Rick Pluta


EAST LANSING, MI (MPRN)--   Governor Gretchen Whitmer delivered the official Democratic Party response to the State of the Union address Tuesday evening.

Whitmer delivered her 10-minute rebuttal from an East Lansing high school auditorium packed with invited guests. She took issue with President Trump’s claim of a “blue collar boom.”  

“Americans are hurting. In my own state. Our neighbors in Wisconsin, and Ohio, and Pennsylvania. All over the country wages have stagnated while CEO pay has skyrocketed.”

LANSING, MI (MPRN)--   Democrats are turning to Michigan’ s governor, Gretchen Whitmer, to deliver the English language response to President Trump’s State of the Union address Tuesday night.

The choice highlights the central role Michigan and the industrial Midwest are expected to play in the presidential election this year.

Trump won Michigan by fraction of a percentage point, but that was enough to put the state’s 16 electoral votes in the Republican column. It was also the first time the GOP candidate won the state since 1988.

LANSING, MI (MPRN)--   The State Transportation Commission has given the go-ahead to Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s plan to sell bonds to finance Michigan’s most urgently needed road repairs.

The governor says low interest rates and a growing urgency make bonding the best option right now. But she says borrowing won’t fix the entire problem.

Whitmer says she still hopes the Republican-led Legislature will consider increasing the fuel tax by 45 cents a gallon to raise the needed revenue. And that she’s aware that people are not happy about tax increases.

Rick Pluta / Michigan Public Radio Network

LANSING, MI (MPRN)--   Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer says she'll work around the legislature to fix roads if  lawmakers won't work with her. 

The Michigan Public Radio Network's Rick Pluta attended the governor's State of the State address and has the story.

LANSING, MI (MPRN)--   Governor Gretchen Whitmer says she thinks it will take more than one funding source to raise enough revenue to fix the state’s roads and infrastructure. 

The Legislature rejected her proposal last year to raise the fuel tax. Republican leaders were a quick-and-firm “no” to Whitmer’s proposed 45-cent boost in the fuel tax. That impasse stalled wrapping up the state budget. Now, Governor Whitmer seems to be offering up a menu of possibilities.

The governor says she’s willing to put toll roads and bonding on the table, which earlier had been ruled out.

DETROIT, MI (MPRN)--   Michigan has filed a lawsuit seeking damages from drug companies that distribute opioid painkillers.  

The lawsuit claims the companies did not take necessary precautions despite knowing the dangers posed by opioids.

A 1992 state law allows prosecutors to recover damages from drug dealers. Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel says that law also allows the state to collect damages from drug companies.

The lawsuit targets four pharmaceutical distribution companies. Nessel says those companies are responsible for their products being abused.

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.