Politics & Government

Politics & Culture
4:53 pm
Thu February 13, 2014

Stateside for Thursday, Feb.13, 2014

When it comes to support for emergency care services, the U.S. just barely squeaked by with a passing grade, at least according to a new state-by-state report card put out by the American College of Emergency Physicians.

And how did Michigan measure up, you might ask? Well, it turns out we're failing in access to emergency health care. We heard some recommendations about ways to move forward.

Then, we met a woman who’s trying to help people come together to have some uncomfortable, but enlightening, conversations about race, class and more.

And, we spoke with Daniel Howes about Tom Lewand, Detroit’s job czar.

Also, “Saturday Night Live” just hired its first black female cast member in five years. Will this bring more attention to other black comedians?

And, a Michigan historian gave us a closer look at how Michigan milkweed helped us in World War II.

Also, the Michigan Human Society has a new way to find homes for their animals: social media.

First on the show, how do you best measure the progress of students in Michigan's classrooms and, by extension, the effectiveness of their teachers?

It's one of the thorniest challenges being debated in Michigan education.

For years, the Michigan Education Assessment Program (MEAP) and the Michigan Merit Examination (MME) have been the assessment tools. Now, with the move to the Common Core Standards, it's out with the MEAP and MME and in with the what?

Districts around Michigan are gearing up for an online adaptive assessment test in the spring of 2015.

The Michigan Department of Education says the state has only one option for testing students on the Common Core State Standards for the next three years.

And that option is the Smarter Balanced Assessment – the SBA.

But state lawmakers haven't made that official.

We wondered how districts  are preparing for the SBA or whatever test they're told to administer next year.

William Heath is the superintendent of the Morrice Area Schools and principal at Morrice Junior and Senior High School located in Shiawassee County. He joined us today.

Weekly Political Roundup
3:35 pm
Thu February 13, 2014

Drivers beware, warns MDOT director

Prepare for slick roads around the state this morning
net_efekt Flickr

Kirk Steudle, director of the Michigan Department of Transportation, says the harsh winter will make the pothole situation in Michigan this spring the worst we’ve seen in our lifetime. He testified this week before the state House Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation.

Joining us to talk roads are Susan Demas, publisher of Inside Michigan Politics, and Ken Sikkema, former Senate Majority Leader and Senior Policy Fellow at Public Sector Consultants.

Politics & Government
1:25 pm
Thu February 13, 2014

Another Kent County Commissioner facing felony charge resigns

A Kent County commissioner is resigning. Michael Wawee Jr is facing a felony embezzlement charge for between $1,000 and $20,000, a crime punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

Wawee announced his resignation Thursday. The Republican from the Grand Rapids suburb of Walker was arrested earlier this month.

He's accused of overcharging families for the engraving of grave markers while working as a salesman for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Grand Rapids. Police say the diocese was not aware of the overcharging.

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Politics & Government
1:14 pm
Thu February 13, 2014

State Board of Education opposes snow-day bill

A new bill may change how schools make up lost instruction time due to snow days.
user echsunderscore Flickr

The State Board of Education is recommending Michigan public school districts add additional days, not additional hours, to the school year to make up for this year’s snow days.

Last year, Gov. Rick Snyder signed a bill allowing districts exceeding the state's snow day limit to add hours to class time instead of extra days.

But the law only applied for the 2012-2013 school year.

Now legislators in Lansing are trying to extend that option indefinitely with House Bill 5285.

State Rep. Phil Potvin, R-Cadillac, a sponsor of the bill, says districts who choose to make up for lost instruction time will have to add a minimum of 30 minutes to the school day.

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Politics & Government
7:30 am
Thu February 13, 2014

In this morning's headlines: Health care, juveniles, roads

User: Brother O'Mara flickr

More Michiganders signing up for health care than expected

"About 112,000 Michigan residents chose a private insurance plan under the federal health care law through January, outpacing what was projected in a government memo last summer," the Associated Press reports.

Juvenile lifer sentencing rules head to the governor's desk

"Michigan lawmakers have given final approval to new sentencing rules after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down mandatory life imprisonment for juveniles. The bills now head to Gov. Rick Snyder for his signature. The legislation applies to future cases and not retroactively to more than 350 Michigan inmates under 18 when they committed crimes," the Associated Press reports.

Lowest amount of money spent on roads in the U.S.: Michigan

"Michigan spends less money per capita on our roads and bridges than any other state in the nation. We spent just $154 dollars per person, according to the 2010 Census," Michigan Radio reports.

4:05 pm
Wed February 12, 2014

Are Detroit's female and minority entrepreneurs ignored?

Detroit's skyline.
Peter Martorano Flickr

There has been much talk – some of it here on this show – about opportunities for entrepreneurs in Detroit.

After more than a century of being dominated by big business – General Motors, Chrysler, Packard – the new look of business in Detroit is small, nimble, and full of innovation.

Some have raised the question whether there has been an inordinate amount of attention paid to white entrepreneurs – and male entrepreneurs.

Lisa Cook, an associate professor of economics and international relations at Michigan State University, says that many are ignoring women and ethnic minorities’ roles in Detroit’s entrepreneurial scene.

Listen to the full interview above. 

3:26 pm
Wed February 12, 2014

Are Detroit's pet coke piles coming back?

Pet coke piles on the Detroit River.
James Fassinger Stillscenes

A meeting of the Detroit Board of Zoning Appeals yesterday resulted in some verbal firework, some confusion, and much scrutiny.

That's because the hearing involved a request from the company that was home to massive piles of petroleum coke last summer. The petroleum coke — or pet coke, as it’s called — is a byproduct of refining heavy crude oil brought in by pipeline from Alberta.

The people who had to live near four-story piles of pet coke, and breathe in clouds of pet coke dust last year before the stuff was moved out, are now watching to see if Detroit Bulk Storage is trying to get pet coke back on the Detroit Riverfront.

Dave Battagello has been tracking this story for The Windsor Star.

Listen to the full interview above.

3:04 pm
Wed February 12, 2014

Stateside for Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2014

Are Detroit's pet coke piles coming back? The people who had to live near four-story piles of pet coke, and breathe in clouds of pet coke dust last year before the stuff was moved out, are now watching to see if Detroit Bulk Storage is trying to get pet coke back on the Detroit riverfront.

Dave Battagello has been tracking this story for The Windsor Star.

Also today our national anthem, The Star Spangled Banner, is turning 200 this year. Today we’ll hear about a project that’s highlighting the different versions of the song. And then, as more and more people are questioning the safety of the chemicals around us, health leaders are trying to understand the risks. We talk about a new statewide program that aims to train health professionals about environmental health risks and activism.

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Politics & Government
8:31 am
Wed February 12, 2014

Lessenberry talks education funding, ballot proposals, Detroit bankrupty and Detroit Public Schools

Matthileo Flickr

This Week in Michigan Politics Christina Shockley and Jack Lessenberry discuss the top political headlines of the week. This week's topic include:

  • Proposals to boost school funding.
  • Drama over Michigan's restrictions on how ballot campaigns can collect signatures.
  • How a bankruptcy plan for Detroit might come as early as next week.
  • How Detroit Public Schools have lost a collective 160 days from power outages.

Listen to the full interview below

Politics & Government
6:33 pm
Tue February 11, 2014

Wayne Co. plan calls for pay and benefit cuts, spinning off sewage plants

Wayne County Commission Chair Gary Woronchak

Wayne County Executive Bob Ficano is asking commissioners to approve a plan that calls for cutting pay and benefits for county employees, and spinning off its sewage treatment plants, among other things.

The county has a running deficit of at least $175 million. And it continues to spend more than it takes in.

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Politics & Government
6:25 pm
Tue February 11, 2014

Decision on backyard livestock coming soon

A final decision on backyard farms is expected next month.
sierravalleygirl Flickr

The Michigan Commission on Agriculture and Rural Development is about to hold its final hearing on a controversial new rule. It would end Right to Farm protections for people who raise chickens and other livestock in residential areas.

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4:18 pm
Tue February 11, 2014

New study offers insight into why minorities are underrepresented in state Legislature

Replacing the Michigan Business Tax is high on the legislature's agenda
Lester Graham Michigan Radio

New research from Michigan State University says it's not voters who should be blamed for the lack of minorities in state legislatures. Rather, it has to do with political parties.

Eric Gonzalez Juenke is an assistant professor of political science at MSU. He looked at nearly 10,000 state elections, and he joined us today to give us his findings.

Listen to the full interview above.

4:17 pm
Tue February 11, 2014

Washtenaw County courtroom uses principles of peacemaking court

user mconnors MorgueFile.com

If you were to think of an adjective to describe just what happens in a typical courtroom, the word adversarial might come to mind.

But there’s a "new-but-ancient" dynamic happening in a Washtenaw County courtroom that is attracting great interest among the state’s legal community.

It’s the new peacemaking court, guided by Native American principles.

What are these principles? And how might they make a difference in delivering justice and repairing damaged lives?

The Hon. Timothy Connors from the Washtenaw County Trial Court joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

4:17 pm
Tue February 11, 2014

Stateside for Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2014

Universities and colleges across Michigan send their students to work and study in Detroit. Advocates say it’s a good place to test out new ideas and create community involvement, but others have worries that it's demeaning to the city, treating it like one big laboratory. On today's show: the relationship between college students and Detroit, and who gets the most from those relationships.

Then, we tried to answer a question that you've probably asked aloud: is this the snowiest winter ever in Michigan?

And, why are minorities under-represented in state legislature? A new study suggests it has something to do with political parties.

Also, we looked into how NAFTA has affected the auto industry in Michigan.

And, a Washtenaw County courtroom has been implementing principles of Native American peacemaking court. We spoke with one judge about how this works.

First on the show, ever since it became clear that Michigan has a $971 million revenue windfall, the questions have centered on how best to use that windfall. Republicans are talking tax relief. Democrats are blasting past tax increases.

In presenting his new budget for fiscal year 2015, we now have an idea of what Governor Snyder is proposing. If he gets his way, about 1.3 million of us could see a rebate check averaging $75.

MLive's Capitol reporter Jonathon Osting joined us today to tell us more.

Politics & Government
12:15 pm
Tue February 11, 2014

Administration official says bailout of Detroit was not politically possible

Lester Graham Michigan Radio

Gene Sperling, the outgoing director of the White House National Economic Council, told this to reporters today, according to David Shepardson of The Detroit News:

“We did not feel we had any available financial tools, and secondly, we did not think that the prospect of legislation was even close to viable," Sperling told reporters at a breakfast hosted by the Christian Science Monitor. "To have floated (a bailout) would have given false hope and taken people's eye off the important task ahead so what we tried to do was make clear that the federal government – we did not have tools at our disposal that could be helpful to Detroit."

So a federal bailout isn't politically feasible; is state help any more palatable?

Gov. Snyder floated an idea after private individuals and foundations offered to step in, but with a state Legislature unwilling to raise funds to fix the state's aging roads, money to help Detroit is a long shot.

Politics & Government
8:19 pm
Mon February 10, 2014

Wolf hunt opponents challenge Michigan law limiting who can circulate petitions

Gary Kramer USFWS

A group hoping to end wolf hunting in Michigan says a law banning out-of-state petition circulators is unconstitutional. It filed a lawsuit Monday in federal court challenging the law.

Right now, only Michigan residents are allowed to collect signatures for ballot campaigns and voter initiatives.

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Politics & Government
4:24 pm
Mon February 10, 2014

Democrats: AG not fit to investigate prisoner escape

House Democratic Leader Tim Greimel
Official portrait

State House Democrats are calling for an independent investigation into a recent prison escape in Ionia.

The state’s Republican attorney general is looking into the escape, including whether recent state budget cuts played a role. But Democrats say Bill Schuette cannot conduct an impartial inquiry because his fellow Republicans in the state Legislature voted for those budget cuts, and citing them as a factor would make Republicans look bad.

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4:20 pm
Mon February 10, 2014

Belle Isle becomes Michigan's 102nd state park

Belle Isle's Scott Fountain.
demccain flickrriver

A new chapter has begun in the long history of Detroit's Belle Isle, which is transitioning to become Michigan's 102nd state park. 

The full change takes place today, as state park officials assume control of the park under the lease imposed by Detroit's emergency manager, Kevyn Orr. The move should save the city between $4 and $5 million a year. 

Starting today, motorists will need an $11 state recreation passport to enter the park. 

Detroit Free Press editorial editor Stephen Henderson joins us today to talk about what we can expect for the future of Belle Isle and the city of Detroit. 

Listen to the full interview above. 

4:20 pm
Mon February 10, 2014

Stateside for Monday, February 10, 2014

Belle Isle has become Michigan's 102nd State Park. What does this new chapter for Belle Isle mean for the city and people of Detroit?

Next, stray animals in Detroit are up for debate since a article by Bloomberg News put the number of strays at 50,000. A Michigan State University professor discusses the findings of her study on the problem. 

Read more
Politics & Government
7:38 am
Mon February 10, 2014

In this morning's headlines: Minimum wage, Belle Isle, Saginaw schools

Morning News Roundup, Thursday, Oct. 13, 2011
User: Brother O'Mara Flickr

Group files petition today to bump minimum wage to $9.50

"The campaign to raise Michigan’s minimum wage has settled on a target of $9.50 an hour. The group expects to file its petition language later today with state elections officials," Rick Pluta reports.

Belle Isle becomes a state park

Detroit's Belle Isle park becomes Michigan's newest state park today.

"The state is taking over the city-owned park under a lease deal with Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr. [The move is] expected to save the bankrupt city between $4 million and $6 million a year," the Associated Press reports.

Saginaw school board continues to negotiate deficit elimination plan

"Saginaw school board members will try again tomorrow to hash out a deficit elimination plan. Last week school board members met three times to discuss a plan to trim the district’s multi-million dollar deficit. The plan included layoffs and school closings," Steve Carmody reports.