Around Michigan & State Government

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

Branislav Ondrasik

Michigan State University has reached a half-billion dollar settlement with victims of Larry Nassar. Nassar is the former MSU sports medicine doctor who sexually assaulted hundreds of women over decades – and called it treatment.  

 


Grand Traverse County

Leaders in Grand Traverse County will wait until a new administrator is hired before they decide how to spend a budget surplus.

The county’s finance director says there’s about an extra $8 million in the budget. The money comes from increased property tax revenue and unforeseen savings in employee health care and the removal of the Boardman River dam.

Lawmakers says there’s no doubt that Michigan State University failed to protect its students from Larry Nassar. He’s the former MSU sports doctor who sexually assaulted patients for years under the guise of treatment.

A state House inquiry into the school released its findings Thursday.

Lawmakers say Nassar was able to exploit multiple loopholes in MSU’s policies. The House inquiry also found that the school botched an internal investigation into Nassar arising from a complaint about his “treatment” in 2014.

The Michigan Supreme Court will decide whether police officers illegally searched the backpack of a passenger in a stopped vehicle. The passenger says officers should have first asked his permission.

Larry Mead was riding in a vehicle stopped for an expired plate. The driver gave permission for police to search the vehicle, where Mead left his backpack. The officers found methamphetamine in the backpack.

Inmates sent to prison as children can sue the state over sexual abuse and other alleged misconduct, under a ruling from the Michigan Court of Appeals.

The lawsuit claims minors aged 13 to 17 who were sent to prison were beaten and sexually abused by adult inmates and prison staff. The state tried to get the lawsuit dismissed under a 1999 amendment to Michigan’s civil rights act that barred legal actions filed by inmates under that law.

The court struck that down.

More local governments are getting money to create better systems to make sure every criminal defendant has a properly trained lawyer through every step of the legal process.

Local courts resubmitted their proposals after the Michigan Indigent Defense Commission rejected most of the funding requests back in January.  This time, most of the re-worked plans won board approval.

Judge Thomas Boyd is a commission member. He said the need to ensure adequate representation is so great, the board must make sure none of the money is wasted.

The state House has approved a bill to require vehicles to keep a distance of at least three feet when passing bicyclists.

 

The legislation is largely a response to a fatal accident two years ago near Kalamazoo.

 

The state Legislature began discussions Wednesday on the newest plan to make people work for Medicaid.

 

The bill would require able-bodied adults to perform an average of 30-hours of work, job training, or education every week. Pregnant adults, people with medical disabilities, and others would not be included.

 

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. 

The Legislature has sent a bill to Governor Rick Snyder that forbids local governments from adopting ordinances dealing with questions employers may ask in job interviews. It’s an effort to preempt local rules that bar asking about salary histories and criminal backgrounds.

There are no such local regulations in Michigan, but they have been adopted in other states.

Morgan Springer

The state House has adopted bills that would allow prisoners in advanced stages of illness including cancer and dementia to be paroled for medical reasons.

 

The House split on the bills with Republicans and Democrats voting on both sides of the issue.

WTCM

A longtime radio personality is running for the state House in northern Michigan. WTCM-FM morning host Jack O’Malley announced Tuesday he’s running as a Republican for the 101st District.

The seat, which spans from Ludington to Northport, is open this fall. Current Rep. Curt VanderWall (R-Ludington) announced last month he’s running for the state Senate instead of re-election.

Abdul El-Sayed for Michigan

In the race for Michigan’s next governor, a Democrat crossed a significant hurdle today. Abdul El-Sayed was the first Democrat to file his signatures to get on the ballot.

But there have been questions about whether El-Sayed is even eligible to run. Bridge Magazine first reported that his voting history could derail his campaign. 

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. 

Kate Teegardin, Flickr

Over the last three years, many of the Grand Traverse County’s top officials have resigned or been fired, and the county is now looking for its fourth administrator since 2015.

Much of the turmoil stems from the county’s pension debt – the amount of money the county has promised to retired employees. Right now, Grand Traverse County doesn’t have enough money to cover the pension debt.


High schoolers, lawmakers, and concerned citizens held a rally at the state Capitol Thursday for changes to the state’s gun laws.

The rally comes the week after the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. 17 students and staff members were killed.

Participants called for a ban on assault rifles, stricter background checks before buying a gun, and more money for mental health services. But most of all, the high school students at the rally want to feel safe in their schools.

Lawmakers in Lansing want to put 175 million dollars toward the state’s roads. The state House passed the spending bill Wednesday.

Governor Rick Snyder initially proposed a similar spending bump for the next budget cycle. But lawmakers say the potholes and crumbling roads need to be addressed as soon as possible. They want the money available in time for construction season.

A high school freshman came to the state Capitol Tuesday to advocate on behalf of sexual assault legislation.

Gianna Duva goes to Brighton High School. She was sexually assaulted by a fellow student off school grounds. Duva and her mother unsuccessfully petitioned the school board when they found out her assailant would be allowed to return to school with her after he finished his sentence. So they went to the Legislature.

Grand Traverse County

To an outsider, Grand Traverse County is a picture of success. New homes and businesses are popping up all over Michigan’s third-fastest growing county, and property values are on the rise.

But insiders describe a county government in chaos.


One of northern Michigan’s most competitive state House districts will have an open seat this fall.  

Rep. Curt VanderWall (R-Ludington) has announced he will not seek re-election in the 101st District, which spans from Northport to Ludington. 

VanderWall is instead running for the open 35th District state Senate seat. Twelve counties make up that large Senate district, including Leelanau, Wexford, Crawford and Ogemaw Counties.  

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. 

 


Dan O'Neil announced his candidacy for Michigan's 104th District on February 15, 2018.
David Cassleman

A trial attorney from Traverse City is running as a Democrat for Grand Traverse County’s seat in the state House. Dan O’Neil made the announcement at Horizon Books in Traverse City on Thursday morning.

Michigan State University’s Faculty Senate will hold a no confidence vote in the school’s Board of Trustees Tuesday. The vote is, in part, the result of the Board’s appointment of former governor John Engler.

“Although it’s mostly a symbolic vote, I think it very accurately represents our community at this point,” said MSU senior Alondra Alvizo.

Chuck Grimmett

Michigan State University’s board of trustees will pick former Michigan Gov. John Engler to be MSU’s interim president on Wednesday. 

The Michigan Public Radio Network confirmed the choice today. 

 


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