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Politics & Government

Stories about politics and government actions

Elissa Slotkin
Cheyna Roth / MPRN

Representative-elect Elissa Slotkin (D-Holly) says she and 45 other newly elected members of the U.S. Congress plan to push U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for big changes. 

Slotkin spearheaded the writing of a letter to Pelosi, asking her to make passing bills a priority, especially on immigration reform, gun safety, the environment, health care, infrastructure, and criminal justice. Incoming House Democrats Andy Levin (9th District) and Rashida Tlaib (13th District) were among those signing the letter.

Looking up into the rotunda of the Michigan Capitol.
user cedarbenddrive/Flickr / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Republicans in the state Legislature are trying to increase their power and limit the powers of statewide offices that – come January – will flip to Democrats. 

It's a strategy that's angered Democratic voters, and protestors have been flooding the state Capitol with chants like “We voted for blue, not for you.”

Michigan State Capitol.
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

It’s the third week of the Michigan Legislature’s frenzied lame duck session. One controversial bill could fly out of the state Senate this week: legislation that targets public employee unions. It would require members to vote every two years to re-certify or disband their union.

Senator Jim Ananich is the Democratic leader in the Senate. He says Republicans are trying once again to weaken unions in Michigan.

“There’s no need for it. All it would do is cost the state and both the workers and the unions a lot more money,” he says.

The Michigan State Capitol
Matthileo / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Republican lawmakers in Lansing have been criticized lately, because they adopted two ballot proposals in September on minimum wage and paid sick time – and then passed bills to significantly change those measures.

It’s left some to wonder how fair our ballot initiative process is. One lawmaker has introduced a bill that he says will increase transparency and accountability in the ballot petition process.

Kalamazoo police car
Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety / Facebook

 

Perhaps you’ve heard news stories about police arriving on the scene and mistaking someone with autism or a mental illness as a violent threat. Sometimes that story ends very badly.

That's why some police departments have started training officers to identify a mental health crisis and deal with the situation without using violent force. It's called the "Crisis Intervention Team" model. 

Wikimedia commons

 

Last week, David Lindorff published a piece for The Nation titled “The Pentagon's Massive Accounting Fraud Exposed: How US military spending keeps rising even as the Pentagon flunks audit." The research by Mark Skidmore, an economics professor at Michigan State University, on the Pentagon's budget irregularities formed the basis for the article.

The state Capitol Building
Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The lame duck Legislature keeps moving forward.

Lawmakers continued to advance a high volume of bills through the House, Senate, and committees Thursday.

person smoking a marijuana pipe
Unsplash

Michigan’s recreational marijuana law, officially known as the Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana Act, goes into effect today. Well, part of it, at least.

Voters passed Proposal 1 last month, making Michigan the first Midwestern state to legalize recreational marijuana.

cynthia schuette, george h w bush, barbara bush, bill schuette
Courtesy of the office of Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette

He may have been born in Massachusetts, and raised his family in West Texas, but former President George H. W. Bush was no stranger to Michigan. He trained on Grosse Ile as a young Navy pilot. In 1980, Bush was picked as Ronald Reagan’s running mate at the July 1980 GOP convention in Detroit, and traveled all around the state during his two presidential campaigns.

One of the more personal ties between Bush and the state was his longtime friendship with the state’s current Attorney General Bill Schuette. Schuette joined Stateside to talk about his memories of President Bush before leaving for the late president's funeral in Washington.

Michigan State Capitol.
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

State begins rollout of tracking system for rape kits

Dec 5, 2018
Office of the Washtenaw County Prosecutor

Michigan has launched a web-based tracking system for rape kits. It allows sexual assault survivors to make sure their rape kit has not been lost or abandoned.

The system was inspired by familiar package delivery tracking systems where packages are scanned and their locations monitored, according to Debi Cain, director of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Division of Victim Services and co-chair of the Michigan Domestic and Sexual Violence Prevention and Treatment Board.

Michigan State Capitol Building
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Governor Rick Snyder will now decide whether to approve major changes to voter initiated laws. Ballot proposals that would increase the state’s minimum wage and require employers to offer earned sick time were adopted by the Legislature in September. Now lawmakers have passed bills to limit their impact.

The efforts were met with opposition as protesters filled committee hearings and yelled in the halls of the Capitol. They’re frustrated that an initiative they wanted on the ballot is now being changed – and quickly – by lawmakers that aren’t coming back next year.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint leaders say the city is a year ahead of schedule in its program to find and replace lead pipes.

Flint Mayor Karen Weaver says the contractors have checked more than 18,000 service lines connecting homes to city water mains. Nearly 8,000 lead and galvanized steel service lines have been replaced.    

Contractors started checking service lines as a response to the city’s water crisis. Improperly treated water damaged aging lead and galvanized pipes during Flint’s brief switch to the Flint River as the city’s primary source of drinking water. The damaged pipes leached lead particles into the tap water of the city’s residents.

Samples of various drinking water pipes.
Rebecca Williams / Michigan Radio

Today on Stateside, a senior attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council expresses concern over the city of Flint's approach to replacing lead and iron water pipes. Plus, what we can learn about education in Detroit from the sudden closure of a charter school in the city just three weeks into this school year. 

Morgan McCaul testifying at Larry Nassar's trial.
Emma Winowiecki / Michigan Radio

Today on Stateside, General Motors is set to keep receiving tax breaks from the state of Michigan until 2029. That's in spite of the company's recent decision to cut thousands of jobs and shut down production at two plants in the state. Plus, a co-author of this year's National Climate Assessment shares how climate change is projected to impact Michigan and the Midwest in coming decades. 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Legislation aimed at blunting part of Michigan’s new recreational marijuana law is catching the attention of cannabis activists days before the new law takes effect.

Among other things, state Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof’s (R-West Olive) bill would ban people from growing recreational marijuana at home. The new law approved by voters would allow Michiganders over the age of 21 to grow up to 12 plants.

Legislature weighing campaign finance bills

Nov 30, 2018
Voting sign.
flickr user justgrimes / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Lawmakers are moving quickly to try and pass several campaign finance bills through the Legislature during the lame duck session.

One bill, currently in the House, would prohibit any public agency from requiring nonprofits to disclose their financial supporters.

Craig Mauger is with the Michigan Campaign Finance Network. He says the bill protects a wide range of nonprofits.

“Your local church, to the food bank, to the nonprofit organizations known as social welfare organizations that spend millions of dollars trying to influence our elections every year,” he says.

Marijuana plant
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

The midterm election might not be the final word on the ballot initiatives that were passed.

Republicans in the state Legislature are trying to reshape some of the measures.

While not a direct change to the redistricting measure, one bill would add restrictions and definitions to the initiative. For example, it would prohibit anyone who is a member of a political party from providing any service to the commission.

Katie Fahey is the leader of the group behind the ballot measure. She says the timing of these bills is a problem.

Inside the doctor's office.
Jennifer Morrow / Flickr

In 2012, Governor Rick Snyder signed a law that prevents women seeking abortions through medication to see their doctor via telecommunication. That law is set to expire at the end of December.

The state Senate passed a bill on Thursday that gets rid of the expiration date on the law.

Lori Carpentier is the President and CEO of Planned Parenthood Michigan. She says this could restrict women’s access to health care, and reduce access to earlier, safer abortions.

Michigan State Capitol.
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

  

The state Legislature is moving forward with changes to a citizen initiative on paid sick leave. The measure to require employers to offer earned, paid sick time got enough signatures to make the November ballot.

But the Senate pre-empted that in an effort to scale it back before it becomes law.

Michigan Capitol Building
Matthileo / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

A package of bills aimed at raising the age Michigan residents can be tried as adults passed out of a House committee Wednesday.

Under current Michigan law, 17-year-olds are automatically tried as adults. The bill package would raise that age to 18 years of age.

Representative Martin Howrylak (R-Troy) spearheaded the legislation. He says a similar bill package failed to pass the Senate two years ago because it didn’t include a funding mechanism. He says this package does.

The Michigan State Capitol
Matthileo / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Today on Stateside, Michigan's lame-duck legislature moved to roll back previously-passed legislation that increased the state's minimum wage and mandated paid sick leave. Plus, a member of the Mackinac Bridge Authority weighs in on the state's plan to have the organization oversee a tunnel to house the replacement pipelines for of Enbridge's aging Line 5. 

Listen to the full show above or find individual segments below. 

The Mackinac Bridge
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

Should the Mackinac Bridge Authority be in charge of building and maintaining a utility tunnel to house replacement pipes for Enbridge's Line 5? 

Today, the Michigan Senate Government Operations Committee approved a bill that would assign the board that task. The full Senate vote will be delayed to allow time for bill sponsors and other interested parties to consider amendments.

But Barbara Brown, current board member and former vice chair for the Mackinac Bridge Authority, says that her organization should not play a role in the oversight of the utility tunnel. 

Michigan State Capitol.
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

The Michigan state Senate passed legislation Tuesday that Democrats and others call anti-union. The bills would prevent public employers from paying employees while they conduct union business.

Proponents say taxpayer dollars shouldn’t go toward union business.

Senator Marty Knollenberg (R-Troy) is a bill sponsor.

“If a person is doing union business, then a union should pay for it. And so I’m not suggesting that they can’t take leave time, I just don’t think taxpayers should be paying for that. That’s really what it comes down to,” says Knollenberg.

Prison bars
flickr user Thomas Hawk / http://bit.ly/1xMszCg

State representatives exchanged angry remarks in a House committee meeting Tuesday over a series of amendments to a bill package that would raise the age Michigan residents can legally be tried as adults.

The bills would change Michigan law so that 17-year-olds are no longer automatically tried as adults.

Representative Joseph Graves (R-Argentine Township) put forward the amendments, saying he doesn’t think 17-year-olds should be put into the juvenile justice system alongside 12-year-olds.

Graves said results have been “mixed” in other states that raised the age.

people in voting booths
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The Board of State Canvassers certified the November election results today.

One of the election results the board certified was the ballot proposal to legalize recreational marijuana.

Josh Hovey is with the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana like Alcohol. He says on December 6th, it will be legal for Michiganders to carry and use some marijuana.

JACKSON COUNTY SHERIFF / HTTPS://WWW.CO.JACKSON.MI.US

A recall petition against Jackson County Sheriff Steven Rand is moving forward.

The Board of State Canvassers approved petition language Monday. The board rejected several previous applications.  

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Environmentalists are warning that state lawmakers leaving office in December may act on a wide range of legislation affecting water quality and other issues during their lame duck session.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Local government leaders will be in Bay City for a conference on Michigan’s new recreational marijuana law this week.

The Michigan Municipal League is hosting the sold-out session, and more sessions are planned.

Michigan voters approved Proposal 1 on Nov. 6th. The law will take effect next month.   

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

State lawmakers may vote this week on legislation that would give private marketing groups the power to force hotel and motel owners to pay fees for advertising.

The package of bills could make it harder for hotel and motel owners to refuse to pay levies as high as 5% of their revenue to private marketing bureaus.

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