Rick Pluta

Managing Editor, Michigan Public Radio Network

 A state Senate committee will hold a hearing tomorrow (Tue.) on legislation that could limit the reach of a US Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage. State Senator Rick Jones chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, which will hear testimony on a proposed Michigan Religious Freedom Restoration Act. But Jones says no vote is expected on the legislation – in part because Governor Rick Snyder doesn’t support it.

A state Senate panel has OK’d bills that would allow faith-based private adoption agencies that take public funds to turn away same-sex couples.

The bills come as the US Supreme Court is about to hear arguments on whether Michigan’s ban on same-sex marriage violates the Constitution. A decision is expected this summer.

Faith-based agencies say they shouldn’t be forced to violate their religious beliefs if the court strikes down the marriage ban. And, they say, some faith-based services may simply close their doors.

A no-fault insurance overhaul continues to move quickly through the Legislature. The state House has opened hearings on two bills adopted last week by the state Senate.

State Representative Tom Leonard (R-DeWitt Township) chairs the House Insurance Committee.

“My top priorities are ensuring that we keep the best benefits in the country and also finding ways to lower rates for our consumers,” he said. “We need rate relief for our consumers. The latest numbers I’ve seen --    $4,000 per-premium in Detroit, $2,500 for the rest of the state, and they’re going up every year.”

openclipart.org

The campaign to ban the drilling process known as “fracking” plans to launch a petition drive next month. This will be the third time the anti-fracking campaign has tried to get lawmakers or voters to adopt a ban.

  Earlier efforts fell short, but LuAnn Kozma of the Committee to Ban Fracking in Michigan says the ongoing controversy about drilling has helped the cause.
 

“I think people are getting it,” she said. “When they hear about fracking, they don’t want it.”

Michigan families could lose their cash assistance if one or more of their children persistently miss school. That’s under a bill approved by the state House on Thursday.

The Michigan Department of Human Services (MDHS) already cuts off welfare payments due to child truancy. House Bill 4041 would put that policy into state law.

MPRN

  There were celebrations in four Michigan counties where a year ago same-sex couples crowded into courthouses to get married. That was right after a federal judge struck down Michigan’s same-sex marriage ban.

michiganmarriagechallenge.com

At the state Capitol in Lansing, Democrats have called for a new statewide vote on Michigan’s ban on same-sex marriage. It was approved by voters in 2004.

Democrats rolled out a package of legislation that would also repeal state laws that discriminate against same-sex couples. One would recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states. Another would specifically allow gay and lesbian couples to jointly file state tax returns. 

The state House is poised to vote Wednesday that would allow faith-based adoption agencies in Michigan to turn away couples based on a religious objection to their lifestyle

House Republicans rejected a number of amendments in preliminary debate on the legislation. They would have required agencies to put the best interests of children over religious concerns, and to state in advance who they would refuse to serve.  

Gov. Rick Snyder has taken direct control over the state office tasked with monitoring Michigan’s worst performing schools.

Legislation that would allow faith-based adoption agencies to refuse to work with LGBT couples or anyone else based on moral or religious grounds is headed to the floor of the state House.

The state House has adopted legislation that would exempt air-, spring-, and gas-powered guns from Michigan firearms laws.

The legislation is backed by the NRA. Supporters says Michigan’s rules are stricter and out of step with most other states and the federal government.

Business Leaders For Michigan

A survey of Michigan business owners shows optimism about the state and national economies. The forecast by the Business Leaders for Michigan says almost half of the state’s largest employers plan to boost hiring this year.

Governor Rick Snyder has signed a budget-cutting executive order, and presented a spending plan for the coming fiscal year. Schools, universities, and local governments were spared cuts as part the order to help clear away a deficit.


    

A state appeals court judge has ruled there was no violation of Michigan’s open meetings act when the state Capitol was closed while the Legislature debated and voted on a right-to-work law. Judge Deborah Servitto dismissed the lawsuit without allowing the case to go to trial.

Democratic lawmakers and union activists filed the challenge. They wanted the law thrown out because two years ago, Republican leaders and the State Police ordered the doors to the Capitol locked as the Legislature debated and voted on the controversial legislation.

More than 300 gay and lesbian couples in Michigan are legally married now that Governor Rick Snyder has decided not to contest a court order. It says the state has to recognize the marriages that took place last spring.

But, the state will continue to defend the same-sex marriage ban in a case before the US Supreme Court.

It was Snyder’s call whether the state would appeal after a federal judge ruled that more than 300 same-sex couples are legally married and told the state to treat them as married.

An economic study says the May ballot proposal to raise the state sales tax could also collectively cost Michigan taxpayers $100 million more in federal income taxes.

The ballot proposal would raise the state sales tax by a penny on the dollar.

A federal appeals court says a former assistant state attorney general owes millions of dollars for stalking and harassing a gay student leader at the University of Michigan.

        

The episode has already cost Andrew Shirvell his job as a lawyer for the state. Now, he also owes $3.5 million to former UM student body president Chris Armstrong.

Shirvell challenged the jury award. He said he was exercising his First Amendment right to protest against a public figure. He also said the judgment was excessive.

An economic study says the May ballot proposal to raise the state sales tax could also collectively cost Michigan taxpayers $100 million more in federal income taxes.

        

The ballot proposal would raise the state sales tax by a penny on the dollar.

A check by state health officials over the past year found an uptick in the number of retailers illegally selling tobacco to minors. The Department of Community Health Survey found 18 percent of retailers sold tobacco to minors. That’s a seven percentage point jump from two years ago.

Jennifer Smith of the Department of Community Health says the state plans to step up education and enforcement efforts.

Governor Rick Snyder says improving services for the mentally ill is a major civil rights issue. And he says it’s a high priority in his second term.

Michigan Public Radio Network

Governor Rick Snyder last night delivered his 5th State of the State Address on Tuesday evening. The Republican touched on a number of topics and even took a swipe at Washington. Still, he had to spend time discussing what was left undone last year that he wants accomplished in 2015. 


A federal judge says Michigan must recognize the marriages of 300 gay and lesbian couples that were performed last March. They were all married the day after a federal judge struck down the state’s ban on same-sex marriage, but before an appeals court put the order on hold.  Judge Mark Goldsmith says the marriages were legal and must be recognized by the state. His order takes effect in 21 days.

Rick Pluta / MPRN

Governor Rick Snyder has begun his second term as Michigan’s 48th governor. He took the oath of office in a ceremony on the steps of the state Capitol in the freezing cold.   Rick Pluta was there. 


Governor Rick Snyder has signed legislation that forbids athletes at public universities in Michigan from organizing a union. It was one of 17 bills signed today by the governor.

The university athlete bill is an effort to preempt what happened at Northwestern University in Illinois, where football players at the private college voted last spring to form a union. There was no known similar effort at a Michigan university.

State officials are reporting what they say is a small natural gas leak in a pipeline in the Upper Peninsula that’s owned by Enbridge Energy.

Brad Wurfel of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality says the leak near Manistique was discovered, reported, and fixed by Enbridge. He says there was a small amount of liquid natural gas
released, but it quickly evaporated. 

“The good news is there’s no lingering environmental damage to discuss with this incident,” he said. 

Pages