Politics & Government

Stories about politics and government actions


The Michigan State Capitol building in Lansing was built in 1879, and later restored in 1992. Now, in 2016, its caretakers say there are some real problems with the guts of the building.

"It's a stewardship issue that has to be met by the current group of lawmakers, as for any group of lawmakers," said Ken Sikkema, senior policy fellow at Public Sector Consultants who also served as a Republican legislative leader.

grand rapids mayor rosalynn bliss
Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio


Local governments around the state have been trying to figure out how to keep things going on a tighter budget. They’re not bringing in as much money as they have during better economic times of the past.

That's partly because the state has been cutting back on how much sales tax revenue it shares with cities and towns. And a lot of local leaders want to change that.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Consultants say cost restructuring may be needed to make Flint’s water bills more affordable.

Even before Flint water was unsafe to drink without a filter, many people tried to avoid turning on their taps because of the cost.

As Flint’s population dwindled, more of the cost of paying for the system fell on fewer and fewer people.   City officials added to the cost by siphoning off cash to pay for other city needs. Thousands of city residents either fell behind on their bills or had their water service shutoff. 

Today, we speak with U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders in Ann Arbor about the 2016 presidential election. And we hear from an Americana duo about their new album, which tackles the Kalamazoo shooting and other tough subjects.

man at whiteboard


It was born in the throes of Detroit’s bankruptcy: the idea to take the aging, debt-ridden Detroit Water and Sewerage Department and transform it into a regional entity.

The Great Lakes Water Authority seems to be stoking a true spirit of cooperation in Southeast Michigan and performing the way its designers hoped it would.

Detroit News business columnist Daniel Howes joined us today to talk about why it’s so important that the regional water authority succeeds and how it’s helping Detroit’s debt problems.

Michigan Radio's Cynthia Canty (left) interviews Senator Bernie Sanders (D-VT) with Stateside Executive Producer Joe Linstroth in Ann Arbor on October 6, 2016.
Mitchell Rivard

Republicans and Democrats have made it clear that the state of Michigan is in play for the 2016 presidential election.

Another high-profile campaign visit to the state comes in the form of Vermont senator Bernie Sanders. He is making stops in four cities (Dearborn, Ann Arbor, East Lansing, Grand Rapids) stumping for Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.

U.S. Navy / Wikimedia Commons / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Some Democratic state lawmakers are calling for the Legislature to add breast cancer to the list of conditions covered by a state health care fund for first responders. The fund was created two years ago.

State Senator Curtis Hertel said policymakers were slow to recognize the risk to female firefighters, in part, because there are so many more men in the profession. But he said new studies show the dangers to female first responders.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

A printer’s error is forcing Genesee County to order 300,000 new ballots for next month’s election.

The original ballots contained mistakes that prevent the ballots from being tabulated. For example, problems with the timing track on the side of the form will prevent a computer from reading the ballot. 

County Clerk John Gleason is concerned some absentee voters have already mailed back defective ballots. He says new ballots will be sent out.

“There’s no excuse,” says Gleason, “This is the most critical instrument in our democracy … our vote.”

Flickr user anderfhart/Flickr / HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

It's been 20 years since the Telecommunications Act of 1996 was passed during the Clinton administration, and the TV and radio industry claims to still feels its effects.

The legislation sparked public controversy because of the changes it brought to broadcasting, having introduced media cross-ownership and being the first update in government policies for communications in over 60 years. Today, smaller, independent programmers continue to compete with growing media giants in securing a hold on the market.

mayor virg bernero at microphone with crowd behind him
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Lansing officials are stepping up efforts to pass a renewal of the capital city’s public safety millage in next month’s election.

The millage was first approved by Lansing voters in 2011. The intent was to replace the millions of dollars the city lost in property tax revenues after property values fell sharply during the Great Recession. 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders will be in Michigan tomorrow urging voters to elect Hillary Clinton and defeat Donald Trump. 

The Clinton campaign says Sanders will talk about how Secretary Clinton's economic plan will work for everyone, and how Donald Trump's plan will instead benefit the very wealthy.

Jodi Westrick / Michigan Radio

We kicked off our first Issues & Ale event of the election season Monday night at the Beer Grotto in Lansing.

Vice presidential candidates Republican Mike Pence (L) and Democrat Tim Kaine (R).
wikimedia commons

Democrat Tim Kaine and Republican Mike Pence are squared off in the vice-presidential debate at Longwood University in Farmville, Virginia on Tuesday, October 4.

It was the only vice-presidential debate before Election Day.

(By the way, you have until Tuesday, October 11 to register to vote if you haven't done so already. Find out how here.)

Today we hear about a Traverse City urn company that's on the cutting edge of the funeral business. And, we learn why the term "first lady" is obsolete.

A new policy will hopefully help supervisors track any racial profiling
Michigan State Police

Given the recent friction between law enforcement and citizens, Gov. Rick Snyder says action needs to be taken to forge better relationships.

Some of that action came Tuesday in the form of a 17-bill package and an executive order. Snyder says the legislation combined with the executive order will help strengthen community relations between law enforcement and the community.

First Ladies Michelle Obama, Laura Bush, Hillary Clinton, Barbara Bush and Rosalynn Carter stand during dedication of the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum in 2013.
Public Domain


A recent Boston Globe piece from Mark Peters takes a look at the title “first lady,” calling it an “archaic term.”

We don’t use the term “lady” very often these days, he argues, save for when referring to the wife of the president.

How did we arrive at the title “First Lady” in the first place, and why do we still use it?

8 questions and 8 answers about voting in Michigan

Oct 4, 2016
Courtesy H2Woah! / Flickr http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

We're inching closer to the last day that you can register to vote in Michigan. As we near the final day, we want to make sure that everyone has the knowledge about where to vote.

Given that, here are 8 questions you may have about registering to vote and their answers.  

1) When's the last day that I can register to vote?

Bill Clinton in Flint.
Cheyna Roth / MPRN

Former president Bill Clinton was made stops in Flint and Metro Detroit today on behalf of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.

In downtown Flint he spoke to a crowd of just under 500 in a ballroom. His focus was on Hillary Clinton’s plans for the economy and job creation.

Life-long Flint resident Anthanette Taylor was lined up to see the former president hours before he was scheduled to start.

Taylor says she is ready to vote for Hillary Clinton, but wanted to hear what Bill Clinton had to say.

One of the signs at the anti-Gilbert protest in downtown Detroit Monday.
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Donald Trump’s fundraiser at a Dan Gilbert-owned Detroit building raised some eyebrows last week.

It also drew a small group of protesters to the mortgage-and-real-estate tycoon’s downtown headquarters Monday.

The Reverend William Wylie-Kellerman was one of them.

Kellerman says Detroit is facing a “corporate takeover,” facilitated by the city’s bankruptcy and led by Gilbert’s mass real estate acquisitions in and around the city’s downtown.

U.S. Assistant Commerce Secretary Jay Williams, right, and Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan at the LINC Logistics facility.
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Detroit’s efforts to “re-industrialize” are getting a boost from the federal government.

The U.S. Commerce Department’s Economic Development Administration is giving $4.1 million to the city of Detroit and its quasi-public economic development arm, the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation.

A little over $3 million will be used to build up infrastructure in and around the long-stalled I-94 Industrial Park.

That site has mostly been vacant for more than two decades, after the city cleared a large swath of land  on its east side for the project in the 1990s.

Today, we hear about a new program that teaches young men of color about how to run a business. Plus, we talk about the best ways to hold domestic violence assailants accountable.

Campaign signs
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

People complain about political ads, robo-calls interrupting dinner, and mailboxes full of campaign literature.

But there’s another sign of election season: political yard signs. Candidates love them. Political consultants say they’re a waste of time and money.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint pastors says it’s time for an end to the city’s dysfunctional government.

Mayor Karen Weaver and a majority of the city council have spent months battling over city contracts and other issues. In protest, the city council recently decided not to vote on the mayor’s resolutions for 30 days.

Members of Flint’s Concerned Pastors for Social Action, who’ve supported Weaver in the past, say it’s time for the bickering to stop. The pastors held a news conference at city hall to express their frustration with the growing rift inside city hall.

Governor Rick Snyder is not on the ballot this year but he is using Election 2016 to burnish his image and protect his legacy.  

Map of Michigan's 1st congressional district.
Map USDOI shape file by user 7partparadigm / Wikimedia Commons

Most Michigan congressional districts are drawn to favor one party over another.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Former President Bill Clinton will campaign for Hillary Clinton in two Michigan cities on Monday.

The former president will meet with Hillary Clinton supporters in Saginaw and Flint.  

He's campaigned in Michigan before, including a brief stop in Detroit on Labor Day. 

Bill Clinton is the latest big name Democrat to campaign in Michigan in recent weeks. Since July's Democratic National Convention, Chelsea Clinton, Vice Presidential candidate Tim Kaine, and Democratic Presidential nominee Hilary Clinton have all made Michigan stops.

It's been one year since health officials in Michigan warned people in the city of Flint to stop drinking the tap water after a research team from Virginia Tech discovered elevated lead levels.

To this day, Flint's water is still not safe to drink without a filter. While funding has been scarce to replace corroded pipes, Congress reached a deal this week that could send millions of dollars in aid to Flint.

Gary Johnson
Gage Skidmore / creative commons http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Before U.S. lawmakers left town this week, the House approved a funding bill that includes $170 million for Flint. This Week in Review, Jack Lessenberry and Rebecca Kruth talk about what needs to happen to get the bill passed once lawmakers return after Election Day. They also talk about Donald Trump's fifth visit to Michigan since he was named the Republican presidential nominee, and The Detroit News' surprising endorsement of Libertarian Gary Johnson for president. 

flickr user Gage Skidmore / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump made his fifth visit to Michigan yesterday. The candidate held a rally in the Oakland County city of Novi.

“I’m an outsider fighting for you,” Trump told the crowd. “We have a movement like they’ve never seen in this country before.”

Trump supporters wait in the rain.
Cheyna Roth / MPRN

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is in Michigan today. People lined up in the rain hours before Trump is scheduled to speak at a venue in Oakland County.

Lisa Gustin has been to five Trump events, including one in Toledo, Ohio. This time she brought her 14-year-old son, Gabriel.

Gabriel can’t vote yet, but says he’s active because he likes the Republicans’ vice presidential candidate, Mike Pence

“I’m in it because I’ve been into politics since I was born practically.”