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Politics & Government

Stories about politics and government actions

A picture of Chelsea District Library
Burrill Strong Photography / Courtesy of Chelsea District Library

Bart and Mary Beth Hammer would welcome any solution to their internet woes.

“You can get a satellite dish, but it’s so slow,” said Bart Hammer, airline pilot and Lyndon Township resident. “And you only get a small amount of data [so] that you can’t stream anything.”

A photograph of the Michigan Capitol building
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio file photo

Not much is happening with Michigan’s legislature. They’re out of session for much of August. But a state budget of more than $56 billion dollars was passed on time this year.

A recent report from the nonprofit, nonpartisan Citizens Research Council of Michigan indicates that the $10 billion general fund — the only part of the budget the Legislature can influence — will be hit hard in the next few years general fund obligations grow.

Detroit precincts will have new vote tabulators for the primary.
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Despite receiving unfavorable national attention for some serious problems in last November’s general election, Detroit City Clerk Janice Winfrey pledges that Tuesday’s primary election should run smoothly.

Winfrey says a combination of new voting equipment and improved poll-worker training should help avoid the problems that plagued Detroit precincts in November.

An aborted presidential recount found that votes couldn’t be “reconciled” in more than half of all Detroit precincts, meaning that voter poll books didn’t match the number of ballots cast. 

karen weaver
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint Mayor Karen Weaver will face a recall election in November over her support for a trash removal contract opposed by the city council. Executives at Rizzo, the trash removal company, were later indicted in Macomb County for bribery and fraud.

Weaver wanted the petition thrown out, saying that recall organizers didn't gather enough valid signatures. But Genesee County Clerk John Gleason says his review of the petitions found enough valid signatures to call the election.

Television remote control
flash.pro / Creative Commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

As if rural communities aren’t already underserved by media outlets, University of Virginia Professor Christopher Ali says the problem will likely get worse in the future.

The Federal Communications Commission is considering loosening some of the oldest regulations on broadcasters: the Main Studio Rule and the UHF discount.

Stateside 8.2.2017

Aug 2, 2017

Today on Stateside, a Michigan health insurer says premiums will rise sharply if the White House pulls cost-sharing subsidies. And, we learn about Michigan's historic Goose Lake – a music festival that was once hailed as "Michigan's Woodstock." 

woman carrying bags on factory floor
Nestle / Flickr / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Governor Rick Snyder recently signed into law a package of bills collectively dubbed “Good Jobs for Michigan.”

It’s a tax incentive intended to reward businesses that hire large numbers of Michigan employees. But it’s not exactly clear what qualifies as a “good job" under the new law. 

Dan kildee talking to crowd
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan members of Congress are back in their districts on their August break.

During the first half of year, many Michigan congressmen held raucous town hall meetings with people angry about the presidential election and the effort to repeal and replace Obamacare.

Flint Congressman Dan Kildee says he’s still seeing frustrated constituents. But he says their frustration is different.

aerial shot of buildings, soccer stadium
Rossetti

Wayne County is a step closer to letting its unfinished jail in Detroit become a $1 billion development that would include a pro soccer stadium. The county is working to finalize details with businessman Dan Gilbert. In exchange for the jail site, Gilbert would construct a new criminal justice center near I-75 in the city.

Morning Edition host Doug Tribou and senior news analyst Jack Lessenberry discuss the deal and whether major league soccer would be successful in Detroit. 

sign that says flint
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The city of Flint could soon get some relief from loans it took out years ago to fix its broken water system.  

Over the years, Flint borrowed more than $20 million from the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund. But the cash-strapped city has been struggling to pay interest on the loans.    

With its water system still broken, and the recovery from the city’s lead tainted tap water crisis ongoing, the federal Environmental Protection Agency says it’s ready to forgive the debt.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

The state of Michigan needs to improve its oversight when it comes to the Flint water crisis. That is a finding by the Michigan Auditor General released in a report Monday.

It says the state Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) didn’t provide enough oversight of the food and water lead safety inspections.

“The work got done, but the paperwork, documentation, should have been better,” said Jennifer Holton of MDARD.

MDARD oversees the inspections performed by the Genesee County Health Department.

picture of the challenge from Mayor weaver
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint Mayor Karen Weaver is challenging almost a quarter of the signatures that appear on a petition trying to recall her from office.

County and city clerks have certified more than 5,900 signatures on the recall petition targeting Mayor Weaver. That leaves recall backers with a margin of about 200 to get it on the ballot.

But Weaver’s camp filed a formal challenge targeting 1,200 signatures, either for issues with the person who signed the petition or the person who circulated it.

The Michigan Supreme Court this week said “not yet” to a group trying to stop fracking in Michigan.

The group, The Committee to Ban Fracking in Michigan, is now on its third attempt to get a question on the ballot to ban the controversial process used to drill hard-to-reach pockets of natural gas.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint Mayor Karen Weaver has until the end of the day Monday to challenge signatures on a recall petition against her.  

Opponents started the recall effort after she supported hiring a new company to pick up Flint’s trash.  Last summer, Weaver and Flint City Council fought over retaining Republic Services or hiring Rizzo Environmental Services.  At one time, both companies had trucks rolling down city streets emptying trash cans.  The dispute ended after Mayor Weaver dropped her support for Rizzo.  

Rizzo has since been linked to a federal corruption probe.  

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

August 8th, primary voters in more than 60 Michigan communities will be using new equipment to cast their ballots.

Fred Woodhams is a spokesman for Michigan’s Secretary of State’s office. He says increasing technical glitches with aging voting machines prompted the change.

money
khrawlings / creative commons http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Gov. Rick Snyder this week signed off on a set of bills he hopes will help lure some big employers to Michigan. The new law lets employers that meet certain criteria keep some or all of their employees' state income tax.

a computer that says foxconn
Christopher Bulle / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

 


On Wednesday, Gov. Rick Snyder signed into law a tax incentive package designed to attract large companies to the state and boost job growth.

Snyder supported the legislation with an eye toward attracting one specific company: Foxconn, a Taiwanese electronics manufacturing giant looking to open a new plant in the Midwest. But that same day, the White House announced Foxconn had chosen Wisconsin, instead.

Notebook and pencil laid across the pages of an open book
Jane M Sawyer / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Politicians and the industries that support them have always cast doubt on science that works against their goals. But in recent years politicians have shifted from casting doubt to simply calling science they don’t like a hoax.

Andrew Hoffman is a professor at the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan and the Education Director of the Graham Sustainability Institute. He recently authored an article published in The Conversation titled, “When politicians cherry-pick data and disregard facts, what should we academics do?

Artist rendering of proposed Lansing casino.
Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians

Plans for new tribal casinos in downtown Lansing and Romulus have hit a roadblock.

The U.S. Department of the Interior has turned down a request from the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians to take land in Lansing and Romulus into trust. 

Federal officials denied the request because the application failed to show how acquiring this land would “consolidate or enhance” tribal lands. 

The "Pure Michigan" campaign highlights beautiful and memorable places and experiences in Michigan.
user PunkToad / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

The multi-million dollar Pure Michigan campaign is getting an evaluation. The state auditor general started a review this week.

Representatives Steven Johnson, R-Wayland and Martin Howrylak, R-Troy, asked for the audit. Johnson said he wants to make sure the campaign is a good deal for taxpayers.

“I like the ads, too. I think they’re, you know, they’re nice to see on TV. They make me feel good about Michigan,” he said. “But it’s millions of dollars that we’re spending and that money doesn’t come from nowhere. That comes from the hardworking taxpayers of Michigan.”

Ali Elisabeth / Michigan Radio

 


Last year, more than 27,000 Detroit homes had water shut off because of what the city says were unpaid bills. In some neighborhoods, one in five homes lost water access.

In 2014, the cash-strapped city started getting tough on people who couldn’t keep up with paying for water. City officials predicted the shutoffs would taper off as residents got on payment plans and bills started being paid, but Bridge Magazine reports residential shutoffs last year rose 18% over the previous year.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

In a sign that the Flint water crisis is possibly nearer its end than the beginning, the state of Michigan is closing more than half of the bottled water distribution centers Flint residents have relied on since the crisis began.

For more than a year, Flint residents have included a stop at their neighborhood distribution center to pick up a case or two or more of bottled water during their errands.

A worker in a bright-green vest loads bottled water into a silver SUV.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

City and state officials will talk about the future of bottled water distribution centers in Flint Wednesday morning.

A trip to the neighborhood distribution center has become a regular chore for many people in Flint since the city’s tap water became contaminated with lead.

But things are changing.

Flint Mayor Karen Weaver, along with local pastors, met with Governor Snyder on Tuesday.

Wednesday, Weaver and the state officials responsible for the state’s water distribution effort will announce the “next steps” in the program.

Michigan Agribusiness Association

Local communities in four Michigan counties hard hit by flooding last month are getting some help from the state.

In late June, more than seven inches of rain fell on parts of Bay, Gladwin, Midland and Isabella Counties last month, causing widespread floods. In many cases, damage to roads and other infrastructure has overwhelmed local resources.

Now local governments can apply for up to $100,000 from the state Disaster and Emergency Contingency Fund.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint police are investigating allegations some city residents were misled into signing a petition to recall Flint Mayor Karen Weaver.

According to a news release from the Flint Police Department:

Grand Rapids Home for Veterans
michigan.gov

Eleven former caregivers face felony charges of falsifying records related to the neglect of patients at the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans.

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette says they made false entries in logs to reflect patient checks that never happened.

“And that violates their security and safety, and people were not doing the required checks, but the video surveillance caught that,” he said.

The Attorney General’s Health Care Fraud Division spent 13 months on the investigation.

After this week, we’re starting to get a clearer picture of what the 2018 governor’s race will look like in Michigan.

In just a little more than a year, Republicans and Democrats in Michigan will choose their candidates for governor in the August primary. Governor Rick Snyder is term-limited so, it’s a wide open field.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Some state lawmakers want to stop unmarried state employees from getting health insurance benefits for domestic partners.

Nearly a decade ago, the state of Michigan expanded benefits coverage as a way to accommodate same-sex couples who couldn’t legally marry.   But the U.S. Supreme Court legalized gay marriage in 2015.

State Senator Rick Jones (R-Grand Ledge) says the state is still spending more than a million dollars a year on benefits for unmarried couples.

The historic marker in Gordon Park at 12th St. and Clairmount.
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Fifty years ago this week, Detroit exploded in violent unrest that still marks the city to this day.

Now, the place where it all began is also marked as an official state historic site.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement - or ICE - agents
U.S. Air Force / Creative Commons / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The Ingham County Sheriff's Office announced this week it will no longer detain people at the request of immigration, without a judge's order. It says immigration violations are "civil, not criminal, in nature, and are between the individual and the U-S Government." The Wayne County Sheriff's Office has a similar policy in place. This Week in Review, Weekend Edition host Rebecca Kruth and senior news analyst Jack Lessenberry talk about whether other counties will follow suit.

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