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Charter schools in Michigan currently don't get any money raised by regional enhancement millages. Those are property taxes up to 3 mills approved by voters in intermediate school districts. Under existing state law, the money can only go to traditional public schools.

But the Senate Education Committee today approved a bill that would let charter schools share in that money.

"We have ten percent of our students who attend charter schools in my county," said bill sponsor Sen. Dave Hildenbrand, R-Lowell. "And I feel like it's an equity issue."

Kerry Wixted / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Forests in our region are under attack from a shrub.

The culprit is an ornamental plant called Japanese barberry. It was introduced from Asia in the late 1800s. It’s been in used in landscaping in Michigan for decades, but it’s considered invasive.

I just found out I have some in my front yard.

They’re pretty, with bright red berries that birds love to eat.

Judge's gavel
Pixabay.com

The criminal cases in the Flint water crisis are unfolding. State health director Nick Lyon had a hearing in court last week. The state’s chief medical officer Dr. Eden Wells had a hearing on Monday and she is now facing some new charges.

Michigan Radio reporter Steve Carmody has been covering the criminal prosecutions and was at that hearing. He spoke with Morning Edition host Doug Tribou about the ongoing proceedings. (You can hear the conversation above.)

Part of a polished Petoskey stone.
Michelle Pemberton / Wikimedia Commons

Most Michiganders have spent hours walking up and down shorelines, hoping to spot a Petoskey stone or two for their collection.

Hunting for Petoskey stones can be tough - they're often small, hidden among thousands of other little rocks and their distinctive pattern is only visible when wet.

Sam VarnHagen / Ford Motor Co.

My guess is that virtually everyone who even half-heartedly follows the news knows that a Republican senator from Tennessee called the White House an “adult day care center” after the President called him a coward, et cetera, et cetera.

A man stands on building steps and speaks through a megaphone. Signs reading "Dignity and Rage" and "No More Stolen Lands" can be seen in the background.
Kaye LaFond / Michigan Radio

Students and community members marched on the University of Michigan campus Monday to mark Indigenous Peoples' Day -- an alternative to the Federal Columbus Day Holiday, which many see as a celebration of genocide. 

A pamphlet distributed by the marchers states that Christopher Columbus is "perhaps the most violent symbol possible for Indigenous communities". 

Jodi Westrick / Michigan Radio

A Detroit City Council committee heard some passionate pleas for tighter rules on city landlords and their rental properties Monday.

Renters’ advocates and neighborhood groups said it’s past time to tighten up the city’s rental property, ordinance especially now that Detroit has moved from a majority-homeowner to a majority-renter city.

The proposed new rules would amend an existing city ordinance, which city leaders admit has not been well enforced in recent years.

Judge's gavel
Flickr user Joe Gratz / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

The Michigan Supreme Court has awarded more than $3 million in grants to circuit courts across the state.

The money will help pay for the Swift and Sure Sanctions Probation Program, an intense probation supervision program in the state. The program is for high-risk, felony offenders who have a history of violating the rules of their probation. It offers specialized and structured help so they can finish their probation successfully – and stay out of trouble.

user meddygarnet / Flickr

UPDATE: Tuesday, 10/10/17

All regular nursing staff at UPHS-Marquette can now return to work. 

Victor Harrington, Regional Director of Marketing and Business Development at UPHS, said the hospital hired replacement nurses to staff the hospital during last week's 48-hour (Thursday - Friday) nurse strike. Harrington said the staffing agency that provided replacement nurses required a five day minimum contract to work. That contract ended after Monday. 

Dr. Eden Wells
steve carmody / Michigan Radio

A top state official will face new charges in the Flint water crisis.

Dr. Eden Wells is Michigan’s Chief Medical Executive. She was already charged with obstruction of justice and lying to a police office.

Special Counsel Todd Flood announced in court this morning that he plans to file involuntary manslaughter and misconduct in office charges against Wells.

“Based on new review of other documents and testimony that came out last week, we believe that discovery put us in this place,” says Flood.

Are you persuadable? A persuadable voter, that is. The research says, probably not.

There’s new research by political scientists at Berkeley and Stanford that says voters in general election campaigns are largely unpersuaded by political ads. And a lot of political pros say this matches with their experience in recent years.

Boat on Northport Bay, Lake Michigan
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

A fight is brewing at the state Capitol over whether the Legislature should preempt local rules on expensive rental properties.

Local governments and neighbors say short-term vacation rentals are changing the character of neighborhoods. The battle is getting particularly fierce in Great Lakes shoreline communities where rental properties can go for thousands of dollars a week.

Lucy Welch lives in Spring Lake on the Lake Michigan shoreline. She says neighbors recently started renting out their home to vacationers.

Hand washing
Pixabay

Since an outbreak began last August, 376 people in Michigan have contracted the sometimes fatal illness. It's mainly spread person-to-person via contact with feces.

Angela Minicuci is with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

"We haven't found one contaminated food source or exposure at this point," she says, "but we are seeing a lot of relation to people who are using opioids or drugs."

People who are, or have been incarcerated, are also considered at higher risk of getting hepatitis A, as are homeless people. A staggering 86% of those who've gotten hepatitis A in the state since last year have been hospitalized.  Fourteen people have died.

Car dashboard
Pixabay

Many infotainment systems are placing very high demands on drivers, according to new research. 

Of 30 infotainment systems tested, virtually all broke the two second rule for many tasks, meaning don't take your eyes off the road more than two seconds to fiddle with the radio or navigation system. Some tasks took drivers more than 40 seconds.  Gary Bubar is with AAA.  He says the message for drivers is clear.

"Use your common sense," he says.  "Understand that just because the systems are there we don't need to use them while we're driving."

Protest banner in "funeral march" for public education
Bryce Huffman / Michigan Radio

Critics of U.S. Secretary of education Betsy DeVos held what they called a funeral march for public education today in Grand Rapids.

DeVos, a Grand Rapids native, has been criticized for supporting school choice, and most recently for rescinding Obama-era sexual assault guidelines for college campuses.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan’s top doctor, Eden Wells, will be in a Flint courtroom Monday.  The hearing will determine whether she'll go to trial on charges related to the Flint water crisis.

Dr. Wells is Chief Medical Executive in the state health department.

Wells is charged with “obstruction of justice” and “lying to an officer” in connection with a Legionnaires' disease outbreak during Flint’s tap water crisis.

Wells allegedly lied when she claimed she had no knowledge of the outbreak until September 2015, when she actually was aware of it six months earlier.

In 2009, Lake Superior State listed "iconic" on its annual list of words to banish.

The list's authors say it was one of the most-nominated words that year. People calling for its banishment said "iconic" was overused, especially among entertainers and entertainment news.

Bryan Murphy of Fairfield, Connecticut said, "Just because a writer recognizes something does not make it an icon or iconic. It just means that the writer has seen it before."

That may be, but eight years after it was banished, "iconic" is still alive and flourishing in an ever-wider range of contexts.


A flag with both the University of Michigan and Michigan State
yooperann / creative commons http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Thousands of football fans are pouring into Ann Arbor for tonight’s face-off between the U of M Wolverines and MSU Spartans.

The long-standing rivalry between the two teams and the game’s later-than-usual 7:30 start time have local officials on guard.

Diane Brown with U of M's Division of Public Safety and Security says the department has a comprehensive security plan in place, “as usual.”

She says at the beginning of each season and each week, the department looks at its plans to see if any adjustments are needed.

After Wayne County found some 11,000 abandoned rape kits, a statewide survey found another 1800 around the state
http://www.npr.org/2015/02/10/384129985/advocates-join-fight-to-eliminate-detroit-s-rape-kit-backlog

Law enforcement officials and victims of sexual assault in Michigan could soon be able to track the rape kits used to gather evidence. A state budget amendment would set aside money for training and software that keeps track of where a kit is located at each step of an investigation. This Week in Review, Weekend Edition host Rebecca Kruth and senior news analyst Jack Lessenberry talk about why Michigan isn't already using tracking software.

"A. Lincoln" by Richard Schlatter, one of the winning pieces in this year's Grand Rapids ArtPrize
Bryce Huffman / Michigan Radio

Downtown Grand Rapids will surely be less busy now that the ninth annual Grand Rapids ArtPrize competition is over.

Artists from all over the world come to West Michigan to share their art. But only two artists each year are grand prize winners.

Both Seitu Jones and Richard Schlatter will take home $200,000 for their pieces "The Heartside Community Meal" and "A. Lincoln," respectively. 

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has been without an administrator since January.

Reuters reports former NHTSA officials, consumer groups, lawmakers and some business leaders are urging the Trump Administration to appoint someone.

Amit Narang is with Public Citizen.  He says the situation means tire safety regulations have been put on the back burner.

bill mckibben
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Despite consensus among most scientists that climate change is real, and that humans are contributing by burning fossil fuels, there is still resistance to actually doing something about it.

Oil, gas, and coal companies are fighting it. So are businesses that rely on fossil fuels, and politicians who are more worried about the economic costs today than they are about threats to life and the economy down the road.

Joe Ross / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

The Republican majority leader in the Senate, Arlan Meekhof, has introduced legislation that would allow city police departments to contract with a private firm for police officers. They'd have all the authority and the protections given to public police officers. 

corn in a box
Maia C / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

The United States was once considered an agricultural nation, but these days, most people are two or three generations away from the farm. Fewer than two percent of Americans live on farms, and many don’t understand where their food comes from, how it’s grown, or how it’s processed.

A new effort at Michigan State University is trying to change that. The College of Agriculture and Natural Resources is leading an initiative called Food @ MSU.

Catherine Shaffer / Michigan Radio

The Detroit branch NAACP hosted an event Friday to raise awareness about Detroit's aging water infrastructure, and to call on the federal government to update and repair it.

Detroit's situation is part of a nationwide infrastructure crisis, but the need is critical in the Great Lakes region, advocates say, because more than 30 million people depend on the lakes for their drinking water. 

factory
Thomas Hawk / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

Wisconsin recently offered up to $3 billion in tax incentives to FoxConn of Taiwan. In Detroit, there have been hundreds of millions of dollars in incentives for a new arena for the Red Wings and Pistons and for developments by businessman Dan Gilbert, as well as huge tax credits for auto manufacturers.

Now, states and cities are trying to put together incentives to get Amazon’s new massive Headquarters 2. But the question remains: will citizens actually benefit from their tax dollars being spent to attract or retain business?

The Macomb County Jail has a chronic overcrowding problem. And that can make for dangerous conditions for inmates. Experts say jail overcrowding is linked to higher rates of violence, illness, and suicide.

18 people have died in the Macomb County Jail since 2012. This is one woman's story.

And perhaps the biggest factor contributing to overcrowding – which is a chronic issue for lots of jails, not just Macomb's – is the courts.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

A court hearing concerning the state health director’s handling of a deadly Legionnaires' disease outbreak abruptly ended today amid questions about when the governor knew about the outbreak.

Governor Rick Snyder testified last year before Congress that he learned of the Legionnaires' outbreak in Genesee County in January 2016. 

Daniel Howes / Detroit News

Not since Henry Ford and General Motors founder Billy Durant put America on wheels has the auto industry faced the disruption it does right now.

Not because oil prices are skyrocketing. And not because consumer demand is plummeting.

Forcing the change are two inexorable forces: technology and government regulators. They’re converging quickly. And the combination is pushing the likes of GM and Ford Motor into making seemingly contradictory bets.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Ann Arbor Distilling is releasing its second round of whiskeys, a bourbon and a rye under a new brand, Fox River. The small batches (700 bottles of rye, 1200 bottles of bourbon) are both high proof whiskeys. The rye is 105 proof. The bourbon comes in at 102.5 proof.

“We found that a little bit higher than that was too hot and a little bit lower was sort of flabby and the flavors didn’t come through quite as well,” explained Product Developer and Brand Ambassador Phil Attee.

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