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.
In just over a month, Michigan voters will decide the fate of Proposal 1. That’s the statewide ballot initiative that would generate more than $1-billion to repair and maintain Michigan roads. It’s a complex plan with many parts, the implications of which reach beyond highways and bridges. If approved, the measure would enact a constitutional change to the state sales tax, and also trigger a number of statutory changes. The Citizens Research Council of Michigan has been following the developments of Proposal 1.
There are few issues of public importance in Michigan that the Michigan Chamber of Commerce does not weigh in on. The state chamber is the advocate for businesses and job providers across the state. It assists more than 6,000 member employers, trade associations and local chambers in the legislative, political and legal process.
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.
For three decades, George Franklin lobbied on behalf of the most famous tiger in the world. Franklin is the former Vice President of Worldwide Government Relations for the Kellogg Company of Battle Creek. Obviously, the tiger is “Tony.” In his book, “Raisin Bran and other Cereal Wars", Franklin writes that the role of a lobbyist is widely misunderstood.
Public education in Michigan will have new leadership this summer. Last week, the state board of education voted 7 to 1 to hire Dearborn schools chief Brian Whiston as the next State Superintendent. He will replace Mike Flanagan, who will retire in June after 10 years at the helm of the Michigan Department of Education. Whiston’s appointment is pending formal approval from the state board, which is expected soon.
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.
Yesterday, Governor Rick Snyder announced the creation of a new state entity: the Michigan Agency for Energy. The action comes less than a week after the governor called on the state to increase its reliance on clean energy. Snyder has set a goal for the state to draw up to 40-percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2025. He also wants to see the state become more energy efficient and reduce waste.
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.
Once again, the future of Obamacare is in the hands of the United States Supreme Court. This summer, the court’s interpretation of four words in the Affordable Care Act will have a significant impact on the future of the law. Many Americans are counting on millions of dollars of Obamacare federal tax credits to pay for health insurance coverage. The high court’s ruling will determine whether those credits will be offered or withdrawn to residents of 34 states, including Michigan.
For two months, our first guest has been navigating highly publicized change at the Lansing Board of Water and Light. Dick Peffley’s retirement was interrupted in mid-January when he was asked to serve as interim General Manager of the city-owned utility after the sudden dismissal of Peter Lark. Peffley spent 38-years at the Board of Water and Light in several managerial positions including as Executive Director of Operations and once before as interim General Manager. When he accepted the job, he commented “I want to do what’s best for the BWL and our cu
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.
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.
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.
Last Thursday, the Federal Communications Commission enacted historic new rules governing broadband technology. The FCC moved to reclassify internet service providers under Title Two of the Telecommunications Act, an 80-year-old law originally written to regulate telephone companies. Democrats hailed the decision as a victory for open access to the Internet, and a means to prevent so-called “fast lanes” for those who could afford to pay for quicker service. Some Republicans criticized the move as increased government control over the Internet.
Last Thursday, Current State aired part of an interview with former Congressman Joe Schwarz of Battle Creek. Dr. Schwarz, who is a physician and head and neck surgeon, represented Michigan’s 7th district in 2005 and 2006. That discussion focused on his political and medical careers, and his service in southeast Asia, which included service as a surgeon during the Vietnam War and then as a CIA operative. Schwarz has never returned to that part of the world in the 40-plus years since those experiences.
At the end of the month, Current State takes one last look back at the top news stories in Michigan politics and government. This time around, we revisit a proposed, new state budget, new leadership for Michigan’s Republican Party, and the discussion over May’s sales tax proposal.
We all know Michiganians we feel are extraordinary for their memorable life experiences or their sacrifices. Maybe for their success, or their service, and for the insights that result from those experiences. Getting better acquainted with extraordinary people is the focus of Current State’s occasional series, “Voices of Experience.”
Developers are about to become the owners of 30 acres of city land straddling Lansing and East Lansing. Monday evening, the Lansing City Council approved the sale of the former Red Cedar Golf Course property to Ferguson/Continental Lansing LLC. Developer Joel Ferguson and his partner Frank Kass want to build a $276-million complex at the site that could include a ten-story hotel, restaurant and housing. Part of the site would remain green space.
The Lansing City Council will officially be back at full strength tonight, when it swears in its newest member. Vincent Delgado was appointed to the council Thursday night in a 6 to 1 vote. He’ll finish the current term vacated by Derrick Quinney, who stepped down after becoming the new Ingham County Register of Deeds.
At its Lansing convention Saturday, activist Ronna Romney McDaniel got the nod on the first ballot.
She replaces commercial property developer Bobby Schostak at the top of the Michigan GOP. The 41-year old niece of Presidential candidate Mitt Romney said ‘We need to a Republican in the White House through Michigan in 2016.’ Current State talks to Michigan Public Radio Network's Rick Pluta about the state's new GOP leader.
If you track how the state of Michigan spends its money, you're aware that much of it goes to cities and municipalities. Eight days ago, Governor Snyder proposed an increase of $24-million in the states next budget be assigned to revenue sharing for cities, townships and villages. That would make a total of $788-million. Another $214-million would go to counties.
Immigration advocates in Michigan are decrying a federal judge’s ruling striking down two executive orders protecting millions of immigrants from deportation. Last November, President Obama announced two programs that were set to take effect today. One would prevent undocumented parents of children legally living in the U-S from being sent back to their countries of origin. The other extends protections for undocumented immigrants who arrived in the U-S as children.
East Lansing Democratic state Sen. Curtis Hertel, Jr. is seven weeks into his legislative career at the state Capitol. He represents the 23rd district, which covers almost all of Ingham County. Yesterday, the Senate Finance Committee began discussing a bill sponsored by the former Ingham County official. Hertel wants to offer recent Michigan college graduates tax credits in exchange for a pledge to stay in Michigan.
Stakeholders across Michigan are responding to Gov. Rick Snyder’s 2016 budget proposal. The $54-billion spending plan includes increases in education, job training and the state police. It also includes spending reductions in about a dozen state agencies. As always, there’s something for almost everyone to like and to dislike.
Not long after Michigan voters decided Congressional contests around the state, a 7th District Democrat has declared her candidacy in next year’s election. On Monday, at appearances throughout the district including Delta Township and Jackson, State Rep. Gretchen Driskell announced that she’s a candidate. The Democrat from Saline says the 7th “isn’t getting the representation it deserves.”
“American Sniper” has set box office records over the last few weeks. It tells the story of Chris Kyle, known as America’s most lethal Navy Seal sniper. The film is up for six Oscars, including Best Picture, and Bradley Cooper is nominated for Best Actor for his portrayal of Chris Kyle. The movie has generated lots of discussion, both pro and con, about Kyle’s legacy.
This month, Michigan State University is reflecting on a landmark moment in its 16-decade history. On February 11, 1965, Dr. Martin Luther King, Junior came to campus to launch a fundraising drive for a program that would send volunteers on an educational outreach mission to Mississippi. During that speech, Dr. King called for what would later become the Voting Rights Act of 1965.