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Politics & Government

Stories about politics and government actions

Coming soon to a city near you: U.S. Space Command? Sterling Heights in Macomb County is working on a proposal to become the new home of the United States Space Command headquarters. The agency will oversee Space Force, a new independent branch of the military established late last year. 

Sterling Heights already has a number of defense contractors working in the city, including BAE Systems and General Dynamics, whose headquarters are located in the city. Mayor Michael Taylor says that is evidence that the city is well equipped for this new opportunity.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

A new study finds police unions have made more than $1 million in political contributions to Michigan politicians and political action committees during the past decade.

The Michigan Campaign Finance Network (MCFN) says 112 of the 147 current Michigan legislators have received donations from a police union in the last 10 years.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Expect to see people collecting signatures soon on a petition to repeal the Michigan law that's given Governor Gretchen Whitmer broad emergency powers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Board of State Canvassers approved language for the petition Monday.

wood gavel in front of book
sergign / Adobe Stock

A federal judge has dismissed a legal challenge to Michigan’s voter-approved commission to draw new district lines for legislative and congressional seats.

Elizabeth Battiste is with the Voters Not Politicians campaign. She says lawsuits to block the commission have failed at every level so far. And that means recruiting people to sit on the commission will continue.

sign that says "DEFEND DACA"
Flickr user Harrie van Veen https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

A nonprofit is offering free help to immigrants who need to renew their application for the federal deferred action program.

The U.S. Supreme Court decided in June not to strike down the program, known as DACA.

But recipients still need to renew their status every two years.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Many Michigan voters plan to stay home for the August primary, but they're still planning to vote.

Clerks around the state have already received more than 1.3 million absentee ballot applications. That's a million more ballots than were requested a month before the 2016 August primary.

Sarah Brown / Unsplash

A new law takes effect Wednesday that allows drivers to opt out of personal injury coverage in their auto insurance.

Drivers still have to carry liability coverage -- but now can choose how much medical coverage to buy.

Before now, state law required insurers to provide unlimited medical benefits if someone was injured in a crash.

The U.S. Capitol
user kulshrax / creative commons

Governor Gretchen Whitmer and the Legislature’s Republican leaders say they’ve reached a deal to bridge a $2.2 billion budget deficit in the current fiscal year. The revenue loss is due to the economic impact of the coronavirus crisis.             

The deal bridges most of the shortfall with only three months left in the current fiscal year. It calls for a freeze on new hiring and staff promotions. The state will also pull $350 million from its Budget Stabilization Fund. This would be the first time in six years the state’s raided the fund informally dubbed the “rainy day” savings account.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan election officials are encouraging voters to cast absentee ballots to reduce their potential exposure to COVID-19. 

But flooding last month has complicated those efforts in Midland County.  

The May 19 flood damaged or destroyed hundreds of homes and businesses. More than 10,000 people were forced to evacuate. Some Midland county residents are still living in campers, tents or with friends and relatives.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

A statue of a confederate soldier was the focus of a large protest Saturday in west Michigan.

The protest was largely peaceful, with a few heated exchanges between those for and against the confederate statue in the Allendale park.

Critics’ chants of “take it down” were countered by supporters chanting “U-S-A.”

The confederate figure stands back-to-back with a Union soldier. An enslaved child crouches between them clutching a scroll reading “Freedom to Slaves.”

Jim Toy sitting and State Rep Yousef Rahbi standing on stage
Courtesy of Jim Toy Center

This year’s Pride Month celebrations coincided with a major victory for the LGBTQ community. The U.S. Supreme Court last week ruled that workplace protections outlined in the Civil Rights Act of 1964 apply to gay and transgender people. 

The ruling comes after decades of work by activists in Michigan and elsewhere to expand legal rights and protections for the LGBTQ community. One of those activists is Jim Toy. 

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

County clerks say they need help providing the personal protective equipment and sanitizers to poll workers for the August and November elections.

In order to try to slow the spread of the coronavirus, election officials are hoping to convince more Michiganders to vote absentee. Clerks started mailing absentee ballots to voters this week for the August 4 primary election.

On a recent morning, Kim Gates helped hand out free boxes of fresh fruits and vegetables in an underserved area of Grand Rapids, Mich.

Lately, the retired schoolteacher from the nearby tiny town of Caledonia has been trying to volunteer with minority communities and read more about racism.

The 63-year-old white woman had always voted for the candidate she thought was best for the job — like, for instance, Michigan's recent Republican governor, Rick Snyder. She said she never considered herself political until Donald Trump's victory in 2016.

unemployement insurance form on a clipboard
Vitalii Vodolazskyi / Adobe Stock

The director of the state unemployment agency appeared Wednesday before a joint House and Senate committee.

He answered questions about a backlog in resolving unemployment claims.

Agency director Steve Gray said so many people filed for unemployment that it also jammed the programs to protect against fraud.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed into law on Tuesday a measure that should speed up election results in November.

The new law allows city or township clerks to create an "absent voting counting board" with other local clerks to join forces to count absentee ballots.

State capitol
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Today on Stateside, recent developments with Enbridge’s Line 5 have lead Attorney General Dana Nessel to ask for a temporarily halt of operations. Tribes who live and work around the Great Lakes have had an eye on this for years.  Also, Michigan’s legislators have announced funding plans for reopening K-12 schools. What will that look like? Plus, what to expect when you’re expecting to travel this summer.

The Crisler Center
Andy Piper / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic are scrapping plans for a 2020 presidential debate taking place in Ann Arbor this fall as planned. 

The University of Michigan was scheduled to host the second of the three debates between President Donald Trump and presumptive Democratic nominee former vice president Joe Biden on October 15.

But university officials this week withdrew from the debate hosting duties, saying it would be not be “feasible” to safely host the presidential debate as planned.

Protesters want big police reforms. Michigan lawmakers offer small changes.

Jun 22, 2020
protesters in lansing
Abigail Censky / WKAR

Protests in Michigan cities are still ongoing against racial injustice and police brutality in what is becoming one of the most sustained social movements in memory. After years of police killing African Americans at a disproportionate rate, protesters are calling for revolutionary change.

person signing a piece of paper
Jodi Westrick / Michigan Radio

A state board is giving a campaign to outlaw an abortion procedure another chance to prove it has enough petition signatures. Right to Life of Michigan wants the Legislature to adopt a veto-proof initiative.

The bipartisan Board of State Canvassers told the Michigan Bureau of Elections to draw a larger sample of signatures. That’s after an initial sample showed the signature campaign fell short.

A protester holds a sign in this stock photo.
vivalapenler / Adobe Stock

The Supreme Court has rejected President Donald Trump's effort to end legal protections for 650,000 young immigrants, a stunning rebuke to the president in the midst of his reelection campaign.

Dustin Dwyer / Michigan Radio

At least three commissioners in Grand Rapids signaled support for cutting the police department budget during a meeting on Tuesday morning. But because of a rare provision in the city’s charter, those cuts would be limited.

In 1995, voters in Grand Rapids approved a provision to require that at least 32% of the city’s general fund must go toward police services.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

State senators are debating how much money needs to be spent on Michigan’s dams.

At a committee hearing on Tuesday, legislators heard how state regulators prioritize grant applications for repairing or removing aging dams.

State Senator Ed McBroom (R-Vulcan) has concerns that the needs of aquatic life play too big a role in deciding which projects receive grants.

“I’m appalled at the fact that safety concerns have to go through fisheries and get vetted by biology, rather than by public safety interests,” says McBroom.

Michigan State Capitol
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Governor Gretchen Whitmer and state lawmakers may give themselves more time this year to put together a state budget.

A bill moving through the Legislature would create a one-year reprieve from the July 1 budget deadline.

That date aligns with the fiscal years of local governments and school districts.

Photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Detroit is celebrating Juneteenth with a week-long series of events starting on Monday.

Juneteenth is celebrated on June 19. It commemorates the day in 1865 that slaves in Texas learned they would be freed.

Hand holding rainbow LGBTQ flag
Stavrialena Gontzou / unsplash.com

A petition campaign to add LGBTQ protections to Michigan’s civil rights law is deciding its next steps.

That’s after a U.S. Supreme Court decision Monday that LGBTQ rights are already guaranteed by federal law.

designer491 / Adobe Stock

Experts on Michigan's unemployment system say the huge number of claims due to the pandemic is shining a spotlight on glaring problems with the computer system that processes those claims.

Rachael Kohl is Director of the University of Michigan Law School's Workers' Rights Clinic. 

She says the state's computer system that processes claims was created during the Snyder administration, with the aim of  generating as many red flags as possible, in order to reduce the number of people who qualify for unemployment.

Michigan State Capitol
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Hundreds of people marched from the Lansing Center to the state Capitol on Wednesday as part of a march against police brutality.

The words "Black Lives Matter" echoed across the Capitol lawn at the NAACP’s “We are Done Dying” march.

Nathanael Jefferson has been to several protests in Detroit and Lansing. He says he has personally been profiled in Lansing and sees police profiling all the time.

A screen showing the logos of different social media platforms.

The death of George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer is not the first such incident to cause Michiganders take to the streets. But what’s different this time? And why do so many white people felt moved to join in for Black Lives Matter this year? The answer has a lot of parts, but that little screen in your pocket is probably part of it. 

Jocelyn Benson
Benson for Secretary of State

Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson testified Tuesday before the state Senate Elections Committee.

The first-term Democrat asked the committee to back efforts to keep voting places clean and safe to avoid spreading the coronavirus in the August and November elections.

State of Michigan

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer plans to ask for a federal disaster declaration for parts of Michigan hard hit by flooding last month.

Heavy rains flooded towns and overflowed dams in parts of mid-Michigan, including Midland and Gladwin Counties. Thousands were forced to evacuate their homes as the Tittabawassee River rose to a record height. Weeks later, many people are still cleaning and repairing their homes and businesses.