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Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The Flint Islamic Center held a meeting tonight to go over what the Trump administration’s immigration policies could mean for Muslim families in Michigan.

Trump had said his administration would unveil the new order this week, but a White House official says that has been delayed until next week.

The original order temporarily banning all entry into the U.S. from seven Muslim-majority nations and pausing the entire U.S. refugee program was blocked in the courts. The directive sparked confusion at airports and protests across the country.

Dr. Larry Nassar.
Michigan Attorney General's office

A former sports medicine doctor for Michigan State University and the U.S. Olympics gymnastics team faces another 22 felony charges of sexually assaulting his patients.

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette announced the new charges today. He says five of the charges are related to victims who were younger than 13 years old.

“I cannot imagine the heartbreak, and the anger, and the heartache experienced by parents who took their child to a physician, seeking help, who then sexually assaulted their daughter,” Schuette said.

Courtesy of the Flint Scottish

For over a hundred years, the Flint Scottish Pipe Band has celebrated the Scottish highlands in mid-Michigan. It is the oldest pipe band in the state of Michigan, and the eleventh oldest in the nation. 

ACLU of Michigan

A girl and her dog, Wonder, are one step closer to victory in their lawsuit against her former school.

The U.S. Supreme Court said Wednesday 13-year-old Ehlena Fry can move forward with a lawsuit her family filed when officials would not let her use her goldendoodle as an aid during school.

Fry has cerebral palsy and has had Wonder since kindergarten.

When her family filed the lawsuit, the school argued Fry would have to go through an administrative process first.

Joe Gratz / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Michigan could have some older judges on the bench if a measure in Lansing moves ahead.

A recently introduced resolution to eliminate the age limit for Michigan judges got a hearing this week before the House Judiciary Committee. 

Right now, the Michigan Constitution says nobody can be elected or appointed judge after reaching the age of 70.

If the resolution passes by a two-thirds vote in both chambers of the state Legislature, voters would decide at the next general election whether to amend the Constitution to get rid of the age ceiling.

Last month, the state School Reform Office (SRO) announced that 38 schools could be closed at the end of this school year.
Kevin Wong / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Some parents may have to drive their children ten, 20, even 30 miles to school next year. But those parents still aren't sure if that's the case yet, or if any of their options will be much better than their current schools.

All the confusion is because last month, the state School Reform Office (SRO) announced that 38 schools could be closed at the end of this school year.

STEVE CARMODY / Michigan Radio

Within days of being sworn into office, President Trump signed executive orders calling for tougher enforcement of immigration laws and increased border security.

This week Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly signed off on new rules that show us how the government will be implementing this immigration crackdown.

A protest against the AICC's proposed Sterling Heights mosque in 2015.
Chaldean Nation / via Facebook

The city of Sterling Heights has agreed to settle two federal religious discrimination lawsuits, and allow the American Islamic Community Center to build a mosque in the city.

The Sterling Heights City Planning Commission denied the AICC’s application for a permit in 2015. The Commission cited traffic, parking and height concerns about the proposed mosque.

But the project also faced heated opposition from some residents, much of it fueled by anti-Muslim rhetoric. The AICC, and later the federal government, said it was a case of religious discrimination.

A recent survey by the National Restaurant Association shows that 27% of restaurant owners say recruiting and retaining employees is their No. 1 problem.
Strangely-Brown / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Restaurants depend on immigrants. Nationally, nearly one in five restaurant employees are foreign born. So what could President Trump's new immigration policies mean for the workers, and ultimately for the food service industry?

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The proposed merger of Midland-based Dow Chemical and DuPont may soon clear a critical hurdle.

European regulators may be close to approving the $130 billion merger. The European Commission has until April to make its final decision.

Dow and DuPont officials have been working hard for months to convince European regulators to approve their merger. Those efforts may have finally paid off.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Some Michigan members of Congress have been criticized lately for avoiding constituents. But two Republican congressmen from West Michigan are hosting in-person events over the next few days.

U.S. Rep. Bill Huizenga, R-2nd Dist., has his first in-person town hall of the year set for this Saturday at noon in Baldwin. The tiny town about an hour north of Grand Rapids was supposed to be a part of Huizenga’s annual snowmobile tour. There’s not enough snow this year, but he didn’t cancel the event.

Jack Lessenberry
Michigan Radio

The Department of Homeland Security revealed dramatic changes to its policies on Tuesday. This Week in Michigan Politics, Morning Edition host Doug Tribou and senior news analyst Jack Lessenberry talk about what those changes could mean in Michigan, where a number of cities have sanctuary measures in place or are considering them.

Parents, students and community activists holding signs at a press conference in front of Osborn High School in Detroit.
Bryce Huffman / Michigan Radio

In a letter to Governor Rick Snyder, Michigan's Democratic members of the U.S. House of Representatives asked that he stop the Michigan School Reform Office from closing 38 schools.

U.S. Reps. John Conyers, Debbie Dingell, Dan Kildee, Brenda Lawrence, and Sander Levin requested that the governor not close any schools without input and support from local communities.

The representatives cited the negative impacts of school closings, such as the burdens placed on working families that may face longer commutes.

Well, at first glance it might look like the legislature came to its senses yesterday, at least so far cutting the state income tax is concerned. Unfortunately, it didn’t.

The lawmakers did drop the infantile notion of completely getting rid of the state income tax. They also backed away from cutting it from the current 4.25 percent to 3.9 percent overnight. But they still want to make that cut – just gradually, over the next four years.

The Michigan Urban Farming Initiative's headquarters and community center in Detroit.
Bryce Huffman / Michigan Radio

State economic development officials and a nonprofit urban farming group have launched a crowdfunded campaign to turn a vacant Detroit building into a community resource center.

The campaign to raise $50,000 was launched Tuesday by the Michigan Economic Development Corp. and Michigan Urban Farming Initiative. Automotive supplier BorgWarner pledged $10,000 as part of the kickoff.

State capitol
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

A survey of local officials across the state finds wide interest in overhauling Michigan’s emergency manager law.       

The survey of officials from 1,300 cities, counties, townships, and villages was conducted by the University of Michigan’s Ford School of Public Policy.

There was no consensus on what to about financially struggling local governments, says survey director Tom Ivacko. But he says says there was general agreement that emergency managers have too much power.

income tax
ccPixs.com / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Lawmakers in Lansing might not try to do away with the state income tax after all; but, they are still looking to reduce it.

A new version of the bill would gradually cut the tax from 4 point 25 percent to 3 point 9 percent.

Bill sponsor Representative Lee Chatfield says he is happy with the changes.

“Our goal all along has been to deliver on the promise made to the people back in 2007, and we think the legislation in its current form with the substitute accomplishes that goal,” he said.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

2016 was a good year for Michigan home builders – just not as good as expected.

Data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows 15,176 permits were issued in Michigan for new home construction in 2016. That’s the highest since 2006 (16,538).  

But that’s 1,700 fewer permits than were forecasted.    

Bob Filka, with the Michigan Home Builders Association, says the industry should be doing better.

“When you look at the job creation numbers in the state, the unemployment level,” says Filka, “we should have more housing investment happening right now and we’re not.”

The sign posted at Rep. David Trott's Troy office.
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

A group of Detroit-area Congressman Dave Trott’s (R-11th district) constituents tried again to meet with him on Tuesday.

And once again, they weren’t successful.

Some constituents accuse Trott of ducking meetings and public appearances since Donald Trump was elected.

Empty classroom.
Motown31 / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Are Michigan’s schools improving? According to a new analysis of national testing data, the answer is a clear “no.”

The report, authored by University of Michigan professor Brian A. Jacob, looked at the scores of 4th- and 8th-grade students on the National Assessment of Educational Progress. The nationally administered test measures for proficiency in reading and math.

Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

The possessive “s” could be in danger.

At least, that’s what linguist Anne Curzan says. 

Warm weather putting winter tourism at risk in Michigan

Feb 21, 2017
Vince Pahkala / Wikimedia Commons

Planning your next winter excursion in Michigan could get harder this year. 

Unusually warm temperatures throughout the state, including record highs in certain areas over the weekend, have led tourism experts and representatives to question whether enough snow will stay on the ground to support outdoor activities. 

user Werwin15 / Creative Commons

One of the largest hubs for artists in the Midwest may soon be abandoned, at least temporarily, after Detroit's Building Department ordered all tenants in the Russell Industrial Center to immediately vacate the premises, due to building code violations.

Jimi Custer owns a video production company, The Afterhours Network, that operates out of the Center, as well as Channel 313.tv.

He says the notice was a complete surprise.

"I came to my work today and all of a sudden I can't do my business," says Custer.  "Now I've got to figure out where I'm going to relocate."

So many early campaigns

Feb 21, 2017

I've been a journalist for almost forty years, and while I tend to specialize in politics and government, at one time or another I’ve covered everything from nutmeg cultivation in Grenada to reunions of World War I veterans.

Along the way, I’ve discovered there are three things people often think they can do without any background whatsoever: Start a magazine, open a restaurant, or run for office. Most people who blindly start magazines or restaurants just end up losing their money.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Energy costs can be a huge burden on low-income communities.

That’s especially true in Highland Park. The tiny enclave within Detroit was literally left in the dark after it ran up a big street lighting bill.

But there are some small bright spots popping up—thanks to solar power, and the efforts of one community group.

(Support trusted journalism like this in Michigan. Give what you can here.)

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint Mayor Karen Weaver is once again criticizing the Snyder administration’s decision to end the state subsidy on city water bills.

The state has spent more than $40 million subsidizing Flint’s water bills.  

But the governor’s office says the credits are ending this month because Flint’s water quality is improving. 

Weaver says she wants to hold the state “accountable” to promises to help Flint through its water crisis.

“I think we deserve the credits until the water is ‘tap drinkable’ without a filter,” says Weaver.

Parents, students and community activists holding signs at a press conference in front of Osborn High School in Detroit.
Bryce Huffman / Michigan Radio

Detroit parents and students want the state to hear from them before closing their schools.

Twenty-five public schools in Detroit could be shut down for having poor test scores.

The state School Reform Office, which released the list of schools that might close, has yet to meet with parents or students from these schools.

Terry Whitfield is with 482 Forward, a citywide network of community organizations, schools groups and church groups.

He says the state needs input from the people most affected by the possible school closings.

Congresswoman Debbie Dingell
Atlantic Council / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Democratic U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell agrees with a major campaign promise of President Trump: NAFTA needs to be re-negotiated.

Dingell co-sponsored a resolution introduced by Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Oregon, last week that she calls a “road map” to reshaping the trade deal.

"Michigan's the heart and soul of the American Auto Industry,” Dingell said. "And since NAFTA passed, we have seen factories shuttered, jobs lost, and real incomes drop for too many people."

A vintage snowmobile exhibit is on display on Saturday, Feb. 18 at Snowfest in Cedarville, Mich. in the Upper Peninsula. As you can see, the snow was already starting to melt.
Josh Hakala / Michigan Radio

Some folks in Michigan were walking around outside with t-shirts this past weekend, and just in case you haven't checked the calendar, it's February! It's just the latest chapter in the often unpredictable and strange weather here in the Great Lakes State.

Tracy Samilton / Michigan Radio

Students at Michigan State University can no longer have message whiteboards mounted on their dorm doors, starting this fall. Misuse of the whiteboards has made them more trouble than they're worth.

Kat Cooper is Director of Communications for Residential Services at MSU.  She says too often, students would scrawl offensive comments on the whiteboards. 

"Racist, sexist, anything in that category. Those have happened. There's been issues with them for a long time," says Cooper. "People write things on them that really aren't not part of our value set at MSU."

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