Politics & Government

Stories about politics and government actions

Former Congressman Joe Schwarz.
U.S. House of Representatives / Wikipedia

 

    

State lawmakers have hit the accelerator pedal in their effort to reform Michigan's no-fault insurance law. The law provides all victims of catastrophic crashes with a lifetime of unlimited medical benefits. 

The package of bills moved quickly through the state Senate and is now before the state House. 

The legislation would limit what hospitals could charge insurance companies. The overhaul would also cap what insurers can be charged for in-home care for people who have been severely injured in car accidents. 

In Lansing, state Senate leaders say they’re scrubbing plans for a summer break in order to work toward a road funding solution. They say they heard John Q. Public loud and clear after the massive failure of Proposal One and that, this time, they’re going to get a roads-fix done.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The Saginaw fire department faces deep cuts in a proposed budget going before the city council Monday night.

The budget calls for laying off 13 firefighters, reducing the department from 51 to 38 officers. Two of Saginaw’s four fire stations would also close.

An expiring federal grant is the reason for the cuts. 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The Lansing city council will have to muster six votes to override a mayoral veto when it meets Monday night.

Mayor Virg Bernero issued a veto a few days after the city council passed the city budget for the next fiscal year.

The veto applies to the council’s decision to spend $200,000 to hire an independent firm to audit the Lansing Board of Water & Light.  

jordanmrcai / Creative Commons

Detroiters owe the city water department millions of dollars in late water bills – at least $47 million, according to a city report back in March.

And that makes rates higher for everybody in the city.

But with shutoffs resuming next week and some 18,000 households in “shutoff status” –  meaning they’re two months behind and owe more than $150 – the city is facing a crucial question.

MDOC Director Heidi Washington
Gov. Rick Snyder

The warden of one of the prisons found to have maggots in its food last year will take over as director of the Michigan Department of Corrections.

Heidi Washington says she’ll review the department’s controversial contract with the private food service provider Aramark.

“I run one of the more complex facilities in the state, and I have had some issues that are pretty well-known,” Washington said. “But those are from my experience as a facility warden. When I become director, I’ll be looking globally across the whole department.”

Capitol Building, Lansing, MI
Matthileo / Flickr

Economists say Michigan has more than a $200 million budget surplus this year. They say revenues will continue to grow in the coming years as the economy improves.

Republican state lawmakers say that supports their plan to use projected growth in the state budget to fix Michigan’s roads.

Andrea Malone has been on and off payment plans for months.
Kate Wells / Michigan Radio

Some 18,000 Detroit households could have their water shut off next week,  less than a year after the city started a program that was supposed to avoid this exact situation.

Payment plans were supposed to keep households from facing shut-offs. But those plans have shown themselves to be a failure.

Ann Arbor may use sharp shooters to thin deer

May 15, 2015
USDA.gov

Ann Arbor administrators have released a report that recommends using sharp shooters to help manage the city's deer population.

This comes after some Ann Arbor residents complained deer were damaging their landscaping and gardens. Residents also expressed concern over health risks and deer-vehicle accidents.

State Capitol
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

The Michigan Legislature is entering another round of negotiations to raise money for Michigan’s roads, following a decisive defeat of Proposal 1.

Jennifer White spoke 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 politics of getting a viable roads funding plan passed. 

Here's their conversation:

Today on Stateside:

Democrats and some Republicans are criticizing the state Senate for voting today to repeal prevailing wage requirements. Michigan Public Radio’s Jake Neher reports.

The Porous Borders Festival celebrates the vibrant border between Detroit and Hamtramck. We speak with Hinterlands co-director Liza Bielby. 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

State lawmakers are a step closer to giving Flint mayoral candidates another shot at getting on the primary ballot.

A state Senate panel unanimously approved a one-time legislative fix on Thursday.

Today on Stateside:

As high-flying ideas go, it was intriguing one: a business district stretching ten miles between Detroit Metro and Willow Run airports. Backers said it would create 64,000 jobs and attract investment. That was 13 years ago, and no district has materialized. Detroit Free Press Columnist Tom Walsh has been digging into what happened.

Construction pit.
Christopher Peplin / Flickr

The state Senate has voted to ban prevailing wage requirements in Michigan. Those laws mandate union-level pay and benefits for workers on publicly-funded construction projects.

Supporters of Senate Bills 12, and 3 say prevailing wage artificially drives up the cost of taxpayer-funded projects, and repealing it would save the state and communities millions of dollars every year.

Wikimedia Commons

Republicans in the state House have rolled out their plan to boost road funding after Proposal One’s historic failure.

They say their proposal would raise $1.05 billion for roads, mainly by relying on projected growth in the state budget. It would also eliminate the state’s Earned Income Tax Credit for working poor families and Michigan’s film incentives.

School Bus
Nicolae Gerasim / Flickr

This Week in Michigan PoliticsJack Lessenberry explains what happens to the political career of a State Senator facing assault and gun charges, Governor Snyder taking over the state's worst performing schools, and why Metro Detroit is one of the few urban areas in the country without a mass transit system

Foreclosed House
Brendel / Wikimedia Commons

The American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan is one of several organizations calling on Wayne County to halt tax foreclosures for thousands of properties.

This comes the same day the Wayne County Treasurer's Office announced a second deadline extension for residents to avoid losing their homes.

Matt Picio / Flickr

For years, we've been hearing about a public transportation system that would connect downtown Detroit with three areas: Ann Arbor, Pontiac and Mount Clemens. 

Now, at a kickoff rally in Detroit today, officials announced they'll have those plans ready to go in November, in time to get them on the 2016 ballot.  

Today on Stateside:

It's been 50 years since there was a top-to-bottom review of our criminal justice system. U.S. Sen. Gary Peters, D-Mich., is co-sponsoring a bipartisan bill that would create a National Criminal Justice Commission to conduct this review.

We’re all used to Michigan weather wildly fluctuating, but it can still be hard to know what to plant and when. MLive and farmerweather.com meteorologist Mark Torregrossa gives us some tips.

Jake Neher / MPRN

  State Senator Virgil Smith faces felony assault and gun charges in connection with a shooting incident this past weekend. Smith is accused of hitting his ex-wife and shooting at her car.

Smith was arraigned today and did not show up for the state Senate’s session.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The Lansing city council has rejected the mayor’s plan to keep a closer eye on the city’s utility. 

The Lansing Board of Water and Light’s management has been making changes since it was heavily criticized for its handling of a major winter snow storm and power outage in 2013.

Meeting Room
Brennan Browne / Creative Commons

A state House bill would change the Michigan Constitution to require all university board meetings be open to the public.

Right now, the constitution says  only "formal" sessions are open to the public. Universities decide which sessions fall under that category.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

State House Republicans could introduce legislation to boost road funding as soon as this week.

House Speaker Kevin Cotter, R-Mt. Pleasant, says he’s interested in tapping restricted pools of money in the budget and economic development funds to raise more than $1 billion a year for roads. He told reporters last week he won’t put forward a plan that relies mostly on raising taxes.

Lawrence Porter

A leading U.S. Socialist says the party is connecting with young voters on issues like income inequality.

Lawrence Porter is the assistant national secretary of the Socialist Equality Party. He says socialism holds appeal for the generation s that grew up watching their country constantly at war, and that are now shouldering crushing student loan debt.

The Hekmati family

The United States Senate has passed a resolution calling on Iran to release a Flint man.

Amir Hekmati has sat in an Iranian prison cell for more than three years. The former U.S. marine denies the spying charges for which an Iranian court convicted him.

The lawmakers on Monday called on Iran to free Saeed Abedini, Amir Hekmati and Jason Rezaian, and cooperate with the U.S. government to locate and return former FBI agent Robert Levinson, who is believed to be missing in Iran.

Today on Stateside:

  • With the defeat of last week's ballot proposal for road funding, lawmakers in Lansing are looking to billions of dollars in restricted funds. Zoe Clark and Rick Pluta explain if – and how – lawmakers will go after protected money in the state budget. 
  • A leader of the Socialist Equality Party talks about connecting with younger voters on issues like police brutality and college loans.   
  • We talk to two Michigan writers who just got accepted for a first-of-its-kind Artist-in-Residence program at the Gettysburg National Military Park. 
  • Who does Google think you are? Michigan Radio's Kimberly Springer shows us how to find out. 
  • Is the media to blame for how we talk about climate change? According to a new study by the University of Michigan, public attitudes vary on climate change based on political news platforms.

Last week’s defeat of Proposal One means the billion dollar question of how to pay for Michigan’s roads remains unanswered.

Lawmakers were quick to say that they’re going to work throughout the summer to come up with a new plan. But, if they haven’t been able to find a solution yet, what makes them think they’ll be able to now?

Construction along 1-96 in Michigan.
I-96 Fix / Facebook

Unions are expected to push back this week against bills that would repeal prevailing wage laws in Michigan.

A state Senate panel is expected to hold hearings on Senate Bills 1, 2, and 3. The legislation would ban laws requiring union-level compensation for workers on publicly-funded construction projects.

House Foreclosure
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

More than 30,000 Wayne County residents are facing tax foreclosure as a deadline extension comes to an end Tuesday.

The county extended the original March 31 deadline after issuing foreclosure notices to around 75,000 properties with delinquent taxes.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

DETROIT (AP) - Detroit's police chief says that someone fired a shotgun at a car parked outside the home of state Sen. Virgil Smith.

Chief James Craig tells The Detroit News that no one was hurt in the shooting, which happened about 1 a.m. Sunday next to Smith's home on Detroit's north side.

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