The Associated Press

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

LANSING - Auditors say the state was moderately effective in monitoring Michigan school districts to ensure they have effective special education programs.

  A state audit released last week says the Office of Special Education didn't flag students' noncompliance with annual goals and didn't ensure there were appropriate caseloads at four of seven audited school districts and charter schools.

Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

TOLEDO, Ohio  - Ohio's lawmakers are moving toward taking on the algae that has plagued Lake Erie in recent years.

  New legislation recently approved in the state House would ban farmers in much of northwestern Ohio from spreading manure on frozen or saturated fields.

  Farmers also would need to hold off if heavy rains are in the forecast. Another provision would set new rules on the dumping of dredged sediment in the lake.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

LANSING (AP) - Michigan lawmakers have three weeks left in their lame-duck session to enact a potentially wide-ranging assortment of bills, topped by a measure to significantly boost road funding.

  The Republican-led Senate's recent approval of a bill to more than double state gasoline and diesel taxes over four years faces an "uphill climb" in the GOP-controlled House, says Speaker Jase Bolger. He's floating an alternative to gradually eliminate the state sales tax at the pump while raising per-gallon fuel taxes a corresponding amount.

DETROIT  - A three-judge panel will hear former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick's appeal for a new trial.

  Documents show oral arguments are scheduled for Jan. 13 before the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati.

  Kilpatrick wants his corruption conviction overturned. He is serving a 28-year sentence at a federal prison after a jury last year convicted him of two dozen crimes, from tax evasion to bribery. He appealed, saying there was a conflict involving his attorneys, among other reasons.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

LANSING  (AP) - A typical Michigan driver would initially pay roughly $4.60 more a month in state gasoline taxes under a gradual tax increase proposed to boost funding for road repairs.

  In 2018, a driver buying 60 gallons of gas a month could pay $14.70 per month more than today. That's an extra $177 a year, more than double the $137 in per-gallon state fuel taxes he or she currently pays annually.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

FLINT  (AP) - A worker's compensation claim in Michigan could require a full tank of gas.

  The Michigan Supreme Court says a person injured on the job has no right to have a worker's compensation hearing in the same county. The court recently reversed a decision from the state appeals court in the case of Lawrence Younkin, who injured his back in Genesee County.

  Younkin sued after officials consolidated offices and moved some hearings to Eaton County from Flint, a distance of roughly 70 miles.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

LANSING (AP) - Democratic lawmakers are proposing increased state oversight of Michigan's oil and gas pipelines.

  The four-bill package announced this week would require the state Department of Environmental Quality to regularly inspect pipelines under the Great Lakes and mandate that pipeline operators submit emergency response plans to state regulators.

  Rep. Jeff Irwin of Ann Arbor says he's thankful aging lines beneath the Straits of Mackinac haven't leaked. But he says more oversight is needed to "ensure Michigan's economy and natural resources are protected."

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

DETROIT - Law enforcement officials in Detroit say they have arrested dozens of people and seized illegal weapons and drugs in a coordinated enforcement effort.

  The Detroit Police Department said in a press release Wednesday that the effort dubbed "Operation Wild Turkey" focused on two precincts on the city's east side. City police worked with state and federal law enforcement agencies.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Customers and protesters will be at many big retailers today.

Toys R Us, Best Buy, JC Penney, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Wal-Mart and Target are just a few of big retailers open on Thanksgiving.

Several groups object to retailers being open on the holiday. They say it’s unfair to their employees making them choose between their family and their job. 

Jim Hallan is with the Michigan Retailers Association.  He says other people have to work on Thanksgiving. Why not retail workers?

MSU's Broad Art Museum.
user ranti.junus / Flickr

EAST LANSING, Mich. - The Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum at Michigan State University is teaming up with an Istanbul-based art organization on an exhibit that explores student debt in higher education.

The exhibition entitled "Day After Debt: A Call for Student Loan Relief" will be installed in spaces throughout the East Lansing museum from Sunday through April 12. The Broad is working with Protocinema on the project initiated by Kurdish artist Ahmet Ogut.

Museum officials say the exhibition responds "to the debt culture that has grown around the demand for higher education" as well as "the pressures that it places upon graduates."

Organizers say the works include a collection box composed of shredded U.S. currency and a transparent plastic bag accompanied by a humorous hierarchy of donation levels.

Yost Arena
University of Michigan

The University of Michigan's Board of Regents has approved an interim athletic director appointment and a $5.8 million upgrade to a hockey arena.

The board signed off Thursday on Jim Hackett's appointment and the renovations to Yost Ice Arena's rink floor and refrigeration system. The meeting moved from the Michigan Union to an administrative building after a group of protesters interrupted to voice concerns over minority enrollment.

Hackett was introduced as the interim athletic director on Oct. 31 when former athletic director Dave Brandon's resignation was announced. Hackett will be paid $600,000 per year for an “indefinite” period of time. He is a former Michigan football player and recently retired as CEO of Grand Rapids-based office furniture maker Steelcase Inc.

Construction on the arena is expected to be completed by next summer.

Governor Rick Snyder is hosting the 2014 North American International Summit.
michigan.gov

Gov. Rick Snyder is hosting Michigan's third summit to address cyber security issues in government, business and other sectors.

The North American International Cyber Summit takes place today at the Cobo Center in Detroit.

Experts from across the country will talk about trends and best practices in cyber security.

Featured speakers include the governor, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, former Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, military leaders and private-sector experts.

Data theft and security breaches can be costly, both to businesses and the government. According to the state, the Michigan government suffers more than 500,000 computer attacks each day, including spam, web browser attacks and network intrusion.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

DETROIT (AP) - Cold weather will slow water shutoffs in Detroit, but not halt a nearly yearlong push to collect on past due accounts.

  Detroit Water Department spokeswoman Curtrise Garner tells The Associated Press that crews will stop disconnections only during long bouts of below freezing temperatures when the ground is too hard to reach water connections.

  Service has been disconnected to 31,300 customers since Jan. 1. A several-week moratorium allowed some customers to enter into payment plans.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Gov. Rick Snyder's upcoming trip to China to coax companies to expand in Michigan won't be cheap, but economic development officials say the money is well spent and producing results.

The governor's last investment mission to Asia cost $251,000 and a concurrent trade trip totaled $173,000. Expenses included flights, lodging, other travel, meals, gifts and receptions.

  Nearly $219,000 of the bill for Snyder's trip was covered with money Michigan receives from American Indian casinos' gambling profits.

Biologycorner / Creative Commons

State education officials have updated standardized testing for public school students across Michigan. Details of the Michigan Student Test of Educational Progress were announced Thursday.

The new tests, known as M-STEP, replace the 44-year-old Michigan Educational Assessment Program.

Last spring the state was set to switch over from the MEAP to a test called "Smarter Balanced.” But lawmakers balked at the idea, because the test aligned with the controversial Common Core standards.

Jack will be the mayor of citizens such as this Green Tree Frog.
User e_monk / flickr.com

An 8-year-old boy from Milford has been sworn in as the new boss of the Detroit Zoo's amphibian population.

Jack Salvati this week began his two-year term as the mayor of Amphibiville, a 2-acre wetland village that's home to the National Amphibian Conservation Center.

Jack sought the office because of his love for amphibians. The mayor called his swearing-in "the happiest day" of his life.

A plaque bearing Jack's name and photo will be displayed in the National Amphibian Conservation Center throughout his term. He also receives a plush frog and a one-year family membership to the zoo.

The zoo invited candidates ages 7-12 who live in Michigan to enter the mayor's race by submitting a 100-word essay.

The outgoing mayor is 13-year-old Gabriel P.J. Graydon of Southfield.

Michigan lawmakers chose new leaders after the recent elections.
Matt Katzenberger / flickr.com

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Michigan lawmakers' first order of business after the election was picking new leaders.

Republicans on Thursday chose Arlan Meekhof to lead the Senate for the next four years. The 54-year-old from West Olive is best known for sponsoring one of Michigan's two right-to-work laws that made union fees voluntary.

Rep. Kevin Cotter of Mount Pleasant was chosen to be Speaker of the House. Al Pscholka of Stevensville also sought the speakership but dropped his bid in exchange for being named to chair the powerful House Appropriations Committee.

Rep. Tim Greimel of Auburn Hills will continue as House Democrats' leader. Senate Democrats picked Sen. Jim Ananich of Flint to succeed Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer of East Lansing.  

In January, Republicans will have 63-47 and 27-11 edges in the House and Senate.

Marijuana plant.
bobdoran / Flickr

BERKLEY, Mich. (AP) - Voters in three southeastern Michigan communities have passed marijuana possession proposals.

Unofficial results on the Oakland County elections website say the proposals were approved Tuesday in Berkley, Huntington Woods and Pleasant Ridge.

Results weren't immediately available late Tuesday in Clare, Frankfort, Harrison, Lapeer, Mount Pleasant, Onaway, Port Huron and Saginaw.

Most called for the legalization or decriminalization of small amounts of marijuana for personal use.

Voters in Hazel Park and Oak Park passed measures in August.

Voters in Ferndale, Jackson and Lansing approved proposals last year that call on police not to arrest people for possession if they are found with an ounce or less of marijuana, are at least 21 years old and are on private property.

State law bars marijuana use and possession unless it's medical marijuana.

Michigan Secretary of State, Ruth Johnson.
MI SOS

Republican Secretary of State Ruth Johnson has defeated Democratic challenger Godfrey Dillard in her bid for a second four-year term as Michigan's top elections and driver services official.

Johnson is a former Oakland County register of deeds and ran unsuccessfully for lieutenant governor in 2006. She was elected secretary of state in 2010.

This year, Johnson has campaigned on her efforts to improve Michigan motor vehicle registration and driver's license system.

She says she plans to build on efforts to improve online services and reduce the waiting in line that long has been the complaint of Michigan motorists.

Dillard is a prominent civil rights lawyer and campaigned on making voting easier.

Libertarian James Lewis, U.S. Taxpayers' Robert Gale and Natural Law Party's Jason Robert Gatties also were on Tuesday's ballot.

Attorney General Bill Schuette has been reelected.
Bill Schuette

Republican Bill Schuette has been re-elected to a second term as Michigan's attorney general.

Schuette defeated Democrat Mark Totten and other candidates in Tuesday's general election.

The 61-year-old Schuette is a former congressman, state lawmaker and state appeals judge. He has campaigned heavily on being tough on crime.

He has supported funding to process thousands of untested rape evidence kits in Detroit, targeted human trafficking and pushed Michigan lawmakers to pass a school safety program.

Schuette also appealed a federal judge's ruling that Michigan's gay marriage ban is unconstitutional and supported a U.S. Supreme Court decision in April that upheld the state's ban on using race as a factor in college admissions.

Totten is a Michigan State University associate law professor and former special U.S. attorney.

karamanislaw.com

 KALAMAZOO, Mich. (AP) - Medical implant maker Stryker will pay at least $1.43 billion to settle thousands of lawsuits from patients who had to have surgery to remove problematic hip implants.

The settlement agreement, brokered by a New Jersey Superior Court judge, resolves state and federal lawsuits against the maker of orthopedics. Stryker said Monday the $1.43 billion figure represents the "low end of the range of probable loss to resolve these matters."

The lawsuits stem from two hip implants that Stryker recalled due to corrosion and other problems in 2012. One year ago Johnson & Johnson paid $2.5 billion to settle 8,000 lawsuits from patients who had to have the company's metal ball-and-socket hip implant removed or replaced.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - State auditors are raising questions about thousands of dollars of purchases charged to gas cards.

  The audit released Friday found people driving state vehicles spent $372,000 on things besides gas during a recent two-year period. About 40 percent of that amount was charged to a category called "other."

  The state of Michigan's vehicle policy has many restrictions on the use of gas cards. Food, beverages, maps and towing are among the prohibited items.

Gas prices from the past at the shuttered Logan's Gas and Deli near Battle Creek.
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

DEARBORN, Mich. - The average price of gas statewide has dropped below $3 a gallon in Michigan for the first time in nearly four years.

Average gas prices fell 14 cents from last week and are currently about $2.99 per gallon. That's roughly 38 cents less than the same time last year.

Prices dipped below the $3 mark yesterday in metro Detroit, where the average gas price is $2.97.

A gas history report by AAA determined the average price of gas hasn't been below $3 a gallon in Michigan since December 2010. The organization says gas prices typically decline in the fall, when the industry begins offering a cheaper winter-blend and demand decreases.

G.P. Putnam & Sons

DETROIT (AP) - Hockey great Gordie Howe has lost some function on the right side of his body after having a stroke Sunday in Texas.

  Howe's daughter Cathy says the 86-year-old Detroit Red Wings legend has lost much use of his right arm and right leg. Howe suffered the stroke in Lubbock, Texas, where his daughter lives.

Michigan State Police

DETROIT (AP) - A newspaper says nearly 10 billion gallons of sewer overflows were released into rivers and lakes in southeastern Michigan after a tremendous August storm.

  The Detroit Free Press says the number comes from reports to state regulators. The waste came from sanitary sewers that couldn't handle the rain and systems that combine stormwater and sewage.

  Untreated waste carries contaminants that can spoil Lake St. Clair beaches in Macomb County and put drinking water at risk. The Free Press says 10 billion gallons would equal about 20 million 50-gallon baths.

bernsteinforjustice.com

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Richard Bernstein has put more than $1.8 million of his own money into his campaign for the Michigan Supreme Court.

  The disclosure was made Friday as candidates for a variety of political offices met a deadline to report campaign finances. Bernstein is an Oakland County lawyer who was nominated by the Democratic Party for an eight-year term on the Supreme Court.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Governor Rick Snyder's re-election campaign raised $2.5 million in the past eight weeks and has about $1.8 million in the final days before the November 4th election.

  Democratic challenger Mark Schauer's campaign took in $1.6 million and has about $1.4 million.

  The campaigns filed fundraising reports Friday covering late August through last weekend.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Eli Broad  is writing another big check at Michigan State University.

  Broad and wife Edythe are giving $25 million to Michigan State's College of Business, which bears the Broad name. The donation increases their total giving to MSU to nearly $100 million.

  The latest gift was announced Friday. MSU President Lou Anna Simon says it's "extraordinary and will have a lasting impact."

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

DETROIT (AP) - The Michigan appeals court says workers can qualify for unemployment pay if they're fired for using medical marijuana.

  In a 3-0 decision Friday, the court ruled in favor of a hi-lo operator, a hospital employee and a furniture repairman. The court says there was no evidence that they used marijuana at work or that they had worked while under the influence of pot.

  Rick Braska, Jenine Kemp and Stephen Kudzia were fired after drug tests. All had medical marijuana cards. The use of marijuana to alleviate certain ailments was approved by voters.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

DETROIT (AP) - Can't get enough of zombies, or wish they'd die - again - already?

  Just in time for Halloween, a discussion planned near Detroit's Wayne State University will inform those on either side of undead debate.

  Wayne State Assistant English Professor Chera Kee brings her zombie wisdom Tuesday to the Knowledge on Tap speaker series. She'll present The History, Lore and Growth of Zombie Culture at The Whitney's Ghost Bar.

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