Politics & Government

Stories about politics and government actions

The barge in the middle of the Straits of Mackinac.
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

An upcoming state senate bill would curb new oil pipelines in the Great Lakes.

Senator Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge, says he'll introduce legislation this week that would block new pipelines from running through Great Lakes waters.

The bill would also require existing lines to undergo a third-party safety review – including Enbridge's Line 5 beneath the Straits of Mackinac.

Jones says his bill would shut down the 63-year-old line, and others, if the safety review deemed it unsafe.

  • Leading off the show is John U. Bacon as he tackles a number of issues in the Michigan sports world.
steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan Republicans picked their 59 delegates to the national convention over the weekend. Now, the lobbying begins for their votes.

At their state party convention in Lansing, 25 delegates were chosen to represent businessman Donald Trump.  Trump received the most votes in Michigan’s Republican primary.   Texas Senator Ted Cruz and Ohio Governor John Kasich each received 17 delegates. 

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

The issue of tax credits for affordable housing is expected to come up again at Monday night’s Lansing city council meeting.

The city council recently rejected a request for special tax credits for a low-income development in Lansing’s Old Town section.

Julie Powers is with the Greater Lansing Housing Authority. She claims several city council members worried about who the 24-unit development would attract.

“What we were told at the committee of the whole meeting was that “those people” aren’t wanted in Old Town,” says Powers.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

A Michigan U.S. Senator says a federal aid package for Flint might move through Congress quicker if state officials tap the rainy day fund and budget surplus now. 

Sen. Debbie Stabenow and others have been pushing for hundreds of millions of federal dollars for Flint’s water crisis.

But action in Congress is stalled. Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, has put a hold on the legislation. He’s expressed concern that the state of Michigan hasn’t committed to spend more of its own money to address the crisis.  

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

In a divided year, unity was a recurring theme at this year’s Michigan Republican Party Convention.

“Are you ready to win in 2016!” shouted Michigan state GOP chair Ronna Romney-McDaniel at the convention in Lansing.

The chief duty of the state convention is to pick delegates to the national convention this summer.   The three-way race has created divisions within the party.    

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan Republicans are meeting in Lansing this weekend to select delegates to the party’s presidential-nominating convention this summer in Cleveland.

The delegates are divided between billionaire Donald Trump, Texas Senator Ted Cruz, and Ohio Governor John Kasich.

There was concern about schemes to recruit shadow delegates who would not represent their declared candidates’ interests beyond voting for them on a first ballot in a deadlocked convention.

“We’re taking the Ronald Reagan strategy – trust but verify,” says Scott Hagerstrom, Trump’s Michigan director.

faucet
Steve Johnson / Creative Commons http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Flint residents waiting for relief on their water bills are going to have to wait a little longer.

On Friday, city administrator Sylvester Jones said the city wasn't ready to send residents new water bills with state-promised credits.

The new bills were expected to go out this week, but Jones said the city needs more time to make sure they're correct, transparent and easy to understand.

It's unclear when the credited bills will go out, but Jones said the city hopes it will be soon.

  • Michigan’s Schools of Choice program is 20 years old. The Holland Sentinel recently looked at the impacts on local school districts. We speak with Holland Public Schools Superintendent Brian Davis.
  • Nearly one in four Americans are asked to sign a non-compete agreement when taking a new job.
  • Barbara Niess-May, executive director of SafeHouse Center, discusses why so many women don’t talk about their sexual assaults, and the national campaign “Start by Believing” to try to change that.
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The Next Idea

Iceland is one of those countries that you don’t tend to see in the international spotlight.

That changed this week, when the so-called “Panama Papers” were leaked, revealing that a law firm in Panama allegedly set up secret shell companies and offshore accounts to help world power players avoid taxes.

Iceland’s prime minister was the first major casualty of the Panama Papers. He stepped aside after the leaks showed he owned an offshore company with his wife.

But this isn’t the only political upheaval in recent Icelandic history. Following a financial crisis that all but crippled the country, Icelanders decided it was time to rewrite their constitution. And to do so, they turned to crowdsourcing.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Gov. Rick Snyder is once again being criticized by a top congressional Democrat.

In a letter sent to the governor this week, Maryland Congressman Elijah Cummings says he has grave concerns about the governor’s recent congressional testimony on  the crisis. Cummings grilled the governor last month during a hearing into Flint’s lead-tainted tap water.

“You claimed you were working with local leaders rather marginalizing them and you claimed you were being transparent,” Cummings said in his letter to Snyder.

  • The shooting spree in Kalamazoo was yet another reminder of a thorny problem for news outlets: how do you report the facts without doing it in a way that inspires a copycat?
  • In a typical presidential election year, the state GOP convention would be a pretty cut-and-dried affair. But this is no typical election year.
Jenny / flickr creative commons http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

U.S. Representative Debbie Dingell, D-Dearborn, has asked U.S. Marine Corps Commandant General Robert B. Neller for "further clarification" about last month's death of U.S. Marine Corps Private Raheel Siddiqui of Taylor, Michigan. 

In a letter sent earlier this week, Dingell describes Siddiqui as "a young man of Muslim faith who loved his country and wanted to serve it and protect the freedoms for which it stands."

Dingell wants to know whether hazing was involved in the March 18 death of Siddiqui, who arrived at Parris island on March 7 for boot camp. 

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

The city of Flint is taking steps to deal with a key staffing issue in its drinking water crisis.

Federal regulators have criticized Flint officials for not hiring more people to operate the city’s water plant.  The EPA says the city needs more professionals to ensure it stays in compliance with federal regulations. 

The city’s new water plant supervisor started work this week. 

Jolisa McDay has 15 years experience.  She sees Flint’s system as a “challenge”.

“I’m diligently working to be sure that we have all that we need,” says McDay.

Jack Lessenberry
Michigan Radio

This Week in Michigan Politics, Jack Lessenberry talked about Flint's struggling water and sewer fund, while Wayne County has its first budget surplus in eight years. He also talked about the life of former Detroit Mayor Roman Gribbs, who passed away yesterday.


steve carmody / Michigan Radio

By the end of the week, the city of Flint expects to finish removing water service lines from 30 homes.   The service lines are believed to be the source of high lead levels in the drinking water.

The city has been paying for the pipe removal with a $2 million reimbursement from the state.

The city’s original goal was to replace 30 lead service lines by the end of last month, but bad weather hampered progress.   

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint’s water crisis is affecting the city’s plans for next year’s budget.

The mayor outlined the city’s financial future to the city council last night.

Flint’s water and sewer fund continues to struggle and other city revenues are flat.

Flint mayor Karen Weaver says that’s why it’s important for city leaders to diligently pursue other sources of revenue.

“We’ve had enough cuts in city services. We don’t need any more cuts in city services,” Weaver told reporters after the special city council meeting.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

By the end of this week, Flint residents might start receiving water and sewer bills again.

In February, Gov. Snyder signed a bill giving the city of Flint $30 million to reimburse city residents for water they couldn’t drink safely for the past few years.

Last month, the city of Flint stopped sending out water and sewer bills. 

The city was having trouble incorporating a state reimbursement that was expected to reduce bills by about two-thirds. The city has been testing changes to its database to add the credit. 

Sunset over Traverse City
Jerry / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

How many times have you said this while you’ve been on vacation?

“I wish we could just live here all the time.”

As it turns out, among the thousands who have visited Traverse City over the last couple decades, many of them have said that. And followed through and made that wish come true. It’s becoming more than the National Cherry Festival and a fun place to spend a long weekend in the summer.

As if their relationship wasn’t complicated enough already, now Flint Mayor Karen Weaver is threatening to take Governor Rick Snyder and the state of Michigan to court.

A Detroit water shutoff notice
Ali Elisabeth / Michigan Radio

With all the attention paid to water issues in Michigan thanks to the Flint water crisis, the Detroit News highlighted another problem in the city of Detroit: water shutoffs.

Joel Kurth’s article begins with the following:

Maps of lead testing results from October through February 2016.
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

Random water testing is still ongoing in Flint, Michigan. The state of Michigan first started offering free water testing to people in Flint last October.

Some people started to take advantage early on, but this free testing didn’t really take off until January 2016. That was when the story of what was happening in Flint really got a lot of attention. And that’s when a lot people in the city began to realize that their water could be affected.

The tests help people understand what's going on in their home.

  • There's a medical procedure called debridement, in which dead or contaminated tissue or foreign material is removed. That seems to be what's happening with this week's federal indictments of a dozen past and present Detroit Public School principals, among others. 
  • Nine of the 700 monarch butterflies released from the Toledo Zoo last year have been spotted in central Mexico
Michigan House of Representatives
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio


A funeral service is set for today for Curtis Hertel Sr. The former state Speaker of the House died suddenly this week of natural causes in his home.

The Democrat served in the state House for nearly two decades. Remarkably, during that time he wound up sharing the role of House Speaker with Republican Paul Hillegonds.

State Senator Virgil Smith, D-Detroit.
senatedems.com

State Senator Virgil Smith has turned in his resignation and averted an expulsion drama. The Detroit Democrat turned in a one-sentence letter this afternoon (Thursday) quitting the seat.

 

Amy Hunter is the Transgender Advocacy Project Coordinator for the ACLU of Michigan.
Cynthia Hunter

“I knew at a very young age that I was actually a woman.”

Those are the words of Amy Hunter. She is the Transgender Advocacy Project coordinator for the ACLU of Michigan ,and her story is one of the many in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) community that she represents.

  • We get both sides of the debate over the State Board of Education proposal to let transgender students use school bathrooms that match their gender identity.
  • The Yellow Dog River Community Forest Committee is raising money to preserve land along the Yellow Dog River in northern Marquette County.
  • There are only
Sen. Tom Casperson (R-Escanaba)
SenatorTomCasperson.com

The State Board of Education this month released a set of guidelines and recommendations it says will help provide a safer, more welcoming environment for students who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ).

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