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The Archives of Michigan has added to its free online collection of death certificates. 

A new batch covering the years 1921 to 1939 have joined certificates from 1897 to 1920 that were already available online.

State Archivist Mark Harvey says the indexed certificates are a treasure trove for historical researchers who can search four different data fields.

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Democratic lawmakers in Lansing are proposing a group of bills that would repeal Michigan's ban on same-sex marriage.

This legislation comes a little over a month before the Supreme Court will take up the Michigan case on the legality of same sex marriage.

State Rep. Jeremy Moss, D-Southfield, says they are introducing these bills now because Sunday marks the one-year anniversary of 300 same sex couples who were married in Michigan.

State Capitol
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The Michigan House yesterday approved legislation that would allow faith-based adoption agencies that receive state money to turn away couples based on religious objections. Today, legislative Democrats introduced bills to overturn Michigan's same-sex marriage ban.

user: U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class David Danals / Wikimedia Commons

The NCAA Men's Division One Basketball Championship or "March Madness" is officially underway.

Tomorrow, 7th seed Michigan State will face 10th seed Georgia for the chance to continue in the tournament.

On Sunday Michigan State lost in overtime to Wisconsin in the final game of the Big Ten Tournament.

Michigan Radio sports commentator John U. Bacon says that their loss stems from a larger problem.

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The first federally-funded housing projects for African-American families were built in Detroit in the 1930s. They were the Brewster-Douglass Housing Projects, located on Detroit’s near-east side.

If you want to hear why they were built, listen to our recent story here. Mary Wilson from The Supremes tells us about what she learned from growing up in the projects, in a story you can listen to here

For the most part, former residents who lived in the area in the 1940s, 50s, and 60s speak highly of their time in the projects. But life in the Brewsters got much tougher in the 1970s and '80s.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The city of Flint wants to restructure some bond payments to pay for two million dollars of recommended fixes to the city’s troubled water system.

A year ago, the city ended its contract with the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department, and opted to treat water from the Flint River instead.

Rusty Tanton / Flickr/user

Lawmakers want to overhaul our nation’s chemical safety law, but there’s a lot of disagreement about how to do that.

In the U.S., chemicals are innocent until proven guilty.

If officials at the Environmental Protection Agency want to ban a chemical, they need to provide a lot of proof that it’s harmful for us or the environment. As the EPA's Dale Kemery once explained to me, "EPA can ban chemicals if it can demonstrate that they present an unreasonable risk. This is a relatively high regulatory standard and requires a substantial amount of high quality exposure and hazard information."

The law we currently have on the books is 39 years old. It’s called the Toxic Substances Control Act or TSCA. It’s been widely criticized as toothless and outdated.

I’ve said more than once that it isn’t fair to expect teachers to solve all the problems of educating our kids. When a child is hungry, or has a chaotic living situation and no support at home, the best curriculum and the most effective teachers may not be able to make enough difference.

While central business districts in Detroit are seeing the beginnings of resurgence, the neighborhoods are lagging behind. People who live in the city need jobs. To get them, many need new skills. In the second of a series of reports for the Detroit Journalism Cooperative, we're following a student who is trying to get the training she needs to help her family.

In the first report, I introduced you to Fatima Mixon. She’s been studying at Focus: HOPE to become a machinist. A few weeks after I first met her at the school, I visited Mixon and her family at home.

Alan Cleaver / Flickr

A new report from the Public Interest Research Group in Michigan gives the state a “B+” when it comes to keeping citizens informed of government spending habits.

The study said Michigan is doing especially well when it comes to making that information available online.

The State Board of Education (SBE) has selected a new state superintendent of schools. Dearborn Public Schools Superintendent Brian Whiston will take over the Michigan Department of Education in July. That’s when current state Superintendent Mike Flanagan will retire.

Whiston says he’s had a lot of success in Dearborn – and hopes to achieve similar goals statewide.

“We’ve raised student achievement, raised graduation rates, our budget’s in line,” he said after a final interview with the SBE Wednesday.

MHSAA plans sideline concussion testing kit program

Mar 18, 2015
Governor Snyder is expected to sign legislation attempting to reduce the number of concussions in youth sports.
Reigh LeBlanc / flickr

The Michigan High School Athletic Association wants to make it easier for coaches and other safety officials to check student athletes for concussions.

Next fall, the MHSAA plans to launch a pilot program that will give schools around the state concussion detection kits that can be administered on the sidelines.

Jack Roberts, MHSSA executive director, said one of the program’s goals is to raise standards when it comes to concussion safety.  

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint fired its long-time water provider, the city of Detroit, last spring, and began treating its own water from the Flint River.

There were problems right away, including complaints by residents about the taste, smell and appearance of the water.

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In 1945, Grand Rapids was the first city in the U.S. to add fluoride to its water.

But a candidate for mayor doesn't see that as a bragging point today.

John George says "more than a thousand" studies show risks from fluoridated water, including links to higher levels of ADHD, hypothyroidism, and lower IQs in kids.

Sarah Horrigan / Flickr

The state House has adopted legislation that would allow faith-based adoption agencies to continue to turn away LGBT couples – even if the U.S. Supreme Court legalizes same-sex marriage.

The bills would continue the current practice that could be threatened by a Supreme Court ruling. Republicans say the agencies shouldn’t be forced to choose between their religious values and performing their mission.

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You might have seen reports about a small town, fewer than 300 people, with a force of 110 reserve police officers. How and why is this happening in Oakley, Michigan?

Oakley, Michigan, according to reporter Ryan Felton from Metro Times, is "a textbook definition of a small town.” 

FLICKR USER JOANNA BOURNE / FLICKR

Interested in Michigan craft beer? If so, you may have heard about a certain trademark dispute: the larger Bell’s Brewery filed a complaint against the fledgling Innovation Brewing. Bell’s believes Innovation’s name is too similar to Bell’s trademark, “Bottling innovation since 1985.”

Nationaal Archief (Dutch National Archives)

Today on Stateside, we’re getting the inside scoop from former residents of the Brewster-Douglass housing projects about what it was like growing up in the Detroit projects. 

Their answers are overwhelmingly positive.

Ruby Straughter lived in the Brewster-Douglass projects from 1957 to 1972. She remembers people in the projects taking good care of each other.

“If a family couldn’t pay rent, neighbors would throw a rent party and they’d give the money to whomever needed the rent paid.”

She says no one ever went hungry or made fun of anyone else for being poor. Straughter remembers parents were strict with their own kids, and looked out for other people’s children as well.

There was also lots and lots of singing in the Brewsters. People sang four-part harmonies on street corners, in the parks, on porches and in the stairwells, where the echo was best.

But why was music such a huge part of living there? 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Permanent suspension sounds … well … permanent, right?

Wrong.  

Just because the Sigma Alpha Mu international board has voted to “permanently suspend the charter of our University of Michigan chapter” after the fraternity vandalized a ski resort in Northern Michigan, doesn’t mean the frat is gone forever.

Let’s Review is a new podcast from Michigan Radio focused on current events, pop culture, identity, and the tricky art of navigating life.

Your hosts are All Things Considered host, Jenn White and Michigan Radio's social media producer, Kim Springer.

Flickr user University of Wisconsin Sea Grant/Water Resources / Flickr

The Freep Film Festival begins its four-day run tomorrow.

This will be the festival's second year. It will open with a double feature of films from two of the Detroit Free Press' own videographers and photographers.

The first is Fire Photo 1. It revolves around Bill Eisner who has been the unofficial photographer for the Detroit fire department for over 50 years.

Here's a trailer:

The unemployment rate in Detroit is nearly double the statewide rate. Detroit residents need jobs. But too few people have marketable skills. What does it take to go from out-of-work to trained and employed?

For 30 years a group in Detroit has been training people to go to work as machinists, in IT, and beginning this year, in health care.

“When folks come out of here with that Focus: HOPE stamp of approval, you can be certain that you’re getting somebody who should work out pretty doggone well in your workplace,” said William Jones, CEO of Focus: HOPE.

Study: Michigan minority families falling behind

Mar 18, 2015
One dollar bills
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A new study shows minority working families in Michigan are twice as likely to be low-income earners as white working families.

The report shows half of the state's working minority families fall below the official poverty rate, around $40,000 for a family of three, compared to 27% of working white families.

Ann Arbor schools considering new weapons policy

Mar 18, 2015
user westsideshooter / Flickr

The Ann Arbor School Board is exploring options for a weapons-free school policy.

This comes after a March 5 incident in which a man caused concern after openly carrying a pistol to a Pioneer High School choir performance.

Michigan open-carry laws allow people with concealed carry permits to openly carry guns in schools.

nofrills / Flickr

The state House is poised to vote tomorrow  that would allow faith-based adoption agencies in Michigan to turn away couples based on a religious objection to their lifestyle

  House Republicans rejected a number of amendments in preliminary debate on the legislation. They would have required agencies to put the best interests of children over religious concerns, and to state in advance who they would refuse to serve.  

Utility executive Nick Khouri will be Michigan’s next state treasurer. But Khouri also comes to the job with a lengthy state government resume – including time as a deputy treasurer.

Khouri was named to the job by Governor Rick Snyder and will start the job next month, a just a few days after the April 15 tax filing deadline. As well as collecting taxes, the state treasurer plays a key role in declaring local governments and school districts in financial distress, and naming emergency managers. 

Flickr user Betsy Weber / Flickr

Ticket scalping, or reselling concert or sports tickets for more than their face value, is illegal under state law. State Rep. Tim Kelly, R- Saginaw Twp., wants to change that.

He reintroduced a bill this month to lift the ban on scalping after a similar effort stalled last year when the legislation didn't pass the state Senate.

Flickr user silverlinedwinnebego

When LaWanda Williamson’s arm was burned by fryer oil at the McDonald’s where she says she works in Detroit, her manager was standing right next to her.

“And the manger was standing there like, ‘Oh snap, you ok?’ And it was burned she never even offered me the [burn] cream. I didn’t even know they had burn cream.”

madonna on stage illuminated by spotlights
Flickr user M Prince Photography / Flickr

In a recent interview, Madonna called the people of her hometown Rochester Hills "basic, provincial-thinking people."

Mayor Bryan Barnett decided her statement went too far, so he crafted an open letter response that's now being shared all over the Internet.

Emil Lorch collection/Bentley Historical Library/University of Michigan

All this week on Stateside, we’re looking at the history of the Brewster-Douglass Housing Projects in Detroit. If you’ve ever wondered about why they were created or what it was like to live in them, we’d love to fill you in with our three-part series. Here's part one:

If you remember the projects, you might picture the six identical high-rises on the city’s near east side. Those were the Frederick-Douglass Towers, and they were built in the 1950s and finally destroyed in 2014.

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