Politics & Government

Stories about politics and government actions

The Detroit City Council has reversed course and agreed to hike the city’s water and sewerage rates.

The Council voted 5-4 to approve a 7.5% increase Tuesday, after voting it down last month.

Thomas Hawk / flickr http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

A state review team has confirmed a financial emergency in Wayne County.

The governor will have 10 days to decide whether he agrees that Wayne County is in dire straits. But no one expects the governor will take that long.

Today on Stateside:

Since the Great Recession, Michigan has seen unemployment numbers drop to their lowest level in a decade. Auto sales and profits are booming, construction is up, and houses are selling again. But the 2015 Kids Count Data Book out today finds the rising tide of recovery has not lifted all boats, especially here in Michigan.

Michigan has a 15% residential recycling rate, compared to 30% in neighboring states
flickr user Redwin Law / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

There’s a first-of-its-kind study happening in West Michigan that hopes to determine if we’re throwing away money each time we haul the trash to the curb.

Researchers are picking through landfills in Kent, Muskegon, and Ottawa counties, searching for recyclables that are getting tossed in the trash.

Kalamazoo Poem
Flickr User Joel Dinda / Creative Commons (http://bit.ly/1iowB8m)

Michigan last had a poet laureate in 1959, but a bipartisan bill introduced in the state House of Representatives is looking to change that.

U.S. Army photo Staff Sgt. Kimberly Bratic / Staff Sgt. Kimberly Bratic

A state lawmaker wants to require Michigan National Guardsmen to be armed when on duty, even if they are just staffing a recruiting office.

State Representative Gary Glenn says military personnel need to be ready at all times to defend themselves. 

“They’re trained to protect us.  They ought to be able to protect themselves,” says Glenn. 

Today on Stateside:

The Kalamazoo Promise is working, so why is it only in Kalamazoo? Jeff Degraff looks at what good the Promise has done, and tells about how much further it could be taken.

The University of Michigan has just opened a brand new testing facility for autonomous vehicles. Kevin DeSouza sits down to talk to us about the future and impact of self-driving vehicles.

Sen. Gary Peters and Cynthia Canty in the Stateside stdio
Amber Moon

Sen. Gary Peters, D-MI, has often reached out through the phone line to talk with us here on Stateside, but today he joined us in-studio to discuss petroleum coke, the Iran nuclear deal, the Export-Import Bank of the United States, and life as the only Democratic freshman in the U.S. Senate.

Updated story 4:38 PM:

So, there’s definitely no deal on road funding.

The state House and Senate floor managers have let it be known there will be no attendance taken and no roll call votes this week. After that the Michigan Legislature is on a break until mid-August.

Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority

The proposed new bridge linking Detroit and Windsor is taking an important step today.  

The Windsor Detroit Bridge Authority says it is asking for major contractors interested in building the multi-billion dollar Gordie Howe International Bridge to submit their qualifications.


A Republican Party fundraiser in Michigan featuring Donald Trump is still scheduled despite his controversial remarks about a former prisoner of war.

The billionaire businessman-turned-presidential candidate angered many when he questioned whether U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ) is actually a war hero.

McCain was captured by the North Vietnamese and spent five years as a POW. He says Trump owes an apology to  POW's

Tijl Vercaemer / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

U.S. Rep. Tim Walberg says he can't support a new deal negotiated between Iran and six world powers – the U.S., the U.K., France, China, Russia, and Germany – because it gives Iran too much freedom to continue developing weapons and does not include a provision for the release of four U.S. citizens currently in Iranian prisons. One of those Americans is Amir Hekmati, a marine from Flint, Michigan, who has been in prison in Tehran for over three years on spying charges.

(Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

The state House is scheduled to meet one day this week to try and reach a compromise on road funding.

If a deal doesn’t get done on Tuesday, talks may have to wait until the fall. The House is scheduled to begin a month-long break on Wednesday.

User: penywise / MorgueFile

U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell won't support a free-trade deal she says will harm the auto industry and Michigan's economy.

She's criticizing the Obama administration's Trans-Pacific Partnership on the basis that it doesn't address currency manipulation that keeps foreign currencies artificially low compared to the U.S. dollar. 

Catherine Shaffer / Michigan Radio

A  veterans fair in Washtenaw County today offered one-stop shopping for employment, counseling, health, and other services. About 20 groups participated in the event at Scio Township Hall. Michigan U.S. Reps. Tim Walberg and Debbie Dingell hosted the event. 

Organizations on hand to offer help included the VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System, the VFW Department of Michigan Service Office, the Washtenaw County Department of Veterans Affairs, Buddy-to-Buddy Volunteer Veteran Program, Michigan Operation Freedom Outdoors, and many more. 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A union-sponsored poll shows little support for the city of Lansing to sell its electric utility.

Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero suggested studying the idea of selling the Lansing Board of Water & Light as part of a potential solution to the capitol city’s hundreds of millions of dollars in unfunded health care and pension liabilities. The idea was first raised by a commission formed by the mayor to examine the city’s financial issues.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Governor Rick Snyder says he hasn’t given up on getting a deal for more than a $1 billion in new road revenue through the Legislature. Lawmakers adjourned this week without voting on a roads package.

But, at an event in Detroit, the governor said he’s still confident a deal can come together in 2015.

User: penywise / MorgueFile

The city of Detroit emerged from the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history last year. Now, Wayne County, where Detroit is located, finds itself facing about a $50 million structural deficit and unfunded pension liability estimated at $850 to $940 million.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint’s city council has been overruled by a state-appointed oversight board.

Yesterday, the Receivership Transition Advisory Board, or RTAB, approved a tax break for a downtown development project.  

Governor Snyder removed Flint’s emergency manager earlier this year, giving the city a greater degree of local control. But RTAB has final say. 

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

There’s no road funding deal to speak of as state representatives leave Lansing for the week. That means a vote on any plan will have to wait until next week – and possibly until the fall.

It appears Republicans in the state House remain divided on whether a gas tax increase should be part of any plan to boost road funding.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Democrats in the Legislature are calling for changes to how legislative districts are drawn.

The effort is built off a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision. The decision says voters can take the power to draw district lines away from the Legislature and hand it to an independent commission.

Today on Stateside:

Eastern Michigan University and Oakland University have raised tuition above the state’s dictated cap. The Detroit Free Press’s David Jesse tells us about the decision and how it will affect the schools and their students.

The Hubble Space Telescope has allowed scientists to peer deep into space since 1990, expanding our understanding of the universe. But there’s still so much we don’t know. Brian O’Shea joins us to talk about finding out how big our universe really is.

Eastern Michigan University isn't the only school in Michigan bucking funding incentives
flickr user krossbow / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

The battle between Michigan’s public universities and state lawmakers over funding has ramped up in recent weeks.

Both Eastern Michigan University and Oakland University have busted state-imposed tuition caps, deciding that the state’s “reward” for not raising tuition just wasn’t worth it.

The universities raised their tuition for the upcoming school year by 7.8% and 8.48% respectively.

The Hekmati family

President Obama rebuked a White House reporter today for the way he asked a questions about four Americans held in Iran. 

One of the four is Amir Hekmati. The Flint man has been held by the Iranian government on spying charges for nearly four years. 

Wayne County Executive Warren Evans says the time to right the county’s finances is “fading quickly.”

Evans issued that warning Tuesday as he sent his $1.54 billion recommended budget to the Wayne County Commission for approval.

Jim Wallace / Flickr

The Detroit City Council Tuesday pushed back a vote on a major land deal backed by Mayor Mike Duggan until next week.

Some Council members have lingering concerns about a proposed land swap with the Detroit International Bridge Company. They’re still waiting on state reports and legal opinions concerning some key elements of the deal.

Jackson State Prison

Michigan AFSCME Council 25 says it will challenge the state's new prison food contract with Trinity Services Group.

The state announced the deal with the private Florida-based company Monday after ending ties with Aramark over months of complaints. 

Nick Ciaramitaro, legislative director for AFSCME Council 25, said handing the contract over without first opening it up to other bidders is unlawful.

"We're simply exchanging one private vendor for another with no evidence that things are going to improve," Ciaramitaro said.

user: Dwight Burdette / Wikimedia Commons

GOP leaders in the state House are working to assemble enough Republican votes to pass a road funding plan that’s likely to raise taxes.

House Republicans met on Tuesday to review a Senate-approved plan that raises the state’s gas tax by 15 cents over three years. It also includes a possible rollback in the state’s income tax rate – but that depends on growth in revenues to the state’s General Fund.

Today on Stateside:

Congress will have 60 days to look over the proposed Iran deal
White House

It took years of negotiation and diplomacy to bring about today's historic deal between Iran and world powers. Iran has agreed to curb its nuclear program in exchange for the easing of economic sanctions.

Now, the White House has to sell this deal to Congress and it could wind up being one of the biggest political fights of the Obama presidency. Congress has 60 days to dissect the terms of the agreement.