Weekly Political Roundup

Politics & Government
4:49 pm
Thu September 19, 2013

Weekly Political Roundup: Drug testing welfare recipients, Republican conference

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

It’s Thursday. The day we talk Michigan politics with Ken Sikkema, former Senate Majority Leader and Senior Policy Fellow at Public Sector Consultants and Susan Demas, columnist for MLIVE.com

This week, a bill that would require welfare recipients to do some kind of community service in order to get cash assistance or a welfare check passed in the Senate.  And another bill related to drug testing and welfare benefits cleared the state House Commerce Committee.

Then, the Mackinac Republican Leadership Conference kicks off this weekend with nationally recognized guests including three potential presidential candidates set to speak there. They are Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin, Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky and Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana. 

Listen to the full interview above.

Politics & Government
4:27 pm
Thu August 29, 2013

Weekly Political Roundup: Medicaid expansion passes, Tea Party goes after Lt. Gov. Calley

State Capitol Building, Lansing, MI
Ifmuth Flickr

It's our weekly review of Michigan politics with Susan Demas, columnist for MLIVE.com and Ken Sikkema, former senate majority leader and senior policy fellow at Public Sector Consultants.

We start with Medicaid, and while the expansion finally passed in the Senate the vote didn’t happen without a bit of drama and struggle.

"There was still an awful lot of controversy. There was some horse-trading involved with an issue Senator Tom Casperson, who represents the Upper Peninsula wanted, and that finally changed his vote. And, it was just a typical messy process which is what happens in the legislature," said Demas.

However, this isn’t the end of the story. The law passed without immediate effect. As it stands now, the law won’t go into effect until April. The Snyder administration says this will cost the state about $630 million in lost federal funds. Demas said there are still a lot of hurdles before Medicaid expansion goes into effect

Let's turn now to Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley.  Tea Party activist, Wes Nakagiri says he plans to challenge the renomination of Calley at the Republican convention next summer. Nakagiri says Governor Snyder needs a more conservative lieutenant governor to help the administration stay the conservative course.  

"If this Tea Party challenge to Brian Calley is successful at the convention, it gives the Democrats a huge issue during the fall general election campaign. They will use the argument that the Lieutenant Governor is far too conservative or radical for the Michigan electorate," Sikkema said.

Click on the link above to hear the full interview.

Politics & Government
4:24 pm
Thu August 15, 2013

Weekly Political Roundup: Rough road ahead for transportion funding

Wikimedia Commons

Each week we take a look at Michigan politics with Ken Sikkema, former Senate Majority Leader and Senior Policy Fellow at Public Sector Consultants, and Susan Demas, columnist for MLIVE.com.

Governor Snyder has been calling for increased funding for Michigan roads to the tune of $1.2 billion a year. This is one of the items he has not gotten a lot of traction on so far from lawmakers on either side of the political aisle.

According to Sikkema, the last time Michigan increased fees and a tax for transportation funding was back in 1997.

"The reason we keep going back to this sales tax issue is because Michigan is relatively unique. It has a sales tax on top of its state and federal gas tax and that sales tax doesn't go to roads it goes to schools and revenue sharing. There are only about three or four states in the country where all the taxes at the pump don't go to roads. Michigan is one of them," he said.

Are better roads, better for business?

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Weekly Political Roundup
5:02 pm
Thu July 25, 2013

Weekly Political Roundup: In Detroit, bankruptcy timeline, impact on residents

Flickr/Patricia Drury

The eyes of the nation are on Detroit, as the city navigates through the largest municipal bankruptcy in American history.  And a group of Republican U.S. senators has wasted no time responding to the prospect of federal aid for the Motor City. They've crafted amendments to two separate appropriation bills to block federal intervention in municipal bankruptcy. That's despite the fact that neither Governor Rick Snyder nor Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr have put federal assistance on the table as a solution. So, moving forward, what does all this mean for Detroit, and for the state? For this, we talk with Ken Sikkema, former senate majority leader and senior policy fellow at Public Sector Consultants, and Susan Demas, columnist with Mlive.com
Weekly Political Roundup
5:59 pm
Thu June 13, 2013

Weekly Political Roundup: Medicaid expansion bill, and conflicts in Detroit

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

It’s Thursday, the day we talk Michigan politics with Ken Sikkema, former Senate Majority Leader and Senior Policy Fellow at Public Sector Consultants, and Susan Demas, political analyst for Michigan Information and Research Service. On tap today, the latest happenings around the Medicaid expansion bill; developments in Detroit about whether the selection of the city's emergency manager, Kevyn Orr, was in conflict with the Opening Meetings Act; and possible bankruptcy proceedings in the city. 
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Weekly Political Roundup
5:29 pm
Thu June 6, 2013

Gov. Snyder's negotiation style in question

Governor Rick Snyder

It’s Thursday, the day we talk Michigan politics with Susan Demas, political analyst for Michigan Information and Research Service, and Ken Sikkema, former Senate Majority Leader and senior policy fellow at Public Sector Consultants.

The state budget is on its way to Governor Snyder for his signature, while there is an investment of $65 million in early education, the Governor did not get three of his major priorities met. Medicaid expansion, transportation funding, and Common Core for K-12 education.

"He [Snyder] can't afford to sort of roll over all the time on the conservative agenda items, where he signs everything they want without getting them [conservatives] to agree to pass some of his high priority items," says Sikkema. 

Listen to the full interview above.

Weekly Political Roundup
5:26 pm
Thu May 23, 2013

Weekly Political Roundup: State budget talks

user cedarbenddrive Flickr

We take a look at Michigan politics with Ken Sikkema, former senate majority leader and senior policy fellow at Public Sector Consultants, and Susan Demas, political analyst for Michigan Information and Research Service.

The Michigan legislature has come to an agreement on targets for the state budget. The state is carrying a surplus of $483 million more than projected for just the current fiscal year. So, what does that surplus tell us about the state’s fiscal health?

Listen to the full interview above.

Politics & Government
12:10 pm
Fri May 10, 2013

Weekly Political Roundup: Buena Vista schools, Democrat Mark Schauer

Originally aired on Thursday, May 9th 2013.

Each week, we talk Michigan politics with Susan Demas, political analyst for Michigan Information and Research Service, and Ken Sikkema, former Senate Majority Leader and Senior Policy Fellow at Public Sector Consultants.

This week the Buena Vista School District closed due to a lack of funds. The state took away funding because the district was taking money from the state for a program they were no longer operating.

Teachers in that district offered to work for free, but the district closed anyway. Now, the state says their hands are tied.

"Well this is a big issue. We haven't had a school district close because of lack of funding for 20 years. That was Kalkaska in 1993, which really precipitated the passage of Proposal A, school finance reform. Buena Vista is a small district...and these 400 kids have to be in the classroom. I don't think there is any question about that in anybody's mind. And, the state and local officials are going to have to figure out a way  to get these children back into a classroom immediately," said Sikkema.

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Weekly Political Roundup
4:55 pm
Thu May 2, 2013

Republicans need 'top tier' candidate to run against Peters for Senate

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Each Thursday we speak with Susan Demas, political analyst for Michigan Information and Research Service, and Ken Sikkema, former Senate Majority Leader and Senior Policy Fellow at Public Sector Consultants.

This week, we look at clashes over the budget which led to House Speaker Jase Bolger removing eight Democrats from their committee assignments. Four were later given back those assignments after what Bolger called “positive individual meetings."

And Gary Peters announced his run for Senate. Who might Republicans choose to run against him?

Listen to the full interview above.

Weekly Political Roundup
4:58 pm
Thu April 25, 2013

Suggested changes in benefits for those seriously injured in car accidents

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Each week host Jennifer White discusses Michigan politics with Susan Demas, political analyst for Michigan Information and Research Service, and Ken Sikkema, Senior Policy Fellow at Public Sector Consultants.

Two new bills have been recently introduced in the state legislature, which would dramatically impact the amount of care received by those injured in a catastrophic car accident. Under current law, severely injured Michiganders can receive unlimited benefits for their care; however, unlimited care may turn into a thing of the past.

“What it would seek to do is put a million dollar cap on the benefits offered to people who suffered devastating injuries during a car accident,” explains Susan Demas. “We’re the only true no-fault state in the country, and the insurance industry has long since been very concerned about this.”

Claims of finances in disarray, and the burden of unlimited benefits on the economy have been core reasons given for reform of the current system. But political sub-plots behind the scenes may slow down the governor’s momentum with these bills.

“This is really one of the best opportunities in the last generation for significant reform,” suggests Ken Sikkema. “But it’s not without political implications for the next election.”

-Austin Davis, Michigan Radio Newsroom

Politics & Government
5:47 pm
Thu March 28, 2013

Weekly Political Roundup: Legal challenges to new EM law, and same-sex marriage ban

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Each week we discuss Michigan politics with Susan Demas, political analyst for Michigan Information and Research Service, and Ken Sikkema, Senior Policy Fellow at Public Sector Consultants.

Michigan’s new emergency manager law went into effect today, so we wanted to find out how the new law differs from the one voters overturned in the November 2012 election. And we discuss the legal challenges to the new law. Plus, the Supreme Court is hearing two cases this week centering on same-sex marriage. In Michigan in 2004, voters approved a constitutional ban of same-sex marriage and civil unions. There has been a legal challenge to that ban, but the judge overseeing the case chose to delay his decision until after the Supreme Court makes their ruling. 

Listen to the full interview above.

Newsmaker Interview
12:43 am
Wed March 20, 2013

Michigan's autism plan calls for early intervention, mental health care

 

The State Department of Community Health is launching a new program designed to address the needs of people with autism. Lisa Grost heads up the autism program. She tells Michigan Radio's Jennifer White there are seven key elements to the state autism plan, which include family engagement, early identification, education support, adult services, physical, mental and behavioral health care and training and professional development.

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Weekly Political Roundup
5:01 pm
Thu March 14, 2013

Will the state send cash to Detroit?

Mayor Dave Bing stands beside Governor Rick Snyder as Snyder annouces Kevyn Orr (right) as his choice for Detroit emergency manager.
State of Michigan screen grab

Each week we speak with Ken Sikkema, former Senate Majority Leader and Senior Policy Fellow at Public Sector Consultants, and Susan Demas, political analyst for Michigan Information and Research Service.

Governor Rick Snyder officially announced the appointment of an emergency manager for Detroit today. He named Kevyn Orr, a Washington D.C. lawyer who represented Chrysler in it’s 2009 bankruptcy as his manager of choice. Orr has many ties to Michigan including graduating from the University of Michigan Law School.

" I think the city is going to need some cash in order to meet some obligations and restructuring, whether or not that is going to be an easy sell is a different matter," said Demas.

"If this gentleman [Kevyn Orr] can actually show some results to get this city in the right direction than I think the attitude in Lansing would be different toward more money, and more investment," Sikkema said.

Listen to the full interview above.

Politics & Government
4:57 pm
Thu March 7, 2013

Weekly Political Roundup: Road funding, Earned Income Tax Credit, Detroit's future

State Capitol Building, Lansing, MI
Ifmuth Flickr

Each week we talk Michigan politics with Susan Demas, political analyst for Michigan Information and Research Service, and Ken Sikkema, former Senate Majority Leader and Senior Policy Fellow at Public Sector Consultants. Today we talk about transportation funding. Governor Snyder has called for $1.2 billion to address roads and transportation in Michigan, but there's no agreement in the legislature about how to get the money.

Plus, people are filing taxes and starting to feel the impact of some of the changes in the Michigan tax code, which includes the reduction in the Earned Income Tax Credit. Now a coalition is calling for the EITC to be restored, and Democrats in the House and Senate agree. What's next for the EITC?

And, as the Detroit City Council plans to appeal Governor Snyder’s decision to appointment an emergency financial manager for the city they are doing so without the support of Mayor Dave Bing who says it’s a fight they can’t win. Is he right?

Politics & Government
4:53 pm
Thu February 28, 2013

Weekly Political Roundup: Michigan Supreme Court, Democratic party

Graham Davis flickr

Each week we speak with Susan Demas, political analyst for Michigan Information and Research Service and Ken Sikkema, former Senate Majority Leader and Senior Policy Fellow at Public Sector Consultants.

Governor Snyder has chosen his replacement for the Michigan Supreme Court. Judge David Viviano fills the seat left open after the resignation of Diane Hathaway after a bank fraud scandal involving the short sale of property in Grosse Pointe.

And, the Michigan Republican and Democratic parties elected their leadership. The Democratic party saw its longtime chair, Mark Brewer, concede victory to Lon Johnson. What could Johnson's leadership mean for the Democratic party in Michigan?

Politics & Government
4:53 pm
Thu February 21, 2013

Weekly Political Roundup: Emergency managers

Steve Carmody Michigan Radio

Every week we speak with Susan Demas, political analyst for Michigan Information and Research Service, and Ken Sikkema, former Senate Majority Leader and Senior Policy Fellow at Public Sector Consultants.

Today they talk about the review team that Governor Snyder assigned to look into Detroit’s financial situation and it seems likely that the city will end up with an emergency manager. That would bring the number of Michigan cities or school districts under emergency managers up to ten.

Weekly Political Roundup
4:55 pm
Thu February 7, 2013

A different kind of budget

State Captiol building in Lansing.
Graham Davis flickr

On Thursdays we talk politics with Susan Demas, political analyst for Michigan Information and Research Service, and Ken Sikkema, former Senate Majority Leader and Senior Policy Fellow at Public Sector Consultants.

On tap today: Governor Rick Snyder presented his budget proposal. It included a 2% increase in funding for K-12 education, $130 million increase for Great Start, an increase in transportation funding, and an expansion of Medicaid.

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Weekly Political Roundup
4:54 pm
Thu January 24, 2013

Michigan gun law trifecta

JMR Photography Flickr

This week, host Jenn White takes a look at Michigan politics with Ken Sikkema, former Senate Majority Leader and senior policy fellow at Public Sector Consultants, and Susan Demas, political analyst for Michigan Information and Research Service.

Yesterday, a state senate panel sent three gun related bills to the senate floor. The first would prohibit federal regulation of firearms and ammunition manufactured in Michigan, while the second would exempt certain information about gun owners and their weapons from Freedom of Information requests. The third bill would make state laws regarding gun dealers consistent with federal regulations. 

Although Susan Demas is unsure as to how the bills, which supersede federal regulations would work, she does expect a backlash in court proceedings, if Governor Snyder signs these controversial bills.

"I'm sure we would see a court challenge if Governor Snyder were to receive these bills and sign them. The Senate today did pass the 'low-hanging fruit bill,' the one which seeks to alter language a little bit to keep us in line with the Fed. That's pretty uncontroversial. But this 'Firearms Freedom Act' as it's being called, that's very controversial," Demas said.

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Politics & Government
5:15 pm
Thu January 17, 2013

Weekly Political Roundup: State of the State

Steve Carmody Michigan Radio

Governor Rick Snyder delivered his third state of the state address Wednesday night. In a wide ranging speech he laid out his major agenda items for the year. They included transportation funding, reforming Blue Cross Blue Shield and bringing down the cost of auto insurance. This week we talk with Susan Demas, Political Analyst for Michigan Information and Research Service, and Ken Sikkema, former Senate Majority Leader and Senior Policy Fellow at Public Sector Consultants.

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Politics & Government
5:58 pm
Thu December 20, 2012

Weekly Political Roundup

State Capitol Building, Lansing, MI
Ifmuth Flickr

Every Thursday we take a look at Michigan politics with Ken Sikkema, former senate majority leader and senior policy fellow at Public Sector Consultants, and Susan Demas political analyst for Michigan Information and Research Service. As a wrap up to the year they talk about the most important legislation that passed this year. Plus, they discuss Governor Snyder’s veto of legislation that would have allowed concealed pistols in school, day cares, and places of worship.

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