Abigail Censky | Michigan Radio

Abigail Censky

Abigail Censky is the Politics & Government reporter at WKAR. She started in December 2018.

Black residents in Michigan account for roughly 21% of the state's COVID-19 deaths despite being just 14% of the state's population. State officials want to decrease the number of deaths, so Michigan is relying on a formula recommended by the Centers for Disease Control called the Social Vulnerability Index to help guide its vaccine distribution.

an electric plug attaches to an electric vehicle
Chuttersnap / Unsplash

Senator Debbie Stabenow has introduced a new bill that would provide billions in tax credits aimed at incentivizing auto manufacturers to make products that would reduce carbon emissions.

The senior Democrat introduced the American Jobs in Energy Manufacturing Act on Monday. She says the bill would provide support to the private sector in making the transition to clean energy in legacy manufacturing communities.

congressional map of Michigan
Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

Last week, the U.S. Census Bureau announced states wouldn’t receive the data they need to draw new legislative maps until the end of September.

That could create problems for Michigan’s new Independent Citizen’s Redistricting Commission.

In a press conference Tuesday, Executive Director Sue Hammersmith said the commission hasn’t had a chance to talk about the delay yet but a plan should come together in the next few weeks.

U.S. Capitol building in front of a blue sky

Just over a year ago President Donald Trump told a crowd of supporters in Battle Creek, that, “Tonight the House Democrats are trying to nullify the ballots of tens of millions of patriotic Americans.” While he was onstage, Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives voted to impeach him.

After a violent pro-Trump extremist mob led an insurrection at the U.S. Capitol last Wednesday and repeated attempts by the president to overturn a free and fair election, the House is expected to vote to impeach President Donald Trump for the second time.

gretchen whitmer sitting at table

Governor Gretchen Whitmer has signed a COVID-19 relief bill. But there's a bitter partisan split over what one of the governor’s line-item vetoes means for unemployment insurance benefits in the state.

The more than $100 million in relief includes $55 million dollars for small businesses and $45 million in direct payments to workers who are laid off because of the coronavirus in addition to $3.5 million in grants to live music and entertainment venues.

"Vote here" sign
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

Attorney General Dana Nessel filed a brief to the Texas lawsuit seeking to overturn the results of the 2020 election in four states including Michigan.

Updated Wednesday at 10:45 a.m. ET

In Michigan, the House of Representatives is being investigated by the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration over violations to COVID-19 workplace regulations following an employee complaint.

Since the start of the pandemic, 11 Michigan state legislators and more than 30 legislative staffers have tested positive for coronavirus. Those numbers do not include Democratic Rep. Isaac Robinson who died of suspected COVID-19 on March 29.

The Senate Oversight Committee hearing into ballot counting at the TCF center in Detroit lasted seven hours. The hearing was filled with conspiracy theories and debunked claims.
Senate TV

In a conspiracy laden seven-hour hearing, Republican poll challengers and watchers testified in front of the Michigan Senate Oversight Committee. Despite accusations, they did not provide evidence of widespread voter fraud.

Dozens of mostly aggrieved Republicans testified Tuesday. Many raised concerns with the ballot counting process at the TCF Center in Detroit and said they were harassed by election workers.

The Lansing capitol dome with a blue sky behind it and trees in front of it
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

From personal calls with a Wayne County canvasser, to meeting with Republican state lawmakers in Washington, the president's strategy questioning Michigan's election, which President-elect Joe Biden won, continues as time runs short.

At the Michigan Board of State Canvassers meeting on Monday, two Democrats and two Republicans will meet to certify the results of Michigan’s election. Unofficial results, which have been certified by all of Michigan’s 83 counties, show President-elect Joe Biden with a lead of more than 150,000 votes, more than 14 times the margin by which President Donald Trump won the state in 2016. 

Michigan’s junior Democratic Senator Gary Peters has won reelection to the U.S. Senate—eking victory out of a razor-thin margin. Before the election, polls showed Peters could retain his seat, but that the race would be tight. 

Abigail Censky / WKAR

President Donald Trump visited Michigan on Tuesday for the second time since he was diagnosed with COVID-19. 

After waiting several hours in the cold and rain outside of an airplane hangar, a crowd of supporters got to see Trump.

The president made false claims about the auto industry and being Michigan man of the year, before attacking Governor Gretchen Whitmer. He avoided calls to imprison the governor but didn't condemn the crowd, as they chanted, "Lock her up."

side by side headshots of James, Peters
Photos courtesy of the campaigns

With nearly 20 days to go until the November election recent polls show Democratic Senator Gary Peters and Republican challenger John James as neck and neck. Peters’ ten-point lead in the polls over the summer has winnowed to single digits.

In mid-April, thousands of citizens gridlocked the Michigan state Capitol for miles, unleashing a cacophony of noisemakers and car horns for nearly seven hours protesting Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's stay-at-home order. "Operation Gridlock" was dotted with red "Make America Great Again" hats and yellow "Live Free or Die" flags. President Trump cheered the protesters on, tweeting "LIBERATE MICHIGAN!"

A collection of "I Voted" stickers

Figurative knives were out in the third and final debate between Democratic incumbent Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin and Republican Paul Junge in the race for the Eighth Congressional District Mondy night.

The debate took place at Cleary University just hours after news broke that President Donald Trump ordered his negotiators to stop working on a coronavirus relief package until after the election.

Abigail Censky / WKAR

Democratic vice presidential nominee Senator Kamala Harris stopped in Michigan on Tuesday for the first time after she was added to the ticket.

To soundtrack of Motown, Lizzo and Mary J. Blige, Harris traveled from Flint to Detroit, campaigning less than 45 days ahead of the presidential election.

Outside of the Detroit Pistons’ practice facility, Harris talked about her reason for returning to the state.

“To be here and to be present. You know, Jill Biden was here last week, Joe was here the week before. We will keep coming back because so goes Michigan, so goes the rest of the country as far as we’re concerned,” she said.

Abigail Censky / WKAR

Protesters gathered on the Michigan state Capitol lawn Friday to plead for the governor or the Michigan High School Athletic Association to bring back high school football this fall.

Families and players decked out in high school spirit wear and football jerseys chanted, “Let us play” and held signs that said “Don’t Dim Our Friday Night Lights.”

They were protesting MHSSA’s announcement that the fall season would move to spring because of the high-risk categorization of the sport for its potential to spread COVID-19 due to high player-to-player contact.

governor gretchen whitmer standing at a podium

Though coronavirus cases in the state appear to be plateauing, Michigan is still under a state of emergency.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer says as cases continue to decline in the state, businesses may be allowed to reopen based on the risk of COVID-19 exposure.

But the state of emergency will likely remain in place.

Gretchen Whitmer

During the opening night of the virtual Democratic National Convention, Governor Gretchen Whitmer hammered President Donald Trump for what she called a weak coronavirus response.

Governor Whitmer’s short speech followed New York Governor Andrew Cuomo; both are considered leaders by many for their actions in states hit hard by the coronavirus early on.

She said many lives were saved in Michigan as she made an elevator pitch for the Democratic ticket, contrasting the Democrats’ approach with the President’s.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Police departments across the country already submit use of force reports to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Now, departments in Michigan will be encouraged to submit reports for state-specific data.

The Law Enforcement Transparency Collaborative, announced Wednesday, will be the first statewide collection of use of force data.


“Black Lives Matter” boomed from loudspeakers, echoing across the lawn of the Michigan State Capitol at the NAACP’s “We Are Done Dying March.”

Wednesday’s march was the latest in Lansing as part of a nationwide swell of protests for Black lives and against police brutality in the wake of the police killing of George Floyd.

The country is now in its third week of demonstrations, drawing out some who have never protested before and others who’ve spent a lifetime calling for justice. Below are some of their stories.

Brandi Whitted & Areeona Clark

michigan state capitol building in lansing, mi
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Hundreds of people marched from the Lansing Center to the state Capitol on Wednesday as part of a march against police brutality.

The words "Black Lives Matter" echoed across the Capitol lawn at the NAACP’s “We are Done Dying” march.

Nathanael Jefferson has been to several protests in Detroit and Lansing. He says he has personally been profiled in Lansing and sees police profiling all the time.

Protesters have staged nightly protests in Lansing against police brutality and the killing of George Floyd. Now, those protests have turned into calls to defund the Lansing Police and for Mayor Andy Schor to resign.
Abigail Censky / WKAR

More than one hundred protesters gathered on the state capitol steps Sunday marking a week of protests in the wake of the police killing of George Floyd, a black Minneapolis man, by a white police officer.

protesters in front of state capitol
Abigail Censky / WKAR

This post was last updated Sunday, May 31st at 11:10 p.m.

Hundreds gathered at the Michigan State Capitol Sunday to protest the police killing of George Floyd, a Black man in Minneapolis who was killed after White Police officer Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck for minutes.

Updated at 12:09 p.m. ET

Despite heavy rain, armed protesters gathered Thursday at the State Capitol in Michigan in what the organizing group, Michigan United for Liberty, has branded "judgment day."

This was the third planned demonstration since Michigan has been under a stay-at-home-order from Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

joneigh khaldun at a press conference

The New York Times reported Michiganders are no longer staying at home in the same numbers, despite still being under a stay-at-home order. Governor Gretchen Whitmer called the data concerning.

In her Wednesday briefing Whitmer said movement itself isn’t the problem, so long as people still wear their masks outside and follow social distancing and handwashing.

Gretchen Whitmer at a podium

After easing restrictions for industries like landscaping and construction over the past two weeks, Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced today in a press briefing that the state will need to have a waiting period before making decisions about other industries going back to work.

Governor Whitmer announced last week construction could begin again on May 7. She says now the state will study if cases of COVID-19 begin to increase again when some sectors of the economy return to work.

gretchen whitmer sitting at table
State of Michigan

After extending the state of emergency through late May without legislative approval, Governor Gretchen Whitmer condemned actions by lawmakers and protesters on Thursday.

Gov. Whitmer called Thursday’s protest, which drew hundreds to the capitol, political theater.

Hundreds of protesters flocked to the Capitol lawn for the second time in weeks to protest Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s stay-at-home orders.

The protest was much smaller than the first protest, "Operation Gridlock," two weeks ago, but still attracted hundreds who didn’t observe social distancing or wear face masks.

Gretchen Whitmer at a podium

Governor Gretchen Whitmer says it’s time to start re-engaging Michigan’s economy as the COVID-19 outbreak is plateauing in the state.

Following her decision to allow landscapers to get back to work last week, the governor says construction and outdoor businesses will likely be next. The governor says she’s loosening restrictions on commercial and residential construction.

Gretchen Whitmer
State of Michigan

Lawmakers returned to Lansing Friday for an unexpected special session.

Legislators wore homemade masks, and went through temperature screening before entering the capitol for the second time under the stay-at-home order.

The Republican majority called legislators back to create an oversight committee on pandemic response and vote on bills to curb the governor’s emergency powers.