Rick Pluta

LANSING, MI (MPRN)--   Congressional Democrats are calling on the EPA’s Office of Inspector General to investigate a possible ethics violation. 

They say an attorney who once represented Michigan-based DTE Energy may have violated conflict-of-interest rules.

A report in the Washington Post says EPA air quality chief Bill Wehrum offered advice to the agency that may have benefited his former client.

Skiles Boyd is with DTE. He says the utility had little contact with Wehrum after hiring his firm.

LANSING, MI (MPRN)--   At the state Capitol, Republican leaders say they agree with Democrats that Michigan needs better roads and water infrastructure. 

House GOP leaders outlined their plans for 2019 Tuesday.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer is a Democrat. The Legislature is controlled by Republicans. But GOP leaders say that does not necessarily mean gridlock for the next two years.

Republican state Representative Aaron Miller says the tough job won’t be coming to an agreement that roads need to be fixed.

Jake Neher / Michigan Public Radio Network

LANSING, MI (MPRN)--   The Legislature’s Republican leaders offered mixed reviews to Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s proposed agenda for 2019. 

State House Speaker Lee Chatfield says he’s still waiting to see details on a spending plan to fix Michigan’s roads. But Chatfield says he’s ready to work with Governor Whitmer on finding ways to reduce the cost of auto insurance.

“And that’s something we need to focus on because as we travel the state, the high cost of car insurance does not discriminate based on political parties,” he says.

LANSING, MI (MPRN)--   The government cannot threaten Iraqi detainees with indefinite detention or prosecution to get them to sign a document saying they want to leave the US. 

That’s according to a federal judge in Detroit. The government is trying to deport the Iraqis, who say they face persecution or death if they return to Iraq.

ACLU attorney Miriam Aukerman says the detainees are being denied legal assistance. 

Rick Pluta / Michigan Public Radio Network

LANSING, MI (MPRN)--   A state elections board has complied with a court order to place a question on the November ballot.  It would change how congressional and legislative district boundaries are drawn.

A jubilant crowd broke out in cheers as the Board of State Canvassers voted to put the Voters Not 

Politicians question on the November ballot. Voters Not Politicians leader Katie Fahey says the group has already started voter outreach efforts.

“We are eager and excited to go fixing our state,” she said. “…We look forward to being in the November 6, 2018, ballot.”

LANSING, MI (MPRN)--   Enbridge Energy has submitted a report to the state on possible alternatives to continuing to run an oil and gas pipeline on the bottomlands of the Straits of Mackinac. 

Neither of the alternatives would shut down the line.

Shutting it down is what environmental groups are calling for. Enbridge has proposed digging a tunnel 100 feet below the bottom of the straits, or encasing Line 5 in a trench covered with concrete and stone.

LANSING, MI (MPRN)--   A new state rule requires local water systems to get rid of all their lead service lines over the next 20 years. 

Those are the types of pipes that contributed to the Flint water crisis.

Governor Rick Snyder says a confusing federal lead and copper rule helped create the Flint crisis, and called for Michigan to adopt its own standard covering roughly 2,000 water systems.

“So Michigan will now have its own rule that’s stricter than the federal standard.”

LANSING, MI (MPRN)--   The decision on whether voters will decide to overhaul how Michigan draws congressional and legislative districts is now before the state Supreme Court. 

The business-backed group fighting the campaign says the proposed amendment to the state constitution is too sweeping and complex to be decided as a ballot question. The group Citizens Protecting Michigan’s Constitution asked the Supreme Court to block any action on the proposal while the case is argued.

LANSING, MI (MPRN)--   The Legislature has sent Governor Rick Snyder the new state budget, including a provision that attempts to cut funding to Planned Parenthood. 

Snyder and the Legislature’s disagree on the provision, which could lead to a showdown on whether it will be enforced.

The provision in the budget would require county health departments to favor family planning clinics that don’t also offer abortions. State law already forbids the direct use of public money funds for abortions, so this would apply to money for services unrelated to terminating a pregnancy.

LANSING, MI (MPRN)--   An adult testifying in court in a criminal case cannot bring an emotional support animal to the stand.

The Michigan Court of Appeals made that ruling in a decision released Friday.

A woman filed a rape complaint against a male acquaintance who disputed her version of events. When the trial came, a judge allowed a support dog and a handler holding a leash to be with her when she testified. That was over the objection of the defense.