Michigan News

How the $1.2-trillion Biden infrastructure bill will be spent in Michigan

More than $10 billion will soon be on the way to help Michigan fix bridges, repave roads, replace lead service lines, fortify against climate change and make other investments, after Congress passed a $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill that awaits President Joe Biden’s signature.

The bill, which passed the U.S. House late Friday night 228-to-206, with support from 13 Republicans including Michigan’s Fred Upton, R-St. Joseph, and “no” votes from six Democrats, including Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Detroit, represents a huge surge of money dedicated to fixing the country’s decrepit infrastructure, including $550 billion in new investments.

Continue reading over at -> The Detroit News

Michigan News

Redistricting panel advances 9 Michigan maps for final public comment

Nine maps that could play a starring role in Michigan’s elections for the next decade will advance to 45 days of public comment later this month.

After weeks of marathon meetings, hundreds of public comments and sometimes heated debate, Michigan’s Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission advanced on Thursday the last of its maps for consideration. The final products include three U.S. House, three state House and three state Senate maps that set the district lines for 13 congressional races, 110 House seats and 38 Senate seats.

The maps from the 2018 voter-approved 13-member commission — which includes four Republicans, four Democrats and four non-affiliated members — mark the first time Michigan’s voting maps were redrawn by an independent body. In past redistricting cycles, the maps were drawn by the party in power every 10 years, resulting in maps that were drawn to favor one party over another.

Continue reading over at -> The Detroit News

Michigan News

Millions of Michigan workers must follow COVID-19 vaccine or testing mandate by Jan. 4

Millions of public and private employees in Michigan and the U.S. must be vaccinated against COVID-19 by Jan. 4 or prepare to submit regular negative tests and wear masks in the workplace if they want to keep their jobs, under a federal mandate announced Thursday.

That means in addition to employees of large Michigan private companies, thousands of public school teachers, police officers, firefighters and other local public employees must also abide by the new rule.

This potentially sets up an enormous undertaking for Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and an administration recently reticent to force schoolchildren, educators or businesses to institute vaccine or mask requirements.

“We are closely following the federal government’s rollout on protections for working people,” Whitmer spokesman Bobby Leddy said.

“In Michigan, we continue to encourage Michiganders to get vaccinated as this is the best way to keep people safe and continue our strong economic growth.”

Continue reading over at Yahoo News ->

Michigan News

Michigan city on edge as lead water crisis persists

BENTON HARBOR, Mich. (AP) — Shortly after sunrise on a recent Saturday in Benton Harbor, Michigan, residents began lining up for free bottled water so they could drink and cook without fear of the high levels of lead in the city’s tap water.

Free water distribution sites are a fixture of life in the majority Black city, where almost half of the nearly 10,000 residents live below the poverty line. For three years, tests of its public water system revealed elevated levels of lead.

Waiting for bottled water is time consuming and some residents wonder why, in a state that recently dealt with the Flint water crisis, the problem wasn’t fixed sooner.

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has promised to spend millions of dollars to replace the city’s lead service lines within 18 months – a blistering pace for a process that often takes decades. For now, residents have been warned not to cook, drink or make baby formula with tap water.

Continue reading over at Yahoo News ->

Michigan News

Michigan motorists to receive insurance refunds, with when and how much to be determined

LANSING — A nonprofit corporation controlled by the insurance industry voted Wednesday to issue refunds to Michigan motorists, just two days after Gov. Gretchen Whitmer called for such action.

But the Michigan Catastrophic Claims Association did not say how big the refunds would be or exactly when they would be issued.

“Today, the MCCA unanimously voted to support issuing refund checks to Michigan consumers,” the board said in a news release. “Details on the specific refund amount per vehicle, along with a proposed timeline and logistics, will be announced in the next several weeks.

“The goal is to issue the largest possible refunds to consumers while maintaining sufficient funds to ensure high-quality care to those who have been catastrophically injured.”

Continue reading over at Yahoo News ->

Michigan News

Whitmer Vetoes GOP Election Integrity Bills

Republicans protest: ‘Proving who you are before you vote is a very basic concept that the vast majority of Michigan voters support.’

Surprising no one, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer vetoed several GOP election reform bills on Friday.

“Access to the ballot box is a right, and I will continue to fight any attempt to limit the right to vote,” Whitmer tweeted.

She vetoed Senate Bill (SB) 303304, and House Bill 5007.

The first bill sought to require stricter voter ID measures. Voters seeking an absentee ballot would have to submit a copy of their driver’s license or state ID, provide the last four digits of their Social Security number, or present ID to the city clerk in which the voter is registered. If the applicant could not provide the above information, the clerk would have been required to issue a provisional absentee voter ballot that wouldn’t count unless the applicant verified their identity to the clerk before 5 p.m. on the sixth day after election day.

The bill aimed to prohibit election officials from sending out absentee ballot applications unless they are specifically requested. Democratic Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson sent out absentee ballot applications before the 2020 presidential election, citing the COVID-19 pandemic as a reason to make socially distanced voting easier.

Continue reading over at Real America’s Voice ->

Michigan News

Michigan Redistricting Commission meeting delayed after death threat

LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) — The Michigan Independent Redistricting Commission had to put their meeting on hold today after they received a death threat through an email.

Edward Woods III, a spokesperson for the commission, confirmed to 6 News that the meeting was stopped at 1:06 p.m. when they got the threat. The commission informed law enforcement and they opened and investigation, Woods said.

At the time, the commission said that the meeting was suspended until further notice. However, after roughly two hours, the meeting was restarted.

The Associated Press reported that a commissioner made a motion to reduce public comment time from 1 minute to 30 seconds for today only, which passed 11-2.

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Michigan redistricting commission to weigh input from Black voters

Michigan’s redistricting commission will soon decide whether it wants to heed the calls it heard during its statewide tour to make wholesale changes to how it drew Black voters in its draft congressional and legislative districts.

Some of the loudest criticism the commission received targeted the draft districts it drew in Detroit that would pair predominantly Black neighborhoods in the city with whiter suburban communities.

Many of those draft districts would be safe Democratic seats. But civil rights activists, Detroit voters and lawmakers from the city are doubtful Black candidates could win primary elections in the proposed political boundaries.

“Being a Democrat and being Black sometimes is two separate things,” said Michigan state Rep. Tyrone Carter, D-Detroit, explaining his opposition to the commission’s maps.

The federal Voting Rights Act requires redistricting plans that ensure minority voters have an opportunity to elect their preferred candidates. The current maps dilute the influence of Black voters by unnecessarily concentrating them, according to an analysis that drove the commission’s decision to eliminate majority-Black districts.

Continue reading over at -> Freep.com

Michigan Catholic Conference: Whitmer Ought to Back School Choice Bill, Not Veto It

Republican lawmakers pass school voucher bills Whitmer promises to veto

LANSING, Mich. – Republican lawmakers took final votes on veto-destined bills early Wednesday that would let Michigan students attend private schools and pay other educational expenses with scholarship accounts funded by people and corporations that would get tax credits for their donations.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat who opposes vouchers, has called the fast-tracked legislation a “nonstarter.” The state has what is considered to be the country’s strictest constitutional ban on providing public assistance to nonpublic schools.

GOP legislators say the bills would boost educational opportunities for kids who have fallen behind during the coronavirus pandemic and give parents additional choices. Democrats call the proposal unconstitutional and say it would drain resources from public schools.

The legislation, first approved in the Republican-led Legislature last week, cleared the House on 55-49 votes during a marathon session that stretched beyond midnight.

K-12 students would be eligible if their family income is no more than double the cutoff to receive free or reduced-priced lunch — $98,050 for a family of four — or if they have a disability or are in foster care.

Continue reading over at -> Fox2Detroit.com

Michigan Senate Approves End to Tax on Menstrual Products

The Michigan Senate on Tuesday passed legislation that would eliminate the so-called “tampon tax” on menstrual products, sending it to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer who is expected to sign it into law.

Michigan would join over 20 other states that have either ended the sales tax on menstrual products or never had one, according to Period Equity, a legal organization that advocates for making menstrual products tax-exempt.

Though several bills to end the tampon tax were introduced in the Michigan Legislature in the last five years, none of those bills made it to a floor vote.

Both chambers in the Republican-controlled Legislature have voted in the last month to approve lifting the tax, and now one of the bills is heading to Whitmer’s desk where it is expected to be signed into law. The Democratic governor has backed efforts to abolish the tax in Michigan.

Continue reading over at -> NBCChicago.com