Politics & Government

Stories about politics and government actions

police officer directing traffic
Flickr user lincolnblues / Flickr

The Grand Rapids City Commission unanimously decided this morning to approve requiring city police to wear body cameras.

Michigan Radio's West Michigan reporter Lindsey Smith says the decision is part of a $1.5 million public safety plan that was unveiled earlier this month. The plan also includes hiring more police officers, a study of racial profiling in the area, and creating more inclusive hiring practices for the city, according to Smith.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The Jackson city council tonight will discuss asking voters for a big tax hike to pay to repair the city’s crumbling roads.

Like other Michigan cities, Jackson’s roads have been getting worse for several years.

via buildingdetroit.org

Detroit city workers, retirees and their immediate relatives could soon qualify for a 50% discount off the purchase price on some city homes.

The deal would apply to vacant homes auctioned off by the Detroit Land Bank Authority. That online auction has been one of Mayor Mike Duggan’s signature initiatives.

Update Monday, January 26th:

The ax has fallen.

This afternoon, Michigan House Speaker Kevin Cotter (R-Mt. Pleasant) and the Republican caucus developed a response that was both ruthless and nuanced to the Democratic insurgency on the House Appropriations Committee.

Abby Rosenberg / Flickr

State lawmakers will try again to crack down on animal cruelty in Michigan.

A state Senate panel will take up a pair of bills on Tuesday that would increase penalties for serial animal abusers. The worst offenders – those who abuse 25 or more animals or who have three or more prior convictions – would face felony charges and up to seven years in prison.

Similar bills failed to clear the Legislature last year.

Snyder endorsed the report from the Michigan Department of Technology, Management and Budget indicating a notable decrease in unemployment in Michigan over the past month.
gophouse.com

Governor Rick Snyder says improving services for the mentally ill is a major civil rights issue. And he says it’s a high priority in his second term.

“Mental health is its own issue in its own right, a major issue. We’ve seen some huge progress because of Healthy Michigan. But I think we still have a lot of work to be done in general mental health and where it intersects with criminal justice,” he told the Michigan Civil Rights Commission.

Today on Stateside:

  • Dr. Matthew Davis, chief medical executive with the Michigan Department of Community Health and professor at the University of Michigan, talks about the measles outbreak, which has made it to Michigan.
House in Detroit.
Jason Irla / Flickr

DETROIT - Mayor Mike Duggan has released a plan to allow Detroit municipal workers, retirees and their families to pay half the price of their winning auction bids for city-owned houses.

Duggan told reporters Monday that the program will help strengthen neighborhoods and return more residents to home ownership.

He says the plan could be in place by mid-February if approved by City Council.

The city owns thousands of empty houses. It is tearing down those that can't be rehabilitated while attempting to sell others to buyers willing to fix them up and move in. Detroit began auctioning vacant houses last year through its land bank.

Lyle / Flickr

A controversial gun bill similar to one that was recently vetoed by Gov. Rick Snyder is likely to get a committee hearing this week.

The bill’s sponsor says the reintroduced legislation no longer contains language the governor and others worried could have put domestic abuse victims in danger. Opponents said it would have allowed people with personal protection orders (PPOs) against them to get concealed pistol licenses.

Michigan Legislature
Matthileo / Flickr

This Week in Review, Jack Lessenberry and Zoe Clark discuss calls for bi-partisanship in Lansing now that a new legislative session is underway. Do politicians really mean it though? Or are these calls for compromise just politics as usual?


Thetoad / Flickr

State Rep. Peter Lucido, R-Shelby Twp.,  plans to introduce a bill next week requiring high school graduates to pass the same citizenship test immigrants take. Students would need to score 60% or higher on the test to receive their diplomas. Lucido says that he hopes the exam will encourage participation and increase voter turnout for elections. If passed, the law would be in effect for the 2016-17 school year.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A consultant’s report says Flint police should stop responding to non-emergency 911 calls. The consultants say that would give police more time to investigate violent crimes in Flint. 

That’s just part of a report delivered by a Washington, D.C. consulting group to the Flint city council, mayor, emergency manager, as well as the city’s police and fire chiefs last night. 

Capitol Building, Lansing, MI
Matthileo / Flickr

A group of Republican state lawmakers will try again to protect religious practices against state and local government interference.

The Michigan Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) failed to pass before the legislative session ended last year.

State Sen. Mike Shirkey, R-Clarklake, introduced the bill again this week.

“It’s simply all about protecting and preserving the rights that the Constitution provides for all citizens – not just select groups of citizens,” he said.

Rick Snyder wants the U.S., not Canada, to pay for the Ambassador Bridge's customs plaza.
Michigan.gov

Each week I discuss what's happening in Michigan politics with Susan Demas, publisher of Inside Michigan Politics, and Ken Sikkema, former state Senate majority leader and senior policy fellow at Public Sector Consultants.

This week we talk about the agenda Governor Rick Snyder laid out in his State of the State address, and the likely response from the Legislature.

Photo courtesy of www.gophouse.com

In his State of the State address this week, Governor Snyder highlighted how Michigan has made a comeback since the Great Recession. But Detroit News business columnist Daniel Howes says the state still has a long recovery ahead.

Howes highlights in his recent article how Michigan has gone through a transformation that makes it impossible to truly return to where we once were. He emphasizes that Michigan shouldn’t be thinking in terms of the past, but instead focusing on truly moving forward.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint officials tried again last night to convince city residents their tap water is safe to drink. 

Most of the people at the meeting left with doubts.

Today on Stateside:

  • U.S. Reps. Dan Kildee and Mike Bishop discuss their reaction to the State of the Union address last night.
  • Craig Thiel, the Senior Research Associate with the Citizens Research Council, talks about the council’s new report, which spotlights shrinking school enrollment, and offers solutions.
  • Dr. Joel Howell talks about his team’s new theory:  Beethoven’s music was influenced by his cardiac arrhythmia.
  • Rick Pluta of Michigan Public Radio Network and our own Zoe Clark of Michigan Radio report on the State of the Union address last night.
Gov. Rick Snyder

Gov. Rick Snyder says he has faith the public will approve a May ballot proposal to boost road funding. That’s despite a recent study from a Michigan State University researcher that said the measure might already be in trouble.

The proposal would raise the state’s sales tax from six percent to seven percent. It would increase funding for roads, schools, and local governments.

Gov. Rick Snyder

Gov. Rick Snyder is following up his State of the State address on Tuesday by continuing to promote skilled trades. In the speech, Snyder highlighted skilled trades as a way to boost employment, education, and Michigan’s economy during.

The governor visited a mold and die plant in Lansing the morning after the speech to highlight programs that train skilled workers.

“They’re not jobs that go away easily,” Snyder told reporters at the event. “If you think about huge capital equipment, you need well-trained, really good people running that equipment.”

Morguefile

The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development is asking lawmakers to boost inspection fees for its food safety program over the next three years.

"Our ability to spend the quality time needed with Michigan's food businesses is hindered without an additional investment in food safety," said Jennifer Holton, spokesperson for the department. "And that's what we're asking for."

Holton said the fees have not changed in 15 years, while the department needs more inspectors to keep up with changes in the food industry.

Gov. Rick Snyder delivers his 2015 State of the State address.
Gov. Snyder / YouTube

We checked in with Zoe Clark and Rick Pluta, Michigan Radio's It's Just Politics team. They were in Lansing last night covering the governor's address. Clark and Pluta cover the highlights from Governor Snyder's 2015 wishlist.

Listen to their thoughts below.


President Obama addresses Congress for his 2015 State of the Union address.
White House

For political junkies, Tuesday night was a double feature. First Gov. Snyder’s State of the State address followed by President Obama’s State of the Union address.

We got some reaction from Michigan's members of Congress.

First up, Democratic Congressman Dan Kildee  – listen below.

Next, we spoke with Republican Congressman Mike Bishop – listen below.

State of Michigan

Governor Rick Snyder took a swipe at Washington tonight (Tue.) in his State of the State speech -- and said Lansing could serve as an example to the federal government on how to solve problems. But the governor had to spend a portion of his own speech dwelling on some things he wanted to fix last year that didn’t get done.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint’s mayor says the governor has some responsibility to ensure that Flint residents have “clean, safe and affordable water.”

Mayor Dayne Walling sent a letter to the governor this week.   

via detroitmi.gov

Troubles with a new regional water system, uncertainty about roads and mass transit, and ongoing budget difficulties—all were topics among Detroit’s “Big Four” leaders Tuesday.

The Big Four includes the heads of Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties, along with Detroit’s mayor. In recent years, they’ve met held an annual public meet-up to discuss regional cooperation and other issues in southeast Michigan.

It's Just Politics Logo
It's Just Politics with Zoe Clark and Rick Pluta

Governor Snyder delivers his fifth State of the State address tonight and co-hosts of It's Just Politics,  Zoe Clark and Rick Pluta, are in Lansing preparing to cover the speech. They gave us a preview of what might be addressed tonight.

Rick Snyder wants the U.S., not Canada, to pay for the Ambassador Bridge's customs plaza.
Michigan.gov

President Obama prepares to deliver the State of the Union speech tonight and Governor Snyder will also be delivering his State of the State address. In their time in office both leaders have gone through their ups and downs of approval ratings, but where do they fall now?

Michigan State economics Professor Charles Ballard keeps track of how both men fare in Michigan and says for the first time in the surveys they've conducted since Governor Snyder took office his approval ratings are higher than President Obama's in Michigan.

  Today on Stateside:

A sunset in Havana.
José Eduardo Deboni / Flickr

The United States took a major step toward establishing relations with Cuba after a deep freeze that has lasted over half a century.

A congressional delegation met yesterday with Cuban officials in Havana. Among the delegation was Michigan's senior senator, Debbie Stabenow, D-MI.

Governor Rick Snyder
Rick Snyder for Michigan / Facebook Page

The Detroit Free Press reports that Gov. Snyder will announce plans to merge the two departments in his State of the State address tonight.

More from the Freep:

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