Rick Pluta

LANSING, MI (MPRN)--   The state Senate Thursday took steps toward restoring money to programs vetoed by Governor Gretchen Whitmer earlier this year. 

The budget bills are supposed to be approved by the House and the Senate and sent to the governor’s desk next week.

The Senate actions are a step toward restoring a working relationship between the Democratic governor and the Legislature’s Republican leaders following a contentious budget process. The standoff put money for autism services, charter schools and public safety at risk.

LANSING, MI (MPRN)--   Governor Gretchen Whitmer has asked the Legislature to hit the “pause” button on the requirement that adults on Medicaid must be working, looking for work, or in school to qualify for benefits. 

Lawmakers quickly said “no.”

The governor, who is a Democrat, sent a letter to lawmakers. It says Michigan should wait for federal courts to decide legal challenges filed in other states to work requirements before making them part of the Healthy Michigan program.

Whitmer says Republican-led states have already done this.

LANSING, MI--   Michigan has a new state elections chief.

Elections bureau director Jonathan Brater says his top job is ensuring the integrity of, and public confidence in, elections.

Brater says efforts to undermine elections might include fake social media announcements or telephone messages that encourage voters to stay home or show up at the wrong polling sites. He says fighting to keep elections honest is difficult and complicated in the internet age.

LANSING, MI (MPRN)--   The state’s marijuana watchdog agency has ordered tests on vaping inventories. They want distributors to make they don’t include an ingredient linked to lung damage. 

Vitamin E acetate is a common ingredient in marijuana lotions and dietary products, but it has been linked to lung injuries when used in vaping. The Michigan Marijuana Regulatory Agency says the ingredient appears to be rare in legal vaping products, and is more commonly found in black market marijuana concentrates.

LANSING, MI (MPRN)--   A group of former state legislators is asking a federal judge to overturn Michigan’s term limits law. 

Michigan Public Radio’s Rick Pluta says the eight ex-lawmakers include Republicans and Democrats.

The lawmakers claim term limits violate their First and 14th Amendment rights in the US Constitution.

But former state senator Roger Kahn says Michigan’s strictest-in-the nation term limits are also a bad deal for voters.

LANSING, MI (MPRN)--   Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s signature on a bill would alter how the state pays for a critical anti-pollution program. 

Michigan Public Radio’s Rick Pluta says the bill is supposed to make sure polluters continue to pay the costs of running the program.

Right now, Michigan businesses are charged based on how many tons are discharged into the atmosphere, but the program is a victim of its own success. As emissions are reduced, so is the money for inspections and enforcement. 

LANSING, MI (MPRN)--   Governor Gretchen Whitmer says a deal was close to restore many millions of dollars in budget cuts when state Senate Republicans walked away from the negotiations. 

Michigan Public Radio’s Rick Pluta reports the sticking point appears to be adopting limits on the governor’s ability to move money around within the budget without legislative approval.

LANSING, MI (MPRN)--   The state began accepting applications Friday from people who want to become licensed growers, distributors, and retailers of recreational marijuana. 

It’s been a year since Michigan voters approved allowing people to grow, sell and buy marijuana for recreational use. Michigan joins ten other states and Washington DC, which have also approved recreational marijuana.

LANSING, MI (MPRN)--   Governor Gretchen Whitmer is asking the Michigan Supreme Court to reinstate her emergency ban on the sale of flavored vaping products in Michigan.  

A motion asks the state Supreme Court to bypass lower courts and immediately consider the case. The Whitmer administration’s filing says the matter is urgent because of the risk to public health – it says candy- and popcorn-flavored vaping products are attractive to young consumers who could easily become hooked on nicotine.

LANSING, MI (MPRN)--   The state Senate Republican leader is in discussions with the ballot campaign that succeeded in passing an amendment that changed how legislative and congressional districts are drawn in Michigan. 

His target is the state’s term limits for legislators.

Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey says term limits have created more problems than they  solved. For one thing, he says lawmakers quickly start eyeing post-political careers as lobbyists. He’s hoping the Voters Not Politicians campaign will get on board to help fix that.

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