Politics & Government

Republican National Committee
7:12 am
Fri January 14, 2011

Elections begin this morning for RNC Chairmanship

Saul Anuzis, former Michigan Republican Party Chairman, is running to become Chairman of the Republican National Commitee
Photo courtesy of www.thatssaulfolks.com

Former Michigan Republican Party Chairman Saul Anuzis is in for a busy day today. Anuzis is running to become the next Chairman of the Republican National Committee, a job currently held by Michael Steele. The committee is holding the elections this morning outside of Washington, D.C.. The Detroit News reports that:

Anuzis is one of five candidates running. He lost his last bid to become chairman two years ago to Michael Steele, the former Maryland lieutenant governor whose tenure has been marked by questions of fiscal mismanagement. Steele is running again, though he's not expected to win.

ABC News reports:

RNC officials said there was no way of knowing how long the voting will take. Friday's general session begins at 10:30 a.m. ET and the official meeting schedule lists 8 p.m. ET as the estimated end time. Whoever wins will inherit committee hobbled by financial difficulties, including debt in the range of $15 million or more.

Anuzis announced his campaign last November when he sent a letter to the RNC membership. In the letter, Anuzis explained why he decided to run:

This is an exciting time to be a Republican and, as leaders, we have an awesome task ahead of us. The American people have given us a second chance' and that opportunity brings with it huge responsibility and challenge. Now we turn our attention to 2012. America must elect a new President. It is that hope, that necessity, that challenge, that draws me to announce my candidacy for the Chairmanship of the Republican National Committee.

State Legislature
6:51 am
Fri January 14, 2011

House lawmakers introduce 85 proposals, half-dozen resolutions

Capitol Building, Lansing, MI
Matthileo Flickr

On the first day that Michigan lawmakers were allowed to submit legislative proposals, legislators in the state House introduced 85 bills and a half-dozen resolutions. As the Associated Press reports:

The first bill introduced Thursday would repeal a surcharge on the Michigan Business Tax. It's likely to pass as part of a broader, still-developing plan to reshape business taxes. Other proposals would repeal Michigan's mandatory motorcycle helmet law in some circumstances and eliminate caps on the number of charter schools.

State lawmakers began the 2011 legislative session on Wednesday by taking the oath of office and officially announcing new legislative leaders.

Michigan Budget
6:39 am
Fri January 14, 2011

Estimating the state's finances

Tracy O Flickr

Lately, you've probably heard or read a Michigan Radio story that includes this number: 1,800,000,000. In case you haven't had your morning coffee yet... that's 1.8 billion. Economic forecasters predict Michigan's budget, for the fiscal year that begins October 1st, is $1.8 billion in the red.

However, later today, that figure could change. That's because economists are meeting today for what's called a "revenue estimating conference" at the state Capitol. The economists will come up with an estimate of just how much money the state can expect to receive through the next fiscal year. As the state's website explains:

The Revenue Estimating Conference held each January is a major part of the budget process. During the conference, national and state economic indicators are used to formulate an accurate prediction of revenue available for appropriation in the upcoming fiscal year. This conference first convened in 1992, pursuant to Act No. 72 of the Public Acts of 1991. The principal participants in the conference are the State Budget Director and the Directors of the Senate and House Fiscal Agencies or their respective designees. Other participants may include the Governor and senior officials from the Department of Treasury.

State Legislature
5:03 pm
Thu January 13, 2011

Michigan's new Speaker of the House calls for welfare caps

Michigan Speaker of the House Jase Bolger
Michigan House Republicans

Jase Bolger, Michigan’s new Speaker of the House, says he wants to see a four-year cap on certain welfare benefits in the state.

Bolger took the gavel for the first time on Wednesday, but the Republican speaker wasted no time outlining changes he wants to make in the state.

One of them would be limiting Bridge card recipients to a maximum of four years of lifetime benefits. The bridge card provides food - which is federally funded -  and some cash assistance.

Bolger says the state could save $45 million immediately with a cap on benefits:

We want to help people break the cycle of dependency... government should not create that cycle. And that's what happens. People get caught in that system, and it's not good for the human spirit. People want the opportunity to provide for themselves, and that's what we want to help them do.

Bolger says he wants the four-year benefit allowance to be enforced retroactively. He also wants to go after businesses that participate in welfare fraud.

Politics
11:55 am
Thu January 13, 2011

Former MI Congressman Bart Stupak gets Harvard fellowship

Former Michigan Congressman Bart Stupak will be heading to Harvard University this spring for a resident fellowship. As the Detroit Free Press reports:

Stupak, a Democrat from Menominee in the Upper Peninsula, retired from office this year at the end of his ninth 2-year term. As a resident fellow this spring, he and the other five people selected will meet with students, participate in activities with the Harvard community and lead weekly study groups on a range of topics.

As Politico notes, Stupak, "didn't much enjoy his intense moment at the center of the health care fight and didn't seek re-election."

Commentary
11:37 am
Thu January 13, 2011

Waiting for the Governor

The new legislature convened for the first time yesterday, nearly two weeks after their terms began. They posed for pictures and elected officers. They officially announced who would have what positions on which committees.

These are all things that had been worked out days or weeks before. What then followed was sort of the equivalent of lining up their pencils and making sure they are sharpened.

To a great extent, they are waiting for the governor. That is to say, they are waiting for Rick Snyder to set forth his program and put forward his proposals for balancing the state budget.

Read more
News Roundup
8:32 am
Thu January 13, 2011

In this morning's news...

The 96th State Legislature Convenes

New and returning lawmakers were in Lansing yesterday for the first day of the 2011 Legislative session. Lawmakers took the oath of office, elected legislative leaders, and even chose desks. Lawmakers are not expected to do much work at the Capitol before Governor Rick Snyder delivers his first State of the State address Wednesday evening. The Republican governor and Republican-led Senate and House face a projected $1.8 billion dollar budget shortfall for the fiscal year that begins October 1st.

Michiganders Continue to Leave State

United Van Lines has released its 34th annual migration study and it shows Michigan ranked second in outboard traffic in the country. Of the 7,186 moves United Van Lines logged in Michigan in 2010, 62% of them were leaving the state, Mark Brush reports. From the study:

Outbound traffic from the Great Lakes region continued to lead the nation in 2010 with four states capturing high-outbound rankings. Western states that had traditionally experienced high-inbound traffic, most notably Nevada, saw their traffic level off.

Tougher Tests?

The Michigan Board of Education is considering tough new performance requirements on the state's MEAP and merit exams. The new requirements would be the last step in a plan the state has been working on for the last seven years, Joseph Martineau, with the Michigan Department of Education, told reporter Rina Miller. “It really is time for us to look at the end result of K-12 education being readiness for college and career, and not readiness to perform in what we might term the old manufacturing economy,” Martineau said.

State Legislature
7:21 am
Thu January 13, 2011

The 96th Legislature in headlines

Michigan's 96th Legislative session got underway yesterday
Cedar Bend Drive Flickr

Michigan lawmakers began the state's 96th legislative session yesterday in Lansing.  We take a quick look at what the headlines across the state have to say about the Legislature's first day:

During their first day in session, lawmakers took the oath of office and elected legislative leaders.

Politics
4:38 pm
Wed January 12, 2011

Bing sues City Council over public-access TV

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing is suing City Council over control of the city's public access television channels.
Wikipedia

 There’s a tug of war over control of Detroit’s public access television channels. Mayor Dave Bing wants to expand programming, but City Council says the service is fine as it is.

Mayor Bing is suing the Detroit City Council because it voted to give itself control over the city’s public access TV programming.

The channels are used mostly to broadcast and re-run council meetings. Bing says the resource could be better used.

Councilman Kwame Kenyatta says the mayor’s suit is disrespectful of council.

Bing spokeswoman Karen Dumas disagrees.

Read more
State Legislature
2:08 pm
Wed January 12, 2011

New and returning state lawmakers being sworn-in at the Captiol

Capitol Building, Lansing, MI
Terry Johnston Flickr

Michigan lawmakers, both new and returning, are at the state Capitol today being sworn into the state Legislature. The 2011 session began at noon. Laura Weber is at the Capitol and filed this report:

Dave Hildenbrand is a Republican who will be sworn in as a state Senator. He served six years in the state House. He says House and Senate Republican lawmakers are focused on the same things:

The public spoke very clearly that they want things done differently here in Michigan, and so we’re ready to get to work to help strengthen our state and just make it a better place for the people who live here.

Hildenbrand says lawmakers want to deal the state’s complicated business tax quickly. He says the Legislature needs to help create a better business climate in Michigan.

Lawmakers will begin the new session with a new Republican Governor and a projected $1.8 billion dollar budget deficit for the fiscal year that begins October 1st.

Commentary
1:10 pm
Wed January 12, 2011

The Governor and The Auto Show

Governor Rick Snyder visited the Detroit auto show yesterday, something governors traditionally do. They greet the CEOs, make nice comments about the new models, and disappear.

I can’t recall a single thing any politician has said at the auto show that was worth remembering.  But this year is a little different. Two years ago, it was highly uncertain whether there would be either an domestic auto industry or an auto show in 2011.

What’s more, almost nobody in the industry or the state had ever heard of Rick Snyder, and nobody imagined he’d be governor.

Well, the auto industry is a good bit healthier today, and the state is getting used to a governor who doesn’t like to wear a tie, and doesn’t mind being called a nerd. Like other governors before him, Snyder didn’t say anything especially stirring at the auto show. But he did a few things worth noting. He didn’t just visit what we might now call the not-so-big three, Ford, General Motors and Chrysler. He stopped by Kia and Hyundai and Toyota too.

Read more
News Roundup
8:26 am
Wed January 12, 2011

In this morning's news...

Legislature Returns to Lansing

Michigan lawmakers will be at the state Capitol today for the first day of the new 2011-2012 legislative session.  Lawmakers will be sworn-in and adopt new rules. Due to term limits and a strong Republican showing in last November’s election, the majority of lawmakers in both the state House and Senate will be new to the job. The legislature is facing a projected $1.8 billion dollar budget deficit for the fiscal year that begins October 1st.

Snyder Visits NAIAS

Governor Rick Snyder visited the North American International Auto Show yesterday in Detroit. Snyder was joined by his Lt. Gov. Brian Calley, among others. The Governor toured the Ford and Prius pavilions and sat in a Chevy Volt. Snyder told reporters:

The role of manufacturing and the auto industry in Michigan’s future is critical. I don’t walk away from it all. Actually, I embrace it. That is part of our heritage. That is something we have world-class people in.

The show opened to the media for previews on Monday and opens to the public on Saturday.

Proposed Closings for Detroit Schools

Detroit Public Schools Emergency Financial Manager Robert Bobb has submitted a plan to state education officials that calls for the closing of 70 Detroit Public School buildings by 2013. The closings are part of Bobb’s proposed deficit-elimination plan for DPS. The school district currently faces a $327 million budget deficit. The Detroit News reports that in the past year alone, the district’s debt has increased by more than $100 million.

New Football Coach for UM

University of Michigan Athletic Director Dave Brandon announced yesterday afternoon that Brady Hoke will be the new University of Michigan football coach.  Hoke will be the 19th coach in the football team’s 131-year history. Hoke is no stranger to Ann Arbor, Steve Carmody reports. He worked as an assistant coach for the Wolverines for 8 seasons including during the 1997 national championship season. Hoke’s 28 year career includes stops at Grand Valley State, Western Michigan, and Toledo.

Governor Snyder
7:53 am
Wed January 12, 2011

State Department of Agriculture gets a name change

Michigan farm
Prima Civitas Foundation Flickr

The Michigan Department of Agriculture is, now, officially the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development. Governor Rick Snyder announced in November that he would make the change.  He signed an order, yesterday, making it official.

The Associated Press reports, "the governor says the new name is 'a clear signal' his administration plans to help the agriculture industry grow so rural areas gain new and better jobs."

Governor Snyder appointed Keith Creagh to head the Department. Creagh used to be the Department's deputy director.

In a statement released yesterday, Creagh said:

Agriculture today is a high tech industry that relies on trained professionals with knowledge of the newest methods from biology and chemistry to packing and shipping. Expanding educational opportunities will give Michigan's agricultural producers a competitive edge and ensure jobs are available for recent graduates who want to stay in their home communities.

State Legislature
7:37 am
Wed January 12, 2011

Lawmakers begin new legislative session

State Capitol Building, Lansing, MI
Matthileo Flickr

Michigan lawmakers return to the state Capitol today for the first day of the 2011-2012 legislative session. Lawmakers will be sworn-in and adopt rules, including a dress code.

As the Associated Press reports, the majority of lawmakers in both the Senate and the House will be new to their jobs:

The turnover is caused partly by the state's term limits law and a strong showing by Republicans in last year's elections. Republicans built on their advantage in the Senate and grabbed control of House from Democrats.

Lawmakers will begin the new session with a new Republican Governor and a projected $1.8 billion dollar budget deficit for the fiscal year that begins October 1st.

Both the Senate and House will also see new legislative leaders. Republican Randy Richardville will be Senate Majority Leader and Democrat Gretchen Whitmer will be the Senate Minority Leader.  In the House, Republican Jase Bolger will be Speaker and Democrat Richard Hammel will be the House Minority Leader.

Education
6:39 am
Wed January 12, 2011

New president for Michigan's State Board of Education

For the first time in a decade, Michigan's State Board of Education has a new president. Yesterday, John Austin was unanimously elected to lead the board.  He replaces fellow Democrat Kathleen Straus. Democrats have a 5-3 majority on the board.

Austin was first elected to the board in 2000 and re-elected in 2008.

In a release sent out yesterday, Austin said he is, "proud that during his 10 years on the State Board... the Board has functioned as a bi-partisan change agent for education reform and improvement"

As the Associated Press reports:

Democrat Casandra Ulbrich was elected vice president, Republican Nancy Danhof was elected secretary and Democrat Marianne Yared McGuire will continue as treasurer. Republican Richard Zeile will represent the state board on the National Association of State Boards of Education.

Commentary
11:55 am
Tue January 11, 2011

Rule of Law

It’s sometimes easy to be cynical about what we used to call “the system” back in the days when bell-bottom jeans were common.

Too often, it appears that society at all levels still functions under the golden rule, as in, he who has the gold, makes the rules.

Ideally, things are supposed to work according to the words engraved on the U.S. Supreme Court building in Washington: Equal Justice Under Law.” But in practice, it too often seems that things  are more like the famous New Yorker cartoon in which a judge peers down at a defendant, and asks:

“So, how much justice can you afford?“

Read more
News Roundup
8:15 am
Tue January 11, 2011

In this morning's news...

New State Supreme Court Justice

Governor Rick Snyder announced yesterday his appointment of state Appeals Court Judge Brian Zahra to the Michigan Supreme Court. Snyder named Zahra to the state’s highest court to replace Supreme Court Justice Maura Corrigan.  Corrigan will begin a new job on Friday as the Director of the Michigan Department of Human Services. Like Corrigan, Zahra is a Republican.  That means the state Supreme Court will keep its 4-3 GOP majority.

Politicians Flock to NAIAS

Politicians from across the country are visiting the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. The show opened for media previews yesterday and opens to the public on Saturday.  Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow attended the show on Monday where she told reporters she was excited that the Chevy Volt won the Car of the Year award at the show. Also yesterday, U.S. House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer toured the show with four Michigan Democratic Congressmen: Reps. John Dingell, Sander Levin, Gary Peters, and Hansen Clarke.  Governor Rick Snyder and Lt. Gov. Brian Calley will tour the show today.

Ford Announces New Hiring

Ford Motor Company announced yesterday that it will add more than 7,000 workers in the U.S. over the next two years.  As the Associated Press reports:

The company plans to hire 4,000 manufacturing workers this year. Almost half those workers will be at the Louisville Assembly Plant in Kentucky that will make the new Ford Escape starting late this year. It expects to add at least 2,500 new manufacturing jobs in 2012. The company said it is beginning a recruiting effort this week in Detroit and other cities, including San Jose, Calif., and Raleigh and Durham, N.C.

Politics
3:36 pm
Mon January 10, 2011

"Kilpatrick Enterprise" arraigned in court today

Former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick
Dave Hogg Flickr

Prosecutors have dubbed the five men accused of pocketing millions of dollars in exchange for contracts with the city of Detroit the "Kilpatrick Enterprise."

Former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick was indicted in federal court today, along with Kilpatrick’s father, Bernard Kilpatrick; former city contractor Bobby Ferguson; former Detroit Water Department head Victor Mercado; and former city official Derrick Miller.

Read more
Politics
2:00 pm
Mon January 10, 2011

Congressman talks about security in wake of Giffords tragedy

Michigan Radio's Steve Carmody caught up with Michigan Congressman Hansen Clarke. Carmody asked Clarke about his reaction to the Giffords tragedy:

The annual North American International Auto Show in Detroit has often been a place for local members of Congress to meet and greet constituents.

But this weekend's assassination attempt on an Arizona congresswoman is raising questions about security.

Detroit Congressman Hansen Clarke says this weekend's assassination attempt on an Arizona congresswoman has affected his security plans:

"We are implementing some of the procedures recommended by the U. S. Capitol Police, but I feel confident that those will be adequate."

Clarke was sworn in for his first turn in Congress just days ago.

One of the first people he met was Arizona congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords.

Clarke says the two talked about both being graduates of Cornell University.

He expressed sadness on the attempt on Giffords' life, but he says that danger is just a fact of life that all elected officials must face:

"I'm not going to change how I work.   I'm going to be as open and available to the public.  I think that's very important.  I represent the taxpayers. I'm paid by the taxpayers.  I'm hired by them to work for them.  They need to know that their government is open and available to them."

Arizona Shooting
11:07 am
Mon January 10, 2011

Snyder issues statement on Rep. Giffords' attack

The scene in Tucson, Arizon after Saturday's shooting
Search Net Media Flickr

Governor Rick Snyder has released a statement regarding the shooting of U.S. Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords on Saturday in Tucson, Arizona.  Six were killed in the attack and 13 others were wounded.  Governor Snyder said:

I would like to offer my support and prayers for Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, the other victims of the horrific shooting in Arizona and their families.

The senseless, despicable act of violence that our nation witnessed over the weekend tears at the very fabric of our democracy.  But, as we all know, Americans rally together in the face of tragedy and adversity.  Our spirit will not be broken.  We will emerge from this horrible incident stronger and more committed than ever to move our nation forward.  As the president requested, Michigan will demonstrate its respect for the victims by flying all U.S. flags at half-staff through Friday.

I will call Arizona Governor Jan Brewer later today to share these sentiments and to let her know that the people of Michigan are praying for the rapid recovery of Congresswoman Giffords and the other victims.

I know the hearts of every Michigander are with the Congresswoman, the victims, their families and the people of Arizona.”

Members of Michigan's congressional delegation have released statements decrying the shooting.

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