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artist rendering of proposed bridge
Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority

One of the ways that the state of Michigan takes action is by passing legislation. The state House and Senate pass bills, send them on to the governor and if he signs them, they become law. However, the governor has an end-around option that doesn't involve the legislature and doesn't get much attention.

It's called a "memorandum of understanding agreement." Those agreements have led to some major projects and one legislator wants to change the way they work.

Michigan Legislature
Michigan Municipal League

There was a fierce debate today leading up to a state House vote to adopt English as Michigan’s official language. The bill cleared the House on a mostly party-line vote.

Republicans say it would reflect what’s already the practice in state government.

State Rep. Christine Greig, D-Farmington Hills, said the bill is a waste of time.

“We have roads to fix, schools to improve, mental health services to fix," she said. "Any reasonable observer would conclude this bill is only meant to be inflammatory and divisive."

Capitol Building in Lansing, MI
Matthileo / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

High schoolers, lawmakers, and concerned citizens held a rally at the state Capitol today. They want changes to the state’s gun laws.

The rally comes the week after the deadly shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida where students and staff members were killed.

Tulane Public Relations / Creative Commons

Gov. Rick Snyder says he wants to spend his last year in office focused on creating a workforce to fill more than 800,000 current and future openings.

He calls it a “Marshall Plan” for developing talent, borrowing the name of the massive effort to rebuild Europe after World War II.  It aims to invest in training for jobs in skilled trades, information technology, and health care.

Snyder said he’s made filling positions in sought-after high-tech fields a priority already.

“But we need a capstone accelerator. That’s what the Marshall Plan is – to accelerate this.”

A street pole in the middle of flood water
Bryce Huffman / Michigan Radio

Lansing is one of several cities throughout the state dealing with flooding.

Mayor Andy Schor declared a state of emergency Wednesday. Several streets are still blocked off, making it tougher to navigate sections of the city.

John Estill lives right along the Grand River. Flood water covers his entire backyard and has made its way to his basement.

“We’ve got sandbags around the outside of the house, but it’s still seeping in, and we’re trying to keep ahead of it with pumps,” Estill said.

Estill says the drywall in his basement took the most damage.

Joe Linstroth / Michigan Radio

Lawyers for wrongfully convicted ex-prisoners are crying foul over the dismissal of their client's claims on the grounds of a missed deadline that they dispute.

The exonerated former inmates are seeking damages under the recent Wrongful Imprisonment Compensation Act. The 2016 law is intended to compensate people for the years they were wrongly imprisoned.

Gabi Silver represents one of the ex-prisoners, Konrad Montgomery, who spent more than three years in prison for a crime he did not commit. 

401(K) 2012 / Flickr

Retirement accounts, specifically 401(k) plans, were never intended to be a substitute for a pension. But, the reality is, most people, if they have a retirement account at all, it’s a 401(k). Last year, the Wall Street Journal ran a piece in which the creators of the 401(k) worry about what they started. The 401(k) was designed to supplement income from Social Security and a pension.

The State of the Takata Airbags

Michigan and 23 other states have settled their lawsuit against airbag maker Takata. 

But the states aren't going to try to collect the money. 

Takata is going bankrupt, so it has limited money for fines, paying automakers for recalls, and compensating victims. 

The states won't go after the $650 million settlement to protect the funds that are available for victims. Twenty-two people have been killed and hundreds of people have been injured with the defective Takata airbags in their vehicles deployed with too much force, spraying them with metal fragments.

gretchen whitmer twitter post on college affordability
Twitter

 

Michigan Radio is partnering with Bridge Magazine's Truth Squad project this year, as we have for each election year during the past eight years, to fact check political claims.

This time, we're looking at gubernatorial candidates.

Former Michigan Gov. John Engler will donate his salary while serving as Michigan State University's interim president amid fallout over now-imprisoned sports doctor Larry Nassar, who sexually assaulted female athletes.

The university's Board of Trustees said Wednesday that Engler's annual salary will be $510,399. His contract was finalized this week, but he agreed his salary would go back to the school in East Lansing.

His predecessor, Lou Anna Simon, resigned in January amid criticism of the university's handling of issues related to Nassar.

Panelists from left to right: Joe Linstroth, Jeff DeGraff, Eric Thomas, Lauren Bigelow, and Nate Lutz.
April Van Buren / Michigan Radio

For more than three years, The Next Idea has been talking to people who took their creative ideas and turned them into something tangible — a business, an invention, social change. 

Those out of the box ideas are essential to keep moving Michigan’s economy forward. But creative ideas often get stuck in their own regional bubbles.

USFWSmidwest / FLICKR - http://bit.ly/1xMszCg

Lake Superior, the largest freshwater lake in the world, is awe-inspiring on many levels. But it’s also challenged. Though it seems pristine, a couple centuries of exploitation have taken their toll.

A new book Sustaining Lake Superior: An Extraordinary Lake in a Changing Worldpublished by Yale University Press, traces the history of the lake and some of the indignities it's suffered at the hands of humans.

Wikimedia Commons / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The Next Idea

 

In late November of 2014, Michigan Radio’s Stateside began a series called The Next Idea. With support from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and a team that included the University of Michigan’s “Dean of Innovation” Jeff DeGraff and Executive Producer Joe Linstroth, the project’s mission was to focus on innovation, creativity and ideas meant to move Michigan forward.

 

In essays and interviews, we met Michigan inventors and entrepreneurs, teachers, artists, scientists, farmers, business people, experts, and just regular citizens who decided to think outside the box to make their state and their communities better.

Hospital exam room
pixabay

An employee at three southeast Michigan health care facilities may have unwittingly exposed more than 600 people to tuberculosis.

Those health care facilities are Saint Joseph-Mercy Ann Arbor and Livingston hospitals, and the South Lyon Senior Care and Rehab Center.

It’s believed the infected worker may have exposed patients and staff at all three places between May of last year and January of this year.

Tuberculosis is a potentially serious bacterial disease that usually attacks the lungs.

A park sign in water
Bryce Huffman / Michigan Radio

Several cities in West Michigan are experiencing flooding after heavy rainfall and warm temperatures swept across the state this week.

Newaygo is one such city. Some residents were evacuated from their homes nearly 40 miles north of Grand Rapids.

Riverfront Park in Newaygo has water from the Muskegon River covering park benches and picnic tables.

Georgia Andres is the Chief of Police in Newaygo. She says the city is at "level C" flooding, which means that homes and businesses in the low lying areas have been evacuated.

Wilson X / Flickr

Gov. Rick Snyder will consider changing the rules that allow courts to permanently remove children from their parents.

The bills are on their way to the governor’s desk. One would prevent the state from automatically asking that a parent’s rights be terminated just because they had their rights terminated to other children.

 “It absolutely is a due process issue," said Sen. Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge, a bill sponsor. "And it’s a protection of the poor.”

Michigan AG Bill Schuette
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

State Attorney General Bill Schuette says the special prosecutor looking into MSU’s handling of abuse allegations is independent of his office.

That's not what the contract says, though.

The agreement with special prosecutor William Forsyth says he reports directly to and must clear major decisions with Schuette.

Schuette says that’s just standard contract language for special attorneys retained by his office. Schuette says the highly respected former Kent County prosecutor has no specific orders from his office.

Get ready for more potholes this upcoming spring season.
User _chrisUK / flickr.com

Lawmakers in Lansing want to put $175 million toward fixing the state’s roads. The state House passed the spending bill today.

Governor Rick Snyder initially proposed a similar spending bump for the next budget cycle. But lawmakers say the potholes and crumbling roads need to be addressed as soon as possible. They want the money available in time for construction season.

Lansing City Hall building
Michigan State Historic Preservation Office / Flickr

Lansing officials are urging residents of several neighborhoods to evacuate due to possible flooding.

Mayor Andy Schor declared a state of emergency tonight.

Officials said residents should leave their homes by noon Thursday and stay away until the water recedes. They said rivers will keep rising until Friday.

Whitney Spotts lives near the river in the downtown Cherry Hill neighborhood and has experienced flooding there before. 

She said she and her husband are both musicians, and they are packing up this time.

 bus
flickr user Matt Picio / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

At one point, it appeared the leaders of Oakland, Macomb, Washtenaw, and Wayne counties, along with the city of Detroit, were on their way to supporting a ballot proposal this fall for a regional mass transit plan.

That got derailed when the county executives in Oakland and Macomb distanced themselves from the plan.

Yearbook photo provided by a friend of the Michigan History Center.

 


 

A lot of Michigan residents might know that Malcolm X grew up in this state, but beyond that, the facts might get a little fuzzy. 

 

 

Michigan History Center’s Rachel Clark joined Stateside to bring some clarity to that history.

SalFalko / FLICKR - http://bit.ly/1xMszCg

Governor Rick Snyder has suggested Michigan should restructure the state’s juvenile justice system. However, little has been done.

Paul Elam, president of Public Policy Associates and an advocate for juvenile justice, recently wrote an opinion piece in Bridge Magazine, which indicated the youth in the juvenile justice system don’t have the luxury of time.

U.S. Army / FLICKR - http://bit.ly/1xMszCg

There is a child care shortage. That’s not going to be a surprise to many families, especially those in rural areas.

In a recent Dome Magazine article, Ken Winter outlined the problem in northern Michigan. It’s bad enough that the chambers of commerce in the region are making it a priority issue.

Tommy Schuette
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

This month a lot of people in Jackson County were shocked by accusations that their sheriff, Steven Rand, is a “multi-faceted bigot.” 

That was among a number of complaints in a federal lawsuit filed against the sheriff.

The Sheriff has apologized for his comments, but yesterday the Jackson County Board called for his resignation and added that if he doesn’t resign, then the governor should remove him. 

I have always been attracted to women with dark hair. If you find that statement utterly irrelevant to anything I do professionally, that’s because it is.

Bill Wild
Courtesy of Bill Wild campaign

Westland Mayor Bill Wild has officially added his name to the growing list of candidates to replace former Congressman John Conyers.

Wild is a Democrat who's served as Westland's mayor since 2007. He says he views Conyers' vacant U.S. House seat as "a call to service."

Bloody red shrimp under a dissecting scope
NOAA Great Lakes Environmental Research Lab

A new invasive species has turned up in Lake Superior, the bloody red shrimp.  The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says researchers found a single specimen of the tiny shrimp in the Duluth-Superior harbor last summer. There are now documented findings of bloody red shrimp in all of the Great Lakes. They were first found in Lake Ontario and Lake Michigan in 2006.

AR 15 in carrier case
Photo by Zachary Newton from Pexels / https://www.pexels.com/photo-license/

Since the massacre at a school in Parkman, Florida, Michigan schools have been responding to threats in their communities. Students in Kalamazoo drafted a petition about gun legislation that quickly got tens of thousands of signatures.

Michigan Radio's senior news analyst Jack Lessenberry joined "Morning Edition" host Doug Tribou to discuss gun control and school safety. 


erocsid / Flickr Creative Commons HTTP://MICHRAD.IO/1LXRDJM

Last May, Michigan health officials authorized a way for people at risk of opioid overdose to get Naloxone directly from a registered pharmacy without a doctor's prescription.  The authorization also allows family members, friends and other people who may be able to help a person at risk of overdose to obtain Naloxone directly from a registered pharmacy.

Naloxone, also known by the brand name Narcan, is a medication designed to reverse overdoses.

A gun lying on a table with bullets around it.
Daniel Weber / Flickr

State lawmakers might soon consider bills that would let courts temporarily take guns away from gun owners they considered to be dangerous to other people or themselves.

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