Politics & Government

Weekly Political Roundup
4:32 pm
Thu May 8, 2014

Michigan lawmakers move to complete budget by early June

Credit Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

This week, the state legislature has been steadily moving on a number of items that had trouble gaining traction in the legislature. Progress has been made on funding for roads, teacher evaluation legislation, and state support for the Detroit bankruptcy. With both the August primary and the November election approaching, state lawmakers moved on these issues in order to complete the budget by early June.

Jennifer White, host of All Things Considered, spoke with Ken Sikkema, former Senate Majority Leader and Senior Policy Fellow at Public Sector Consultants, and Susan Demas, publisher of Inside Michigan Politics, about the recent developments in the state legislature.

Politics & Government
4:29 pm
Thu May 8, 2014

EB-5 will bring investment, immigrants to Michigan

Vermont's government was the first to allow an EB-5 Regional Center.
Credit user: Norsehorse / Flickr

A federal visa program called EB-5 offers a conditional green card to foreign nationals who invest $1 million in a qualified project in the U.S., or invest half a million in a depressed urban or rural area.

EB-5 is the cornerstone of Gov. Rick Snyder's strategy to attract more immigrants to Michigan. In fact, Michigan will be only the second state in the country to open a statewide center to attract immigrant investment and offer a possible path to citizenship.

The first state to open such a center was Vermont. 

Brent Raymond, the director of the Vermont EB-5 Regional Center, joined us. 

*Listen to the full interview above. 

Stateside
4:27 pm
Thu May 8, 2014

Most of Detroit's abandoned rape kits still haven't been tested

An evidence collection kit.
Credit Office of the Washtenaw County Prosecutor

Five years ago, 11,000 rape kits were discovered abandoned in a Detroit police warehouse. That discovery sparked outrage. 

Since then, only about 2,000 of the kits have undergone DNA testing.

Why? And what's the broader message sent out to victims of rape? Does it make it seem like they don't matter?

Rebecca Campbell is a professor of community psychology and program evaluation at Michigan State University. She was brought on board by the National Institute of Justice to evaluate how these Detroit rape kits were handled. 

*Listen to the full interview above. 

Stateside
4:26 pm
Thu May 8, 2014

Survey shows that over half of Michigan voters want Michigan to help Detroit's bankruptcy

Over half of Michigan voters support Governor Rick Snyder's pledge to have the state contribute to help settle Detroit's bankruptcy.

A recent survey done by the group Business Leaders for Michigan finds that 66 percent of Michigan voters support Gov. Rick Snyder's pledge to have the state contribute to help settle Detroit's bankruptcy. 

The survey found that 20 percent of voters oppose a state contribution, and more than 13 percent don't know if they are for or against.

There have been several ideas floated as to how much the state would give to what's known as the grand bargain – whether it would be a lump sum or spread out over a number of years, and where the money would come from. 

Today, the State house unveiled legislation that spells out its idea for the best way to help Detroit out of bankruptcy. 

Detroit News capitol reporter Chad Livengood joined us to discuss. 

*Listen to the full interview above.

Politics & Government
2:33 pm
Thu May 8, 2014

Same-sex marriage backers launch education campaign in Michigan

“We want marriage and need marriage for all the same reasons that you do,” says Emily Dievendorf. “It certainly is ‘legal rights’, but it’s also we’re falling in love for all the same cheesy, beautiful reasons."
Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Backers of same-sex marriage are launching what an education campaign that could eventually evolve into a ballot effort to reverse Michigan’s constitutional ban on gay marriage.

Emily Dievendorf is part of the “Michigan for Marriage” campaign. She says Michiganders need to understand why gays and lesbians want the same ability to marry as heterosexuals. 

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Stateside
4:10 pm
Wed May 7, 2014

This year's primary ballot will ask you about taxes

The state used to collect taxes on things like the machinery in manufacturing plants. When that away, some cities lost revenue.
Credit automotiveauto.info

The upcoming August primary ballot will feature something not usually seen on August primary ballots: a statewide ballot proposal, something we haven't seen in August since 2002.

This ballot proposal will ask you to decide the fate of a reform of Michigan's industrial personal property tax, but there is a pretty significant hurdle that backers have to face: that icky little three-letter word – tax.

Chris Gautz, reporter for Crain's Detroit Business, joined us to talk about all this.

*Listen to our interview above.

Politics & Culture
4:10 pm
Wed May 7, 2014

Stateside for Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Michigan could become the first state to adopt a roadside saliva test for marijuana impairment if lawmakers pass a package of bills introduced in both the state House and Senate.

Critics dispute the accuracy of the tests – expressing concern for medical marijuana users. State Rep. Dan Lauwers, R-St. Clair County, sponsored the legislation.

Then we talk about what needs to happen in the education process to correct the imbalance between specialists and primary care physicians.

Also,  the upcoming August primary ballot will feature something not usually seen on August primary ballots: a statewide ballot proposal, something we haven't seen in August since 2002.

This ballot proposal will ask you to decide the fate of a reform of Michigan's industrial personal property tax, but there is a pretty significant hurdle that backers have to face – that icky little three-letter word: tax.

Chris Gautz, reporter for Crain's Detroit Business, joined us to talk about all this.

*Listen to the show above.

Politics & Government
8:28 am
Wed May 7, 2014

The week in Michigan politics

Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

This Week in Michigan Politics, Jack Lessenberry and Christina Shockley discuss local election results, how a Tea Partier is trying to challenge Michigan's lieutenant  governor, and how the state might give Detroit less money for the bankruptcy and use Michigan's rainy day fund.

Week in Michigan Politics interview for 5/7/14

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Politics & Government
10:39 pm
Tue May 6, 2014

Grand Rapids voters continue income tax for sidewalks and roads

Credit Photo courtesy of Fellowship of the Rich, Flickr

Voters in Grand Rapids approved measures to require the city to pay for sidewalk repairs, and to continue to collect money for the city to pay for those repairs. 

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Politics & Culture
4:02 pm
Tue May 6, 2014

Stateside for Tuesday, May 6, 2014

State lawmakers are waist-deep in the big budget process. The mission is to iron out differences in what the governor wants, and what the House and Senate are willing to give. 

Then, John U. Bacon discussed the debate over whether college athletes should be recognized as school employees, and be allowed to unionize. 

Next, the Detroit Red Wings are getting a new home in 2016, and Joe Louis Arena may be no more. What will happen to the riverfront property the arena stands on now? 

The Center for Michigan has been listening to what voters are saying, and has compiled a citizen's agenda for the 2014 elections. 

The CDC has said that there is a high rate of heart attack and heart disease in the Upper Peninsula. We looked at what these rates say about health care and health habits in the UP. 

Politics & Government
4:02 pm
Tue May 6, 2014

Center for Michigan creates citizen's agenda for 2014 elections

As 2014 elections approach, the Center for Michigan is trying to get the voice of the people heard.
Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

There are plenty of issues on the minds of Michigan voters as we look to the November elections: education, college, poverty, how to spend public dollars, our economy, our quality of life. 

The Center for Michigan has been listening to what voters are saying. The result is Michigan Speaks: The Citizen's Agenda for the 2014 election. 

It's being released today.

Here to tell us what the voters are thinking about and hoping for is Phil Power, founder of the Center for Michigan. 

Listen to the full interview above. 

Politics & Government
3:56 pm
Tue May 6, 2014

Second wolf hunt referendum approved for November ballot

As many as three wolf hunting measures - two against, one for - could be on the November ballot.
Credit endangeredspecieslawandpolicy.com

The November ballot could be crowded with hunting questions.

A state elections panel today certified petition signatures for a referendum on Michigan’s wolf-hunting law. That’s in addition to a referendum on an earlier version of the law.  

Meanwhile, a third petition drive is underway that would preserve the wolf hunt.          

All this could lead to some confusion on the November ballot, and the outcome of the election.

Chris Thomas is Michigan’s director of elections. He said, historically, the practice has been the one with the most votes wins.

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Politics & Government
3:27 pm
Tue May 6, 2014

Big budget process predicted to be a "pain"

Capitol Building, Lansing, MI
Credit Matthileo / Flickr

State lawmakers are waist-deep in the big budget process. The mission is to iron out the differences in what the governor wants and what the House and Senate are willing to give.

It's looking like many differing views add up to lots of haggling, lots of need for compromise, and it has one State Senator talking like Mr. T as Clubber Lang in Rocky 3. 

Kathy Gray of the Detroit Free Press joined us to explain why Senate Appropriations Committee Chair Roger Kahn is predicting "pain". 

Listen to the story above.

Politics & Government
9:22 pm
Mon May 5, 2014

Mike Rogers: Growing isolationism bad for US

Michigan U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers
Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Congressman Mike Rogers (R-Michigan) says he’s very concerned that war-weary Americans are growing more withdrawn from world events.

Rogers gives up his congressional seat next year as well as his chairmanship of the House Intelligence Committee to pursue a new career as a talk radio host. The lawmaker has served in Congress since 2001 and has intelligence chairman since 2011.

Rogers says he sees plenty of evidence that the U.S. may be entering a new isolationist period.

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Courts
9:19 pm
Mon May 5, 2014

Energy company agrees to pay Michigan $5 million anti-trust fine

Credit (courtesy Michigan Attorney General's office)

An energy company has agreed to pay a $5 million fine and plead no contest to a misdemeanor anti-trust charge as part of a plea deal. Under the bargain, Encana Oil & Gas USA also promised to help the state pursue legal action against another oil company.

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Politics & Government
8:13 pm
Mon May 5, 2014

Report: Internal problems added to length of BWL outage last December

Michael McDaniel led the Community Review Team. He says they found problems with the Lansing utility’s tree trimming and storm damage policies. And a computer outage reporting system failure also complicated BWL’s response.
Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The length of last December's power outage in Lansing was made worse by problems within the city's utility, according to a new report.

For four months, a special panel has been reviewing what went wrong during a Dec. 21 ice storm that left thousands of BWL customers in the dark for 10 days or more. In all, the storm knocked out power to about 40,000 BWL customers just before Christmas.

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Politics & Government
6:47 pm
Mon May 5, 2014

Questions raised about Detroit city clerk's office after Conyers petitions snafu

Detroit City Clerk Janice Winfrey
Credit Sarah Cwiek / City of Detroit

Long-time Detroit Congressman John Conyers’ trouble with ballot petitions is raising some serious questions about the Detroit City Clerk’s office.

Wayne County Clerk Cathy Garrett announced last week that Conyers does not appear to have enough valid signatures to make the primary ballot.

That’s because two of his petition circulators registered to vote just last month. In Michigan, state law mandates that circulators be registered to vote at the time they gather signatures.

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Politics & Culture
4:41 pm
Mon May 5, 2014

Stateside for Monday, May 5, 2014

A wave of nonprofit community hospitals has been selling out to large health care systems over the past four years.

For-profits promise to bring a significant amount of cash to hospitals and the people who live around them, but what does consolidation mean for what you will pay for health care?

We look at recent hospital acquisitions in Michigan.

Also on today’s show, a renowned artist who is legally blind has been helping visually impaired kids in the Detroit area discover that they can make art. As his 15-year involvement with the program comes to a close, we talk to University of Michigan professor Sadashi Inuzuka about the future of the art workshops.

But first on the show today, new data is out on Michigan's first, and very controversial wolf-hunting season. Mlive’s John Barnes dug through the results.

*Listen to the show above.

Politics & Government
11:29 am
Mon May 5, 2014

City of Warren hoping for a turnaround

The Warren Civic Center.
Credit City of Warren

The city of Warren, Michigan has been wresting with population declines for several decades and with that comes the common problems many industrial cities face - how to deal with vacant property.

Last week, Mayor Jim Fouts announced a plan to relieve the city of caring for some of these empty lots.

If you live next to one, you can buy it from the city for $1.

More from the Associated Press:

Fouts says the buyers will be responsible for closing costs that won't exceed $700 per lot. Additional property taxes will be around $150 annually.

The mayor calls it a "win-win" deal for Warren and the nearby property owners. He says the price is hard to beat, plus the city will no longer have to cut weeds or grass and shovel snow at the sites.

And now the city is hoping to convert some of its empty parcels into a bustling downtown around its city center.

Christina Hall writes for the Detroit Free Press:

In the next few months, Mayor Jim Fouts would like to reveal specific plans for some of those parcels in the city’s downtown — details he hopes will describe a five-star hotel, fashionable movie theater, high-class restaurant, nightclub and grocery store...

After roughly a decade of failed attempts, Fouts believes plans finally are falling into place to develop a bustling downtown in Michigan’s third-largest city.

The mayor says the city's Downtown Development Authority has "received many 'strong feelers from businesses wanting to develop' more than 16 acres around the civic center."

Going from "strong feelers" to actual construction can be a long process.

Politics & Government
10:09 am
Mon May 5, 2014

We've given up doing anything about gun violence in America

For more than a week, we’ve all been outraged, or pretended to be, by racist comments made by the 80-year-old owner of a professional basketball team in Los Angeles. We’ve been earnestly discussing this as though it were the biggest problem afflicting mankind.

Almost nobody seems to be bothered that these remarks came in a private argument that may have been secretly recorded by a woman Donald Sterling evidently had a relationship with. So far as I can tell, she seems to have taped what he said and then released it to an Internet site devoted to celebrity gossip.

Well, once upon a time this would have been seen as a violation of privacy, not journalism. In any event, I think that we shouldn’t be stunned that an angry old billionaire says nasty old things in private.

However, here’s something that should stun and outrage all of us, but evidently doesn’t.

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