Politics & Government | Michigan Radio

Politics & Government

Stories about politics and government actions

testing swab
Shutterstock image

Governor Gretchen Whitmer has signed an executive order that allows pharmacists, nurses, and physician assistants to authorize COVID-19 tests.

It also says Michigan residents can not be charged out-of-pocket costs for the test.

Mike Duggan

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan said he’s excited that some Michigan retail businesses will be able to re-open on Tuesday, but warns the city will be vigilant about enforcing health and safety standards meant to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer laid out those rules in an executive order that allows businesses “engaged in the selling of goods and the rendering of services incidental to the sale of the goods” to re-open. Sit-down restaurants, bars, gyms and fitness centers, and salons remain closed for now.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan’s two U.S. Senators say the United States needs to do more to confront China on its crackdown in Hong Kong.

Sunday, Hong Kong police fired tear gas and a water cannon at protesters in a popular shopping district, as thousands took to the streets to march against China's proposed tough national security legislation for the city.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan’s two U.S. Senators are calling for more regulation of privately owned dams, in the wake of this week’s massive flood on the Tittabawassee River.

Senators Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters toured the flood zone Saturday by air and on the ground with local officials and FEMA’s regional administrator.

The failure of two privately owned dams Tuesday, after days of heavy rain, helped create the record setting flood on the Tittabawassee River that forced thousands to evacuate, and damaged homes, businesses, roads and bridges. 

State of Michigan

Governor Gretchen Whitmer is extending Michigan’s Safer at Home order until June 12. She’s also extending the state of emergency declaration until June 19.

The governor made the announcement as part of a late afternoon flurry of announcements on Friday related to the COVID-19 pandemic and flooding orders.

Gretchen Whitmer at a podium

A conservative legal foundation has filed a new challenge against Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s ability to issue new emergency orders related to workplaces and the COVID-19 outbreak.

The Mackinac Center says the governor’s earlier orders have succeeded in slowing the pace of new COVID-19 infections.

The lawsuit says the governor’s orders now exceed her authority under emergency management laws.

governor whitmer
State of Michigan

Nearly 64% of Michigan voters approve of Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

In contrast, support for President Donald Trump’s handling of the crisis is more than 20 points lower at about 43%.

That’s according to a mid-May statewide poll of Michigan registered voters commissioned by the Detroit Regional Chamber, a southeast Michigan business advocacy group, and conducted by Glengariff Group, a non-partisan polling firm.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

President Donald Trump has signed an emergency declaration for the communities struck by flooding this week in Michigan.

Two dams failed after heavy rains, swelling the Tittabawassee River to a record crest in the city of Midland.  The declaration only covers Midland County. 

Michigan's Unemployment Insurance Agency (UIA)
Bytemarks / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Michigan’s official jobless rate jumped to 22.7%.

The seasonally adjusted number shows Michigan lost more than one million jobs from March to April. The hardest-hit sectors were manufacturing and hospitality.

That number is higher than at the peak of the Great Recession.

New Oakland County Executive Dave Coulter
Dave Coulter for State Representative

As Michigan moves more toward re-opening its economy, Oakland County says it will now test anyone 18 or older for COVID-19.

Oakland County has drive-thru testing at three places in Pontiac, Southfield, and Novi. Starting now, any adult who wants to get tested there can do so.

Judge's gavel

Macomb County Circuit Court judges have picked a prosecutor’s office veteran to fill in as county prosecutor.

The circuit court bench met via Zoom on Wednesday, and chose Jean Cloud as interim prosecutor to replace resigned former prosecutor Eric Smith.

absentee ballot in envelope
Nadya Peek / Flickr CC BY 2.0

President Donald Trump says he wants to hold up coronavirus funding for Michigan, saying erroneously that the state had mailed absentee ballots to millions of voters. Michigan used federal coronavirus relief funding to mail applications for absentee ballots, not the ballots themselves.

Michigan State Capitol
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

The state Senate could adopt and send a bill to Governor Gretchen Whitmer that would reduce the penalties for violating orders she’s signed to deal with COVID-19 in Michigan.

The bill would reduce the penalty for violating an order from a misdemeanor to a civil infraction.

Gov. Whitmer
Cheyna Roth / Michigan Radio

Governor Gretchen Whitmer says she has talked to members of former Vice President Joe Biden’s campaign team about being his running mate on the November ballot.

But Whitmer told the “Today” show in NBC she’s not aware of any formal vetting for the position.

AJ Mast / General Motors

Republican President Donald Trump will visit Ford Motor Company's Rawsonville Components Plant on Thursday.  He is expected to make remarks afterwards.

Ford, in a partnership with General Electric, is building ventilators to help hospitalized COVID-19 patients who need help breathing.

The automaker's contract with the federal government under the Defense Production Act calls for Ford to produce 50,000 of the simplified ventilators by July, at a total price of $336 million.

Congressman Justin Amash

West Michigan Congressman Justin Amash says he is no longer exploring running for president as a third party candidate.

He made the announcement on Twitter.

Amash says the ongoing pandemic and high levels of political polarization favor a two-party system, and doesn't leave a path for a candidate running as a Libertarian.

Courtesy photo / City of Detroit

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan said he’s “entirely confident” in a rapid-response COVID-19 test the city has used heavily, despite some doubts raised about its accuracy.

Several small studies found the Abbott Labs 15-minute tests produce a significant number of false negative results. And the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has issued an alert about the tests, saying it’s still evaluating whether the tests produce too many false negatives.

gretchen whitmer sitting at table

The Legislature’s Republican leaders Friday asked a Michigan Court of Claims judge to place restrictions on Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s power to declare a COVID-19 state of emergency.

They say Whitmer cannot continue to declare new states of emergency every 28 days without legislative approval.

May 2020 Consensus Conference / Michigan House and Senate Fiscal Agencies

Michigan's state budget faces a more than six billion dollar shortfall this fiscal year and next, according to a consensus revenue estimate from the state House and Senate Fiscal Agencies.

Budget officials say it's twice as much as the decline in state revenues at the beginning of the Great Recession. The estimate may have to be revised downward again later in the year.

beaumont hospital royal oak exterior
Paulette Parker / Michigan Radio

Michigan nurses have announced their support of Governor Whitmer’s use of executive powers. Republican legislators sued the governor last week, alleging that her extension of the stay-at-home orders was unlawful.

Now, the Michigan Nurses Association has filed an amicus brief in the case showing their support for the governor.


Governor Gretchen Whitmer has issued another executive order extending a moratorium on evictions until 11:59 pm. on June 11. 

Joe McGuire, a staff attorney with the Detroit Justice Center, said Whitmer should have extended the moratorium sooner, and that many other states have instituted longer and more comprehensive bans in the face of COVID-19 than Michigan has.

Sarah Anthony at a podium smiling
Courtesy of Rep. Sarah Anthony / https://www.votesarahanthony.com/media

Protesters were back at the Michigan Capitol on Thursday to voice their displeasure with Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s stay-at-home orders. After armed protesters entered the State Senate Gallery during a protest two weeks ago, some in Lansing began calling for a ban on guns inside the statehouse. That debate picked up steam after reports that people in anti-quarantine Facebook groups were calling for violent action against the governor.

Michigan State Capitol
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

About 200 to 300 protesters gathered Thursday in front of the state Capitol to protest Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak.

Others stayed in their vehicles and beeped their horns as they drove through downtown Lansing.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Legislators grilled the head of the Unemployment Insurance Agency about why some people still are not receiving benefits. Steve Gray, director of the agency, gave a short presentation about how it is dealing with the 1.7 million applications for benefits that have been filed since March 15.

protesters with guns in michigan state capitol
Courtesy Senator Dayna Polehanki / Twitter

Armed demonstrators are expected again Thursday in Lansing to rally against Governor Whitmer’s stay-at-home order. Tense confrontations at previous protests combined with hateful and violent rhetoric in conservative Facebook groups has renewed a call for a ban on firearms within the Capitol building.

Gretchen Whitmer at a podium

The state has ordered 31,000 public employees to take furlough days temporarily to help deal with the impact of COVID-19 on the state budget.

Stay-at-home orders and business layoffs have reduced economic activity, which means less tax revenue. And the state is required to keep its budget balanced.

University of Michigan Poverty Solutions

University of Michigan researchers say Detroiters will need many more protections to protect people from losing their homes in the wake of COVID-19.

The U of M Poverty Solutions paper examines existing housing instability in Detroit, also finding that there’s a shortage of affordable housing in the city, when taking into account blighted and uninhabitable units.

Long-time Michigan state lawmaker Morris Hood III dead at 54

May 12, 2020
morris hood III
MIchigan Senate Democrats

Michigan officials are remembering long-time former state lawmaker Morris Hood III who died this week from COVID-19.

Mo Hood served in both the Michigan House and Senate, including a stint as the senate minority floor leader. The Detroit Democrat gained a reputation as a calming influence in an increasingly divided political climate.

Gretchen Whitmer
State of Michigan

Governor Gretchen Whitmer says she’s concerned that “angry rhetoric” may turn into physical violence and turn back progress made to slow the spread of COVID-19 in Michigan.

Capitol Building
Liam James Doyle / NPR

The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committee is hearing from leaders of the Trump administration's coronavirus response about safely reopening the country. Dr. Anthony Fauci of the National Institutes of Health and Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, are among those testifying. Watch the proceedings live beginning at 10 a.m. Tuesday May 12.