politics

voting sticker
Vox Efx via Flickr | CC BY 2.0 / Flickr.com

Michigan voters likely will be asked if they want to create a commission to draw districts for seats in Congress and the state Legislature.

The Board of State Canvassers unanimously approved the ballot petition Wednesday.

A group opposed to the November ballot question has filed an appeal with the Michigan Supreme Court. The campaign is led by a group called Voters Not Politicians. The group is proposing a state constitutional amendment to take the job of drawing districts away from lawmakers and give it to an independent commission.

Lt. Governor Brian Calley, State of Michigan
Michigan.gov

Two victims of former sports doctor Larry Nassar are praising Republican Lt. Gov. Brian Calley in a TV ad launched by his gubernatorial campaign. Calley last week signed legislation inspired by the Nassar scandal.

He also has joined calls for John Engler to no longer serve as interim president of Michigan State University due to emails Engler sent criticizing victims' lawyers and saying the first woman to go public with her accusations against Nassar - Rachael Denhollander - probably received a "kickback" from her attorney.

Attorney's General Bill Schuette, State of Michigan
www.michigan.gov

A new TV ad from Bill Schuette's gubernatorial campaign criticizes rival Republican Brian Calley for attending Harvard University while serving as lieutenant governor - missing days he could have been presiding over the Michigan Senate.

The 30-second ad launched Tuesday will air on broadcast stations for nine days in Grand Rapids, Flint and Traverse City.

Poker casino game
Ab5602 via Wikimedia | Public Domain / Wikimedia.org

Bills that have cleared an initial legislative hurdle would legalize online gambling in Michigan and start the process toward possibly also allowing internet sports betting in the wake of a U.S. Supreme Court decision.

The state House late Tuesday voted 68-40 in favor of the legislation, which is not expected to be considered by the Senate until September at the earliest after lawmakers adjourned for a summer break.

An 8 percent tax would be collected from wagers, minus winnings paid out - which would be less than a 19 percent tax now paid by Detroit's three casinos.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gretchen Whitmer is proposing to provide preschool to all 4-year-olds, to triple the number of literacy coaches and to stop transferring school aid revenue to colleges.

The proposals are included in an education plan the former legislative leader outlined at a Lansing school Friday.

Whitmer says as governor, she would help increase teachers' pay after years of Republican control of state government, oppose the "hyper focus" on standardized testing and work to add more career counselors.

Michigan would close a prison to save $19 million in the next fiscal year under a budget agreement struck by lawmakers. The closure is included in a bill approved unanimously Tuesday by a House-Senate conference committee.

Michigan has 30 prisons, but the number of inmates has been declining. A Department of Corrections spokesman says agency leaders do not yet know which facility will be closed during the fiscal year starting in October.

A Muskegon-area prison closed earlier this year.

Hiking
Pexels | CC BY 2.0 / Pexels.com

Gov. Rick Snyder has approved nearly $50 million in spending to boost public recreation statewide. The $49.9 million for the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund enacted Monday will go to 34 land acquisition projects and 97 development projects. It includes $12.5 million to buy up to 372 acres surrounded by Ludington State Park.

Among the state or local development projects are trails, parks, canoe and kayak launches, playgrounds and splash pads across Michigan. About $45 million in matching funds will be provided locally.

Prevailing wage
flickr.com

A 53-year-old Michigan law that guarantees higher "prevailing" wages for construction workers on state-financed projects could soon be nullified.

The Republican-controlled Legislature this week is poised to repeal the statute, which would make Michigan the fifth state to annul its prevailing wage law since 2015. Though GOP Gov. Rick Snyder opposes the bill, it is veto-proof because it was initiated through a ballot drive by nonunion contractors.

Conservatives say repealing the law would save taxpayers money.

Birgit Klohs, President and CEO, The Right Place
The Right Place

The annual Mackinac Policy Conference has come to close. During last week’s program a discussion about the state’s preparation for future economic growth.

What are the elements for economic development?

“The bedrock is really three things: Workforce talent, infrastructure and a quality of life. Okay, those are the bedrocks.”

Birgit Klohs is CEO of regional non-profit economic development organization, The Right Place.

The Muskegon Fire Department may soon be a thing of the past. City officials are considering a proposal that would hand over firefighting responsibilities to the Muskegon Heights Fire Department.

Under the proposal, The City of Muskegon would maintain the buildings and equipment the Muskegon Fire Department uses, but would terminate local 370 and its firefighters, and outsource the duties of the fire department to Muskegon Heights. Muskegon Heights City Manager Jake Eckholm says the proposal is a win/win for both municipalities.

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