Rick Pluta

LANSING, MI (MPRN)--   Governor Gretchen Whitmer is part of a panel that will testify Wednesday before a U.S. Senate committee on climate change and infrastructure.

Extreme weather due to climate change is cited as a factor in the failure last year of the Edenville and Sanford dams in Midland and Gladwin counties. That event resulted in massive flooding that forced thousands of people out of their homes and washed away roads.

That experience will be a focal point of Governor Whitmer’s remarks, said Jeff Cranson with the Michigan Department of Transportation.

KALAMAZOO, MI (MPRN)--   Former Michigan House Speaker Lee Chatfield is out as the CEO of a Kalamazoo-area economic development organization.

He quit amid controversy over his opposition to adding LGBTQ protections to the state civil rights law as the House Republican leader.

Chatfield shared the news of his resignation via a lengthy post on Twitter:

LANSING, MI (MPRN)--   Governor Gretchen Whitmer unveiled her 67.1 billion dollar proposed budget Thursday and began the job of selling her plan to the Legislature’s Republican leaders.

The relationship between the Democratic governor and GOP leaders has hovered between frosty and hostile, with fights over the state’s COVID-19 response often at the center.

The governor said settling disagreements on return-to-school plans, helping businesses, and vaccine distribution is critical as the response moves from crisis management to recovery.

LANSING, MI (MPRN)--   The Legislature’s Republican leaders said Wednesday they appreciate Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s calls for unity and bipartisanship in her State of the State address, but they’re not seeing much evidence she means it.

Steve Mellon / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

LANSING, MI (MPRN)--   Beginning February 1, indoor dining can resume in Michigan, but can only reopen at 25% capacity with up to 100 people, Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced in a press conference Friday. Concessions at casinos, movie theaters and stadiums, as well as personal services requiring mask removal will be able to resume as well.

In addition to capacity restrictions, restaurants and bars must close by 10 p.m. Restaurants must also collect contact information from diners for contact tracing purposes.

LANSING, MI (MPRN)--   Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s newest budget request includes $5 million dollars to pay for enforcing a gun ban at the state Capitol.

That’s after the Michigan State Capitol Commission voted last week to ban the open carry of guns in the building by people who don’t have a license to carry a concealed firearm. But the commission said it does not have the money or the authority to go further.

Lieutenant Governor Garlin Gilchrist said the budget request gives the Legislature a chance to remedy that.

LANSING, MI (MPRN)--   Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed a series of new laws Monday that are designed to send fewer people to jail for non-violent and low-level offenses, and to help people who run into trouble with the law get their lives on track. 

Lieutenant Governor Garlin Gilchrist co-chaired the task force that recommended the reforms. He says, in Michigan, a growing number of people are being sent to jail even though crime rates overall have been going down.

LANSING, MI (MPRN)--   Michigan’s 16 electoral votes will be formally awarded Monday to President-elect Joe Biden in a ceremony at the state Capitol. 

Other US states and territories also convene their electoral colleges on Monday.

Most legal challenges – including one filed by the state of Texas – have failed. Demonstrations in Lansing are expected, but they won’t change the result. Michigan law requires electors to cast their votes for the winner of the November election.

LANSING, MI (MPRN)--   State Representative Cynthia Johnson (D-Detroit) has been punished by House Republican leaders for a Facebook video. They say she appears to threaten supporters of President Donald Trump.  

Johnson has been stripped of her committee assignments, including her position on the House Oversight Committee. Johnson herself faced death threats and harassment following an Oversight Committee hearing last week where she appeared to lose her temper as she leveled fierce criticism against Trump’s personal attorney, Rudolph Giuliani.

LANSING, MI (MPRN)--   In the absence of a federal COVID-19 relief bill, Governor Gretchen Whitmer has asked the Legislature to approve a $400 million COVID response package before the end of the year.

The governor’s call for $300 million dollars is on top of an earlier $100 million dollar request.

Kurt Weiss with the state budget office says the money is needed to help set up a vaccine distribution system, pay direct care workers, add more contact tracing, and more to help hospitals, businesses and families with the immediate crisis.