Author Archives: Rick Pluta

MI Supreme Court: limits on immunity of medical marijuana cards

potHaving a Michigan medical marijuana card does not provide sweeping immunity from drug charges, according to a ruling from the state Supreme Court. But, at the same time, the unanimous opinion says prosecutors can’t argue a single misstep proves a cardholding-caretaker under the law is a drug dealer.
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Ballot campaign aims to boost business tax for roads

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A union-led petition drive is trying to increase the state’s Corporate Income Tax rate from 6 percent to 11 percent. The revenue would be used to fix roads.

Increasing the rate by 5 percentage points would generate about $900 million a year toward Governor Rick Snyder’s goal of $1.2 billion in new revenue for road repairs. It would also be a major change to the 2011 business tax overhaul engineered by Snyder and Republicans in the Legislature. Continue reading

Snyder affirms Wayne County fiscal emergency

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Governor Rick Snyder has made a decision that pushes Michigan’s most-populated county closer to state oversight.

Governor Snyder ratified the findings of a state board that found Wayne County faces a financial crisis that could reach 171 million dollars by the end of the decade if it goes unchecked. Continue reading

New Dem party chair would like to see redistricting on ballot

elephant-donkey-rep-demo-TXT-VOTE_PRVWThe new chair of the Michigan Democratic Party says he’d like to see a proposal to overhaul the redistricting process on the ballot next year.

Democrats have called for an independent commission to take the Legislature out of drawing district lines.

DillonDemocratic Chair Brandon Dillon says Democrats would like to see a process that’s less controlled by Republicans. But he says don’t look to his party to take the lead.

“I do think this is an issue that if it’s going to be on the ballot, it’s going to have to be driven by independent, good-government people who just understand across the political spectrum that the system doesn’t work well.”

Dillon was on the Michigan Public Television show “Off the Record.”

Dillon says he’d also like to see a question on the ballot next year to add LGBT protections to Michigan’s civil rights law.

Dillon is also a state representative from Grand Rapids, but has tendered his resignation.

Proposed new clean air rules would focus on fewer chemicals

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The state Department of Environmental Quality has proposed new clean air rules. The DEQ said they will allow regulators to focus more attention on the most toxic substances.

The environmental agency currently has a list of more than 12-hundred substances that trigger an automatic review when they’re mentioned as part of an application for a smokestack permit. The new, shorter list would have closer to 750. Karen Tommasulo is with the DEQ. Continue reading

Snyder still confident of road deal in 2015

Governor Rick Snyder press event at M-10 and LTU to Fix the Roads.

Governor Rick Snyder says he hasn’t given up on getting a deal for more than a $1 billion dollars in new road revenue through the Legislature. Lawmakers adjourned this week without voting on a roads package.

But, at an event in Detroit, the governor said he’s still confident a deal can come together in 2015. Continue reading

Democrats propose redistricting overhaul

Legislative district map

Legislative district map

Democrats in the Legislature are calling for changes to how legislative districts are drawn.

The effort is built off a recent US Supreme Court decision. The decision says voters can take the power to draw district lines away from the Legislature and hand it to an independent commission. Continue reading

Representatives leave Lansing for the week with no road funding compromise

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There’s no road funding deal to speak of as state representatives leave Lansing for the week. That means a vote on any plan will have to wait until next week – and possibly until the fall.

It appears Republicans in the state House remain divided on whether a gas tax increase should be part of any plan to boost road funding. Continue reading

Michigan ends Aramark prison food services deal

jail2 11-08-13Michigan and its controversial prison food services supplier, Aramark, are parting ways.

Aramark was only halfway through the three-year, 145 million dollar agreement. But it was plagued with problems such as maggots in kitchen areas, and inappropriate contact between Aramark workers and inmates. Continue reading

Snyder agrees to repeal film incentives

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Governor Rick Snyder has signed a new law that phases out the state’s film and video production incentives.

“We’re going to follow through with the people who had credits, so we’re going to finish up that process, and we’ll just continue to move forward.” Continue reading

Report: Most kids on Medicaid don’t get dental care

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A new report commissioned by advocacy groups says many low-income kids and seniors are going without dental care.

The report by the PEW Charitable Trust said there are many parts of Michigan facing a shortage of dentists. Also, many people don’t use dental services when they’re available. Continue reading

Lesbian couple alleges Kroger, union discriminated against them

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A lesbian couple is filing a federal employment discrimination complaint against a union and one of the state’s largest grocery store chains. Stephanie Citron works in the deli at a Kroger in Birmingham. She and her same-sex partner were married last year while it was briefly legal in Michigan. But her spouse was denied when they tried to add her to Citron’s benefits package.

Citron married her same-sex partner during the brief window last year when it was legal in Michigan. She says that’s when she learned that her health benefits fund only covers the spouses of opposite sex married couples. Continue reading

Lawmakers: Health departments should inspect prison kitchens

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Republican and Democratic lawmakers at the state Capitol say it’s time for prison kitchens to be inspected by local health agencies. That’s after the most recent instance of maggots found in a corrections food service facility.

Prison kitchens are currently exempt from local health inspections. Continue reading