Politics & Government

Stories about politics and government actions

Former Michigan Representatives Todd Courser and Cindy Gamrat.
From Courser/Gamrat websites

State Rep. Todd Courser, R-Lapeer, resigned early this morning as the House was about to vote on expelling him. That capped a 15-hour session with three earlier efforts that were thwarted. Courser says he called it quits because he could see how it would wind up.

Today on Stateside:

New bill would get rid of open-carry loophole

Sep 10, 2015
Gun in holster on hip
Paul Weaver / Creative Commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

A new Michigan Senate bill introduced this week would close a loophole that allows open carry of firearms in gun-free zones, including schools and places of worship.

Last spring, a man caused a stir when he openly carried a handgun to a school choir concert in Ann Arbor. 

That would no longer be allowed under the new bill, but there's a catch.

Todd Courser
Rick Pluta / MPRN

Each week,  Jennifer White talks to Ken Sikkema, former Senate Majority Leader and Senior Policy Fellow at Public Sector Consultants, and Susan Demas, publisher of Inside Michigan Politics. Today they discussed the disciplinary hearings for state Reps. Todd Courser and Cindy Gamrat. 

Sikkema and Demas say  the hearings highlight a new level of hyperpartisanship in state  politics. 

President Obama speaks at Macomb Community College.
White House / YouTube screen grab

President Obama was in Michigan yesterday to roll out new initiatives meant to boost job training and community college enrollment. He said he’ll create a new board meant to promote the idea of two free years of community college.

“Whether it is a bachelor’s degree, an associate’s degree, a journeyman’s card from an apprenticeship program, having a credential above and beyond your high school diploma, that’s the surest ticket to the middle class,” the president said. “And in global competition for jobs and industries, having the best educated workforce in the world is the surest way for America to stay on top.”

Rep. Todd Courser, R-Lapeer, and Rep. Cindy Gamrat, R-Plainwell, returned to the state capitol today.
images from Courser/Gamrat offices

Update 2:15 p.m.

Rep. Cindy Gamrat, R-Plainwell, says she's "shocked" a panel is recommending expulsion for her involvement in a bizarre cover-up attempt of her extramarital affair with another lawmaker.

Gamrat tells The Associated Press she won't resign before the House votes, possibly later Thursday. She says while no promises were made, she "was coerced" to admit to various allegations of wrongdoing with an understanding that the committee would support a censure.


The Detroit City Council could consider an ordinance to regulate medical pot dispensaries this month.

Council member James Tate says Detroit is experiencing an “oversaturation” of dispensaries, and that city leaders need to do something.

Todd Courser
Rick Pluta / MPRN

  A special state House disciplinary panel will begin deliberating on a punishment for state Representatives Todd Courser, R-Lapeer, and Cindy Gamrat, R-Plainwell, after wrapping up two days of hearings and testimony.

Today on Stateside:

user jdurham / morguefile

This Week in Michigan Politics, Jack Lessenberry and Christina Shockley discuss how student growth will be a big part of teacher evaluations this year, why redistricting won't happen, and what will happen to the political careers of Todd Courser and Cindy Gamrat after the sex scandal

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

State Representative Cindy Gamrat (R-Plainwell) got an earful from people living in her district Tuesday night. It was the first time Gamrat held office hours in Allegan County since news of a sex and cover up scandal broke last month.

“You need to resign!” someone in the crowd shouted, before the first question was asked. “Give up your job. You weren’t working in the first place.”

Today on Stateside:

This political cartoon was printed in 1812 in reaction to the newly drawn state senate election district of South Essex created by the Massachusetts Legislature to favor the Democratic-Republican Party candidates of Governor Elbridge Gerry.
Elkanah Tisdale / Boston Centinel, 1812

Michigan Radio and Public Sector Consultants conducted a poll of 600 likely voters from Aug. 4-8 about how they felt financially, possible changes in redistricting, and the potential legalization of recreational marijuana.

In terms of those saying they're better off, Jeff Williams, CEO of Public Sector Consultants says things look relatively "rosy" for Michigan. More than half say they're "about the same," and around a quarter of them say they're "better off."

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A candidate for Flint mayor wants the federal government to investigate the city’s problem plagued water system and how city officials have responded to those problems.

Residents have complained about the city’s water since a switch last year from Detroit water to the Flint River as the source.

The latest concern has focused on lead levels. 

State Representative Cindy Gamrat (R-Plainwell) weeps as she delivers an apology to the House committee considering disciplinary action against her and state Representative Todd Courser (R-Lapeer).
Rick Pluta / MPRN

State Rep. Cindy Gamrat, R-Plainwell, offered a tearful apology this morning as hearings opened on possible disciplinary action against her and Rep. Todd Courser, R-Lapeer.

She begged for forgiveness and asked for censure rather than being removed from office.

The special state House committee set up to look into the conduct of Republican state Representatives Todd Courser and Cindy Gamrat is scheduled to meet tomorrow and Wednesday.

Reps. Courser and Gamrat are accused of using state resources to, among other things, cover up an extramarital affair.

Courtesy Courser & Gamrat websites

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Two freshmen tea party lawmakers who set out to shake up Michigan's Capitol succeeded in a way no one could have imagined.

  On Tuesday, the state House will hold a rare disciplinary hearing that could lead to the expulsion of Reps. Todd Courser and Cindy Gamrat over their extramarital affair and an attempt to cover it up.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - The future of Michigan's expanded Medicaid program is in the hands of the Obama administration.

Gov. Rick Snyder's administration this week submitted a waiver needed to ensure 600,000 low-income adults remain eligible for government-provided health insurance in 2016.

This is what a $2,000 FOIA request looks like.
Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

A Michigan lawmaker is renewing a push to subject the state legislature and governor's office to requests under the Freedom of Information Act.

This comes the same week the House Business Office released a summary of its findings on the recent sex scandal involving  representatives Todd Courser and Cindy Gamrat.

The full report hasn't yet been made available to the public.

Today on Stateside:

  • Just a week and a half from now, the UAW contracts with General Motors, Ford and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles will expire. Daniel Howes points out some major differences in these contract talks in his recent column for The Detroit News.
  • AAA Michigan expects 1.2 million Michiganders to take to the road this Labor Day weekend, and the Michigan State Police say that it’s the deadliest holiday weekend of the year. Lt. Michael Shaw joins us to talk about driving safely this weekend.
City of Sterling Heights / via Facebook

Sterling Heights Mayor Michael Taylor is clarifying comments he made online this week about a controversial mosque project that’s divided the city.

Taylor has said on Facebook and elsewhere that he opposes plans to build a mosque at a busy intersection in the Macomb County suburb.

The Soo Locks in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan.

When it comes to keeping American industry up and running, it's hard to overstate the importance of the Soo Locks.

The big ships carrying iron ore from northern Michigan and Minnesota on Lake Superior must pass through the Soo Locks to get to the steel mills that are on the lower lakes.

So when there's a problem at the aging locks, you can bet that business and shipping interests are sounding the alarm bells.

Today on Stateside:

  • When it comes to keeping American industry up and running, it’s hard to overstate the importance of the Soo Locks. Detroit Free Press Capitol Hill reporter Todd Spangler joins us to talk about what’s been a worrisome year at the locks.
  • College football begins this week. The University of Michigan kicks off the Jim Harbaugh era at Utah tomorrow night, and Michigan State will play Western Michigan in Kalamazoo Friday night. John U. Bacon gives us a peek at the upcoming NCAA season.
Dwight Burdette / creative commons

Washtenaw County is facing up to 70 layoffs in mental health services due to a $4 million budget deficit.

County Commissioner Andy LaBarre is chair of the Ways and Means Committee.


This Week in Michigan Politics, Jack Lessenberry and Christina Shockley talk about the other issues involving Todd Courser, R-Lapeer, and Cindy Gamrat, R-Plainwell; more problems with water in Flint; and Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette's opposition to President Obama's new rules to reduce greenhouse gases.

Today on Stateside:

  • A special legislative committee held the first of several hearings for Representatives Todd Courser and Cindy Gamrat, who have been accused of misusing public resources to hide an extramarital affair. Chad Livengood gives us an update.
  • Amid the talk about executive compensation, the DIA is facing some stiff competition in its search to replace former director Graham Bell. Sherri Welch looked into the search for Crain's Detroit Business.
  • The Upper Harbor Ore Dock is one of the most striking features of the waterfront in Marquette. Maritime historian Fred Stonehouse reminds us of the city's history and heritage in mining.
  • The Go Rounds' new album, "dont go not changin," is out today. The Kalamazoo band's leader, Graham Parsons, joins us to talk about the album and his involvement in the local music scene.
  • Treating patients from a distance could revolutionize medical care. Telemedicine is on the rise in Michigan, and Nancy Derringer and Dr. Jed Magen sit down with us to talk about what that means for modern medicine.
  • Glamping is coming to Northern Michigan with a new "glampground" opening next spring northeast of Traverse City. Brad Carlson talks with us today about the work he and his wife have been doing to get it all ready.
Gavel on table
orangesparrow / Creative Commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Washtenaw County District Judge J. Cedric Simpson could soon be out of a job.

The Michigan Judicial Tenure Commission this week recommended Simpson be removed from the bench for interfering with a police investigation involving a former intern.

In August 2013, Crystal Vargas called Simpson after she was involved in an early morning automobile accident near his home in Pittsfield Township. 

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Leaders of the bus system in Grand Rapids and the union representing mechanics and drivers have not been able to reach an agreement over a retirement plan.

That means The Rapid will no longer collect dues on behalf of the union. But The Rapid's spokeswoman Jennifer Kalczuk says pay and benefits will remain the same for now.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Starting tomorrow, Flint water and sewer customers can expect to see a drop in their bills, though maybe not by as much as they expected.

Last month, a judge issued an injunction ordering the city to stop collecting a 35% rate hike put in place in 2011. The judge found the rate hike was improper.

A special Legislative committee held the first of several hearings this morning for two lawmakers who are accused of misusing public resources to hide an extramarital affair. The meeting comes after a report released yesterday that said Republican Representatives Todd Courser and Cindy Gamrat were dishonest and violated House rules and campaign-finance laws.

The Detroit News’ Chad Livengood, who first broke the story last month, joined us from Lansing.