Michigan politics

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Pothole photo
The Tire Zoo / flickr creative commons

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.

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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.

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