Around Michigan & State Government

Coverage from across Michigan and  the state Capitol with the Michigan Public Radio Network and Interlochen Public Radio.

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. 

Steve Carmody, Michigan Radio

A bill in the state Legislature would change how schools teach sex education. The new curriculum would focus on “changing the culture” around sexual assault.
 
“Under the current system, my daughter will be taught where not to walk, what not to wear, where not to leave her drink, while my sons will never be taught not to be perpetrators,” said bill sponsor, state Senator Curtis Hertel (D-East Lansing).
 

The Michigan Supreme Court has awarded more than three million dollars in grants to circuit courts across the state.

It’s to help pay for the Swift and Sure Sanctions Probation Program, an intense probation supervision program in the state. The program is for high-risk, felony offenders who have a history of violating the rules of their probation. It offers specialized and structured help so they can finish their probation successfully – and stay out of trouble.

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.

Michigan may start tracking its sexual assault evidence kits. An amendment to the state’s budget would pay for the required software and training.

The kits contain swabs and other evidence gathered from a victim of sexual assault. Software would track the kit as it moves from hospital to police department to laboratory. It also sends out alerts if a kit has been in one location too long.

The state legislature held a marathon committee hearing on a bill to overhaul Michigan’s auto insurance law Tuesday. The committee heard ideas for potential changes to the bill. 

One idea is to prevent insurance companies from using credit scores to influence rates.

Michigan’s auto no-fault insurance will be a hot topic this week.

Michigan’s auto insurance rates are among the highest in the country. Right now there are competing plans among legislators aimed at attacking this problem. One focuses on getting rid of the requirement for unlimited medical benefits for catastrophic injuries from car crashes. Instead, it would allow drivers to cap those benefits at specific amounts or keep the unlimited benefit. That bill, HB 5013, has a committee hearing Tuesday.

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

Another Democrat entered the ring for Michigan’s Attorney General Thursday.

Pat Miles is a former US Attorney for Michigan’s Western District. He was appointed to the US Attorney post by President Barack Obama. He voluntarily resigned when President Donald Trump took office.

Trump’s election was a driving force behind Miles’s decision to run, he said.

“We need somebody who will be an independent watchdog and who doesn’t answer to a president, a governor, or to corporate special interests, but only answers to the people,” Miles said.

Lawmakers in Lansing say they want a seamless transition as marijuana dispensaries start to get licensed.

Democrats in the House and Senate introduced legislation today (Wed). A few Republicans have voiced support of the bills. The legislation would let dispensaries keep their doors open while they wait for a license.

Michigan State Police

Governor Rick Snyder says there is no reason to fire State Police Colonel Kriste Etue over a controversial Facebook post. Etue has apologized for sharing a meme on her page that called NFL players who take a knee during the national anthem unpatriotic and “degenerates.”

Snyder says the post was “inappropriate,” but he considers the matter settled.

The number of things state employee unions can bargain for shrunk Wednesday. A state board voted to eliminate their collective bargaining powers on, among other things, seniority and provisions related to overtime and job transfers.

Ahead of the meeting, hundreds of union workers gathered to protest.

Steve Carmody

Republicans in Lansing worked at a breakneck speed Tuesday to pass legislation that would allow politicians in Michigan to solicit campaign contributions on behalf of political action committees.

 

The bills had their first House committee hearing Tuesday morning and were headed to the governor’s desk by the end of the day. They’d passed in the Senate late last week.

 

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. 

The Trump administration will lift a ban on the military giving some surplus equipment to police departments, and some members of Michigan law enforcement are welcoming the change.

According to the Michigan Association of Chiefs of Police, the equipment is mostly clothes and items they would buy anyway. Except now, they don’t have to use money from a budget that isn’t always generous.

Many states across the country cut funding for public higher education during the Great Recession. A new report shows the money hasn’t been replaced in most states – including in Michigan.

A new Center on Budget and Policy Priorities report looks at how states have slashed funding for public universities over the last decade. Michigan ranks in the middle. However, experts say that doesn’t paint the whole picture.

The city of Kalamazoo just picked up a $500 million windfall.

This week, Kalamazoo city commissioners approved a public-private partnership called the Kalamazoo Foundation for Excellence. It’s a partnership between the city and two local philanthropist-businessmen: William Parfet and William Johnston.

Kalamazoo Mayor Bobby Hopewell said he saw the public-private partnership as the best way forward for his city, which had been staring down financial problems.

People with clipboards are prowling streets across Michigan these days. They’re on the hunt for signatures for ballot initiatives. The campaigns are also collecting hundreds of thousands of dollars for their efforts. 

Kid Rock, the singer whose career has spanned rap, hard rock and country music, is fueling the speculation that he intends to announce a bid for the U.S. Senate next year to challenge incumbent Democrat Debbie Stabenow of Michigan. That is unless it's all a publicity stunt.

The use of Native American logos and images for school mascots is once again in the spotlight.

On Thursday, Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette weighed in on whether the State Superintendent can withhold money from schools that refuse to change their mascots. In the opinion, Schuette says there’s no rule or portion of the school code that lets the Superintendent keep money from schools as a penalty for their mascot. 

The new state medical marijuana licensing board met for the first time Monday.

The meeting was mainly for the board to hear public comment about how the new medical marijuana program should operate. It won’t start issuing licenses until next year.

John Kroneck came to the meeting to represent the Michigan Prevention Association. That group is concerned about potential consequences of expanding the medical marijuana system.

A doctor from Saginaw Township is the first candidate for governor to file petition signatures to appear on the ballot next year.

Jim Hines filed more than 22,000 signatures to appear on the August 2018 Republican primary ballot. It takes 15,000 signatures to qualify. The petitions must still be checked and certified by elections officials.        

Michigan Sheriffs' Association

Law enforcement officials in Michigan are talking about what President Trump’s immigration policies mean for them. 

The Trump administration has made a priority of deporting people living in the country illegally. Normally immigration enforcement is the job of the federal government – not local sheriffs. But sheriffs and local police departments do sometimes play a role in the process. 

Andrea Bitely

Two high-ranking state officials in Michigan face serious charges for allegedly keeping an outbreak of Legionnaire’s disease in Flint a secret.

Involuntary manslaughter is the most serious criminal charge filed yet related to the Flint water crisis.

A group marched on Governor Rick Snyder’s office Tuesday to call for faster work fixing Flint’s water system.        

About 50 demonstrators delivered more than 1,100 empty water bottles with messages from Flint residents curled inside.

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