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.
Since 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.”
The governor spent the last full day before voting begins on those scary roads trying to convince voters to support Proposal One.
Voters are about to decide whether to raise Michigan’s sales tax from 6 percent to 7 percent. If they approve Proposal One, that generates $1.3 billion to fix roads and another $300 to $400 for schools and local services. If it’s voted down, Governor Snyder and the Legislature go back to the drawing board.
Eighteen schools in Detroit were closed Thursday due to staffing shortages. Teachers and other school personnel took the day off to head to Lansing to protest Governor Rick Snyder’s plan to overhaul the district. The plan includes enabling more charter schools to open in the city.
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 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.”
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.