On Wednesday, Gov. Rick Snyder’s call for improvements in the delivery of state services included the merging of two, large and important state agencies. Snyder says the Departments of Human Services and Community Health need to become more “people-centric” and less “program centric.” He says that resulting efficiencies will improve services to state residents and, with other reforms, create a "River of Opportunity".
Gene Wrigglesworth has worn a policeman’s badge for almost 50 years. For more than half that time, he’s served as the Ingham County Sheriff. But in 2016, an era in the county’s history will come to an end. This week, he announced that he will not seek re-election.
Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder updated his near term goals in the annual State of the State speech last night. The centerpiece was the creation of what the Governor called a “River of Opportunity” that would improve state services, especially those coming Michigan’s Departments of Community Health and Human Services. Snyder plans to combine the two into one. He says their work represents a “failed model” that is too focused on programs than on people.
Recently, Michigan has been through a Gubernatorial campaign, an election, a lame duck legislative session and an inauguration. And Governor Snyder delivers his annual State of the State address this evening. Amid all this political activity, what do Michiganians think of their top elected officials?
Two weeks ago, Democrat Gary Peters had the honor of replacing Michigan Senator Carl Levin in the U.S. Senate. Peters had already served five years in the U.S. House representing parts of southeast Michigan. Mr. Levin had just wrapped up a 35-year career.
Lansing’s Andy Schor has begun his second term in the Michigan House of Representatives after being sworn in on Wednesday. In a statement on his web page, the former Ingham County Commissioner says the start of a new session “presents new opportunities.”
Last November, Ingham county voters resoundingly approved two millage proposals. The new Board of Commissioners will be turning its attention to those soon, as it launches its 2015 session. One will expand the county’s network of trails. The other will maintain the Ingham County Health Plan, which provides medical care coverage for the county’s neediest residents.
More than a year after he came under fire for his utility’s heavily criticized response to widespread ice storm outages, Peter Lark has been dismissed as General Manager of the Lansing Board of Water and Light. In a 5-to-3 vote, the board that oversees the city-owned utility voted to fire Lark with cause. The motion also named former BWL manager Dick Pefley as interim GM.
For just over a week, Mike Bishop has served as the new U.S. Congressman representing Lansing and East Lansing. Bishop takes his seat at the Capitol amid a wave of confidence for Republicans in Washington. For the first time since 2007, the GOP enjoys a majority in the Senate as well as the House. That’s obviously changing the political dynamic in the nation’s capital.
What is ahead for Michigan in 2015? An income tax cut? A sales tax hike? Could elected officials move to repeal the state’s prevailing wage provisions? All are possible. A clearer picture will begin to emerge Wednesday when the 2015 Michigan legislature convenes.
On today's show, we heard briefly from Keith Allard of the recently formed group, "Protect MI Taxpayers." Allard is also Chairman of the Grand Rapids Taxpayers Association and a recent unsuccessful candidate for the state legislature. His group is launching a campaign urging voters to defeat the call to increase the state sales tax by a cent. Michigan voters will decide that issue on May 5.
Governor Rick Snyder is still making his way through the stack of bills on his desk after lame duck. Among the bills that have already gotten his stamp of approval is one that authorizes suspicion-based drug tests for some welfare recipients. It requires the state to establish pilot programs for screening and testing people on public assistance in three Michigan counties.
Four months from today, Michigan voters will make the next move regarding our state’s crumbling roads and bridges. They’ll decide whether to hike the state sales tax by one cent on the dollar. Approval would create over a billion dollars annually to help repair the roads, but it would also restore the state’s earned income tax credit and send more state revenue to schools. Rejection means Governor Rick Snyder and the legislature are back at square one in the road funding debate. So, what can we expect to see and hear over the next four months?
Last month, WKAR-TV capitol correspondent and "Off The Record" host Tim Skubick welcomed the senior U.S. Senator from Michigan, Carl Levin. On the eve of his retirement, Sen. Levin discusses what sparked his interest in politics, lessons learned from nearly four decades in the senate, his post-senate plans, and more.
Michigan has the second highest number of juvenile lifers in the U.S. Those are people who were sentenced to life in prison without parole before they turned 18. In 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that sentencing laws mandating life without parole for juvenile offenders amounted to cruel and unusual punishment. Michigan was one of a few states not to apply that ruling retroactively. But now, a case before the U.S. Supreme Court could determine whether those juvenile lifers sentenced before 2012 will get a shot at release.
When 2014 comes to a close, so too will an era in Michigan’s judicial system. On New Year’s Day, Justice Michael Cavanagh will retire after 32 years on the Michigan Supreme Court. Only one other person in history has served longer on the state’s highest court, and not by much longer.
Early this morning, Michigan’s 2014 legislative session concluded dramatically. The state legislature will be sending a proposal to Governor Rick Snyder for a one-cent increase in the Michigan sales tax. The additional revenue would generate about $1.2-billion a year for road and bridge repair. Michigan voters will decide whether to implement the measure, possibly next May.
One of the hot button issues of this year’s lame duck session was the controversial Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) bill. The bill would exempt people from state and local laws if they can prove those laws violate deeply held religious beliefs. Opponents of the legislation say it amounts to a “license to discriminate”, and they are worried about its implications after a companion bill that would have expanded LGBT protections died in committee.
Americans have been busy discussing President Obama’s call to normalize relations with Cuba. Lansing-based attorney Richard McLellan, a long-time Michigan political insider and a two-time visitor to Cuba, supports the President’s move.
The Michigan legislature is in the eleventh hour of this year’s lame duck session. This week, legislative leaders and Gov. Rick Snyder have been meeting more often to try to hammer out a measure for road and bridge funding in the state. A couple meetings were held yesterday, and the Governor expressed concern over how little time remains. The 2014 session is scheduled to conclude tomorrow.
The clock is counting down on the lame duck legislature at the state Capitol. Tomorrow is the last full day of the session. Lawmakers are facing a hard deadline to reach a deal to raise more than a billion dollars each year in new revenue to fix Michigan’s deteriorating roads.
We’re halfway through December, and you’ve probably noticed retailers aren’t the only people competing for your cold, hard cash. ‘Tis the season for charitable organizations to ramp up their efforts to solicit donations. Most groups out there do represent worthy causes, but the holidays also tend to bring out the less-than-legitimate actors hoping to pull off the perfect scam.
The Michigan legislature is in the middle of an eventful lame duck session. Efforts are in high gear to hammer out a road and bridge funding measure before the session wraps next Thursday, but many other important issues are also being debated.
This week, the Michigan legislature has caught the ire of some municipal leaders who fear the state may be overstepping its reach into local government. One Republican sponsored bill now headed to the House floor would ban local communities from entering into negotiations with developers over wages and so-called “community benefits.” The measure has evoked criticism from a number of Democratic civic officials.
For weeks, the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner and the grand jury decisions not to indict the police officers involved in their deaths have sparked sometimes violent protests across the country. The cases have even reached mid-Michigan.
After six years of federal oversight, Michigan is seeking to reclaim control of its child welfare system. The state came under supervision of federal monitors in 2008. That was after a 2006 class action lawsuit that alleged the Michigan Department of Human Services had failed to protect the safety and well-being of almost 19,000 children in state custody.
The recent deaths of Michael Brown, Eric Garner and 12-year-old Tamir Rice in Cleveland have re-ignited the debate over whether police officers should be made to wear body cameras to record their interactions. Some law enforcement agencies around the country have been experimenting with the technology. Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero is expected to announce next month that all city police will soon wear body cameras. In Ingham County, sheriff’s deputies working at the city jail are already trying them out.