Politics & Government

Stories about politics and government actions

Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

The board of the Great Lakes Water Authority finalized its first-ever budget Wednesday.

The GLWA emerged from Detroit’s bankruptcy. It now provides wholesale water and sewer services to millions of people in southeast Michigan.

The GLWA inherited some issues when it took over operations from the city of Detroit this year—including millions in bad debt from the city of Highland Park, mostly for unpaid sewer bills dating back many years.

The Authority petitioned Gov. Snyder’s office last month to help resolve that issue.

Stateside 5.25.2016

May 25, 2016

Today, we learn that Gibson has not acknowledged the women who built guitars during World War II. And, we hear about the Beatles' Magical History Tour exhibit.

The photo Melissa Gilbert used in her announcement to run for Congress
Melissa Gilbert for Congress

Melissa Gilbert has ended her campaign as the democratic Congressional candidate in Michigan's 8th district. The actress, best known for her role as Laura Ingalls in the television series Little House on the Prairie, said in a statement emailed from her campaign that health concerns make it impossible to run.

Stateside 5.24.2016

May 24, 2016

Today, we learn about the latest move to determine a legal THC limit for Michigan drivers. And, we talk to a Russian rocker who's inspired by Detroit.

Don't do this: learning from the Flint water crisis

May 24, 2016
Gov. Snyder at a press conference in Flint
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder promoted his business skills when first running for office, but those skills are now being questioned as the Flint water crisis continues to be a government nightmare. Grand Valley State University is taking the opportunity to learn from the mistakes made by the Snyder administration.

Marie McKendall is a business professor at GVSU who will be using the Flint water crisis as a case study in her business ethics class this fall.

“It’s horrible that it happened, but it’s a wonderful case study,” McKendall said on Stateside. “There are structural problems, there are cultural problems, there are social problems and psychological problems. … It’s a far richer case than a lot of the ones we have used before.”

In the course, McKendall wants to make it clear that there isn’t a “villain” to hunt down, but that government incompetence did make the situation worse.

“I think they completely lost sight of the fact that there were people who were being affected by the decisions they were making," she said.

Stateside 5.23.2016

May 23, 2016

Today we look at how fast food has changed our food landscape, and John U. Bacon explains how "nuts" the state of college sports recruiting has become.

Hillary Clinton address the 2016 SEIU international convention at Detroit's Cobo Center.
SEIU / via Twitter

Hillary Clinton made her second stop in Detroit this month, addressing union activists at the Service Employees International Union’s  convention on Monday.

Clinton told them the American economy and workplace have changed drastically in recent years, but too many of the policies that govern them haven’t.

She emphasized her support for worker-friendly policies like paid family leave, boosting the minimum wage, and equal pay for women.

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

The future is cloudy for groups fighting to get those marijuana and anti-fracking proposals on the November ballot in Michigan.

The House last week gave final approval to Senate Bill 776, which sets a strict 180-day window for groups to collect signatures on ballot initiatives and constitutional amendment petitions. 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The last Flint fire station distributing water to city residents will stop doing it by the end of this week.

Michigan National Guardsmen have been handing out cases of bottled water and filters at the fire station on Martin Luther King for months.

Gen. Greg Vadnais leads the Michigan National Guard. He credits the public’s support for the guard’s ability to respond to the city’s drinking water crisis.

“It’s really helped us to be able to complete our mission to provide the resources to them that they needed,” Vadnais sais last week.

Stateside 5.20.2016

May 20, 2016

Today, we speak with a Detroit sophomore who’s fed up with the lack of solutions for DPS. And, we look at Founders Brewing’s latest move to expand.

user eyspahn / flickr http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

This weekend, Michigan Democrats will select most of the state party’s delegates to this summer’s convention.

State Party Chairman Brandon Dillon expects Saturday’s district meetings will go smoothly and avoid the fights between Sanders and Clinton supporters seen recently in Nevada.

“We don’t anticipate any major problems and are confident that things will go as smoothly as possible,” says Dillon.

Steve Monti is a Bernie Sanders supporter.  He’s running to be an alternate at the Democratic convention in Philadelphia.    

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

About a dozen protesters, many wearing red paint splashed clothes, tried to get Governor Snyder’s attention today. 

They held a ‘die-in’ outside a Flint conference room where the governor met with his top Flint water crisis advisors.

"We have no say over our future, over our recovery, over what’s coming through our pipes, over the pipes still being in the ground,” says activist Melissa Mays, “All we want is to have a voice in this.”

Governor Snyder did not see the protest.  He left the building through a side door. 

Capitol Building, Lansing, MI
Matthileo / flickr http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The Detroit News reported yesterday that Michigan corporations will receive tax refunds that exceed corporate tax payments to the state. In other words, there will be a net loss. Corporations will get back more than they pay.

Two things are happening here. First, tax credits have increased as chiefly the auto companies are cashing in on those incentives. Secondly, tax revenues are down.

Rich Studley, the CEO of the Michigan Chamber of Commerce, joins Stateside to explain how this happened. 

Flickr user Images_of_Money/Flickr / HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

The Michigan Department of Treasury is projecting a $99 million net loss in revenue due to an increase of tax refunds to businesses across the state.

FLICKR USER MR_WAHLEE https://flic.kr/p/djGtgH

The word has come from Washington: By year's end, new federal rules could bring overtime protection to more than four million American salaried workers – more than 100,000 of them in Michigan. Salaried employees earning up to $47,476 dollars a year will be paid time and a half when they work more than 40 hours a week. This is compared to the current law that states salaried employees must make less than $24,000 to receive overtime.

 

Stateside 5.18.2016

May 18, 2016

Today, we examine new federal rules that would expand overtime protection. And, we look at how skin-to-skin contact could benefit mothers and babies. 

Activists form a bucket brigade to carry water from the state Capitol.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Activists came to the state Capitol today to dramatize the need for tens of millions of dollars to fix Flint’s damaged water system.

A line of people passed little buckets of water from a faucet inside the Capitol building to a 20-gallon drum outside. 

Ryan Bates with Michigan United says they wanted to show what it’s like to live in Flint without tap water people can trust. 

Bates says state lawmakers should be doing more to help.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

It’s official. Governor Rick Snyder and the Legislature have less money to work with than it appeared earlier in the year. Drops in corporate and sales tax revenues mean a budget hit of about $150 million in this fiscal year. The forecast also projects a $160 million drop for the coming fiscal year budget the governor and the Legislature are putting together right now.

John Roberts, Snyder’s budget director, says the administration will look for targeted spending cuts to meet the shortfall. And he thinks it can be done without jeopardizing money to address the Flint water crisis and the looming financial collapse of the Detroit Public Schools.

flickr user Bernt Rostad / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Detroit is joining the growing list of U.S. cities that issue municipal ID cards to residents.

The Detroit City Council approved an ordinance that sets up a city-issued ID program Tuesday.

“It is the city's intent that municipal identification cards will provide residents with an additional means of proving their residency in the citv for purposes of accessing citv programs, services, and activities, and providing identification to law enforcement,” the ordinance states.

A fire
flickr user Matt MacGillivray / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

It's back to the drawing board for the city of East Lansing. 

District court judge Andrea Larkin has ruled that a 1999 ordinance aimed at cracking down on fires after big games at Michigan State University is unconstitutional.

The ordinance made it illegal to be or stay within 300 feet of a fire unless you are helping to put it out before emergency help arrives. 

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Detroit police are about to start recording far more of what they do.

The Detroit City Council approved a $5.2 million contract for police body cameras and in-car video systems Tuesday.

The move has the support of Detroit Police Chief James Craig, and the city’s police unions.

Craig says the department just escaped more than a decade of federal oversight for unconstitutional policing practices. Now, the challenge is sustaining the progress it made.

the city of Flint
wikimedia user Flintmichigan / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The flood of headlines coming out of the water crisis in Flint comes down to a basic problem: The city was starved for cash. And that led to the series of bad decisions that in turn led to the catastrophe of lead-poisoned water. 

But Flint isn’t the only city caught in a cash crunch. All across the state cities are starved for cash. Most of them not because of something the city has done, but because of things the state has done.

dictionary definition of tax
Flickr user Alan Cleaver/Flickr

The so-called "dark store" approach to valuing property — an approach which allows stores to base their property taxes on the stores that have closed around them — has allowed big box stores in Michigan to cut their taxes by at least $100 million. It has left communities around the state struggling to find the money they need to pay for municipal services.

 

Some politicians, including state Rep. David Maturen, R-Vicksburg, hopes to close the dark store tax loophole with bipartisan legislation, House Bill 5578.

Under Michigan law, Governor Snyder is exempt from the Freedom of Information Act.
Flickr user Michigan Municipal League / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

There is only one state in the entire country where, under the law, the governor is exempt from the Freedom of Information Act.

You guessed it: it's Michigan.

Stateside 5.17.2016

May 17, 2016

On today's show, we learn about "Flint syndrome" and what it means that cities all across the state are starved for cash. 

Gov. Snyder delivers his opening statement in the congressional hearing.
YouTube - screenshot

Governor Rick Snyder now says it’s possible he deleted some e-mails related to Flint, even though he earlier told a congressional committee that he had not. The governor still insists it’s unlikely he deleted any Flint-related e-mails, it’s just not impossible.

lockers lining a school hallway
Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

The Detroit Public Schools needs a financial lifeline from Lansing to keep going beyond this school year.

But efforts to get that done in the state Legislature have largely been hijacked by big donors with different views on a separate but related issue: oversight of the city’s charter schools.

At least, that’s the conclusion of a report from the Michigan Campaign Finance Network.

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

The state’s revenues are going to be lower than expected this year. Zoe Clark and Rick Pluta, Michigan Radio’s It’s Just Politics team, discuss why that is, and what it means for the state’s hot-button issues.

Pluta said the economy is recovering, but not as quickly as anticipated.

“And so what we’re seeing is, in particular, corporate income tax and state sales tax revenues are coming in less than expected,” he said.

This is happening as “some big new demands are being made on the state,” Pluta said, those being infrastructure issues and Detroit Public Schools deficits.

Stateside 5.16.2016

May 16, 2016

Today, we look at how self-driving vehicles could benefit people with disabilities. And, we find out how and why that AMBER Alert woke you up at night.

Donald Trump is now the presumptive GOP presidential nominee so, what does that portend for Republicans further down the ballot?

For Donald Trump to win the presidency, he’ll have to change the Electoral College map to win states Republicans don’t usually win. And, based on Trump’s apparent appeal to blue collar voters in old Rust Belt states, Michigan is high on that list.

Michigan Republican Congresswoman Candice Miller endorsed Trump last week.

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