Around Michigan & State Government

Governor Gretchen Whitmer has issued her first executive directive as Michigan’s governor. The directive requires state department employees to report threats to public health, safety or welfare up the chain of command, and it requires those threats to be investigated.

“We thought this was an important way to lead on the first day. To tell state employees we listen to them, and public health is paramount to anyone’s ego, to anyone’s agenda, to any one department’s arena,” says Whitmer.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer wants to know if a law passed during last year’s lame duck session is constitutional, and she’s enlisted new Attorney General Dana Nessel to look into the matter.

Outgoing governor Rick Snyder signed a law before leaving office. It created the Mackinac Straits Corridor Authority. That authority will oversee a tunnel to house a new section of the Enbridge Line 5 pipeline. That pipeline carries oil and natural gas liquids under the Straits of Mackinac.

Morgan Springer

Traverse City Area Public Schools could catch a $700,000 break related to a review of its homeschool program.

The Michigan Department of Education is currently reviewing that homeschool program, the Northern Michigan Partnership, to see if TCAPS collected too much money per students. If that’s what they determine, they could ask the district to pay roughly $700,000 back to the state.

But a spending package passed by the legislature early Friday morning included grant money to cover that cost.

Pipeline safety board meets for final time

Dec 11, 2018

The board assembled to advise Governor Rick Snyder on pipeline safety in the state of Michigan held its last public meeting Monday. 

The group of environmental and government advisors was created to minimize risks on nearly 400 pipeline-water crossings in the state of Michigan. The board’s most important role was advising the Governor on Line 5, the controversial oil and gas pipeline under the Straits of Mackinac.

The State House made a few minor changes to the bills that the state Senate signed off on before sending the bills to the governor.

Grand Traverse County

Two Democrats will be joining the Grand Traverse County Commission in January.

The commission has historically been dominated by Republicans.

Bryce Hundley and Betsy Coffia were the two Democratic winners. Coffia says Democrats had a strong showing in races across the county.

"I think you're seeing a community that is really motivated for that change," Coffia says. "It takes a lot of work, but I do believe we're moving in that direction, in a more progressive direction."

Dan Wanschura

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Several Flint commmunity leaders said Attorney General and Republican gubernatorial candidate Bill Schuette has a record of ignoring the people of Flint.

They spoke at a press conference Wednesday organized by the Michigan Democratic Party.

According to Chris Martin, pastor of the Cathedral of Faith Church in Flint, Schuette ignored 15 complaints in 2015 from residents reporting bad water quality in Flint.

Martin said complaints about bad water and health problems had fallen on deaf ears in Flint. 

The office of the Auditor General testified Thursday in front of a house oversight committee on their audit of the state’s Child Protective Services. 

The audit was released earlier this month. It found a pattern of failures to meet state requirements, including that CPS had not conducted criminal history background checks in more than 50% of cases. 

Today on Stateside, we hear from a Michigan soybean farmer on how President Trump's escalating trade war with China is projected to affect the state's agriculture producers. Plus, Stateside's education commentator Matinga Ragatz weighs in on the teacher shortage crisis facing Michigan schools. 

Governor Rick Snyder still can’t build a bridge between a union and a construction trade association to end a roadwork stoppage across the state.

Wikimedia commons

Former top-level state officials with the Snyder, Engler, and Milliken administrations are among a group of Republicans and independents publicly endorsing Democrat Gretchen Whitmer for governor.

Morgan Springer

It could be a competitive race for Michigan’s 104th house seat this coming election. The district covers Grand Traverse County. Republicans have held this seat firmly for at least 20 years.

A northern Michigan lawmaker says he will not participate in any debates or forums before the election. Larry Inman (R-Traverse City) withdrew from a League of Women Voters forum scheduled for October 8.

In an email, Inman’s campaign manager Ashleigh Ackerman said they’re disappointed they couldn’t make it work out, but the Grand Traverse County representative doesn't have the time in his schedule. 

"Our campaign offered to do a written questionnaire, which would be easily available to those that would not be able to attend a forum," she said.

Emmet County

Emmet County Commissioner Betsy White lost by one vote in the Republican primary. GOP nominee Izzy Lyman got 223 votes to White's 222.

After she lost the primary, White says her first reaction was to just let it rest, but then she thought, 'my work is not done.' She's been a commissioner since 2016.

One of Michigan’s top Republican lawmakers has been fined for bringing an unregistered gun to the airport. Rep. Lee Chatfield (R-Levering) was caught with the gun at the Pellston Regional Airport in July. 

On August 21, the Emmet County Sheriff’s Office charged Chatfield with a civil infraction. The following day, Chatfield paid a $250 fine. He could not be reached for comment but has said on Facebook that bringing the gun to the airport was an accident. He called it an “inexcusable mistake.”

A top-ranking Republican in Michigan’s House will be issued a civil infraction for bringing an unregistered gun to the airport in July.

Representative Lee Chatfield (R-Levering) was stopped in the security line at Pellston Regional Airport when he brought the gun there in July. He apologized, saying he made an "inexcusable mistake" when he accidentally brought the gun to the aiport. He also said he had thought his gun was registered.

UNOFFICIAL ELECTION RESULTS: Updated 8/8/18 10:30 a.m:

Governor: 

Republican: Bill Schuette

Democrat: Gretchen Whitmer

Libertarian: Bill Gelineau

Grand Traverse County is doing a better job of funding retirement plans for its employees, according to a new report from the Municipal Employees Retirement System, or MERS.

MERS is an independent organization that invests retirement funds for Michigan municipalities.

Grand Traverse County

Nate Alger is the new Grand Traverse County administrator. On Wednesday, the county board of commissioners unanimously approved Alger’s contract. Alger is expected to sign the contract with a starting salary of $124,000 and a start date of July 1.

 

Alger takes over a county that is dealing with instability as it tackles pension debt, suicides in the jail and employee dissatisfaction. Alger says stagnant pay and reduced benefits have caused some animosity with employees in the past, but he plans to work on that.

David Cassleman

Republican Carolyn Cater spent a dozen years working on ships in the Great Lakes. Cater was once a coal-passer on the S.S. Badger, spending her time shoveling coal into the ship’s boilers.

Cater is now running for Michigan’s 101st state House District seat, which runs from Ludington to Northport.


Whitewater Township

The Whitewater Township board has rejected a plan to allow short-term rentals. The proposal would have allowed residents to build new structures on their lots and rent them out on websites like AirBnb.

The idea came from the township planning commission but it was met with resistance from the community. Residents circulated a petition against the plan and presented it to the board at a meeting Tuesday night.

Google Maps

The argument over short-term rentals has come to Whitewater township. The township’s planning commission wants to relax zoning rules so new rentals can be built on existing residential lots.

Under a new proposal, residents who own at least 30,000 square feet of land could build a second structure on their property. The new structure could be up to 1,200 square feet in size.

The proposal would allow homeowners to rent their new structures on websites like AirBnB.

But township supervisor Ron Popp says it’s a bad idea.

Grand Traverse County

Grand Traverse County commissioners have picked a local law enforcement official to lead the county. This morning they voted four to three to offer Nate Alger the county administrator job.

Michigan’s top prosecutor is on board with proposed changes to how the state parole board determines if an inmate can be released from prison.

 

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