Politics & Government

Stories about politics and government actions

Conservative Bro, the App

The Michigan Republican Party is standing behind a party official who shared an offensive post about Muslims on several social media platforms.

Wayne Bradley, the GOP's state director of African-American Engagement, said he apologizes if he offended anybody.

"I thought it was light hearted and funny," Bradley said, "And once I realized that some people took it the wrong way, I took it down."

"It wasn't until the Michigan Democratic Party made it an issue that I was aware it had offended anyone," said Bradley.

  • Zoe Clark and Rick Pluta join us to talk about what the legislature accomplished, what it didn’t get done, and of course the Courser-Gamrat distraction.

  • A major obstacle to buying a house is getting a mortgage. Anna Clark’s article for Next City claims redlining is alive, well and dangerous in Detroit.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan may soon apply for tens of millions of dollars in federal funding to tear down blighted homes.

Michigan U.S. Senators Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters met with Congressman Dan Kildee in Flint today to discuss the transfer of $2 billion into the federal Hardest Hit Fund.

Peters says the evidence that this program works is “overwhelming”.

“Whenever you knock down blighted homes in a neighborhood, those property values stabilize. Those properties go up in value.  People move back into the neighborhood,” says Peters.  

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

Donald Trump used a visit to west Michigan to take aim at Ford Motor Company’s plans to expand production in Mexico. He says, if elected President, he would threaten manufacturers with big tariffs on imports to discourage them from building plants across the border and overseas.

“If you build that plant in Mexico, I’m going to charge you 35 percent on every car, truck part that you send into our country,” he said. “Every single one.”

Trump spoke to a crowd of several thousand. He says the country’s leaders are weak, and he would engage in tough negotiations with car companies to build new plants in the US and Michigan.

The Michigan House of Representatives in Lansing
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

The top Democrat in the state House is urging Gov. Rick Snyder to veto controversial election legislation.

One bill would eliminate the straight-ticket voting option on Michigan ballots.

The other makes changes to campaign finance laws that critics say allow more money from outside political groups into elections. Local governments and school leaders are also concerned about a provision in that bill they say would prevent them from answering questions during public meetings leading up to elections.

The Flint River and the Flint water treatment plant.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The Environmental Protection Agency launched a federal audit -- Governor Rick Snyder appointed a panel to look into it -- and there is a federal class action lawsuit underway.

Everyone wants to know how the water went bad in one of Michigan's biggest cities.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

State lawmakers will consider a resolution backing the governor’s call to put a hold on bringing Syrian refugees into Michigan. 

State Senator Patrick Colbeck says his resolution is about safety.

“It’s about making sure we have taken all due diligence to fulfill our first responsibility as elected officials and that’s securing public safety,” says Colbeck. 

Governor Snyder asked the Obama administration to review its refugee vetting process, after the Paris terrorist attacks that killed more than a hundred people.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Gov. Rick Snyder says lawmakers could first tackle the Detroit school district's debt and possibly leave until later his call for a new commission to close poor-performing traditional and charter schools.

  The Republican governor told The Associated Press in a year-end interview that pending legislation to split the district in two to retire debt and to empower a chief education officer to hold schools accountable could go on "parallel or somewhat separate tracks." Snyder says the more urgent issue in terms of timing is the state-run district's finances.

user jdurham / MorgueFile.com

Local governments in Michigan are not happy about some last-minute language added to a bill that just passed the state legislature.

Senate Bill 571 is mostly about campaign finance issues.

But tucked in at the very end of the bill is a provision that cities and townships argue amounts to a “gag rule” on them.

John Kivela's office website

ST. JOHNS, Mich. (AP) - A northern Michigan lawmaker has pleaded guilty to drunken driving stemming from an incident in which authorities say he was speeding, swerving and driving with an open bottle of whiskey.

Democratic Rep. John Kivela made the plea to a first-offense charge Friday in a Clinton County court. Prosecutors dropped a more serious charge of operating while intoxicated with a high-blood-alcohol content.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Updated 5:30 p.m. 

Flint has a new ally in its push for federal funds to fix the city’s water problems.

Michigan’s legislative black caucus is urging Gov. Rick Snyder to issue a state of emergency to address the continuing health concerns caused by the dangerous lead levels in Flint’s water.

Dominic Simpson / flickr

The Detroit City Council has voted to restrict where medical marijuana dispensaries can operate in the city.

The Council passed a new zoning ordinance Thursday night. It approved another ordinance with dispensary licensing and inspection regulations in October.

The new rules limit dispensaries to certain industrial and business zones. They also set spacing regulations, and with limited exceptions ban them within 1,000 feet of schools, churches, and other designated “drug-free” zones.

  • Rick Pluta and Jake Neher join us to talk about new legislation heading to Gov. Rick Snyder's desk that would, among other things, put an end to straight-ticket voting in Michigan.
Inside the Michigan Senate
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Legislation that would eliminate the straight-ticket voting option on Michigan ballots is headed to Gov. Rick Snyder’s desk.

Rick Pluta, co-host of It’s Just Politics and the Bureau Chief for the Michigan Public Radio Network, tells us that if signed, this legislation would have three effects:

user clarita / morguefile

About 600,000 Michiganders will be able to stay on the state’s expanded Medicaid program.

The Healthy Michigan plan got a critical waiver approval from the federal government on Thursday.

The part of the program that needed approval requires participants with incomes between 100 and 133 percent of the federal poverty level to work with doctors to get healthier. Otherwise, they will have to get their insurance through the federal health care exchange. That requirement begins in April of 2018.

Legislative successes and failures in 2015

Dec 17, 2015
user cedarbenddrive/Flickr / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

As the Michigan Legislature wraps up for the year we wanted to take a look back at 2015 with Ken Sikkema, former Senate Majority Leader and Senior Policy Fellow at Public Sector Consultants, and Susan Demas, publisher of Inside Michigan Politics.

Sikkema and Demas agree that the list of legislative successes is short this year. Sikkema says:

marsmett talahassee / flickr creative commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

A federal spending bill for the 2016 budget year includes potential funding to boost efforts to fight blight in Michigan and to protect the Great Lakes, according to U.S. Senators Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters.

Stabenow and Peters said the bill, agreed upon Wednesday, would authorize the U.S. Treasury Department to transfer up to $2 billion in additional funding to the Hardest Hit Fund, which they say has been used to fight blight successfully in urban areas across Michigan

State of Michigan

One man will lead the state’s efforts to deal with Flint’s water crisis.

Harvey Hollins is the director of the Office of Urban Initiatives. Gov. Snyder has appointed Hollins to oversee the state agencies responding to Flint’s water crisis. 

Errors in how the water was treated (actually, how it wasn't treated) are blamed for unhealthy levels of lead in Flint’s drinking water going undetected for months. 

UNHCR / flickr http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Governor Rick Snyder says he’s closer to lifting the “pause” on his efforts to bring more refugees from Syria and the Middle East to Michigan.

Sean_Marshall / flickr http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

A group of cities has successfully challenged DTE Energy’s plan to charge it more for LED streetlights.

A coalition of cities took its case against DTE’s proposed rate change to the Michigan Public Service Commission.

DTE claimed that it was merely adjusting prices as it “gains more experience” with LED technology.

That angered cities that had installed LED streetlighting, which is more energy-efficient than traditional lighting, but also more expensive upfront.

Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

Gov. Snyder signed a bill Wednesday meant to alleviate the state’s ongoing teacher shortage.

The new law allows some retired teachers to return to the classroom in certain “critical shortage areas,” without sacrificing pension or health insurance benefits.

It’s not yet entirely clear where those critical shortage areas are.

The law also instructs the state superintendent to make that determination, and post the findings online by April.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

UPDATE: A change has been made in the planning, and parks will now be open on the weekends.

Starting Jan. 1, there will be no more late-afternoon, evening, or early-morning strolls in 26 designated Ann Arbor parks and nature areas.

The parks and nature areas will be closed to the public for "deer-control efforts" from 4 p.m. until 7 a.m. daily from Jan. 1 to March 31, 2016, according to a recent announcement from the city of Ann Arbor.  

Brian Turner / Flickr Creative Commons / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

A new law would protect rape victims from a custody battle with their rapists when a child is conceived.

The Michigan Senate unanimously passed legislation this week that would allow courts to terminate a rapist's parental rights to a child conceived by the rape of the mother.

Senate Bill 629 was introduced by Republican Sen. Rick Jones earlier this month.

  • The water crisis in Flint has caused the city's children to be poisoned by lead. But don't think the lead problem is confined to Flint. In his latest story for Bridge Magazine, Mike Wilkinson tells us lead remains an "irreversible scourge" in many areas across Michigan.
  • Lindsey Smith join us to talk about her upcoming documentary on the Flint water crisis, airing tomorrow. 
  • Auto dealerships are pretty firmly entrenched in our business landscape.

Just a few months after a state-declared financial emergency, Wayne County officials are trumpeting what they call “swift” and “substantial” progress on the county’s budget deficit.

After that declaration from Gov. Rick Snyder – which came at County Executive Warren Evans’ request –Wayne County quickly entered into a consent agreement with the state. That gave Evans substantial power to get concessions from county employee unions.

People can donate bottled water to residents in Flint.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A push to declare a state of emergency in Flint is running into some pushback.

Mayor Karen Weaver called for the declaration this week. She says the city needs state and federal help to repair its problem-plagued water system.

Flint’s water system is antiquated. In 2014, partly to save money, the city switched from Detroit water to the Flint River for its drinking water.

A Flint water meeting in January 2015.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

If you missed part one of Not Safe to Drink, you can hear it here.

The tap water in Lee Anne Walters’ home in Flint was causing her family’s health problems. Tests show her water had extremely high lead levels. Her son Gavin was diagnosed with lead poisoning.

“How does this happen in the United States?” she asks. “I mean, you hear about it in third world countries, but how does this happen, specifically in a state that is surrounded by the Great Lakes?”

User: mattileo / flickr http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

This is the last week state lawmakers are scheduled to meet in 2015.

Legislative leaders will try to advance bills that would give tax breaks to data centers. The goal is to attract a massive data farm to the Grand Rapids area.

Supporters estimate the project would bring in $5 billion in new investments and at least a thousand jobs to Michigan over the next decade.

But plenty of Republicans and Democrats oppose targeting one industry for big tax exemptions. They say there’s no guarantee the company will create the number of jobs it says it will.

  • If you do an Internet search for "Great Lakes permaculture" or "Midwest permaculture," you'll soon discover a thriving movement in Michigan. Nate Ayers sits down to explain permaculture design.
  • Michigan writer R.J. Fox joins us to talk about how an amusement park ride lead him to love in the Ukraine.

The federally-created Council of Governors has a meeting scheduled for tomorrow. This is the group of 10 governors (always five Republicans and five Democrats) that gives the federal government the states’ perspectives on national security issues.

This is also the group that Governor Snyder said he wanted to conduct a review of federal security policies after the self-proclaimed most pro-immigration governor called for a “pause” in resettling refugees from Syria and other Middle Eastern countries after last month’s terrorist attacks in Paris, Beirut, and Egypt.

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