Politics & Government

Stories about politics and government actions

Today on Stateside:

  • Zoe Clark and Rick Pluta of Michigan Radio’s It’s Just Politics are here to give us a break down of this week’s political news, including Governor Snyder’s controversial pardon of a drunk driver, and Indiana’s new Religious Freedom Restoration Act legislation.
  • As part of Michigan Radio's "Learning to Teach" series, here is a postcard that explains, from the teachers’ perspective, what we need to do to keep them here in Michigan.

  • Michelle Richard, an education specialist with Public Sector Consultants joins us for another segment of the "Learning to Teach" series, to talk about teacher evaluations.
  • Keith Kindred, a teacher of social studies at South Lyon East High School, is here to present The Next Idea relating to teacher preparation and what that should entail.
  • No recognition for same-sex marriage in Michigan makes taxpaying difficult for same-sex couples. Joe Henchman, Vice President of State Projects at the Tax Foundation in Washington, joins us to explain.
  • Michigan State Coach Tom Izzo brings the Spartans to the Final Four for his seventh time, so Michigan Radio sports commentator John U. Bacon talks about that journey and what’s yet to come.
  • Jason Gasperich, director of sustainability for Connor Sports, talks about the Final Four floors and how they were made in Michigan.
It's Just Politics Logo
It's Just Politics with Zoe Clark and Rick Pluta

Political news continues to surface even though lawmakers at the state Capitol have begun their two week spring break.

On Friday, an investigative report, by the Associated Press, about a controversial pardon made by Governor Rick Snyder came out.

“As we share in the bad times, we must equally share in the good times!”

United Auto Workers President Dennis Williams fired up the rank and file at the UAW convention last week in Detroit. The meeting comes as the Union is preparing for a round of bargaining that will begin later this year with the domestic auto companies.

Getting a ticket
Jimmy Emerson / Creative Commons

Michigan drivers who have trouble keeping track of paper proof of insurance forms may soon have another option.

The state House this week passed a bill that would let drivers use smartphones or other electronic devices to show proof of insurance when pulled over.

Many insurance companies already offer apps and other ways for insured drivers to view their information electronically.  

U.S. Supreme Court

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette's office has delivered the state's defense of its same-sex marriage ban to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The state’s 59-page brief focuses largely on states’ rights. The attorney general argues the case is not specifically about marriage, but who gets to decide the question.

Mike Mozart / Creative Commons

Governor Rick Snyder used his pardon powers to erase the drunken driving conviction of a politically connected lawyer who was appointed to a state economic board in 2011.

Snyder followed the recommendation of the Michigan parole board and pardoned Alan Gocha Jr. in December — one of only 11 pardons out of roughly 750 applications since the governor took office.

Energy drink founder pours money into politics

Mar 26, 2015
Mike Mozart / Creative Commons

Manoj Bhargava isn't a household name, but a report from the Center for Public Integrity says the Michigan-based billionaire’s campaign contributions rival the Koch Brothers'.

Bhargava is the founder of 5-hour Energy drinks.  Since 2009, he’s made about $5.3 million in state and national campaign contributions through his Michigan-based companies.

Cedar Bend / Flickr

Michigan families could lose their cash assistance if one or more of their children persistently miss school. That’s under a bill approved by the state House on Thursday.

The Michigan Department of Human Services already cuts off welfare payments due to child truancy. House Bill 4041 would put that policy into state law.

Chalkboard
user alkruse24 / Flickr

Each week, Jennifer White talks Michigan politics with Susan Demas, publisher of Inside Michigan Politics, and Ken Sikkema, former Senate Majority Leader and Senior Policy Fellow at Public Sector Consultants. 

This week 's conversation focuses on  how education funding is shaping up in Lansing. 

Today on Stateside:

  • Rick Pluta, Michigan Radio Network’s Lansing Bureau Chief, chats about Michigan’s “no dueling” law and the effort in Lansing to rid Michigan of archaic laws.
  • Hour Detroit magazine’s chief wine and restaurant critic, Chris Cook, discusses “Sex,” one of Michigan’s sparkling wines with an interesting history behind its name.

Money
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.

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