Republican Party

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

A Michigan State University professor has been pulled from the classroom, after a conservative group posted a video online that showed William Penn delivering an anti-Republican rant during a class.

Here's that video:

Penn teaches creative writing at MSU, or at least he did until this week.

A student posted the video. Penn is seen during a classroom lecture repeatedly making derogatory remarks against Republicans.

In the video, Penn can be heard calling Republicans “racist” and saying they “raped this country.”  The video has drawn the ire of conservatives.

Michigan State University released a statement saying Penn met with university officials and “acknowledged that some of his comments were inappropriate, disrespectful and offensive and may have negatively affected the learning environment.”

The statement goes on to say Penn’s teaching duties have been “reassigned.”  

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

The Labor Day weekend signals an end to summer, and this week the Legislature returns to a full-time schedule.

The first order of business is final votes on expanding Medicaid.

Legislative leaders hope to wrap up the controversial question of expanding Medicaid to thousands of working poor people. The Senate has to vote on whether the coverage will begin January first, and a House vote is needed to send the bill to Governor Rick Snyder.

The Michigan State Capitol.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - The Michigan Senate's months-long debate over Medicaid expansion isn't over, even after the vote to provide health insurance to hundreds of thousands of low-income residents.

Republican senators on Tuesday will reconsider the issue of when the legislation should take effect. While the Senate passed the bill 20-18 in dramatic fashion this past week, it fell two votes short of giving it immediate effect.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

West Michigan Congressman Justin Amash says he wants the House to go back into session to address potential military action against Syria.

A U.S. military strike is expected in the next few days in response to the Syrian government’s alleged use of chemical weapons against civilians.

Amash told a group at a Battle Creek coffee shop today that the president must consult with Congress first.

“If the president intends to use force, we expect to be called back into session,” says Amash, “We demand we be called back into session to have a vote.”

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

It’s now up to the state House to decide whether to send a bill to expand Medicaid in Michigan to Governor Rick Snyder’s desk.

That’s after the state Senate narrowly approved the bill yesterday.  

But the Senate may have also delayed when the expansion could actually take effect.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Two Michigan Congressmen have signed a letter demanding the White House consult with Congress before taking military action against Syria.

West Michigan Congressman Justin Amash and Upper Peninsula Representative Dan Benishek joined 19 other Republicans and one Democrat lawmaker in sending a letter to the president.

They want President Obama to get an authorization from Congress before taking any military action against Syria.

Wes Nakagiri/Facebook

Tea Party favorite Wes Nakagiri says he will challenge the re-nomination of Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley at a Republican convention next summer.

Tea Partiers have demonstrated their ability to dominate Michigan Republican conventions and cause heartburn for party leaders. Three years ago, they almost denied Rick Snyder his choice of Calley as a running mate after failing to stop Snyder from winning the Republican primary.

Patricia Drury / Flickr

A group of Republican U.S. senators wants to prohibit the federal government from providing financial support to Detroit.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

A former state lawmaker is launching her bid to challenge mid-Michigan Congressman Tim Walberg in 2014.

Pam Byrnes announced her campaign for the Democratic Party nomination today.

She is an attorney from Chelsea with a background in family law.    She is the former Director of the Washtenaw County Friend of the Court.  Byrnes was also the Executive Director of the University of Michigan-Shanghai Jiao Tong University Joint Institute. 

Byrnes says Washington is broken and that is hurting middle class families. 

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Michigan House Speaker Jase Bolger's chief of staff is leaving to take a job in the private sector in northern Michigan.

Bolger on Wednesday announced that Suzanne Miller Allen will resign at the end of August. She's a long-time Republican staffer who splits her time between Lansing and Traverse City, an area her husband Jason represented as a state lawmaker from 1999 through 2010.

Allen also was chief of staff to former Senate Majority Leader Ken Sikkema and former House Speaker Paul Hillegonds.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

There could be a vote in the state Senate in late August on a bill to extend Medicaid health coverage to thousands of un-insured working poor people.

That’s despite Governor Rick Snyder’s call for a vote earlier than that.

The governor has said waiting until late August could jeopardize the state’s ability to get federal approval, and then sign up people in time for coverage to begin when the new federal healthcare law takes effect in January.

The state House has already passed its version of a Medicaid bill.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Michigan’s agribusiness leaders are hoping Congress will restore food assistance programs to the 2013 Farm Bill.

House Republicans approved a Farm Bill on Thursday, without any funding for food stamp programs, like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, otherwise known as SNAP.

For decades, Congress has approved massive spending bills to help the nation’s farmers and provide help for the poor to buy food. But conservative House members passed a Farm Bill without the food stamp funding.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

The United States Supreme Court has agreed to hear arguments in a dispute between President Obama and congressional Republicans which is directly affecting the lives of Michigan workers.

At issue is the president’s authority to make "recess" appointments.

Recess appointments are made when the president fills a governmental position while the Congress is in recess.

In this case, President Obama filled three vacancies on the National Labor Relations Board without getting his appointees confirmed by Congress.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Michigan Governor Rick Snyder says a Democrat's call for him to convene an emergency legislative session to pressure the Senate to pass Medicaid expansion is moot for now.

The Republican governor says the Legislature has a session day scheduled on July 3rd.

Spokesman Ken Silfven said Friday that the Senate should "take care of business" on July 3rd. While the Senate technically will be in session that day and others, attendance won't be taken and no business will be voted on until August 27th.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

State lawmakers will hold another hearing tomorrow on legislation intended to crack down on scrap metal theft in Michigan.

The legislation would require scrap yards to keep better records and ban cash transactions for commonly stolen items, like catalytic converters and copper wire.

Police, prosecutors and larger industries often victimized by scrap metal thieves support the legislation.

But not scrap metal dealers and recyclers, who complain the new regulations would be a burden.

Ever since U.S. Senator Carl Levin announced three months ago that he wouldn't seek another term next year, most Michigan Republicans have been waiting for Godot.

Except in this case, Godot is Brighton area Congressmen Mike Rogers, who most GOP leaders felt would be their strongest candidate. Rogers has been unable or unwilling to decide, however, and it seems increasingly unlikely that he will run.

He has a safe seat in Congress and a powerful and prestigious position as chair of the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.

Giving all that up for a risky run for a seat in a state where Democrats usually win U.S. Senate contests might not seem that appealing. But I’ve never felt Rogers was the Republicans' strongest potential candidate. I think their best chance to win is the woman who announced her candidacy this week, Terri Lynn Land.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - High-level talks over fixing Michigan's deteriorating roads are at a standstill.

Republican and Democratic leaders can't agree much on how to even proceed.

Feeling burned by passage of a right-to-work law, Democrats won't consider tax increases without public assurances that Gov. Rick Snyder will veto other legislation. Democrats want a repeal of a law guaranteeing better wages on government construction projects taken off the table, along with talk of dividing the state's electoral votes proportionally.

psmag.com

Michigan lawmakers are looking at how to get online retailers to collect state sales taxes.

Currently, shoppers are supposed to report any sales taxes they owe on online purchases, and pay them with their income tax.

But most people don’t.

State Representative Eileen Kowall’s bill would put the responsibility on the online retailer.   She’s quick to say this is not a tax increase, just making sure that the taxes that are owed are being paid.

Kowall says the current system puts Michigan’s ‘bricks and mortar’ retailers at an unfair disadvantage.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Union leaders are applauding a promise by state Democratic lawmakers to reinstate workplace safety regulations in Michigan.

The names of dozens of Michigan workers who died on the job were read aloud during a ceremony in Lansing. There are about 120 deaths in the workplace every year in Michigan.

Karla Swift is the president of the state AFL-CIO. She says Michigan workers need good safety regulations in place to protect them on the job "so that they come home after a day’s work in the same condition that they left in." 

Official portrait

State House Democrats spent “tax day” pushing a plan to repeal several state tax policies.
 

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

The conservative group that pushed for Michigan to become a Right-to-Work state wants Governor Snyder to drop his call for higher taxes to pay for repairing Michigan’s roads.

The governor wants the Legislature to approve higher gasoline taxes and vehicle registration fees to raise more than a billion dollars to fix Michigan’s crumbling roads.

Scott Hagerstrom is the state director of Americans for Prosperity. He says Michigan shouldn’t be raising taxes.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Minority Democrats in the Michigan House say pension income should no longer be taxed and other Republican-backed tax changes from 2011 should be repealed.

Democrats included the proposals in a list of budget priorities unveiled Monday in Lansing. House Democrats say their plan puts "families first," but it faces an uphill climb because Republicans control the Legislature.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - The drive to fix Michigan's roads is centered on winning support from lawmakers for at least $1.2 billion a year in additional taxes and fees.

But hardly any attention is being paid to how that cash should be divvied up.

Gov. Rick Snyder wants the bulk of new revenue to go to a new fund that would pass along additional dollars to road agencies. Yet few specifics about how the money would be distributed have been released since his budget was unveiled two months ago.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Governor Rick Snyder is cool to a proposal to roll back Michigan’s new pension tax.

The pension tax was part of a package enacted in 2011 that eliminated the Michigan Business Tax.

A group of five Republican state senators wants to repeal the pension tax and reinstate some homestead property tax credits.

Governor Snyder says the tax on pensions is just a matter of fairness, so that the tax burden falls equally. The governor insists the tax that pensioners are now paying is not too much ask.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

A new poll shows Michiganders are deeply divided over the state’s new right-to-work law. The law takes effect today.

Under Michigan’s right-to-work law, workers can't be forced to join a union.

Michigan State University’s “State of the State Survey” asked more than a thousand people whether they thought Right to Work would be good for Michigan’s economy.

42.7 percent said it would be good.  41 percent said it would be bad.  16 percent said the right-to-work law would have no effect on Michigan’s economy.

Economist Charles Ballard is the survey’s director. He says right to work supporters tend to be overwhelmingly white, male, non-union conservatives, while opponents tend to be overwhelmingly minority, female, pro-union liberals.

“It doesn’t surprise me that the public is split. I think the public really is split and these survey results are a fairly accurate reflection of that,” says Ballard.

As an economist, Ballard thinks right-to-work will have little effect on Michigan’s economy.

“And on that basis, I’m thinking this issue probably will not go away,” says Ballard.

Michigan is the 24th state to adopt a right-to-work law.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

DETROIT (AP) - Michigan workers can choose not to financially support unions that bargain on their behalf under a right-to-work law now in effect.

The measure that took effect at midnight will apply to labor contracts that are extended or renewed after Wednesday. Many unionized employees won't be affected for months or years.

Union organizers are asking people to wear red Thursday to protest Michigan becoming the 24th right-to-work state - a once-unthinkable change in a place where organized labor has played a central role.

Supporters plan to celebrate the law's passage.

Republican Gov. Rick Snyder is expected to see protesters at unrelated events in Detroit. He said Wednesday the continued political fighting, lawsuits and protests over right to work are "part of democracy" and he appreciates that "change is difficult for people."

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - The new leader of the Michigan Democratic Party says it has time to agree on top-flight candidates to replace Sen. Carl Levin and take on Gov. Rick Snyder.

Lon Johnson told The Associated Press that he takes exception to the notion that Snyder is safe because no Democrats have stepped forward to run for governor and the party has to focus on holding Levin's seat.

The Woodward Spine

The Detroit Zoo and the Detroit Institute of Arts are supposed to get a cut of taxes collected from the greater metro region.

But dozens of cities and townships have been holding out, thanks to tax loopholes.

Republican Representative Eileen Kowall says the people of Metro Detroit voted to send these taxes to the zoo and the DIA.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

State Representative Jim Ananich easily won Tuesday’s Democratic primary to fill a vacant state senate seat in the 27th district, which includes Flint.

Ananich collected 51% of the vote to defeat four other candidates in the Democratic primary. The 27th is a heavily Democratic district which likely means Tuesday’s primary win will mean Ananich will win the May special election. Still Ananich insists he won’t take his Republican opponent lightly.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Tomorrow, primary voters in Genesee County will narrow down the field of candidates to fill an open state senate seat.

There are seven candidates on the 27th state senate district primary ballot, though one has dropped out of the race.

On the Democratic side, State representatives Woodrow Stanley and Jim Ananich are facing off against Genesee County Commissioner Ted Henry and GM auto worker Chris Del Morone.

At a recent public forum, Stanley echoed the comments of his fellow Democratic candidates in hoping for a change at the state capitol.

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