Around Michigan & State Government

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

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.


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. 


Michigan House Republicans

Governor Rick Snyder delivers his eighth State of the State address Tuesday. The State of the State is a yearly event where the governor lays out his priorities for the upcoming year.

Grand Traverse County

The administrator for Grand Traverse County abruptly resigned Wednesday.

Vicki Uppal served as Grand Traverse County administrator for only four months. She took over for Tom Menzel in September, and quickly began shaking things up in the county leadership. 

Governor Rick Snyder’s administration is looking at making changes to state tax laws early in 2018. That’s after it discovered the new federal tax law could have an impact on Michigan resident’s wallets.

One consequence is the loss of some exemptions. That would raise what people owe in state taxes. Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley has been looking into the issue. He said the administration wants to change the state tax code so residents can still use all the state tax exemptions. Calley said they’re waiting for a bit more data before making any final decisions.

Stock photo

Starting this year, minors found in possession of alcohol will get a little more leniency under the law. The consequences defined by Michigan’s minor is possession or MIP law changed January 1st.



President Trump and Congressional Republicans are celebrating today after the House and Senate delivered an epic overhaul of our tax laws.


The GOP is hailing the package as a gift to the middle class, although the biggest tax cuts go to corporations and the wealthiest Americans.


Dave Camp is a former Michigan Congressman. He served in the House from 1991 to 2015.


Tax reform was one of his main priorities. In fact, he served four years as Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, the House's tax writing body. He is now a Senior Policy Advisor for PwC.


Nine cities and counties from across Michigan are taking drug companies to court. From the Upper Peninsula to Detroit, they are trying to recover many millions of dollars in costs related to the opioid crisis.

The lawsuit was filed in federal court Monday night. It claims manufacturers, distributors and pharmacy chains misled doctors and the public about the dangers of opioids. And the legal actions also say the drug companies failed to follow safeguards that would have reduced the number of people addicted to opioids.

Michigan Department of Natural Resources

Thousands of miles of forest roads will soon open to off road vehicles in northern Lower Michigan.

Governor Rick Snyder signed a law last year permitting ORVs on all Lower Peninsula forest roads, except those closed by the state. Around 6,300 miles of roads will open on January 1. 

A bill to make English the official language in Michigan has passed a House committee. HB 4053 would require all public government documents be written in English, although they could be printed in another language as well.

Northern Michigan Representatives Lee Chatfield (R-Levering) and Tristan Cole (R-Mancelona) are co-sponsors of the bill.