Michigan politics

State capitol
Jake Neher / MPRN

Every month we look back at the state's top news stories. For June, the topics include important U.S. Supreme Court rulings and the ongoing issue of how to pay for road repairs.


Current State talks with Barb Levine, lead author of a report from The Citizens Alliance on Prisons and Public Spending that offers a roadmap to reducing the prison population and saving the state hundreds of millions of dollars every year.


markschauer.com

In last November’s elections for the Michigan House of Representatives,  49-percent of voters chose a Republican to represent them. Nonetheless, a headcount reveals that House Republicans comfortably outnumber Democrats, 63-47. The reason is the way legislative districts are drawn.

Scott Pohl/WKAR

Since the launch of Obamacare, close to 300,000 Michigan residents have enrolled in health insurance plans offered through the state exchange.  

Many of them are now watching the U.S. Supreme Court closely.   A decision in the the case ‘King v Burwell’ is due by the end of the month.  It will determine whether or not federal subsidies, which help pay premiums for about three-quarters of those participants, will continue.

State capitol
Jake Neher / MPRN

Legislation granting Michigan faith-based adoption agencies the right not to serve same-sex and unmarried couples may be going to Gov. Rick Snyder soon. Yesterday, the Michigan Senate followed the lead of the House and passed such a measure. First, it will return to a House conference committee to resolve one part of the measure.

Office of Kevin Cotter

  Road funding, education spending and other budget issues are among the focus of discussions at the state capitol.   There were several developments yesterday in education spending.  A measure meant to bridge the funding gap between school districts emerged.   Meanwhile, a focus in the road funding debate continues to be whether the money for a fix can be found among existing revenue or if new revenue is required.

State capitol
Jake Neher / MPRN

The end of a stimulating month in Michigan politics and government is about here. The legislature is busy hammering out a new budget, considering a prevailing wage repeal and getting to know some visiting Presidential candidates better.

Flickr - Scott Ellis

Coming up with more money for roads is a big topic of discussion this week on an island with no cars. The key issue: can the legislature finally come up with more than a billion dollars in new revenue for transportation.

Scott Pohl/WKAR

An effort to repeal Michigan’s 50-year old prevailing wage law moved forward this week. On Tuesday, the state board of canvassers approved the form of a citizen petition that could put it to a vote in the state legislature. Meanwhile, the Michigan Senate has already passed such a measure and sent it to the House, but a citizen petition, if approved by the legislature, could not be vetoed by Governor Rick Snyder. The Governor opposes repeal.

Scott Pohl/WKAR

State lawmakers are again looking for ways to pay for road repairs in Michigan, and that means subsidies for the film industry are again being targeted. That has amounted to $50-million a year in recent years. 

Courtesy of Rep. Sam Singh

It’s a busy time under the dome in Lansing these days. Just two weeks after the historic defeat of a road funding proposal that would have altered the Michigan Constitution, House Democrats and Republicans are offering competing alternatives. The GOP plan would shift revenue to a transportation fund by various means, including siphoning funds from tribal casino revenues and eliminating the Earned Income Tax Credit. Meanwhile, Democrats propose raising the gas tax by 15 cents per gallon over the next three years.

http://www.senatormikeshirkey.com/

People who build schools and other public infrastructure projects in Michigan might soon see a lighter paycheck. Yesterday, the Michigan Senate voted to repeal the state’s prevailing wage law. That provision mandates that wages paid in state government contracts are based on collective bargain agreements.

Scott Pohl/WKAR

There’s no shortage of talk in Michigan about renewable energy sources. But despite all our efforts to go green, our state is still very dependent on fossil fuels. Recently, a Traverse City-based oil and gas company has been looking at an area in and around the city of Mason as a possible drilling site.

Scott Pohl/WKAR

In four days, Michigan voters will decide whether or not to increase the state sales tax by one cent on the dollar. Proposal 1 would raise just over $1.2-billion which would, in a couple of years, be spent on road and bridge improvements. But the measure also earmarks about $800-million for areas including education, municipalities and help for some low income Michigan residents.

File photo / WKAR

Auto-no fault insurance reform, a U.S. Supreme Court hearing for Michigan’s same sex marriage ban and critical budget discussions were among the top  political news stories in our state in April.

http://www.hertelforsenate.com/

Two weeks ago, a now infamous sex education class at East Lansing High School unleashed strong reactions among parents and students. The abstinence-based course was conducted by Pregnancy Services of Greater Lansing, an organization that opposes abortion. The class provoked negative comments about the so-called SMART curriculum now in place at East Lansing High School.

Flickr - Ray Dumas

Michigan legislators are in a pitched and partisan battle over proposed reforms to the state’s auto no-fault insurance system. Mainly Republican reformers are intent on lowering the state’s sky-high car insurance premiums by imposing cost controls on catastrophic accident claims. Mainly Democratic opponents say the move threatens a strong system that may be the best in the nation. Many allege it’s a money grab by the insurance industry and their allies in the legislature.

The months-long discussion about whether to raise Michigan's sales tax by a penny is nearing an end. Voters will decide the issue next Tuesday. According to Michigan’s ‘Citizens Research Council,” the measure would eventually generate about an additional $1.3-billion to be spent on the state’s roads and bridges. It creates a new formula for assessing the state’s gas tax, which would be tied to the wholesale price of gasoline. At current prices, it would go up about 10 cents per gallon. Whatever the increase, it would be lessened somewhat by the removal of sales tax from gasoline.

Flickr - Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, University of Michigan

Four months ago, the city of Detroit turned the page on a difficult chapter of its long and storied history. Last December, Detroit emerged from the nation’s largest-ever municipal bankruptcy. The so-called “grand bargain” that sealed the deal cut $7-billion of the city’s debt and injected millions of dollars to reduce pension cuts for city retirees.

courtesy Michigan Supreme Court Historical Society

Former U.S. Sen. Robert Griffin of Michigan was laid to rest yesterday in Traverse City. Griffin died late last week at the age of 91. After serving in World War II, the Detroit native began practicing law in Traverse City. The Republican eventually served in the U.S. House and Senate for a total of 22 years until he was narrowly defeated for re-election to the Senate by Democrat Carl Levin in 1978.

Flickr - The Tire Zoo

Two weeks from today, Michigan voters will decide whether to increase investment in the state’s crumbling roads and bridges with a one cent increase in the state sales tax. The discussion over whether to invest more in infrastructure has raised the issue of  the warranties that sometimes cover that work.

Flickr - Ben

From 2003 to 2013, Michigan prosecuted over 20,000 juvenile offenders as adults. Advocates for juvenile justice reform say youth housed in adult prisons are at a much greater risk for sexual abuse and suicide than the adult prison population. And while there is now a sight and sound barrier between juvenile offenders and the adult prison population, that wasn’t always the case. The state is now facing allegations from seven former juvenile offenders that they were sexually abused by both other prisoners and prison staff while housed in those facilities.

Scott Pohl/WKAR

Yesterday, Republicans in the U.S. Congress marked their 100th day of being the majority legislative party in Washington. Mike Bishop represents that majority in his capacity as the recently sworn in congressman from Michigan’s 8th District, which covers Lansing and East Lansing along with Ingham and Livingston counties and part of Oakland county.

http://gophouse.org/representatives/southwest/callton/

For years now, Michigan has struggled with how to implement its medical marijuana law. Voters approved legalized pot in 2008, but applying the law has been fraught with complications. Patients, caregivers, physicians, law enforcement, local and state governments and the courts all have had different concerns. The challenge boils down to how to regulate the drug and how to get it safely and responsibly to the people who are entitled to it. In recent years, Republican State Rep. Mike Callton has been in the middle of the state legislature’s effort to move forward.

Wikimedia Commons

March is almost behind us. In and around the state Capitol, the month included more questions about the fate of Proposal 1, some tension inside both major parties regarding priorities including education, and improving employment numbers.

wzzm13.com

There’s been a lot of attention this year on the road funding proposal that will go before Michigan voters in a special election on May 5, but later this year, many political jurisdictions including the city of Lansing will hold primary elections in August and a general election in November. The Lansing Regional Chamber Political Action Committee is teaching techniques for candidates preparing to campaign. It’s a non-partisan group that endorses candidates with a pro-business, pro-economic development platform.

Scott Pohl/WKAR

State Representative Jeremy Moss was elected last fall to the district 35 seat in the Michigan House, based in Southfield. It's a mild surprise that he replaces the member he worked for, Rudy Hobbs. Maybe the even bigger surprise is that Moss graduated from Michigan State University's School of Journalism not quite seven years ago.

Scott Pohl/WKAR

Many Republicans in Lansing are calling for an end to film industry subsidies. They say the program hasn’t been effective in creating jobs in Michigan, and the money would be better spent elsewhere. For instance, eliminating the subsidies is one idea being considered as an alternative to the plan going before voters in May that would increase the state sales tax to raise money for road repairs. Yesterday, the state House approved a bill eliminating the video industry tax incentives in October.

Wikimedia Commons

What happens in Michigan 730,000 times a day? According to the Michigan Department of Technology, Management and Budget, that's the number of times daily that someone tries to hack into a state government computer. Officials are quick to point out that virtually all are detected and quickly stopped. Still, it requires a comprehensive and expensive cyber security effort to stay ahead of the threat. Officials say the number of attempts will rise.

Scott Pohl/WKAR

In January, a Lansing woman, accompanied by her two children, made a grisly discovery at the Rose Lake Wildlife Research Area, not far from East Lansing. According to the Lansing City Pulse, the three, who were on a mid-winter walk, came across the frozen body of a dog, which appeared to have been abandoned inside a small kennel in dangerously cold temperatures. According to the story, Bath Township Police are investigating the incident. They say it appears to be a case of animal cruelty, a felony in Michigan punishable by up to four years in prison.

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