Rick Pluta

MPRN Capitol Bureau Chief

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. 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.

Ways to Connect

Steve Carmody

A deadlock on the Michigan Supreme Court has effectively reversed a ban on any taxpayer funds going to private and religious schools. The decision allows state funds to go toward helping schools comply with health and safety mandates.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Updated 12/21/2020 10:30 a.m.

The Michigan House has approved a COVID-19 relief bill that includes a pay boost for workers on the front lines of dealing with COVID-19; funding for vaccine distribution; and extending unemployment benefits. There’s also money to help small businesses that have been hurt by the continuing health crisis. The bill now goes to Governor Gretchen Whitmer for her signature.  


State Representative Gary Eisen (R-St. Clair).
GOPHouse.org

A Republican state lawmaker has been disciplined by his party’s leadership. That’s after state Representative Gary Eisen (R-St. Clair Township) refused in a radio interview to denounce the possibility of violence during Monday’s Michigan Electoral College vote for President-elect Joe Biden.

Maxim Jenkins / WKAR-MSU

On Monday, Michigan’s 16 electoral votes will be formally awarded to President-elect Joe Biden in a ceremony at the state Capitol. Other US states and territories also convene their electoral colleges today.

State Representative Cynthia Johnson (D-Detroit) has been punished by House Republican leaders for a Facebook video in which she appears to threaten supporters of President Donald Trump.

Steve Ioya / Flickr

A group of Christian high schools claims Michigan’s COVID-19 restrictions violate religious freedom rights. The schools have filed a federal lawsuit in west Michigan to block the continuation of the restrictions.

On Monday, Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced an extension of the restrictions put in place three weeks ago.
Michigan Executive Office of the Governor

Citing continuing concerns about hospital capacity and “alarmingly high” death rates, Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced a 12-day extension of the COVID-19 restrictions initially put in place three weeks ago.

Michigan Board of State Canvassers

A bipartisan state board has certified the results of the November 3 general election and awarded the state’s 16 electoral votes to President-elect Joe Biden.

The Michigan attorney general’s office responded Wednesday to a legal filing asking the state Supreme Court to block certification of the November 3 election.

The lawsuit was filed by poll challengers working for President Donald Trump’s campaign.

The state’s response can be summarized as: the election’s over and the ballots are counted.

The Michigan Court of Appeals says certifying the state’s election results will go ahead. The court rejected an emergency motion from Republican challengers unhappy with Election Day vote counting.

Republican poll challengers asked the court to stop the certification of the votes in Wayne County. Because Wayne has the most voters, that would essentially slow or stop certifying the statewide results.

Michigan Department of Health and Human Services

Starting Wednesday, restaurants in Michigan are again limited to delivery and takeout, high school and college classes can only be online, and non-professional sports games are cancelled. That’s under an order from Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s public health director.

Lester Graham

Republican-led State House and Senate committees met today to vote themselves subpoena power to examine the conduct of the election. The vote by the joint House and Senate oversight committees fell along party lines.

The Michigan Supreme Court is the next stop in a legal fight over whether guns can be openly carried at polling places on Election Day. Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson and Attorney General Dana Nessel say guns can be intimidating – especially in a contentious election. But gun rights advocates say the state can’t step on a right that’s guaranteed under state law.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A lawsuit is challenging the rules ordered by Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson for partisan poll challengers on Election Day. The complaint filed with the Michigan Court of Claims says distancing and face covering directives will make it too difficult for poll challengers to see what’s going on as voters are checked in at voting sites.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer answers questions from reporters in Traverse City on October 9, 2020.
Dan Wanschura / Interlochen Public Radio

The legislative committee looking into the state’s COVID-19 response meets again Monday – where top health officials in Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s administration will face questions from lawmakers.

This will be the first committee hearing since the state Supreme Court struck down the governor’s continued use of emergency powers and encouraged the Legislature and Whitmer to strike a bargain.

MPRN

State and federal authorities have charged a group of 13 suspected terrorists in an alleged plot to kidnap Governor Gretchen Whitmer and recruit militia members to storm the state Capitol.

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel and the FBI announced the charges Thursday. They say the men wanted to overthrow the state government and incite a civil war.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

The state Senate returns Thursday after the Michigan Supreme Court declared many of Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s COVID-19 executive orders unconstitutional.

The state Senate returns Thursday after the Michigan Supreme Court declared many of Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s COVID-19 executive orders unconstitutional.

First the Senate and then the House will meet on consecutive days to adopt their own plans and send them to Whitmer to sign or veto.

Linda Stephan / Interlochen Public Radio

Voting by absentee ballot began Thursday in Michigan.

Absentee ballots were put in the mail to people who requested them. Registered voters can also stop by clerks’ offices to fill out their ballots.

Don’t wait. Drop off your ballot in person. It’s too late to put it in the mail if you want it to be counted. That’s the advice elections officials are giving voters in advance of Tuesday’s primaries when a record number of votes will be cast via absentee ballot. 


A federal appeals court won’t give former Governor Rick Snyder a new hearing in a class action lawsuit over the Flint water crisis. That means the lawsuit filed against Snyder and former state Treasurer Andy Dillon can go forward.

Executive Office of the Governor

Governor Gretchen Whitmer has toughened the rules that require masks in public to slow the spread of COVID-19. Her latest Executive Order says businesses must deny service to people who refuse to wear masks indoors. It also says customers must remain at least six feet from others outdoors.  

Governor's Office

 

A new order signed Friday by Governor Gretchen Whitmer will soon allow Michiganders to get their hair cut or styled – as well as head to the gym or a movie theater – with certain precautions.

The restrictions will be lifted first in the northern Lower Peninsula and the Upper Peninsula starting Wednesday -- followed by southern Michigan starting June 15th.

In northern counties, indoor gatherings of 50 people will be permissible.

A Michigan Court of Appeals panel says a lower court judge got it wrong by refusing to enforce an order to shut down Owosso, Mich., barber Karl Manke, who gained fame or notoriety for cutting hair in defiance of Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's COVID-19 emergency orders. The orders include a ban on barbers and hair salons doing business during the declared crisis.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer gives an update on Michigan's repsonse to the COVID-19 pandemic on April 6, 2020.
Michigan Executive Office of the Governor

The Legislature will meet Tuesday to vote on a resolution to extend the emergency powers Governor Gretchen Whitmer invoked to address the COVID-19 outbreak.

The House and the Senate have adopted special rules for in-person voting while adhering to health protections.


Pages