Politics & Government

Politics & Government
5:11 pm
Thu June 28, 2012

After Affordable Care Act ruling, health care advocates, business groups, politicians look to future

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette, seen at his inauguration last year, wishes to postpone creating online health care exchanges until after November.
user Aaronjbaylis Wikipedia Commons

There are some differences of opinion in Lansing on what should happen now that the U.S. Supreme Court has upheld President Obama’s healthcare law.

Health care advocates in Michigan are cheering the ruling while business groups say it will drive up their costs and still hope Congress will repeal the Affordable Care Act.

Karen Holcomb-Merrill is with the Michigan League for Human Services. She says it’s time for Michigan to start enacting the law.

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Politics
1:30 pm
Thu June 28, 2012

Congressman Dingell: “I know my father who started this fight is smiling from up above"

Michigan Democratic Congressman John Dingell
Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy Flickr

It’s no doubt a historic day for Michigan Congressman – and the U.S. State of Representative’s longest serving member – John Dingell with today's U.S. Supreme Court decision upholding the constitutionality of the federal Affordable Care Act.

As NPR’s Julie Rover noted in a story on Dingell in 2009:

“Dingell's quest for universal health care began in 1932, when his father, John Dingell Sr., was first elected to the House from Michigan. The elder Dingell quickly became one of the architects of the New Deal… In 1943, the elder Dingell, along with Senators Jim Murray of Montana and Robert Wagner of New York, introduced the first national health insurance bill. The so-called Wagner-Murray-Dingell bill was fought over for years, though it never became law. And when the elder Dingell died in 1955, John Dingell Jr. took over not only his father's seat, but also his quest for national health insurance.”

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Commentary
12:45 pm
Thu June 28, 2012

Commentary: The Health Care Decision

Last night I was thinking of a moment in American history not that long ago, when a newly elected conservative Republican President had to choose a new Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.

The president was neither a scholar, a lawyer, nor an intellectual, and his choice filled the legal community with dismay. He picked a former governor and failed vice presidential candidate who had never served a day as a judge.

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Politics & Government
7:26 pm
Wed June 27, 2012

Detroit expo connects veterans with jobs, support

A shuttle picks up attendees at a week-long veterans expo at Cobo Center.
Sarah Cwiek Michigan Radio

Thousands are expected at Detroit’s Cobo Center this week for events meant to help veterans gain a foothold in the job market.

The National Veterans Small Business Conference and Expo, as well as an accompanying job fair and veterans open house, is being touted as a major event to connect veterans with job opportunities.

It comes at a time when there’s increasing awareness of veterans’ struggles returning to a tough job market.

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Politics & Government
6:32 pm
Wed June 27, 2012

Federal grant expected to offset Detroit firefighter layoffs

A round of firefighter layoffs in Detroit might not be as severe as city officials announced earlier this week.

Michigan U.S. Senator Carl Levin says Detroit will be awarded a $22.5 million federal grant that would save most of the fire department jobs slated for layoff.

Word of the grant comes just a few days after the layoff announcement. The job cuts were to take effect at the end of July.

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Politics & Government
4:03 pm
Wed June 27, 2012

Forum to examine lack of jury diversity

Minorities are underrepresented on Michigan juries, and an effort is under way to change that.

The U.S. District Court commissioned a study on jury diversity in the eastern district of Michigan, which includes Wayne County.

It found while 21 percent of the population is African American, that number is not reflected on juries. U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade says that undermines public confidence in the criminal justice system.

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Politics & Government
2:23 pm
Wed June 27, 2012

The week in Michigan politics

Michigan State Capitol
User goIfmuth Flickr

It's Wednesday, which means it's time for Michigan Radio’s Christina Shockley to check in with political analyst Jack Lessenberry about what’s happening this week in Michigan politics. Today, Jack and Christina cover how there's a little something for everybody in the budget Gov.

News Roundup
8:37 am
Wed June 27, 2012

In this morning's Michigan news headlines...

Morning News Roundup, Wednesday, June 27th, 2012
Brother O'Mara Flickr

Snyder Signs Budget

Governor Rick Snyder has signed the new state budget for the fiscal year that begins October 1st.  “It’s a spending plan he says leaves room for an election year tax rollback. The tax cut would be a small-but-welcome pivot from last year when Governor Snyder and the Republican-led Legislature shook up the state’s tax structure. The Michigan Business Tax disappeared, along with a dozen tax breaks for seniors, homeowners, and low-income households. Governor Snyder says the revenue picture is better this year, and a tax rollback offers unspecified benefits to the state’s economy.The governor is expected to sign bills to reduce the tax rate and increase the personal exemption in the next few days,” Rick Pluta reports.

Casino Expansion?

The push to allow more casinos in Michigan moved a step closer to the November ballot yesterday. Steve Carmody reports:

The group ’Citizens for More Michigan Jobs’ turned in more than a half-million signatures to the Secretary of State’s office. That’s about 200,000  more petition signatures than it needs to put the issue on the ballot. Emily Gerkin Palsrok, the group’s spokeswoman, says eight more casinos will generate thousands of jobs and boost state tax revenues. The operators of Michigan’s two dozen existing casinos oppose adding more gaming venues. They say Michigan’s gambling industry is already at a saturation point.

Ford Market Share

Ford Motor Company is hitting, or exceeding, most of its financial and sales targets. But the company will not meet one of its goals this year, Tracy Samilton reports:

Ford said last year it would increase its market share in the U.S. in 2012. Market share is a car company's percentage of total U.S. car sales. Now the company thinks it will  actually lose market share. Ford's Mark Fields says the company was unable to meet the higher than expected demand in the first quarter of this year in part because some factories didn't have enough workers. Fields says he thinks Ford will be able to fully meet demand for its cars by the fourth quarter of this year.

Politics & Government
2:00 pm
Tue June 26, 2012

Gov. Snyder's meeting with Baptist Ministers in Detroit disrupted

Michigan Gov. Snyder was in Detroit today talking about cooperatively coming up with a new vision for Detroit, but he wasn't met with cooperation by some.

The Detroit Free Press reports his meeting was disrupted by protestors.

A meeting between Gov. Rick Snyder and the council of Baptist Pastors ended abruptly this morning when a group of several dozen protesters disrupted the meeting with shouts about the emergency manager law.

“Are you going to make sure the repeal gets on the ballot?” one protester shouted, with several more taking up the chants.

After a few moments, Snyder was escorted out of the Bethel Baptist Church on the east side of Detroit.

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Politics & Government
11:49 am
Tue June 26, 2012

MDOT video highlights Camp Take Notice story

Mercedes Mejia / Michigan Radio

State agencies are helping several homeless folks find a place to live, or temporary shelter, following the closing of a tent city in Ann Arbor.

The Michigan Department of Transportation, or MDOT, released a video on Monday that explains the reason behind the camp closure.

“This is just not something the department can allow for a lot of different reasons,” said Mark Sweeney with MDOT. “Safety - because of the proximity to the freeway, sanitation - because there is no running water…so quite simply, it’s a liability for the state,” he said.

The video also highlights the problem of homeless. State agencies were called on to help relocate some residents. Camp Take Notice organizers said the camp served a purpose and helped people get back on their feet.

Here's MDOT's take on Camp Take Notice:

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Commentary
9:51 am
Tue June 26, 2012

Commentary: Simple and Wrong

Every so often, I run into someone with a simple solution that they believe would fix all our problems. Sometimes it is a flat tax. Sometimes it is single-payer health insurance.

But whenever someone stops me at the grocery store to explain their simple plan for saving mankind, or at least Michigan, all I can think about is H.L. Mencken’s famous maxim that, “for every complex problem there is a solution that is simple, neat and wrong.”

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News Roundup
8:33 am
Tue June 26, 2012

In this morning's Michigan news headlines...

Morning News Roundup, Monday, June 26th, 2012
Brother O'Mara Flickr

SCOTUS Rules on Juvenile Punishment

The U.S. Supreme Court has struck down state laws like one in Michigan that automatically sends some juveniles to prison for life with no chance of parole. The court’s decision says the punishment is excessive, and violates the Eighth Amendment. “Michigan has more than 350 people in state prisons serving life without parole for crimes committed as juveniles. Deborah LaBelle is an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union. She says the ruling does not prohibit life without parole for juveniles. But she says the sentence should be very rare now that courts have to take into account factors like how big a role a child played in a murder, age at the time of the crime, and life circumstances,” Rick Pluta reports.

Detroit Layoffs

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing announced yesterday that by the end of July, Detroit will have 164 fewer firefighters. “Bing said in a statement that public safety is his top priority, but the city's fiscal realities have made protecting police and fire jobs untenable. Mayor Bing says he hopes a federal grant will allow the city to call back all but 56 of the laid-off firefighters. Detroit plans to make 2,600 job cuts citywide and slash a quarter-billion dollars in spending for the fiscal year that starts next week,” Sarah Hulett reports.

Fermi 2 Shutdown

The reactor at the Fermi 2 nuclear plan in Monroe County has been shut down, the Associated Press reports. From the AP:

The Monroe Evening News reports crews idled the plant around 1:30 p.m. Monday when its steam condenser lost the vacuum that pulls steam across a series of cooling tubes. The condenser turns steam back into water after it's used to spin the plant's turbines. Plant spokesman Guy Cerullo says Fermi 2 "is in a safe, stable condition." Cerullo says plant operator DTE Energy is investigating the reason for the pressure loss, and he didn't know when Fermi 2 would be back in operation. He tells The Blade of Toledo, Ohio, that DTE "will operate once" it's "sure everything is in good shape" and it "can safely operate the plant.”

Politics
6:33 am
Tue June 26, 2012

Gov. Snyder to sign next Michigan budget into law

Governor Snyder is set to sign the state's $48 billion budget later this afternoon.
Photo courtesy of the Snyder Administration

The $48 billion spending plan for the budget year that starts Oct. 1 is about to be signed into law. Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder has scheduled a bill-signing ceremony for Tuesday afternoon at the Romney Building across from the Capitol.

The package includes a small cut in individual income taxes, twice as much money for film credits, a slight increase in education funding and a down payment on school employees' health care costs in retirement.

The Republican-controlled House and Senate passed the budget bills three weeks ago. Snyder has the right to veto portions of the bills.

Democrats have criticized the GOP budget plan for not spending more on education.

Politics & Government
2:38 pm
Mon June 25, 2012

Detroit mayor announces 164 firefighter layoffs

Detroit Firefighters
City of Detroit Fire Department Facebook.com

This afternoon, Detroit Mayor Dave Bing announced that the city plans to lay off 164 firefighters by the end of July due to budget cuts.  This represents 14 percent of the department's Fire Fighting Division of 1,141 personnel.

In a statement, the mayor said he has “every expectation” to receive a federal grant that will restore jobs to 108 of those laid off, though the grant has yet to be awarded. "Many, if not most, of the remaining 56 firefighters are expected to be recalled to the fire department through attrition," the statement said.

The mayor’s office released a list of ways the Detroit Fire Department will attempt to do more with less:

·     Better deploying engines from adjacent sectors and using newly installed GPS systems in the engines and rigs to best dispatch fire department personnel;

·     Conducting thorough risks/gain analysis of interior versus exterior fire suppression;

·     Increase the use of CERT & Fire Corps to support our firefighters;

·     And continuing our community fire prevention education.

Last night, Detroit firefighters worked to extinguish 16 blazes, mostly in vacant buildings, on the east side of the city.

Back in March, Michigan Radio's  Sarah Cwiek reported that the fire department was already stretched thin without sufficient staff to handle fires, like last night's, in vacant buildings.  According to Detroit Fire Commissioner, Donald Austin,  30-60 percent of all department runs, depending on the shift, are in response to such fires.

-Elaine Ezekiel, Michigan Radio Newsroom

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Commentary
11:08 am
Mon June 25, 2012

Commentary: Ballot insanity

There are two very different proposals this year that would dramatically change life in Michigan.  Both have evidentially gotten way more than enough signatures to qualify to be on the November ballot. But opponents of both are fighting hard to prevent people from having a chance to vote on them.  And what this ought to say to all of us is that our state constitution is fundamentally flawed. 

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News Roundup
8:34 am
Mon June 25, 2012

In this morning's Michigan news headlines...

Morning News Roundup, Monday, June 25th, 2012
Brother O'Mara Flickr

New Oil Pipeline in Marshall?

Enbridge Energy officials will to meet tonight with people in Marshall, Michigan to lay out their plans for a new oil pipeline. Steve Carmody reports:

Two years ago, an Enbridge pipeline ruptured near Marshall leaking more than 800,000 gallons of crude oil into the Kalamazoo River. Only last week state and federal officials announced the reopening of most of the Kalamazoo River, which has been closed to the public so crews could clean up the oil spill. Now, Enbridge wants to replace the old pipeline with a larger one that will carry more Canadian tar sands crude oil. The Michigan Public Service Commission must give its approval for the new pipeline. The commission isn’t expected to make a decision until sometime late this year or early next year.

Veterans’ Jobs Fair

There’s a jobs fair for veterans in Detroit this week that’s expected to draw thousands of job-seekers and business owners from across the Midwest. “The event is sponsored by the federal Veterans Administration, and co-hosted by the Michigan Department of Military and Veterans Affairs.  Jason Allen, an organizer of the fair, says thousands of Michigan veterans are returning from duty in the Middle East, and they are natural fits for a lot of employers. More than one in 10 Michigan veterans are out of work and looking for a job. That’s higher than the overall statewide unemployment rate of 8.5 percent,” Rick Pluta reports.

Detroit Fireworks Tonight

Big crowds are expected for the annual fireworks show over the Detroit River, the Associated Press reports. “Tens of thousands of people are expected to pack Belle Isle, Hart Plaza and the riverfront in downtown Detroit on Monday as well as along the water in Windsor, Ontario. Sheriff's deputies from Wayne, Oakland and Macomb County, along with the state police, are expected to support Detroit's public safety efforts during the event,” the AP reports.

Economy
6:09 am
Mon June 25, 2012

Detroit to host Midwest regional jobs fair for veterans

A jobs fair for veterans in Detroit this week is expected to draw thousands of job-seekers and prospective employers from across the Midwest.

The event is sponsored by the U.S. Veterans Administration.  The need in Michigan and surrounding states was a big reason to hold the event in Detroit.

Jason Allen is the deputy director of the Michigan Department of Military and Veterans Affairs. He says more than one in 10 Michigan veterans are unemployed and looking for work.  Employers from across the Midwest will be interviewing for 22,000 openings.  

Allen says other sessions will help small business owners who are veterans with advice and help winning government contracts. They’ll also connect veterans with benefits they’re due for their service.

“We’re, unfortunately, not utilizing our G.I. Bill. We’re not utilizing our pensions and compensations, and we’re not using our health care.”

Allen says Michigan ranks last out of all the states, Washington D.C., Guam, and Puerto Rico in veterans using their government benefits.

Politics & Government
6:19 pm
Sun June 24, 2012

30 years later, remembering Vincent Chin

Vincent Chin

Asian-American and civil rights activists commemorated the 30-year anniversary of Vincent Chin’s death this weekend.

Chin’s murder outside a Highland Park strip club in 1982—just days before his wedding--is widely credited with galvanizing a national Asian-American civil rights movement.

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It's Just Politics
8:45 am
Sun June 24, 2012

Romney changes his economic message, The Vagina Monologues comes to MI, and ballot-mania continues

Every week in It's Just Politics, Rick Pluta and I sit down and take a look at what's been making news in state politics. On tap for this week's extended edition: the Romney campaign shifts its economic message as state economies see improvement, Vagina-gate continues at the state Capitol, Democrats in the state's 76th District find a candidate to run against former-Democratic Rep. Roy Schmidt, we update the latest news on the state's many ballot proposals, and remember two state lawmakers who recently passed away.

Politics
8:28 pm
Fri June 22, 2012

Republican member of the Board of State Canvassers resigns

Republican member of the Board of State Canvassers Jeff Timmer resigned this week without giving a reason. The Board of State Canvassers decides whether petition drives qualify for the state ballot.

Timmer is a partner in Sterling Corporation, a Republican political consulting firm, that represents ballot campaigns that are expected to appear before the board. Timmer also voted to keep the emergency manager challenge off the November ballot - even though his firm represents the campaign against the emergency manager referendum.

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