News Roundup
9:14 am
Wed June 29, 2011

In this morning's news...

Morning News Roundup, Wednesday, June 29th
Brother O'Mara Flickr

Redistricting Maps One Step Closer to Approval

New Republican-drawn maps for Michigan's congressional and state legislative districts have moved closer to becoming final, reports the Associated Press. “The Republican majority on the Senate Redistricting Committee approved a congressional map Tuesday, sending it to the full Senate for consideration later this week. Meanwhile, the Republican-led Michigan House approved versions of maps that would redraw districts for the state House and Senate. Republicans control the redistricting process with majorities in the Legislature, and Democrats have had little luck altering them since the GOP maps were released June 17. Democrats unveiled their own congressional map Tuesday but were unable to get the Senate committee to adopt it or alter the Republican-drawn map,” the AP explains.

Bing Says No More to Negotiating Budget with City Council

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing says there’s no more reason to negotiate with City Council over the city's next budget. That means he’ll be implementing the Council-approved budget, even though he maintains it will mean devastating cuts. Sarah Cweik reports:

Bing and the Council have been wrestling for months over how much money to cut from next fiscal year’s budget. Council wants to cut $50 million more than Bing. Bing then proposed an amendment to restore $30 million, but Council voted that down Tuesday… Council members insist their budget cuts wouldn’t cause layoffs, and say Bing is using scare tactics to get his way.

The 2012 fiscal year begins July 1st.

Student Test Results Released

Results of the Michigan Merit Exam have been released by the Michigan Department of Education. Jennifer Guerra reports:

All Michigan high school juniors take the test in the spring to see how well-prepared they are for college. The MME tests students in reading, writing, math, science and social studies. Students' math, science and writing scores inched up over last year, but scores in social studies and reading went down. Martin Ackley, a spokesperon for the Department of Education, prefers to look at trends when it comes to test results, not just year-to-year data. He says he is "encouraged" student scores have been trending upward over the past five years, but he says the results "aren't where they need to be overall. We’d like to see them obviously higher than they are now." About 109,000 students took this year’s exam, nearly half of whom tested not proficient in writing and math.

Politics
7:47 am
Wed June 29, 2011

The Week in State Politics

Capitol Building, Lansing, Michigan
Ifmuth Flickr

It’s Wednesday… the morning we speak with Michigan Radio’s Political Analyst Jack Lessenberry about what’s going on this week in state politics. Today, we talk Congressional redistricting, the possibility of a bid for the GOP presidential nomination by Representative Thaddeus McCotter, and the latest in Detroit budget negotiations.

State Law
6:31 am
Wed June 29, 2011

Governor says helmetless riders should carry extra coverage

The state Senate has approved a measure that would repeal Michigan’s helmet requirement for motorcycle riders who agree to carry extra insurance coverage. But, the Senate bill was a compromise that pleased almost no one.

The Senate bill would require riders who doff their helmets to carry an extra $100 thousand in personal injury coverage. That was not enough to win the support of insurance companies and highway safety advocates. Opponents of the helmet law - such as Jim Rhodes - say the coverage would too expensive for most people and is almost the same as not repealing the requirement at all.

“It pretty much stops it in its tracks.”

Governor Snyder sent word that he’s not interested in a helmet law repeal that does not require helmetless riders to carry more coverage, but he’s willing to negotiate over the Legislature’s summer break.

But he appears to agree with estimates that suggest without the additional coverage for helmetless riders, the public could be saddled with more than $100 million in medical costs.

Politics
6:55 pm
Tue June 28, 2011

Bing: "Time for talk is over" on Detroit budget

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing says there’s no more reason to negotiate with City Council over the budget. That means he’ll implement the Council-approved budget, even though he maintains it will mean devastating cuts.

Bing and the Council have been wrestling for months over how much money to cut from next fiscal year’s budget. Council wants to cut $50 million more than Bing.

Read more
Politics
5:34 pm
Tue June 28, 2011

Congressman Levin testifies against proposed political maps

The 15 Michigan U.S. House districts as they exist today.

Congressman Sander Levin doesn’t like the proposed redrawn political maps that are based on new census data.

Levin says the maps drawn by Republican state lawmakers are grossly skewed in favor of Republican candidates.

“That so arrogantly places partisan interests ahead of voter interests. And whether the governor, who came to office pledging to put the interests of Michigan citizens ahead of partisan interests, will send a clear message right here and now, that his message is a real one.”

“I don’t think anyone can show a map that has come forth in this state, at least one in recent memory, that so distorts the ability of citizens to have the right to choose, and for the parties to compete with ideas.”

He wants the Michigan Senate to reject the maps approved by the state House last week.

Republican lawmakers say the G-O-P redistricting plan is fair and takes population shifts into consideration.

Read more
Education
5:29 pm
Tue June 28, 2011

Michigan Merit Exam shows improvement in some, not all, subjects

Nearly half the students who took this year's Michigan Merit Exam tested not proficient in math and writing.
Jennifer Guerra Michigan Radio

The Michigan Department of Education has released the results of the Michigan Merit Exam.

All Michigan high school juniors take the test in the spring to see how well-prepared they are for college. The MME tests students in reading, writing, math, science and social studies.

Read more
Politics
5:13 pm
Tue June 28, 2011

Republicans say tougher medical marijuana regulations needed

K Connors Morguefile

Republicans in Michigan say there need to be more regulations surrounding the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act.

They say dispensaries, growers and many doctors are taking the law too far.

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette stood next to a map of the greater Lansing area, with 84 pushpins marking locations of medical marijuana dispensaries. He says new proposed regulations would shut down most if not all of those locations.

“No more marijuana farms. No more collective grow ops. It violates that law – making that very clear.”

 Schuette says most caregivers and dispensaries undermine the needs of terminally ill patients who need marijuana treatment by pushing the limits of the law. Legislation proposed by lawmakers in the House and Senate would further regulate who could grow medicinal pot, where it could be grown, and how it could be distributed.  

They say they have not worked with the medical marijuana community to help craft the proposals yet, but they hope to get that input over the summer.

Environment
4:43 pm
Tue June 28, 2011

Legal battle between Saugatuck Twp and private developer could be settled outside of court

Dunes near Saugatuck
Norm Hoekstra Creative Commons

A proposed deal would allow a smaller scale development along the Lake Michigan shore. Aubrey McClendon owns more than 300 acres north of where the Kalamazoo River empties into Lake Michigan. He wants to build a marina, condos, houses, and a golf course there.

McClendon argues Saugatuck Township officials unfairly singled him out because they banned any development on the property without special permits. So he sued them in federal court.

Read more
Politics
4:32 pm
Tue June 28, 2011

Budget Workshop (audio)

http://peters.house.gov/

Michigan Democratic Congressman Gary Peters is partnering with the non-partisan Concord Coalition to present a town hall forum tonight.

Peters and the Coalition will lay out some facts and details of the federal government’s revenue and expenses, and then people will break into groups to talk about how to balance the budget. Michigan Radio's Jennifer White sat down with Peters to get more on the forum.

Democratic and Republican leaders are locked in an ongoing struggle over the federal budget.

Congressman Peters says:

"We’ve got a standoff in Washington. People aren’t working together. There are a lot of special interests involved pulling and tugging there."

The goal of the forum is to introduce some non-partisan, common-sense problem solving in to the mix, according to Peters.

Read more
Education
4:10 pm
Tue June 28, 2011

Michigan woman gives a face to the Dream Act

Ola Kaso, (right), poses with Michigan U.S. Senator Carl Levin.
(courtesy of U.S. Sen. Carl Levin's Office)

An incoming University of Michigan student has taken her fight against being deported to Washington D.C.  Ola Kaso testified before a U.S. Senate committee in favor of the Dream Act.   The bill would allow the children of undocumented immigrants to stay in the U.S. to pursue their educations. 

Kaso says she has tried to take advantage of the education opportunity given to  her, an opportunity now threatened by deportation to Albania.

Read more
Arts/Culture
4:06 pm
Tue June 28, 2011

Your Story: images of Detroit

One picture in our Changing Gears slideshow.
Photo submitted by John George

For the past few days, we asked people whether they thought Detroit's image was on the rebound. We heard about the best and worst in the city. And people shared their visions of Detroit's future. Some people chose to show us their own Detroit in pictures.

Read more
Education
3:16 pm
Tue June 28, 2011

Fourteen private colleges getting ready for fall campaign

User: Jayel Aheram Flickr

Fourteen Michigan colleges and universities are getting ready for a fall campaign to encourage college students to stay in Michigan after graduation. This campaign, which includes private schools like Calvin College and Marygrove College, stems from research that showed students’ negative perceptions of Michigan. 

Bob Bartlett is President of the Michigan Colleges Foundation.  Bartlett says it will take some effort to change the perceptions of students.

Read more
Science/Medicine
2:58 pm
Tue June 28, 2011

Traditional drop-side cribs now illegal

The ban on the sale and manufacture of drop-side cribs starts today.
User: scariepants Flickr

You can no longer sell or give away a traditional drop-side rail crib in Michigan or in the rest of the country.

Drop-side cribs are one of the most popular crib designs. They have a side rail that can be raised and lowered for easier access to the child.

Drop-side cribs have caused more than 30 deaths since 2000.

Crystal Phillips is the Safety Center coordinator at the Children’s Hospital of Michigan. She says she is telling parents to stop using the drop-side cribs immediately.

Read more
Environment
12:08 pm
Tue June 28, 2011

Beach closure information is a click away

BeachGuard tracks the water quality and closures of Michigan's public beaches.
Tom Gill Flickr

Michiganders don’t have to take a trip to see if their favorite beach is closed. 

BeachGuard is a website run by Michigan’s Department of Environmental Quality. It tracks the water quality and closures of all public beaches in the state. 

Shannon Briggs is with the DEQ.

Redistricting
11:49 am
Tue June 28, 2011

Democrats have a redistricting map of their own

Michigan Capitol Building, Lansing, Michigan
Thetoad Flickr

Update 11:41 a.m.:

Democratic Congressman Sander Levin will testify at a state Senate hearing in Lansing this afternoon about the proposed redistricting maps. The Congressman is set to testify at 2:30 p.m..

Original post 6:59 a.m.:

Michigan Democrats have drawn a new congressional map that would pit Republican Congressman Thaddeus McCotter of Livonia against Democratic Congressman Gary Peters of Oakland County's Bloomfield Township, according to the Associated Press. A copy of the map was obtained by the AP from the Michigan Democratic Party.

Michigan is losing one of its 15 congressional seats due to a loss of population in the past 10 years. From the AP:

Republicans control the redistricting process with majorities in the state House and Senate. State Democratic Chairman Mark Brewer says the map shows how Detroit's two black-majority districts can be extended into Detroit's northern suburbs while remaining compact. Democrats say they'll introduce their map as a substitute to the Republican plan during a Senate hearing Tuesday. The GOP map pits Peters against fellow Democratic incumbent Sander Levin.

Representatives Peters and Levin issued a joint-statement after the GOP map was released:

“Voters in Michigan have never before faced such a shamelessly partisan redrawing of congressional boundaries. Instead of drawing fair lines that follow community and county borders in a logical way, the Republican legislature has drafted a map so skewed that it exploits every trick in the book to gerrymander districts in ways that benefit Republican incumbents. The Legislature and Gov. Snyder should reject this gerrymandered map and draw congressional boundaries in a way that puts Michigan voters’ interests squarely ahead of flagrant partisan advantage."

Education
11:35 am
Tue June 28, 2011

Teachers' union is trying to change the direction of the legislature's push to alter tenure laws

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

The state Senate may soon consider bills to make it easier to fire veteran teachers.   The state House has already passed the bills.  

Read more
Auto/Economy
11:00 am
Tue June 28, 2011

Muskegon Area Chamber of Commerce is rebranding itself

Muskegon's downtown sits right on the water's edge.
BigMikeSndTech Creative Commons

President Cindy Larsen says they’ll now be known as the Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce.

“It does seem simplistic in a way that a name change could make such a difference. But people put a lot of time and energy when they think about the names of their companies of their children, of anything that they name. So a name does make a difference.”

Larsen says they hope adding ‘lakeshore’ to their name will give people a positive visual image that better reflects the region’s identity.

Read more
Commentary
10:46 am
Tue June 28, 2011

China Daze

In many ways, the Toledo area just south of the border is more like Michigan than Ohio. It features an aging industrial city based on the automotive economy and suffering from its decline.

Beyond that are leafy suburbs, and then smaller towns, farms, and a significant agricultural sector. Yet there is one way in which Toledo is very different from us. The mayor and the chamber of commerce have been actively and aggressively courting China.

And their efforts are paying off. Earlier this year, the Chinese investment firm Dashing Pacific Group Ltd. bought a restaurant complex for more than $2 million dollars. Then this month, they paid the cash-strapped city even more to buy sixty-nine acres of land in what is known as the Marina District, along the Maumee River.

Read more
Politics
10:30 am
Tue June 28, 2011

Michigan Attorney General releases opinion on medical marijuana

Eggrole Flickr

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette has issued a formal opinion that says medical marijuana growers cannot have more than 12 plants. The opinion could put out of business growing cooperatives that raise pot for multiple patients. The opinion carries the force of law unless overturned by a court. State lawmakers have also rolled out bills that would put more regulations around the voter-approved law to allow marijuana for patients with terminal or chronic conditions.

Elections
10:21 am
Tue June 28, 2011

Next Tuesday is the last day to register to vote in August primary

Next Tuesday, July 5th, is the last day to register to vote in the August 2nd primary.

Secretary of State Ruth Johnson says July 5 is the deadline to register to vote in Michigan primary elections Aug. 2.

Cities, townships and school districts are holding votes in August.

Voter registration can be done by mail, at county, city or township clerk's offices or by visiting any secretary of state branch office. The mail-in form is available on the Department of State's website at www.Michigan.gov/sos.

Residents can check their registration status on the Michigan Voter Information Center website at www.Michigan.gov/vote. That site also has information on voting by absentee ballot and the state's voter identification requirement, along with maps to polling place and sample ballots.

Those who wish to receive their absentee ballot by mail must submit their application by 2 p.m. July 30.

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