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Politics & Government

Stories about politics and government actions

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

The president of the Flint city council says it may be time to review the council’s ethics policy after another council member was jailed for a probation violation.

Two Flint city council members have spent time behind bars in the past two years.

Kerry Nelson is the Flint city council president. He says the councilmen’s legal issues may lead to changes in their ethics code.

“About the ethics part, we have to really look at that and determine what this community is really looking for and what it needs,” says Nelson.

It’s been almost two weeks since the Legislature approved a state license plate in order for an anti-abortion group to fundraise off it, but the legislation still hasn’t been put in front of Governor Rick Snyder for his signature.

The Michigan Constitution says a governor has two weeks to sign or veto a bill once it’s adopted by the Legislature and placed before him. But there is no timeline for when the Legislature, once it’s approved a bill, has to actually send it to the governor.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement - or ICE - agents
U.S. Air Force / Creative Commons

Last weekend, federal immigration agents took more than 100 Iraqi nationals into custody, with plans to deport most of them. Among the detainees set to be deported are a large number of Chaldeans – a Christian sect. Others are Shiite Muslims. Deporting them to Iraq means they could face persecution in that country.

The American Civil Liberties Union-Michigan has filed a class-action lawsuit to stop the deportations, arguing that the detainees should be given the opportunity to prove they could face torture or death if returned to Iraq.

pile of one  dollar bills
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The state legislature is sending Governor Snyder a package of bills that will change retirement benefits for teachers.

Vicki Barnett, the former Mayor of Farmington Hills and a former Democratic legislator, says the switch to a defined contribution retirement model for new public school employees increases costs for local school districts.

“I have no problem with the concept of what they’re trying to do. It’s the underlying reason they’re doing it which will again lead to failure of the system,” Barnett said.

The uncertain future of the Affordable Care Act is likely influencing some of the health care rate increases.
Gage Skidmore / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Health insurance costs are going up next year. By a lot. How much depends on the Trump administration and Congress.

Blue Cross plans to raise insurance rates for plans it offers through the Affordable Care Act by an average of about 27% for individuals and close to 14% for Blue Care Network plans. The Detroit News reports another insurer, Priority Health, is proposing a nearly 18% hike for individuals buying through the Affordable Care Act. But, the rate hikes could be even higher.

Stateside 6.15.2017

Jun 15, 2017

Today, we hear how state officials charged in the Flint water probe possibly crossed a line by questioning scientists, also an investigative piece from Bridge Magazine and the Detroit Journalism Cooperative reveals that cash-strapped Wayne County leans on foreclosure fees to balance its budget.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Joel Kurth is the Detroit Editor for Bridge Magazine. Along with Mike Wilkinson and Laura Herberg, he’s been digging into how Wayne County is fattening its coffers through home foreclosures.

“Misery is monetized by counties all across Michigan, and no government relies on money from tax foreclosures as much as Wayne County.”

That blunt statement leads off a Bridge Magazine and Detroit Journalism Cooperative investigation titled “Sorry we foreclosed your home. But thanks for fixing our budget.”

A table filled with cups of Flint water
Flint Water Study / Facebook

Michigan's Attorney General made big headlines when he announced charges of involuntary manslaughter against Michigan Health and Human Services Director Nick Lyon, as well as four others.

Charges of obstruction of justice and lying to a police officer were leveled at the state's Chief Medical Executive, Dr. Eden Wells.

Flint city hall
steve carmody / Michigan Radio

The Flint city council today voted to override the mayor’s veto of next year’s city budget.

The dispute over a miniscule amount of money threatened to leave Flint without the ability to pay city workers next month.   

It’s the latest in a series of squabbles over city spending between the council and Mayor Karen Weaver. 

Lindsey Scullen / Michigan Radio

Michigan Radio’s It’s Just Politics team took over a tent at the Ann Arbor Summer Festival last night for an Issues & Ale event.

Co-hosts Zoe Clark and Rick Pluta joined panelists Chris Kolb, president of the Michigan Environmental Council, and Colleen Pero, chief of staff for the Michigan Republican Party, to talk about the latest political news in our state.

In the heat of the afternoon, Pluta began the discussion with a summary of the big news that came out yesterday in relation to the Flint water crisis:

Stateside 6.14.2017

Jun 14, 2017

Today, we speak with Rep. Mike Bishop who was among the Republican members of Congress and staffers at the baseball practice where a gunman opened fire this morning. Attorney General Bill Schuette and Genesee County Prosecutor David Leyton also join the show to discuss the new charges of involuntary manslaughter filed in relation to the Flint water crisis.

Bryce Huffman / Michigan Radio

As much of the nation focused on testimony last Thursday from former FBI Director James Comey, there were some who headed to the White House to talk infrastructure with the President and Vice President.

Among the group of some 40 officials was Candice Miller, former congresswoman and now Macomb County Public Works Commissioner.

As the face of Michigan during the White House meeting, Miller delivered a message about “handicaps and restrictions” that cost money and time on infrastructure investment.

Lansing's city hall
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Lansing’s outgoing mayor wants to sell city hall and find a new home for the city's offices.    

Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero today formally asked for proposals from businesses interested in turning Lansing City Hall’s downtown location into a hotel, office space, residential units or retail space.  He’s also asking for a plan to relocate city offices elsewhere.

aerial photo of the Great Lakes
National Oceanic and And Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

Environmentalists and their allies in Congress are stepping up their efforts to fight proposed cuts to federal Great Lakes funding and the EPA budget.

President Trump proposed deep cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency’s budget, as well as effectively eliminating federal money for Great Lakes restoration projects.  The Trump budget would shift the financial burden of maintaining the Great Lakes onto the eight states in the region.     

PBS live stream

Attorney General Jeff Sessions is testifying before the Senate Intelligence Committee this afternoon, as the investigation continues into Russian attempts to influence the 2016 presidential election.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

The Flint city council Monday night delayed a vote on extending the contract with the city’s drinking water supplier.

Flint has been getting its tap water from the Great Lakes Water Authority since October, 2015. The switch to GLWA ended an 18-month experiment that had the city get its drinking water from the Flint River, with disastrous results.

Community members talk about policing in Grand Rapids at the first of five scheduled public meetings scheduled for June.
Dustin Dwyer

Police department leaders and elected city officials in Grand Rapids listened quietly today at the first public meeting to discuss police and community relations. 

It was the first of five scheduled public meetings on the topic. The meetings came about in part because of a study released in April that showed Grand Rapids police pull over black and Hispanic drivers at disproportionate rates compared to whites. And, there was an incident in March in which a police officer held five unarmed black boys at gun point.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement - or ICE - agents
U.S. Air Force / Creative Commons

It was a traumatic, emotional weekend for the Chaldean community of Metro Detroit. Chaldeans are a Christian minority from the Middle East, mostly from Iraq, and many live in Southeast Michigan.

The fiercest rivalry in Michigan politics right now is between two candidates for governor who still have not actually announced they’re running.

We are seeing this rivalry play out between Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette and Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley in the nascent petition drive to make the state legislature part-time.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

The city of Grand Rapids launches a series of public meetings today on police- community relations.

The meetings come after a study showed Grand Rapids police disproportionately pulled over black and Hispanic drivers in the city compared to whites.

As Michigan Radio reported when the study came out:

The study took into account the demographics of drivers at 20 intersections. 

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - A tentative deal to steer more newly hired teachers into 401(k)-only retirement plans has stopped a surprising budget showdown between Republican legislative leaders and Gov. Rick Snyder.

  But key details remain to be finalized in a matter of weeks before the Legislature's summer recess.

  The decisions will affect not only future school employees but also a $55 billion state spending plan that is poised to receive Snyder's imprint after he was excluded from earlier talks.

jessica / flickr http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The Michigan Democratic Party must pay a $500,000 fine for violations related to bingo games that were used as political fundraisers. The fine is one of the largest ever assessed by the Federal Elections Commission.           

The violations were self-reported to the government by then-party chair Lon Johnson.

“I’ve always believed that how you run a campaign or how you run a political party is indicative of how you will govern, and I think it’s important that we follow the law,” he said.

Lindsey Smith

City commissioners in Grand Rapids are expected to vote next week on a budget that includes more money for affordable housing.

A preliminary plan released by the city in April included slightly more than $866,000 for the 2018 budget to launch an Affordable Housing Community Fund. The plan proposes about $1 million per year for future years. 

Grand Rapids is in the middle of a housing crisis, with relatively few homes or apartments available in the city, and prices skyrocketing.

child's drawing on chalkboard
iRon leSs / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

This week, The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services issued a news release about a federal court update concerning how well Michigan protects children in the state’s child welfare system. The State agency’s release claims Michigan has made significant progress in better protecting children. Yet, an advocacy group is countering the state’s claim, saying there’s a long way to go before the state can guarantee the safety and welfare of children in foster care.

Steve Carmody / MICHIGAN RADIO

With so much happening around Michigan and in Washington D.C., Stateside invited U.S. Sen. Gary Peters to stop by to explain what's important to him and to Michigan right now. The Senator has a number of legislative items he's working on for the state and for the Great Lakes, but he also took the time to talk about former FBI Director James Comey’s testimony and President Trump’s tweets.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A new tax break for redeveloping blighted land in Michigan is now law.

Gov. Rick Snyder signed the bill Thursday as he sat in the gutted lobby of a 120-year-old office building in downtown Saginaw. The Berringer building has sat unused for years as a series owners have tried and failed to renovate it.

teacher with two students
department of education / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Top lawmakers in the state Legislature have reached a tentative agreement with Gov. Rick Snyder about changes to the state’s teacher retirement system.

 

House Speaker Tom Leonard, R-DeWitt, and Senate Majority Leader Meekhof, R-West Olive, have been aggressively pursuing a plan to shut down the state’s hybrid pension and 401(k) system. Meekhof and Leonard want to put all new hires into a 401(k) plan.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

A new report finds many of Michigan’s state lawmakers have been penalized for not properly filing their campaign finance reports.

The Michigan Campaign Finance Network scoured through state records and found fifty percent of current state lawmakers have paid fines for failing to follow Michigan’s campaign finance reporting requirements.

Executive Director Craig Mauger says most paid small amounts, while a few had to pay thousands of dollars.

The Michigan state capitol building
Thetoad / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

There’s no end yet to the standoff between Governor Rick Snyder and the Legislature’s Republican leaders that’s delayed wrapping up the state budget. But they are talking again.

 

 

Bottles of water
Flickr user Daniel Orth / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

Nestle wants to draw more spring water from its well in Osceola County.

As Michigan decides whether to approve Nestle’s request, there's a group with an especially large stake in that decision: Native American tribes who have treaty rights to those waters.

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