Rick Pluta

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.

MI senators block Trump US attorney pick

Jan 7, 2020

GRAND RAPIDS, MI (MPRN)--   Michigan’s two US senators have effectively blocked President Donald Trump’s pick to serve as the US attorney for Western Michigan. 

Tom Leonard is a former Republican legislator. He lost his bid last year to become state attorney general before he was nominated by Trump. But Leonard says his nomination was stopped by Democratic Senators Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters without a meeting or a hearing.

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)--   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)--   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.

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