Politics & Government

Stories about politics and government actions

Michigan House of Representatives
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio


A funeral service is set for today for Curtis Hertel Sr. The former state Speaker of the House died suddenly this week of natural causes in his home.

The Democrat served in the state House for nearly two decades. Remarkably, during that time he wound up sharing the role of House Speaker with Republican Paul Hillegonds.

State Senator Virgil Smith, D-Detroit.
senatedems.com

State Senator Virgil Smith has turned in his resignation and averted an expulsion drama. The Detroit Democrat turned in a one-sentence letter this afternoon (Thursday) quitting the seat.

 

Amy Hunter is the Transgender Advocacy Project Coordinator for the ACLU of Michigan.
Cynthia Hunter

“I knew at a very young age that I was actually a woman.”

Those are the words of Amy Hunter. She is the Transgender Advocacy Project coordinator for the ACLU of Michigan ,and her story is one of the many in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) community that she represents.

  • We get both sides of the debate over the State Board of Education proposal to let transgender students use school bathrooms that match their gender identity.
  • The Yellow Dog River Community Forest Committee is raising money to preserve land along the Yellow Dog River in northern Marquette County.
  • There are only
Sen. Tom Casperson (R-Escanaba)
SenatorTomCasperson.com

The State Board of Education this month released a set of guidelines and recommendations it says will help provide a safer, more welcoming environment for students who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ).

Jack Lessenberry
Michigan Radio

This Week in Michigan Politics, Jack Lessenberry talks about Republican pushback on the State Board of Education's new LGBT guidelines, an alleged bribery and kickback scheme now plaguing Detroit's struggling school district, and State Sen. Virgil Smith's jail sentence.  


  • Michigan Radio's Lansing Bureau Chief Rick Pluta was in Flint today, where state lawmakers investigating the Flint water crisis held a public hearing.
  • The recent report from the Flint Water Advisory Task Force made it clear: Michigan's emergency manager law contributed to this public health disaster and should be changed.
Gov. Rick Snyder
gophouse.com

The hallmark of Rick Snyder’s tenure as Michigan’s governor has been his relentless drive to run government like a business.

Many believe that putting the bottom line first is what helped cause the Flint water crisis.

The committee heard from Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, who helped bring attention to the elevated blood lead levels in the children in Flint.
Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

There were some angry and emotional moments at a hearing today in Flint. A joint legislative committee heard from local officials and residents on the city’s water crisis.

Lee-Anne Walters is a Flint mom who tried to call attention to tests that showed high lead levels in her drinking water. Walters says one of her children asked if he was going to die because of the lead in the water.

“They just turned five last week. I have twins,” she told the committee. “One’s 56 pounds. One’s 35. He hasn’t grown in a year.”  

  • David Carpenter, director of the Institute for Health and the Environment for the University at Albany in New York, explains what a Superfund site is and how winning that designation could help with the Pall-Gelman dioxane plume.
Gov. Rick Snyder
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

There is an effort under way to recall Gov. Rick Snyder. Metro Detroit pastor David Bullock is leading the charge on one of the two petitions that are circulating around the state. Recalling a governor is no easy task and thanks to recent legislation, it is even more difficult.

Bullock will need to gather more than 790,000 valid signatures in 60 days. If they are successful with the effort, there is a great deal of confusion as to what the next steps would be.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

The Genesee County Clerk is worried that uncertainty about lead service lines in Flint will hurt property values in the future.

The Genesee County clerk’s office has deed records going back to the 1700’s. 

Because of Flint’s water crisis, Clerk John Gleason wants to add some information to future deeds.

He’s proposing adding a note on when lead service lines were replaced.

“We think it’s critical,” says Gleason. “We think it helps stabilize property values. That will stabilize the funding of police and fire departments through property taxes.”

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A national group says the experience in Flint suggests Michigan should make changes to its emergency manager law.

The Pew Charitable Trusts has been studying how 20 states intervene when local governments are in financial trouble.

“Sometimes emergency managers may be part of a distressed community’s opportunity to reset their finances,” says Mary Murphy, a manager on the Pew’s state and local fiscal health team, “But they’re not always the right solution to every problem … and Flint certainly calls attention to the latter.”

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Like last week, when he testified before Congress, the Flint water crisis again dominated Michigan Governor Rick Snyder’s schedule this week. 

First, the governor outlined a sweeping plan for dealing with the city of Flint’s drinking water crisis.

Then only a few days later, a task force that he appointed put the blame on his office, his appointees and two state agencies for Flint’s lead tainted water.

People in Flint are still lining up for bottled water. 

The Flint Water Advisory Task Force presents the findings of its final report.
Screenshot from livestream

This week the Flint Water Advisory Task Force released its 116-page report.

Although Gov. Snyder appointed the task force, he and his administration were not spared in its frank findings.

At the formal release of the task force report, co-chair Chris Kolb singled out the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality as having, as the report said, “a degree of intransigence and belligerence that has no place in government.”

“I think the residents and citizens of Flint will take the remorse of government to be genuine when they see quality, pure, safe water coming out of the tap," says NAACP president Cornell William Brooks.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Top leaders of the NAACP were in Lansing Wednesday pressing Governor Snyder on the Flint water crisis.

The group blocked a street in front of the State Capitol with pieces of pipe, calling it a “pipe-in.”

Leading the group was the National NAACP President and CEO Cornell William Brooks.

Brooks was in Lansing a month ago, and threatened civil disobedience if Governor Snyder didn’t present a plan within 30 days that included a deadline for replacing Flint’s water pipes.

 

  • A bill to protect freedom of expression and of the press for Michigan student journalists at public schools and universities was unanimously passed out of a State Senate committee this week.
  • In September 1929 the ship Andaste disappeared beneath the stormy waters of Lake Michigan.
Jack Lessenberry
Michigan Radio

This Week in Michigan Politics, Jack Lessenberry explains what came out of the final report by Governor Rick Snyder's Flint water task force. Lessenberry also explains bills moving through the legislature to fix Detroit Public Schools. 


steve carmody / Michigan Radio

The Governor’s Flint water crisis task force is recommending a new investigation into the KWA pipeline project.

Flint’s emergency manager agreed to the switch in 2013 to save money. 

Task Force Co-Chair Ken Sikkema says there are questions about the pipeline project that prompted Flint to turn off the tap from Detroit.

Sign in Flint, Michigan.
Michigan Municipal League / Flickr

Flint is slated to get up to $15 million from the U.S. Department of Labor to help recovery efforts in Flint following the water contamination crisis.

Half the money initially will be released to pay for about 400 temporary jobs for Flint residents. The jobs will last up to one year.

The rest of the money will support job training and career development for Flint residents.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

The Flint Water Advisory Task Force released its final report after a five-month investigation into the Flint water crisis, and according to co-chair Ken Sikkema, “It doesn’t paint a very pretty picture about certain state agencies, and even local agencies.”

U.S. Supreme Court
U.S. Supreme Court

Every 10 years, Michigan legislators re-draw our congressional and legislative districts. Once the census numbers are released, the political party in power at the time controls the process, and that's when things can get ugly.

A U.S. Supreme Court out of Texas could change the way redistricting is handled in Michigan and every other state.

Eric Lupher, the president of the Citizens Research Council of Michigan, joined Stateside to explain how the case of Evenwel v. Abbott could have a significant impact on future elections.

  • A task force appointed by Governor Snyder has laid most of the blame for the Flint water crisis on bad decisions by state departments like the Department of Environmental Quality. We speak with task force member Ken Sikkema.
  • Michigan Radio’s sports commentator John U.
Trunk Bay in the U.S. Virgin Islands
Rennett Stowe / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

What the heck is going on with the Virgin Islands Republican Party?

This is the question posed as the title of an article by Lauren Fox on TalkingPointsMemo.com.

The heart of the issue is who will represent the Virgin Islands at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland later this year?

The Flint Water Advisory Task Force presents the findings of its final report.
Screenshot from livestream

The Flint Water Advisory Task Force released its final report this morning. The report includes 44 recommendations. Gov. Snyder said in the press conference that the state is already working on 25 of those recommendations.

Task force co-chair Ken Sikkema said, "What happened in Flint is a clear case of environmental injustice."

One of the main findings of the report is that Gov. Snyder relied on bad information from MDEQ and MDHHS:

  • MSU education policy professor David Arsen weighs in on proposed legislation that could save Detroit Public Schools.
     
  • Former Holland Mayor Al McGeehan joins us to share a quick history of the city's heated streets and sidewalks.
flickr user Violet Jiang / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Late last week, the state House passed a stopgap funding bill that gives nearly $50 million to the Detroit Public Schools.

That’s just enough money to see the flailing school district through to the end of this school year.

Governor Snyder’s proposed $715 million fix is still on the table. It would divide the district into two entities: an “Old Co.” that would use millage revenue to pay off the $515 million in debt, and a “New Co.” that would exist solely to educate students.

Lansing's mayor wants to move city hall

Mar 22, 2016
Virg Bernero, mayor of Lansing.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Lansing City Hall could soon have a new home.

Mayor Virg Bernero wants to move it from its current location across from the state capitol building to a less developed area several blocks south.

Bernero's chief of staff Randy Hannan says the current city hall building is aging and in need of updates. Hannan says it would cost  at least $50 to $60 million to bring it up to modern standards.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

This morning, state lawmakers will resume their hearings into Flint’s water crisis.

State Senator Jim Stamas, R-Midland, chairs the special joint committee looking into what happened to Flint’s water.

He toured Flint’s water plant Monday and met with city residents.

Sen. Stamas says improving communication between state and local governments, as well as Flint residents, is much needed.

“We continue to hear different individuals having different stories. We’re hearing different things from the community,” says Stamas. 

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