PAC seeks change in child custody laws

The Michigan Board of State Canvassers on Friday considered the language of a proposed petition from a group called Dads and Moms of Michigan.  

The petition would require judges to award fifty-fifty custody of children to parents in custody disputes.   This unless clear evidence shows one parent to be unfit, unwilling, or unable to care for a child.
 
Renee Bleeker, president of the NOW-Michigan chapter, says requiring joint custody might ignore the best interests of children.
 
“In real life we don’t operate fifty-fifty.  In divorce it’s certainly not going to work, especially if people aren’t agreeing or there’s abuse issues.  When you get fifty-fifty then you no longer have any child support burden.  We think that if you took the child support issue out completely, you wouldn’t be having people trying to get fifty-fifty custody.”
 
Bleeker also says a joint-custody mandate is unnecessary because over eighty-five percent of custody disputes are worked out before getting to court.
 
“A good two-thirds of those remaining fifteen percent involve domestic violence in some way, shape or form.  So, then you are mandating victims to share custody and then have to carry the burden of going to court for safety.”

The group Dads and Moms of Michigan says the measure may help children maintain relationships with divorced parents.

The Board of State Canvassers considered whether or not to certify the language of the proposed petition before its circulation.  Five hundred thousand signatures are required before the petition can be on a state-wide ballot.

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Saginaw says scofflaws have no excuses

Saginaw is cracking down on scofflaws, and city officials say some them don’t have any excuse for the consequences.

 

Officials in Saginaw are issuing arrest warrants for people whose tax payments have been delinquent for a number of years.

 

Janet Shramcke is the tax manager for Saginaw.  She says the city gives people ample opportunity to come in and pay their taxes.

 

“We find that people are working they’re just not coming in and taking care of it” says Shramcke

 

 Shramcke says before they started issuing warrants the city was only collecting $200,000 a year in past due taxes. 

 

But since they started their revenue enhancement they have increased that number to one million dollars annually.

 

 

 

“Good Time” credits discussed

BY LAURA WEBER
Michigan Public Radio Network

Governor Granholm and some Democratic lawmakers think the early release of about 75,000 prisoners through good-behavior credits would be a good way for the Department of Corrections to save money. However, some Republicans in the Senate say they won’t even entertain the discussion because Michigan has laws that require “truth in sentencing.”

Ingham County Prosecutor Stuart Dunnings says truth in sentencing was demanded by voters in the mid-1990s.

“The Legislature listened to the outcry of the people, who wanted to be safe in their committees and who wanted some certainty that if somebody got 5-15, they’re going to do the five.”

The chairman of the House Judiciary Committee says there is no timeline to approve the legislation and discussions could continue well into the spring.

© Copyright 2010, MPRN

Commission says state forces local gov’ts to pay billions

BY RICK PLUTA
Michigan Public Radio Network

Cities, townships, counties and school districts told the commission they’ve been forced to pay more than two billion dollars because of requirements forced on them by the state. That would violate the 1978 Headlee amendment to the state constitution that was approved by voters.

Dennis Pollard is an attorney who sat on the commission. He spent 17 years suing the state to recoup special education and transportation costs for school districts.

“The people are in charge and they’ve said very clearly through the Headlee amendment that if the state requires a local unit to do something they have to fund it and that hasn’t been happening.”
    
The commission says it should be easier for local governments to challenge unfunded mandates from the state. And it says they should be allowed to ignore state laws that force them to pick up the tab.

© Copyright 2010, MPRN

 

Senate approves elimination of lifetime health benefits

BY LAURA WEBER
Michigan Public Radio Network

Most legislators in Lansing are happy to save the state money by eliminating retirement health benefits for future lawmakers. Some Democrats in the Senate argued the elimination of retirement benefits should apply to current lawmakers as well. But Republican state Senator Bruce Patterson says eliminating the benefits for any legislators will hurt state government.   

“Hello… What are we doing? We’re setting this state up for failure. We need to be attracting the best and the brightest, not some motley crew.”

But to that Republican state Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop says…

“Bologna. You have people lining up for our job because of the honor of representing their community.”

The Senate and the House have both overwhelmingly approved the measure to eliminate retirement benefits for future lawmakers.

© Copyright 2010, MPRN

Michigan Municipal League talks about unfunded mandates

CMU Public Radio’s Greg Ghering spoke with Summer Minnick, Director of State Affairs with the Michigan Municipal League about a study released today which says the state has been levying unfunded mandates on local governments in violation of the Michigan Constitution for three decades. The Legislative Commission on Statutory Mandates was created by a state law to examine the issue. The commission is recommending an amendment that allows local governments to ignore state mandates that don’t have money earmarked for them.

States’ rights advocates address healthcare

As the President prepares for Thursday’s White House healthcare summit, supporters of states’ rights are getting excited about a proposed amendment to the Michigan constitution.

Wendy Day is the president of Common Sense in Government.  She says a joint resolution in the Michigan legislature would prohibit the federal government from compelling residents to buy health insurance.

“So that if they don’t want to buy insurance, for whatever reason, they can’t be fined, taxed, or otherwise punished or discriminated against.  And also, healthcare providers – hospitals and doctors – can’t be fined, taxed, or discriminated against for accepting private healthcare insurance, or even cash.”

Day says the government should remove certain restrictions on insurance.

“One of the first things they could do is open up healthcare insurance purchasing across state lines.”

Day also says the government should enact tort reform and enforce transparency in costs to reform healthcare.

She’s encouraged by what she calls the federal government’s respect for states’ rights on another healthcare issue.

“That’s the medical marijuana law.  That violates federal law, but when these states started passing these medical marijuana usage laws, the federal government has kind of backed down.  We haven’t seen them come charging in, demanding that the states  obey the federal law.”

Day expects the federal government to respect the proposed amendment to Michigan’s constitution.

She met with other states’ rights advocates earlier this week to discuss the resolutions.

Alan Cropsey is one of three senators to have introduced the joint resolution, which would prohibit federal law from forcing people to participate in a federal healthcare plan.

The legislature will decide whether or not the resolution will be on November’s state ballot.