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The Michigan Senate adopted a bill Wednesday that would exempt in-person high school graduation ceremonies from gathering limits in state emergency health orders – a measure Governor Gretchen Whitmer says is unnecessary.

Senator Jim Runestad (R-White Lake) sponsored the bill. He said now is the time to adopt the bill as more vaccines are available and graduation season approaches.

State capitol
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

The state House Oversight Committee approved a subpoena Thursday to require former state health department director Robert Gordon to testify.

Republicans have questions on the use of confidentiality agreements when Governor Gretchen Whitmer and top administration officials parted ways. Also whether Gordon differed with Whitmer’s decisions on the state’s COVID-19 response.

restaurant closed sign
Kelly Sikkema / Unsplash

Today on Stateside, they’re heeeeere! Host April Baer, noted cicada enthusiast, talks with an entomologist about once-in-17 years emergence of Brood X. Plus, how the new COVID surge in Michigan is affecting businesses and Michigan’s plans to handle the crisis.

Jennifer Guerra / Michigan Radio

Today on Stateside, we dive into a Republican effort to tighten up election laws in Michigan. Plus, the Michigan classrooms where teachers come, teachers go, and students miss out. And we check in with a grocer about what it’s been like for him and the store during the pandemic.

FOIA
Vincent Duffy / Michigan Radio

Today on Stateside, while vaccine eligibility is expanding in Michigan, new variants of COVID-19 continue to spread through the state. Plus we dive into the latest dustup between Governor Whitmer and Republican legislative leaders over non-disclosure agreements and payouts to former state employees.

Henryk Sadura Adobe Stock

The battle over the state budget in Lansing seems to be heating up, not cooling down.

Republican leaders tied parts of their original budget plan to Governor Gretchen Whitmer's signing of bills that would have reduced her emergency powers. She, in turn, used line-item vetoes on those sections of the budget. Now, there could be a lawsuit.For analysis of the situation, Michigan Radio's Doug Tribou spoke with Zach Gorchow, the executive editor and publisher of Gongwer News Service.

FOIA
Vincent Duffy / Michigan Radio

State lawmakers are once again considering legislation that would increase transparency and access to public records. A 10-bill package would remove exemptions for the governor and lieutenant governor's office from the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), as well as create the Legislative Open Records Act for the state legislature.

man in white shirt and blue tie puts hand over stomach and has a holster with a gun on it on his left side
Adobe Stock

Gun rights were at the center of a passionate state Senate debate on Wednesday. The symbolic gesture on the part of the Senate Republican majority was also a proxy battle over COVID-19 restrictions in Michigan and Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s use of emergency powers.

The issue was Senate Resolution 22, which registered the Senate’s opposition to any efforts at the federal or state levels to impose new firearm restrictions.

Pevos / MLive

Today, on Stateside, an update on the dramatic turn of events on Thursday as gymnastics coach John Geddert died by suicide rather than face charges of human trafficking. In other news, some in the state Legislature want to change the rules around which communities get more COVID-19 vaccines.

Judge's gavel with books on a desk
Pixabay.com

The state Legislature is re-introducing bills that would allow drunk driving convictions to be expunged from criminal records.

Similar legislation appeared on Governor Gretchen Whitmer's desk earlier this year, but she did not sign it.

House Bill 4219 and 4220 establish eligbility for the expungement of first-time driving while intoxicated convictions.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Last month, a Mega Millions ticket sold in Novi won a billion dollar prize. We don’t know the name of who bought the ticket. And we may never know.

Michigan is one of a small number of states that require the names of winners of multi-state lotteries to be made public. 

But one state lawmaker wants to change that.

Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey
senatormikeshirkey.com

Post Updated at 5:03 p.m, February 10, 2021:

Michigan Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey (R-Clarklake) again stoked controversy on Wednesday when he refused to back off from suggesting the January 6 U.S. Capitol riot was a "hoax."

State capitol
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Republican leaders in the state Legislature say they want better oversight on federal COVID-19 relief dollars.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer has introduced a plan calling for the allocation of $5.6 billion dollars in federal and state money. She says Michigan is lagging behind in terms of getting the cash to people who need it.

“Other states are deploying these resources to support their children, to support businesses that are struggling, to roll out their vaccine distribution. Michigan is sitting on them, and it's because we're waiting for the Legislature to appropriate these dollars.”

Inside the Michigan Capitol looking up at the dome.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Today on Stateside, reviewing the year in Michigan politics. We take a look back at this hectic year for Governor Gretchen Whitmer and state lawmakers, and what 12 months of uninterrupted and often absurd political news does to a country. Plus, a peek into what 2021 could bring.

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The Michigan state Senate has passed several bills to make changes to the state's criminal justice system.

The bipartisan bills aim to prevent low income offenders from being trapped in a spiral of fines and jail time for what are often misdemeanor offenses.

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Today on Stateside, COVID-19 cases continue to rise and hospitals throughout Michigan are nearing capacity. A reporter who’s been following the story talks us through when a vaccine might be distributed to Michigan's frontline health workers. Also, the head of the state’s largest school district speaks to the challenges of 2020 and beyond. Plus, support for kids and families navigating grief this holiday season.

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.

Matthileo / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

More than two years since Michigan passed legislation giving childhood victims of sexual abuse more time to sue, lawmakers are again taking up bills inspired by the Larry Nassar scandal. 

Claudio Schwarz | @purzlbaum / Unsplash

Stateside for Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Today on Stateside, democrat Haley Stevens tries to hold on to a swing seat in one of the tightest congressional races in Michigan. Then, a conversation around “unschooling” as an alternative to the hectic school year. Plus, how the FBI turns insider tips into a viable case.

Michigan Capitol Building
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The legislative committee looking into the state’s COVID-19 response meets again Monday. Top health officials in Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s administration will face questions from the committee.

State Representative Matt Hall, (R-Marshall) chairs the joint House and Senate COVID-19 committee.

He expects there will be questions about infections in nursing homes and why some parts of the economy were allowed to re-open while similar businesses remained in shutdown.  

Credit Matthileo / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Worker advocates are calling on the Michigan House of Representatives to amend a bill that ties unemployment benefits to strong legal protections for businesses in cases related to COVID-19.

Senate Bill 886 would extend unemployment benefits that were previously provided under one of Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s executive orders.

 

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

The state Senate returns Thursday after the Michigan Supreme Court declared many of Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s COVID-19 executive orders unconstitutional.

First the Senate and then the House will meet on consecutive days to adopt their own plans and send them to Whitmer to sign or veto.

absentee ballot
Emma Winowiecki / Michigan Radio

Republican leaders in the Legislature are making their final push to reverse a court ruling that absentee ballots that arrive at clerks’ offices after Election Day must be counted.

The first step is for House and Senate GOP leaders to ask to become direct parties to the case. A motion filed Tuesday asked for standing to challenge a Court of Claims decision.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson is calling on the Legislature to change the law to allow mailed in ballots to be counted if they’re postmarked by Election Day. Right now, if a ballot is received after 8 p.m. Election Day, it’s not counted. In the recent primary election, Benson said many voters were disenfranchised because of the current law.

That's 6,400 voters who did everything right. They mailed their ballots in on time. It was postmarked prior to Election Day. And yet because of our law, they were not able to be counted,” Benson said.

Children in the hallway of a school
Unsplash

Physicians throughout the state are asking lawmakers to consider science and research when making decisions about how to proceed with education this fall. 

The Michigan state senate is expected to meet this Saturday to discuss a package of four education bills. House Bills 5910, 5911, 5912, and 5913 were approved by the state house of representatives in July. 

 

REP. LESLIE LOVE

Michigan’s House of Representatives passed a bill on Wednesday that seeks to establish entirely separate facilities for nursing home residents with COVID-19. 

The state Senate has already voted in favor of the bill.

Sen. Peter Lucido

In an often emotional hearing that raised more questions than it answered, the state Senate health policy committee heard testimony on a bill that would prohibit nursing homes without COVID-19 positive patients from caring for patients with the disease. 

Nursing home residents account for more than one third of Michigan’s COVID-19 deaths, according to the state health department. 

 

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

The commission that governs most public areas of the state Capitol says more study is needed on the question of guns in and around the building.

The Michigan State Capitol Commission voted six-to-one to delay a decision.

The question gained urgency following a Capitol protest where many people carried guns. Some yelled from the gallery at lawmakers voting on the state’s response to the COVID-19 crisis.

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

Legislative Republicans announced Wednesday morning they have filed a lawsuit in the Court of Claims over Governor Gretchen Whitmer's decision to extend her emergency declaration despite the request being rejected by the Legislature last week.

Calling her unilateral actions unprecedented and unconstitutional, Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey (R-Clarklake) and House Speaker Lee Chatfield (R-Levering) said they had no choice to ensure the Legislature has a say in the response to the new coronavirus pandemic.

whitmer and khaldun
michigan.gov

This post was originally published on May 1. It has been updated to include details from the latest stay home order, which Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced on May 7.

On Thursday, Republicans in the state Legislature adopted a measure to rein in Governor Gretchen Whitmer's executive power.

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