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Today on Stateside, Michigan’s Republican legislative leaders headed to the White House to talk to President Trump about his desire to reverse the will of Michigan voters. Also, the founders of Michigan’s first black-owned brewery talk about carving out their place in the craft beer scene and starting a business during a pandemic.

voting booths
Jodi Westrick / Michigan Radio

County board of canvassers meetings are usually the dullest events imaginable. The boards, comprised of two Republicans and two Democrats, meet to review the results of a post-election canvass. That canvass is meant to catch any major irregularities, down to the precinct level, make sure every vote is accounted for, and then certify the unofficial results.

Michigan State Capitol
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.

green sign saying "no mask, no service" hanging on door to store
Jodi Westrick / Michigan Radio

A group of Michigan doctors is calling on Republican state lawmakers to support a mask mandate and other COVID-19 precautions.

Last week, the Michigan Supreme Court issued an advisory opinion that could restrict Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s authority to issue emergency orders.

The Committee to Protect Medicare is a liberal advocacy group. It has been advocating for mandating face coverings and other restrictions in the face of the pandemic.

absentee ballot
Jodi Westrick / Michigan Radio

The Legislature’s Republican leaders are challenging a court decision that says mailed-in votes that are postmarked by November 2 must be counted. That’s even if they arrive after Election Day.

That decision came last month from a Michigan Court of Claims judge. She said ballots that arrive within two weeks of Election Day must be included in the total. That’s due in part to the surge in absentee voting this year due to COVID-19.

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.

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.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A recent battle between Michigan’s Democratic governor and Republican legislative leaders over who has the authority to guide the state’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak is likely at a point of no return. 

This week, Republican lawmakers refused to agree to the governor’s call to extend the state of emergency. Legislative leaders say they plan on taking the governor to court over her authority to issue new executive orders to combat COVID-19.

Mike Shirkey speaking
senatormikeshirkey.com

Republican leaders have called for the Legislature to return to the state Capitol Tuesday. There’s nothing official on the House or Senate calendars. But lawmakers could vote this week on extending Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s COVID-19 emergency declaration.

State Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey (R-Clark Lake) told a conference call Monday with business people he’d like to move faster to re-open businesses.

Mike Shirkey speaking
senatormikeshirkey.com

Weeks after comparing abortion to slavery, Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey (R-Jackson) has made another controversial comment.

Speaking to Republican students at Hillsdale College last week, Shirkey said Governor Whitmer was "on the batshit crazy spectrum." Democratic lawmakers say it's just the latest in a string of sexist remarks about the Governor by Republican politicians.

michigan senate majority leader mike shirkey
michigan.gov

Democratic lawmakers are criticizing remarks by Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey (R-Clarklake).

During a recent appearance on Radio Free Hillsdale, Shirkey said allowing abortion is comparable to “the scourge we endured when we still had slavery in this country.”

Michigan State Capitol
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey (R-Clarklake) says term limits have created more problems than they solved. For one thing, he says lawmakers quickly start eyeing post-political careers as lobbyists. He’s hoping the Voters Not Politicians campaign will get on board to help fix that by supporting his goal of extending or eliminating Michigan's current term limits.

In a turn-around from earlier this week, Governor Gretchen Whitmer says she’s ready to veto budget bills that don’t raise new money for roads. Republicans in the Legislature have teed up budgets to be adopted and sent to Whitmer’s desk as soon as next week.

That’s after talks between the Democratic governor and GOP leaders broke down this week. The rhetoric tossed between the Democratic governor and Republican leaders has grown increasingly tense.

Whitmer says, “They gotta do what they gotta do. Then I’m gonna do what I gotta do.”

Mike Shirkey speaking
senatormikeshirkey.com

The leader of the state Senate says he wants to enact changes to Michigan’s term limits amendment.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

A new report says Michigan needs to spend billions of dollars during the next decade to make significant improvements to the state’s county roads and bridges.

The report, entitled the County Road Investment Plan, comes from the County Road Association of Michigan. The association is made up of county road officials who oversee about 75% of Michigan’s roads. 

Car accident
PhotoSpirt / Adobe Stock

The state Legislature’s Republican leaders say they will delay sending bills to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to change Michigan’s auto insurance system.

Republicans were poised to send the bills to Whitmer’s desk despite her vow to veto them, but Republican leaders say they’re still hopeful a deal can be reached that’s acceptable to all sides.

close up of crashed car
ABS Free Pic

Governor Gretchen Whitmer says she will veto either of the plans Republicans in the Legislature have rolled out to deal with the high cost of auto insurance in Michigan.

Whitmer says she will only accept a plan that rolls back rates immediately, and relies on driving records to set rates, not where people live.

The Democratic governor also says the Republican bills should make the rollbacks permanent.

an old advertisement for a King designed car
Courtesy of Automotive Hall of Fame

 


Today on Stateside, we talk to Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel about criticisms of how her office is handling civil lawsuits involving the Flint water crisis. Plus, we dive into the life of one of Henry Ford's mentors, who beat him to Michigan's first drive in a car by about three months. 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The dispute between Michigan’s Democratic governor and Republican legislative leaders over revamping the state’s environmental regulatory department is set to begin another round.

Republican lawmakers have already thwarted Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s first attempt to use an executive order to overhaul the Department of Environmental Quality. GOP lawmakers were critical of Whitmer’s decision to eliminate panels created by state lawmakers to oversee the agency’s decisions.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

The Republican leader in the state Senate may be an obstacle to a push to make the governor and legislature more transparent.

Michigan’s state government routinely gets low marks for transparency. Michigan is one of just two states that doesn't apply Freedom of Information Act rules to all of its elected officials.

DJ Carmody / Michigan Radio

State lawmakers are once again considering changes to Michigan’s auto insurance laws.

But it’s a battle they’ve been losing for years.

When asked Thursday to identify his top legislative goal, Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey (R-Clarklake) said reforming Michigan no-fault auto insurance law.

But he’s quick to admit overcoming the medical and legal lobbies will be difficult.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

The governor’s desk is the next stop for a bill to protect the identities of non-profit donors, including to political advocacy groups.

It would be a misdemeanor for a public official to require non-profits to disclose their donor list for government review under the legislation the state House approved today. 

State Senator Mike Shirkey (R-Clarklake) defends his bill against charges it’s intended to shield big name political donors trying to influence Michigan politics.

michigan.gov

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder says he and a key lawmaker have conceptually agreed on a plan to impose work or training requirements for Medicaid recipients, but some details are still being worked out.

The Republican governor told The Associated Press Thursday there's been a "meeting of the minds" and "we're in a pretty good place."

He confirms previous comments from Sen. Mike Shirkey - the bill sponsor - that a proposed 29-hour work requirement would instead be 20 hours.

http://www.senatormikeshirkey.com/

After scathing criticism of a proposed Medicaid work requirement many saw as racist, the lawmaker behind the plan is backing off.

Under the plan, people who live in Michigan counties with more than 8.5 percent unemployment would've been exempt from the work rule.  Those are rural, mostly white counties. 

artist rendering of proposed bridge
Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority

One of the ways that the state of Michigan takes action is by passing legislation. The state House and Senate pass bills, send them on to the governor and if he signs them, they become law. However, the governor has an end-around option that doesn't involve the Legislature and doesn't get much attention.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - State legislators are divided over a plan requiring Michigan insurers to tell policyholders the impact of the federal health care law on their premiums.

Legislation awaiting a vote in the Republican-led House would require that insurers give annual estimates of the overhaul's effect on premiums.

Republican Rep. Mike Shirkey of Clark Lake says people deserve to know the law's ramifications. He also wants to insulate insurers from being blamed for premium increases.

But Democrats say the bill is nothing more than a political ploy.

Matthileo / Flickr

Michigan is the 31st state to allow motorcyclists to ride without helmets. Gov. Rick Snyder signed the bill to lift the requirement on riders 21 years and older last night. But signing the repeal was not necessarily something the Governor wanted to to.

"This is one of those issues that the Governor says is, 'not on my agenda,' which is Snyder short-hand for, 'I don't want to deal with this,'" explains Rick Pluta, Lansing Bureau Chief for the Michigan Public Radio Network and co-host of It's Just Politics.

Why'd he do it?

So, the Governor's signing of the repeal raises the question: if it wasn't on his agenda, why did he sign it?

"I talked to [the Governor's] office," Pluta explains, "and his thinking about this evolved. He said at first that it wasn't on his agenda and then, if he was going to do it, he wanted it to be in the context of a overhaul of the state's auto-insurance laws - there has been no overhaul - but, the Governor still signed it. His office says that this [signing] recognizes that he has a partnership with the Republican Legislature, and that this is something, clearly, a majority of the House and Senate wanted."

Did the Governor blink?

This, however, raises another question: did the Governor blink? Meaning, do Republican lawmakers now know, with the signing of this bill, that just because the Governor says an issue is "not on his agenda" that he will, eventually, support it if it's sent to his desk.

For example, there's been a lot of inside-political talk about whether Governor Snyder would, if the state House and Senate passed such a measure, sign right-to-work legislation.

Governor Snyder’s spokeswoman has said that a fierce debate over "right-to-work" and other labor issues won’t help Michigan rebuild its economy. The governor has said he hopes the Legislature will put off a measure that would outlaw compulsory union membership or dues to hold a job.

But there are Republicans, such as Representative Mike Shirkey, who disagree with the Governor and believe that now is the time to introduce right-to-work legislation. One has to wonder: will Governor Snyder's signing of the helmet-law repeal embolden certain Republican lawmakers to introduce legislation that they know Governor Snyder doesn't support?

A Balancing Act

"It speaks to the balancing act that [Governor Snyder] is engaged in," Pluta notes. "On the one hand, he's trying to get the Legislature to buy into his priorities - priorities that Conservatives and Tea Partiers in the Legislature in particular are not enthusiastic about. And, he gets to say, 'maybe it wasn't on my agenda but I respected your priorities - now, you can respect mine.' Or, is it the other way around? Does this fuel this idea that the Legislature can send something to the Governor that's not on his agenda and he's more likely than not to simply accept it," Pluta says.

It's Just Politics

"It's a motorcycle story," Pluta explains, "that is the next chapter in the saga of how the Governor relates to a Legislature that is not always on the same page as him."

gophouse.org

CORRECTION - An earlier version of this story stated that Right To Work legislation had already been introduced in the Michigan House. It has not. Representative Shirkey plans to introduce the legislation soon.

 

Right-to-work laws would prohibit workers from being required to join a union or pay union dues or fees as a condition of employment.

Republican Rep. Mike Shirkey plans to introduce right-to-work legislation in the House.

Legislation targets payroll deductions for PACs

Dec 9, 2011
sushina / flickr

The Republican-led Michigan House has passed a bill that would ban public employers from allowing paycheck deductions for political contributions.

It would reinforce a state Supreme Court decision made earlier this year.

Supporters say the legislation isn't anti-union. They say it’s about using government resources fairly.

State Rep. Mike Shirkey (R-Clark Lake) says there's "a long list of private, politically oriented organizations who would love to have the elegance and access to employee deductions of public workers.”