We've Got Issues

We've Got Issues follows the critical issues facing northern Michigan by tracking how policy and politics affect people. Join us Monday mornings at 6:44 and 8:44 a.m.

What issues do you care about? Tell us about what matters to you. Leave IPR a message at                   231-276-4441. Email us at gotissues@interlochen.org.

Chuck Grimmett

Michigan State University’s interim President John Engler criticized state lawmakers last week for a package of bills that would give sexual assault victims more time to file lawsuits, among other changes. 

Morgan Springer

A new education report says third-graders are getting worse at reading in Michigan, even though the state has spent tens of millions trying to reverse the trend in the last few years. 


State Rep. Curt VanderWall (R-Ludington) made a tough choice last month. He decided not to run for re-election in the Michigan House of Representatives. Instead, he’s running for the state Senate. 

It’s a decision that has disrupted two competitive political races in northern Michigan. 


Aaron Selbig

State Rep. Curt VanderWall has announced he won’t run for re-election and will instead run for the state Senate. That means the race for the 101st District seat is wide open. 

Cheyna Roth

A group of state lawmakers is proposing to end public elections for university boards in Michigan and to give that power entirely to the governor. 

The people who govern Michigan State University, the University of Michigan and Wayne State University are elected by the public. The state’s 12 other public universities have board members that are appointed by the governor. 



It’s becoming easier and easier to rent out your home through websites like Airbnb and VRBO. But short-term vacation rentals are illegal in many areas Up North, including in much of Traverse City. 

Aaron Selbig

Members of Congress usually raise more money than the people running against them. But in northern Michigan, Rep. Jack Bergman (R-Watersmeet) was outraised by a Democrat in the final quarter of 2017. 

Morgan Springer

Gov. Rick Snyder is calling for more money to be spent on public schools in Michigan. The governor spoke about the issue during his final State of the State address last week. 


Suzannah Tobin

Last fall, northern Michigan’s congressman announced he was joining the Climate Solutions Caucus in the U.S. House of Representatives. It’s a group of more than 60 Democrats and Republicans who want to address the challenges of climate change.

Morgan Springer

For decades, residents living near the Wexford County Landfill have been dealing with contaminated drinking water. The landfill was built in the 1970s and was mismanaged at times. Now, a new proposal at the site is creating new concern for residents.

A former state Supreme Court Chief Justice has ended his campaign for one of Michigan's seats in the U.S. Senate. Republican Bob Young announced last week that he was withdrawing his name from consideration. 

His departure means three Republicans remain in the race. They’re hoping to unseat Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow, who is running for a fourth term. 

Listen to an interview below with the Michigan Public Radio Network's Rick Pluta, who discusses how this news affects the race. 

This summer a man hanged himself to death in the Grand Traverse County jail. Officers found Alan Halloway dead in his cell in July. It took three hours for corrections officers to discover his body. Officers were supposed to check Halloway's cell every hour, but did not do so, according to a report by the Michigan Sheriffs Association.


The oil pipeline under the Straits of Mackinac will be shut down during bad storms. That’s just one of the agreements reached in a deal announced last week by the state of Michigan and the Canadian oil transport company Enbridge.


Kingsley is the latest northern Michigan community to pass new medical marijuana rules.

Morgan Springer

Many school districts Up North – and across the state – are suffering from chronic budget problems. It comes at a time when there’s also increasing pressure from parents and lawmakers for students to do better in school.

Harrietta Hills Trout Farm

Part of a lawsuit is going forward against a company running a fish farm on the Au Sable River.

Opponents of the fish farm allege it’s polluting the trout stream. The company called Harrietta Hills Trout Farm denies it. Now a judge says the operation violates the law, but for a reason that has nothing to do with pollution.

Joe Ross

Candidates for governor are on the campaign trail in Michigan. They’re raising money, giving speeches and trying to get support before the primary election next August.

Republican Gov. Rick Snyder is term-limited, so it’s an open seat race for the first time since 2010. 

A ballot initiative aims to change the way Michigan draws the boundaries of legislative districts following the census. 

Redistricting can have a big impact on the state’s politics by affecting the demographics of districts. Right now, state lawmakers are in charge of drawing the maps for state and congressional districts.

Hundreds of juveniles in Michigan have been sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Now they have a chance at freedom.

IPR News Radio begins a series called ‘Irredeemable’ Wednesday morning that tells some of the stories of these people. 

Reporter Morgan Springer is leading the project. She answered questions about ‘Irredeemable’ and about these prisoners.


Swiss company Nestle has been criticized for its plan to take more water out of northern Michigan. Opponents say the company wants to take too much water from the area – and an increase in pumping will degrade streams and wetlands. But the company denies the allegations.

Peter Payette

The State of Michigan wants the federal government to postpone approval for development plans in Acme Township.

The dispute centers on 157 acres of land next to the Meijer store.


Lake Erie is a route for huge freighters carrying cargo to cities like Cleveland and Buffalo. Now a company wants to use the lake to transport another product: electricity.

It plans to run an underwater electrical cable from Canada to the U.S. That would be the first one to cross any of the Great Lakes.

Morgan Springer

It’s back to school Tuesday for most students in public schools in Michigan. 

The law requires that class begin after Labor Day, although some districts do have waivers from the state to start earlier. In fact, an increasing number of schools are requesting them. 

Conservation Resource Alliance

The Boardman River Dam is gone. The river is flowing freely through an area that used to be a pond. It’s the second of three dams to be removed in a multiyear, multimillion-dollar project to return the waterway to a more natural state.

Steven Depolo/Flickr - https://www.flickr.com/photos/stevendepolo/5233546650

Water has been a dominant topic in Michigan politics in recent years, from the Flint water crisis to the controversy over the oil pipeline under the Straits of Mackinac.

There’s another water debate going on in northern Michigan. The Swiss company Nestle wants to boost the amount of water it pumps from a well in Osceola County, south of Cadillac. The water would be bottled under the company’s brand Ice Mountain. 

Local leaders and Native American groups are fiercely opposed to the increase, and the effort has been tied up at the state and local level.