politics

Patty Birkholz
gvsu.edu

Patty Birkholz, a former southwestern Michigan lawmaker known for environmental and Great Lakes advocacy, has died at 74. A spokesman and family statement say she died Thursday at an assisted living facility in Holland.

The statement says her death came "after a short battle with cancer." Birkholz served the state House from 1997-2002 and Senate from 2003-08.

The Republican had been a Saugatuck Township trustee and Allegan County treasurer.

Republican and Democrat logos
flickr.com

A statewide poll indicates there is a distinctive partisan divide when it comes to politics at the federal level. WGVU breaks down the latest voter survey.

Lansing-based EPIC-MRA recently surveyed 600 registered Michigan voters likely to vote in the 2018 midterm election. Survey respondents were asked if the country is headed in the right or wrong direction - 48% say “wrong track” while 37% believe it’s heading in the “right direction.”

President Donald Trump’s job approval rating was also polled with 41% awarding him positive marks and 57% give him a negative rating.

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Michigan's public schools would receive their largest increase in base per-student funding in 17 years under a budget plan endorsed by the state House.

The Republican-controlled House approved the plan Tuesday, including a boost ranging from $120 to $240 per pupil proposed by Gov. Rick Snyder.

Once the Senate passes a proposal and revised revenue estimates are released, a budget agreement will be finalized in June.

Charter schools could receive the same designation as public schools in a district's millage ballot under a bill narrowly approved by the Michigan House.

Legislators on Thursday voted 56-53 to pass an amendment to the General Property Tax Act allowing districts to describe charter schools as "public schools" when disbursing millage.

The initiative now heads to the Senate and follows a January law signed by Gov. Rick Snyder to let charter schools receive revenue from certain voter-approved property tax hikes.

Pixabay | CC BY 2.0 / pixabay.com

A bill advancing in Michigan's Legislature would require drivers to allow 3 feet (0.9 meters) of clearance while passing a bike, unless it's impracticable.

Wednesday's 98-10 vote in the House comes after months of hearings and behind-the-scenes work. Michigan is among 11 states with no "safe passing" law, and bicyclists have been pushing lawmakers to act as more riders are killed by motorists.

As introduced, the legislation would have required 5 feet (1.5 meters) of clearance. But the House settled on a 3-foot distance.

michigan.gov

Republican gubernatorial candidate Brian Calley has officially been endorsed by Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder.

Snyder made the announcement with the lieutenant governor Wednesday at a construction company in the Detroit suburb of Southfield.

Snyder says he wants to pass the baton to someone who can take Michigan "to an even higher level." He says he has looked forward to endorsing Calley ever since he asked him to be his running mate eight years ago.

Snyder cannot run a third time because of term limits.

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Governor Rick Snyder has signed a budget bill that accelerates spending on road repairs in time to help with the spring and summer construction season.

The bill shifts $175 million from next year’s construction season to use this coming spring and summer to fix roads.

“You’re going to see a lot of (orange) barrels in every corner of Michigan,” he said.

Michigan lawmakers are comfortable with the state’s current driverless vehicle laws.

In 2016, the governor signed into law regulations on autonomous vehicles. Those also allow for testing of self-driving cars on state roads. But this week an autonomous vehicle struck and killed a pedestrian in Arizona.

Governor Rick Snyder has championed autonomous vehicles for a while. He said they need to find out all the issues associated with the death, but he’s not sure it will stall development of autonomous vehicles.

Rapid Silver Line bus
ridetherapid.org

Members of the American Public Transportation Association are in Washington this week. That includes the CEO of Grand Rapids’ Interurban Transit Partnership. Peter Varga, CEO of The Rapid is speaking to Congress on behalf of the American Public Transportation Association.

APTA says the Trump Administration is proposing deep cuts to public transportation funding to help fund its proposed $200 billion infrastructure initiative. Varga is making the case investing in public transit supports economic growth and creates jobs.

Gretchen Whitmer
flickr.com

Michigan's largest labor union is endorsing Gretchen Whitmer for governor. The United Auto Workers, which represents 385,000 active members and retirees in the state, announced the endorsement Monday at its international headquarters in Detroit.

Whitmer, a former legislative leader, is among four main Democrats seeking the nomination in August's primary election. She previously won the backing of the Michigan Education Association, the state's second-biggest union.

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