The Associated Press

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

  LANSING, Mich. (AP) - As Michigan readies for a vote on raising taxes to smooth a deteriorating network of roads, one reason is because it's contending with the reality that federal money for the projects is down.

About $1 billion from the Federal Highway Trust Fund was made available to Michigan in 2013. That's 8 percent less than five years earlier and 15 percent less when adjusted for inflation, according to figures compiled by the Associated Press.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Winter's icy grip on Michigan has some in the Legislature arguing once again that the state should allow schools more days for weather-related closures before they must add extra days to the end of the school year.

Schools can be closed for up to six days before they must make up time to receive full funding from the state. But Michigan's 852 school districts missed an average of 9.5 school days in the 2013-2014 school year. And this winter is shaping up to be harsh as well.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

UPDATED 5/11/15

DETROIT (AP) - The Michigan appeals court has rejected challenges from people who don't want a new digital meter from DTE Energy.

The court says state regulators did nothing illegal or unreasonable in approving an opt-out program. It allows DTE to charge customers about $10 a month to send someone to a house to record electricity usage by hand. Customers who opt-out will get new meters but the radio transmitter will be turned off.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Michigan businesses that hire unemployed veterans would be eligible for up to $4,000 in tax credits under recently proposed legislation.

The Hire MI Heroes Act is expected to be introduced as legislation in Michigan's House and Senate soon with bipartisan support.

NOAA

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) - For the second consecutive winter, bitter weather threatens to turn the surface of the Great Lakes into a vast frozen plain.

The federal Great Lakes research laboratory in Ann Arbor reports Friday that nearly 81 percent of the five lakes' surface area is ice-covered. On Thursday, the ice cover exceeded 85 percent.

  The lab's George Leshkevich says the small drop-off probably happened because winds broke apart some ice, creating open spots.

DETROIT (AP) - The family of a Detroit mosque leader shot 20 times by FBI agents has failed to persuade a federal court to reinstate a lawsuit against the government.

An appeals court this week upheld a decision to dismiss a lawsuit filed by the estate of Luqman Abdullah. The decision centers on a technical point: The court says a three-year deadline to sue was missed.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Michigan's elections director has released proposed wording of a road funding ballot proposal asking voters if they want to increase the state sales tax.

Chris Thomas published his proposed language Friday. The Board of State Canvassers will meet next week to determine the constitutional amendment's wording in the May 5 special election.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. - A new report says lobbyists spent a near record total of about $37 million in 2014 trying to influence legislation in Michigan.

The Michigan Campaign Finance Network said Tuesday that lobbyists' spending in 2014 totaled $37,038,329. That's just short of the record spending reported for 2012, a total of $37,152,883.

Snowflake.
user RachelEllen / Flickr

DETROIT - Bitterly cold weather is expected to persist across Michigan into the weekend.

Temperatures moderated from Sunday and Monday's deep freeze, with readings Tuesday morning ranging from 8 below zero in Monroe to 18 above in Ludington. Highs were expected in the low 20s.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

NEWBERRY, Mich. (AP) - An Arctic cold front has settled over Michigan, sending temperatures plunging to minus 27 in the Upper Peninsula and minus 22 in the northern Lower Peninsula.

The deep freeze Sunday came with an easing of the blowing snow that forced a number of Upper Peninsula roads to close Saturday.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

TAYLOR, Mich. (AP) - A state labor commission has ruled in favor of school employees in suburban Detroit who argued that a 10-year contract in the Taylor district was an illegal move to force them to pay union dues.

In a 2-1 decision Friday, the Michigan Employment Relations Commission ordered the Taylor district and the union to take no adverse action against teachers or other employees who decline to support the union. 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Confusion surrounding the legality of marijuana dispensaries and non-smokable forms of the drug are prompting lawmakers to propose changes to Michigan's 5-year-old law that legalized marijuana for medical use.

Bipartisan legislation would allow for "provisioning centers" where patients with a state-issued medical marijuana card could obtain marijuana.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

DETROIT (AP) - The judge who delayed his retirement to oversee Detroit's historic bankruptcy is stepping down next week.

The U.S. Bankruptcy Court asked a federal appeals court on Friday to name another judge to take the case. Detroit emerged from bankruptcy in December but there still will be some issues ahead.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

DETROIT (AP) - Michigan Democrats are gathering to conduct party business and to re-elect their leader for another two-year term.

Lon Johnson is expected to be chosen as chairman again at the party's convention Saturday afternoon in Detroit. He took charge in 2013.

  He says the party's infrastructure has improved under his watch, but Democrats have to start winning races.

theunitedwest.org

DEARBORN, Mich. (AP) - One of the country's top Islamic leaders is holding prayers away from his Detroit-area mosque as his relationship deteriorates with board members.

The Detroit Free Press reports Imam Hassan al-Qazwini led prayers Friday at the Ford Community and Performing Arts Center.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Michigan and Ohio researchers are building a "sound map" of religion in Midwestern communities to explore religious diversity in a novel way.

Religious and comparative studies professors from Michigan State University and Ohio State University received a $30,000 grant from the Humanities without Walls consortium. It's funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - A judge has rejected a challenge from opponents of Michigan's right-to-work law who claimed people were illegally locked out of the Capitol when lawmakers debated the legislation in 2012.

Court of Claims Judge Deborah Servitto ruled in favor of the Legislature and dismissed the lawsuit Friday. She says the rights of the public were not impaired when the Capitol was temporarily closed by state police due to overcrowding.

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Health experts hope a change in Michigan's vaccination waiver policy ensures more kids are immunized in a state with the country's fourth-highest percentage of kindergartners exempted from at least one vaccine.

The new rule was sought by Gov. Rick Snyder's administration and approved by lawmakers. It took effect Jan. 1 and comes amid a rise in whooping cough and measles cases.

ToledoOH.gov

TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) - The mayor of Toledo, Ohio, has died five days after suffering cardiac arrest while driving during a snowstorm.

A city spokeswoman, Stacy Weber, says Mayor D. Michael Collins died Friday at the University of Toledo Medical Center.

The 70-year-old Collins was in his first term as mayor of Ohio's fourth-largest city. He was a former police officer and City Council member.

City officials say he was found unconscious after crashing his SUV into a utility pole Sunday when he suffered cardiac arrest.

1995-1996 Toyota Camry.
IFCAR / wikimedia commons

MINNEAPOLIS - A federal jury has ordered Toyota Motor Corp. to pay nearly $11 million to victims of a fatal wreck after deciding a design flaw in the 1996 Camry was partially to blame for the Minnesota crash.

The verdict, which also held the driver partially responsible, was announced Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis.

Koua Fong Lee's 1996 Camry crashed into another vehicle in St. Paul. Lee testified he tried to stop, but that the car wouldn't slow.

The Great Lakes from space.
NASA

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. - President Barack Obama's proposed budget for 2016 seeks a $50 million cut in a multi-year program to clean up the Great Lakes.

The president's spending plan released Monday requests $250 million for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, down from $300 million appropriated for this year.

5 Gyres

Indiana lawmakers are getting closer to banning cosmetics containing tiny plastic particles that scientists say are polluting the Great Lakes. Illinois and New York already have.

You can find micro-beads in face scrubs, even toothpastes. They make up about 20 percent of plastic pollution in the Great Lakes, according to a recent study.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

DETROIT (AP) - A winter storm has unloaded up to a foot of snow as it passed across Michigan's Lower Peninsula, snarling traffic, stranding thousands of air travelers and extending the weekend for hundreds of schools.

The storm has made driving slow and dangerous throughout the region.

shrinechurch.com

ROYAL OAK, Mich. (AP) - The pope has elevated a historic church in suburban Detroit to the status of minor basilica.

The Catholic Archdiocese of Detroit says that Pope Francis awarded the honor to the National Shrine of the Little Flower in Royal Oak.

NEA

DETROIT (AP) - The chairwoman of the National Endowment for the Arts is scheduled to visit Detroit's cultural center area, including the Detroit Institute of Arts.

Jane Chu's planned tour on Monday includes the Sugar Hill Arts District and the Woodward Garden Block. She's also set to visit the art museum and speak with reporters there.

The Department of Natural Resources

HANCOCK, Mich. (AP) - State officials have closed 32 waterfront campsites at F.J. McLain State Park in the Upper Peninsula because of unsafe conditions and erosion along the Lake Superior shoreline.

  The Michigan Department of Natural Resources says 18 sites at the park near Hancock will remain closed permanently, while 14 will be evaluated in the spring for safety and accessibility.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Gov. Rick Snyder and lawmakers are making third-graders' reading proficiency a significant focus this year.

  They have unspecified plans to improve kids' literacy long before they're 8 or 9 years old. But it remains unclear how far policymakers will go to deal with students who still aren't reading well enough by the end of third grade.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

WHITE LAKE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) - This winter has yet to wallop the Detroit area, but that could change as what may be the first major snowstorm of the season heads toward southern Michigan.

  The National Weather Service in White Lake Township says snow is expected to start falling around midnight Sunday and continue for about 24 hours.

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - The Snyder administration says an official overseeing Michigan's prison food contract with Aramark Correctional Services has left the job after five months.

Ed Buss is an ex-Florida and Indiana prison chief. He began work Sept. 2 overseeing Michigan's three-year, $145 million contract with Philadelphia-based Aramark.

The Detroit Public Library.
Detroit Public Library

DETROIT - Two ex-contractors for the Detroit Public Library have been sentenced to more than two years in prison for their role in a $1.4 million kickback scheme.

U.S. District Judge George Caram Steeh on Tuesday sentenced 44-year-old James Henley of Detroit to 27 months in prison and 32-year-old Ricardo Hearn of Royal Oak to 28 months in prison. The pleaded guilty to conspiracy.

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