Michigan State University

Gongwer News Highlights, March 12, 2018

Jon Harrison

Catholic Church, Legislators Challenge Parochiaid Ban

As the Supreme Court declined Monday to remove an injunction against funds included in the fiscal year 2016-17 budget to reimburse private schools for the costs of complying with non-instructional state mandates, legislators behind those funds and at least a faction of the Catholic Church launched a new action to have the ban against parochiaid ruled unconstitutional.  Backers of the $2.5 million have decided to go well beyond that fight, filing a lawsuit seeking to strike down the 1970 voter-passed state constitutional amendment barring the use of public money for nonpublic K-12 schools.

Dem Congressional Delegation Coalesces Around Whitmer

The four U.S. House Democrats on Monday gathered downriver to announce their support of former Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer as their candidate for governor, saying she is the one to end one-party rule in Lansing.  U.S. Rep. Sandy Levin of Royal Oak, U.S. Rep. Brenda Lawrence of Southfield, U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee of Flint and U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell of Dearborn announced their support for Ms. Whitmer at a press conference at a downriver indoor athletic complex.

Kildee: Dems Need To Present Agenda

As Democrats in Michigan seek to win different races throughout the state, including for governor and in the Legislature, it is not enough to simply be not the Republicans, U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee told reporters Monday.

Group: Subpoenas In Redistricting Case Targeted, Fair

An attorney for plaintiffs in a redistricting case in U.S. District Court said a motion to quash subpoenas against 25 individuals involved in crafting the 2011 reapportionment plan should be rejected because such information is normally obtained in similar cases.  Attorney Mark Brewer provided a statement Monday on behalf of the League of Women voters explaining the subpoenas, saying courts have long required proof of partisan intent in gerrymandering cases, which is why all such court cases discuss partisan activity in the legislative process both public and private.  "Michigan is no different - our lawyers have subpoenaed in a targeted fashion the legislative leaders, redistricting committee members, staff, and private consultants involved in drawing the maps," the group said in a statement. "The court - and the public - have a right to know about the secretive, partisan process which led to the currently gerrymandered Congressional, State Senate, and State House maps. The motions to quash the subpoenas are nothing more than an effort to hide important evidence of unconstitutional behavior, an effort we will strongly oppose."

Universities: Reconsider Statute Of Limitations In Sex Assault Bills

Lawmakers are receiving pushback from the state's 15 public universities over a provision in a package of sexual assault bills that would significantly lengthen the statute of limitations for reporting instances of assault or sexual abuse.  The Michigan Association of State Universities sent a letter Monday to lawmakers and Governor Rick Snyder urging the Legislature to wait and further analyze the statute of limitations provisions in the bills before proceeding. Concerns raised include the possibility of numerous lawsuits against local governments, universities and churches, which could cause significant financial exposure and negatively affect their credit ratings.  As written, the legislation would allow prosecutors to bring charges of second-degree criminal sexual conduct against a minor at any time after the alleged act occurs and charges of third-degree criminal sexual conduct against a minor to be brought up until the victim is 48 years old or within 30 years after DNA evidence is obtained.

Special Election To Fill Johnson Senate Seat Announced

Governor Rick Snyder set the special election schedule for the 2nd Senate District seat vacated earlier this month by the resignation of Sen. Bert Johnson.

First Communities Tagged As Having Underfunded Pensions

Nearly 120 local governments during the first round of reporting to the state have been found to have underfunded pension plans, retirement health care plans, or both, according to a preliminary information released Monday by the Department of Treasury.

Farmers Fear Backlash From Tariffs

Exports are essential to agriculture both nationally and in Michigan, and the sector has already seen some backlash from the discussion of tariffs and other trade policies at the federal administration, a group of officials said during a media call Monday.  Uncertainty of national policies is making some trade partners look for alternatives, said Jim Byrum, president of the Michigan Agri-Business Association.

Hines Discloses Finances

Dr. Jim Hines, one of the Republican candidates for governor, disclosed his 2016 finances Monday and argued all candidates should do the same.

Snyder Declares Disaster For Flood Areas

Governor Rick Snyder has declared disasters in 17 counties and two cities affected by flooding after the early heavy rains this year.  The affected communities also can apply for up to $100,000 in grants to reimburse them for recovery and cleanup costs.

Inside Michigan Politics

The long-time political insider newsletter has been sold to Jake Davison, the head of Advantage Associates, a public relations and campaign consulting firm. Susan Demas, who had owned IMP for about five years after purchasing it from founder Bill Ballenger, has been hired as a vice president at Farough and Associates to do campaign strategy and communications.

Source : Gongwer News Service : Michigan Report, Volume #57, Report 48, March 12, 2018.

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