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Politics & Government

Stories about politics and government actions

Official White House portrait

Jill Biden, wife of Democratic Presidential Candidate Joe Biden, spoke in Traverse City on Tuesday.

A crowd of over 100 socially-distanced and masked attendees at Right Brain Brewery heard Biden call for early in-person and mail-in voting.

“We have to show them we’re not going to sit by and just watch what happens. We’re going to decide what happens, by voting today,” she said.

She also said her husband would unify the country if elected. Chasten Buttigieg, Traverse City native and husband of former presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg, also spoke.

“We have to elect Joe Biden,” Buttigeg said. “I’m excited to have a leader and a teacher, an empathetic loving first lady in the East Wing as well.”

African American man with facial recognition scan
Pro-stock Studio / Adobe Stock

The Detroit Police Department’s use of facial recognition will continue uninterrupted after a contentious City Council vote.

The board approved a two-year $220,000 maintenance contract with DataWorks Plus - the software developer of the technology. The vote followed a sustained campaign by activists calling to ‘defund the police’ by targeting DPD’s surveillance programs. Tawana Petty spoke out against the contract during council public comment.

City of Detroit

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan announced Tuesday the creation of the Detroit Housing for the Future Fund (DHFF), a public-private partnership that seeks to  bridge the funding gap between the cost of redevelopment and the income developers will receive from a particular project. 

"If you want to hold rent low enough that people of low income can afford it, but your housing costs to build are the same as every place else, you lose money," said Duggan. "Nobody is going to build apartment units where the cost of building it costs more than they get back in rent. They'd all go out of business."

absentee ballot
Emma Winowiecki / Michigan Radio

There is a swirl of litigation already surrounding the November election and absentee ballots. Two former Republican secretaries of state have added their names to the mix with a lawsuit filed with the U.S. District Court in Grand Rapids. Terri Lynn Land and Ruth Johnson want a judge to set a hard deadline of 8 p.m. election night for absentee ballots to arrive with local clerks, or else they cannot be counted.

Their lawsuit disputes a decision by a Michigan Court of Claims judge that ballots must be counted if they are postmarked by the day before the November 3 election and arrive before the results are certified 14 days later.

Courtesy Macomb County Public Works Office

The Drainage District in Macomb County is getting money from the insurers of three contractors blamed for a huge sinkhole in Fraser. In December of 2016, the sinkhole began to form and ended up as big as a football field. It badly damaged three houses.

Gretchen Whitmer at a podium
michigan.gov

Governor Gretchen Whitmer says she will extend the COVID-19 state of emergency. It would otherwise expire at 11:59 p.m. Thursday.

Michigan State Capitol
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Today on Stateside, we talk to one urban planning professional about what Detroit could look like if the built environment reflected the Black lives that have formed the fabric of the city. Plus, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel is opening a criminal investigation into the group Unlock Michigan, which organized a petition drive seeking to limit Governor Gretchen Whitmer's executive powers. 

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan’s Attorney General is launching an investigation into the petition campaign pushing to strip Gov. Gretchen Whitmer of her emergency powers.

The Unlock Michigan campaign has collected more than 500,000 signatures on a petition to repeal the Emergency Powers of Governor Act of 1945, which is the state law the governor has used to justify her executive orders during the COVID-19 pandemic.  

voting stickers
Unsplash

Many politicians see Black voters’ support as crucial for Democratic wins in November. But some organizers are wondering whether former Vice President Joe Biden’s campaign can effectively engage with Black voters in Michigan, many of whom say they’ve been taken for granted by the Democratic Party.

absentee ballot
Jodi Westrick / Michigan Radio

The Michigan and national Republican parties are asking a judge to reconsider her decision to allow absentee ballots to be counted if they arrive at clerks’ offices after 8 p.m. on Election Day.

This latest lawsuit comes as absentee voting has already begun in Michigan. Republicans are asking Judge Cynthia Stephens to rule that ballots that arrive after 8 p.m. on Election Day – regardless of when they were mailed or postmarked – cannot be counted. That appears unlikely since it would require Stephens to reverse an earlier ruling.

Photo courtesy of Carbon Green BioEnergy

Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s cabinet members offered more details Friday on the goal of making Michigan a “carbon neutral” state within 30 years.

The plans include adding electric vehicle charging stations at state parks and recreation areas, and working with utilities to reduce emissions.

man holding an american flag in front of a police line
Zac A. Clark / Clark Camera

The following commentary was produced and written in reflection by our Stateside production team.

Tuesday evening, the protests kicked back up in Detroit and Grand Rapids and across the country after a grand jury declined to indict Louisville Police officers for the killing of Breonna Taylor.

The protests were peaceful. Some people - protesters not among them - credit and are counting on Police Chief James Craig to keep protests under control.

Michael Lynn, Jr.
Emma Winowiecki / Michigan Radio

People in Michigan have some big decisions to make on November 3. So with the election just over a month away, we’re talking to voters across the state to hear what’s on their minds.

absentee ballot
Jodi Westrick / Michigan Radio

Absentee voting began Thursday in Michigan.

Absentee ballots were put in the mail to people who requested them. Registered voters can also stop by clerks’ offices to fill out their ballots.

In a web conference with progressive activists, Governor Gretchen Whitmer noted the election in Michigan was very close in 2016.

back of a police office facing camera
Fred Moon / Unsplash

Four members of the Michigan Black Legislative Caucus are proposing legislation to deny legal protections for police who inflict unjustifiable violence.

State Rep. Cynthia A. Johnson (D-Detroit) says the state may consider imposing an additional requirement on police.

absentee ballot
Emma Winowiecki / Michigan Radio

This year, absentee ballots are all the rage.

Michigan voters passed a ballot measure in 2018 that allows for no-reason absentee voting. Now, in 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused ballot requests to skyrocket. 

Starting September 24, local clerks will begin to send ballots to the 2.39 million Michiganders who have already requested them. That beats the previous record of two million ballot requests, which was just set in August.

Gretchen Whitmer
Michigan.gov

Michigan is on the road to carbon neutrality by 2050, per an executive order Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed on Wednesday.

Whitmer made the announcement at a U.S. Climate Alliance virtual meeting. That’s a group of states led by governors who have committed to addressing climate change according to the framework laid out by the Paris Agreement, which President Donald Trump announced the withdrawal of the U.S. from in 2017.

Michigan State Capitol
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

State lawmakers tapped into federal COVID-19 relief money and the state’s “rainy day” savings fund to adopt a finalized budget plan Wednesday and send the bills to Governor Gretchen Whitmer.

Leading up to the votes, the process was swift and secretive. There were no hearings, and most lawmakers were briefed on the details just a few hours earlier. But it was widely acknowledged the times are unusual.

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.

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.

a black and white portrait of Charlotte "Lottie" Wilson
Michigan History Center

One hundred years ago in August, the 19th amendment guaranteed women the right to vote. But not all women benefitted equally. Voting was—and still is—more difficult for people of color due to voter suppression and disenfranchisement. While many of the most well-known suffragettes are white, Black women were also fighting for equal voting rights. Michigander Charlotte "Lottie" Wilson was one of them. 

A screen showing the logos of different social media platforms.
Pixabay

Today on Stateside, Michigan’s 8th congressional district is one of the state’s most competitive races this year. We check in on how the changing district has shaped the political calculus for the candidates there. Speaking of elections, we take a look at how our social media feeds impact our political views and why that’s a problem. Plus, the story of a Black suffragette from Niles, Michigan who used art and activism to push for racial and gender equality.

In February, the Detroit News broke the story about allegations of abuse involving former University of Michigan sports doctor Robert Anderson. Since then, hundreds of men – and some women – have come forward to accuse Anderson of sexually assaulting them. Anderson worked at U of M from the mid-1960s until he retired in 2003. He died in 2008.

But survivors such as Jon Vaughn, who played football for U of M and in the NFL, want to see institutions implement protections for students who are abused on their campus, especially in sports.

As people victimized by Anderson continue to come forward, state legislators have been working on bills that allow survivors to seek justice through the courts. One of those lawmakers is Ryan Berman, a member of the Michigan House of Representatives.

Rex Roof / Creative Commons

More retailers will resume accepting bottle and can returns starting October 5.

Larger stores with machines in front have been taking returnables, but the rule now applies to all retailers with machines.

Amy Drumm is with the Michigan Retailers Association.

“Not every store will be accepting cans and bottles yet. There are still stores that don’t have reverse vending machines, that hand count those or sort them by hand. And those will be continued to be allowed to put that on hold,” she said.

State renames building for two Michigan civil rights pioneers

Sep 21, 2020
daisy elliott holds papers posing in front of the Michigan Capitol
Courtesy of the Michigan History Center

Governor Gretchen Whitmer has formally dedicated a state office building with a new name that honors two civil rights pioneers.

The former Lewis Cass building in downtown Lansing is now the Elliott-Larsen Building.

"Vote here" sign
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel says her office is ready to prosecute any efforts to use intimidation or misinformation to illegally swing the November elections.

Nessell, a Democrat, has compiled a list of laws that are supposed to deter election meddling. She says meddling includes threats that registering to vote could put government benefits at risk, or misleading people on where or how to vote.

U.S. Supreme Court

Michigan’s two U.S. Senators are calling for a delay in the vote on a new U.S. Supreme Court Justice to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

U.S. Senate

Two Democratic Party strongholds in Michigan are scheduled to be on the 2020 presidential campaign trail this week.

Democratic Vice Presidential nominee Kamala Harris is scheduled to make campaign stops in Detroit and Flint on Tuesday.  

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

The American Civil Liberties Union sent a letter to municipal clerks across the state reminding them to follow Michigan's voters’ rights laws.

“We’ve sent this letter...to make sure that clerks are prepared to follow the requirements of the law,” says Sharon Dolente, a voting rights strategist with the ACLU.

The letter reminds clerks to respond to absentee ballot requests within 24 hours. Clerks’ offices must be open for in-person voting during regular business hours. People without a photo ID can still legally register and vote after signing an affidavit.  

An illustration of people behind voting booth curtains
Morning Brew / Unsplash

White evangelical Christian voters are all in for Donald Trump—or, at least, that's the conventional wisdom. And while the president continues to see high approval ratings among that group, there are some faith leaders who hope to convince religious voters to move away from Trump in the November election. The nonprofit group Vote Common Good is holding rallies across the state through next week to try and do just that. 

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