Author Archives: Rick Pluta

Lawmakers eye electric vehicles for road money

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Republican state lawmakers are looking to drivers of electric and hybrid vehicles as a potential source of more road funds. But environmental groups say now is not the time to make alternative fuel cars more expensive.

Electric and hybrid vehicles are already more expensive than fossil-fuel-powered cars and trucks, which also means higher sales taxes and registration fees. Continue reading

House committee begins road funding hearings

A special state House committee has begun deliberations on how to find more than $1 billion for roads and transportation. That’s after voters overwhelmingly said “no” to the Legislature’s last plan on the May ballot.

House Republican leaders say they want a solution in hand in less than a month. They say the plan is to search for savings and efficiencies before tackling the tougher questions about raising revenue. Continue reading

Snyder opposes e-cigarette rules that don’t classify them as tobacco

blue-ego-ce4-3The state Senate could vote tomorrow (Tue.) on legislation that would ban the sale of electronic cigarettes to minors. But Governor Rick Snyder (R) says he’s against the bills and hopes lawmakers will adopt a different course.
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Vermont wants to send inmates to Baldwin private prison

prison 11-26-13Vermont intends to move 319 high-security inmates to a privately run prison in Michigan. That would allow the GEO Group to re-open the facility in Baldwin that’s been closed since 2005, when Michigan scrapped its agreement with the company.
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Senate panel votes to scrap prevailing wage

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A state Senate committee has adopted a Republican proposal to scrap prevailing union wage requirements on publicly funded construction projects. Michigan Public Radio’s Rick Pluta tells us the bills now go to the Senate floor. Continue reading

Senator Smith arraigned on three felony charges

Michigan Senate voting board lists Senator Virgil Smith (D-Detroit) as absent. Credit: Jake Neher/Michigan Public Radio Network

Michigan Senate voting board lists Senator Virgil Smith (D-Detroit) as absent. Credit: Jake Neher/Michigan Public Radio Network

State Senator Virgil Smith (D-Detroit) has been charged with multiple gun and assault felonies. He’s accused of hitting his ex-wife and shooting 10 bullets into her car.
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Democrats hint at income tax ballot drive in 2016

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Some Democrats are hinting that a ballot campaign could be in the works to bring the graduated income tax to Michigan. State Representative Jim Townsend says he’d like to see a petition drive to put a question on the 2016 ballot to amend the state constitution. Continue reading

Snyder, lawmakers sort through Proposal 1 wreckage

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Voters said no Tuesday to Proposal One by a margin of almost four-to-one. But, as unhappy as people were with the ballot question, they’re still unhappy with the state of Michigan’s roads. So Governor Rick Snyder and lawmakers say they’ll go back to work on finding money for roads – and they will heed the lessons of Proposal One. Continue reading

Voters reject Snyder road funding ballot proposal

voters-turn-out-for-michigan-primary-elections-c238bfa5496bdcccMichigan voters have soundly rejected Proposal One — Governor Rick Snyder’s two (b) billion dollar plan to fund road repairs without siphoning money from schools and local governments.

The loss sends the governor and the Legislature back to the bargaining table because almost everyone still agrees the roads are bad.
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Voters to decide fate of Proposal One and road funding

rick-snyder-mugjpg-446cf7790e6a2ea6Since January, Governor Rick Snyder has been traveling the state with his rock collection – more accurately, hunks of concrete, asphalt, and brick from crumbling roads and bridges.

“This is a piece of Michigan road,” he says he holds up a chunk of concrete twice as big as his fist. “This is the kind of thing that can fall on your vehicle or go through your windshield. That’s scary folks.”
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Court: Utility has to justify smart meter fee

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The Michigan Court of Appeals says a state utility-regulating board should call in a power company to justify a fee it charges customers who refuse to use high-tech smart meters. Continue reading

Detroit teacher protest closes 18 schools

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Eighteen schools in Detroit were closed Thursday as teachers and other staff skipped classes to protest at the state Capitol. Their target was Governor Rick Snyder’s latest turnaround plan for the Detroit Public Schools. Continue reading

SCOTUS to hear challenge to Michigan same-sex marriage ban

Marriage0427-Foto-1Crowds gathered as the US Supreme Court prepared to hear arguments on whether same-sex marriage bans like Michigan’s violate the Constitution.

A line of people camped out for several days hoping to get into the historic arguments before the Supreme Court.
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MI Supreme Court report guides judges on indigent defendants

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A report ordered by the state Supreme Court gives judges guidance on some alternatives to incarcerating defendants who can’t afford to pay fines or fees. Jailing someone who can’t afford to pay has been deemed unconstitutional. Continue reading

Insurance panel OKs auto no-fault overhaul with rate rollback

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A state House committee has approved some big changes to Michigan’s auto no-fault insurance law. It would set new limits on what hospitals could charge insurance companies. It would also guarantee a two-year rate rollback of at least 100 dollars per vehicle. Continue reading