Rick Pluta

Rick Pluta has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987. His journalism background includes stints with UPI, The Elizabeth (NJ) Daily Journal, The (Pontiac, MI) Oakland Press, and WJR. He is also a lifelong public radio listener.

Rick was one of the first Michigan political reporters to write about “pay-to-play” fundraising, and the controversies surrounding recognition of same-sex relationships. He broke the news that Gov. John Engler was planning a huge juvenile justice overhaul that included adult-time-for-adult-crime sentencing, and has continued to report since then on the effects of that policy decision.

He co-hosts the weekly segment “It’s Just Politics” on Michigan Radio with Zoe Clark.

Rick is fascinated by the game of politics, and the grand plans and human foibles that go into policy-making. You will never find him ice-fishing.

Follow him on Twitter at @rickpluta

Negotiations will continue through the summer on legislation to change the rules on how child custody is determined in divorces.

State Rep. Jim Runestad’s (R-White Lake) bill would make equal custody the default position in divorces. He says, right now, judges have too much discretion and the proof of that is wide disparities between counties in how custody is granted.

“It’s a horrible, horrible system for kids and it’s got to change,” he says.

Runestad says the current system invites conflict between parents vying to win custody.

The state of Michigan has scrapped a risk study on Enbridge’s Line 5 and fired the contractor just a week before a first draft of the report was to be released.

A group marched on Governor Rick Snyder’s office Tuesday to call for faster work fixing Flint’s water system.

About 50 demonstrators delivered more than 11 hundred empty water bottles with messages from Flint residents curled inside each one.

Nayyirah Shariff with the group Flint Rising led the march. She says the demands include picking up the pace of replacing lead pipes, and a moratorium on city water bills until the work is done. Shariff says the process of replacing the water pipes should not take years.

Enbridge Energy says it’s pressure testing the structural integrity of Line Five beneath the Straits of Mackinac. The company says the results appear to show the oil and gas pipeline does not pose a serious threat to the Great Lakes.

The company tested the first of two underwater pipes over the weekend.

There’s no end yet to the standoff between Governor Rick Snyder and the Legislature’s Republican leaders that’s delayed wrapping up the state budget. But they are talking again.

 

  A state House committee has adopted bills that would require local officials to help enforce federal immigration laws.

 

State lawmakers say they will look into reports the Michigan agency that handles child abuse and neglect cases fudged its numbers to make it appear it was complying with a court order.

 

The Michigan Court of Appeals has put a lawsuit regarding state money for private schools on hold while it decides who can be part of it.

The court will decide whether a group of Republican lawmakers and Catholic school parents can challenge Michigan’s ban on public money for private schools. And they want to join the lawsuit as defendants, not plaintiffs.

The Mackinac Bridge will be closed to most vehicle traffic the morning of Labor Day. The bridge authority made that decision today. Their concern was the risk of a terrorist attack on the Labor Day bridge walk, which attracts thousands of people.

The decision means no vehicles will be allowed to cross the bridge from 6:30 a.m. to noon except for busses and emergency vehicles.

Michiganders could decide next year whether to legalize marijuana in the state and many politicos are wondering how that ballot question could affect the 2018 election.

There was a big rally at the state Capitol Wednesday to support improved mental health services and to oppose Governor Rick Snyder’s plan to overhaul how those services are paid for.

There were tears and hugs on the floor of the state House today as colleagues got word that state Rep. John Kivela, D-Marquette, took his life – one day after his second arrest on a charge of drunk driving.

“I’m sure today is the toughest day we will experience this term together,” House Speaker Tom Leonard told his colleagues in the House. “And I truly have no words about the loss of our dear friend, John Kivela.”

UPDATED @ 8:48 on 5/9/17

Michigan Supreme Court Justice Joan Larsen has been chosen by President Trump to serve on the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals. Trump once put Larsen on his list of judges and lawyers he would consider naming to the U.S. Supreme Court.

A petition campaign wants to allow marijuana retailers in Michigan communities that will permit it, and for people to grow their own at home. The campaign has submitted its petition for approval by a state elections board.

Jeff Irwin is the campaign’s political director. He says the proposal would regulate recreational marijuana using a system similar to the one for selling beer, wine, and alcohol. He says outlawing pot has been a failure.

Michigan State University is asking a court to decide whether it has to release police and arrest records related to a highly publicized investigation. The records are related to the criminal investigation into an alleged sexual assault that may involve members of the Spartan football team.

The sports network ESPN filed a request for the records under the Michigan Freedom of Information Act. But the Ingham County Prosecutor’s office says releasing the records could interfere with the criminal investigation.

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