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The Michigan Senate.
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Some lawmakers are hoping to pass a bill in this lame-duck session of the Legislature that would force new teachers into a 401(k)-style retirement system, and move the state away from supporting a traditional pension system.

Supporters say it would save the state money in the long term. Critics say it will blow a major hole in the state budget in the near term.

Thomas Marthinsen / Flickr

After watching heroin overdoses rise slowly over the last two years, police in Battle Creek saw a sudden spike in November.

LifeCare Ambulance serves Calhoun County. It responded to 56 calls for heroin overdoses in November this year, compared to 18 overdoses in November, 2015.

Police suspect heroin cut with Carfentanil is to blame, though they are still awaiting the results of lab tests to confirm.

Carfentanil is a powerful opiate sometimes used as an elephant tranquilizer and is 10,000 times more powerful than morphine.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

A federal judge says the state must start weekly deliveries of bottled water to Flint residents who do not have properly installed or maintained filters.

U.S. District Judge David Lawson rejected the state's request that he put that ruling on hold while the issue is appealed.

The state had argued it would be "an immediate, insurmountable burden" to deliver water door-to-door to everyone without a working filter.

A sign posted in a Troy polling place in 2014.
ACLU of Michigan

In the lame duck session of the Michigan Legislature, a package of bills is being debated.

It would require already-registered Michigan voters to present a photo ID card. If you did not have an ID at the polling place you could vote, but you’d have to present an ID to election officials within 10 days or your vote would not count.

The vice chair of the House Elections Committee, Democrat Representative Gretchen Driskell joined Stateside to talk about why she voted "no" on the voter ID proposals in committee.

The number of hate incidents logged during the 10 days after the general election.
Southern Poverty Law Center

The Southern Poverty Law Center released a new report showing that it received 40 hate incident complaints in the 10 days following the U.S. general election on Nov. 8, 2016.

Hate incidents are defined as acts of hostility directed at a person based on race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, gender identity, or sexual orientation. The center recorded 22 incidents in Ohio, 16 in Indiana, 25 in Illinois, and 13 in Wisconsin. There were 867 incidents nationwide.

Many hate incidents have been reported by the media in Michigan.

The Michigan House of Representatives in Lansing.
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

 

It’s the Michigan Legislature’s lame duck session, and a lot is going on.

Susan Demas and Ken Sikkema joined us today to take a look at what our legislators have on their plate.

Germán Poo-Caamaño / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

Just a few short years ago, the future of independent bookstores looked bleak. First, they were undercut by big box stores like Barnes & Noble and Borders, which could often offer both lower prices and a greater selection. Then, Amazon arrived on the scene, upending the book-selling business with all the grace of a gorilla reorganizing a library.  

Today, Borders is gone, Barnes & Noble is downsizing, and independent bookstores?

Courtesy of Amer Zahr

 

The election of Donald Trump worries a lot of people.

Some women, immigrants, and Muslims are wondering if Trump’s presidency will be anything like his campaign rallies, and what that might mean for their lives.

Benjaman James

After college graduation, Traverse City native and musician Benjaman James had a big decision to make: get a job that pays the bills, or pursue a career in music.  

Benjaman got a degree from Michigan State University’s college of engineering. After graduation he started the band “Old Mission Collective.”

As the group continued to gain traction, members came and went, but he says he became the only common member in the band. So he decided to go solo.

Now, Benjaman James is out with a new EP titled “Growing Pains" out December 3. 

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

December 5 is Repeal Day.

“Repeal Day is sort of an invented holiday,” explained Tammy Coxen of Tammy’s Tastings. In recent years, bars, brew houses, and the drinking public have embraced the repeal of the 18th Amendment, which brought in the era of Prohibition.

On December 5, 1933, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the 21st Amendment, doing away with Prohibition. He famously said, “What America needs now is a drink.”

Pretty much anyone who ever amounted to anything has been inspired to success at some point by a teacher, usually in elementary or high school. Which makes the Michigan Legislature’s running war on teachers somewhat hard to understand.

Yes, I understand the Republicans hate teacher unions, primarily the National Education Association, because they often contribute to Democratic campaigns. 

Game of the century

17 hours ago

The Michigan-Ohio State rivalry has long been considered the nation’s best.

But for all the great Michigan-Ohio State games, the two teams never entered The Game ranked first and second, until 2006 -- The Game of the Century. And despite the fact that the century was only six years old, the game delivered, with Ohio State winning a 42-39 classic.

Sink in Flint with a warning sign.
Virginia Tech

Researchers from Virginia Tech are announcing the results of their fourth round of water testing in Flint today.

For many people in the city, their trust in government has been broken. They don't trust what the state, or the federal government say about the safety of their water.

The Virginia Tech researchers are more trusted. They sounded the alarm about the lead crisis in the summer of 2015. And they've been retesting as many of the homes in their original study as they can. Officials are watching what the team has to say about the safety of the water closely. 

AUCHTOON.COM

When the president-elect nominated Betsy DeVos for Secretary of Education last week, the most obvious metaphor seemed to be the fox put in charge of the hen-house. I rolled that around in my head for awhile, but couldn't make it work.

I don't think DeVos is that carnivorous, or the education establishment that docile. (Plus drawing anthropomorphic characters is not really my strong suit. So, as is often the case, laziness wins.)

This cartoon worked much better because it reveals my main issue with the DeVos nomination: She's a crank.

Lawmakers want to head off local laws regulating plastic shopping bags.
Flickr user Kate Ter Haar / HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

Changes could be coming for how retailers handle the use of plastic bags. That’s if Governor Rick Snyder signs a bill that won final approval in the legislature Thursday.

The bill would prevent cities from instituting fees or banning plastic bags and other containers at stores in Michigan.

Lawmakers in favor of the legislation argue that having a statewide ban prevents a confusing array of laws from city to city.

The Michigan State Capitol
user aunt owwee / Flickr

Stricter voting identification bills are on their way to the House floor for a full vote. The legislation passed through the House Elections committee Thursday.

The bills would require voters to prove their identity within 10 days of casting a provisional ballot if they don’t have a photo ID with them at the polls.

Democratic Representative Jeff Irwin is on the House Elections committee. He said the legislation disenfranchises voters, particularly the disabled and impoverished.

Davies said the characters in his book all "struggle with the burden of representation. How do these individual Chinese and Chinese-Americans somehow represent or speak for a group, and it’s an impossible burden.”
flickr user futureatlas.com / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

 

It’s been nearly ten years since Peter Ho Davies came out with his first novel, The Welsh Girl. It was long-listed for the 2007 Man Booker Prize.

Now, Davies is out with his second novel: The Fortunes.

He offers four linked stories that explore what it means to be Chinese in America over the past century and a half. Three of the stories are built around people and events that actually happened.

Ballots.
flickr http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Plans to move ahead with a ballot recount in Michigan are on hold. The state Republican Party and President-elect Donald Trump’s campaign have filed an objection to the recount request by Green Party nominee Jill Stein. A state elections board meets tomorrow morning to consider the objection.

Border stop.
bbmcshane / flickr

Border agents can stop and search anyone within 100 miles of an international border, without a warrant. The American Civil Liberties Union and Michigan Immigrant Rights Center doesn't like this.

The ACLU and MIRC are suing the U.S. government over these warrantless searches. Both groups want border agencies to be more transparent about their searches.

Miriam Aukerman, the west Michigan regional staff attorney at the ACLU of Michigan, said the lawsuit is really about holding the government accountable.

Voting in Michigan.
Paulette Parker / Michigan Radio

For county clerks all over Michigan, the presidential vote recount has them scrambling to hand-count some 4.8 million ballots in less than two weeks.

Ingham County Clerk Barb Byrum took a few minutes away from the scramble to discuss the process on Stateside.

A copy of the letter received by two mosques in Michigan.
ISLAMIC SOCIETY OF GREATER LANSING

A threatening, hand-written letter arrived Wednesday at Islamic centers in Ann Arbor and East Lansing.

The letter called Muslims "a vile and filthy people."

It referred to Donald Trump as "the new sheriff in town," and warned, "You Muslims would be wise to pack your bags and get out of Dodge."  

The letter said Trump is "going to do to you Muslims what Hitler did to the Jews." 

According to Dawud Walid, executive director of the Michigan Chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations, the letter was also sent to other mosques around the country.

The ProNav Angler mobile app allows you to set a route and let your trolling motor do the driving so you can focus on fishing.
ProNav Marine

The Next Idea

At this time of the year, we're hearing a lot about the economic power of hunting in Michigan. But it turns out that fishing packs an even larger economic punch. Fishing brings in about $2.4 billion to the state.

Our latest guest on The Next Idea has helped to create something to help anglers come away happy when they set out on the water. And it comes from an unexpected source: your smartphone.

Screen shot of Breitbart.com on November 29, 2016.
screen grab

Update: December 1, 2016:

LOS ANGELES - Breitbart is encouraging a boycott of Kellogg's products after the cereal maker said it would no longer advertise on the news and opinion website, formerly run by President-elect Donald Trump aide Steve Bannon.

The Kellogg Company cited company "values" in explaining its decision; a spokeswoman said Thursday it has "nothing to do with politics."

Breitbart has been condemned for featuring racist, sexist and anti-Semitic content.

Tim Greimel, the outgoing leader of the Democrats in the Michigan House of Representatives, put it this way:

“I’ve talked to thousands of voters, and never had a single one say we’ve needed more money and less accountability and less transparency in politics.” 

I have no doubt that’s true.

Asbestos sign
Michael Coghlan / Flickr, http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The Environmental Protection Agency just put out a list of ten high priority chemicals.

These are the first chemicals the agency will review for risks to human health and the environment under a new law that Congress passed this summer.

Courtesy Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources / Flickr Creative Commons -- http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The International Joint Commission (IJC) says the U.S. and Canada should create a strategy to reduce toxic chemicals called polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) in the Great Lakes. This comes from a new IJC report released Wednesday.

"The PBDEs polluting our Great Lakes are toxic substances of great concern," says the Canadian Section's IJC chair Gordon Walker in a press release

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

A new report finds, despite improved access to health insurance, a large number of poor Michiganders still fall in and out of coverage.

The University of Michigan’s Center for Healthcare Research & Transformation looked at something called “churning”.  Churning is when individuals pass from one health insurer to another, either by changing plans or entering and exiting Medicaid.

Marianne Udow Philips is the center’s director. She says there remains a lot of health insurance instability.

Lee Anne Walters with her son Garrett outside of her home in Flint.
Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

One of the women who helped uncover the Flint water crisis says members of the U.S. Navy are retaliating against her husband. You can catch up on her family's back story here.

Gorchow told us that we need to be more skeptical of polls.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Changes to Michigan’s voter identification laws might go through in the legislature’s lame duck session. A House committee heard testimony on the bills Wednesday.

The bills would require voters to prove their identity within 10 days of voting if they do not have a photo ID on them at the polls.

The legislation comes in the wake of a state-wide recount and an election filled with unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud.

U-M puts overtime changes on hold

Dec 1, 2016
Frankleleon / FLICKR CREATIVE COMMONS HTTP://MICHRAD.IO/1LXRDJM

About 2,400 University of Michigan employees will not be getting the raises or overtime eligibility they were expecting today.

The university says that's because a Texas federal court ruled last week to temporarily block  an Obama administration overtime pay regulation that was supposed to take effect on December 1 . 

The new regulation would almost double the current pay cut-off for overtime eligibility, raising it to $47,476.

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