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Politics & Government

Stories about politics and government actions

The 15 people charged in the Flint water crisis so far.
Booking photos from the Michigan AGs office and others.

Taxpayers from the state of Michigan are funding both the defense and the prosecution in the Flint water crisis investigation.

The tab so far? $15.5 million.

Capitol Building in Lansing, MI
Matthileo / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Michigan lawmakers are back in the capital after a two-month summer break, and they have a long list of items on their legislative to-do list. Among them are an overhaul of no-fault auto insurance, new recycling standards, and the possibility of a rare veto override. 

Michigan Radio Morning Edition host Doug Tribou spoke with the Michigan Public Radio Network's Lansing Bureau Chief Rick Pluta about the Legislature’s top priorities this fall. 

parliament hill in ottawa
robin_ottawa / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCLO

From his earliest days as a candidate, President Trump complained about NAFTA, calling it the worst deal ever.

But soon after taking office, he backed away from his pledge to tear up the trade agreement. Instead, the U.S., Canada, and Mexico are re-negotiating NAFTA.

Earlier this week, Canada made a demand that could certainly resonate here in Michigan — a call to roll back the right-to-work laws which allow workers to opt out of paying dues to the unions that represent them in collective bargaining.

Joan Larsen
University of Michigan Law School / screen grab from YouTube video

Michigan Supreme Court Justice Joan Larsen faced members of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee today. The committee held a hearing on Larsen’s nomination to the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals. 

U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-Rhode Island,,said he’s concerned that a right-leaning group funded a media campaign to win support for Larsen’s nomination.

“What did they think they were going to get for their investment in your candidacy for this court, Miss Larsen. Why would they be spending this money if they did not see some return?”

Christian Cross
Waiting For The Word / Flickr CC /

A federal appeals court is siding with a Michigan county in a dispute over Christian prayers at public meetings.

It ruled the practice by Jackson County commissioners of starting their meetings with Christian-only prayers does not violate the U.S. Constitution.

The case was heard by the entire 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, upholding the opinion of a Detroit federal judge in a 9-6 decision Wednesday.

James Shotwell is chairman of the Board of Commissioners. He says the commissioners just happen to be Christian, and aren't favoring one faith over any others.

michigan state capitol
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Michigan's schoolkids made their way back to classrooms Tuesday for the start of a new school year.

Today, it’s our state lawmakers’ turn. They’re back in Lansing for the first day of the fall session.

sign that says "DEFEND DACA"
Flickr user Harrie van Veen https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

President Donald Trump announced yesterday that he'll end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program in six months. Gov. Rick Snyder issued a statement opposing the move and urged Congress to act quickly to clarify the status of so-called "DREAMers."

Morning Edition host Doug Tribou and senior news analyst Jack Lessenberry discuss how pressure from Snyder and other governors could affect decisions made by Congress. 

Protesters in Detroit supporting DACA recipients.
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

People across the country and across Michigan protested President Trump’s plan to repeal the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

That’s President Obama’s program that offers protections to some undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children.

People protested and marched in several Michigan communities, including Detroit.

Juan Gonzalez is 24-year-old DACA recipient. He came to the U.S. as a toddler, and grew up in Detroit.

JVALASIMAGES / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCLO

Last Friday, President Trump was asked about the future of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA). It’s the program that allows undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children to remain in the country. They're widely known as "DREAMers."

"We love the DREAMers," President Trump said. "We love everybody."

Former Senate minority leader Gretchen Whitmer was just one of a number of Democrats at Detroit's annual Labor Day parade.
Whitmer for Governor

Detroit’s annual Labor Day parade attracted the usual mix of union members, activists and political candidates this year.

Those candidates included three of the Democrats running for governor.

Former state Senate minority leader Gretchen Whitmer has lined up most of the big labor support statewide. She met and marched with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters and International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, among others.

City of Flint

Flint Mayor Karen Weaver will face a city councilman in November’s recall election.

Scott Kincaid had tried to run both for mayor and for re-election to the city council seat he's held for 32 years. But a judge ruled he couldn’t, and ordered Kincaid to make a choice.

Scott Kincaid announced his choice to run for mayor at a UAW Labor Day rally.

Tax Foreclosures in Detroit
Kaye LaFond / Michigan Radio

Wayne County will put more than 6,000 properties up for auction online starting this week.

Tuesday kicks off the first round of bidding in the annual sale for the county’s property tax-foreclosed properties. It’s become something of a real estate bonanza in recent years, as the county has foreclosed on tens of thousands of homes since 2009 — and by one count, as many as one in four properties in the entire city of Detroit.

USFWS

Backers of a ballot question to legalize recreational marijuana in Michigan are approaching a milestone.

Organizers say hundreds of petition circulators have been busy during the Labor Day holiday weekend collecting signatures.

Josh Hovey is the spokesman for the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana like Alcohol. He expects their petition drive will collect its quarter-millionth signature this week.

It’s been 15 years since Michigan lawmakers reversed a Governor’s veto but it could happen again this week when the Legislature returns to Lansing from its summer recess.

Some members of the GOP are getting a little fed up with their fellow Republican Governor Rick Snyder and they want to try and muster the two-thirds majority needed to override his veto of a bill they passed earlier this year. It was a pretty innocuous piece of legislation that accelerated tax breaks for car buyers who trade in their vehicles.

Mackinac Bridge
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

The state of Michigan this week ordered Enbridge Energy to restore a protective coating on parts of its Line 5 pipes that run beneath the Straits of Mackinac. Enbridge reported to the state that small portions of enamel coating were accidentally removed in two places.

A state commission is facing pressure to shut down Line 5 completely. This Week in Review, Weekend Edition host Rebecca Kruth and senior news analyst Jack Lessenberry talk about whether Enbridge's disclosure will turn up the heat.

Stateside 9.1.2017

Sep 1, 2017

Today on Stateside, we hear LaMarr Monson describe what it feels like to be free 21 years after a wrongful murder conviction. We also learn about an app in development to help teachers fight their own implicit bias in the classroom. And, after disappearing from Michigan, peregrine falcons are making a comeback and nesting on skyscrapers across the state.

The Mackinac Bridge
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

It’s Michigan Labor Day tradition for tens of thousands of people to walk the five-mile span of the Mackinac Bridge linking the state’s upper and lower peninsulas.

It’s a four-lane bridge. Usually officials shut down two lanes for the walk and keep the other two open for traffic. That’s not this case this year.

Director of the Michigan Department of Transportation Kirk Steudle says the decision to completely shut-down the Mackinac Bridge during the walk this year was in direct response to safety concerns.

Orange construction barrels
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

 


Gov. Rick Snyder signed a $1.2 billion road funding package in 2015 that called for increased vehicle registration fees and gas taxes, many of which went into effect this year.

In an interview with Stateside this week, Michigan Department of Transportation director Kirk Steudle said the state was “still trying to manage the deterioration,” but the overall quality of roads was yet to rise, despite the fresh tax revenue. But he noted the general fund component of the 2015 funding package has yet to kick in.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint’s mayor has dropped her legal challenge to a recall petition intent on ousting her from office.

Mayor Karen Weaver’s attorney signed on to a judge’s order dismissing the mayor’s suit.

Weaver had tried to raise questions about the validity of hundreds of signatures on the recall petition.   In court this week, a handwriting expert questioned whether some people who signed the petition also filled in the date. 

dictionary turned to the word tax
Alan Cleaver / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCLO

President Trump's tax speech in Missouri Wednesday gave him a chance to throw down the gauntlet to Congress:

Congressman Paul Mitchell, a Republican from Michigan's 10th district, wrote an op-ed piece in the Detroit News this week spelling out his thoughts on why tax reform matters.

One of Mitchell's main arguments for reform is the benefit of simplicity — that the House Republican tax reform plan will make the system, and filing taxes, simpler. 

Michigan's oddly-shaped 14th congressional district, currently represented by Brenda Lawrence, is one example of political gerrymandering.
Public Domain

There's ballot petition currently circulating that seeks to end gerrymandering in Michigan.

The Board of State Canvassers approved the format of the petition on August 17, and the group spearheading the campaign, Voters Not Politicians, has been collecting signatures since then.

Anita Belle, left, and Jennifer Kurland are seeking the Michigan Green Party's nomination for Governor and U.S. Senator.
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Two members of the Michigan Green Party have announced they’re running for statewide office in 2018.

Anita Belle is seeking the Green Party’s nomination for U.S. Senate. She would challenge incumbent Democrat Debbie Stabenow.

Belle is an elections-integrity and reparations activist from Detroit. She says the government needs to make majority-black cities like Detroit and Flint “whole” for their water crises.

Mental health administrators Nicole Lawson, Christina Nicholas, and Jillian Trumbell demonstrate at the Michigan Capitol
Rick Pluta / MPRN

More than 300 thousand people in Michigan depend on public mental health care, and the state is wrestling with the question of who should oversee and administer those services.

Michigan is debating whether mental health funding will be taken away from community mental health groups and transferred instead to private insurers in Michigan’s Medicaid Health plans.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow expects hurricane relief will be a top agenda item when Congress returns to work after Labor Day.

Michigan’s senior senator says the country needs to “come together” to help people in Texas and Louisiana suffering in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.

flooded street in Midland
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

As people in Texas and Louisiana struggle to deal with the impact of Harvey, the storm is also generating new conversations about how to deal with flooding in other parts of the country.

Mid-Michigan is still recovering from floods in late June, and many Michigan cities have had problems in recent years.

City of Flint

A Flint city councilman faces a decision: run for re-election in November or run in a potential mayoral recall election.

Scott Kincaid easily won the August primary in Flint’s 9th ward.  A few days later, he filed to run in a mayoral recall against Flint Mayor Karen Weaver.

However, a judge ruled Tuesday that Kincaid can not run in both elections in November. Kincaid has until next Tuesday to decide which seat he’ll pursue.

man reading newspaper with fake news written on it
Mike MacKenzie / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCLO

A conservative news website is busy pumping out stories on political candidates. The stories quickly take off on social media as people share them with friends and family.

But a closer look at the website, called Conservative Intel LLC of Grand Rapids, reveals it isn't a news operation at all.

Amer Zhar in front of brick wall
Stateside Staff / Michigan Radio

Dearborn likes to boast that is has the highest proportion of Arab Americans in the country. But according to the U.S. Census, about 89 percent of the city’s approximately 100,000 people are white.

That’s because according to the United States’ government, Arab Americans are white.

“It’s a real mis-identifier [sic], you know,” said Michigan-based comedian and writer Amer Zahr “It’s one thing to not be identified. It’s worse to be misidentified because we’re not white in any way that ‘white’ means.”

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Problems continue to plague Macomb County Clerk/Register of Deeds Karen Spranger’s office.

Spranger was unable to present a proposed budget to Macomb County Commissioners as scheduled on Monday.

The County Executive’s office say that’s because she submitted an incomplete proposal weeks late.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

With pressure on them building, Flint city council members will sit down with their attorney Tuesday afternoon to discuss their options in their fight against tying the city to a 30-year water deal.

The state and Flint’s mayor support the deal with the Great Lakes Water Authority, under which the city would continue to get its drinking water from southeast Michigan.

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