu May 15, 2014

State Senate votes to raise Michigan’s minimum wage to $9.20 an hour

Credit Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

A bill to raise Michigan’s minimum wage from $7.40 to $9.20 an hour by 2017 has cleared the state Senate.

The bill is really an attempt by Republicans in Lansing to kill a petition drive that would raise the minimum wage to 10.10 an hour – including for tipped workers.

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Politics & Government
2:57 pm
Thu May 15, 2014

Conyers joins suit to get back on ballot

Credit Photography Courtesy of www.conyers.house.gov

DETROIT (AP) - Longtime Congressman John Conyers has joined a federal lawsuit taking aim at the requirement that petition collectors be registered voters.

Conyers joined the suit Thursday, two days after Wayne County Clerk Cathy Garrett determined he doesn't have enough signatures to appear on the Aug. 5 Democratic primary ballot.

The suit was filed against Garrett and Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson by the ACLU on behalf of two petition circulators and others. The signatures they gathered weren't counted because they hadn't complied with state voter registration requirements.

Conyers first was elected to the House in 1964. He represents Michigan's 13th district, including Detroit and several suburbs.

The ACLU also asked the court to order Garrett and Johnson to stop enforcing the law the group deems unconstitutional.

Johnson's office declined comment.

Politics & Government
9:54 am
Thu May 15, 2014

Lawmakers like to talk about sex more than they like to talk about potholes

I have a confession to make. I really am not very interested in your sex life, and see no reason you should be interested in mine. However, I am very interested in not being killed by a giant pothole, or concrete falling off an overpass. And somehow, I’d guess you feel the same way. I just wish our lawmakers did.

Today, the University of Michigan is releasing a new study showing that our model of funding road repairs based on how much gas is sold is out of date.

Cars get much better mileage today. Besides, I could drive 10,000 miles in my tiny little Fiat, and do far less damage to the roads than an overloaded, gravel-hauling tractor-trailer would do covering half that distance.

You don’t need to be Isaac Newton to figure that out. The report suggests getting money to fix the roads by setting a mileage fee.

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Politics & Culture
9:45 pm
Wed May 14, 2014

Stateside for Wednesday, May 14, 2014

A power company wants to bury low- and intermediate-level radioactive waste less than a mile away from Lake Huron in Kincardine, Ontario.

Now a scientist who once worked for the nuclear waste facility is speaking out. He says some of the materials that would be stored underground are hundreds of times more radioactive than what was told to governmental officials. What do these new findings mean for the Kincardine project and the Great Lakes?

Then vintage trailer fans from around the country are heading to Camp Dearborn this weekend for the Tin Can Tourists' Annual Gathering. We talk travel trailers with them later in the show.

But first, we check in on Congressman John Conyers. He turns 85 this Friday, and the ballot snafu is likely not the birthday gift that Congressman Conyers would have wished for.

He’ll be filing an appeal with the state after yesterday's announcement by Wayne County Clerk Cathy Garrett that he did not have enough valid signatures on his nominating petitions to be on the August primary ballot.

Garrett says only 592 of the necessary 1,000 signatures are valid. Many signatures were disqualified because the people collecting the signatures were not registered voters. According to law, that voids the signatures they collected.

If his appeal to the state fails, Conyers is talking about mounting a write-in campaign for the primary.

All of this has those who have watched John Conyers since he was first elected to Congress in 1964 thinking about his "epic journey" through the decades, and what an ending to a career this could be.

Michigan Radio's political commentator Jack Lessenberry joined us today to talk about this.

Stateside
9:29 pm
Wed May 14, 2014

Jack Lessenberry weighs in on the John Conyers ballot snafu

Congressman John Conyers.
Credit Photography Courtesy of www.conyers.house.gov

Congressman John Conyers turns 85 on Friday, but a petition-gathering snafu is likely not the birthday gift Conyers would have wished for.

He’ll be filing an appeal with the state after yesterday's announcement by Wayne County Clerk Cathy Garrett that Conyers did not have enough valid signatures on his nominating petitions to be on the August primary ballot.

Garrett says only 592 of the necessary 1,000 signatures are valid. Many signatures were disqualified because the people collecting the signatures were not registered voters. According to law, that voids the signatures they collected.

If his appeal to the state fails, Conyers is talking about mounting a write-in campaign for the primary.

All of this has those who have watched John Conyers since he was first elected to Congress in 1964 thinking about his "epic journey" through the decades, and what an ending to a career this could be.

Michigan Radio's political commentator Jack Lessenberry joined us today to talk about this.

*Listen to the interview above.

Politics & Government
5:28 pm
Wed May 14, 2014

Michigan congressman requests moratorium on foreclosures in Detroit

Congressman John Conyers is asking federal housing officials to issue a six-month moratorium on new foreclosures in Detroit.

The moratorium would only apply to home mortgages financed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac that were in good standing before the city filed for bankruptcy.

Conyers sent the request to the nation's new head of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, Melvin Watt.

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Politics & Government
3:50 pm
Wed May 14, 2014

Proposed expanded background checks brings out supporters and opponents

Linda Brundage is with Michigan Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense. She says the state needs to take action to reduce gun violence.
Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Supporters and opponents of expanding background checks for gun buyers in Michigan were at the state capitol today.

House Bill 4774 has sat in the state House Judiciary committee for a year without ever being brought up for a committee hearing.  

The bill would expand state background checks to include long guns.

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Politics & Government
1:09 pm
Wed May 14, 2014

Michigan Senate votes to delay teacher evaluation system

Credit Jennifer Guerra / Michigan Radio

It appears lawmakers could once again delay the implementation of a new statewide teacher evaluation system.

The state Senate has unanimously voted to push back the deadline until the 2015-2016 school year.

The bill would also reduce from 50% to 40% the portion of teacher evaluations that would be based on standardized tests that measure student growth.

The state's current test, the MEAP, does not measure student growth, but lawmakers are locked in a fight over which test should replace the MEAP or whether to replace it at all.

Under state law, the new evaluation system was supposed to be in place during the current school year.

Politics & Government
9:11 am
Wed May 14, 2014

Detroit's 'grand bargain', minimum wage, and Conyers make political headlines

Credit Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

This Week in Michigan Politics, Jack Lessenberry and Christina Shockley discuss the grand bargain for the Detroit bankruptcy, the debate over the minimum wage and whether Detroit Congressman John Conyers has a chance to continue his nearly 50 years in Congress.

Week in Michigan Politics interview for 5/14/14

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Politics & Government
11:51 pm
Tue May 13, 2014

Flint City Council members don't like budget plan which cuts police officers and firefighters

Flint’s emergency manager has proposed a budget that would cut 36 police and 19 fire department positions.
Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

“Insanity” – that’s how one Flint City Council member described plans to slash staffing in the city’s police and fire departments.

Flint’s emergency manager has proposed a budget that would cut 36 police and 19 fire department positions. The firefighter jobs are currently funded by a federal grant that expires next month, and the city doesn't have the money to keep them.      

The city is also dealing with rising retiree health insurance costs.

Flint’s police and fire chiefs are working on plans to reorganize their departments to absorb the cuts.

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Politics & Government
6:36 pm
Tue May 13, 2014

Agency: Michigan state government to collect less tax revenue than expected

In January, economists agreed the state had a $1 billion surplus over three fiscal years.
Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

LANSING – Economists are projecting that the state of Michigan will collect about $873 million less in revenue this budget year and next than was projected earlier in the year.

Tuesday's estimate is one of three that Gov. Rick Snyder's administration and budget experts will use to reach a consensus later in the week. But it's not good news for lawmakers hoping to finalize the next budget in coming weeks.

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Politics & Government
5:47 pm
Tue May 13, 2014

Supporters of raising minimum wage say they have enough signatures

Supporters of raising Michigan's minimum wage say they have enough signatures to put the issue on the ballot.
Credit Light Brigade / Flickr

Leaders of the petition drive to raise Michigan’s minimum wage to $10.10 an hour say a Republican attempt to derail their effort is nothing but a “dirty trick.” They also say it won’t stop them from turning in signatures to put their question in front of the Legislature, and, if necessary, voters.

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Politics & Government
5:26 pm
Tue May 13, 2014

Conyers off the primary ballot

Congressman John Conyers has been removed from the August primary ballot.
Credit John Conyers office

Wayne County clerk Cathy Garrett says Congressman John Conyers of Detroit did not collect enough signatures to be placed on the August 5 primary ballot.

Garrett says her office investigated the Democrat's petitions. She says only 592 of the necessary 1000 signatures are valid. Many others were disqualified because the people collecting the signatures were not registered voters.

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Politics & Government
4:49 pm
Tue May 13, 2014

Orr visits Lansing looking for some help

Credit Michigan Radio

Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr was in Lansing today.  He told a state House committee Detroit’s bankruptcy settlement and recovery plan cannot succeed without an infusion of money from taxpayers.

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Politics & Culture
4:32 pm
Tue May 13, 2014

Stateside for Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Stateside for Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Things aren't going so hot when it comes to school finances in Michigan.

The state has basically run out of money to loan to struggling schools through 2018. The reason is because so many districts need help.

Today, we'll hear how we got to this point and what could be done to change the way schools use and receive state funds.

Then young people are not only driving less than teens did a generation ago, they aren't even getting licenses. We'll find out what driving less means for the auto industry and the future of how we get around.

First up, Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr was in Lansing today. He testified before the newly-formed House Committee on Detroit's Recovery and Michigan's Future. 

*Listen to the program above.

Stateside
4:23 pm
Tue May 13, 2014

Bills propose that Michigan will contribute $195 million to Detroit

A House committee is debating a package of bills in which the state would contribute millions to Detroit.
Credit JSFauxtaugraphy/Flickr

Detroit emergency manager Kevyn Orr was in Lansing today. He testified before the newly-formed House committee on Detroit's recovery and Michigan's future. 

The committee will begin debate on the package of bills that would have the state contributing close to $195 million to the city. 

With Detroit's bankruptcy heading toward a July trial over Orr's plan to eliminate the city's debt, state lawmakers are fast-tracking the package of bills. They hope to get the bills to the House floor for a vote as early as next week, and eventually onto the governor's desk by early June.

MLive Capitol reporter Jonathan Oosting was at today's session, and he joined us from Lansing. 

*Listen to the full interview above. 

Politics & Government
11:29 am
Tue May 13, 2014

City of Jackson looks for ways to avoid cuts to police and fire services

The city of Jackson needs to trim more than $700,000 from next year’s budget. The plan now calls for most of that to come from cuts to the city’s public safety budget and it would include several layoffs.
Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Potential layoffs to the city of Jackson’s police and fire departments will figure prominently at a public hearing tonight.

The city of Jackson needs to trim more than $700,000 from next year’s budget. The plan now calls for most of that to come from cuts to the city’s public safety budget and it would include several layoffs.

“While we don’t want to cut, sometimes when you are in an urban core community … where (property) values and revenues are going down ... we don’t have that much of a choice,” says Jackson City Manager Patrick Burtch.

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Politics & Culture
3:47 pm
Mon May 12, 2014

Stateside for Monday, May 12, 2014

The Severstal steel plant complex in Dearborn has been cited 37 times for violating its current state air quality permit. Now the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality says it had set some standards too high. Two Detroit lawmakers have asked the EPA to step in.

Today, we heard more about what the recent permitting process could mean for the people who live around the Severstal facility.

And we checked in with the veterans and dog lovers who have joined forces to honor the state's war dogs.

Also, there is all sorts of political news coming out of Lansing and Detroit - from the political fate of a long-time Michigan Congressman - to a political move by a top Republican to derail a ballot proposal boosting Michigan's minimum wage - and news on that perennial Michigan topic: repairing potholed, crumbling roads.

So much political news that Michigan Radio’s It’s Just Politics hosts joined us - Rick Pluta and Zoe Clark.

Stateside
2:54 pm
Mon May 12, 2014

State news broken down by the It's Just Politics team

The It's Just Politics team joined Stateside to break down some state news.

There's all sorts of political news coming out of Lansing and Detroit this week, from the political fate of a long-time Michigan congressman, to a political move by a top Republican lawmaker to derail a ballot proposal boosting Michigan's minimum wage to $10.10 an hour. And of course, there is news on that perennial Michigan topic of fixing our potholed, crumbling roads. 

There's so much political news that we decided to bring in Michigan Radio's "It's Just Politics" team of Rick Pluta and Zoe Clark to sort it all out for us. 

*Listen to the full interview above.

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