Weekly Political Roundup

Every Thursday afternoon, Michigan Radio's All Things Considered Host Jennifer White takes a closer look at the issues affecting Michigan politics with state political analysts including Ken Sikkema, Susam Demas, Debbie Dingell, Bill Ballenger and others.

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Weekly Political Roundup
5:19 pm
Thu July 17, 2014

How are leaders in Lansing reacting to Aramark problems?

Credit Thetoad / Flickr

Every week, we take a look at what’s happening in 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.

It’s been a rough couple of weeks for Aramark, the company that provides food services for Michigan prisons, which has come under a lot of criticism.

Prisons have complained of food shortages and maggots have been found in prison kitchens. There have also been a number of issues with Aramark employees smuggling contraband into prisons and just this week, four Aramark staffers were fired for having inappropriate contact with prisoners.

According to Demas, when the state of Michigan decided to privatize the food services in prisons, the objective of the governor and the Legislature was to save money and increase efficiency, but so far it has been marred with problems.

Meanwhile, Sikkema explains that when the initial discussions were taking place about the most effective ways to save money, privatization was more of a priority for certain legislators, and not necessarily that of the Department of Corrections. Sikkema elaborates that the operational costs have gone up significantly over the past several decades, and as a result, legislators have called for some form of privatization to scale back the spending.

After issues began to surface with Aramark following the contract, Demas asserts that the response of the state has been keeping tabs and trying to correct the mistakes, but so far, there has been no push to try and eliminate the contract.

“I do think it clearly raises a question, whether the savings, which are estimated to between $12 to $16 million a year in a $2 billion budget, are worth the problems that they’ve encountered: food issues, sanitation issues, high turnover of staff, sexual misconduct, smuggling of contraband like marijuana into the prisons; I don’t see the contract surviving if these problems continue” says Sikkema.

Omar Saadeh - Michigan Radio Newsroom

Weekly Political Roundup
4:59 pm
Thu July 10, 2014

How Lansing is responding to charter school investigation

Credit user alkruse24 / Flickr

    

A recent investigation by the Detroit Free Press suggested major issues with charter schools in the state. The investigation pointed to poor financial practices, conflicts of interest, and lack of transparency by charter schools and authorizers.

Now, State Superintendent of Schools Mike Flanagan says some charter authorizers may lose their authority to open additional schools.

Joining us now to talk about this are Ken Sikkema, former Senate Majority Leader and Senior Policy Fellow at Public Sector Consultants and Zoe Clark with Michigan Radio’s It’s Just Politics.

Weekly Political Roundup
4:27 pm
Thu July 3, 2014

Weekly Political Roundup: Outside money targets campaign ads in Michigan

Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

    

It’s Thursday, the day we talk 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.

We’re still about a month out from the primaries and four months out from the general election. Yet, the Michigan Campaign Finance Network this week reports that $18 million have already been spent in the Michigan gubernatorial and senate races. And such of this money is coming from outside groups.

Is it surprising that this much outside money is coming into Michigan so early or is this election politics as usual?

Weekly Political Roundup
4:39 pm
Thu June 26, 2014

Weekly Political Roundup: Detroit Mayor Duggan's first six months in office

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan.
Credit Mike Duggan

The city of Detroit continues to work through bankruptcy, at the same time Mayor Mike Duggan, now six months into his term, has been working to return basic city services to residents in the city. 

Joining us today were Ken Sikkema, Former Senate Majority Leader and Senior Policy Fellow at Public Sector Consultants and Susan Demas, publisher of Inside Michigan Politics.

Detroit remains under the emergency management of Kevyn Orr, but Duggan really positioned himself as more of a chief operating officer when he was running for mayor. How much of what we see happening in the city is the result of efforts by Orr and how much of it is Duggan?

Listen to the full interview above.

Weekly Political Roundup
4:48 pm
Thu June 12, 2014

Why has it been so difficult to get consensus on a funding package?

Credit user cedarbenddrive / Flickr

    

The intense Michigan winter has put roads funding at the top of the legislative agenda. Things lagged for the past few months but began to heat up as the Legislature prepares for summer break which begins next week.

Why has it been so difficult to get consensus on a funding package?  

Today we talk Michigan politics with Ken Sikkema, former Senate Majority Leader and Senior Policy Fellow at Public Sector Consultants, and Susan Demas, publisher of Inside Michigan Politics.

Listen to the interview above.

Weekly Political Roundup
5:17 pm
Wed May 21, 2014

Support for Detroit a political liability?

Credit Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

This week on All Things Considered, host Jennifer White talks about the status of state support for the Detroit bankruptcy proceedings and the risk of political fallout for lawmakers who support such measures.We have that conversation with Ken Sikkema, former Senate Majority Leader and senior policy fellow at Public Sector Consultants, and Susan Demas, publisher of Inside Michigan Politics, 

Recently, Americans for Prosperity, a group funded by billionaires David and Charles Koch, announced they would run ads against a grand bargain for Detroit and against any Republican lawmaker who votes to support such a plan.

According to Ken Sikkema, while there may be some political risk involved for Republican lawmakers, it is imperative that the Legislature moves on this issue to get Detroit out of bankruptcy promptly.

Listen to the full interview above.

Weekly Political Roundup
4:32 pm
Thu May 8, 2014

Michigan lawmakers move to complete budget by early June

Credit Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

This week, the state legislature has been steadily moving on a number of items that had trouble gaining traction in the legislature. Progress has been made on funding for roads, teacher evaluation legislation, and state support for the Detroit bankruptcy. With both the August primary and the November election approaching, state lawmakers moved on these issues in order to complete the budget by early June.

Jennifer White, host of All Things Considered, spoke with Ken Sikkema, former Senate Majority Leader and Senior Policy Fellow at Public Sector Consultants, and Susan Demas, publisher of Inside Michigan Politics, about the recent developments in the state legislature.

Weekly Political Roundup
5:15 pm
Thu May 1, 2014

House Speaker Bolger balks at state support for Detroit bankruptcy

Credit User: mattileo/flickr

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, publisher of Inside Michigan Politics.

This week, Jennifer White, host of All Things Considered, examines the latest developments surrounding the Detroit bankruptcy case. Emergency manager Kevyn Orr spent two days in Lansing this week, trying to galvanize lawmakers to support a grand bargain to reinforce Detroit pensions while protecting the Detroit Institute of Arts. The state is being asked to contribute $350 million, but House Speaker Jase Bolger has balked at the proposal.

Ken Sikkema emphasizes that because it is an election year, Speaker Bolger will have a difficult time getting full Republican support to contribute state money to help with Detroit’s financial woes, and that in order for a deal to proceed where the state will contribute financially, it will rely on bipartisan support.

“The speaker is walking a fine line here, between driving a hard bargain to show that Republicans actually got something in the way of more accountability so that this doesn’t happen again,” Sikkema explains. “Down in Detroit, the pieces are starting to fall into place to make this happen and the last big piece is state participation. But he’s never going to get full Republican support for this, particularly in an election year, it’s going to have to be a bipartisan vote.”

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Weekly Political Roundup
5:31 pm
Thu April 10, 2014

Detroit bankruptcy case, bondholders and the future of the DIA

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, publisher of Inside Michigan Politics.

This week, host Jennifer White discusses the latest developments in the Detroit bankruptcy case and examines the implications.

There was a significant breakthrough yesterday. A settlement was announced between the city of Detroit and three major bond insurers. The insurers will get about 74 cents on the dollar, a significant increase from what emergency manager Kevyn Orr originally offered, and the roughly $50 million in savings will go to support retirees.

The question now is whether retirees will accept further cuts to their pensions, given the fact that Gov. Rick Snyder has stated that the state will not put any money forward unless the retirees agree to cuts. Ken Sikkema says it's imperative that retirees back the plan.

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Weekly Political Roundup
4:41 pm
Thu April 3, 2014

Schauer selects Lisa Brown as running mate; Camp decides against seeking re-election

Credit user cedarbenddrive / Flickr

Each week we take a look at what’s happening in 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.

Earlier today, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mark Schauer announced that Oakland County Clerk Lisa Brown will be his running mate for the upcoming 2014 election. Brown served two terms in the state House of Representatives and has served as the Oakland County Clerk since 2012, a position long held by Republicans.

Susan Demas indicates the selection of Brown will bolster the ticket because of her name recognition with voters in Southeast Michigan and she resonates well with female voters. 

“Lisa Brown...gained a lot of attention in 2012 with the debate over the controversial abortion legislation, and was known for the ‘vagina-gate’ scandal when she was not allowed to speak on the floor.”

Meanwhile, a fourth member of Michigan’s congressional delegation announced he will not seek re-election. Rep. Dave Camp (R-Midland), the chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, will step down, along with Mike Rogers, Carl Levin and John Dingell.

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Weekly Political Roundup
5:37 pm
Thu March 27, 2014

Could the same-sex marriage debate impact the 2014 election?

Weekly Political Roundup interview 3/27/2014

This week, host Jennifer White discusses the latest developments in same-sex marriages in Michigan and their impact on the 2014 elections. She is joined by Ken Sikkema, former Senate Majority Leader and senior policy fellow at Public Sector Consultants, and Susan Demas, publisher of Michigan Inside Politics.

On Friday, U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman struck down Michigan’s ban on same-sex marriage. On Saturday, more than 300 couples rushed to speak their vows before the Sixth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued a stay on Judge Friedman’s ruling until further deliberation. Yesterday, Gov. Rick Snyder stated that while the marriages performed over the weekend were legal, they cannot be officially recognized by the state due to the current law.

Ken Sikkema indicates that while it may be politically challenging for Gov. Snyder, his position will be to comply with the law.

“I think at the end of the day, his position is going to be, as it is today, ‘I’m going to comply with the law,' whatever the law is, finally resolved by the U.S. Supreme Court."

Meanwhile, Susan Demas mentions that although Attorney General Bill Schuette has been vocal about his opposition to same-sex marriage, he did not address the issue in his campaign reelection announcement last week.

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Weekly Political Roundup
5:23 pm
Thu February 27, 2014

A look at Michigan's same-sex marriage challenge, and will another Dingell take office?

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

This week, a challenge to Michigan’s ban on same-sex marriage began in federal court. Michigan voters approved the ban on same-sex marriage and civil unions in 2004. Plus, the longest-serving member of the House, John Dingell announces he will retire. Who will take his seat?

All Things Considered host Jennifer White spoke with Susan Demas, publisher of Inside Michigan Politics, and Ken Sikkema, former Senate Majority Leader and Senior Policy Fellow at Public Sector Consultants.

Weekly Political Roundup for February 27th, 2014.

*Correction - In an earlier version of the audio above, Susan Demas referred to April DeBoer or Jayne Rowse as a "biological" mother of their kid(s). Each is an "adoptive" parent to their kid(s). The audio has been corrected.

Weekly Political Roundup
4:10 pm
Thu February 20, 2014

To raise or not to raise the minimum wage?

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

It's a question Michigan voters may have to answer this November.

The Board of State Canvassers yesterday approved petition language put forward by Raise Michigan, a coalition that wants to increase Michigan’s minimum wage to $10.10 an hour by 2017, and also index the minimum wage to inflation.

To get the question on the November ballot, it needs to collect 258,000 signatures by May 28.

Susan Demas, publisher of Inside Michigan Politics and Ken Sikkema, former Senate Majority Leader and Senior Policy Fellow at Public Sector Consultants spoke with All Things Considered Host, Jennifer White.

Weekly Political Roundup
3:35 pm
Thu February 13, 2014

Drivers beware, warns MDOT director

Prepare for slick roads around the state this morning
net_efekt Flickr

Kirk Steudle, director of the Michigan Department of Transportation, says the harsh winter will make the pothole situation in Michigan this spring the worst we’ve seen in our lifetime. He testified this week before the state House Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation.

Joining us to talk roads are Susan Demas, publisher of Inside Michigan Politics, and Ken Sikkema, former Senate Majority Leader and Senior Policy Fellow at Public Sector Consultants.

Weekly Political Roundup
5:14 pm
Thu January 23, 2014

Should Dave Agema resign?

Official legislative portrait

This week during a Martin Luther King Jr. Day speech, Gov. Rick Snyder renewed his call for civility. His comments seemed to again be pointed toward Dave Agema, a Republican National Committeeman. Agema is being criticized for comments made against gays and Muslims, and the calls for his resignation are getting louder. 

To talk about this, we're joined by Ken Sikkema, former Senate Majority Leader and senior policy fellow at Public Sector Consultants, and Zoe Clark, Michigan Radio’s co-host of "It’s Just Politics." 

Weekly Political Roundup
4:47 pm
Thu January 9, 2014

What to do with Michigan's projected budget surplus?

Graham Davis flickr

Each week we take a look at what’s happening in 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. 

The state legislature is back to work, and as Sikkema predicted last year, talks are swirling around what to do with the state’s projected budget surplus. Estimates are putting it at about $500 million. What should be done with the money?

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Weekly Political Roundup
4:45 pm
Thu December 19, 2013

What might the Michigan Legislature do in 2014?

Graham Davis flickr

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, publisher of Inside Michigan Politics.

The legislature has wrapped up session for the year. And, after the holidays we’re entering an election year. Let's find out, besides the gubernatorial election, what other major elections should we be watching next year, and what might the legislature accomplish in 2014?

Weekly Political Roundup
5:03 pm
Thu November 21, 2013

In Lansing, could unexpected legislation pop up?

The chamber of Michigan's House of Representatives in Lansing. Leaders in the Michigan legislature and Governor Granholm are close to an agreement on the budget.
Lester Graham Michigan Radio

Each Thursday we talk 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.

The Michigan legislature is on recess until the first week of December. This feels like a much more subdued legislative session compared to last year. Today we ask, what has the legislature checked off it's list, what bills are likely to come up in December?

Listen to the full interview above.

Weekly Political Roundup
5:25 pm
Thu November 14, 2013

Weekly Political Roundup: Campaign donation limits, impact on 2014 elections

wikimedia commons

Each Thursday we talk Michigan politics with Ken Sikkema, former Senate Majority Leader and Senior Policy Fellow at Public Sector Consultants, and Susan Demas, publisher of Inside Michigan Politics. 

This morning, Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson proposed new rules that would require more disclosure of who pays for issue ads. The Senate added language to block the Secretary of State’s proposal, and approved a bill that would double the amount an individual could contribute to a candidate or a candidate committee.

“What the Secretary of State is trying to do is level a very unequal playing field when it comes to financing campaigns,” Sikkema explains. “Right now, a candidate committee has to disclose everybody who gave any amount of money, and there are severe limits on how much an individual can give. But independent committees do not have to disclose and there are no limits as to contributions.”

After moving quickly through the Senate, this proposal now faces the House.

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Weekly Political Roundup
5:34 pm
Thu November 7, 2013

A closer look at this week in Michigan politics

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

The election results are in and Mike Duggan will be Detroit’s next mayor. His tenure begins while the city remains under the control of an emergency manager. What does his win say about what Detroit voters want in their next mayor?

And then, the city of Royal Oak passed a human rights ordinance, it provides protections against discrimination for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people. Also, Lansing, Jackson, and Ferndale all passed ordinances to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana. Does this give us any indication of where Michigan is headed on some of these social issues? 

Listen to the full interview above.

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