Politics & Government

Stories about politics and government actions

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Flickr user 401(K) 2012 / Creative Commons

A new study from the Government Accountability Office shows municipalities in fiscal crisis have more difficulty applying for and managing federal grants.

The GAO focused on several financially-stressed cities including Flint and Detroit.  

The report found that budget cuts and personnel shortages made it difficult for cities to carryout the grant application process.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Northern Michigan’s congressman says he plans to run again in 2016.

Dan Benishek represents Michigan’s first congressional district, and plans to run for a fourth term.

"I’m happy to serve the people of northern Michigan if they’ll have me. And I’ve decided that I’m gonna try to stay a little longer,” Benishek said.

NOAA

This Week in Michigan Politics, Emily Fox and Jack Lessenberry talk about the politics of water.

The Flint River.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Residents have complained about water quality since the city started getting its water from the Flint River about a year ago.

The council approved the motion with a seven to one vote at their Monday night meeting.

Photo from the 2011 Capital Pride Parade in Washington, D.C.
user ep_jhu / Flickr

The Michigan Civil Rights Commission hopes to help local governments draft non-discrimination laws.

The commission has released a model civil rights ordinance communities can use as a template for their own laws.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Lansing city council is getting a 20% pay raise, despite protests from some council members. 

Five of the eight council members voted to reject the pay raise. But they fell short of the super-majority needed to block the raise. 

Wikimedia Commons / Wikimedia Commons

The new film 1971 tells the story of the eight members who made up the self-titled Citizens' Commission to Investigate the FBI. The group stole more than 1,000 classified documents from the FBI in order to expose some of the government agency's unconstitutional and illegal actions.

The film marks the first time these eight citizens are telling their story. Among them is West Michigan native Bonnie Raines and her husband John Raines.

This weekend marked the one-year anniversary of the DeBoer decision that briefly legalized same-sex marriage in Michigan in March 2014. To that end, there were some three-hundred one-year wedding anniversaries celebrated around the state yesterday.

user Laura4Smith / Flickr

Five years after the Affordable Care Act was signed into law, enrollment by Michigan residents has surpassed projections.

According to Marianne Udow-Phillips, director of the University of Michigan's Center for Healthcare Research and Transformation (CHRT), nearly 1 million Michigan residents signed up for health care in the last enrollment period. Almost 600,000 of those enrollees took advantage of Healthy Michigan, the state's Medicaid expansion program. 

Senator Debbie Stabenow
Photo courtesy of www.stabenow.senate.gov

Michigan U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D) and her co-chair of the Senate Manufacturing Caucus, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R), have introduced new bi-partisan legislation. It aims to strengthen enforcement of trade rules and provide job protection for American workers.

The Trade Enforcement Act would make permanent a federal office that coordinates the efforts of federal agencies that challenge unfair trade practices abroad. It would also create a role to lead that office and another to manage U.S. manufacturing negotiations. Senator Stabenow spoke to Jennifer White about this new legislation.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Today President Obama again called on the Iranian government to release a Marine veteran from Flint.

Amir Hekmati was arrested in 2011 and sentenced to death for spying. Iranian authorities overturned that sentence and imprisoned him for 10 years. The U.S. denies he's a spy. Hekmati was visiting relatives in Iran at the time of his arrest.

USDA loans available for some Michigan businesses

Mar 20, 2015
401(K) 2012 / Flickr

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has $25 million in loan guarantees available for qualifying small businesses in Michigan.

The loans can go towards building purchases, new equipment, refinancing, or just about anything a small business needs to run.

Scott Smithson / Flickr

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources director has approved a controversial land deal in the Upper Peninsula.

Canadian mining company Graymont can now move ahead with plans to mine thousands of acres in the U.P. for limestone. 

DNR director Keith Creagh says the nearly 10,000 acre land deal “balances the public interest in natural resources and economic development in the Upper Peninsula.”  

Archives of Michigan

The Archives of Michigan has added to its free online collection of death certificates. 

A new batch covering the years 1921 to 1939 have joined certificates from 1897 to 1920 that were already available online.

State Archivist Mark Harvey says the indexed certificates are a treasure trove for historical researchers who can search four different data fields.

State Capitol
user aunt owwee / Flickr

The Michigan House yesterday approved legislation that would allow faith-based adoption agencies that receive state money to turn away couples based on religious objections. Today, legislative Democrats introduced bills to overturn Michigan's same-sex marriage ban.

Detroit City Council
Detroit City Council / Facebook

The Detroit bankruptcy is over, and now Detroit City Council President Brenda Jones and City Clerk Janice Winfrey want pay raises.

The request came just about the time city pensioners started feeling the cuts to their health care and pensions exacted by the Detroit bankruptcy.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The city of Flint wants to restructure some bond payments to pay for two million dollars of recommended fixes to the city’s troubled water system.

A year ago, the city ended its contract with the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department, and opted to treat water from the Flint River instead.

Alan Cleaver / Flickr

A new report from the Public Interest Research Group in Michigan gives the state a “B+” when it comes to keeping citizens informed of government spending habits.

The study said Michigan is doing especially well when it comes to making that information available online.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Michigan Radio’s political junkie Zoe Clark and Michigan Public Radio Network’s Bureau Chief Rick Pluta – who together host “It’s Just Politics” – say Democrats are asking that state government be a bit more transparent. They’re talking Freedom of Information Act reforms.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint fired its long-time water provider, the city of Detroit, last spring, and began treating its own water from the Flint River.

There were problems right away, including complaints by residents about the taste, smell and appearance of the water.

wikipedia

In 1945, Grand Rapids was the first city in the U.S. to add fluoride to its water.

But a candidate for mayor doesn't see that as a bragging point today.

John George says "more than a thousand" studies show risks from fluoridated water, including links to higher levels of ADHD, hypothyroidism, and lower IQs in kids.

Today on Stateside:

  • Rick Pluta of Michigan Public Radio Network and Zoe Clark of Michigan Radio talk about what's going on in Lansing.
  • Former residents of the Brewster-Douglass housing projects talk about what it was like growing up in the Detroit housing.

  • The Freep Film Festival's artistic director, Kathy Kieliszewski joins us to talk about the festival, which begins its four-day run tomorrow.

Ian Britton / Flickr

You might have seen reports about a small town, fewer than 300 people, with a force of 110 reserve police officers. How and why is this happening in Oakley, Michigan?

Oakley, Michigan, according to reporter Ryan Felton from Metro Times, is "a textbook definition of a small town.” 

FLICKR USER KENNETH GARCIA / FLICKR

Local government officials believe they and their colleagues are pretty ethical. They seem to feel differently about state officials, however.

Those are some of the findings of the latest Michigan Public Policy Survey by the Center for Local, State, and Urban Policy at the University of Michigan.

Ann Arbor schools considering new weapons policy

Mar 18, 2015
user westsideshooter / Flickr

The Ann Arbor School Board is exploring options for a weapons-free school policy.

This comes after a March 5 incident in which a man caused concern after openly carrying a pistol to a Pioneer High School choir performance.

Michigan open-carry laws allow people with concealed carry permits to openly carry guns in schools.

Utility executive Nick Khouri will be Michigan’s next state treasurer. But Khouri also comes to the job with a lengthy state government resume – including time as a deputy treasurer.

Khouri was named to the job by Governor Rick Snyder and will start the job next month, a just a few days after the April 15 tax filing deadline. As well as collecting taxes, the state treasurer plays a key role in declaring local governments and school districts in financial distress, and naming emergency managers. 

Flickr user Betsy Weber / Flickr

Ticket scalping, or reselling concert or sports tickets for more than their face value, is illegal under state law. State Rep. Tim Kelly, R- Saginaw Twp., wants to change that.

He reintroduced a bill this month to lift the ban on scalping after a similar effort stalled last year when the legislation didn't pass the state Senate.

  Today on Stateside:

  • State Representative Brandon Dillon, D-Grand Rapids, explains the bill he introduced that would stop FOIA exemptions for the governor and legislators.
  • We look at why the Brewster-Douglass Housing Projects were built in the 1930s in Detroit.
  • Detroit News’ Bill Loomis explains the history of St. Patrick’s Day in Detroit.
  • This year a house on the outskirts of Austin’s South by Southwest Festival will feature creative design products and people from Michigan.
  •  State Representative Tim Kelly, R-Saginaw, tells us why he wants to lift the ban on ticket scalping.
  • Roosevelt elementary is starting to introduce project-based arts education to accompany their focus on science, technology, engineering and math. We discuss how this could be the future for all of Michigan.
Michigan State Capitol Building
Nikopoley / Wikimedia Commons

In Michigan, the Governor’s Office and state legislators are not subject to Michigan’s Freedom of Information Act.

State Representative Brandon Dillon,  D-Grand Rapids, wants to change that.

Dillon says he believes that the Governor's Office and state legislators should be subject to the same laws as other elected officials, such as school board members, city commissioners, county commissioners and many more, who aren't protected under the exemption.

Update, March 17th, 2015 1:15 PM:

In response to Governor Snyder's Executive Order moving the state School Reform Office (see original story below) out from control of the state Department of Education and into the state Department of Technology, Management and Budget, the State Board of Education released the following statement, calling into question the constitutionality of the Governor's order:

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