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lansing protests

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Governor Gretchen Whitmer has activated Michigan National Guard units ahead of protests expected Sunday at the state Capitol.

The coordinated law enforcement effort also includes the FBI and local police departments.

Police agencies have ramped up intelligence gathering and a visible presence following the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol that turned violent and out of control.

Protesters at the Michigan Capitol
Abigail Censky / WKAR

Religious leaders in southeast Michigan are calling on other faith and political leaders to condemn racist symbols displayed by some demonstrators at protests in Lansing. 

Hundreds of protesters gathered again on Thursday at the state Capitol in violation of social distancing rules to protest Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s stay at home order. At an April 30 protest at the state Capitol building, some protesters displayed confederate flags, swastikas, and nooses. 

protesters at the capitol
Abigail Censky / WKAR

Last week, dozens of anti-lockdown protestors, some of them carrying firearms, crowded into the Michigan Capitol building to make their views known to the assembled lawmakers at full volume. It’s not unusual to see guns around the Capitol. Second Amendment Day brings gun enthusiasts to the House and Senate galleries every year. But photos and footage from the April 30 protest shook up a lot of people, and the Michigan State Capitol Commission is discussing whether some action might be appropriate. 

no gun sign on glass door
Bumble Dee / Adobe Stock

Today on Stateside, plant managers are making plans to restart some of the biggest manufacturing operations in the state. We talk to Detroit News columnist Daniel Howes about what has to happen first. Plus, a protest on reopening the economy gives way to a discussion about guns at the state Capitol—and the politics around who is allowed to carry them.

Michigan politician Elly Peterson straightens Governor George Romney's tie at a political dinner.
Photo courtesy of Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan, Elly M. Peterson papers.

Today on Stateside, a protest over Governor Whitmer’s stay at home order leads to gridlock in Michigan’s Capitol. Plus, we explore the life and legacy of Michigander Elly Peterson, one of the most influential women in Republican politics during the 1960s and 70s.

Vagina Banner
user lauralovemusic1960 / YouTube.com

Police in Marshall confirm they’re investigating what appears to be an instance of a protester trespassing and hanging a banner on the home of state House Speaker Jase Bolger.
    
A woman who calls herself Laura Love posted the 11-second video to YouTube that shows a banner hanging from a porch.

“‘Vaginas Are Revolting' in front of Jase Bolger’s house. I did that. Yeah.”

A Marshall police spokesman says a neighbor reported the incident last Thursday. The police now have the banner.

The woman in the video appears to be the same person who organized a protest the day before at the state Capitol. Her group of about a dozen people stood in the gallery of the state House, sang a song about vaginas to the tune of the Beatles’ “She Loves You,” clapped, and danced for several minutes before re-taking their seats. They were hoping to be kicked out, but no action was taken.

mea.org

Teachers, police, firefighters and other public employees plan to march on the state Capitol tomorrow.

They oppose a measure in the Senate that expands the authority of emergency managers named to run troubled local governments and  school districts.

Unions say the measures strike at their bargaining rights.

Union leaders hope for a big enough turnout to persuade Senate Republicans to delay a vote.

Unions are particularly opposed to a part of the legislation that would allow emergency managers to vacate bargained contracts.

Mark Gaffney, president of the AFL-CIO of Michigan, says that’s unfair when the state is also looking to cut money for schools and local governments:

“You’re saying to a city that it’s easy to get a dictator and you’re taking money away from that city that puts you at the point where you might need him or her.”

Republicans say the measures offer local governments early help to avert a financial takeover, but once it happens, emergency managers need crisis tools to set things right.

Scott Kincaid, a member of Flint City Council, favors keeping the law and the authority it grants emergency managers.

"These bills give them unlimited authority to do certain things that, currently, we were able to solve our problems without doing those things. The system works right now, and I’ve experienced it. And it worked very well. We had financial problems in our community and we turned them around in 18 months."

Flint was placed under an emergency manager in 2002. The city recently asked the state for the authority to sell bonds to cover a $17 million budget shortfall and meet its payroll.

The state Senate is expected to vote on the emergency management bills as soon as tomorrow.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Hundreds of outraged union members filled a State House committee room and the surrounding hallways to protest a proposal to eliminate Michigan’s Prevailing Wage law. Many union members people began chanting and banging on the walls of the committee room.

Unions say the law makes sure workers are paid fairly and that union members get work.

Some Republicans want to get rid of the Prevailing Wage law, saying developers and contractors could save money on construction costs by making wages more competitive.

Jeff Mowry, a member of Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 333, says the proposal to get rid of the wage law is not a direct attack on the collective bargaining rights of unions, but it still tries to hurt unions. 

 "You know, that’s the scary part – everything gets very complicated and very confused but it sure seems like it’s all tied together. And it seems like this is just one piece of a great big puzzle that’s looking to take away our collective bargaining rights, yeah."

Some Republican lawmakers say eliminating the prevailing wage law would save about 10% on construction costs and could create more jobs in the state.

Chris Fischer with the Association of Builders and Contractors gave a presentation to lawmakers on how the state could save money by eliminating the wage law.

Fischer says the chanting was distracting, but he was not deterred.

"It is difficult to make a factual presentation when there’s a lot of white noise in the background. It is disconcerting, but the bottom line is prevailing wage does come at the expense of two things Michigan does not have right now – and that’s jobs and taxpayer dollars."

Union members were told they will be able to testify on the wage law when legislation is before the committee for a vote.