The Associated Press

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.

Andrian Clark / Flickr

DETROIT - Federal health officials say about 300,000 Michigan residents have signed up for health care through the federal exchange, most with financial help.

U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell told reporters Tuesday that the 299,750 sign-ups as of Jan. 16 represent those who have selected a health plan or re-enrolled, not paid. Of those, 33% enrolled for the first time.

House in Detroit.
Jason Irla / Flickr

DETROIT - Mayor Mike Duggan has released a plan to allow Detroit municipal workers, retirees and their families to pay half the price of their winning auction bids for city-owned houses.

Duggan told reporters Monday that the program will help strengthen neighborhoods and return more residents to home ownership.

He says the plan could be in place by mid-February if approved by City Council.

The city owns thousands of empty houses. It is tearing down those that can't be rehabilitated while attempting to sell others to buyers willing to fix them up and move in. Detroit began auctioning vacant houses last year through its land bank.

A wind turbine in the Garden Wind Farm in the Upper Peninsula.
Garden Wind Farm Project

GARDEN, Mich. - Eleven people who live near the first wind farm in Michigan's Upper Peninsula say the whir of turbines has reduced property values, diminished their sleep and put birds at risk.

They filed a lawsuit last week in federal court against Heritage Sustainable Energy and the U.S. government, seeking to block expansion and require more study on the impacts.

The 2015 Ford Mustang.
Ford Motor Company

The Ford Mustang is on its way to China.

Ford says its first shipload of around 100 Mustangs has left Portland, Oregon, and is headed to China. Shipments to Europe will begin later this year.

MLK, Jr. at Hill Auditorium in Ann Arbor.
Bentley Historical Library

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) - Events are planned around Michigan to honor Martin Luther King Jr., including appearances by the mother of Trayvon Martin.

Sybrina Fulton is scheduled to speak Monday at Grand Valley State University's Fieldhouse Arena and Grand Rapids Community College's Gerald R. Ford Fieldhouse. Her 17-year-old son was fatally shot in 2012 by a neighborhood watch volunteer, sparking widespread protests.

USFWS

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) - Wolf attacks in Michigan's Upper Peninsula killed at least 26 cattle and 17 hunting dogs last year.

MLive.com says the numbers come from the Department of Natural Resources, through Dec. 22. The number of attacks, 35, was higher than the 20 reported in 2013.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - The state of Michigan will pay for a study within a year to determine what it costs to sufficiently educate a student.

The law signed this week by Governor Rick Snyder requires the state to then report the study's finding to the Legislature, governor and state auditor.

Snyder endorsed the report from the Michigan Department of Technology, Management and Budget indicating a notable decrease in unemployment in Michigan over the past month.
gophouse.com

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Republican Governor Rick Snyder launches his second-term agenda with a State of the State speech Tuesday outlining priorities such as a focus on jobs in the skilled trades and a re-evaluation of government programs.

But he also has unfinished business from his 2014 address.

As promised, he created an office to attract immigrants and won federal approval so Michigan can run a visa center seeking foreign entrepreneurs.

Snyder endorsed the report from the Michigan Department of Technology, Management and Budget indicating a notable decrease in unemployment in Michigan over the past month.
gophouse.com

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder expects to make mid-year cuts in the state budget because tax revenue is $289 million short of initial predictions.

His administration and legislative economists are meeting Friday to settle on revised budget numbers. The shortfall of hundreds of millions of dollars is mostly being blamed on businesses cashing in tax credits at a higher rate than expected.

Kildee says one way Iran can show it can be trusted to work with the U.S. is if Iran releases Amir Hekmati, a Flint man who has been imprisoned in Iran for nearly three years. A retired U.S. marine, Hekmati was arrested on charges of spying while visiting
Hekmati family

FLINT, Mich. (AP) - Congressman Dan Kildee of Michigan plans to leave his guest seat empty at next week's State of the Union address to call attention to the case of a former U.S. Marine imprisoned in Iran.

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