Politics & Government

Stories about politics and government actions

Stateside 7.5.2016

Jul 5, 2016

Today, we look at a proposed community benefits ordinance in Detroit. And, a conversation about whether schools are doing enough to help dyslexic students.

To find individual interviews, click here or see below:

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A proposed Detroit city ordinance is facing a well-organized, but so far anonymous, challenge.

A coalition gathered more than 5,000 signatures in favor a community benefits ordinance.

The ordinance would require large-scale developments that receive public money or use public land to return some benefits to surrounding communities.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

This weekend, Michigan delegates to the Republican National Convention get to work on the party’s national platform.

This will be Meshawn Maddock’s first convention as a delegate. At the state party convention this spring, she was chosen to be one of two Michiganders on the platform committee. Maddock has spent the past few weeks reviewing past party platforms and getting input from her fellow Michigan Republicans.

Maddock says there are certain issues about which she doesn't want to see the party’s position shift.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

This month’s Republican and Democratic National Conventions are big parties. 

But they’re expensive parties for the participants.

Charles Niswander is a Bernie Sanders delegate. He’s looking forward to being in Philadelphia for the DNC. 

But there’s a cost: $3,000 to $4,000 in travel and hotel.

“There is a part of me that feels like they would rather keep poor, working people out and not have their voices heard as much,” says Niswander.  

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

After a busy Fourth of July weekend, more than a hundred Michigan State Police troopers will travel to Cleveland to provide security during the upcoming Republican National Convention.

The Michigan troopers will be part of the large police presence in Cleveland during the four-day convention in mid-July.

The troopers leave July 16th for a seven-day deployment to northeast Ohio where they will assist with security and crowd management outside the convention center as well as motorcycle escorts for motorcades.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Detroit school children, Flint residents and residents across Michigan will be affected when the next state budget takes effect in three months.

  Gov. Rick Snyder signed the $54.9 billion spending plan this week. It touches many corners of Michigan life - from spending on public schools and road repairs to increased dental coverage for low-income children and more troopers patrolling highways.

  Per-pupil grants for K-12 schools will increase by between $60 and $120. The gap between wealthier and poorer districts will shrink.

cash money
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The powerful credit ratings agency Standard and Poor’s has downgraded two sets of bonds issued by Detroit Public Schools.

The agency also expressed doubt about a new arrangement that splits the school district in two.

On Friday, new state laws took effect splitting the Detroit Public Schools into “old” and “new” districts.

The old one exists solely to pay off debt with tax revenues, while the new one receives state aid payments to educate students.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

The state has fully relinquished oversight of Benton Harbor, six years after the city was placed under emergency management to address a budget deficit.

Friday's decision followed a recommendation from a state-appointed receivership transition advisory board.

The southwestern Michigan city will manage operations and finances without oversight. City council ordinances no longer need approval of the board that was appointed in 2014 once emergency management ended.

Both Gov. Rick Snyder and former Gov. Jennifer Granholm appointed emergency managers in Benton Harbor.

Jacobs said Legislature was "penny wise and pound foolish" in neglecting to add $3 million to the "heat and eat" program in the new state budget.
Flickr user Liz West / Flickr / HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

An advocacy group for low-income people has been going over the new state budget. The Michigan League for Public Policy (MLPP) found some good things in the budget, and a whole lot of federal money left on the table.

Gilda Jacobs, president and CEO of the MLPP, started with the good things:

It's Just Politics Logo
It's Just Politics with Zoe Clark and Rick Pluta

With the sparkling waters of Lake Michigan to set the scene, Governor Snyder on Wednesday signed the new $38.8 billion state budget. 

There were some unexpected revenue shortfalls to deal with. State revenues came up more than $300 million short, largely due to corporate tax credits. There was also a $100 million spike in Medicaid payments. 

Stateside 6.30.2016

Jun 30, 2016

Today, we look at Michigan's 2017 budget. And, we wonder why the insured are at greatest risk of falling through the mental health care safety net. 

Use NPR's new elections simulator tool to see what demographic shifts could help or hurt Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton this November.
Colleen P / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

It would take a major swing in voter demographics to turn Michigan red in the upcoming presidential election, according to a new tool developed by NPR.

The 270 Project, which maps likely state-level winners based on the demographics and turnout rates of voters, allows election junkies to sketch out November's presidential election between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump by playing with five different margins of victory and turnout rates in various demographics: white male, white female, Black, Hispanic, and the rest of the electorate. 

U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee, D-Flint.
Michigan Municipal League / dan kildee

The Washington, D.C. and Flint offices of U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee, D-Mich., are nearly 600 miles apart. But lead-tainted water has recently been a problem in both. 

Monday, the Architect of the Capitol's office sent an eye-opening advisory to staffers in the D.C. building housing Kildee's office.

"This week, the AOC received results within the Cannon House Office Building that indicate lead levels in drinking water sources are slightly above the EPA standard," wrote William Weidemeyer, the House Office Buildings superintendent. 

Lindsey Scullen/Michigan Radio

One Well Brewing in Kalamazoo opened its doors Tuesday night for Michigan Radio’s latest rendition of Issues & Ale, our community conversation event series.

For the second time this summer, Michigan Radio and the Center for Michigan met up with listeners to discuss why trust in government is eroding in our state – and how that trust might be restored.

Stateside 6.29.2016

Jun 29, 2016

Today, we talk with the founder of The First Cannabis Church of Logic and Reason in Lansing. We also talk with a GVSU music ensemble embarking on a tour commemorating our national parks.

To find individual interviews, click here or see below:

Jack Lessenberry
Michigan Radio

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette has been in the news a lot lately. This Week in Michigan Politics, Jack Lessenberry talks about the climbing price tag on Schuette's Flint water investigation, his appeal to Michigan voters, and whether it's likely he'll run for governor in 2018.

Attorney General Bill Schuette
Bill Schuette

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette says lawyers hired by Governor Rick Snyder at public expense are delaying progress in the criminal investigation of the Flint water crisis.

Legal troubles are piling for a Detroit-area state lawmaker. Representative Brian Banks, D-Harper Woods, faces new felony charges that he submitted fake paycheck records to get a loan.

Banks has eight prior felonies, and settled a sexual harassment lawsuit earlier this year. These newest charges date back to 2010. The charges filed in the Wayne County Circuit Court by the state Attorney General’s office include uttering and publishing and obtaining money under false pretenses.

Julie Plawecki
http://housedems.com/

The sudden death of state Rep. Julie Plawecki last weekend left a vacancy on the August Democratic primary ballot. 

Plawecki was running unopposed in the 11th House District, which includes Dearborn Heights, Inkster and Garden City. 

Jonathan Kinloch, chair of the 13th Congressional District Democratic Party, says precinct delegates will meet next week to start the process of finding a new candidate.

Stateside 6.28.2016

Jun 28, 2016

Today, we wonder what new abortion rulings in Texas could mean for Michigan. And, we learn about the charitable side of Ramadan in Michigan.

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday struck down several restrictions on abortion providers in Texas, which could have implications on similar restrictions in Michigan.
user dbking / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Yesterday's landmark ruling by the United States Supreme Court applied specifically to abortion clinics in Texas, but it could have far-reaching implications for Michigan, too.

The court's decision came in a 5-3 vote, with the majority opinion written by Associate Justice Stephen Breyer.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

The city of Lansing has a new city attorney.

The city council confirmed Jim Smiertka Monday night. He replaces interim city attorney Joseph Abood.   Abood came on board after the sudden departure earlier this year of City Attorney Janene McIntyre. 

McIntyre’s unexplained departure and her $160,000 severance package raised questions about transparency at city hall.

Smiertka says he will work to address those concerns.

“I think it’s important to send a signal that going forward there won’t be these issues,” says Smiertka. 

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint continues to struggle to replace damaged pipes.    

Mayor Karen Weaver said bids from contractors to replace up to 500 service lines came in “extremely high”. 

But there is an offer on the table that could potentially present the city with a big savings.

Walter Wang is the owner of JM Eagle, a California company that produces plastic pipes.  Back in February, Wang offered to give the city enough plastic PVC pipe to replace thousands of damaged lead service lines for free.

But to date, Flint officials have not accepted Wang’s offer.

Former chief medical executive Dr. Matthew Davis received an email on the Genesee County Legionnaires' outbreak nearly a year before its public announcement.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

 

Did the Michigan Department of Health and Human services know about a possible Legionnaires’ disease outbreak in Genesee County a year before it was publicly disclosed? Emails recently released by Governor Rick Snyder’s administration raise that question.

Dr. Matthew Davis, who served as the state’s chief medical executive and on Snyder’s Flint water task force, has previously denied knowledge of the increase of Legionnaires’ cases in Genesee County prior to leaving his post in April 2015.

Gov. Rick Snyder
gophouse.com

 

Governor Rick Snyder has signed an education budget for the coming fiscal year. But there are questions about a provision that will send $2.5 million to private and religious schools for state mandates such as fire drills. The provision could run against a section of the state constitution that says no public money can be used to support private or parochial schools.

Snyder acknowledged there may be legal issues with the budget. “But at this point, I thought it appropriate to move ahead and let’s address the legal questions separately,” Snyder said.

The latest re-invention of public schools in Detroit is underway with the state trying yet again to overhaul the district facing huge financial and academic difficulties.

But it’s still too early to declare victory.

This new plan out of Lansing is without the support of legislative Democrats, the Detroit delegation and Mayor Mike Duggan. But it does return the Detroit public schools back to the control of a locally elected school board. This is coming after many state appointed emergency managers over seven years have tried but failed to turn around the district.

Kevin Rosseel / morguefile

A Republican state legislator leading the effort to overhaul criminal justice in Michigan says rehabilitation is as important as punishment.

State Senator John Proos says the public is safer and taxpayers save money when released felons don’t re-offend – and when juveniles don’t become permanent clients of the criminal justice system.

Michigan state Rep. Plawecki dies at age 54

Jun 26, 2016
http://housedems.com/

State Rep. Julie Plawecki, D-Dearborn Heights, has died while hiking with a daughter in Oregon. She was 54.

State Sen. David Knezek, a fellow Democrat from Dearborn Heights, announced Plawecki's death late Saturday night on Facebook. House Minority Leader Tim Greimel released a statement Sunday saying the caucus was deeply saddened by her death. A spokeswoman for Greimel, Katie Carey, said Plawecki's family said she died of an apparent heart attack.

Crew works on replacing a lead service line in Flint earlier this year.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint city officials are scheduled to sit down with seven contractors tomorrow with hopes of getting the city’s pipe replacement program back on track.

Contractors submitted bids last week to replace hundreds of lead service lines in Flint.

The pipes connect homes to city water mains, and are a prime source of lead that’s leeching into Flint’s drinking water.

But Mayor Karen Weaver says those bids were “extremely high.” She says Monday’s meeting is intended to hopefully find ways to reduce the cost.

The state will pay the full costs of bottled water and filters in Flint after the federal emergency ends August 14.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The state of Michigan is setting aside more money for future disasters and emergencies.

This past week, Gov. Rick Snyder signed a bill to raise the cap on Michigan’s Disaster and Emergency Contingency Fund from $4.5 million to $10 million.   

The fund provides state assistance to counties and municipalities when federal assistance is not available.

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