morning news roundup

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Flint mayor declares war on blight

"Flint Mayor Dayne Walling is calling for a $70 million "war on blight" to help tear down nearly 6,000 buildings in the financially troubled city. Walling made the declaration Monday in his State of the City speech," the Associated Press reports.

Great Lakes 90% covered with ice

All of the Great Lakes combined have 90% ice cover. According to the Detroit Free Press, "that's the most ice cover in 34 years."

Lawmakers want to ban term "retard" from state law

"Michigan lawmakers are looking to remove the terms 'mental retardation' and 'mentally retarded' from state law. Bipartisan bills would strike references to outdated language such as 'retarded' from various statutes and instead use terms such as 'developmentally disabled' or 'intellectually disabled'," the Associated Press reports.

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Governor announces plan to help foster care system

"Gov. Rick Snyder says the state could do a better job protecting foster children if it changed the way it paid for the service. The governor unveiled a report yesterday that says the state should pay foster care agencies based on their performance," Jake Neher reports.

Schools in better financial shape

"There are fewer school districts in Michigan that have budget deficits than there were at the end of 2013, and more districts are pulling themselves out of debt. That’s according to the state Department of Education," Rick Pluta reports.

Debbie Dingell to officially run for U.S. House

"Debbie Dingell is officially launching her campaign today for the U.S. House seat held by her husband," the Associated Press reports.

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Longest-serving congressman from Michigan retires

John Dingell, the longest-serving congressman in American history has announced his retirement. "There may still be a Dingell in the race," Steve Carmody reports. "Debbie Dingell, the congressman’s wife, is seen as a favorite in a potential race."

Same-sex marriage trial starts today in Michigan

Michigan’s ban on same-sex marriage will be debated in federal court starting today. The case involves a lesbian couple from Detroit who are raising three adopted children, but can't jointly adopt the children.

President Obama to announce manufacturing hub in Detroit

"President Barack Obama will announce today the creation of two Pentagon-led institutes that will bring together companies, federal agencies and universities to work on technologies that can boost manufacturing. The institutes in Chicago and near Detroit fulfill Obama's 2013 State of the Union promise to create three manufacturing hubs with a federal infusion of $200 million," the Associated Press reports.

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Same sex marriage trial

Michigan’s ban on same-sex marriage goes on trial this week in Detroit. The case involves a lesbian couple who want to get married so they can jointly adopt the special needs children they’re raising together.

Bills to crack down on meth move forward

"Legislation to stop the sale of ephedrine or pseudoephedrine to people convicted of methamphetamine-related crimes is moving ahead in Lansing. The state Senate last week overwhelmingly approved bills to alert Michigan stores not to sell cold medicine containing the popular ingredients for meth production to criminals convicted of meth offenses," the Associated Press reports.

Bankruptcy plan gives safety net for pensioners

"[Detroit's] bankruptcy plan calls for cutting pensions for general city retirees by up to 30 percent. But this fund would give some of that money back to pensioners who fall close to the federal poverty line," Sarah Hulett reports.

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More Michiganders signing up for health care than expected

"About 112,000 Michigan residents chose a private insurance plan under the federal health care law through January, outpacing what was projected in a government memo last summer," the Associated Press reports.

Juvenile lifer sentencing rules head to the governor's desk

"Michigan lawmakers have given final approval to new sentencing rules after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down mandatory life imprisonment for juveniles. The bills now head to Gov. Rick Snyder for his signature. The legislation applies to future cases and not retroactively to more than 350 Michigan inmates under 18 when they committed crimes," the Associated Press reports.

Lowest amount of money spent on roads in the U.S.: Michigan

"Michigan spends less money per capita on our roads and bridges than any other state in the nation. We spent just $154 dollars per person, according to the 2010 Census," Michigan Radio reports.

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Group files petition today to bump minimum wage to $9.50

"The campaign to raise Michigan’s minimum wage has settled on a target of $9.50 an hour. The group expects to file its petition language later today with state elections officials," Rick Pluta reports.

Belle Isle becomes a state park

Detroit's Belle Isle park becomes Michigan's newest state park today.

"The state is taking over the city-owned park under a lease deal with Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr. [The move is] expected to save the bankrupt city between $4 million and $6 million a year," the Associated Press reports.

Saginaw school board continues to negotiate deficit elimination plan

"Saginaw school board members will try again tomorrow to hash out a deficit elimination plan. Last week school board members met three times to discuss a plan to trim the district’s multi-million dollar deficit. The plan included layoffs and school closings," Steve Carmody reports.

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Anti-abortion coverage bill approved

"The Michigan Legislature has approved a petition initiative that will require people to buy a separate health insurance policy for abortion coverage. The measure cannot be vetoed by Governor Rick Snyder. But it could be challenged via another petition drive," Rick Pluta reports.

What bills could move through on the last day of session

"Big legislation that could win final approval today would expand a state reform school district to failing schools beyond Detroit and ease the potential discontinuation of traditional land line service. Legislators also plan to update campaign laws heading into an election year by doubling donation limits and keeping intact rules for political ads over objections from the secretary of state," the Associated Press reports.

DIA now involved in bankruptcy talks

"The Detroit Institute of Arts has been allowed into talks on how to protect pieces in its collection during Detroit's bankruptcy. Museum officials say they're mobilizing public support to help implement a fundraising strategy that will meet the city's needs and ensure the well-being of the museum," the Associated Press reports.

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Anti abortion coverage proposal could move forward today

"A proposal to require insurance companies to stop offering abortion coverage as part of basic health insurance plans takes a critical step today. Right to Life advocates want insurance companies to offer abortion coverage only as a separate rider to women. The Board of State Canvassers is expected to certify that the group collected enough signatures to put the proposal before the legislature," Steve Carmody reports.

U.P. tribe and the state in U.S. Supreme Court over off-reservation casino

"An Upper Peninsula Indian tribe will defend itself today before the United States Supreme Court against a lawsuit filed by the state of Michigan. The state is trying to stop the tribe from opening an off-reservation casino in the town of Vanderbilt in northern lower Michigan," Rick Pluta reports.

Group to gather signatures to have wolf hunt next year

"A pro-hunting coalition is launching a campaign to collect petition signatures seeking a possible third statewide vote next November on hunting wolves in Michigan. Their measure would let the Natural Resources Commission name game species, protecting Michigan's new wolf hunt. The state says that hunters had killed 17 wolves in the Upper Peninsula through Sunday morning," the Associated Press reports.

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Michigan veterans get little benefits compared to other states

"This Veterans Day, Michigan has the dubious distinction of having its military veterans among those receiving the least government benefits of any in the 50 states. Michigan’s more than 650,000 veterans get about $3,400 on average in benefits. That's compared with a national average of nearly $5,000 a year," Steve Carmody reports.

Click here to see what Michigan lawmakers are doing to help veterans

Senate committee will investigate if teachers are following right to work laws

A new state Senate committee will look at how teacher unions are complying with Michigan’s controversial right-to-work law this week. As the Detroit Free Press reports,

The right-to-work laws prohibit the financial contribution to a union as a condition of employment. . . Democrats and officials with the Michigan Education Association call the committee a politically motivated exercise meant to beat up on unions. . . . The Mackinac Center has filed suit with the Michigan Employment Relations Commission on behalf of eight teachers who say they have been unable to leave their union because they didn’t withdraw in August.
 

UP could get 6 inches of snow

"A cold weather system is bearing down on Lake Superior. . .  The weather service forecasts some of the heaviest snow near Munising along the Upper Peninsula's Lake Superior shoreline, with about 4 to 6 inches accumulating by Monday afternoon. One to 3 inches could fall in parts of northern Lower Michigan," the Associated Press reports.

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Detroit could have its first white mayor in 40 years

"A former write-in candidate once thought to have little chance of surviving Detroit's primary election is favored to become the city's first white mayor in 40 years. Former health care executive Mike Duggan is leading the polls over Wayne County sheriff Benny Napoleon," the Associated Press reports

Three cities vote on easing marijuana laws

"Voters in three Michigan cities have a chance to give some legal protection to users of small amounts of marijuana. Ferndale, Jackson and Lansing would ignore possession of an ounce or less of marijuana on private property. People must be at least 21 years old," the Associated Press reports.

Cities of Saugatuck and Douglas could merge

Voters in the two west Michgian cities could vote to turn Saugatuck and Douglas into one town.

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Emergency Loan Board considers city and school finances in southeast Michigan

"This week the state's Emergency Loan Board will consider the finances of the City of Highland Park, Royal Oak Charter Township and the East Detroit Public Schools. All three are operating with deficits. The Emergency Loan Board will determine if probable financial stress exists in each case. If it does, the governor will appoint his own review team to make a recommendation on what to do next. That could include the appointment of an emergency manager," Lindsey Smith reports.

State seeks to block disclosure in manager case

"The state is asking a judge to block disclosure of emails and documents that members of Gov. Rick Snyder's administration exchanged while deliberating over candidates for Detroit's emergency manager. Attorney General Bill Schuette filed an emergency motion on Snyder's behalf seeking intervention in a lawsuit brought by union activist Robert Davis against the state Treasury Department that seeks documents," the Associated Press reports.

Detroit bus drivers protest violent attacks with a "sick out"

Detroit bus drivers are protesting against a rash of violent attacks on bus drivers. Unionized bus drivers in Detroit have threatened to call in sick today.

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Drug test and unemployment bill moves forward

"People who fail or refuse to take a drug test as part of a job search could see their unemployment benefits revoked. The state Senate approved the measure yesterday," Jake Neher reports.

Lawsuit says rape common for juvenile offenders in adult prisons

"The state of Michigan faces a lawsuit alleging it has subjected hundreds of juvenile offenders to a high risk of being raped, by putting them in the same prisons as adults. Attorney Deborah LaBelle says the state has put kids as young as 13 in the same prisons as grown men. A new federal law went into effect in August requiring prisoners 17 and younger to be housed separately from older prisoners," Tracy Samilton reports.

Bernard Kilpatrick sentenced to 15 months in prison

"The father of former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick has been sentenced to 15 months in federal prison for a tax crime. The sentence ordered Thursday was at the bottom of the guidelines," the Associated Press reports.

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The shutdown and Michigan

"If the federal government shutdown goes beyond this week, there could be serious consequences for the federal justice system. Federal courts will run out of funding to deal with anything “non-essential” on October 15th. Then some court staff will be furloughed, while others will work unpaid," Sarah Cwiek reports.

And Steve Carmody reports, the shutdown could soon affect Michigan's real estate industry.

"Government agencies that verify the identities and tax returns of people taking out mortgages are closed by the shutdown. That means multiple home sales could be held up because of the paperwork problem caused by the government shutdown."

Snyder in Toronto

"Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder is visiting Toronto for a speech to the Council of the Great Lakes Region and meetings with Ontario business and government leaders," the Associated Press reports.

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Senate votes to keep film incentive money

"Michigan’s film industry wouldn’t lose a dime of the $50 million currently set aside for state incentives under a proposal in the Legislature. The state Senate voted to reject Governor Rick Snyder’s plan to cut the incentives in half," Jake Neher reports.

Proposed bill would give tax credits for student loans

"State tax credits could be given for student loan payments if a new bill in Lansing becomes law. The tax credit would equal half of a student's annual loan payments, if the graduate stays in Michigan," Chris Zollars reports.

Bill would make Michigan online retailers charge sales tax

"Michigan lawmakers are looking at how to get online retailers to collect state sales taxes. Currently, shoppers are supposed to report any sales taxes they owe on online purchases, and pay them with their income tax, but most people don’t. A proposed bill at the state capitol would put the responsibility on the online retailer," Steve Carmody reports.

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Snyder wants to lower auto insurance rates

Governor Rick Snyder is asking lawmakers to make changes to Michigan's no-fault auto insurance system. The Governor says Michigan has the highest insurance rates in the Midwest and have the eighth highest rate in the county.

"Right now, people critically injured in an auto accident can receive unlimited lifetime medical benefits. Under a plan announced yesterday, that amount would be capped at $1 million dollars," Jake Neher reports.

Michigan House approves bill against indefinite detention

"The Michigan House has approved legislation that would prohibit state and local law enforcement officials from helping the federal government indefinitely detain American citizens without charges," the Associated Press reports.

Weather update

More flooding and a return to wintry weather in places are being seen as spring storms prompt evacuations in parts of Michigan. More rain is expected today. We might even get some snow this afternoon in West, Mid Michigan and Flint. The Grand River in Grand Rapids is expected to crest on Sunday, just inches below the 100-year flood level.

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Michigan lawmakers reject Medicaid expansion

A state House subcommittee has rejected an expansion of Medicaid to nearly 500,000 Michiganders. As the Detroit Free Press reports,

"The Appropriations subcommittee handling the Department of Community Health budget passed the funding document without the Medicaid expansion, as well as other Snyder proposals, including: dental services for low income children, health and wellness initiatives, mental health and substance abuse services for veterans and an infant mortality program."

However, according to Rick Pluta,  Governor Rick Snyder says he expects the Legislature will ultimately accept federal money to expand Michigan’s Medicaid program.

State House approves dredging funds

"The state House has approved more than $20 million for emergency harbor dredging. Governor Rick Snyder is asking for the money to address record-low water levels in the Great Lakes. He says ships and recreational boaters aren’t able to get in and out of harbors," Jake Neher reports.

March Madness tournament kicks off today

The basketball games leading up to the NCAA championship begins today. As the Detroit News reports, Michigan State University and the University of Michigan's mens' basketball teams have games tonight.

"No. 3 seed MSU will face Valparaiso at 12:15 p.m. and No. 4 seed U-M will take on South Dakota State at 7:15 p.m. Teams moving on in the next round will head to games on Saturday, also at the Palace [of Auburn Hills]."

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Michigan could loose $140 million if federal budget cuts happen Friday

"The White House says Michigan faces about $140 million in losses if an automatic federal budget cut takes effect Friday, and U.S. Sen. Carl Levin says he's hopeful the deadline pressure will prompt Congress to raise money by closing some tax loopholes. The cuts include $67.7 million in gross pay to 10,000 civilian Defense Department employees in Michigan and $42.2 million to K-12 and disability education programs in the state," the Associated Press reports.

Bankruptcy planning for Detroit

"It appears that officials are laying the groundwork for a so-called 'managed bankruptcy' in Detroit—though they hope that won’t actually happen. A process for going through chapter nine municipal bankruptcy is laid out in the state’s new emergency manager law that kicks in next month. Governor Snyder acknowledges that bankruptcy might be the only way to reduce Detroit’s long-term debt—estimated at more than $14 billion," Sarah Cwiek reports.

Taxes impact low and moderate earners this year

"Changes to Michigan's tax structure are hitting low and moderate earners hard this year. Lawmakers approved changes in 20-11 that cut 1-point-6 billion dollars in business taxes, but raised taxes on individuals. Low-income families could be the hardest hit, with the elimination of the child tax deduction, and a reduction in the Earned Income Tax Credit," Vincent Duffy reports.

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Deadly Pileup Leaves Three Dead

Southeastern Michigan is waking up to calmer weather this morning, and hopefully, safer driving.

A massive 30 vehicle pileup on I-75 Thursday morning killed two children and one adult. At least 20 others are injured, and several were hospitalized.

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Survey: It should be tougher to become a teacher

"It should be a lot tougher to become a teacher in this state. At least that's what the Center for Michigan found in a statewide survey of some 7,500 people. Eighty percent of educators polled say Michigan needs better teacher preparation," Kate Wells reports.

Governor Snyder wants state to put more money in early childhood education

Governor Rick Snyder wants the legislature to support more funding for early childhood education. As the Detroit News reports,

"Gov. Rick Snyder said Tuesday he will ask the Legislature to undertake a "significant phase-in" of 29,000 4-year-olds into public preschool programs over the next few years, an annual investment of $130 million. The state can't afford to add all 29,000 children eligible for the Great Start Readiness Program at once, Snyder said, so he intends to propose ramping up enrollment over a period of years to ease the impact on the budget."

Former Michigan Supreme Court justice Hathaway expected to plead guilty

Former Michigan Supreme Court Justice Diane Hathaway will be in court next week. She resigned from the high court on Monday.  As the Detroit News reports,

"Former Michigan Supreme Court Justice Diane Hathaway will find herself on the other side of the bench on Tuesday when she's likely to plead guilty to bank fraud charges related to questionable real estate transactions, legal experts say."

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Blue Cross Blue Shield encourages legislation in new session

"The state's largest health insurer is back encouraging action on legislation enabling its restructuring after Governor Rick Snyder vetoed it. Snyder balked last month at the bill he proposed because of language added by lawmakers preventing insurers and businesses from providing elective abortion coverage in employee health plans. Both hope the legislation without the abortion provisions will be passed and signed into law early in the legislative session that begins Wednesday," The Associated Press reports.

Detroit search for police chief stalled

"The search for a new Detroit police chief appears to have stalled. Former Detroit police chief Ralph Godbee hastily retired amidst a sex scandal in October. Under the new city charter, the Board of Police Commissioners must first select search firms to vet potential candidates for chief. Police Commissioner Jerome Warfield says they’ve done that, and sent them to the mayor's office. But they’ve gotten conflicting signals from the administration about whether there’s money to go forward. A Bing spokesman declined comment on the matter for now," Sarah Cwiek reports.

Red Wings back on ice after lockout

"Peace came to the NHL over the weekend, and now pieces need to fall in place for the Red Wings. They will start a lockout-shortened, likely 50-game season within two weeks and training camp within a week after the league and the NHL Players' Association agreed in principle early Sunday morning to a 10-year deal after a 16-hour negotiation session that ended a 113-day lockout. The new collective bargaining agreement still has to be ratified, but from management on down, the overwhelming response was one of relief," The Detroit Free Press reports.

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Governor Snyder vetoes gun bill

Governor Rick Snyder has vetoed legislation that would have allowed people with concealed pistol permits to carry their guns in school buildings. As the Detroit Free Press reports,

"He said that school security measures in Michigan needed a thorough review. He also wants to find a way to better incorporate community mental health workers into schools. Snyder also said in his veto letter to the Legislature that the bill had a fatal loophole that didn't allow for those public institutions -- schools, churches, day care centers and stadiums -- to opt out of the new legislation and prohibit weapons from their buildings. The law specifically addressed only private buildings."

Earlier this week Snyder said the Connecticut shooting would play a role in his decision on the bill.

Snyder's approval rating drops 28 points after right-to-work

"A new poll from a firm that primarily does work for Democrats finds a huge drop in approval for Governor Rick Snyder among Michigan voters. Snyder has a 56-percent disapproval rating, after he supported and signed bills that make it harder for unions to collect dues. That's a 28-point drop," Tracy Samilton reports.

Flint names interim school superintendent

"The Flint school board last night picked a longtime district administrator to be its interim superintendent. Larry Watkins retired from the Flint school district in August. But he applied for the interim job when Flint’s former superintendent announced her retirement last month. Watkins takes charge of a school district that’s running a budget deficit in the millions of dollars," Steve Carmody reports.

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Snyder says Connecticut shooting will play role in Michigan gun legislation

"Governor Rick Snyder must decide whether to approve or veto legislation that would allow concealed pistols in churches, day care centers, and public schools. The governor says the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings will play a role in his thinking. The legislation would allow enhanced concealed pistol privileges for licenseholders who get additional training and range practice," Rick Pluta reports.

Police force down in Michigan

The number of police officers in Michigan is down 16 percent since 2001. As the Detroit News reports,

"Michigan has lost roughly 1 in 5 law enforcement officers since 2001, as a lingering recession led cash-strapped cities and townships to lay off police, trim services and, in some cases, turn over patrols to county sheriffs. The state's law enforcement ranks dropped to 18,834 as of Oct. 31 from 22,488 in 2001, says the Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement Standards."

No plan for Detroit's cash crunch

"Lansing is fast-tracking a review of Detroit’s finances, but there’s still no clear short-term plan to address the city's cash crunch. The review process is taking place under a weaker state law than one Governor Snyder is likely to sign soon. That means there are fewer options for dealing with the city’s immediate fiscal crisis. A preliminary state report issued last week found that Detroit 'continues to experience significant cash flow problems.' But the report also notes that 'city projections change from month to month,' and it’s not clear when Detroit would actually run short of cash," Sarah Cwiek reports.

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Senate passes bills to add restrictions on abortions

The state Senate has passed legislation that would add restrictions for abortion providers. The Detroit News reports,

"The bills would require physicians to determine if a woman was coerced into having an abortion; clinics be licensed and fetuses be disposed of in the same way as 'other dead bodies.'"

Senate likely to vote on emergency manager law today

The state Senate is likely to vote today on a replacement of the emergency manager law that was repealed in the November election. According to the Detroit Free Press,

"The governor's administration says the bill is designed to address shortcomings in the much-maligned Public Act 4, which voters repealed last month, by giving local officials in financially troubled cities and school district more input in decisions -- addressing one of the major sticking points in PA 4."

Senate rejects repeal of handgun checking

The Michigan Senate has rejected a National Rifle Association-backed proposal to let people buy handguns without undergoing criminal background checks. The state House earlier approved a bill to repeal the requirement to undergo a check before buying a handgun. But the Senate voted 27-11 yesterday for a substitute bill that requires background checks by a federally licensed dealer or the police. The bill retains the state's hand gun permitting system.

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Gov. Rick Snyder says right-to-work bill is now up for discussion

Governor Rick Snyder met with Republican legislative leaders yesterday about a right-to-work bill. Afterwards he said it is on the agenda - at least for discussion - but he wouldn't say whether legislation would be taken up by year's end. A right to work bill would limit unions' ability to collect fees from nonunion workers. The Detroit Free Press reports,

"Snyder, choosing his words carefully, said the issue has been "highlighted" so much in recent weeks -- mostly by business leaders and Republicans -- that it found a place on the Capitol agenda. While not saying he is personally pushing the effort, the governor did say that there are ramifications to the decision by labor leaders to proceed against his urgings with an unsuccessful ballot initiative last month that would have enshrined collective bargaining rights in the state constitution."

Red Wings and Detroit Tigers owner has plans for new district in Downtown Detroit

"Officials from the Mike Ilitch Organization have outlined plans for a new district in Downtown Detroit featuring shopping, apartments, offices and entertainment -- including a new home for the Red Wings. Ilitch owns the Detroit Tigers and Red Wings.  A state Senate committee yesterday approved changes Tuesday to the Detroit Downtown Development Authority to help pay for the $650 million project," Michigan Radio reports.

Legislation would make recall elections tougher

"A Michigan House panel has approved legislation that would tighten language related to recall elections and restrict the time period in which people can be voted out of office. One bill would amend a section of state election law to limit recall elections to the two election dates set annually in May and November. Another would require that reasons for the recall are stated 'factually and clearly'. The current petition is reviewed for 'sufficient clarity.' Another proposed change calls for a challenger to compete for the office against the official up for recall," the AP reports.

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Bill would ease restrictions for concealed pistol permits

"The state House is considering a bill that would remove a state background check requirement for  concealed pistol permits. The bill would eliminate state background checks for people who want to carry concealed pistols.  The bill would also eliminate a data base of Michigan's pistol owners, which State Police say is used to help solve crimes. If the bill passes, it would also put county sheriffs in control of the permit process, rather than county boards," Rina Miller reports.

Legislation would allow insurance companies to deny medical marijuana coverage

"Bills in the state House would let insurance companies deny coverage for medical marijuana. Employers could also refuse to reimburse medical marijuana expenses through workers compensation. Opponents of the bills say the policy would keep some patients from receiving proper and legal medical treatment. But some medical marijuana advocates support the measures. They say when Michigan voters approved the drug, they never meant to force insurers to cover it. The state Senate voted overwhelmingly to pass the bills in May," Jake Neher reports.

Bill would allow medical personnel to refuse care on religious grounds

"A bill before the state senate would allow medical personnel to refuse care based on their religious beliefs. The bill would also protect them against civil, criminal, and administrative liability. However, the bill would require medical personnel to provide medical care in an emergency, regardless of a conflict with their religious beliefs," Chris Zollars reports.

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State-run health exchange rejected in House

Action on a state-run exchange for people to shop for health coverage was rejected in the state House Thursday. As the Lansing State Journal reports,

"Gov. Rick Snyder prefers a state-run program, but his administration this month applied for a federal grant as a first step toward the fallback position of teaming with the federal department. States have the option of creating their own exchange, teaming up with the federal government or having a federal system. . . Some Democrats opposed the legislation because it was linked to bills that would prohibit qualified health plans offered through a state exchange from providing coverage for elective abortion but would allow people to buy optional supplemental coverage for elective abortion outside the exchange."

Bills move forward to make gray wolf a game species

The Michigan Senate has approved a bill that would designate the gray wolf as a game species. The bill gives the Natural Resources Commission authority to decide whether to establish wolf hunting seasons. As the Detroit Free Press reports,

"The wolves were removed from the endangered species list in January, but only the DNR is allowed to manage the wolf population, which has begun to encroach upon U.P. towns, according to residents. The animals also are having a big impact on the U.P.'s deer population, killing between 17,000 and 29,000 deer every year, according to a report from the DNR."

State threatens to sue Troy over special election

"The state is threatening to sue the city of Troy over plans for a special election to replace recalled Mayor Janice Daniels. The Michigan Department of Elections says state law requires an election in February. Troy officials want to wait until next November. The state sent a letter to city leaders giving them until 1pm Friday to comply with the directive, and avoid litigation," Chris Zollars reports.

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Snyder pushes renewable energy and drilling for natural gas

Governor Rick Snyder gave a special address on energy and the environment Wednesday. Highlights of his address include a push for more renewable energy and more drilling for natural gas. As the Lansing State Journal reports,

"The Republican governor gave natural gas a central role in an energy policy that seeks greater efficiency and improvements to infrastructure such as pipelines and the electric transmission grid. It proposes establishing a “strategic natural gas reserve” designed to make the resource more affordable and defends the practice of hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” to extract gas from deep underground."

GOP pushing for right-to-work in lame duck

Republicans are still working to make Michigan a right-to-work state. This comes after voters rejected a ballot proposal to enshrine collective bargaining in the state constitution. As the Detroit News reports,

"Today could be the last chance to introduce a bill making union membership optional as a condition of employment in the private and public sectors to get it passed by Dec. 13. That's the day legislative leaders hope to head home for the holidays."

Sorry Michigan, no one won the Powerball jackpot in the state

"The Michigan Lottery says two Powerball tickets worth $1 million each were sold in the state. Officials say the tickets were sold at a liquor store in Kentwood and a CVS pharmacy in Dearborn. The Michigan tickets matched five numbers drawn last night, but not the Powerball number. Powerball officials said early Thursday that tickets sold in Arizona and Missouri matched all six numbers to win the $579.9 million jackpot," the AP repots.

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Snyder wants to phase out property tax

Governor Rick Snyder and Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley want the Legislature to enact a major tax overhaul before the end of the year. It would phase out Michigan’s tax on business and industrial equipment.

As the Detroit Free Press reports,

"The state's plan is to get rid of the tax on business equipment, furniture and supplies that brought in more than $1.2 billion in 2010, the most recent figures available, over the next 10 years. . . The phase out of the tax would begin in 2014 for small businesses and in 2016 for larger manufacturers. There would be no reimbursement to communities where personal property tax revenues are less than 2.5% of their total taxable value."

Southeast Michigan transit authority passes in Senate

Legislation to create a regional transit authority for southeast Michigan won approval from the state Senate Tuesday. As the Detroit Free Press reports,

"The goal, backed strongly by Gov. Rick Snyder and Detroit Mayor Dave Bing, is a network of speedy, modern buses operated independently of Detroit Department of Transportation and the Suburban Mobility Authority for Regional Transit. The plan is to give the transit authority the power to coordinate routes between the rapid-transit system and the existing city and suburban bus lines to eliminate duplication of routes. DDOT and SMART would instead feed into the faster bus lines, freeing up both to provide better, more efficient local service."

Ex-aids to former Detroit Congressman enter pleas in petition fraud

"A former top aide to a Detroit-area congressman has pleaded no contest to forgery in an election scandal involving bogus petition signatures. Don Yowchuang was deputy district director to then-U.S. Rep. Thaddeus McCotter, a Republican from Livonia. Yowchuang admits making copies of petition signatures to try to qualify McCotter for the August primary election. Separately, McCotter former district director Paul Seewald pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor, falsely signing a nominating petition as a circulator. McCotter didn't make the ballot and quit Congress in July," the AP reports.


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Schuette says Blues overhaul not enough to protect seniors

State Attourney General says the overhaul of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan needs more safeguards in order to protect seniors. The Detroit news reports,

Under legislation sought by Gov. Rick Snyder, the Blues could dramatically reduce its $200 million annual subsidy of the Medicare supplemental insurance by 2016, when a rate freeze Schuette negotiated expires.

After that, the Blues would contribute as little as $15 million annually to a new state-run nonprofit health care foundation for Medigap coverage made available only to Medicare recipients who prove a financial need, Schuette said.

Blue Cross says 70 percent of the 210,000 seniors receiving Medigap insurance would fail a means test to show a financial need for the subsidy, Michigan Insurance Commissioner Kevin Clinton said.

Benton Harbor considers eliminating police force to cut costs

"Two weeks after voters in Benton Harbor rejected a millage renewal, the city’s emergency financial manager is laying out a few grim options. Joe Harris told reporters Monday afternoon one option is eliminating the police force. The millage would’ve raised a little more than a million dollars this year alone. That represents twenty-percent of Benton Harbor’s yearly revenue," Lindsey Smith reports.

University of Maryland added to "Big Ten"

"The Big Ten athletic conference added the University of Maryland to its roster Monday. Rutgers University is expected to announce its plans to join the conference today. That will bring the total number of schools in the conference to 14, and is likely to mean big increases in revenues for the universities as well as the conference," Chris Zollars reports.

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Proposed changes to K-12 education

There's a proposed bill being drafted that could make some major changes to K-12 education in Michigan. As the Detroit Free Press reports, highlights of the bill include, "[the ability for] students to choose school districts, make greater use of online learning and earn financial incentives of $2,500 per semester for completing high school early."

Charter school enrollment rises in Michigan

"Charter schools are becoming a more common choice for Michigan students. A new report finds five Michigan cities are now among the top 20 in the nation for the percentage students in charter schools. Detroit is No. 2 -- with 41 percent of its students enrolled in charter schools. Flint ranks fourth and Grand Rapids is ninth. Lansing and Traverse City are 19th and 20th,' Rina Miller reports.

Local government leaders want Michigan's personal property tax changed

"A new poll shows local government leaders in Michigan are leery of proposals to do away with Michigan’s personal property tax. Republican state lawmakers want to repeal or greatly change the tax, possibly before the end of this year. Businesses complain the personal property tax is cumbersome and discourages investment.  Legislation repealing the personal property tax already passed in the state Senate, but the legislation has sat in state House since last Spring," Steve Carmody reports.

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