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Michigan Congressman Tim Walberg has re-introduced a package of bills intended to restrain the powers of government authorities to seize assets from citizens.

Walberg says too often, police use forfeiture powers as a revenue stream, rather than a crime-fighting tool.

Walberg cites the example of Terry Dehko, a longtime Michigan grocer, who had $35,000 in bank accounts frozen by the IRS because the agency suspected him of being a money launderer. 

The only evidence the agency had was frequent deposits of cash into his accounts.

Paul Engstrom / Skillman Foundation

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan is asking Detroit area businesses to offer at least 5,000 summer jobs in 2015 to Detroit teens and young adults.

He addressed more than 100 business leaders yesterday at the Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce.  

"For every dollar a business puts in to employ a young person, the mayor will match," said Kristen McDonald of the Skillman Foundation, one of the sponsors of the newly re-launched Grow Detroit's Young Talent program.

Campus Martius park.
Michigan Municipal League / Flickr

Today, the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan filed a lawsuit against a Detroit police officer, and two groups that manage security on Campus Martius park.

The public park is owned by the city of Detroit. The ACLU contends that members of Guardsmark security, hired by the non-profit group Detroit 300, prevented people from protesting and handing out leaflets on the park’s grounds. They contend that a Detroit police sergeant backed the decision to prohibit the protesters' actions. Detroit 300 runs the city-owned park.

If you follow auto news at all, you know this already.  Ford Motor Company's new F-150 has an aluminum body. 

Aluminum is lighter than steel, so the switch has taken up to 700 pounds off the weight of the pickup, improving the truck's fuel economy as well as the payload and towing capacity.

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.

For years, there’s been an absolutely stupid rumor that the Detroit suburb of Dearborn, birthplace of Henry Ford, is now under extreme Muslim Sharia law.

Sharron Angle, a bizarrely ignorant Tea Party candidate, claimed this was so when she was running for the U.S. Senate in Nevada five years ago.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Cars started lining up at dawn today at a Flint business giving away free water.

Concerns about the safety of Flint’s tap water has created high demand for bottled water. 

But many Flint residents say they have trouble paying for what little bottled water is still sitting on store shelves. 

via city of Detroit

Detroit officials say they’re confident the fledgling Great Lakes Water Authority will work out—despite concerns and complaints from some suburban officials questioning its future.

The GLWA gives regional players a larger role in running Detroit’s city-owned water system, which services some 4 million customers in southeast Michigan.

NWF / screenshot from YouTube video

With national attention being paid to the Keystone XL pipeline, Michigan Democratic Senators Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters have introduced amendments to the controversial legislation.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Giving women a stronger voice in Michigan is the goal of a new coalition.

MI-Lead is composed of more than 30 organizations, from civil liberties and reproductive rights to business associations and unions.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

This week in Michigan politics, Jack and Emily discuss anguish over Flint’s water, a plan for some Detroiters to pay half price on auctioned homes and a new gun bill moving ahead in Lansing.


taxcredits.net

Flint's general fund deficit has gone from $19 million to $9 million in two years, and is on track to being eliminated entirely in five years.

That's according to an audit presented to the city council Monday night.

The second bit of good news for the city's fiscal health was legacy costs.

via Detroit Economic Club

Former Detroit emergency manager Kevyn Orr was back in town Tuesday for an “exit interview” before the Detroit Economic Club.

Orr reiterated that municipal bankruptcy was the only real option for Detroit, but insisted both he and the city got through the process relatively unscathed.

“We got really lucky,” Orr said of his team. “We managed to get out of here without selling anything. I managed to get out without being indicated, so that’s sort of a badge of success,” he added, to audience laughter.

A. Nich / Flickr

The state has rejected ACT’s claim that Michigan unfairly switched its free college entrance exam to the SAT starting in spring 2016.

  ACT protested two aspects of the bidding process. It said the state changed the timeline of the proposed contract and penalized ACT for having a writing portion. It says both of those things unfairly benefitted SAT.

State officials say they reviewed those concerns carefully.

YouTube / YouTube

Many of the most memorable commercials during past Super Bowls have come from automakers, but fewer will be participating in the expensive marketing during the event this year.

Flickr user Keith Allison / Flickr

After it was discovered that 11 of the 12 game balls used by the New England Patriots during their victory against the Indianapolis Colts were deflated, the media created a new-found obsession over the PSI of a football, in a scandal  dubbed "deflategate."

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The Jackson city council tonight will discuss asking voters for a big tax hike to pay to repair the city’s crumbling roads.

Like other Michigan cities, Jackson’s roads have been getting worse for several years.

Paige Pfleger / Michigan Radio

People will be hitting the streets Wednesday to count the number of homeless individuals in Washtenaw County. 

The count is a part of the Point in Time census that is conducted every other year and documents the sheltered and unsheltered homeless people in the area. 

This year's count is especially important, because the county only has one year to end veteran homelessness to meet it's goal as a part of the national Zero:2016 Campaign. 

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.

It’s been almost three months since Democrats lost the race for governor, and you might think that by now, few would care why.

But why they lost an election they thought they could win is still a hot topic, for this reason: The Michigan Democratic Party is holding its spring state convention on Valentine’s Day, and the delegates will decide whether or not to re-elect Lon Johnson party chair.

Graymont is seeking to buy thousands of acres of state-owned land and mineral rights for a proposed limestone mining operation near Rexton.
User clau+ / flickr.com

Next month, a decision could be made on whether to sell thousands of acres in the Upper Peninsula to a Canadian mining company, Graymont Inc.

It would be the largest sale of public land in Michigan’s history.

via buildingdetroit.org

Detroit city workers, retirees and their immediate relatives could soon qualify for a 50% discount off the purchase price on some city homes.

The deal would apply to vacant homes auctioned off by the Detroit Land Bank Authority. That online auction has been one of Mayor Mike Duggan’s signature initiatives.

Andrew Pennebaker / Flickr

A small crowd of Flint residents came out to Monday night's city council meeting to protest what they say is discolored, odorous, unsafe water coming out of their taps. 

"It smells horribly," says Cindy Marshall. "I took a shower the other night and my eyes were blood red and burning. I broke out in a rash and was scratching like crazy just from taking a shower."

Update Monday, January 26th:

The ax has fallen.

This afternoon, Michigan House Speaker Kevin Cotter (R-Mt. Pleasant) and the Republican caucus developed a response that was both ruthless and nuanced to the Democratic insurgency on the House Appropriations Committee.

Abby Rosenberg / Flickr

State lawmakers will try again to crack down on animal cruelty in Michigan.

A state Senate panel will take up a pair of bills on Tuesday that would increase penalties for serial animal abusers. The worst offenders – those who abuse 25 or more animals or who have three or more prior convictions – would face felony charges and up to seven years in prison.

Similar bills failed to clear the Legislature last year.

gophouse.com

Governor Rick Snyder says improving services for the mentally ill is a major civil rights issue. And he says it’s a high priority in his second term.

“Mental health is its own issue in its own right, a major issue. We’ve seen some huge progress because of Healthy Michigan. But I think we still have a lot of work to be done in general mental health and where it intersects with criminal justice,” he told the Michigan Civil Rights Commission.

Alex Ragone / Flickr Creative Commons

Starting a week from today, if you need emergency help in Oakland County, you'll be able to text 911 – as well as call it.

"The sheriff's office in Oakland County just wants to use the latest technology available to identify callers in need," said Mel Maier, chief of  emergency management operations for the Sheriff's Office.

Director Clover Adams and Deputy Commissioner Xia Qianbao of the Ocean & Fisheries Bureau from the Jiangsu Province signing a Memorandum of Understanding.
Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development

Officials from Michigan and China plan to work together on developing advancements in fisheries and aquaculture.

The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development last week in Lansing hosted a delegation from the province of Jiangsu.

Daniel Weber / Flickr

A controversial gun bill – similar to one recently vetoed by Governor Snyder – has been reintroduced in Lansing.

Michigan Public Radio Network’s Jake Neher has been covering the story. The initial vetoed legislation, he said, was brought to public attention on the last day of the 2014 "lame duck" session, when legislators raised some concern about the bill's language.

Neher said the language in question seemed to make it possible for people to get a concealed pistol license even if they had personal protection orders, or PPO’s, levied against them. There were concerns that domestic abusers or stalkers could get the permits.

Vaccine informational sheets.
user DARWIN.WINS / Flickr

The measles outbreak has made it to Michigan.

After the mounting headlines about an outbreak that seems to have begun in California’s Disneyland, the first Michigan case was diagnosed late last week.

The diagnosed individual is an adult in Oakland country and according to Dr. Matthew Davis, the Chief Medical Executive with the Michigan Department of Community Health and a Professor at the University of Michigan, this case may well be connected to the Disneyland outbreak.

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