Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Six O'Clock News Briefs - State of the State Edition

I am being absolutely buried by SotS articles and reaction and info. Still sorting it all out. It is difficult for me to shoot and listen at the same time, so today I listened to the speech again to try and digest all that was said - there was a lot to think about there. I liked the overall tone; very realistic about what has to happen, but it also looked with optimism at the things we have done to diversify our economy. Given all that is going on out in the world, we have made some great strides in the past year with alternative energy and the movie/entertainment industry. Good for us.

Here is a roundup of some of the SotS stories:

  • If you missed the speech, you can watch it at WXYZ from Detroit. They have it up in three parts:

    State of the State Address Pt. 1
    State of the State Address Pt. 2
    State of the State Address Pt. 3

    Or, you can read the text here. The Detroit News has a good summary, the Freep does as well, both of which speak to the energy focus. Peter Luke seems a little grumpy, but he was pretty spot-on too. Kathy Barks Hoffman always rocks. Dave Eggert takes a look at the debate over coal.

  • Little known fact: the Governor had to work off a paper version of the speech because the wrong version was loaded into the teleprompter. "That's not something you ever want to happen to you as a speaker," she said.

  • One day after Governor Granholm asked in the State of the State Address for officials to take a 10% cut in pay, the Michigan House voted today 108-1 (will update when we find out who that was) to recommend to the State Officers’ Compensation Commission that they make that happen. Contrary to popular opinion, these guys cannot just arbitrarily change their benefits and pay rates, and any changes would come with the next Legislature in 2011.

    Some more fast action, the MPSC changed the rules on utility shutoffs:

    Unemployed workers and a larger number of lower-income customers now will be able to avoid utility shutoffs if they pay a small portion of their monthly bills.

    Energy companies will continue to be prohibited from shutting off power to seniors 65 or older.

    They banned "limiters", and they will require an employee to verify that anyone receiving a shutoff notice does not fall into one of the qualifying categories that would prevent it from happening. Unfortunately they cannot regulate municipal utilities such as the one that shutoff the power to the 93 year old in Bay City. Lawmakers are still looking at changing that rule.

  • More details on the governor’s proposal to streamline the functions of the state departments also came out today as she made the rounds to the Detroit media. People are wondering what the eight departments would be, so here you go:

    • The economy, including job creation and economic development.
    • State sustainability, which she said takes in the departments of natural resources, environmental quality and agriculture.
    • Better government, including departments such as management and budget, treasury and information technology.
    • Human services, likely combining the departments of human services and community health.
    • Education, which would include K-12 public schools, community colleges and higher education.
    • Public safety, an area that includes the departments of corrections and military and veterans affairs and the Michigan State Police.
    • Attorney general and secretary of state. These are two constitutionally designated departments that can't be rolled up without approval of a statewide ballot proposal.

    Lt. Gov. Cherry will head the effort, and he will spend some time asking leaders and communities for their input on making this all work better.

  • The people that watch these things tell me that Twittering the speech was a big hit. Unfortunately I deleted the stats from the text message I received on my phone - but it was huge! Thanks go out to all the tweet heads that watched and reported!

  • In addition to the movie/entertainment industry announcements in the SotS, The Michigan Economic Development Corporation also announced thousands of additional jobs as well in alternative energy and manufacturing, bringing the total for the day to 8,912 jobs and over $330 million in new investment.

    Jim Epolito, you will be missed. Thanks for everything that you have done for our state.