Rick Pluta

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A lawsuit says Michigan is short-changing local governments $4 billion a year.

If it succeeds, it would blow a giant hole in the state budget and send legislators and state budget officials scrambling to find a fix.

The legal action was filed by public interest attorneys and local government officials.

It says the state has been violating the Headlee Amendment to the state constitution by denying local governments their fair share of state sales tax revenue.

Michigan capitol building
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Governor Rick Snyder’s new environmental protection chief goes before a state Senate committee for a confirmation hearing.

But Department of Environmental Quality Director Heidi Grether faces little possibility that her new job is in jeopardy.

Heidi Grether’s predecessor, Dan Wyant, resigned over the Flint water crisis, and the DEQ was run on an interim basis by Keith Creigh, who has returned to his job running the state Department of Natural Resources.

Grether will likely face questions on how she’ll restore confidence in the Department of Environmental Quality.

Donald Trump speaks in Dimondale, Mich., on Friday, August 19.
Cheyna Roth / MPRN

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump courted African-American voters in a visit Saturday to a Detroit church. He called for a civil rights agenda for the '21st Century' and said there are still injustices that need to be addressed. 

Trump said he wants to unite the country, and promised to listen to the concerns of all Americans.

"I’m here today to learn, so that together we can remedy injustice in any form," he said, "and so that we can also remedy economics, so that the African-American community can benefit economically." 

voting sticker
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A legal drama over Michigan’s November election ballot could land next on the steps of the United States Supreme Court.

A federal appeals court has denied Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette’s request for a review of the straight-ticket voting controversy.

Republicans in the Legislature adopted a bill signed into law by Governor Rick Snyder earlier this year law that banned the practice of allowing voters to support a political party’s entire slate of candidates with a single mark on the ballot.

Hilary Farrell

State Republican leaders are still waiting to see if a federal appeals court will restore Michigan’s ban on straight-ticket voting.

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette had asked for a decision from the entire court by Wednesday.

With no word, state elections officials are making preparations to finalize the ballot by the end of next week.

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Former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm has emerged as one of the top campaign surrogates for Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. Granholm has been a Clinton supporter since her first presidential run in 2008. Now, she’s been named a co-chair of the Clinton transition team.

Granholm spoke with Michigan Public Radio’s state Capitol bureau chief, Rick Pluta, about her responsibilities and the presidential campaign.

Michigan Democratic Party Chair Brandon Dillon

The focus is on the November elections with the Republican and Democratic summer nominating conventions wrapped up. 

Democrats, following their meeting over the weekend in Lansing, are hoping presidential nominee Hillary Clinton will lead them to a string of down-ballot victories if she wins the White House.

“We know in Michigan, that when our voters turn out, we win,” says Michigan Democratic Party Chair Brandon Dillon. “Our voters tend to turn out better in presidential elections, but this is an interesting year.”

The state Court of Appeals says a fund created by the Legislature to pay the medical bills of catastrophically injured accident victims does not have to publicly share details on how it operates.

The appeals court upheld a law that exempts the Michigan Catastrophic Claims Association from the state’s Freedom of Information Act. The MCCA was created by law, but is run by insurance companies. It’s funded through a mandatory fee on auto insurance policies.

Sixth circuit

A federal appeals court took aim at Michigan’s sex offender registry law. The court ruled on a narrow legal issue, but suggested the law may be unconstitutional. 

The Sixth Circuit US Court of Appeals said changes to the law cannot be applied retroactively. That means restrictions could be lifted on hundreds of people on the registry.

But the court went further and said Michigan’s registry law isn’t working as intended and seems designed more to punish offenders than protect the public.

Miriam Aukerman is an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union.

Michigan Supreme Court
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The campaign to legalize marijuana in Michigan now hopes the state Supreme Court will order the question onto the November ballot.

A state Court of Claims judge just dealt the campaign a setback. He ruled state elections officials were simply following the rules when they rejected petition signatures gathered outside a 180-day window.

That’s supposed to ensure that only the signatures of currently registered voters are counted.

Jeff Hank is an attorney for MI Legalize. He says that rule disenfranchises thousands of people who signed petitions.