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Politics & Government

Stories about politics and government actions

sign that says "vote here"
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The Republican-controlled Michigan Senate adopted bills Wednesday to expand ID requirements to vote in person or to get an absentee ballot.

A young man holds a rag to his head to wipe away sweat as the sun beats down on him
Adobe Stock

Today on Stateside, Democrats in Lansing want to investigate the ties between people in Michigan and the January 6 Capitol insurrection. Also, with summer almost upon us, the environmental and human toll of heat waves. Plus, a conversation with queer Detroit street artist Bakpak Durden.

michigan state capitol building in lansing, mi
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

What possible connections did Michigan have to the January 6 U.S. Capitol insurrection? That's a question Democratic state lawmakers are hoping to answer. Democratic leadership filed a resolution on Tuesday calling for the creation of a bipartisan joint committee to investigate potential ties in the state to the events of January 6.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

There appears to be a deal between Democrats and Republicans in Lansing on plans to make early childhood programs more available and more affordable to more families.

The deal includes using federal COVID-19 funds to make childcare more affordable and regulatory changes to encourage more providers to enter or remain in the field.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

On Monday, the Flint City Council will once again try to pass a city budget.

But there’s little hope the divided council will be able to reach an agreement.

Flint’s dysfunctional city council has often struggled with mundane tasks, but the current stalemate over the proposed $71 million city budget threatens to cause a government shutdown.

Some council members are upset the budget does not contain more money for blight removal and public safety. The budget does not include federal COVID relief money.

Senator Peters talking
www.peters.senate.gov

Today, on Stateside, Democratic U.S. Senator Gery Peters discussed what we still don’t know about the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. Plus, how Matt Schembechler’s story of abuse at the hands of Dr. Robert Anderson changes the game for University of Michigan football fans. 

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

The U.S. Senate will be considering two bills to clean up PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) at military installations. The ‘Filthy Fifty Act’ prioritizes 50 military bases for remediation, including two in Michigan: the former Sawyer Air Force Base in Marquette County and the former Wurtsmith Air Force Base in Oscoda Township.

elderly person in wheelchair holding hands with another person
Adobe Stock

The Legislature is expected to act quickly on recommendations released Thursday on ways to better protect elderly people who require assistance from professional guardians or conservators.

If the recommendations are adopted, Michigan would certify professional guardians and conservators. There would also be limits on how many clients professional guardians could take on.

The task force includes Republican and Democratic legislators, elder care experts, and Attorney General Dana Nessel.

Prison wall
Microsoft Images

A task force will look for more ways to change the state’s juvenile justice system to help young offenders avoid jail time and criminal records. Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed an executive order creating the task force Wednesday.

“We need to start focusing on uplifting our young Michiganders, and treat them with dignity and respect and, first and foremost, recognize that they are children,” Whitmer said. “We cannot allow an early mistake to define the rest of a child’s life, especially if it’s a non-violent offense.”

police offices stand at a protest in Detroit
Lester Graham

Some state House Democrats are proposing a bill package they say would bring transformational change to policing in Michigan.

Members of the Michigan Legislative Black Caucus and the House’s Detroit Caucus introduced the sixteen-bill package on Tuesday.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Criticized for a massive backlog at local Secretary of State office branches, Secretary Jocelyn Benson says her department is taking steps to improve service.

Benson implemented an appointment-only system during the COVID-19 pandemic. But the change from a walk-in system has not been well received.

police stop
Adobe Stock

A bipartisan effort to create standards for law enforcement training and conduct – particularly on the use of force – continues Tuesday with the goal of having legislation sent to the Michigan Senate floor next week.

The bills under discussion include stricter limits on the use of “no-knock” search warrants, creating a duty for officers to report police misconduct, training in recognizing implicit bias, and requiring every law enforcement department to adopt use-of-force policies.

The Detroit skyline as seen from across the Detroit River.
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

The court battle over whether proposed changes to the Detroit city charter will stay on the August primary ballot took yet another turn on Friday.

The Michigan Supreme Court granted the Detroit Charter Revision Commission’s request for a stay on lower court rulings that would have taken the measure off the ballot. That means that, for the moment at least, the charter revision question—dubbed Proposal P—will stay on the ballot. It’s not clear yet whether the Supreme Court will make a final decision one way or another on the matter.

But how did things get here? How did efforts to revise the city’s foundational document turn into a protracted political and legal battle? What are the stakes if the question does or doesn’t end up on the ballot? Here’s a summary of events.

Unsplash

Today on Stateside, Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced her plan to spend more than a billion dollars in federal money. A reporter talks us through some of the details of the governor's proposal. Also, as more people continue to receive their COVID-19 vaccines, a medical historian discusses how we’ll know when the pandemic is over. Plus, a poet tells us about her latest collection, which explores the strangeness and beauty of bodies.

Courtesy of Penguin Random House

As the 19th century began, two Shawnee brothers rose to prominence in the Great Lakes region. The younger sibling, Tenskwatawa, was a spiritual leader known as “The Prophet.” His older brother was Tecumseh, a renowned statesman and military commander who organized a pan-Indian confederation of several thousand, including many from Michigan. A new biography released in October 2020 details the experiences of the brothers and their intertwined visions for an alliance of Native tribes, unified in spirituality and resistance to the white settlers who were encroaching on their lands and lives.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

State lawmakers are clashing over legislation to restrict the use of so-called ‘No-Knock’ warrants.

Police use no-knock warrants to surprise suspects. But critics complain some police departments are abusing them, putting innocent people at risk.

State Sen. Erika Geiss (D-Taylor) says her bill would require police to consider other options before requesting a no-knock warrant.

“They should have those tools,” says Geiss, “But at the same time, they should be used surgically...very very carefully.”

MDHHS

The state’s top health official says she stands by Michigan’s COVID-19 fatality numbers for the state’s nursing homes. But she concedes other numbers for long-term care facilities “could be low.”

About 30% of all COVID deaths in Michigan during the pandemic are connected to nursing homes and other long-term care facilities.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Members of Michigan’s congressional delegation are among those waiting to see if a deal can be cut between the Biden administration and Republican leaders on a major infrastructure bill. 

President Joe Biden met for nearly an hour Wednesday with the top Republican negotiator on infrastructure, Sen. Shelley Moore Capito.

Time is running out to strike a bipartisan deal, but they have agreed to reconnect Friday.

State Senate committee advances election bills

Jun 2, 2021
absentee ballot
Emma Winowiecki / Michigan Radio

GOP-led legislatures across the country have passed bills adding voting restrictions.

State Senate Republicans have taken the first step to do that here in Michigan. They’ve advanced several election bills to the full chamber.

The legislation would create new ID requirements to apply for and vote by absentee ballot.

Unsplash

Today on Stateside, Danny Fenster, a journalist from Michigan, has been detained by authorities in Myanmar. His brother discussed the ongoing efforts to secure his release. Also, a columnist from the Detroit Free Press discusses the editorial board’s pursuits of criminal justice reform in Michigan. And, a look at Tecumseh’s vision for a sovereign pan-Native Nation in the 19th century, including the role he had in mind for Michigan.

a passport, mask, and vaccination record card on a table
Evgenia Parajanian / Adobe Stock

The state, local governments, and school districts could not require people to show proof they’ve been vaccinated under a bill approved Wednesday by the state House, although the bill seems unlikely to become law.

The legislation says public entities cannot refuse to serve people based on their vaccine status. And it says the state cannot create or adopt a vaccine “passport” for people to prove they’ve been vaccinated.

michigan state capitol building in lansing, mi
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Today on Stateside, a state lawmaker discusses police reform measures under consideration in the Michigan Senate. Also, a look at what’s driving the housing market — and making it difficult for buyers to navigate right now. Plus, two high school students discuss wrapping up the pandemic school year.

Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson
Jocelyn Benson for Secretary of State

Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson testified Thursday before a legislative committee about long wait times at branch offices and some possible remedies.

Benson told the House Oversight Committee the COVID-19 crisis helped put in sharp relief some long-standing problems.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A twelve bill police reform package goes before a state legislative committee this week.

The Senate Judiciary and Public Safety committee is expected to take up the package Thursday morning.

The bills address a wide-range of issues, from use of excessive force to search warrants.

protests, black lives matter, police, police force, police training
Jodi Westrick / Michigan Radio

Today on Stateside, a year after the murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer, we’ll hear about the police reform bills moving through the state Legislature. And we’ll talk to an activist who has been pushing for Michigan police departments to deal with racial bias in traffic stops. Plus, why there’s a push to rename the University of Michigan’s Yost Ice Arena.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Budget negotiations between Governor Gretchen Whitmer and legislative leaders will re-start this week with new numbers to work with.

A board made up of the state treasurer and House and Senate fiscal experts determined Friday that Michigan’s budget picture is much better than expected – with a $2 billion windfall. Some of that is due to the economic recovery. Some of it is federal COVID-19 assistance.

gretchen whitmer sitting at table
michigan.gov

Today on Stateside, Governor Whitmer is in hot water for violating her own COVID-19 safety guidelines. Plus, how Detroit's air pollution is impacting its citizen. And, how the state is planning to help students returning to school after a year at home.

headshot of congressman Peter Meijer
House Creative Services, Ike Hayman / Public Domain

U.S. Rep. Peter Meijer says he’s losing confidence in Congress’s ability to investigate the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. Meijer (R-Grand Rapids) is one of only 35 Republicans who broke with party leadership to vote for an independent bipartisan commission. Congressman Fred Upton (R-Saint Joseph) was the only other Michigan Republican who voted for the commission.

State capitol
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Whitmer and Michigan lawmakers have $26.3 billion to work with to draw up the next state budget. That number is $2 billion dollars more than initially anticipated as the state dealt with the impact of COVID-19 on the economy.

“I’m delighted to say we’re in a much better place today than we were a year ago,” said Michigan Treasurer Rachel Eubanks.

Motown31 / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Governor Gretchen Whitmer rolled out a “blueprint” Wednesday outlining post-COVID-19 return-to-school plans. The recommendations focus heavily on addressing racial and economic inequality, but would require buy-in from school districts and the Legislature to become a reality.

“Budgets are a reflection of values,” she told the group “Mothering Justice” shortly after releasing the plan. “How we invest state funds must be based on what the people need.”

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