Category Archives: State Government

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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St. Louis residents continue to deal with Velsicol health impacts

Bench outside former Velsicol plant site

Bench outside former Velsicol plant site

The former Velsicol plant site is surrounded by several community blocks where people still live.

Originally the EPA thought the contamination from the plant could be contained within the borders of the site. However, years after the initial cleanup, EPA officials determined this wasn’t the case. Continue reading

St. Louis still recovering from Velsicol contamination

T.S Nurnberger excavation

T.S Nurnberger excavation

Dust and dirt settled around me in a mound the size of a mobile home when T.S Nurnberger Middle School’s practice football field was excavated.

The field is contaminated with chemicals that came from the Pine River. Continue reading

New statewide program to give more access to benefits for veterans

A new regional coordinator program will ensure that some 660,000 Michigan veterans and their dependents have easier access to services.03_01_01_01_Little_Logo

The Regional Coordinator Program was created by the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency (MVAA) and the Michigan Association of Counties (MAC), to better service Michigan veterans.

Through the program, veterans have access to a system of coordinated services right in their own communities.
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MI Supreme Court upholds murder conviction despite jury taking wrong oath

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The state Supreme Court will allow a murder conviction to stand despite the fact that the jury took the wrong oath before trial.

The court clerk mistakenly swore in the jury using the oath given to prospective jurors that they answer questions about their juror qualifications truthfully. Continue reading

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 proposals seek to increase access to birth control in Michigan

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The state would have to take measures meant to increase access to birth control under new proposals in the state Legislature.

Democrats unveiled the forthcoming bills on Wednesday. They would require businesses to inform workers and job applicants of reproductive health care coverage and require the state to distribute information about emergency contraception. Continue reading

Without a deal this week, road funding talks may have to wait until the fall

The state House is scheduled to meet one day this week to try and reach a compromise on road funding.

If a deal doesn’t get done on Tuesday, talks may have to wait until the fall. The House is scheduled to begin a month-long break on Wednesday.

State officials say the longer the talks drag on, the more expensive it gets to fix the state’s crumbling roads.

Portrait, Director Kirk Steudle

Portrait, Director Kirk Steudle

“The longer we wait, the more it’s going to cost us,” said Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) Director Kirk Steudle.

“We could pay now or pay more later. And, frankly, we’re getting to the point where it’s about to be pay more later.”

For almost four years, Steudle and Gov. Rick Snyder have said lawmakers must boost road funding by at least $1.2 billion a year to keep the roads from getting worse. Groups representing construction workers say the number is closer to $2 billion.

Steudle points out lawmakers have pumped hundreds of millions of dollars in one-time money into the roads this year.

“But on a larger scale, the whole system is still continuing to decline,” he said.

State House Republicans appear to be divided on raising taxes to boost road funding. The state Senate approved a plan that would raise the state’s gas tax by 15 cents a gallon over three years. That proposal would eventually boost road funding by about $1.5 billion a year.

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.

Democratic state rep to introduce pot legalization bill similar to ballot initiative

Jeff Irwin

Jeff Irwin

A Democrat in the state House plans to introduce a bill that would decriminalize and regulate marijuana in Michigan.

State Rep. Jeff Irwin (D-Ann Arbor) says public support for legalization has reached critical mass. 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

Pipeline task force releases recommendations

The Michigan Petroleum Pipeline Task Force has released its recommendations for Line 5 underneath the Straits of Mackinac.

No heavy tar-sands oil will be allowed pass under the Great Lakes per the task force’s first round of recommendations.
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State House leaders try to cobble together Republican votes for road funding plan

bad-yellow-line-roadjpg-55a2be0a87eeea1d_largeGOP leaders in the state House are working to assemble enough Republican votes to pass a road funding plan that’s likely to raise taxes.

House Republicans met on Tuesday to review a Senate-approved plan that raises the state’s gas tax by 15 cents over three years. Continue reading

State House returns from summer break to take up road funding debate

Capital_Building_LansingThe state House briefly returns from its summer break this week to take up the debate over road funding. It will consider a state Senate plan that differs widely from the plan the House approved last month.

A key difference is that the Senate plan raises the gas tax by 15 cents over three years. The House plan relies mostly on existing revenues. Continue reading