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Politics & Government

Stories about politics and government actions

The Michigan state capitol building
Thetoad / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

A petition campaign to overhaul the process for drawing the boundaries of legislative and congressional districts took a critical step today. Campaign volunteers turned in 188 boxes with more than 400,000 signatures. They are trying to get a proposed amendment to the state constitution on the ballot.

ALAN CLEAVER / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCLO

The U.S. House and Senate have cobbled together their $1.46 trillion tax overhaul. 

Now they're trying to convince the public this plan is going to help them. Polls have found that fewer than 35% of Americans approve of the overhaul.

Charley Ballard, a Michigan State University economics professor, joined Stateside today to share an economist's take on the tax bill.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Detroit’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement office was the target of a Christmas-themed protest on Sunday.

The protesters want hundreds of Iraqi nationals released immediately. Nearly 300 Iraqis with criminal records have been in federal detention for months, after most were swept up in mass arrests this spring.

Courtesy of Shenandoah Chefalo

There are nearly 13,000 children in foster care in Michigan, according to the Department of Health and Human Services. Across the country, there are around 400,000 kids in foster care on any given day.

But what we don’t know for sure is how many children have been “lost” in foster care.

We could see the most dramatic change to Michigan politics since term limits. This afternoon, an all-volunteer group is one step closer to overhauling how redistricting is done in Michigan.

Nassar in court.
Kate Wells / Michigan Radio

The dean of Michigan State University's school of osteopathy, who supervised former sports Dr. Larry Nassar, is stepping down. Lawsuits filed against the university by alleged victims and their families say William Strampel and other MSU officials ignored warnings that Nassar was a predator. MSU says Strampel is resigning as dean for "medical reasons" and will remain on the faculty.

This Week in Review, Weekend Edition host Rebecca Kruth and senior news analyst Jack Lessenberry talk about whether we'll see more stories like this from MSU in the coming weeks and months.


fence
Jobs for Felons Hub / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCl0

Research at the University of Michigan indicates a key driver of the high incarceration rates is someone on parole being returned to prison — not for an additional crime, but for a technical violation of parole.

Jeffrey Morenoff, a research professor and director of the Population Studies Center at the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research, joined Stateside to talk about his new research.

Troy Holden / flickr http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

The state accepts the first applications for people who want to get into the medical marijuana business starting tomorrow. The licenses will allow businesses to legally grow, process, transport, or sell marijuana to patients who have medical marijuana cards. 

David Harnz works for the Michigan Medical Marihuana Licensing Board.  He says it will take three or four months to process the applications.

A lot could happen in the coming days. Congress is poised to deal with several major issues, including the Republicans' tax overhaul and funding for the Children's Health Insurance Program. U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow joined Stateside today to discuss those issues, and more. Also on the show today, EMU officials defend the university's contract to boost online degrees, saying professors' concerns are unwarranted.

Senator Debbie Stabenow
USDAgov / Creative Commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

The clock is ticking down to when the U.S. Congress is scheduled to leave for its holiday break.

But a lot could happen within this next week, especially with Congress poised to deal with several major issues, including the Republicans’ tax overhaul and funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program.

Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow sat down with Stateside to discuss those issues and more.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Racial divisions are a major contributor to the decline of Detroit. White flight started after World War II and continued. There was a late spike in flight from the city after 2000. That’s when City of Detroit employees no longer had to live in the city. That’s led to lost wealth, lost tax revenue, and blighted neighborhoods.

Even when Detroit was majority white, racial lines were strictly drawn.

“You can’t underestimate the intensity of that segregation in housing and the role that it played in dividing metropolitan Detroit by race,” said Thomas Sugrue.

Voters Not Politicians

A grassroots group of citizen activists opposed to partisan gerrymandering is making rapid progress toward its goal of getting a redistricting proposal on the ballot in Michigan in 2018.

An all-volunteer force, about 4,ooo strong and spread over 83 Michigan counties, has collected about 450,000 voter signatures in four months. That's according to Katie Fahey, president of the ballot committee called Voters Not Politicians.

"We have blown our goal out of the water," said Fahey.

Michigan State University sign
Wikimedia Commons / public domain

As the cases against former Michigan State University sports doctor Larry Nassar continue to unfold, there have been calls for MSU President Lou Anna Simon to resign. The latest came from State House Speaker Tom Leonard who says MSU hasn't been forthcoming about who knew what, and when, about Nassar's crimes.

Michigan Radio's Morning Edition host Doug Tribou and senior news analyst Jack Lessenberry discuss whether removing President Simon is the right response. 

Capitol Building in Lansing, MI
Matthileo / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The Legislature has sent Governor Rick Snyder a set of local retirement bills that passed by wide margins once they were stripped of controversial provisions.

The bills stalled last week as local governments and public employee unions protested measures that would give the state sweeping authority over local budgets. 

Those were taken out, and now local governments will have their retirement plans assessed by the state Treasury, says state Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof, R-West Olive.

Inside the Michigan Senate
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Democratic lawmakers are trying once again to repeal the state’s “Right to Work” law.

Five years ago, a Republican-led Legislature made Right to Work the law of the state. It prohibits contracts that make union membership a condition of employment.

Democrats say letting people opt out of unions gives them a free ride to the benefits of the union.

Senator Hoon-Yung Hopgood, D-Taylor, is a bill sponsor. He said strong unions are important to Michigan, but Right to Work diminishes the power of unions and reduces the number of members.

FLICKR USER MARIO.Q / FLICKR

Trade unions plan to launch a petition drive tomorrow to shield Michigan’s prevailing wage law from another petition drive.

The effort is a response to another proposed initiative. It would ban a requirement that contractors pay union-level wages on state-funded construction projects. That’s led by non-union contractors. They say prevailing wage drives up their costs.         

Piyushgiri Revagar / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCl0

Think for a moment about your most deeply held beliefs. Can you recall when you first formed them? Has it been so long that it feels as if they've just always been there?

Research suggests our beliefs may change, for better or for worse, without our even noticing. And that’s being reflected in public opinions that have shifted since Donald Trump launched his campaign for President.

US capital building
Kevin Harber / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Americans are disillusioned and disappointed with Congress. The rock-bottom approval ratings confirm that.

With that in mind, what would you think about a candidate who promises to return or donate to charity any campaign contributions from sources that “taint" the candidate's integrity?

Who refuses to do anything that attacks the character of his or her opponent?

person writing on paper
LucasTheExperience / Flickr

Organizers of a ballot drive want voters to decide if Michigan should have a part-time legislature.

And they're making a push for signatures to get it on the 2018 ballot.

There’s a new battle in Lansing pitting business groups against unions and it could wind up playing out next November with dueling ballot proposals.

A group of trade unions will launch a petition drive tomorrow to try and preserve Michigan’s prevailing wage law. This is the law that requires contractors to pay union-scale wages on state construction projects.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

The Lansing city council will hold a public hearing Monday night on a proposal to sell city hall to a developer.

Chicago-based Beitler Real Estate Services proposes turning Lansing city hall into a hotel. It’s part of a complicated deal under which the developer would spend $42 million renovating the building. Beitler would also turn the old Lansing State Journal building into the capitol city’s new city hall.

Sander Levin
levin.house.gov

Last week, U.S. Rep. Sander Levin, D-Mich., confirmed that he will retire at the end of this term. On Wednesday, Andy Levin announced his bid to succeed his father. State Sen. Steve Bieda launched his campaign for the Washington D.C. a few hours later.

This Week in Review, Weekend Edition host Rebecca Kruth and senior news analyst Jack Lessenberry talk about what kind of advantage Andy Levin could have as a legacy candidate.


Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Detroit’s partial recount of the November 7 general election is over.

The recount didn’t change the results of any races, but it did highlight some issues that continue to plague the city’s elections.

City clerk candidate Garlin Gilchrist requested a partial recount of that race, which he narrowly lost to incumbent Janice Winfrey.

The recount confirmed Winfrey’s win. But 33 precincts representing more than 7,000 votes couldn’t be re-tallied at all.

Michigan Municipal League / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Another example of Michigan’s lack of government transparency was pointed out this week.

The Associated Press and the Center for Public Integrity looked into and found examples around the country of state lawmakers voting on bills that ended up benefiting their own business interests.

The AP reported in 47  states, those conflicts of interest were easily found. That's because, almost everywhere, lawmakers had to disclose their occupation, income, or business associations. That’s real transparency.

Michigan does not require those disclosures. 

Today on Stateside, we hear why Michigan could soon be the only state to not mandate financial disclosures from lawmakers. And, we discuss whether the Democratic Party is taking black voters for granted.

Zócalo Public Square / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCl0

Congress wants to present a final version of tax reform to President Donald Trump by Christmas.

Many public and private colleges are hoping for some changes before the legislation reaches the president’s desk.

In a statement, Mary Sue Coleman, the president of the Association of American Universities, recently outlined some of the major concerns. Coleman, who is a former president of the University of Michigan, joined Stateside to talk about her concerns.

Nancy Pelosi / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCl0

In the middle of the sexual harassment allegations against Democratic Senator Al Franken, Republican Representative Trent Franks, and Michigan’s Democratic Representative John Conyers, all of whom plan to resign, another allegation was made.

During a rally for Congressman Conyers, clergy, state legislators, and other supporters felt Democratic leaders were treating Conyers differently. They felt the Democratic Party was making decisions about their representative without due process and without consulting the constituents of Michigan’s 13th Congressional District.

One state legislator said the rush to judgment by leading Democrats such as Nancy Pelosi revealed the party felt African Americans are disposable and that their votes are taken for granted.

U.S. FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE

Earlier this month, supporters of the push to make marijuana legal in Michigan delivered more than enough signatures to tentatively qualify for a proposal on the November 2018 ballot.

The group Healthy and Productive Michigan is working to stop the measure from passing. The group's mission is to fight legalizing marijuana.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint’s mayor says a top aide to Governor Snyder is willing to wait for more information before considering cutting funding for bottled water distribution in her city.

A diver inspects Enbridge's Line 5 pipeline under the Straits of Mackinac for a possible dent.
Enbridge inspection video shared with the state of Michigan

The state is getting public feedback on the future of Enbridge’s Line 5.

State environmental officials held the first of three public meetings on the subject in the Detroit suburb of Taylor Wednesday night.

The state released an alternatives analysis for the pipeline that runs through the Straits of Mackinac earlier this year. It’s also commissioning a risk analysis.

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