Politics & Government

Stories about politics and government actions

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

Can American legislators help to convince the Canadian environmental minister to say no to a plan to store nuclear waste underground less than a mile from Lake Huron?

U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow hopes so. She unveiled legislation today related to a nuclear waste storage site planned for Kincardine, Ontario.

Melissa Gilbert, the actor who gained fame playing Laura Ingalls on TV’s Little House on the Prairie, says she’s running for a mid-Michigan congressional seat as a Democrat.

  Gilbert made the announcement via e-mail and social media. Michigan’s Eighth Congressional District seat is currently held by freshman Republican Mike Bishop. Gilbert has lived in Howell since 2013 with her husband, actor Timothy Busfield. He is a Michigan native.

Courser web site

It was the story that stunned Detroit News readers.

Recordings were published Friday that indicated State Rep. Todd Courser, R-Lapeer, had sent out a phony email last May alleging he paid for gay sex behind a Lansing bar. The email was meant to provide what he called a "controlled burn," to direct attention away from an extramarital affair with fellow State Rep. Cindy Gamrat, R-Plainwell.

Bytemarks / flickr


State officials say Michigan’s unemployment computer system is saving money, streamlining the unemployment process, and rooting out unemployment fraud. It's called the Michigan Integrated Data Automated System, or MiDAS, and it's been handling unemployment claims in Michigan since 2013.

Courser website

Update 3:11 p.m.

The Speaker of the House in the Michigan Legislature said state officials seized evidence from the offices of Rep. Cindy Gamrat, R-Plainwell, and Todd Courser, R-Lapeer, as part of their investigation into whether the two lawmakers used state resources to hide their relationship.

More from Chad Livengood and Leonard Fleming of the Detroit News:

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

There will be plenty of security inside and outside of tomorrow’s Donald Trump speaking event near Flint.

Trump will be speaking in Birch Run, which is police chief Al Swearengin’s town.    

He says they’ve had bigger events, including this past weekend’s Dirt Fest music festival at the Expo Center. 

Michigan lawmakers and the Snyder administration are writing up new energy policy. It’s a big deal that almost no one is paying attention to. And that means the issue will be driven by special interests.

Courser web site

The state House leader has ordered an investigation into whether two Republican lawmakers used their publicly funded offices to try and cover up an extra-marital affair.

State Representatives Todd Courser (R-Lapeer) and Cindy Gamrat (R-Plainwell) have been Tea Party favorites and alliance of two often at odds with their own party’s leaders.

The Detroit News obtained audio recordings made by a staffer where Courser can be heard outlining his plan to create a fake scandal in an effort to paper over the real one.

User Motown31 / Creative Commons

Each week  Jennifer White speaks to Susan Demas, publisher of Inside Michigan Politics, and Ken Sikkema, former Senate Majority Leader and Senior Policy Fellow at Public Sector Consultants, about the latest in state politics.

This week, they discussed the federal civil rights complaint filed by the Detroit Public Schools elected board against Governor Rick Snyder.

Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority

It doesn't look like the Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority is going to have trouble finding companies to build the Gordie Howe International Bridge between the U.S. and Canada. 

The WDBA met with interested construction and engineering firms during several informational sessions in Detroit and Windsor this week. 

Today on Stateside:

Ann Marie Sastry is a former University of Michigan professor, a material science researcher, and the founder of Sakti3 — one of 30 companies invited to showcase its work at the first-ever White House Demo Day. She’s developing the next generation of low-cost batteries that could change everything.

Dan Austin’s recent piece for Detroit Free Press talks about new life at the home of the Detroit Stock Exchange. Austin joins us today to give us a lesson on the history of the DSE.

flickr user Joe Gratz / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

By the end of September, survivors of sexual assault will have new rights.

The Sexual Assault Victim’s Access To Justice Act sets up an array of victims' rights in sexual assault cases.

The act requires police agencies to inform survivors about how they can get help and support, where the survivor can get free medical care and testing, and to do it all within 24 hours of the first contact with the survivor.

http://www.waynecounty.com/executive/index.htm / Wayne County

With Wayne County in a state-confirmed financial emergency, its leaders are trying to avoid an emergency manager or bankruptcy.

Today, the Wayne County Commissioners went for a third option: a consent agreement.

It’s what County Executive Warren Evans has been pushing for since he asked the state to declare the county in a financial emergency.

Once that emergency was declared, the state gave the county four options: emergency manager or bankruptcy, which nobody wants - or a "neutral evaluation" which basically means mediation, or a consent agreement. 

Today on Stateside:

Michigan's local food movement is thriving, and we're seeing more chefs who deeply care about what they buy and from whom. Metro Times writer Michael Jackman tells us about a meal prepared by Chef Rigato of The Root in White Lake Township, and how he traced nearly 100% of its ingredients to Michigan producers.

Ackerman for Council

Ann Arbor’s getting a new city council member. He’s 21 and a student at the University of Michigan.

Zachary Ackerman says no one was more surprised than he was this week, when he beat incumbent city council member Stephen Kunselman in the Democratic primary – by just 40 votes.

State of Michigan

Wayne County commissioners will officially decide Thursday how to tackle the county’s financial emergency.

Michigan’s largest county has reported a running budget gap of around $50 million a year, prompting Wayne County Executive Warren Evans to ask the state to step in.

User: PunkToad / flickr

Sabra Briere (D-Ward 1), Zachary Ackerman (D-Ward 2), John Eaton (D-Ward 4) and Chip Smith (D-Ward 5) won their primary election races. Currently, the four Democratic candidates face no opposition in the November general election. 

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

The top four will advance to the general election

Carol Wood 4771 votes (40.5%)

Patricia A. Spitzley 2190 votes (18.6%)

Harold J. Leeman Jr. 2171 votes (18.4%)

Emily Dievendorf 1589 votes (13.5%)

Mary Ann Prince will not advance, with 1068 votes (9.1%)

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint Mayor Dayne Walling will get a chance to keep his job, though he would first have to defeat a political novice in November.

Walling finished first in Tuesday’s mayoral primary.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Rosalynn Bliss will be Grand Rapids' new mayor.

Bliss soundly defeated her opponents in today's primary, winning 66% of the vote and negating the need for a run-off election in November.

Screen grab from ad
J Street

A new ad in support of the Iran nuclear deal is making its way to Michigan airwaves this week.

The U.S.-based, pro-Israel organization J Street paid for the ad, which they say "represents growing public support for the Iran deal within Israel's security establishment."

Today on Stateside:

Watchdogs at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration are keeping a wary eye on a safety issue with airbags: what happens when airbags age? Paul Eisenstein talks with us about the concerns.

It’s almost like something out of “Little Shop of Horrors,” a nasty, giant plant that could lead to blistering, scars, or even permanent blindness. It’s called giant hogweed, and one’s been found near Battle Creek. Gretchen Voyle sits down with us to talk about just what makes this plant so nasty.

Flickr user MoneyBlogNewz / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Let's say you're running a national company and that company has lost $26 billion between 2011 and 2014.

What should you do? Find cost efficiencies? Streamline? Merge? Cut spending?

Today on Stateside:

A group of unions is launching a petition drive to raise the corporate income tax rate in Michigan, a proposal that flies in the face of Gov. Snyder’s tax overhaul of 2011. The It’s Just Politics team of Zoe Clark and Rick Pluta break the proposal down for us.

It’s happened to the best of us: you said something online that you now regret. Can you take it back, or will your unfortunate emails, tweets and posts somehow live forever? Kimberly Springer sits down with us to talk about what users can do to combat Internet rant remorse.

A group of unions is launching a petition drive to raise the corporate income tax rate in Michigan. But is that really their end game?

user alkruse24 / Flickr

It’s been almost two-and-a-half years since Michigan’s revamped emergency manager law took effect. Thirteen Michigan cities and five school districts are currently under some form of state oversight.

Now, there are growing doubts about the law’s ability to help schools in financial distress.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

During a debate last night, the four candidates running for Flint mayor largely agreed on what needs to be done.  Just not who should lead the city.

Incumbent mayor Dayne Walling, businesswoman Karen Weaver and councilmen Eric Mays and Wantwaz Davis shared the podium and their opinions during their final pre-primary debate.

Today on Stateside:

Michigan State University released its State of the State survey results today, and Director Charles Ballard joins us to discuss the results.

Living off the grid can be a lot of work, but one Michigan family has been doing it for years. Joe Trumpey tells us, “It’s really not about the sacrifice. It’s about paying attention.”

Flickr user Pictures of Money / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Candidates often publicize the amount of money they have raised by including it in press releases or newsletters. But with campaign financing often criticized for it's ability to sway candidates based on who is funding them, why would candidates willingly draw attention to how much they have received?

Joe DiSano of DiSano Strategies in Lansing says these numbers are targeted at potential donors and their opponents, not ordinary voters.

Norris Wong / Flickr

This Week in Michigan Politics, Michigan Radio’s senior news analyst Jack Lessenberry and Morning Edition host Christina Shockley discuss a land swap deal between Detroit and the owners of the Ambassador Bridge; the beginnings of a lawsuit over an Enbridge pipeline under the Straits of Mackinac; and how some residents in Hamtramck are getting so fed up with bad roads, they are filling in potholes on their streets themselves.