Politics & Government

Stories about politics and government actions

Stateside 5.9.2016

May 9, 2016

On today's show, Sen. Gary Peters joins us in-studio to talk about Flint funding, choosing a new Supreme Court justice and autonomous cars. And, Shobita Parthasarathy shares some lessons that Michigan could learn from India's commitment to grassroots innovation.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan National Guardsmen are no longer distributing bottled water at three Flint fire stations as part of the state response to the water crisis.  

Just before noon, guardsmen loaded pallets of the cases of bottled water onto trucks behind Flint Fire Station #8. 

For months, this was one of five Flint fire stations where residents went to pick up bottled water and filters.  But the city is transitioning to nine neighborhood giveaway sites manned by paid employees.

Staff Sergeant Thomas Vega says it’s a sign of progress in the Flint water crisis.

Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

A legislative panel investigating the Flint water crisis will hear a report tomorrow about how serious the problem might be in the rest of the state.

The Michigan Infrastructure & Transportation Association and Public Sector Consultants released a report last month on Michigan’s water infrastructure. 

Mike Nystrom with MITA says the report found Michigan is up to a half billion dollars short annually of what it should spend on water infrastructure.

There is no agreement at the state Capitol about how to fix Detroit’s schools and time is growing short as the possibility of a default looms. But, it’s not Republicans versus Democrats on this one. This is a showdown between Republicans.

hstreetagent

The Fair Housing Center of Southeast and Mid Michigan has filed a discrimination complaint with the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development against Ypsilanti Township. The complaint relates to an ordinance the township passed last year banning government subsidies in a new development. That would exclude tenants with Section 8 vouchers. It is the first time a Michigan municipality has attempted to ban subsidized housing.

Blanche Jackson, right, with Rep. Sandy Levin. Jackson successfully appealed a finding of unemployment fraud, but the state still says she owes $4000.
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Michigan U.S. Rep. Sander Levin, D-Royal Oak, says the state needs to fix its “lawless” unemployment claims system, or risk losing federal money to administer the program.

The state switched to an automated claims processing system, the Michigan Integrated Data Automated System (MiDAS), in 2013.

Since then, fraud claims have spiked. But many people say they’ve been falsely accused, and that the system for appealing is a nightmare.

Stateside 5.6.2016

May 6, 2016

On today's show, we take a look at the history of the Mexican repatriation. A new study shows that when it comes to marriage, "opposites attract" no longer applies. And, we wonder whether Donald Trump isn't just a national version of Michigan's Geoffrey Fieger.

Mexican and U.S. flags
Flickr user Ken Bosma

Throughout this year's presidential campaigns, there's been a lot of talk about immigration in this country. We've heard proposals ranging from reform that would be a roadmap to citizenship, to building a wall between the United States and Mexico.

We've had immigration arguments for a long time, about as long as the U.S. has been a country, and these debates always escalate when the economy takes a downturn. 

When there are labor shortages, we turn to Mexico and encourage immigration. But the moment the economy tanks, we want to send those workers packing back to Mexico. 

prison cells
Thomas Hawk / Flickr - http://bit.ly/1rFrzRK

There's a category in which Michigan beats countries like China, Russia, Thailand, Cuba and Iran. Michigan imprisons its citizens at a far higher rate.

And Michigan is actually below the national average. States such as Louisiana, Georgia, Texas and Mississippi imprison as many as one out of every 100 residents. 

The U.S. turns to incarceration much more readily than the rest of the world. 

Donald Trump
flickr user Gage Skidmore / http://bit.ly/1rFrzRK

The Republicans have one candidate left standing for the party's presidential nomination.

Senator Ted Cruz and Governor John Kasich both suspended their campaigns this week, leaving Donald Trump as the presumptive nominee.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Time is running out for the petition drive to recall Governor Rick Snyder.

A spokesman says the Stop Snyder petition drive has collected around 400,000 signatures. 

Crowd waits to hear President Obama speak in Flint, Michigan.
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

Governor Rick Snyder stepped before a crowd of thousands of Flint residents Wednesday in advance of President Obama's speech at Northwestern High School.

The reaction was not warm. 

Detroit News business columnist Daniel Howes joins us to talk about what it will take to end the free-for-all of political games and blame-shifting in the ongoing water crisis. 

Bill would update Michigan car seat regulations

May 5, 2016
Baby in car seat
Intel Free Press / Creative Commons http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

A bill in the state House would change car seat requirements for Michigan children.

Right now, the state's child safety restraint regulations are generally based on age and height. 

Under the bill, a child's weight would also be included.

Amy Zaagman with the Michigan Council for Maternal and Child Health says the legislation would bring Michigan up to date with national standards.

Stateside 5.5.2016

May 5, 2016

On today's show, we touch base with the Michigan Radio It's Just Politics team to help wrap our minds around the DPS plan narrowly passed by the state House. We speak with a University of Michigan researcher about what makes people really care about climate change. We also learn about spider venom and how it could hold the holy grail of natural pesticides.

Michigan House of Representatives
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

It took 15 hours and an all-nighter, but the state House narrowly managed to approve a package of six bills aimed at fixing the Detroit Public Schools. 

Michigan Radio's It's Just Politics team Zoe Clark and Rick Pluta sit down with us today to talk about the bills, and about how the House and Senate have different views about how to keep DPS doors open. 

Crowd waits to hear President Obama speak in Flint, Michigan.
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

That was the question I asked Flint's Eleasha Aubrey yesterday.

We were waiting for President Obama to speak at Northwestern High School in Flint.

She had a good seat, so I asked her how she got it.

Aubrey said she usually doesn't answer anonymous phone calls, but she was glad she took this particular call. 

Listen to her explain:

Highland Park municipal building
City of Highland Park

Southeast Michigan’s new regional water authority is asking for Governor Snyder’s “personal intercession and involvement” to resolve a billing dispute with the city of Highland Park.

Highland Park now owes the Great Lakes Water Authority nearly $30 million in water and sewer bills.

In a letter to the Governor last month, the GLWA board said the Authority’s other customer communities are growing “concerned and frustrated” as they’re forced to pick up Highland Park’s tab.

President Obama speaking in Flint, Michigan on May 4, 2016.
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

President Obama came to Flint, Michigan as the drinking water crisis continues in the city. The people in the city have been dealing with bad drinking water for more than two years, and the water system still hasn't recovered.

Residents have craved action and answers from government leaders since the crisis began, but many haven't trusted the messages coming from Governor Snyder and the state government. 

Stateside 5.4.2016

May 4, 2016

In a State of Opportunity special, we take a look at the issues surrounding being young and transgender in Michigan. 

The state is in the midst of a controversy surrounding transgender people’s access to public bathrooms.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The Michigan Senate has approved spending another $128 million to address the water crisis in Flint, where residents have to use faucet filters or bottled water because of lead contamination.

The emergency aid legislation that passed 34-3 Wednesday next goes to the House for consideration.

It's the fourth round of funding being considered by lawmakers since the health disaster was confirmed seven months ago.

Gov. Rick Snyder and legislators previously authorized $67 million for the emergency – mostly state money but also federal funds.

Jack Lessenberry
Michigan Radio

This Week in Michigan Politics, Jack Lessenberry talks about Gov. Rick Snyder's plans to meet with President Obama in Flint today, teacher sickouts in Detroit and the future of the presidential campaign, now that the Indiana primary is over.

Sen. Goeff Hansen, R-Hart, speaks to reporters on the Senate floor after the Senate passed Senate Bills 710, 711, and 819 - 822, measures that would reform Detroit's public schools.
senatorgoeffhansen.com

Almost every Detroit public school was closed today, the second day of a mass teacher sickout over pay and other issues. Some 45,000 students missed class.

In light of Emergency Manager Steven Rhodes’ declaration that the district will run out of money by June 30 without an influx of cash from the state, it seemed like a good time to speak with Sen. Goeff Hansen, R-Hart, who’s been leading the push to get the rescue plan through the state Legislature.

Hansen tells us this latest round of teacher sickouts creates a legislative challenge.

Stateside 5.3.2016

May 3, 2016

We speak with Eric Lupher about the chance that the Village of Richmond might become the first village in Michigan to disincorporate. And state Rep. Sheldon Neeley, D-Flint, also joins us to talk about whether the state has been doing enough to help Flint.

Governor Snyder speaking at a Flint water press conference on January 27, 2016.
SnyderLive

President Obama's visit this week puts the national spotlight back on Flint and its water crisis. 

It has been four months since Governor Snyder declared a state of emergency in Flint. There were promises to fix the many problems Flint now faces because of its water. But a bill that would send the city $144 million to help fix the city's problems is still stuck in the state Legislature. 

Governor Rick Snyder
Rick Snyder for Michigan / Facebook Page

FLINT, Mich. - Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder will greet President Barack Obama at a Flint airport and talk to him about efforts to solve the city's drinking water mess.

Spokesman Ari Adler says the Republican governor is pleased to try to seek more federal support for Flint during Obama's visit Wednesday.

President Barack Obama
Pete Souza / White House

When President Obama visits Flint on Wednesday, many are wondering if Gov. Snyder will meet with him. Early signs indicated "no," but this morning, Snyder asked to meet with the president and Flint's Mayor Karen Weaver. The It's Just Politics team of Zoe Clark and Rick Pluta tries to make sense of it all.

Stateside 5.2.2016

May 2, 2016

Today, we hear the latest from the struggling Detroit public school system and why teachers are staging a sick-out. We also hear from the father of 14-year-old Abbie Kopf. Kopf is recovering after she and seven others were shot by an Uber driver last Feb.

Detroit teachers protesting downtown on May 2, 2016.
Sarah Jardine

Nearly all Detroit schools closed today due to a massive sick-out conducted by the city's teachers.

Earlier this year, there were a series of sick-outs aimed at bringing attention to both the poor physical and financial state of Detroit Public Schools.

Today's protest is different from previous events because the teacher's union, the Detroit Federation of Teachers, is encouraging teachers to take part. 

sign that says "Flint Vehicle City"
Michigan Municipal League/flickr / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

President Barak Obama is scheduled to visit Flint on Wednesday, and Governor Rick Snyder said today  that he has formally asked to meet with the president and Flint Mayor Karen Weaver during the visit.

Snyder said it would be an opportunity to discuss at the highest level how to best support Flint.

“How can we all work together to make Flint a stronger, better community and address the water question as much as possible,” said Snyder.

President Obama is planning to fly into Flint later this week to check in on the response to the city’s drinking water crisis and Governor Rick Snyder doesn’t plan to follow along on the presidential visit.

So, the question becomes: can the governor of Michigan really altogether snub the president of the United States?

Snyder has certainly tried to lay an equal share of the blame for what went wrong in Flint on problems caused by the federal government and its layers of bureaucracy.

Pages