Politics & Government

Stories about politics and government actions

Today on Stateside:

  • After more than two weeks, an internal state House report is out with the results of an investigation looking into allegations of misconduct by state Reps. Todd Courser and Cindy Gamrat. Zoe Clark and Rick Pluta sit down with us to talk about the findings from the report.
  • For years now, when state leaders talk about school funding changes, it’s almost inevitable that someone will say, “What about the money from the Lottery? Isn’t that supposed to fund the schools?” MLive’s Kyle Feldscher breaks down the question.
  • What does it mean to be “civically engaged?” The answer you give can be very different depending upon your age. Chelsea Martin talks with us today about how volunteering can be a right of passage.
  • A century or two ago, feral dogs roamed the streets of Detroit, people lived in fear of rabies, and the dog catcher prowled the streets scooping up strays. Historian Bill Loomis tells us about “The History of Dogs in Detroit.”
  • Dr. Mark Schlissel joins us today to talk about financial aid, sexual misconduct, diversity, athletics culture, and his first year as the University of Michigan’s president.
Michael Vadon / Creative Commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Ohio Governor John Kasich is the latest Republican presidential candidate to pay Michigan a visit.

The former U.S. House budget chairman stopped in Southfield Monday to speak at a forum sponsored by Americans for Peace, Prosperity and Security.

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

A select committee will begin its work to help whether state Representatives Todd Courser and Cindy Gamrat will keep their jobs following a just-released internal investigation that says the two are guilty of misconduct.


The report by the non-partisan House Business Office says the two tea party lawmakers used state computers, staff and other resources for a variety of political and personal purposes, including efforts to cover up their extra-marital affair.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Critics say they have new reasons to demand the city of Flint go back to Detroit water.

“It’s time for us to stand up … speak up and tell this mayor to get out of town,” Pastor Allen Overton told a small crowd gathered outside Flint city hall on Monday. Overton and others are angry with Flint Mayor Dayne Walling and other city leaders for the city’s problem-plagued water system. 

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

A House Business Office investigation into Michigan Reps. Todd Courser, R-Lapeer, and Cindy Gamrat, R-Plainwell, alleges numerous instances of deceptive and "outright dishonest" conduct to cover up their extra-marital affair.

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

Early this week, the public will find out the details of a state House investigation into two tea party lawmakers involved in a sex-and-cover-up scandal.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A judge will consider granting class action status  on Monday to a lawsuit against the city of Flint in the continuing legal fight over that city’s water rates.

Giving the lawsuit class action status could expand the suit to include as many as 30,000 Flint water and sewer customers. 

Since the city raised rates by 35% in 2011, many Flint residents say they can’t afford the higher bills.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

This week, Michigan lawmakers are expected to continue discussing ways to spend more money to fix state roads. It’s estimated the state has to come up with at least $1.2 billion annually to repair Michigan’s aging and crumbling roads and bridges.

In May, voters rejected a proposal to increase fuel and sales tax rates to pay for fixing the roads.

Most of the proposals on the table now include tapping existing state revenues. The general fund is used to fund most state government programs.    

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Patients with autism and Parkinson’s disease could use medical marijuana under a new effort to overhaul the system in Michigan.

The Michigan Responsibility Council (MRC) announced this week it will push lawmakers to make the state’s medical marijuana system safer and more accessible to qualified patients.

Today on Stateside:

flickr user bobdoran / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

We’ve reviewed the movements pushing for marijuana legalization in Michigan, we’ve taken a look at how legal pot has treated Colorado, and we’ve heard the viewpoint of a medical marijuana caregiver in Ann Arbor.

Today, we get the law enforcement perspective.

Donald Trump speaks at the 2015 CPAC in Maryland
flickr user Gage Skidmore / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

It's no secret that voters here in Michigan and across the country are angry and cynical about the notorious gridlock in Washington that has brought the country to its knees with budget showdowns.

It doesn't help that Michigan lawmakers have returned to their summer vacations without a deal to repair our decaying roads.

But as Detroit News business columnist Daniel Howes points out, the state House found time to devote to a sex scandal.

Nhandler/wikipedia / Jonesy22/creative commons

Berrien County Commissioners voted unanimously Thursday to stop using carbon monoxide to euthanize unwanted animals that end up at its animal control facility.

The gas chamber has been used for decades in Berrien County to kill dogs, cats and other wildlife. Now that it’s building a new facility, public pressure to stop the practice has been increasing.

Lawmakers have tried passing bans statewide, but they’ve never gotten to the governor’s desk.

Complaints by Ann Arbor residents have prompted Scio Township to look into an odor problem originating with the township's waste system. Sewage pumped from Scio Township's wastewater treatment system enters Ann Arbor's system near the corner of Arborview Boulevard and Miller Avenue. At times, especially on hot summer days, the sewage produces a powerful odor that residents say forces them to stay indoors.


The Detroit Institute of Arts’ chairman says top museum officials — including the museum’s recently-departed director — deserve bonuses and other perks.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

In October, people will have to pay more money to ride the bus in Grand Rapids.

Cash fares will cost a $1.75. That’s more than it costs to ride the bus in Ann Arbor, Kalamazoo, Lansing and Detroit.

“I’m not trippin’ about it,” Trill Bettison said, while waiting at Central Station Wednesday night.

Today on Stateside:

flickr user Thomas Hawk / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Almost six years ago, Michigan’s only women’s prison settled a huge lawsuit after officers raped multiple female inmates.

Changes have been made since then, but are they enough?

Today on Stateside:

flickr user Eljoja / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

When it comes to the issue of marijuana – to legalize or not to legalize – Michigan seems to be about where Colorado was not too long ago.

Colorado had over a decade to experiment with medical marijuana before legalizing its recreational use in November 2012, which Colorado Public Radio’s Ben Markus tells us gave the state ample opportunity to figure out how marijuana can fit into the political and business landscape.

“Medical marijuana was huge. The state then decided, hey, we need to regulate this thing,” he says.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint may soon cut its water bills to comply with a court injunction.  Maybe.

The injunction requires the city to reduce its rates, stop disconnecting delinquent water customers and reimburse the city’s water fund for $15 million. 

The city announced Monday it plans to utilize a lower rate structure with its next water bills.

user Bjoertvedt / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Can Democrats flip three Michigan districts in the 2016 election?

Nancy Kaffer tackled that question in her recent column for the Detroit Free Press.

In her column, Kaffer looked at the 1st, 7th, and 8th Congressional districts in Michigan. Voters in each of those districts elected Republicans in the last election, “by pretty narrow margins.”

Today on Stateside:

Can Democrats flip three Michigan districts in 2016? Nancy Kaffer tackled that question in her recent column for the Detroit Free Press.

The latest Ideas for Innovation event, hosted by Detroit Future City, focused on what to do with 23 square miles of vacant land in Detroit. Dara O’Byrne and Guy Williams continue the conversation with us today.

user A7nubis / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Getting high in Michigan has certainly changed over the past few years.

Voters legalized marijuana for medical purposes in Michigan in 2008. Soon, it could be legal just for fun.

A number of groups seeking to legalize cannabis in Michigan are working to put ballot proposals on the 2016 ballot.

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

U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow will support an international deal to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons. On Monday, Congresswomen Debbie Dingell and Brenda Lawrence announced they’ll do the same.

The agreement gives international inspectors a lot more access to monitor Iran’s nuclear activities. In exchange, countries would lift economic sanctions to help Iran’s economy.

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

State representatives Todd Courser and Cindy Gamrat engaged in misconduct and misused taxpayer resources. State House Speaker Kevin Cotter, R-Mt. Pleasant, says those are preliminary findings of a House Business Office investigation into a sex-and-cover-up scandal involving the lawmakers.


Cotter’s office says the full report will be made public after outside legal counsel has a chance to review it.


But Michigan Democratic Party Chair Brandon Dillon says the public shouldn’t have to wait.

Once again lawmakers are starting over as another road funding plan collapsed late last week in Lansing.

What really happened?

The latest effort to come up with more than a billion dollars for roads had pitted Republicans against Republicans. The GOP has a 63 to 46 advantage over Democrats in the state House, and a 27 to 11 margin in the state Senate. Those numbers led to the idea that GOP leaders could develop a Republican-only roads solution without having to deal with the Democrats.

Robbie Wroblewski / Creative Commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

The debate over county animal shelters using gas chambers to euthanize sick or unwanted animals is heating up in southwest Michigan.

In the beginning of 2015, only 4 of Michigan’s 83 counties still used the “inhalation method,” or “gas chamber” to kill unwanted animals at county animal control facilities.

Cass County, southwest of Kalamazoo, still uses a chamber. Branch County, south of Battle Creek, probably still would too, but its animal shelter burned down earlier this year.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Detroit’s long-suffering firefighters are getting some much-needed new equipment.

The city unveiled five brand-new fire engines Friday. They’re part of a total ten new vehicles the department added to its fleet this month.

The rigs will go to five fire stations spread across the city, says Detroit fire commissioner Edsel Jenkins.

Kyle Mahan / flickr http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

There's another squabble between an anti-public-union group and the union that represents most of Michigan's teachers. 

The Mackinac Center for Public Policy actively encourages teachers to quit the Michigan Education Association. The group posts videos of teachers giving the reasons why they quit, and advising others to follow their example.