Rick Pluta

Managing Editor, Michigan Public Radio Network
Andrew Cluley

State Senate could triple road funding increase passed by House

The Michigan Senate could vote this week on bills that would increase state funding for roads by $1.3-1.4 billion a year. That's almost triple the amount recently approved by the state House.

Under the Senate plan, people would gradually pay more taxes at the pump over the next few years.

The proposal was brought to light the same day the Michigan Chamber of Commerce unveiled a poll suggesting most Michiganders are ready to pay more for better roads.

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Michigan's economy improves, but at a slower pace

The long, harsh winter slowed the state's economic recovery. And it took a bite out of tax revenues, leaving Governor Rick Snyder and the Legislature with about $300 million less to work with as they put the finishing touches on a new state budget.

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Detroit EM tries to sell bailout to lawmakers

Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr is spending a couple of days in Lansing for closed-door meetings with state officials. He's primary mission is to convince reluctant state lawmakers to support the Detroit bailout package.

The state's share, which would have to be approved by the Legislature, is $350 million dollars. That would help mitigate cuts to pension benefits as part of the city's bankruptcy, and
ensure the assets of the Detroit Institute of Arts are safe from the auction block.

Peters files nominating petitions for US Senate

Congressman Gary Peters has filed petition signatures to put his name on the ballot. Peters is a Democrat running to succeed retiring US Senator Carl Levin. Peters' support for the federal healthcare law has been an issue in the campaign. Peters says that's OK with him.

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Snyder files for reelection

Governor Rick Snyder has filed 26 thousand petition signatures to put his name on the Republican primary ballot in August, and - if all goes as planned - make him a candidate for reelection in November.

The governor was joined by Michigan First Lady Sue Snyder, Lt. Gov. Brian Calley, and a couple dozen supporters to cart boxes of petitions into the state Bureau of Elections.

Snyder says he intends to run on his record and the state's improving economy.

Michigan Public Radio Network

Gay couple trying to force state to recognize their marriage, "for our 13 kids"

The ACLU of Michigan is suing the state to force it to recognize the marriages of about 300 same-sex couples who got married last month.

Clint McCormack and Bryan Reamer are one of eight couples named as plaintiffs in the lawsuit, which was filed Monday.

Kurt Lowenstein
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Schuette asks for fast action marriage case

State Attorney General Bill Schuette has asked a federal appeals court to put the legal challenge to Michigan’s ban on same-sex marriage on a fast track. Schuette is defending Michigan’s ban.

Schuette’s filed a motion with the US Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals to skip a hearing before a three judge panel and go directly to the entire 15-judge court. That could shave months, maybe as much as a year, off the appeals process. Schuette says the question needs to settled regardless of who wins in the end. 

T. Lawrence, Great Lakes Fishery Commission
glfc.org

Michigan replies to Army corps invasive species report

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette has filed the state's response to the US Army Corps of Engineers invasive species report. Schuette says his biggest complaint is the report fails to outline an aggressive plan to stop Asian carp from reaching the Great Lakes.

The report came out in January, and it outlines possibilities without making specific recommendations on what should happen next.

That was a disappointment, says Joy Yearout, Schuette's communications director.

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Judge dismisses lawsuit against Michigan petition circulator law
By Rick Pluta

A bill to let out-of-state residents gather petitions signatures is awaiting Governor Rick Snyder's signature. Because of the bill, a federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed against the state.

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WASHINGTON (AP) - Rep. Dave Camp, the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, says he will not seek another term.

     The Michigan Republican said in a statement Monday that he will retire after 12 terms in the House. He was term-limited as chairman of the committee.
 
     His district is strongly Republican and the GOP is expected to hold the seat.
 
     Camp is the second senior Michigan Republican to announce his retirement. Rep. Mike Rogers said Friday he would retire.

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Congressional Democrats ask Holder to recognize MI gay marriages
Rick Pluta

Some congressional Democrats are putting pressure on Michigan to recognize more than 300 same-sex marriages performed last weekend. They sent a letter today asking US Attorney General Eric Holder to grant federal recognition of the marriages.

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Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette says the sooner the US Supreme Court settles the question of whether same-sex marriage bans are constitutional, the better. 

UPDATE 4:52 PM Rick Pluta is reporting that no decision was reached in today's hearing.  The trial is likely to go to the Supreme Court which is not likely to decide another same-sex marriage case before its next session. Attorneys seeking to overturn Michigan’s ban say holding up recognition of same-sex marriages hurts families with children. 

Wikipedia Media Commons

  US Attorney General Eric Holder has been asked to declare that the federal government will recognize same-sex marriages performed in Michigan over the weekend, even if the state won’t. 

    

By a single-vote majority, the state House has approved a measure that allows Michigan to put some of the worst-performing schools into an alternative system. It expands a bill approved a year ago that created the Education Achievement Authority, which currently runs 15 schools in Detroit.

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Snyder: Treat e-cigarettes like tobacco

Governor Rick Snyder says he wants electronic cigarettes to be regulated in Michigan as tobacco products. E-cigarettes deliver a dose of nicotine to users in a mist. There is a bill in the Legislature to ban e-cigarette sales to minors, but would not tax them like cigarettes or subject them to other tobacco-related regulations.

The governor says it makes more sense to simply treat them as a tobacco product.

roselawgroupreporter.com

Hearings open this week at the state Capitol on a proposal to lift Michigan's cap on electricity companies competing for customers. A 2008 law says no more than 10 percent of the state's electricity can be directly provided to consumers by an alternative to a region's major utility.  

keepwolvesprotected.com

Wolf hunt referendum petitions filed
By Rick Pluta

The campaign to repeal Michigan's new wolf hunting law filed petitions Thursday to put their challenge on the November ballot.

The Keep Michigan Wolves Protected Campaign says it has 225,000 signatures. That's well over the 161,305 needed to qualify for the November ballot.

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Campaign to stop wolf hunt to turn in petitions

The campaign to stop wolf hunts in Michigan says it has more than enough petition signatures to get a referendum on the November ballot. This would be the second ballot challenge to a wolf hunt because the state's first wolf hunting law was blocked by a petition challenge that will also go before voters in November.

The Legislature got around that by passing a new law that's the target of this ballot drive.

Wikipedia Media Commons

The Michigan Supreme Court will hear arguments on whether more than 350 inmates sent to prison for murder as juveniles for life without parole will get a chance someday at freedom.

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There is an effort afoot in Lansing to regulate smokeless electronic cigarettes - and ban their sale to minors. But there is a difference of opinion on how to go about it. 

senatorhowardwalker.com

The list of Michigan school districts that have budget deficits is shrinking, and the list of districts that are getting in the black is growing. That according to the state Department of Education.  There are 46 districts on the deficit list today, compared to 50 at the end of last year.

And that was good news to state Senator Howard Walker (R-Traverse City), who chairs the Senate K-through-12 budget subcommittee. 

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MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

A campaign to increase Michigan’s minimum wage expects to file its petition language later today with state elections officials. As Michigan Public Radio’s Rick Pluta reports, the campaign wants to boost the state minimum wage to nine-50 an hour.

Michigan Public Radio Network

About 500 people packed a Michigan State University campus hall Friday to witness President Barack Obama sign the new federal farm bill.

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