Politics & Government

Political news

Joe Linstroth/WKAR

It’s become clearer how Lansing’s publicly-owned utility, the Board of Water and Light, failed its customers following last December’s ice storm. A detailed review by an investigative panel explores the utility’s actions before, during and after the storm that knocked out power to some 35,000 customers.

Month in Review: April's biggest news stories

Apr 30, 2014
Flickr

At the end of every month, Current State takes a look back at the biggest news stories of the previous 30 days. To help us put it in context, Current State talks with the host of Off The Record on WKAR-TV and other Michigan public TV stations Tim Skubick, M-Live Capitol reporter Jonathan Oosting, and editor of the Inside Michigan Politics newsletter, Susan Demas.

Courtesy of Preston Brooks


“Big money is corrupting our political process.”   

Those are the words of an Oakland County business owner and entrepreneur who, for the second time, is in the race to represent Michigan’s 8th Congressional district, which includes Lansing and East Lansing.

SCOTUS upholds Michigan's race admissions ban

Apr 23, 2014
Flickr - SP8254

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette spoke yesterday at a press conference about the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that upheld Michigan’s constitutional amendment which prohibits affirmative action at the State’s public universities. In the 6-2, ruling, the judges offered five separate opinions showcasing drastically different views.

Courtesy of www.mackinac.org

Fewer Americans enjoy the benefits of a pension in retirement. The recession wiped out so much invested wealth, enough of it earmarked for public workers’ pensions, that states fell much further behind in funding them. A period of transition continues, with state and local governments switching more workers to 401k style retirement plans.

Wikimedia Commons

This month, the U-S House will begin debating, amending and re-writing President Obama’s proposed 2015 defense budget. Over the next five years, the administration proposes spending $115-billion above the cap Congress enacted as part of the budget sequestration process. The plan could set up a showdown between Congress and the White House, and that could affect funding for the Michigan National Guard.

Courtesy tr.ingham.org

Tomorrow is the filing deadline for all potential political candidates to run in the August 5th primary election. Last month, 8th District Republican Congressman Mike Rogers  shocked many of his constituents with news that he will not seek re-election.

Flickr - Todd Ehlers

  

A host of challenges associated with Michigan’s prison system make corrections one of the state’s biggest and most persistent issues. No discussion of Michigan corrections lasts long without the topic of its dollar cost coming up.

Credit Flickr - Maia C


Developments toward a ‘grand bargain’ to speed the end of Detroit’s landmark  bankruptcy have been unfolding quickly. Late on Tuesday night, negotiators from the city and two of its retiree pension funds reached tentative deals involving cuts and cost-of-living revisions.  Those agreements were two more hurdles cleared toward an $816-million arrangement that could lessen pension cuts, allow reinvestment in city services, and prevent the sale of city-owned art at the Detroit Institute of Arts. However, more agreements need to be hammered out with other creditors.

Credit Flickr - Bart


The Michigan Veterans Trust Fund helps combat-era veterans weather economic emergencies. The fund operates within the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency. The director of the Agency, Jeff Barnes, recently appointed U.S. Marine veteran Lindell Holm to run the trust fund.

Flickr - Ken Teegardin

There are 59 different taxes yielding nearly $40 billion in public revenue. That is a snapshot of current Michigan tax levies contained in a comprehensive new report. The money is used to pay for police and fire protection, Medicaid coverage, state employee salaries, schools, roads and lots more.

Flickr - marsmet462

The U.S. Supreme Court last week came out with another controversial ruling on our nation’s campaign finance laws.

In the case McCutcheon versus the FEC, the Supreme Court struck down the limits on the overall amount of money an individual can give to all federal candidates and committees in a two-year election cycle.

Flickr - _chrisUK

Last week, Michigan House Republicans proposed a new funding plan that would allocate nearly a half billion dollars each year through 2018 to repair the state’s crumbling roads and bridges. Fixing Michigan roads is a perennial problem each spring, and the situation is particularly dire after such a severe winter. Certainly, everyone wants their own neighborhood streets and highways repaired first. But transportation planners and engineers must rely on hard data to make decisions about which roads get fixed, and when.

Courtesy of Lisa Brown

Michigan's Democratic candidate for Governor, Mark Schauer, selected his running mate this week. To no one's surprise, Schauer selected Oakland County Clerk Lisa Brown.

Before her election as Clerk, the West Bloomfield resident represented central Oakland County for two terms in the Michigan House of Representatives. Before that, she worked both as an attorney and realtor.

https://www.rochesterhills.org/

In fewer than 24-hours, the race for Michigan’s 8th Congressional District picked up two new candidates. Both are Oakland County Republicans. 

Flickr - Randen Pederson


The Pure Michigan brand has brought attention to the state’s lakes, breweries and museums. Some are hoping that the Pure Michigan designation may bring the same attention to the state’s trail systems. Recently, a five bill package was introduced to lawmakers that would promote a “Pure Michigan Trail Network.” The bill would solidify trail standards and connect trail ways with communities.

Courtesy of Fortune Live Media Flickr

General Motors has recalled 2.6-million vehicles for ignition switch failures, failures that are linked to at least 13 deaths. Considering the recent $1.2 billion dollar penalty levied against Toyota for that company’s problems related to sudden accelerations, dealing with the ignition switch problem could become very costly to the automaker.

Flickr - CSIS | Center for Strategic & International Studies

At the end of every calendar month, Current State hosts its regular reporter roundtable to review the biggest stories of that month. Current State looked back at the drop out of a shoe-in, the unresolved gay marriage issue, the bumps facing road funding and the contest for Attorney General in Michigan.

Flickr - Terry Ozon

One of the issues being considered at the state capitol in recent weeks is the regulation of e-cigarettes. E-cigarettes are electronic devices that heat up a liquified nicotine solution. That produces a vapor rather than the smoke from tobacco cigarettes. Users call this “vaping” as opposed to smoking.

Flickr - CSIS | Center for Strategic & International Studies

Mike Rogers, U.S. representative of our 8th district in East Lansing, says he will not seek reelection after his term ends this year. He made the announcement official on a Detroit radio station, and said that he has been invited regularly to talk about national security issues on T.V. and radio.

stormthehill.org


All this week, veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have been in Washington D.C. to lobby for legislation aimed at reducing the numbers of veteran suicides.

Flickr - matthileo


After close to 10 years in office, Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero enjoyed a first last night:  The chance to submit a city budget plan with a surplus. Despite being slightly in the black for fiscal year 2015, Bernero describes his $18 million spending plan as conservative and cautious.

Gay marriage in Michigan in legal limbo

Mar 24, 2014
Flickr - Kelly Kline

The legal status of same-sex marriage here in Michigan was taken for quite the ride over the weekend. Late Friday afternoon, Federal District Judge Bernard Friedman declared Michigan’s 2004 ban on gay marriage unconstitutional. By Saturday afternoon, the clerks in four Michigan counties – Washtenaw, Muskegon, Oakland and Ingham – issued hundreds of marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette’s request to put the ruling on hold was granted by the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati. That temporary hold lasts until Wednesday.

Flickr - Adam Cohn

The bill to expand the Education Achievement Authority narrowly passed, 56-54, in the House. It wasn’t looking good, but they made some changes that got enough votes.

Flickr - Matthew Yaktine

General Motors officials continue efforts to navigate the fallout from its delayed recall of 1.6-million vehicles with faulty ignition switches. The flaw, which has been linked to 31 crashes and 12 deaths, has been traced to vehicles made as long ago as 2001.

Flickr - Phillip Taylor PT

It’s Wednesday and time for our Neighbors in Action segment, where we feature people and organizations working to make our community a better place. Today we feature two services from the Capital Area United Way: the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program and their  2-1-1 support line.

Flickr - warriorwoman531

The controversy over wolf hunting continues in Michigan with new developments this week.

Last November and December, hunters killed 23 wolves in three parts of Michigan's Upper Peninsula. That was a little more than half the number allowed under the state's new wolf hunting rules. The wolf debate didn't end with the hunt, though.

Flickr - neoporcupine


Drunk driving has been a public safety problem for years across the United States. A similar and growing threat is that of drugged driving. Some new law enforcement programs are targeting people who get behind the wheel under the influence of various drugs, sometimes in combination with alcohol.

    

On February 21, a campus-wide email was sent out by Paulette Granberry Russell, MSU’s Title IX Coordinator and director of its Office for Inclusion and Intercultural Initiatives. In it, she stated that the university was “collaborating” with the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights. It was later revealed by local news outlets that MSU was in fact under a federal investigation for its policies and response to sexual assault claims.

Flickr - slightly everything


A deal to renew federal benefits for the country’s long-term unemployed continues to elude the U.S. Congress. However, supporters of the effort, which include Democrats and a growing number of Republicans, are hopeful of a breakthrough in the Senate this week. There, Senators are looking at two proposals, one from each party.

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