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Politics & Government

Stories about politics and government actions

income tax
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In the first vote of the session, Republican leaders in the state House came up short.

In the wee hours of Thursday morning, the House took a roll call vote on legislation that would roll back the state income tax.

It was significantly different from its first iteration, but Republican leaders still couldn’t shore up enough votes to gain the majority.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The Flint Islamic Center held a meeting tonight to go over what the Trump administration’s immigration policies could mean for Muslim families in Michigan.

Trump had said his administration would unveil the new order this week, but a White House official says that has been delayed until next week.

The original order temporarily banning all entry into the U.S. from seven Muslim-majority nations and pausing the entire U.S. refugee program was blocked in the courts. The directive sparked confusion at airports and protests across the country.

Stateside 2.22.2017

Feb 22, 2017

Today we learn why Trump's immigration policies could compound restaurants' struggle to attract workers. And, we speak with (and hear tunes from) the oldest pipe band in the state of Michigan. It brought new immigrants together over 100 years ago.

STEVE CARMODY / Michigan Radio

Within days of being sworn into office, President Trump signed executive orders calling for tougher enforcement of immigration laws and increased border security.

This week Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly signed off on new rules that show us how the government will be implementing this immigration crackdown.

A recent survey by the National Restaurant Association shows that 27% of restaurant owners say recruiting and retaining employees is their No. 1 problem.
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Restaurants depend on immigrants. Nationally, nearly one in five restaurant employees are foreign born. So what could President Trump's new immigration policies mean for the workers, and ultimately for the food service industry?

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Some Michigan members of Congress have been criticized lately for avoiding constituents. But two Republican congressmen from West Michigan are hosting in-person events over the next few days.

U.S. Rep. Bill Huizenga, R-2nd Dist., has his first in-person town hall of the year set for this Saturday at noon in Baldwin. The tiny town about an hour north of Grand Rapids was supposed to be a part of Huizenga’s annual snowmobile tour. There’s not enough snow this year, but he didn’t cancel the event.

Jack Lessenberry
Michigan Radio

The Department of Homeland Security revealed dramatic changes to its policies on Tuesday. This Week in Michigan Politics, Morning Edition host Doug Tribou and senior news analyst Jack Lessenberry talk about what those changes could mean in Michigan, where a number of cities have sanctuary measures in place or are considering them.

State capitol
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

A survey of local officials across the state finds wide interest in overhauling Michigan’s emergency manager law.       

The survey of officials from 1,300 cities, counties, townships, and villages was conducted by the University of Michigan’s Ford School of Public Policy.

There was no consensus on what to about financially struggling local governments, says survey director Tom Ivacko. But he says says there was general agreement that emergency managers have too much power.

income tax
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Lawmakers in Lansing might not try to do away with the state income tax after all; but, they are still looking to reduce it.

A new version of the bill would gradually cut the tax from 4 point 25 percent to 3 point 9 percent.

Bill sponsor Representative Lee Chatfield says he is happy with the changes.

“Our goal all along has been to deliver on the promise made to the people back in 2007, and we think the legislation in its current form with the substitute accomplishes that goal,” he said.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

The Trump administration’s new immigration policies are causing “fear, anxiety, anger and confusion” among Michigan’s Latino communities.

The new guidelines under President Donald Trump call for the deportation of any individuals in the country illegally if they are convicted, charged or suspected of a crime, which could include traffic infractions.

Stateside 2.21.2017

Feb 21, 2017

Today on Stateside, progressive constituents explain why they think Republican Congressmen Dave Trott (R-Birmingham), Mike Bishop (R-Rochester) and Tim Walberg (R-Tipton) are avoiding them. Also today, a recent report found that Michigan is the only state where students have not improved on a national reading and math test. We hear from the author of that report as well.

Constituents of Rep. Dave Trott protest at his office in Troy, demanding that the Congressman hold in-person town hall meetings.
Sarah Scwiek / Michigan Radio

Across the country, members of Congress have been holding town halls and some have gotten a little heated.

Here in Michigan, constituents of Republican Congressmen Dave Trott (R-Birmingham), Mike Bishop (R-Rochester) and Tim Walberg (R-Tipton) are calling on their representatives to hold in-person town halls.

Three constituents of those elected officials joined Stateside to discuss the challenges they've faced while seeking audiences with their respective congressmen.

A sign is posted outside of Rep. Dave Trott's office in Troy
Sarah Scwiek / Michigan Radio

Progressive constituents say Republican Congressmen Dave Trott (R-11), Mike Bishop (R-8) and Tim Walberg (R-7) are avoiding them. Stateside spoke with three such constituents today. 

Below are responses from the offices of the three named Congressmen:

The sign posted at Rep. David Trott's Troy office.
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

A group of Detroit-area Congressman Dave Trott’s (R-11th district) constituents tried again to meet with him on Tuesday.

And once again, they weren’t successful.

Some constituents accuse Trott of ducking meetings and public appearances since Donald Trump was elected.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint Mayor Karen Weaver is once again criticizing the Snyder administration’s decision to end the state subsidy on city water bills.

The state has spent more than $40 million subsidizing Flint’s water bills.  

But the governor’s office says the credits are ending this month because Flint’s water quality is improving. 

Weaver says she wants to hold the state “accountable” to promises to help Flint through its water crisis.

“I think we deserve the credits until the water is ‘tap drinkable’ without a filter,” says Weaver.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

The state will stop subsidizing Flint water bills this month.

When will the state stop distributing bottled water? 

People in Flint still make daily or weekly trips to the city’s water distribution sites to pick up cases of bottled water. 

Flint Mayor Karen Weaver says she’s heard discussions of ending bottled water distribution by September, which she says is too soon. 

“We know we still need bottled water,” says Weaver, “If we still need to use filters, we still need bottled water as well.”

There’s a battle over taxes emerging in Lansing.

Is it real? Or is it actually a proxy for other looming political fights?

Tax rollback

We could see action soon on a plan that would begin to rollback and eventually, after four decades, completely eliminate the state income tax.

But this idea from state House Republicans is getting the cold shoulder from Governor Rick Snyder, a lot of state Senate Republicans and, not to mention Democrats.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Nearly a year after Governor Snyder first proposed it, a package of bills addressing lead in Michigan’s drinking water should soon be in the hands of state lawmakers.

Gov. Rick Snyder has repeatedly faulted the federal lead/copper rule and how it’s been interpreted for helping to create Flint’s lead tainted tap water crisis.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan’s top 150 Political Action Committees raised a record amount during the 2016 presidential election cycle.

The Michigan Campaign Finance Network crunched the numbers and found Michigan’s largest PAC’s raised more than $48 million in 2015 and 2016. That's an increase of seven million dollars over the previous record set in the 2008 presidential election.

Executive director Craig Mauger says that well outpaced the rate of inflation.

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Macomb County officials are sounding the alarm about scheduled budget cuts for its mental health programs.

A changed state formula for distributing Medicaid funds has hit the county disproportionately hard. Medicaid “rebasing” has cut money for mental health services there by about $30 million in the past year.

John Kinch, director of Macomb County Community Mental Health, said those cuts to Macomb’s budget are staggered, with the final one kicking in April 1.

“And then starting April 1, it will be another $12.4 million,” Kinch said. “I can’t absorb $12.4 million.”

income tax
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A proposal to get rid of Michigan's income tax is quickly moving along in the Legislature. This Week in Review, Weekend Edition host Rebecca Kruth and senior news analyst Jack Lessenberry talk about whether the Republican-backed bill will go all the way.

They also discuss the action plan state House Republicans rolled out this week, the state Board of Education's call to hold off closing any schools this fall, and a planned set of bills to rectify the mess at the state Unemployment Insurance Agency. 

Stateside 2.17.2017

Feb 17, 2017

Today, we hear from Michigan's own Frontier Ruckus in the next rendition of our "Songs from Studio East" series. And, we learn why, if rewritten, a travel ban could mean doctor shortages in rural Michigan.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

This week, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder admonished Republicans for rushing legislation to eventually eliminate the state income tax. Meanwhile Kalamazoo, Saginaw and Detroit schools are fighting possible closings. And to top it all off, President Trump hosted a dramatic press conference yesterday that left many scratching their heads.

STEVE CARMODY / Michigan Radio

The City of Flint is considering changing its charter, which could change how city government operates, taxes and more. It could stiffen ethics rules and change other rules to make city hall more transparent.

The Flint Charter Review Commission is proposing the changes. Cleora Magee chairs that commission and she joined Stateside to discuss.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

The Michigan Civil Rights Commission is out with a report on the Flint water crisis that its authors intend will ensure that “another Flint does not happen again."

Commission chair Arthur Horwitz thanked Flint residents for sharing their stories during their year-long investigation.

“At a time when you placed  trust in virtually no government entity, you looked at this commission and department … and provided us with an opportunity to earn your trust,” says Horwitz.

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

An income tax rollback, a more transparent government and reducing auto insurance rates - those are some of the main priorities for House Republicans during this session. 

They rolled out the plan Thursday.

Passing a high priority piece of legislation is already underway. The income tax phase-out is moving forward quickly – over Governor Snyder’s objections.

Detroit's Freedom House may have to close

Feb 16, 2017
Nick Hagen / Freedom House

Detroit's Freedom House has lost its federal funding for the first time in more than 20 years. And it may have to shut down or substantially reduce its services.

Freedom House provides transitional housing and comprehensive services under one roof to asylum seekers who are fleeing persecution, rape and torture in their home countries. 

Executive Director Deborah Drennan said the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development denied Freedom House's grant application in December, and Freedom House has appealed the decision.  

flickr http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

State House Republicans are aggressively pushing through an income tax cut and rollback, despite numerous questions raised during a committee hearing about what funding cuts could happen in other areas if the bill passes.

A bill that would cut the state income tax and eventually phase it out altogether over 40 years was voted out of committee Wednesday. This happened after an hour and a half of testimony and over requests to hold off on a vote from some Democratic members.

Flint residents Laura and Sean MacIntyre stopped paying their water bills in 2016.
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

People in Flint who have been getting the state to help pay their water bills appear to be losing that help.

Flint Mayor Karen Weaver met with Governor Snyder on Tuesday. She was unable to get him to budge from the decision to put an early end to the state-funded subsidy program that helped people pay for the water they can't safely drink without a filter.

Flint Mayor Karen Weaver
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint Mayor Karen Weaver says she felt “anger and disappointment” after a meeting with the governor this week, where he rejected her request to continue state credits on city water bills.

The state has spent $40 million on a credit on Flint water bills during the past 12 months.  The credits were for water that didn’t meet federal quality standards.  

However, Gov. Snyder says Flint’s water quality is now comparable to other communities.  The governor’s office says “residents don’t ‘have’ to use a filter,” though it is recommended in areas where pipes are being replaced.

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