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Politics & Government

Stories about politics and government actions

The Flint water treatment plant
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

It has been five years since Flint’s water supply was switched, and the Flint water crisis began.

Since then, fifteen officials involved with the incident have been charged. The investigation has been active since 2015.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A top Pentagon official told an audience in Oscoda on Wednesday that another four years of study are needed on the PFAS contamination seeping from the former Wurtsmith Air Force Base.

The industrial chemicals present a threat to human health. They've been used in firefighting foam on U.S. military bases.

John Henderson is an Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Air Force. He says the Pentagon would like to move faster on cleanup efforts, but it has to be careful.

“We continue to study aggressively, as quickly as we can, what the extent of the problem is,” says Henderson. "So when we do get a solution, it’s the right solution. We get it right the first time.”

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

An “environmental audit” of northwest Detroit’s 6th police precinct has revealed pockets of racist behavior that was tolerated by command staff there, Detroit Police Chief James Craig said on Wednesday.

The audit was sparked by a January Snapchat video from a white 6th Precinct officer, Gary Steele. The video shows Steele and partner Michael Garrison mocking African American motorist Ariel Moore after having her car towed for expired tags, and included seemingly racist commentary like “this is what black girl magic looks like.”

Michigan State Capitol.
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

The Legislature held key votes on Wednesday on bills that would make various changes to the state’s criminal justice system.

The state Senate passed a series of bills that some lawmakers say will make the criminal justice system fairer for young people. The so-called “Raise the Age” legislation would automatically treat 17-year-olds as juveniles for certain crimes. Right now, they’re automatically tried as adults.

“We want to make sure our kids are not hindered because they’ve made poor decisions in their youth,” said bill sponsor Senator Sylvia Santana (D-Detroit).

Inside the doctor's office.
Jennifer Morrow / Flickr

The fight over abortion rights has resumed in the state Legislature. A state House committee opened hearings Wednesday on legislation to ban the dilation-and-evacuation abortion procedure. Similar bills are up for a hearing Thursday before a state Senate committee.

The bills would call the procedure “dismemberment” abortion in state law, and make it illegal.

Republicans say this would be allowed under the Roe v. Wade U.S. Supreme Court decision, although similar laws have been blocked by federal courts in other states.

Capitol Building in Lansing, MI
Matthileo / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Republicans and Democrats in the state Senate have voted to get tougher on retailers that sell nicotine-infused vaping products to minors.

But Angela Clock with Tobacco-Free Michigan says that only creates an illusion of being tough on a public health threat.

She says whether they’re smoking or vaping, people are inhaling nicotine.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan’s licensed medical marijuana businesses are starting to push back against the state’s apparent willingness to allow unlicensed dispensaries to stay open.

They plan to rally at the state capitol on Wednesday.

For months, operators of dozens of unlicensed provisioning centers convinced state regulators to extend deadlines to require that they obtain a state license to operate. When the state set a firm March 31st deadline, the dispensaries convinced a Court of Claims judge to issue a stay. The judge is expected to issue a ruling this week which may allow the unlicensed centers to keep their doors open.

Someone dialing 911 on a smart phone
Adobe Stock

Today on Stateside, a Saginaw case led to a federal appeals court ruling that chalking tires to track how long a car has been parked is unconstitutional. Plus, we talk to the high school student who will be representing Michigan at the national Poetry Out Loud competition in D.C.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Rep. Dan Kildee [D-Flint] says unity among House Democrats is threatened by divisions over whether to pursue an impeachment investigation against President Donald Trump.

The House Democratic Caucus held a conference call Monday to discuss whether to pursue impeachment.

Part of Kildee’s job as Deputy Party Whip is to marshal unity among his Democratic colleagues.

Attorney General Dana Nessel
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel says a new unit in her office will focus on businesses that illegally classify their workers as independent contractors to reduce their costs.

The Democratic attorney general says it’s a growing trend around the country. Nessel says the scheme is used to avoid paying workers the minimum wage as well as health and unemployment benefits they’re entitled to. She says it cheats other employers who play by the rules and shoulder those costs.

A photo of a nearly-finished cigarette on concrete.
Sudipto Sarkar / Flickr / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Today on Stateside, two members from the Michigan State Board of Education discuss the ongoing debate over social studies standards for the state's K-12 public education system. Plus, a new program offers trauma-sensitive doula and midwife services to teen mothers who are survivors of sexual abuse.

prison bars
Flickr user FatMandy / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Lawmakers at the state Capitol have made changing the state’s criminal justice system a priority this session.

Two packages of bills are close to the governor’s desk – with crucial votes taking place earlier this week.

One bill package would raise the age for when a person is automatically considered an adult for certain crimes from age 17 to 18. Some counties have raised concerns about the costs of making the change.

Senator Peter Lucido (R-Shelby Township) is a bill sponsor. He says they’re working with counties to alleviate some of their concerns.

pile of one dollar bills
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The leader of the state Senate Republicans says he’s not in favor of Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson's call for candidates to disclose their financial information.

Last month, Benson said she wants the Legislature to pass bills that would require elected officials to disclose any outside income, investments, travel or gifts they got as candidates or after they were elected.

a beaded canoe that's in display in Austria
Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians

Today on Stateside, as General Motors prepares to close the company's Detroit-Hamtramck plant, how is the city of Hamtramck preparing for life after GM? Plus, a treasure trove of Anishinaabe art from Michigan is now on permanent display in Vienna, Austria.

prison bars
Thomas Hawk / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

A new task force will explore who is in Michigan’s jails and why they’re there. Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed an executive order Wednesday.

The order creates a bipartisan team to review the jail and court data collected from Michigan counties. Then the task force will use the information to look for improvements to the system and make recommendations to the Legislature.

U.S. Department of Justice
Liam James Doyle / NPR

Attorney General William Barr delivered a press conference at the Justice Department ahead of the expected release of special counsel Robert Mueller's report on Russian interference in the 2016 election. A redacted version of the report is expected to be released on Thursday.

children lined up on a sidewalk
Airman 1st Class Lausanne Morgan / U.S. Air Force

Today on Stateside, how are Michigan schools preparing for active shooter situations? And what role does the state play in tracking efforts to make schools safer? Plus, Michigan State University's historic role in the divestment movement of the 1970s, and why students there are calling for greater transparency about their school's current investments.

A long table surrounded by red chairs in a school classroom.
BES Photos / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

A state lawmaker wants to make sure consent is taught as part of sex education classes.

State Senator Curtis Hertel (D-East Lansing) has sponsored a bill to make that a requirement. He says testimony last year from college and university officials outlined different ways the current system does not prepare high school students for living away from home. 

“And the number one thing they’re not prepared for is education about consent and that it’s the heart of solving our cultural issues on sexual assault.”

Pickles in a strainer beside dill.
Unsplash

Today on Stateside, does a new pretrial risk assessment tool aimed at helping judges answer complex pretrial questions help or hurt defendants? Plus, we talk to an expert about the spotted lanternfly, a destructive invasive insect that could be making its way to Michigan. 

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

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

The City of Flint is getting a nearly $80 million loan from the state to fix its water infrastructure.

The zero interest loan will fund the completion of a secondary water source pipeline, pump station improvements, replacing water mains and improved water quality monitoring.

Tracy Samilton / Michigan Radio

U.S. Senator and Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders says he won't make the same mistake as the Clinton campaign did in 2016, and assume the battleground states of Wisconsin, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania will swing Democratic in 2020. 

President Donald Trump won all five states in 2016.

a gargoyle on the corner of a Detroit building
Jeff Morrison

Today on Stateside, the interim president of Michigan State University has publically apologized to survivors of sexual abuse by former MSU sports doctor Larry Nassar. At a Friday meeting, those survivors told the Board of Trustees that apologies aren’t enough. Plus, documenting the architectural creatures that watch over Detroit.

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

Nassar survivors tell MSU trustees that apologies are not enough  

Recreational marijuana was legalized in Michigan this year, but many cities across the state aren’t letting marijuana businesses operate. Some officials argue that the state hasn’t figured out how to regulate them yet.

But a small community in northern Michigan is in the middle of a legal and political debate that could set a precedent for the rest of the state.

Richard Phillips, longest-serving exoneree in United States history, and David Moran, an attorney from the University of Michigan's Innocence Clinic that worked on his case.
Sarah Leeson / Michigan Radio

In late 2016, former Governor Rick Snyder signed the Wrongful Imprisonment Compensation Act, which went into effect the following March.

The law compensates people exonerated of wrongful convictions in Michigan with $50,000 for each year they spent behind bars.

In 2018, Richard Phillips became the longest-serving exoneree in the country after he was cleared of a 1971 homicide conviction. But Phillips has yet to receive any compensation for the 46 years he spent in prison.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan’s Secretary of State says it’s time to modernize her department’s 131 branch offices.

Jocelyn Benson spent the past few months visiting each office in all of Michigan’s 83 counties. 

She says she didn’t like what she saw.

“Too often people need to wait in line too long to have their business done with the Secretary of State’s office,” Benson told reporters at a news conference in Detroit Thursday. “It is unacceptable and it needs to change.”

Mayor Mike Duggan is accusing former Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr of misleading the city on the future cost of pensions.
Courtesy of City of Detroit, Mayor's Office

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan found himself in an uncomfortable position on Wednesday, as he defended providing city money for a program run by a woman he appears to have a relationship with.

The program is called Make Your Date, and aims to reduce pre-term births and infant mortality in Detroit. It’s run by Dr. Sonia Hassan, a professor and researcher with the Wayne State University Medical School.

Duggan and Hassan are linked by surveillance video taken by a private investigator, which showed them both entering a suburban home on multiple occasions, in Duggan’s case without his security detail. The private investigator was hired by Robert Carmack, a businessman who’s embroiled in a real estate dispute with the city and Duggan.

A demolition on Detroit's east side.
Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan took a bit of a victory lap Wednesday, after learning that no more indictments are expected to fall on city hall from a federal probe into the city’s demolition program.

Federal authorities took an unusual step this week, and announced that no more “public officials” are likely to face charges from the years-long investigation.

Marijuana plant
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

State lawmakers want to put in place a final deadline for medical marijuana facilities to get a license, or not be able to stay open.

A state House committee unanimously passed a bill Wednesday. It gives a June 1st deadline for facilities – and if they stay open without a license, the facility can’t get a license for a year.

Dave Nakayama / FLICKR - http://bit.ly/1xMszCg

The state House Judiciary Committee is considering changes to the law that requires juveniles charged with serious crimes in Michigan to be tried and sentenced as adults. There’s wide agreement the law doesn’t reduce future offenses, and it is costly to taxpayers.

Richard Griffin told the committee he turned his life around after being sentenced to 16 years to life in prison for a drug-related murder. He says other teenagers deserve the same chance.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint Mayor Karen Weaver kicked her re-election campaign Tuesday.

Standing in a church pulpit, the mayor touted improving crime statistics and the city’s ongoing recovery from its water crisis. 

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