Stateside: Great Lakes restoration plan; Michigan murder mystery; auto no-fault reform pushback

May 10, 2019
Originally published on May 13, 2019 7:17 am

Today on Stateside, the Michigan House and Senate both passed bills this week that would allow drivers to opt out of the unlimited medical benefits mandated by current law. But critics say that giving up those benefits would do more harm than good. Plus, we talk to the author of a murder mystery novel that takes place on a fictional Michigan university campus.

Listen to the full show above or find individual interviews below.

No-fault supporters say capping medical benefits hurts consumers, does little to bring down cost

  • Drivers in Michigan are tired of paying some of the highest auto insurance rates in the country. The state House and Senate both passed bills this week that they say would help bring down those rates. But critics say letting drivers opt out of unlimited medical benefits, something which both House and Senate bills allow for, is a bad idea.
  • Steve Sinas is one of those critics. He is a personal injury attorney and a member of the legal counsel for the Coalition to Protect Auto No-Fault. Sinas says there are better ways to bring down the cost of auto insurance, and that capping medical benefits would have unintended consequences.

Murder mystery set on fictional Michigan campus doubles as a satire of academia’s politics

  • At the beginning of Lev Raphael’s mystery novel State University of Murder, a mass shooting takes place at the fictional State University of Michigan in Michiganapolis. That tragedy becomes the backdrop for a tale of intrigue, betrayal, and academic politics as Professor Nick Hoffman investigates a murder on campus.
  • Lev Raphael joins Stateside to talk about the inspiration behind his latest book, how his own experience in academia informs the novel, and what he has planned next.

Focusing on economic issues based on race hinders poor blacks and poor whites from working together

  • A lot of the news reports on wealth inequality focus on the racial gap between the wealth of white and black households, even within similar income brackets. That’s certainly true, but researchers at the University of Michigan think there’s more nuance to the discussion about wealth inequality.
  • We talk to Willie Elliot, professor of social work at the University of Michigan, about how the wealth gap between poor and rich white families impacts today’s polarized political climate.

Great Lakes Restoration Initiative made it back into the federal budget, now the EPA wants to hear from you

  • In his first budget, President Donald Trump zeroed out the budget of a $300 million effort to restore the health of the Great Lakes. That move drew bipartisan condemnation. Much to the relief of environmentalists, researchers, and others, the budget for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative has stayed intact.
  • We talk with Chris Korleski, director of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Great Lakes National Program Office, about this year’s initiative, which is in its planning stages. We also talk about the work to clean up legacy pollution and restore habitat for Great Lakes fish species.  

Roundup: Huge FOIA fees undermine the effectiveness of state’s “sunshine” laws

  • The Michigan Legislature is once again considering making itself and the governor subject to the Freedom of Information Act. Governor Whitmer wants it. But even if they expand the Freedom of Information Act – or FOIA – there’s still a major stumbling block. Municipalities and state agencies sometimes levy fees that are outrageously high to get access to documents that belong to the people.
  • We talk government transparency with our Friday political commentators. Ken Sikkema is Senior Policy Fellow at Public Sector Consultants and a former Republican Majority Leader in the Michigan State Senate. TJ Bucholz is president of Vanguard Public Affairs, a progressive political strategy firm in Lansing.

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