Politics & Government

Stories about politics and government actions

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A state House committee has adopted a bill to eliminate the straight ticket voting option on election ballots. And the committee linked the measure’s future to a bill to make it easier to vote absentee.

Republicans say it’s a compromise that will require voters to educate themselves about candidates.

  • Enbridge has made promises to keep the aging Line 5 oil pipeline in the Straits of Mackinac maintained and said it's got an emergency response team in place, but there's a complicating factor no one can control: big, turbulent waves.
  • In Detroit and across Michigan, there is often talk about becoming the next Silicon Valley. But Detroit has its own set of unique challenges and opportunity, and Razi Jafri is here to tell us we should strive to be something new and different.
Inside the Michigan House of Representatives.
user - CedarBendDrive / Flickr - http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Keith Allard and Ben Graham, the two ex-staffers of former Representatives Todd Courser and Cindy Gamrat, filed a federal whistleblower lawsuit against the Michigan House of Representatives.

In their lawsuit, the ex-staffers allege that House Speaker Kevin Cotter’s office ignored their reports that Gamrat and Courser were engaging in an extra-marital affair, and that the two representatives were misusing their office by forcing the staffers to do political work with taxpayer money.

They say they first reported the problems in February 2015. They were later fired in July.

There are just two more weeks before the Legislature’s done for the year and House and Senate Republicans are spending them setting things up for election season 2016.

There’s a very partisan debate underway at the state Capitol about eliminating the straight-ticket voting option on the ballot. Straight-ticket voting is what allows voters to make just one mark on the ballot to cast all their votes for candidates of one party or the other.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

University of Michigan officials are expanding a unique program aimed at finding high tech solutions to low tech problems.

The U of M School of Information has been working in Jackson for the past few years. Monday, UMSI’s Citizen Interaction Design program will show off seven new projects, including a “one-stop shop” for local startups; a new Web portal with accessibility information for Jackson residents; a project that brings Jackson matriarch Ella Sharp to life via interactive postcards. 

No-reason absentee voting bill pushed in Michigan House

Dec 5, 2015
user eyspahn / flickr http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Republicans' push to eliminate Michigan's straight-party voting option may improve the odds of voters being allowed to cast absentee ballots for any reason.

A lawmaker is pushing for passage of "no-reason" absentee voting legislation next week. Voters could ask for an absentee ballot application in person at their clerk's office without needing an excuse.

They currently must be 60 years or older, be out of town when polls are open or meet other criteria.

Photo courtesy of www.gophouse.com

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - A Republican Michigan lawmaker has apologized for comments he made during a hearing that were deemed racially insensitive by Democratic leaders and a teachers' union.

 

Television stations WDIV and WXYZ report Troy Sen. Marty Knollenberg apologized Friday after criticism over comments he made during an education committee hearing. In speaking about struggling school districts, Knollenberg said the "non-white population" is a contributor, "we can't fix that" and "you can't make an African-American white."

Paul Hitzelberger / UPW

The Great Lakes Water Authority is now more or less a done deal.

The final big hurdle was to get current Detroit Water and Sewerage Department bondholders to agree to transfer more than $5 billion in debt to the new Authority.

A majority did agree to that this week.

Alberto G. / Creative Commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

How many US senators are there? What does the President's cabinet do? Who is in charge of the executive branch?   

High school students who can't answer those questions might want to start studying.

Lawmakers in Lansing are considering a house bill that would require Michigan high school students to pass a civics test before they get their diploma.

kakisky / morgueFile

Local clerks and activists panned an effort to end straight-ticket voting in Michigan at a state House hearing on Thursday.

Voters would no longer be able to fill in one bubble to vote for every candidate representing a single political party on the ballot.

Clerks say the change would make lines and wait times longer on Election Day.

  • Windsor is preparing to take in between 200 and 600 Syrian refugees over the next few months. Mayor Drew Dilkens tells us about the city's preparations.
Windsor's financial district
wikimedia user Tkgd2007 / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

The public debate about welcoming refugees from Syria isn’t just happening here in the States. Canada is planning to receive 25,000 Syrian refugees over the next three months.

This week, Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens joined with municipal leaders from all across Canada for a meeting in Ottawa to hear the newly elected Liberal Party of Canada's plans for resettling the refugees.

  • Leaders from around the world have converged on Paris this week for what many are calling the most important environmental talks of our time: the Paris Climate Conference. How might those talks affect our lives here in Michigan?

  • With the state legislators' holiday break right around the corner, Detroit Free Press reporter Kathy Gray takes a look at how they voted this year and what to expect from the House and the Senate over the next few weeks.
The Michigan House of Representatives in Lansing
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

As of today, our state legislators have nine session days left before heading home for the holidays on December 17.

So it’s a good time to review who’s been most effective in getting bills passed and what we might see come out of the final few sessions before we bid farewell to 2015.

People moving from Syria into Turkey.
European Commission DG ECHO

Governor Rick Snyder says the federally created, bipartisan Council of Governors is the right forum to answer concerns about vetting refugees fleeing violence in the Middle East.

James Craig, Detroit police chief, says terrorist attacks would not occur in Detroit because of armed citizens.
M&R Glasgow / Flickr - http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Detroit police chief James Craig said the casualties following the terrorist attacks in Paris — resulting in more than 100 deaths — would not have occurred had the citizens been armed.

"A lot of Detroiters have (concealed pistol licenses), and the same rules apply to terrorists as they do to some gun-toting thug," Chief James Craig told The Detroit News. "If you're a terrorist, or a carjacker, you want unarmed citizens."

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint’s new mayor has laid out her priorities for her first hundred days in office. Not surprisingly, the plan largely reflects the issues she stressed in her campaign.

Karen Weaver defeated incumbent mayor Dayne Walling in last month’s election.   She’s been on the job for nearly a month. 

Even though roughly a quarter of her first hundred days have passed, the mayor says now was a good time to update people on her plans for her first 100 days.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A state House committee will consider legislation to help foster kids navigate the system.

Among other things, the bills would require a “children’s assurance of quality foster care policy is developed” and that current and former foster children participate in developing the policy.

The bills would also require foster kids be able to meet with judges overseeing their cases and know how to file complaints.

Governor Snyder (R) wrote to Secretary of State John Kerry on safety measures for admitted Syrian refugees.
Michigan Governor Rick Snyder Talks with Michigan Municipal League Board / Flickr - http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Governor Rick Snyder is calling for more discussions between state and federal officials regarding security surrounding the relocation of refugees from the Middle East in the US.

The governor sent a letter on Tuesday to Secretary of State John Kerry and Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson. The governor says he asked the topic to be added to a meeting later this month of the bipartisan Council of Governors. The council was created under federal law to advise the federal government on security and homeland defense matters.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Detroit police officers should get a pay bump starting in 2016.

City officials announced Monday that officers will get  a 4% raise January 1.

It’s part of a deal that will extend the city’s three police unions’ contracts through 2020. That contract was negotiated and approved in 2014, during the city’s bankruptcy.

Police Chief James Craig says a pay boost is crucial to attracting and retaining officers, something the department is struggling with right now.

  • Could 2016 give Democrats a chance to break the GOP's total control over the state House, the state Senate, the governor's office and the courts? It's Just Politics team Zoe Clark and Rick Pluta weigh in.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Tomorrow, a state House committee will consider changes to the juvenile justice system in Michigan.

The House Criminal Justice committee is scheduled to discuss the 20-bill package starting at 9 a.m. on Tuesday.

Among other things, the package of bills would bar housing youth offenders with adult convicts and raise the age of mandatory adult sentences.   

As we head into the final month of 2015, campaigns in Michigan are already ramping up for Election 2016.

CHUCK SZMURLO / WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

The Canadian government has announced it needs more time to decide if it will OK permits for a nuclear waste storage facility near the shore of Lake Huron. 

Ontario Power Generation wants to bury approximately 200,000 cubic meters of low to medium level nuclear waste 680 meters – just under a half mile – below ground. The utility insists the rock formation in the area, less than a mile from Lake Huron, is geologically stable.  

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

State lawmakers are expected to take up a major overhaul of Michigan’s energy policy as they return from their November break.  

The House and Senate are debating bills to change the state’s 10 percent renewable energy requirement on electric utilities. The bills’ sponsors insist they are just trying to make Michigan’s energy generation market competitive and fair by removing preferential treatment for particular sources of energy.    

  • The State Senate moved at lightning speed last week to get rid of straight-ticket voting. Michigan Radio's senior news analyst Jack Lessenberry says this bill is all about partisan advantage.
     

  • John U. Bacon discusses College Football Playoff rankings, Harbaugh's visit to Bo Schembechler's grave and the upcoming showdown between the Wolverines and the Buckeyes in this week's sports roundup.

Jack Lessenberry.
Michigan Radio

This Week in Michigan Politics, Michigan Radio's senior news analyst, Jack Lessenberry gives an update on the debate over Syrian refugees coming to Michigan, a new initiative to clean up blighted Detroit homes and how restaurants across the state are offering a free Thanksgiving dinner to those in need. 


Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

The city of Detroit is paying to clean up the Delray neighborhood, the community that will host the U.S. side of a new bridge to Canada.

The money comes from the $1.4 million the city received when the state purchased Delray land for the Gordie Howe International Bridge project.

Residents hope it’s just the first of a number of investments in Delray as that project moves forward.

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