politics and government

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.


Juli Liebler photo
Courtesy city of East Lansing

Juli Liebler is retiring as East Lansing’s chief of police. Current State’s Kevin Lavery talks with her about her career.


WKAR File Photo

Lee Chaney and Dawn Chapel of Mason became the first couple in Ingham county to be married following Friday’s same sex marriage ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court.


Same sex marriage photo
Mark Bashore / WKAR

Current State talks with Ingham County Clerk Barb Byrum, who began performing same sex marriage ceremonies shortly after today's U.S. Supreme Court decision was announced.


Current State talks with analyst Marianne Udow-Phillips about the U.S. Supreme Court decision upholding the Affordable Care Act.


Blackhawk helicopter photo
Capt. Brian Anderson / Michigan National Guard

The Michigan National Guard has been training for conditions that might accompany a nuclear explosion this week.


Naeyaert and Daman with Bashore
Scott Pohl / WKAR

Continued funding for the Ingham Health Plan debated as U.S. Supreme Court ruling on Obamacare looms. Current State speaks with Tim Daman of the Greater Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce and County Commissioner Robin Naeyaert.

A group of Lansing activists want to enact a city anti-corruption ordinance. Current State talks to political activist Walt Sorg about what triggered this effort.

Picture of David Hollister and Virg Bernero
Mark Bashore / WKAR

Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero says it’s time to explore the possibility of selling the city-owned Board of Water and Light. Bernero has called on the city’s Financial Health Team to begin studying such a move. Current State talks to ex-Mayor David Hollister, who chairs the team, about the issue.


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.

www.lansingcitypulse.com

 

Every week, our first guest shares his views in the pages of the Lansing City Pulse, where he serves as Associate Publisher.

Recently, Mickey Hirten has opined on a potential sale of the Lansing Board of Water and Light--a good move in his view--and the future of the Lansing City Market.

Current State checks in with Mickey on those issues and his upcoming column  that will look into a recent initiative by the Catholic Diocese of Lansing to assist the poor in the city of Flint.

“It’s every citizen’s right to film the police.” Those are the words of ACLU Michigan Executive Kary Moss. The occasion was this week’s announcement that the civil liberties organization would offer a free smartphone app that enables users to videotape police encounters. The Mobile Justice Michigan app would then automatically send the video to the ACLU for review.

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.

www.senatormargaretobrien.com/

Last week, we spent some time learning about a unique support group for caregivers based in Albion. Caring for the Caregivers is a monthly gathering that allows caregivers to share their challenges and learn about relevant skills. Today, we take another look at caregiving, this time at proposed legislation aimed at helping Michigan’s estimated two-million caregivers.

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.

Kevin Lavery/WKAR

Earlier this month, President Obama issued an executive order banning the federal government from issuing certain types of military equipment to local police departments. The action is in response to an outcry over a militarized show of force during protests last summer in Ferguson, Missouri.

Jake Neher/MPRN

Democratic Michigan Sen. Gary Peters has gotten behind legislation that would address two very different national issues: criminal justice and student debt. Monday, on a visit to Detroit, the state’s junior senator called for a “top to bottom” review of the U.S. criminal justice system by creating a National Criminal Justice Commission. And last week, Peters introduced the Federal Adjustment in Reporting (FAIR) Student Credit Act. It would help private student loan borrowers rehabilitate defaulted loans.

Courtesy MSU Today

Earlier this week, Valerie Brader, an attorney and former senior policy adviser to Gov. Rick Snyder, assumed her role as executive director of the new Michigan Agency for Energy. Brader will be the top energy adviser to Snyder and state department leaders. Snyder created the agency by executive order in March after setting it as a priority in January’s State of the State address.

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.

Flickr - Gage Skidmore

Eighteen months away from the 2016 presidential election, two Democrats and six Republicans have formally thrown their hat into the ring. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas was the first Republican to announce his candidacy. Cruz is the son of Cuban immigrants who before his congressional career was the longest-serving Solicitor General in Texas history.

WKAR Photo

After a marathon session, the Lansing City Council last night approved Mayor Virg Bernero’s proposed 2015-16 budget, but it was not a complete victory for the mayor. The council also rejected his plan to create a new layer of oversight to regulate the Lansing Board of Water and Light. Bernero proposed establishing the position of inspector general to review the BWL’s procedures to ensure greater accountability, but after hours of debate and several failed attempts to pass amendments, the city council instead decided to fund an audit of the BWL by an independent agency.

In the coming year, nine of Michigan’s coal-fired power plants are scheduled to retire. That has environmentalists and renewable energy advocates cheering. And the state’s two major utilities, Consumer’s Energy and DTE, say they are ready to invest in a more sustainable energy future. But first, the companies say, Michigan has to return to a fully regulated electricity market.

http://www.cityofeastlansing.com/

Economist Ruth Beier became a member of the East Lansing City Council in January. She says she grew tired of attending council meetings, complaining and getting nowhere, so she decided to run for office. Beier says it’s time for East Lansing to do things differently. Mainly, she says, it needs to shift more attention and resources away from the city’s commercial downtown to its neighborhoods.

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