Rick Pluta

Sixth circuit

A federal appeals court took aim at Michigan’s sex offender registry law. The court ruled on a narrow legal issue, but suggested the law may be unconstitutional. 

The Sixth Circuit US Court of Appeals said changes to the law cannot be applied retroactively. That means restrictions could be lifted on hundreds of people on the registry.

But the court went further and said Michigan’s registry law isn’t working as intended and seems designed more to punish offenders than protect the public.

Miriam Aukerman is an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union.

Michigan Supreme Court photo
Subterranean via Wikimedia | CC BY 3.0 / wikimedia.org

The campaign to legalize marijuana in Michigan now hopes the state Supreme Court will order the question onto the November ballot.

A state Court of Claims judge just dealt the campaign a setback. He ruled state elections officials were simply following the rules when they rejected petition signatures gathered outside a 180-day window.

That’s supposed to ensure that only the signatures of currently registered voters are counted.

Jeff Hank is an attorney for MI Legalize. He says that rule disenfranchises thousands of people who signed petitions.

Michigan Republicans have not given up on efforts to keep Democrat Melissa Gilbert on the November ballot despite her wishes and those of her party.

A state elections board declined a GOP request to launch a closer review of whether her request to exit the 8th Congressional District race is sincere, or meant to simply bail on a campaign where she stumbled time and time again.

The former child star of Little House on the Prairie won the uncontested Democratic primary, but now says painful back and neck troubles make her unable to campaign or serve if elected.

Book photo
Pixabay | CC BY 2.0 / Pixabay.com

Democrats and local officials in some cities say they’re getting the cold shoulder from the state’s school turnaround chief.

In Lansing, school officials say Governor Rick Snyder’s School Reform Officer, Natasha Baker, refused to meet with them because they wanted to bring an attorney.

They’re seeking details of announced plans for schools with poor test scores that include shutdowns. They say the reform office is sowing fear and uncertainty as the school year is about to start.

Democrats in the Legislature are also crying foul.

Polling station
Hilary Farrell

State Attorney General Bill Schuette is asking every judge on the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals to review a voting rights decision. It says Michigan voters will be allowed to use a single mark on the ballot to support a political party’s entire slate of candidates. 

The Republican attorney general has lost twice now in court in efforts to defend Michigan’s ban on straight-ticket voting.

Republicans are hoping it will give them an edge going into November elections where many GOP candidates could face a tough time.

Marijuana photo
Pixabay | CC BY 2.0

If it has roots and leaves, in Michigan, it’s a plant.

That’s the legal definition now that the Michigan Court of Appeals has made a ruling in a medical marijuana case.

Lorenzo Ventura was challenging charges that he exceeded the number of plants he was legally allowed under Michigan’s medical marijuana law. He was convicted and sentenced to two years of probation and 120 hours of community service.

The law adopted eight years by voters ago does not provide a definition. The dictionary did not offer any guidance in this instance.

Election polling station sign
Wikimedia | Tom Arthur | CC BY 2.0

Michigan voters will still be able to vote for a political party’s entire slate of candidates with a single mark on the ballot, under a ruling Wednesday by a federal appeals court.

The appeals court upheld a lower court that said the state can’t ban the straight-ticket voting option from the November ballot.

The three-judge panel of the US Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals agreed it places an undue burden on voters in large cities with big minority populations and crowded polling places.

Donald Trump campaign photo; Cheyna Roth / donaldjtrump.com; Michigan Public Radio Network

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton were both in Michigan this month to deliver speeches on their plans for the economy.

But they both presented different pictures of the state of things here in Michigan, where the auto industry and manufacturing tanked during the Great Recession. 

So, what’s the state of the recovery here in Michigan? Michigan Public Radio’s Lansing bureau chief, Rick Pluta, asked an expert – Michigan State University economics professor Charlie Ballard.

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette has spent $2 million so far in the criminal investigation into the Flint water crisis.

The spending records were obtained as the result of a freedom of information request by The Detroit News. It shows much of the money was spent on salaries, phones, computers, and other equipment for a team of 40 lawyers and investigators hired for the job.

Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton travels to Michigan tomorrow to deliver a speech on jobs and the economy. Her visit follows a jobs speech Monday in Detroit by Republican nominee Donald Trump.

Rick Pluta

Hundreds of demonstrators waved signs and chanted slogans as Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump addressed a business lunch inside a Detroit convention center.

Jan Tjernlund carried a sign that said “Trump the Divider.” She says she doesn’t like what Trump has had to say about women, minorities, and immigration.

She says Trump doesn’t understand government and is temperamentally unfit to serve, and she has fears for the nation’s stability if he’s elected.

"I am concerned about the future of everything," Tjernlund says.

Melissa Gilbert
Wikimedia Commons / wikimedia.org

Actor Melissa Gilbert has won the Democratic nomination to run in Michigan’s Eighth Congressional District – but no longer wants it.

Gilbert’s campaign to unseat Republican incumbent Mike Rogers has struggled from the beginning. But Gilbert says she wants off the ballot for health reasons, and plans to provide a doctor’s note that she’s not fit to run or to serve if elected.

Sarah Anderson of the Michigan Republican Party says the GOP has hired lawyers.

Employers in Michigan would have to let workers earn paid sick days. That’s under a petition campaign that could launch before the end of the year.

A state elections board says the petition meets all the technical requirements of Michigan law.

A similar drive to put paid sick time on the November ballot folded this past spring.

Danielle Atkinson is one of the organizers.


“We didn’t have enough signatures. Unfortunately, it takes a lot of money to get an            issue on the ballot, and we just fell short.”

books in a library
Wikimedia Commons | CC BY 3.0 / Wikimedia.org

A state panel will be named soon to look into improving Michigan’s dismal literacy rate.

Governor Rick Snyder signed an executive order Wednesday creating the new PreK-12 Literacy Commission.

Michigan has one of the nation’s worst literacy rates. It’s ranked 40th when it comes to student literacy in the National Assessment of Educational Progress.

Nearly half of all third graders in the state don’t read at grade level, according to last year’s standardized student tests. Anna Heaton is the governor’s press secretary.

She says trend is moving in the wrong.

Voters in Michigan will be allowed to vote for an entire party ticket with a single mark on the November ballot. A federal judge says a new law to ban that option violates the rights of urban, African-American voters.  

A study showed the straight-ticket option was used on 70 percent of the ballots cast in Detroit and Flint in recent elections. The cities typically have high Democratic voter turnout.