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Politics & Government

Stories about politics and government actions

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - With just days left in the two-year term, the Michigan Legislature may be inching toward votes on what's billed as a comprehensive rewrite of state energy laws.

It's legislation that Gov. Rick Snyder has made clear is his highest priority.

The bills have divided majority House Republicans. They would update policies that govern the regulation of utility giants and their competitors, require minimum amounts of renewable sources of electricity and set efficiency benchmarks.

Rick Pluta / MPRN

The ballot recount in Michigan is over. This time, it’s for good.

This Week in Review, Weekend Edition host Rebecca Kruth and Michigan Radio senior news analyst Jack Lessenberry take a look at the short-lived recount and some of the problems it exposed at the polls, particularly in Detroit. They also look at a bill that would make it legal to hunt wolves in Michigan if the bill makes it through this year’s lame duck session in Lansing.


steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Congress has approved a wide-ranging bill to authorize water projects across the country, including $170 million to address lead in Flint's drinking water. 

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Thousands came out to what President-elect Donald Trumped dubbed his victory tour Friday night. He thanked voters for flipping Michigan for a Republican president for the first time in decades.

Trump covered a lot of ground, speaking for about an hour to a packed Deltaplex in Grand Rapids.

He promised to repeal Obamacare and bring factory jobs back to Michigan.

The biggest round of applause came after Trump promised to use “extreme vetting” of refugees and immigrants from certain countries.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The Michigan Supreme Court has shut down the last legal avenue to re-starting the statewide recount of presidential election ballots.

In a three-to-two decision, the court denied the appeal filed by Green Party nominee Jill Stein. She was trying to get an order to resume the recount after it was stopped by a lower court. 

Michigan's lame duck session ends on Thursday.
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

The lame duck session for the Michigan Legislature is a time when politicians in Lansing often push through unpopular or controversial bills. Remember the right-to-work law in 2012

This year has been no different as there have been a number of proposals that have been floated through the lame duck session. However, in an unexpected turn, four big ones have been pulled back, which surprised many observers, including Susan Demas and Ken Sikkema who joined Stateside for their weekly political roundup.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Commercial water customers in Flint who haven’t paid their bills could be shut off next week.

On Thursday, the city posted shutoff notices at businesses that are delinquent on the water and sewer bills.

Businesses, including two apartment complexes, have been told to pay up by next Thursday or lose water service.   Local charities are making arrangements to assist tenants of the apartment complexes find new places to live if their water and sewer service is cutoff.   Water service was part of the rent people living at the apartment complexes were paying. 

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

At one time, Detroit’s black families had one of the highest home ownership rates in the nation. Now that rate is among the lowest. Every year in Detroit, thousands of people lose their homes to tax foreclosures. In many cases, it is unnecessary. The city is accused of illegal taxes and denying tax exemptions homeowners deserved.

When I got to Darryl and Alisa Beavers' house, I was greeted by Jackson, their small dog. They’ve been living in a three-bedroom, two bath, 1,600 square foot home on Detroit’s east side. There are a lot of nice houses in this neighborhood.

Today, Jill Stein joins us on Stateside to discuss the fate of Michigan's recount effort and the future of the fight for elections everyone can trust. And, a recovering addict tells her story to help others fight opioid addiction.

Joe Brusky / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

On Nov. 30, Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein requested a recount of votes in Michigan. That request was the beginning of a frantic week of legal battles as county clerks rallied staff and resources to undertake the recount.

But now the statewide recount appears to be over after the ruling that came from Federal Judge Mark Goldsmith last night. He lifted the restraining order that triggered Monday’s start to the recount. The Board of State Canvassers then canceled its meeting earlier today.

Though the recount effort seems to have reached its limit, Stein said not yet.

Downtown Flint.
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

Congress is moving forward with millions of dollars for the Flint water crisis.

The House approved $170 million to help Flint replace pipes and deal with health issues tied to the city’s lead-tainted tap water. 

The money is part of the Water Resources Development Act, which includes funds for many infrastructure projects across the U.S.

But it’s Flint’s ongoing drinking water crisis that drew the most attention to the legislation.  

“Flint needs action,” says Rep. Fred Upton, R-St. Joseph, “this bi-partisan legislation delivers that.”

Rick Pluta / MPRN

We followed the twists, turns, and drama surrounding Michigan's presidential recount. Green Party candidate Jill Stein requested the recount in Michigan (and in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania) after stories circulated about the need for a robust auditing system of elections in the U.S. (Read more about that here.)

We hear an election observer's take on recount laws dating back to the 1870s. And we learn how to prevent prolonged sitting (even if you have a desk job) to stave off the harm it does to the body.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The legal battles over the statewide recount of Michigan's presidential election results have been raging.

At the same time, another story is clearly emerging: Precincts that cannot be recounted because of Michigan's recount law, which dates back to 1954.

Craig Camp / flickr http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The Michigan Civil Rights Commission says the state is wrong to eliminate minimum wage protection for workers on some small farms. 

According to the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs' Wage and Hour Division, small farms with fewer than 500 man-days in any quarter of the previous year are exempt from paying the minimum wage.  A "man-day" means any day during which an employee works at least one hour. 

Today, we hear the latest on the precincts being left out of the presidential vote recount in Michigan. And we learn about a new curve ball that could threaten federal funding for Flint.

A lead service line removed from a Flint home. Lead service lines were useful because the metal is flexible and can bend - making installation easier.
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

It has been well over a year since the world learned that Flint was in the throes of an environmental disaster.

In the early months of this year, the Flint water crisis brought a steady stream of political leaders promising aid and vowing this would never happen again: President Obama, Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, President-elect Trump.

So here we are, at year's end, and Flint hasn't seen a penny of that promised federal aid to help replace its damaged lead water pipes. And now there's a new curve ball that could threaten that federal funding.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The vote recount continues in Michigan, even as State Attorney General Bill Schuette and the campaign of president-elect Trump keep pushing forth with challenges to that recount.

Recounting began Monday in Oakland and Ingham Counties. Wayne County began today.

And there's a growing awareness of technical problems, coupled with possible human error, adding up to precincts that cannot be recounted under Michigan law.

Ballots being prepared for the recount in Ingham County.
Rick Pluta / MPRN

The Detroit News reports that nearly a third of the precincts in Wayne County - most of them in Detroit - may not be able to be recounted in the presidential recount which began Monday in Michigan, due to broken machines and mistakes by poll workers.

Wayne County starts its recount on Tuesday. From the News:

“It’s not good,” conceded Daniel Baxter, elections director for the city of Detroit.

Today, we hear about the lame duck bill that would be "Citizens United on Steroids" for our state. And attention Midwesterners: Turns out you do have an accent. 

Ballots waiting to be recounted in Ingham County.
Rick Pluta / Michigan Radio

It's been quite the legal whirlwind of lawsuits and early-morning judicial ruling, but the Michigan recount began today.

Local clerks are working furiously to meet the order to hand-count more than 4.8 million votes cast by Michiganders in the presidential election.

The first recounts are happening in Oakland and Ingham counties.

Michigan is one of only a couple of states that don’t already require all lawmakers to be subject to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests.
Matthileo / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

There isn't much we in America can agree on these days.

However, some might say we are pretty well united on one thing: Most of us think the Citizens United ruling stinks and needs to go.

Thetoad / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Police officers, fire fighters, and other municipal employees are planning what they are titling a “call to action” Tuesday at the state Capitol.

Lawmakers are holding a second hearing on a series of bills that would cut health benefits for municipal retirees like police officers and fire fighters. The bills would aggressively scale back retiree health benefits in cities with high unfunded liability costs. 

Report shows declining road conditions in Michigan.
Michigan Infrastructure Commission

During his January 2016 State of the State address, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder apologized to the people of Flint for the water crisis in that city, saying "government failed you."

During that speech, he called for the creation of an independent commission to examine Michigan's infrastructure needs. He later signed an executive order creating the commission.

The largest vote recount in Michigan’s history has been ordered to begin this afternoon at noon.

Very early this morning, federal judge Mark Goldsmith ordered the state to, “cease any delay in the commencement of the recount of the presidential vote cast in Michigan as of noon…”

Voters in Midland cast ballots for Republicans, Democrats and Libertarians on Tuesday.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

U.S. District Judge Mark Goldsmith issued his ruling regarding the presidential recount a little after midnight, following a rare Sunday hearing in his Detroit courtroom.

Goldsmith heard arguments over the logistics of the recount and how much the state would have to spend, but in his written opinion, he said what’s most important is the integrity of the presidential election in Michigan.

Green Party candidate Jill Stein's lawyers argued that waiting until Wednesday to start a recount would cut too close to the Dec. 13 deadline to have it finished.

Sink in Flint with a warning sign.
Virginia Tech

A federal appeals court may weigh in this week on a lower court order that directs the state of Michigan and the city of Flint to start delivering water to homes without a working filter.

The city’s is still dealing with a public health crisis after it was found tap water was contaminated with elevated levels of lead. Recent tests by researchers with Virginia Tech show significant improvement in lead levels, but the use of filters is still encouraged.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

It looks like the ballot recount in Michigan will move forward, unless the courts decide to get involved. This Week in Review, Weekend Edition host Rebecca Kruth and senior news analyst Jack Lessenberry talk about the recount as well as a state bill that would tighten up voter ID laws and another that would ban plastic bag bans.


steve carmody / Michigan Radio

DETROIT (AP) - The Obama Administration has detailed in a nearly 60-page report the federal government's role in Detroit's turnaround.

  The report was released Saturday and says a federal and local partnership started in 2011 used financial, technical and other support to help the city which emerged two years ago from the nation's largest municipal bankruptcy.

  Federal staff was assigned to City Hall to work with community, business and philanthropic leaders to identify resources to assist in Detroit's recovery.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - A push to curtail health care benefits for municipal retirees in Michigan is setting off a fight between those who say billions in debt can no longer be ignored and critics who contend it would cheat people out of coverage.

  The new Republican-sponsored plan could be enacted yet this year. It aims to address $11 billion in unfunded liabilities.

  Starting in May, newly hired municipal workers would no longer qualify for health insurance in retirement. Local governments could instead contribute to a tax-deferred account such as a health savings plan.

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