Michigan News

There’s a split emerging between Governor Rick Snyder and Republican leaders in the Legislature over cutting taxes.

Governor Snyder will present a budget next week for the coming fiscal year. Some Republican leaders in the Legislature are pushing for tax cuts. That includes an income tax rollback and some lawmakers are taking aim at the tax on pensions.

Snyder is pushing back. The pension tax was one of his first budget reforms after he took office in 2011. Snyder says that was only fair to people who were paying taxes on 401 (k) and other retirement plans.

A U.S. Senate committee votes tomorrow on the nomination of west Michigan billionaire Betsy DeVos as the next U.S. Secretary of Education.

Michigan groups for and against the controversial nomination were busy over the weekend lobbying before the vote.

Gary Naeyaert is the executive director of the Great Lakes Education Project, which was founded by Betsy DeVos.

An Iraqi man planned to come join his wife and child in Michigan later this year. They’d been issued special visas because of his wife’s work as an interpreter for the U.S. military in Iraq. But when word started getting out last week about a looming crackdown on immigration, he changed his plans. By Wednesday, he was doing everything he could to get out of Iraq immediately.

Michigan’s passenger rail system doesn’t seem to generate a lot of enthusiasm.

We received this anonymous question on our M-I Curious page: “Why doesn't Michigan have a good passenger train system?”

The question simply begged for clarification, such as, “Who says?” and, “What would you consider good?”

Although the question got a lot of votes, we never heard from "Anonymous" again. 

So we went to the Amtrak station in Ann Arbor to see what we could see.

The train is late, but the train is still great

An initiative to bring jobs back to the United States was announced in Detroit today.

Debbie Stabenow has been pushing her "Bring Jobs Home Act" in the U.S. Senate since 2012.

Senator Stabenow said the bill would get rid of tax loopholes for companies that outsource jobs, and reward those moving jobs back.

Stabenow said every time companies take jobs from the U.S., American taxpayers pay for the move.

“You want to move away from the United States, you are on your own,” Stabenow said. “We aren’t paying for it.”

There is no evidence of any widespread election fraud during the state’s 2016 presidential election, according to a forensic analysis released Monday by the Anderson Economic Group.

Anderson Economic Group CEO Patrick Anderson says they looked into two claims.

United States Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor called for greater diversity on college campuses while speaking at the University of Michigan Monday.

“We are making improvements toward that kind of equality,” said Sotomayor. “But we are still far from it. When you look at the number of African Americans at the University of Michigan, there’s a real problem there.”

Justice Susanne Baer of the Federal Constitutional Court of Germany joined Sotomayor in the forum moderated by NPR’s Michelle Norris.

The latest Flint water crisis lawsuit targets the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The suit was filed Monday in federal court in Detroit.

The lawsuit claims “despite notice of the danger as early as October 2014, the EPA failed to take the mandatory steps to determine that Michigan and Flint authorities were not taking appropriate action to protect the public from toxic water."

Administrators at Benton Harbor Area Schools are preparing for an audit from the Michigan School Reform Office to see if three of the district’s five schools will be closed.

Benton Harbor Area Schools had three buildings on the School Reform Office’s recently published list of 38 low-performing schools that could be closed this summer due to poor standardized test scores.

A federal lawsuit over the state’s response to the Flint water crisis was back in court Tuesday, for arguments over whether the state has ignored a judge’s order to ensure Flint residents have access to safe drinking water.

In November, Judge David Lawson issued an injunction ordering the state to do two things: verify that all Flint households have properly-installed water filters; or, in cases where that’s not possible, deliver bottled water. The state wants that order dismissed.

The Michigan Supreme Court says it will settle whether juries - instead of judges - have the sole power to decide whether someone under 18 gets life in prison without parole.

If the Court decides to give the sentencing power to juries, the juries would have to make a specific determination that the convicted had no hope of being rehabilitated and deserved a no-parole sentence.

Some of Michigan's congressional representatives are worried about new rules from the Trump administration.

Senators Gary Peters and Debbie Stabenow and Representative Dan Kildee wrote a letter to the president expressing their concerns about a directive that forbids the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency from ordering any new contracts or grants.

The lawmakers fear that this directive could "jeopardize much-needed federal funding for Flint."

More than a decade since Michigan last replaced its voting machines, the state is spending up to $82 million on new voting machines over the next two years.

“You know, they’re computers, right?” says Chris Thomas, the Michigan elections director. “And like any kind of hardware and software, they’ve got a shelf life.

“It’s pretty standard across the country that 10 years is when you start reaching that outer limit and start seeing a few more problems on Election Day and whatnot.”

State senators are making voting laws an issue this year. A mostly Democratic group of senators has introduced a set of bills they say will make voting easier for everyone.

One of the bills would allow people to preregister to vote when they turn 16 – as long as they have a driver’s license or a state ID card.

Democratic Senator Steve Bieda is a bill sponsor. Calling the legislation innovative, he said the state needs to keep up with modern times when it comes to voting. 

It wasn’t one thing that put Litchfield Community Schools’ elementary school on a path to becoming a “priority” school.

When Mary Sitkiewicz started teaching at Litchfield in the mid 1990s, she remembers there being more than 800 students. According to state data from last school year, the student count was down to 248.

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