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Politics & Government

Stories about politics and government actions

crowd of people
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After losing Michigan in a presidential election for the first time since 1988, the Democratic Party is signaling a renewed focus on the state.

Democratic National Committee chairman Tom Perez will be in Detroit and Flint this weekend on the first leg of a national “Democratic Turnaround Tour.” Other stops on the tour include New Jersey, Texas, and Virginia.

Perez told Stateside that the Democratic Party needs to make a greater effort to connect with voters.

Mike McDaniel, who is heading up Flint's Fast Start program, shows a city resident what neighborhoods will be targeted this year.
steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Weather permitting, Flint officials hope to start the next round of lead service line replacements by mid-April.

Tonight the Flint city council approved contracts to remove up to 6,000 pipes connecting Flint homes to city water mains. The pipes are a primary source of lead in the city’s tap water. 

Replacing the service lines became a priority in the wake of the city’s lead-tainted tap water crisis. But issues with funding, logistics and contractors slowed the process. The city replaced just under 1,000 service lines last year. 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A settlement has been reached in a lawsuit calling for home delivery of bottled water in Flint.

The exact details of the settlement are for now being kept under wraps, per a federal judge’s order.

After the Flint city council voted to approve the deal last night, all Flint Mayor Karen Weaver would say is “I can’t say anything about the settlement.”

The governor’s office, the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Flint residents who brought the case are also declining to comment.

A demolition on Detroit's east side.
Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

A special report from Detroit’s auditor general says the city’s sweeping demolition program is still riddled with problems.

But the Detroit Land Bank Authority, the agency that runs program, calls that report “full of errors and misinformation.”

Roads
Wikimedia Commons

Across our state and across our country, we're talking about infrastructure: How it's failing, what that means, and what it's going to cost to fix.

What if the issue with our infrastructure isn't that we're not spending enough, but that we've already spent too much and spent it the wrong way?

A 2015 survey found that many police agencies devote significantly more time to firearms training than de-escalation techniques.
Flickr - Oregon Department of Transportation / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

When police officers are faced with potentially dangerous situations, the initial reaction is often to draw their weapon. 

That, after all, is what their training suggests they do: A 2015 survey of training curriculum at more than 280 police agencies found that the typical agency devoted 58 hours to firearms training and 49 hours to defensive tactics, compared with 10 to communication and just eight to de-escalation.

This type of training, and the warrior mentality it creates, has been at the root of deadly confrontations between police and the people they're arresting in recent years.

Concealed pistol licenses way up in Mich.

Mar 21, 2017
Ibro Palic / FLICKR CREATIVE COMMONS HTTP://MICHRAD.IO/1LXRDJM

The number of concealed pistol licenses approved in Michigan surged 42% last year, compared to the year before. That's according to a recent report from the Michigan State Police.

About 170,000 concealed pistol licenses were issued in Michigan in the year ending September 30, 2016.

That's up from approximately 120,000  issued the previous year, and from about 37,000 issued ten years ago.

According to the State Police, there are slightly more than 600,000 active concealed pistol licenses in Michigan.

A photograph of the Michigan Capitol building
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio file photo

How much do you trust state government and its ability to do its job?

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

The city of Flint will start cutting off service to delinquent residential water customers next month.

The city plans to cutoff water service at two apartment complexes and 18 residential customers that are delinquent on their water and sewer bills.

A city spokeswoman says the accounts have not been paid for at least five months, and have racked up more than $2,500 to $6,000 in unpaid bills.  In some cases, the water and sewer bills haven’t been paid for years.

The effort to allow any Michigan voter to request an absentee ballot may be close to critical mass in the state Senate. That’s as more Republicans are accepting the idea that anyone who wants to mail in or drop off their ballot should be allowed to without having to lie to do it.

(Support trusted journalism like this in Michigan. Give what you can here.)

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

A new report is raising questions about transparency in Michigan Supreme Court elections.

Craig Mauger is with the Michigan Campaign Finance Network. He says in 2016 so-called "dark money" helped the two Republican incumbents outspend their Democratic challengers by more than 30 to one.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

FLINT, Mich. (AP) - Drinkable unfiltered tap water for residents in Flint might still be a few years away.

  Retired National Guard Brig. Gen. Michael McDaniel, who is heading the pipe replacement program, says he has an optimistic goal of 2019 for all lead piping to be replaced in the neighborhoods.

  McDaniel says pipe replacements are expected to pick up in late April. Construction crews are replacing the old lead lines with new copper ones in neighborhoods most affected.

Governor Rick Snyder
Flickr user Michigan Municipal League / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Governor Rick Snyder and other Republican governors are asking congressional GOP leaders for a do-over on the health care overhaul. Four GOP governors say the plan to be voted on next week falls short.

Anna Heaton is Snyder’s press secretary. She says the plan jeopardizes Michigan’s Medicaid expansion by choking off money for the program.

“Basically, what it does is it shifts the full costs of Medicaid to the states, so it would just be unsustainable and we likely wouldn’t be able to enroll anyone else in our Healthy Michigan program.”

Stateside 3.17.2017

Mar 17, 2017

President Donald Trump's budget chops the Sea Grant program and its aid to towns on the Great Lakes' coast. We learn what that means for Michigan. And, in our latest edition of the Artisans of Michigan series, we hear from a fabricator who designs metal sculptures with a function.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

President Donald Trump’s proposed budget was leaked last week. It looked like money to protect the Great Lakes would be cut by 97%. That leaked document was wrong.

Trump’s budget proposal completely eliminated funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.

Public Domain / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The cost of auto insurance in the state of Michigan is going up. The Michigan Catastrophic Claims Association (MCCA) is adding another $10 to its annual fee, coming in at $170 a year.

Thanks in part to Michigan auto insurance law, which requires that all drivers have no-fault insurance policies on their vehicles, the state has some of the highest insurance rates in the country. 

So is it worth it?

The uncertain future of the Affordable Care Act is likely influencing some of the health care rate increases.
Gage Skidmore / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Michigan arts and humanities funding may soon be taking a hit. 

President Trump's proposed budget calls for an end to the National Endowment for Humanities (NEH), one of the largest sources of funding for arts and humanities funds nationwide.

The endowment provides more than $1 million in funding every year to the state of Michigan. 

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

The city of Flint is getting a big bundle of cash from the federal government to help the city’s recovery from its water crisis.

Congress approved $100 million for Flint last year, but it took until this week for EPA administrator Scott Pruitt to formally award it.  

“The people of Flint and all Americans deserve a more responsive federal government,” Pruitt said in a written statement, “EPA will especially focus on helping Michigan improve Flint’s water infrastructure as part of our larger goal of improving America’s water infrastructure.”

Patti Kunkel, a Canadian nurse practitioner in Henry Ford Hospital's cardiac intensive care unit, worries that her TN visa may not be renewed.
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

It appears some Canadian nurses who work in southeast Michigan hospitals may not be able to do so for much longer.

That’s  because some U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents seem to have changed their longstanding interpretation of a NAFTA provision allowing those nurses special work visas—though it’s apparently not an agency-wide change in policy.

The NAFTA treaty allows Canadian and Mexican citizens in certain occupations, including registered nurses, specific work visas called TN visas.

Government records revealed under the Freedom of Information Act.
Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

The governor and legislature would be subject to public records requests, under bills approved by the state House today.

“When you exempt the governor and you exempt the state legislature from the Freedom of Information Act, it’s not true transparency,” said state Rep. Jeremy Moss, D-Southfield, a bill sponsor. “So this is a victory for citizens of the state of Michigan and journalists alike to learn a little more about how their government works.”

Alex Proimos / flickr http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Pressure’s growing on Michigan’s congressional Republicans who have to make a decision whether to support a healthcare overhaul that could be voted on next week.

AARP of Michigan says the proposed replacement to Obamacare would mean higher costs for older people.

“It is simply unacceptable,” said Paula Cunningham, state director of the AARP of Michigan. She says the proposed replacement for the Affordable Care Act would mean higher costs for older people.

“Do the math,” she said. “You know, what does that do to their income?”

Today, we learn how President Donald Trump's budget plan would affect Michigan. Hint: there's "real consequences" for the Great Lakes, community funding and heating aid. And, Daniel Howes of The Detroit News explains why Trump's revised fuel economy review is not an "environmental apocalypse."

A view of sand dunes and Lake Michigan
Rebecca Williams / Michigan Radio

President Donald Trump released his budget plan today.

The Pentagon and Homeland Security win big in the plan while the Great Lakes, Community Development Block Grants, the EPA, heating assistance for the poor and the arts lose big.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Genesee County plans to build a new section of pipeline, which will allow Flint to continue getting its tap water from Detroit while the county makes the switch to it's newly constructed KWA pipeline.

Flint’s reliance on drinking water from the Great Lakes Water Authority, or GLWA, has prevented Genesee County from pumping drinking water tapping the recently completed Karegnondi Water Authority, or KWA, pipeline from Lake Huron.

Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

The Michigan State Board of Education is trying to pressure schools to drop team mascots and nicknames that are offensive to Native American tribes.

The board is asking the Legislature to adopt budget sanctions on schools that won’t scrap offensive Native American mascots.

“We want to make sure that students are able to go to school and to learn and be in environments that are conducive to learning, and so that is why it’s quite important,” said Pam Pugh, a Democratic board member.

Bruce Power / Ontario Power Generation

Members of Michigan's congressional delegation have introduced resolutions in the U.S. House and Senate opposing Ontario Power Generation's proposal to bury low and medium-level nuclear waste in Ontario less than a mile from Lake Huron.

The controversial proposal is currently under consideration by the Canadian government.

U.S. Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Gary Peters (D-MI), along with Congressman Dan Kildee (D-Flint), introduced the resolutions today. They have a bipartisan group of co-sponsors from the Great Lakes states.

Stateside 3.15.2017

Mar 15, 2017

How would you feel if your boss demanded you undergo genetic testing and hand over the results? We hear about the bill that could make that a reality. And, we talk about Ford's new SUV plant in China, including whether the venture will draw fire from Donald Trump.

American and Chinese flags
U.S. Department of Agriculture / Flickr - http://bit.ly/1rFrzRK

President Donald Trump wants U.S. automakers to build their vehicles in the United States. U.S. carmakers want him to ease up on upcoming emissions regulations.

That's the framework for the president's visit with auto leaders today in Ypsilanti. The visit comes right on the heels of Ford's announcement that its luxury Lincoln unit will start building SUVs in China with a local partner.

The Preserving Employee Wellness Programs Act would require employees to undergo genetic testing and hand over those results to their employer.
Wikipedia.com

How would you feel if your boss demanded you undergo genetic testing and hand over the results? And if you refuse, you could wind up paying a penalty of up to 30% of your health insurance's total cost?

A bill to do just that cleared a House Congressional committee last week. 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint is stepping up its efforts to get more city residents to use water filters.

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