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political roundup

picture of Lansing capitol building
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

The big news in politics this week was the Republican gubernatorial nominee choosing a running mate.

Attorney General Bill Schuette announced that Kent County Clerk Lisa Posthumus-Lyons would be his lieutenant governor Monday.

To discuss that choice, and all things lieutenant governor, Stateside talked to our Friday political commentators.

michigan state capitol
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

 


Emails have emerged in a federal lawsuit which suggest Michigan Republicans gerrymandered congressional districts despite years of claims the lines were drawn without political bias.

Journalists Joel Kurth and Lindsay VanHulle broke the story for Bridge Magazine. 

One email from a GOP staffer, according to the article, bragged about cramming “Dem garbage” into four southeast Michigan Congressional districts. In another, a longtime Michigan Chamber of Commerce executive predicts the maps will keep Republicans in power for years.

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder.
Courtesy of Governor Snyder's office

Recent blogs from the free-market think tank the Mackinac Center for Public Policy applauded Governor Snyder's $10 million cut to what it calls "the state’s corporate and industrial handout complex." 

Polling place
Rebecca Williams / Michigan Radio

 


The Pew Research Center recently released a report on midterm voting that found more voters are engaged earlier this election year.

“Compared with recent midterms, more voters say their view of the president – positive or negative – will influence their vote for Congress," the report said. “A 60 percent majority say they consider their midterm vote as essentially a vote either for Donald Trump (26 percent) or against him (34 percent). These are among the highest shares saying their view of the president would be a factor in their vote in any midterm in more than three decades.”

michigan state capitol
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

 

The Michigan Legislature approved a budget this week right before leaving for the summer recess. 

It would be impossible to go over everything in the budget, so Stateside sat down with two commentators to discuss some notable parts. 

Vicki Barnett is a former Mayor of Farmington Hills and Democratic legislator, and Ken Sikkema is a Senior Policy Fellow with Public Sector Consultants and the former Republican majority leader in the state Senate. 

Joint candidate forum 2018
Rick Pluta / MPRN

This week on the political roundupKen Sikkema, senior policy fellow with Public Sector Consultants and former Republican majority leader in the state Senate, and Vicki Barnett, former mayor of Farmington Hills and former Democratic legislator, joined Stateside to discuss their takeaways from the first Republican gubernatorial debate and a forum that brought Republican and Democratic candidates together in East Lansing.

Michigan Governor seal
Wikimedia Commons

This week on the political roundup, Ken Sikkema, senior policy fellow with Public Sector Consultants and former Republican majority leader in the state senate, and Vicki Barnett, former mayor of Farmington Hills and former Democratic legislator, joined Stateside to discuss recent developments in the primary races for governor.

Colbeck in state senate
WWW.SENATORPATRICKCOLBECK.COM/PHOTOWIRE

Patrick Colbeck is a Republican running for governor. He was videotaped saying a Democratic candidate, Abdul El-Sayed, is part of a Muslim plot to take over the country through “civilization jihad."

He also claimed El-Sayed’s parents have ties to the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. Colbeck’s claims, which have been posted to a white supremacist Youtube channel, are not supported by facts. But yesterday, he doubled down on the allegations during a speech on the Senate floor.

Michigan capitol building
Pkay Chelle / FLICKR - http://bit.ly/1xMszCg

It appears legalizing marijuana for recreational use will be on the ballot in November. If the polls are correct, more than 60 percent of voters are okay with recreational use of pot.

Meanwhile, standards for an election recount may be changing after Green Party candidate Jill Stein successfully requested a recount in the state after the 2016 election. Legislation would require a candidate to prove they have a reasonable chance at winning before getting a recount.

Chief National Guard Bureau / FLICKR - http://bit.ly/1xMszCg

Governor Snyder has decided the water in Flint is safe enough to end bottled water distribution, although the state will continue to distribute water filters to residents.

The Democrats are also holding an endorsement convention this weekend in Detroit. The most hotly contested race is for attorney general. Three Democrats – Pat Miles, Dana Nessel, and William Noakes – are running for the party nomination.

NASA Goddard Space Flight Center / FLICKR - http://bit.ly/1xMszCg

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality approved a permit for Nestlé to increase pumping out water from 250 gallons a minute to 400 gallons at a facility in Osceola County. That approval came after overwhelming disapproval from citizens. The DEQ says it must follow the law when making permit decisions, which would seem to get rid of necessity of taking public comment.

Vicki Barnett, former Mayor of Farmington Hills and a former Democratic legislator, and Ken Sikkema, Senior Policy Fellow with Public Sector Consultants and the former Republican majority leader in state senate, joined Stateside to discuss how effective and desirable the DEQ and public comments are, how the legislature should treat water resources, and how the decision will affect the state’s farmers.

Hastings Lake, MI
Christine Riggle / FLICKR - http://bit.ly/1xMszCg

The League of Conservation Voters recently issued a blog post about what the group calls “Five bad ideas for Michigan.” Those ideas touch on a range of bills that would affect environmental rulemaking and permitting, water withdrawal by private companies and farms, state ballast water regulations that protect from invasive species, control of Michigan’s Natural Resources Trust Fund, and the state’s ability to have stronger regulations than federal standards.

Michigan State Capitol Building
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

This week in Michigan politics, some Republican legislators led by Senator Mike Shirkey pushed to impose work requirements for Medicaid recipients. Republicans also campaigned hard against a ballot initiative that would fight political gerrymandering and seeks to establish an independent commission to draw district lines.

Michael Patterson / FLICKR - http://bit.ly/1xMszCg

The Michigan legislature is considering retroactively extending the statute of limitations of sexual assault of minors. It's part of a package of bills designed to make it easier for sexual assault victims to bring complaints forward.

This comes as a response to the Larry Nassar case. He's the former doctor who sexually assaulted young athletes at Michigan State University and other places.

Michigan Municipal League / FLICKR - http://bit.ly/1xMszCg

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder is calling it a “Marshall Plan for Talent.” He wants the legislature to approve $100 million for programs, equipment and scholarships to train the hundreds of thousands of workers that will be needed in the next several years.

AgriLife Today / FLICKR - http://bit.ly/1xMszCg

The Michigan Farm Bureau is backing new rules for withdrawing water and House Republicans are obliging them so far.

Vicki Barnett, the former mayor of Farmington Hills and a former Democratic legislator, and Ken Sikkema, senior policy fellow at Public Sector Consultants and a former Republican legislative leader, joined Stateside to discuss this week’s political news.

They discussed whether the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) uses the most current science and methods to evaluate the quality of water withdrawal for irrigation, how to balance interests between farmers and environmentalists, and the risks of overusing our water resources.

Mr Niceguy / FLICKR - http://bit.ly/1xMszCg

It’s been a busy week in Lansing, between Governor Rick Snyder calling for a variety of policies in the Detroit Free Press, and Democrats and Republicans working together on a controversial tax bill.

Ken Sikkema, senior policy fellow at Public Sector Consultants and former Republican Majority Leader in the Michigan Senate, and Vikki Barnett, former mayor of Farmington Hills and a former Democratic legislator, joined Stateside to discuss the week’s political news.

Dave Nakayama / FLICKR - http://bit.ly/1xMszCg

The big news out of Lansing this week was Governor Rick Snyder’s eighth and final budget. His proposed budget for the fiscal year of 2019 is $56.8 billion, a slight increase from 2018’s budget.

Vicki Barnett, former mayor of Farmington Hills and Democratic legislator, and Ken Sikkema, senior policy fellow at Public Sector Consultants and former Republican legislative leader, joined Stateside to talk about the budget proposal. 

Brent Pliskow / FLICKR - http://bit.ly/1xMszCg

The Michigan State University Board of Trustees has appointed former Governor John Engler as interim president of the university. That’s after Lou Anna Simon resigned in the wake of the scandal over MSU sports doctor Larry Nassar sexually assaulting girls and women for decades.

Bridge Magazine published an article reporting that Engler was dismissive of sexual assault claims by women in Michigan prisons while he was governor.

Jimmy Emerson, DVM / FLICKR - http://bit.ly/1xMszCg

It’s been an interesting week in Michigan.

On Wednesday, Michigan’s House of Representatives passed a resolution calling for Michigan State University President Lou Anna Simon to resign in the wake of 156 victim impact statements made at Larry Nassar’s sentencing hearing. (Simon resigned on Wednesday night.) Speaker of the House Tom Leonard, R-DeWitt, additionally called for members of the Board of Trustees to resign.

governor snyder
Michigan Municipal League / FLICKR - http://bit.ly/1xMszCg

Since 1950, the Michigan Legislature has only overridden a governor’s veto four times. This week was one of those times.

In July of 2017, Gov. Rick Snyder vetoed a bill that would speed up the implementation of a tax cut for people who trade in their car for a new one, known as the “sales tax on the difference” bill. This week, the state Legislature voted overwhelmingly to override that veto.

David Marvin / FLICKR - http://bit.ly/1xMszCg

More than 40,000 Michigan residents were wrongly accused of fraudulently claiming unemployment benefits. The Legislature is considering laws to try to make sure something like that doesn’t happen again.

The Governor and the Legislature are also trying to figure out how to do something beyond just restitution. Some of the people accused of fraud went bankrupt, lost homes, and suffered other consequences. The question is how far can, or should, the state go to make those people whole?

Michigan Municipal League / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Another example of Michigan’s lack of government transparency was pointed out this week.

The Associated Press and the Center for Public Integrity looked into and found examples around the country of state lawmakers voting on bills that ended up benefiting their own business interests.

The AP reported in 47  states, those conflicts of interest were easily found. That's because, almost everywhere, lawmakers had to disclose their occupation, income, or business associations. That’s real transparency.

Michigan does not require those disclosures. 

michigan state capitol
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

The legislature is considering a package of bills that would give the state power to step in and manage a municipality’s budget if the local government doesn’t have a way to fully fund pension plans. That’s a little more heavy-handed than a five-step plan a governor’s task force recommended.

Vicki Barnett, a former mayor of Farmington Hills and a former Democratic legislator, and Ken Sikkema, senior policy fellow with Public Sector Consultants and a former Republican majority leader in state senate, joined Stateside to discuss the package of bills.

Rebecca Williams / Michigan Radio

More than 185 species of foreign fish, algae, plants, insects, and viruses have been brought into the Great Lakes. Many of them are invasive species that are damaging the lakes, such as zebra mussels, quagga mussels, round gobies, and Phragmites.

About a third of those invasive species were brought here in the ballast water of ocean-going ships. As they picked up their ballast water in foreign ports, they sucked up aquatic life along with it.

Don Harder / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

​Some members of the Legislature want to eliminate the elected Michigan Board of Education. They say the Board of Education has become little more than a debating society. But, if it’s so irrelevant, one has to wonder why those legislators get so worked up about the education board’s actions.

Ken Sikkema, senior policy fellow at Public Sector Consultants and the former Republican majority leader in the state Senate, along with Vicki Barnett, the former mayor of Farmington Hills and a former Democratic legislator, joined Stateside to discuss the Board of Education.

michigan state capitol
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

The Michigan Senate has approved a plan to give local tax dollars to charter schools. It would require any millage for intermediate school districts to be distributed to both public schools and privately-owned charter schools. Four Republican Senators voted against this, as did all of the Democrats.

As part of its weekly political roundup, Stateside broke down the issue with Ken Sikkema, a senior policy fellow with Public Sector Consultants and a former Republican majority leader, and Vicki Barnett, a former mayor of Farmington Hills and a former Democratic legislator.

factory
Thomas Hawk / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

Wisconsin recently offered up to $3 billion in tax incentives to FoxConn of Taiwan. In Detroit, there have been hundreds of millions of dollars in incentives for a new arena for the Red Wings and Pistons and for developments by businessman Dan Gilbert, as well as huge tax credits for auto manufacturers.

Now, states and cities are trying to put together incentives to get Amazon’s new massive Headquarters 2. But the question remains: will citizens actually benefit from their tax dollars being spent to attract or retain business?

Open Grid Scheduler / Grid Engine / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

This week, Representative Jason Sheppard, from southeast Michigan, and Senator Joe Hune, from Livingston County, both Republicans, introduced identical bills that propose barring local governments from restricting short-term rentals of private dwellings, such as Airbnb accommodations.

Meanwhile, Republicans in the state legislature and the mayor of Detroit agree on a position: the need to eliminate Michigan’s system of driver responsibility fees, and amnesty for drivers who still owe them.

michigan state capitol
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

This week the Michigan Civil Service Commission unilaterally restricted state labor union workers' rights.

Emily Lawler for MLive reports:

“The rule changes prohibit some issues as subjects of collective bargaining and take away specific provisions unions have negotiated for around bumping, overtime scheduling, and transfers. They also restrict the paid union leave time state employees are able to use to work on union issues.”

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