WUOMFM

Politics & Government

Stories about politics and government actions

The Vogue Theater in Manistee, MI was restored after a Rural Development Office feasibility test was conducted.
PunkToad / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCLO

Agencies across the country are waiting and wondering if their programs will be on the federal government's chopping block this year. They're hoping a groundswell of public support will help convince Congress to spare their funding.

One of the threatened programs is the USDA's Rural Development Office. It provides grants to businesses that are supporting rural communities and residents.  

According to Director of the Alliance for Economic Success Tim Ervin, small grants can make a big difference. Projects the Rural Development Office funds range from revitalizing movie theaters to launching regional recycling programs to creating a senior center.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Thousands of delinquent Flint water customers are once again at risk of losing their homes.

Today, a state oversight board struck down a moratorium on putting unpaid water bills on county tax rolls.

Doctor Jim Hines climbs aboard his campaign bus with a box of petition signatures to be dropped off with state elections officials.
Rick Pluta / Michigan Radio

A doctor from Saginaw Township is the first candidate for governor to file petition signatures to appear on the ballot next year.

Doctor Jim Hines filed more than 22,000 signatures to appear on the August 2018 Republican primary ballot. It takes 15,000 signatures to qualify. The petitions must still be checked and certified by elections officials.

Hines says he’s a fan of President Trump and Governor Rick Snyder, who were also political novices when they first ran for their jobs.

Troy Holden / flickr http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

A new state medical marijuana licensing board met for the first time Monday.

The meeting was mainly for the board to hear public comment about how the new medical marijuana program should operate. It won’t start issuing licenses until next year.

John Kroneck came to the meeting to represent Michigan Prevention Association. That group is concerned about potential consequences of expanding the medical marijuana system.

A sign that says "City of Flint Municipal Center"
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint city council members say they need more information before they can approve the agreement with the Great Lakes Water Authority. The 30-year deal is part of a broader agreement addressing Flint's water crisis.  The council did approve a three month extension of the current contract instead.  

Governor Rick Snyder was overseas last week as his top legislative priority tanked in the state House. And now he has to pick up the pieces.

'Good jobs'

The state’s economic developers have big dreams of landing big employers offering thousands of workers big paychecks. So, they hatched this idea of letting big businesses keep the state income taxes paid by their employees in exchange for creating jobs in Michigan. The legislation is known as “Good Jobs for Michigan.”

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A recall petition targeting Flint’s mayor reaches a milestone this week.

Recall organizer Arthur Woodson declined to comment last week on the status of the campaign. However, in the past Woodson has said volunteers have collected more than 6,000 signatures since a judge cleared the way for recall petition process to begin in April.

Flint Mayor Weaver, Lansing Mayor Bernaro, and Ret. Brig. Gen. Michael McDaniel stand next to the lead pipe.
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

Flint’s pipe replacement program faces a critical deadline at the end of this week.

By Friday, Flint needs to replace its 2,037th lead or galvanized service line.

That would be approximately 7% of the estimated number of suspect pipes tied to the city’s lead tainted tap water crisis.

The mandated 7% threshold is part of the federal Lead and Copper Rule.  

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Gov. Rick Snyder's administration agreed that he would publicly oppose many future labor-relations bills in a bid to secure Democratic votes in the Michigan House for economic development tax incentives.

A Republican legislative official and a Snyder administration official who told The Associated Press about the agreement spoke on the condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to discuss the private meetings.

Capitol Building in Lansing, MI
Matthileo / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Governor Rick Snyder wanted a tax incentive package to lure big employers. A majority of Republicans and Democrats like the idea. But then, Speaker of the House Tom Leonard yanked the legislation because of a rumor the governor had cut a deal with Democrats for their support.

Stateside 6.23.2017

Jun 23, 2017

Today, we talk with a Federal Reserve bank president about why he’s holding town halls to hear from people about the economy. Plus, we find out more about that canceled risk analysis on Enbridge Energy’s Line 5.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint City Council is defying state and federal government officials, as well as the city’s mayor, and is putting off a vote on a drinking water contract for another two weeks.

Enbridge Energy's Line 5 oil and liquid natural gas pipelines run under Lake Michigan at the Straits of Mackinac.
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

The state of Michigan recently terminated its contract with an independent contractor that was analyzing any potential risk posed by Enbridge Energy’s 64-year-old Line 5 pipeline.

Firing that contractor leaves a lot of unanswered questions. The state says the company, Det Norske Veritas, a Norwegian firm, failed to follow conflict of interest rules. An employee of the firm was working on the state’s request for a risk analysis of the 64-year-old pipeline and then also did work for Enbridge.

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

The legislature has passed a state budget, and it’s headed to Governor Snyder’s desk for approval.

Stateside talked to two reporters covering the capitol and Lansing to go over some of the Highlights in the budget. Kyle Melinn is the editor of MIRS, a news service that covers state government. Rick Pluta is the Captol bureau chief for Michigan Radio.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Nearly every week you'll hear something about the Federal Reserve Bank. But how often do you think of the Fed and how it affects your local economy?

Hamza Butt / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCLO

You’ve heard that advertisers are keeping track of every online site you visit. They keep track of the data to try to determine what you’re likely to buy. Well, that online data collection is just the beginning.

John Cheney-Lippold, assistant professor of American culture at the University of Michigan and author of the book We Are Data: Algorithms and the Making of Our Digital Selves, helped explain the difference between data that is trying to sell you a product, and data that truly knows who you are as a person.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan State University trustees clashed today  over a trustee’s recent outing of a whistleblower in a sexual assault case involving the school’s football program.

MSU Trustee Mitch Lyons has come under fire for his comments on a Tuesday radio interview that former player Auston Robertson reported a January sexual assault incident in a meeting with Mark Dantonio.

Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley
Photo courtesy of www.governorelectricksnyder.com

The ballot campaign to adopt a part-time Legislature amendment in Michigan decided to skip getting its petition approved by a state elections board. The leader of the campaign, Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley, says he’s comfortable fighting any challenges in court.

Getting a petition form pre-approved is a voluntary step that’s supposed to avoid legal hassles later on. But Calley says he doesn’t think a court battle can be avoided.

USDAGOV / CREATIVE COMMONS - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

A group of 13 Republican Senators continues to work in secrecy, writing a bill to replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says Republicans will see a "discussion draft" of the bill tomorrow.

Their goal? A vote a week from tomorrow, on June 29.

The state Capitol in Lansing.
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Political intrigue is being blamed for the collapse of a deal for the state to offer big tax breaks to employers who bring a lot of jobs to Michigan.

An angry state House Republican leader abruptly canceled a vote Tuesday shortly before midnight on Governor Rick Snyder’s top priority for the Legislature’s spring and summer session. House Speaker Tom Leonard, R-DeWitt, accused the governor’s bargaining team of making side deals with Democrats and unions without informing GOP leaders.

exterior of the Michigan state capital
Pkay Chelle / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

These are busy days in Lansing. Among other things, the legislature is working out the final details of the state budget before its summer recess. Last week, state Attorney General Bill Schuette charged a number of current and former officials with crimes related to the Flint water crisis.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

The East Lansing city council has approved a tentative deal paving the way for a $132 million development project that would change the look of the college town’s downtown.

The 12-story complex will include hundreds of apartments and retail space.   

Mayor Mark Meadows hopes the Center City District project will attract more older people to East Lansing’s downtown.    

“Now someone can open a retail space that doesn’t just cater to somebody who’s 18 to 24 years old,” says Meadows.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint’s mayor is the latest to call on the city council to sign-off on a plan to keep Flint’s tap water flowing from Detroit.

Back in April, Flint Mayor Karen Weaver announced she wanted her city to continue to get its tap water from the Great Lakes Water Authority. The agreement has support from various stakeholders, but so far not the Flint city council.

bill schuette announcing charges
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The involuntary manslaughter charges announced last week against the head of Michigan's health department and four other former state and Flint city officials have made big headlines. Why? Because such charges are exceptionally rare.

Adam Candeub, a professor of law at Michigan State University, joined Stateside today to put the charges into context.

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.

Pages