Politics & Government

U.S. Congress
12:01 pm
Wed January 5, 2011

The 112th Congress in numbers

Capitol Building, Washington, D.C.
Flickr

The politicos over at NBC's First Read have put together a look at the 112th Congress by the numbers:

  • In the House: Republicans will hold a 242-193 advantage.
  • In the Senate: Democrats will hold a 53-47 majority. (Two senators are independent but caucus with the Democrats).
  • There are 96 new members of the House (87 Republicans, nine Democrats).
  • The House will include 43 Tea Party-backed members.
  • The Senate will have five Tea Party-backed members.
  • In total, in the Senate, there will be 16 new members (13 Republicans, three Democrats).
Justice
9:17 am
Wed January 5, 2011

Michigan Supreme Court to pick new Chief Justice

The Michigan Supreme Court will choose a new Supreme Court Chief Justice today
Joe Gratz Flickr

UPDATE 10:39 a.m.:

Rick Pluta, Michigan Public Radio's Lansing Bureau Chief just filed this breaking news report:

Justice Robert Young has been selected as the new chief justice of the Michigan Supreme Court. Young was chosen by his fellow justices in a closed-door vote. The decision reflects the change in control of the court from Democrats to Republicans in the last election.

9:17 a.m.:

The seven justices of the Michigan Supreme Court will meet today to select a new chief justice. After this past November's election, Republicans are in the majority of the court with four members; three justices are Democrats.

Justice Robert Young Junior was re-elected to an eight year term in 2010.  He said yesterday that he has four votes to become the next Chief Justice. Young, who has been on the Michigan Supreme Court since 1999, is a Republican from the Detroit-area. The current Chief Justice is Marilyn Kelly, a Democrat. 

As the Associated Press reports:    

The court's membership will change soon. Justice Maura Corrigan is expected to resign to lead the Department of Human Services under the new governor, Rick Snyder.

No such announcement from the Snyder administration has been made yet publicly.

U.S. Congress
8:19 am
Wed January 5, 2011

Get to know your Representative in D.C.

Three of the five new Michigan Congressmen (l-r, Dan Benishek, Bill Huizenga and Justin Amash)
Photo courtesy of huizengaforcongress.com

Michigan's congressional delegation is getting a makeover. One-third of its 15 members will be new when they're sworn in later this afternoon at the Capitol.  Here's a rundown of who is in... and who is out:

1st District

Republican Dan Benishek won the race to succeed veteran Democrat Bart Stupak in Michigan’s 1st District which covers all of the Upper Peninsula and parts of the northern Lower Peninsula. Stupak announced last April that he would not seek a 10th term in Washington. Benishek was a Tea-Party favorite and was endorsed by former Alaska governor Sarah Palin.

2nd District

Republican Bill Huizenga beat Democrat Fred Johnson in Michigan’s 3rd District in western Michigan.  Huizenga takes the seat left open by Republican Pete Hoekstra who was a GOP candidate for governor in the state’s 2010 primary.

3rd District

West Michigan freshman state lawmaker Justin Amash beat his Democratic challenger Pat Miles in Michigan’s 3rd District which covers parts of west Michigan. At 30 years old, Amash will become one of the nation’s youngest U.S. Congressmen.  He had Tea-Party backing.

4th District

Republican Dave Camp won an 11th term as Representative of Michigan’s 4th District.  Camp beat his democrat challenger Jerry Campbell.  The 4th District includes parts of Saginaw County, as well as northern and central Michigan.

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U.S. Congress
8:02 am
Wed January 5, 2011

Michigan's Congressional delegation to be sworn in today

Capitol Building, Washington, D.C.
Flickr

Members of Michigan's Congressional delegation will take the oath of office today at the nation's Capitol. As we've reported, the state's delegation is full of new faces. The Associated Press reports:

Longtime congressmen and first-termers alike are scheduled to be sworn in en masse at the Capitol on Wednesday afternoon, and incoming House Speaker John Boehner is to hold individual ceremonies for some lawmakers later in the day. One of those getting an individual swearing-in ceremony is Justin Amash, a Republican from the Grand Rapids area. New Michigan Republican congressman Tim Walberg of Tipton also will be sworn in individually by Boehner around the same time.

There are 15 members of the state's Congressional delegation, five of them are new.  Although, GOP Representative Tim Walberg could be considered a 'second year freshman' as he won a seat in Congress in 2006 but lost it in 2008.  He won back the seat in this past November's election.

Governor Snyder
7:12 am
Wed January 5, 2011

In first executive order, Snyder splits up the state Department of Natural Resources and Environment

Governor Rick Snyder
Photo courtesy of www.governorelectricksnyder.com

Governor Rick Snyder issued the first executive order of his administration yesterday. The order splits up oversight of the Department of Natural Resources and Environment into two state departments: the Department of Natural Resources and the Department of Environmental Quality.

The executive order takes effect March 13th. As The Associated Press reports:

Gov. John Engler separated the natural resources and environmental quality functions into different agencies in 1995, but Gov. Jennifer Granholm rejoined them in 2009 in a cost-saving move. Snyder now says the job would best be handled by two agencies.

Rodney Stokes will head the Department of Natural Resources and Dan Wyant will head the Department of Environment Quality.

In a statement released yesterday, the Governor said:

“Michigan is blessed with an abundance of natural resources and we need to be a leader and innovator in protecting these resources. Recreational fishing, hunting and boating activities alone contribute more than $3 billion annually to our economy.  Separating the DEQ and DNR means we can better address these key priorities.”

Politics
6:49 am
Wed January 5, 2011

'Pure MI' campaign to be used to market state as business destination

The state’s new economic development chief says the “Pure Michigan” tourism campaign should also be used as a tool to grow and attract businesses. Rick Pluta, Michigan Public Radio Network's Lansing Bureau Chief sent us this report from the Capitol:

Michael Finney was confirmed as the new CEO of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation by its board of directors. Finney was Governor Rick Snyder’s choice to lead the agency.

Finney says the “Pure Michigan” campaign is already a success story in selling the state as a tourist destination:

So we want to find ways to use that as a brand that will represent both tourism and business in our state. We think it’s a great brand and we intend on exploring that further as we go about our business of effectively marketing Michigan as a desired place to grow a business.

Finney says that can be done using free media and without increasing the Pure Michigan ad budget. He also says there will be a shift in the focus of the state’s economic development efforts toward helping entrepreneurs who are already in Michigan grow their businesses and hire more workers.

balancing budgets
1:40 pm
Tue January 4, 2011

Kalamazoo balances city budget with ease, for now…

Kalamazoo City Commission discusses the city's finances Monday night.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

Kalamazoo has a new balanced budget in place…with no layoffs, tax increases or cuts to city services. City commissioners unanimously approved the 2011 budget plan Monday night.

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Governor Snyder
6:32 am
Tue January 4, 2011

Snyder working on six-month plan for state

Governor Rick Snyder
Photo courtesy of www.governorelectricksnyder.com

Governor Rick Snyder started his first week on the job by meeting with his senior staff, and plotting out the first six months of his administration. Rick Pluta sent this report from Lansing:

Governor Snyder wants to re-organize government, reform business taxes, and have a two-year budget completed by July first.

Geralyn Lasher is the governor’s communications director. She says Snyder also plans to adopt a new economic development and jobs-creation strategy that focuses on businesses that are already in Michigan.

He talks about economic gardening and keeping Michigan businesses here, helping them grow and helping them be more successful and, then, also attracting people from other states.

Lasher also says the governor has decided he will draw a public salary, but it will be less than the $159,300  he’s allowed to collect. Snyder is a retired venture capitalist who spent $6 million of his own money on his campaign for governor.

Governor Snyder
1:16 pm
Mon January 3, 2011

Just how much money will Governor Snyder make?

Governor Rick Snyder
Photo courtesy of www.governorelectricksnyder.com

There aren't too many jobs out there where you go to work on your first day unsure of how much money you'll make. But, apparently, that's the case with one pretty important job in the state: Governor of Michigan.

The Associated Press reports that Governor Rick Snyder still hasn't decided how much money he'll take as the state's Chief Executive.

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Politics
10:58 am
Mon January 3, 2011

Former State Representative Kate Ebli dies

Former Democratic State Representative Kate Ebli
kateebli.com

Former State Representative Kate Ebli died yesterday after a recurrence with breast cancer.

The Democrat served 56th District of Michigan (Monroe County) for two terms. She lost her bid for a third term in the November elections to Republican Dale Zorn.

The Monroe Democratic Party released a statement:

"We are extremely saddened with the news that State Representative Kate Ebli has lost her courageously fought battle with cancer. It is a sad day for Kate's family and also for everyone that knew her."

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U.S. Congress
6:46 am
Mon January 3, 2011

Rep. Upton: Repealing health care law is top priority

Republican Congressman Fred Upton of Michigan's 6th District
Republican Conference Flickr

Republican Congressman Fred Upton, who represents Michigan's 6th District, says his fellow GOP lawmakers will go after the new health care law piece by piece.  Upton made the comments yesterday on "Fox News Sunday."

As The Associated Press reports:

That effort, says Rep. Fred Upton of Michigan, will follow a vote to repeal the health care law outright. Such a vote could come early in the new year after the GOP takes control of the House. Upton is the incoming chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and he says that repealing the health care law is his top priority.

Upton says he hopes for a vote before President Obama gives this year's State of the Union address.

Governor Snyder
6:28 am
Mon January 3, 2011

Michigan's 48th Governor heads to Lansing

Governor Rick Snyder became the state's 48th Governor on Saturday
Photo courtesy of governorelectricksnyder.com

Governor Rick Snyder begins his first full week of work at the state Capitol today, Laura Weber reports. Snyder was sworn in as the state's 48th governor on Saturday. He told a crowd in front of the Capitol building that the state needs to move into the future with a positive attitude.

It is also time to be bold. I’ve been cautioned by many that expectations are already too high. We shouldn’t walk away from high expectations, it’s time to deliver on high expectations.

It's expected that Snyder will start signing his first executive orders to reorganize state government as soon as this week.

Politics
6:52 pm
Tue December 28, 2010

Detroit submits audit on time

Dave Bing

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing has managed to fulfill one major promise: the city has submitted its comprehensive annual financial report to the state on time.

 

Detroit had submitted its audit late for the past five years. That caused the state to withhold millions in much-needed revenue-sharing funds.

 

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Politics
5:07 pm
Mon December 27, 2010

Detroit Charter Commission ready to get down to work

Detroit may see its most sweeping political reforms in decades in 2011.


 The city’s Charter Commission will really get down to work next year.


 Detroiters voted to open the city charter up for change in mid-2009.


 Now, the charter’s fate lies in the hands of the nine elected Charter Commission members. Their work will come under intense scrutiny.


Both Mayor Dave Bing’s office and the Detroit City Council have offered their suggestions for revisions.

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Opinion
9:56 am
Thu December 23, 2010

Commentary: Dress for Success

I don’t know Jim Stamas personally. He is a state representative from Midland who will be the majority floor leader when the new legislature takes office next month.

He’s a fairly conservative Republican, and I’d guess that on some policy issues we might disagree. But he did something this week I thought totally appropriate. He is bringing back a dress code for the legislature. He thinks members ought to wear business attire when they are doing the people’s business.

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Politics
7:38 am
Thu December 23, 2010

Debate will continue in the New Year over proposed bridge to Canada

Two joggers run under the Ambassador Bridge which connects Detroit to Windsor
J. Stephen Conn Flickr

Governor-elect Rick Snyder announced yesterday that he'll keep Kirk Steudle as Director of the Michigan Department of Transportation in his new administration. That could mean continued debate over whether to build a new bridge to connect Detroit to Canada, Laura Weber reports. As Weber explains:

Steudle has drawn heat from Republican lawmakers over the past few years for his support of a second bridge span between Detroit and Canada. The legislators were unhappy with a detailed traffic report from the department, but Steudle says that information will be rolled into continued analysis of the bridge. Governor-elect Snyder says just because he tapped Steudle to continue as director doesn’t mean the bridge will be built. But the discussion will continue.

The proposed Detroit River International Crossing would compete with the Ambassador Bridge.

Politics
5:26 pm
Wed December 22, 2010

Warren Mayor asks Bing for meeting on DWSD

Warren Mayor Jim Fouts says he wants to "collaborate" with Bing on issues including the water dept.

Warren Mayor Jim Fouts says he wants to meet with his Detroit counterpart to discuss how the region’s water and sewer system is managed.


The request comes in a letter sent today, days after a federal indictment detailed allegations of kickbacks and corruption related to water department contracts.

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Opinion
12:50 pm
Wed December 22, 2010

Commentary: The Coming Drama

Well, we finally have the official census figures, and for the first time in history, Michigan lost people in the course of a decade. Worse, we’ll have fewer members of Congress.

Over the last thirty years, we’ve lost five seats in the House of Representatives. That’s equivalent to losing the voting power of the entire state of Connecticut. Put another way, we’re now back to having only one more representative than a century ago.

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Politics
10:28 am
Wed December 22, 2010

Granholm: I've been doing a bit of reflection

Governor Jennifer Granholm
Photo courtesy of www.michigan.gov

Governor Jennifer Granholm has less than 10 days left in office.  The term-limited Democrat spoke with Michigan Radio's Morning Edition host Christina Shockley this morning about her 8 years in office and what she hopes for the future of the state.

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Politics
10:05 am
Wed December 22, 2010

The Week in State Politics with Jack Lessenberry

Michigan Radio's Political Analyst Jack Lessenberry

It's Wednesday, the day we speak with Michigan Radio's Political Analyst Jack Lessenberry about what's going on in state politics. On tap for today: Michigan gets hit hard by bad news from the census and Governor-elect Rick Snyder says he wants a 2-year budget plan for the state.

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