Politics & Government

Stories about politics and government actions

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Allegan County Commissioner Jim Storey announced today he'll run to replace former state representative Cindy Gamrat. Gamrat was expelled from office last week in the wake of a sex and cover-up scandal.

Rusty Dutkiewicz came out to the small dinner in Holland where, after an opening prayer, Storey announced he’ll run in the special election. She can’t wait for him to get to Lansing.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

An attorney is looking for parents in Flint who may have lost custody of their children after having their water shutoff.

Attorney Valdemar Washington is heading a class action lawsuit against the city of Flint. The lawsuit seeks damages for the city’s sky high water rates.

Washington says he’s heard stories of child protective services allegedly removing children from Flint homes after the city shutoff water service because the family failed to pay their water and sewer bills.

“The Establishment Strikes Back” could be a very apropos title for the latest episode of the Todd Courser-Cindy Gamrat saga.

That’s the one where Republican leaders (with some help from Democrats) succeeded in booting the prominent and troublesome Tea Partiers from the state Legislature.

(Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

The state House returns this week with two fewer members.

The House expelled Cindy Gamrat and Todd Courser resigned late last week due to a sex-and-cover-up scandal.

Speaker Kevin Cotter says lawmakers can focus on roads now that the scandal is no longer a distraction.

People living in 80th and 82nd districts in Michigan are currently without a state representative.
Gamrat and Courser websites

The State House lost two members this morning when one resigned and the other was expelled.

(More on that here.)

To fill the gap, Lt. Gov. Brian Calley just announced plans to fill the two vacated seats. He made the call since Gov. Snyder is in Japan on an investment mission.

Former Michigan Representatives Todd Courser and Cindy Gamrat.
From Courser/Gamrat websites

State Rep. Todd Courser, R-Lapeer, resigned early this morning as the House was about to vote on expelling him. That capped a 15-hour session with three earlier efforts that were thwarted. Courser says he called it quits because he could see how it would wind up.

Today on Stateside:

New bill would get rid of open-carry loophole

Sep 10, 2015
Gun in holster on hip
Paul Weaver / Creative Commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

A new Michigan Senate bill introduced this week would close a loophole that allows open carry of firearms in gun-free zones, including schools and places of worship.

Last spring, a man caused a stir when he openly carried a handgun to a school choir concert in Ann Arbor. 

That would no longer be allowed under the new bill, but there's a catch.

Todd Courser
Rick Pluta / MPRN

Each week,  Jennifer White talks to Ken Sikkema, former Senate Majority Leader and Senior Policy Fellow at Public Sector Consultants, and Susan Demas, publisher of Inside Michigan Politics. Today they discussed the disciplinary hearings for state Reps. Todd Courser and Cindy Gamrat. 

Sikkema and Demas say  the hearings highlight a new level of hyperpartisanship in state  politics. 

President Obama speaks at Macomb Community College.
White House / YouTube screen grab

President Obama was in Michigan yesterday to roll out new initiatives meant to boost job training and community college enrollment. He said he’ll create a new board meant to promote the idea of two free years of community college.

“Whether it is a bachelor’s degree, an associate’s degree, a journeyman’s card from an apprenticeship program, having a credential above and beyond your high school diploma, that’s the surest ticket to the middle class,” the president said. “And in global competition for jobs and industries, having the best educated workforce in the world is the surest way for America to stay on top.”

Rep. Todd Courser, R-Lapeer, and Rep. Cindy Gamrat, R-Plainwell, returned to the state capitol today.
images from Courser/Gamrat offices

Update 2:15 p.m.

Rep. Cindy Gamrat, R-Plainwell, says she's "shocked" a panel is recommending expulsion for her involvement in a bizarre cover-up attempt of her extramarital affair with another lawmaker.

Gamrat tells The Associated Press she won't resign before the House votes, possibly later Thursday. She says while no promises were made, she "was coerced" to admit to various allegations of wrongdoing with an understanding that the committee would support a censure.


The Detroit City Council could consider an ordinance to regulate medical pot dispensaries this month.

Council member James Tate says Detroit is experiencing an “oversaturation” of dispensaries, and that city leaders need to do something.

Todd Courser
Rick Pluta / MPRN

  A special state House disciplinary panel will begin deliberating on a punishment for state Representatives Todd Courser, R-Lapeer, and Cindy Gamrat, R-Plainwell, after wrapping up two days of hearings and testimony.

Today on Stateside:

user jdurham / morguefile

This Week in Michigan Politics, Jack Lessenberry and Christina Shockley discuss how student growth will be a big part of teacher evaluations this year, why redistricting won't happen, and what will happen to the political careers of Todd Courser and Cindy Gamrat after the sex scandal

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

State Representative Cindy Gamrat (R-Plainwell) got an earful from people living in her district Tuesday night. It was the first time Gamrat held office hours in Allegan County since news of a sex and cover up scandal broke last month.

“You need to resign!” someone in the crowd shouted, before the first question was asked. “Give up your job. You weren’t working in the first place.”

Today on Stateside:

This political cartoon was printed in 1812 in reaction to the newly drawn state senate election district of South Essex created by the Massachusetts Legislature to favor the Democratic-Republican Party candidates of Governor Elbridge Gerry.
Elkanah Tisdale / Boston Centinel, 1812

Michigan Radio and Public Sector Consultants conducted a poll of 600 likely voters from Aug. 4-8 about how they felt financially, possible changes in redistricting, and the potential legalization of recreational marijuana.

In terms of those saying they're better off, Jeff Williams, CEO of Public Sector Consultants says things look relatively "rosy" for Michigan. More than half say they're "about the same," and around a quarter of them say they're "better off."

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A candidate for Flint mayor wants the federal government to investigate the city’s problem plagued water system and how city officials have responded to those problems.

Residents have complained about the city’s water since a switch last year from Detroit water to the Flint River as the source.

The latest concern has focused on lead levels. 

State Representative Cindy Gamrat (R-Plainwell) weeps as she delivers an apology to the House committee considering disciplinary action against her and state Representative Todd Courser (R-Lapeer).
Rick Pluta / MPRN

State Rep. Cindy Gamrat, R-Plainwell, offered a tearful apology this morning as hearings opened on possible disciplinary action against her and Rep. Todd Courser, R-Lapeer.

She begged for forgiveness and asked for censure rather than being removed from office.

The special state House committee set up to look into the conduct of Republican state Representatives Todd Courser and Cindy Gamrat is scheduled to meet tomorrow and Wednesday.

Reps. Courser and Gamrat are accused of using state resources to, among other things, cover up an extramarital affair.

Courtesy Courser & Gamrat websites

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Two freshmen tea party lawmakers who set out to shake up Michigan's Capitol succeeded in a way no one could have imagined.

  On Tuesday, the state House will hold a rare disciplinary hearing that could lead to the expulsion of Reps. Todd Courser and Cindy Gamrat over their extramarital affair and an attempt to cover it up.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - The future of Michigan's expanded Medicaid program is in the hands of the Obama administration.

Gov. Rick Snyder's administration this week submitted a waiver needed to ensure 600,000 low-income adults remain eligible for government-provided health insurance in 2016.

This is what a $2,000 FOIA request looks like.
Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

A Michigan lawmaker is renewing a push to subject the state legislature and governor's office to requests under the Freedom of Information Act.

This comes the same week the House Business Office released a summary of its findings on the recent sex scandal involving  representatives Todd Courser and Cindy Gamrat.

The full report hasn't yet been made available to the public.

Today on Stateside:

  • Just a week and a half from now, the UAW contracts with General Motors, Ford and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles will expire. Daniel Howes points out some major differences in these contract talks in his recent column for The Detroit News.
  • AAA Michigan expects 1.2 million Michiganders to take to the road this Labor Day weekend, and the Michigan State Police say that it’s the deadliest holiday weekend of the year. Lt. Michael Shaw joins us to talk about driving safely this weekend.
City of Sterling Heights / via Facebook

Sterling Heights Mayor Michael Taylor is clarifying comments he made online this week about a controversial mosque project that’s divided the city.

Taylor has said on Facebook and elsewhere that he opposes plans to build a mosque at a busy intersection in the Macomb County suburb.

The Soo Locks in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan.

When it comes to keeping American industry up and running, it's hard to overstate the importance of the Soo Locks.

The big ships carrying iron ore from northern Michigan and Minnesota on Lake Superior must pass through the Soo Locks to get to the steel mills that are on the lower lakes.

So when there's a problem at the aging locks, you can bet that business and shipping interests are sounding the alarm bells.

Today on Stateside:

  • When it comes to keeping American industry up and running, it’s hard to overstate the importance of the Soo Locks. Detroit Free Press Capitol Hill reporter Todd Spangler joins us to talk about what’s been a worrisome year at the locks.
  • College football begins this week. The University of Michigan kicks off the Jim Harbaugh era at Utah tomorrow night, and Michigan State will play Western Michigan in Kalamazoo Friday night. John U. Bacon gives us a peek at the upcoming NCAA season.
Dwight Burdette / creative commons

Washtenaw County is facing up to 70 layoffs in mental health services due to a $4 million budget deficit.

County Commissioner Andy LaBarre is chair of the Ways and Means Committee.


This Week in Michigan Politics, Jack Lessenberry and Christina Shockley talk about the other issues involving Todd Courser, R-Lapeer, and Cindy Gamrat, R-Plainwell; more problems with water in Flint; and Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette's opposition to President Obama's new rules to reduce greenhouse gases.