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Politics
5:32 pm
Thu November 10, 2011

House OKs anti-bullying bill

A measure that would require all school districts to adopt anti-bullying policies has cleared the state House.

The proposal says there is no reason for kids to be allowed to bully each other. That sets it apart from legislation approved by the Senate last week. That bill exempted statements based on a student's deeply held religious or moral belief. Critics called the provision a license to bully. 

 “School districts across the state know the dangers of bullying and are tracking this issue head-on. And we should too. Our students deserve it," said Republican State Representative Phil Potvin, who sponsored the House bill. "We cannot sit by the sidelines anymore. There is no excuse for bullying.”

But some critics say the bill does not go quite far enough. Democratic state Representative Lisa Brown said schools should also be required to report bullying incidents to the state Department of Education.

"How many children need to be hurt?" she said. "I would hope that we’re looking to do more than just stop or prevent bully-side, but that every children—child has an opportunity to learn in a safe environment.”

 The measure was approved by a wide margin, with only a handful of Republicans voting against it.

Politics
5:03 pm
Thu November 10, 2011

Michigan State Senate adopts health care exchanges

The state Senate has adopted a bill to create a statewide health coverage exchange where people and businesses could comparison shop for insurance.

Republicans were divided on the question, and whether a vote for it was an endorsement of the federal health reforms. 

Some Republicans argued they should take a principled stand against the federal law by refusing to enact any portion of it.

Others, such as Senator Bruce Caswell, argued the state should not risk being forced into a federal bureaucracy.

Without action, the state would be forced into a federal exchange system.

“I do not support putting this state in the position of having the federal government come in and basically take over regulation of health care,” said Caswell.

Caswell says Michigan can always shut down the exchange if the federal law is repealed or struck down.

Democrats, such as Senator Rebekah Warren, used the debate to defend the federal law.

“The solution that we have in front of us today guarantees that constituents in every one of our districts will have access to more affordable healthcare, so I urge my colleagues to please support this bipartisan compromise that’s in front of us now,” said Warren.

The measure now goes to the state House.

Republican Governor Rick Snyder says the statewide coverage exchange is a good idea with or without the federal mandate. He has asked the Legislature to send the bill to his desk before the end of the year.

Politics
4:23 pm
Thu November 10, 2011

Political Roundup: Moving forward after the Paul Scott recall

What does Republican Paul Scott's recall mean for Michigan politics and around the nation?

Ken Sikkema, former Senate Majority Leader and senior policy fellow at Public Sector Consultants, and Susan Demas, political analyst for Michigan Information and Research Service joined Michigan Radio's Jennifer White to talk about the aftermath.

The Michigan Education Association put a lot of money behind the recall effort, but the margin for the vote was very slim.

“If you look at the money spent the pro-Scott forces like the Michigan Republican Party and the state chamber of commerce actually out spent the MEA 2 to 1,” said Demas.

According to Sikkema, Michigan is not alone when it comes to voter's discontent with Republican lawmakers.

He said, “Ohio you saw a rejection of the collective bargaining reform championed by Governor Kasich. Arizona the state senator who introduced the very controversial immigration bill was recalled. So, there’s a larger national context here where there’s a real question whether Republicans are over reaching. ”

Politics
4:16 pm
Thu November 10, 2011

Bill requires students to recite Pledge of Allegiance

The Michigan Senate has passed a bill that would require all K-12 public school students to recite the Pledge of Allegiance daily.
user Fancy Jantzi Flickr

Michigan school children would be required to recite the Pledge of Allegiance under a bill passed by the state Senate today.

Students can opt out if they, their parent or legal guardians object.

State Senator Hoon-Yung Hopgood voted against the bill. He believes patriotism doesn’t come from a mandate.

"One of the things I said is that I love my country, not because I say the pledge, but I say the pledge because I love my country," Hopgood says.

Hopgood  unsuccessfully introduced an amendment to protect students who decline to recite the pledge from retaliation by school employees.

The bill  also requires a flag to be displayed in each K-12 classroom in Michigan’s public schools. It does not provide funding to buy the flags.

The measure is supported by the state department of education; it now moves on to the House.

Environment
3:17 pm
Thu November 10, 2011

Is there something missing in the latest plan to cleanup the Kalamazoo River oil spill?

The Kalamazoo River has been the site of a massive cleanup operation ever since a ruptured pipeline spewed more than 840 thousand gallons of Canadian oil sands crude near Marshall in July of 2010.
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

A Michigan State University professor says he’s concerned a revised plan for cleaning up an oil spill in the Kalamazoo River is missing details in one important area.      

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Politics
1:44 pm
Thu November 10, 2011

Consequences of the Paul Scott recall: "I'll give you something to cry about"

State Capitol Building, Lansing, MI
Matthileo Flickr

There’s a story in my family, that my mom tells, and it goes something like this: when my mom and her siblings were little, and they would start to cry, my Grandpa would look at them and say, “Why are you crying? I’ll give you something to cry about.” Now, I’m pretty sure he was joking. In fact, I don’t think he ever laid a hand on anyone in his life.

Now, I'm sure you're wondering, what does this story have anything to do with anything newsworthy in Michigan. Stay with me, I'll explain:

On Tuesday, voters in Michigan’s Genesee County recalled Republican state Representative Paul Scott. The recall was largely waged and funded by the Michigan Education Association (MEA). The powerful teacher’s union went after Scott because of his position as chairman of the House Education Committee. In that role, he supported new teacher tenure laws and cuts to state education funding. So, on Election Day, the MEA “won” – they got their guy recalled.

But, there’s a catch. With Scott gone, Republican Speaker of the House Jase Bolger got to choose a new chairman for the House Education Committee.

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Politics
12:25 pm
Thu November 10, 2011

Permit allowing group to 'Occupy' Detroit park to expire

The group pitched tents Oct. 14 in the park
user: detdan flickr.com

DETROIT (AP) - A permit allowing a group to camp out overnight  in a Detroit park while protesting the roles of Wall Street and banks  in the nation's economic troubles is scheduled to expire next week.

Lucianna  Sabgash of Occupy Detroit said Thursday city workers  have posted signs stating Grand Circus Park closes at 10 p.m. She says the permit runs out on Monday, but the group is  expected to seek a renewal.

Commentary
11:33 am
Thu November 10, 2011

Paul Scott Recall: The Aftermath

There’s an old saying I’m sure we’ve all heard: Be careful what you wish for, because you might get it.  I think that’s where we are now, two days after State Representative Paul Scott was recalled.

Well, his opponents did get him out of office, assuming the narrow margin stands up when they officially certify the vote. So, what does that mean, and what did his enemies really accomplish?

The answer seems to be, not much. In fact, by spending heavily in their efforts to get Scott recalled, the Michigan Education Association may have made things worse for themselves.

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Auto/Economy
10:51 am
Thu November 10, 2011

Chinese counterfeit electronics found in U.S. missiles

Ashley Dace Geograph

Michigan Senator Carl Levin says the United States needs to crack down on counterfeit electronic parts coming from China.

Levin says thousands of fake parts have been discovered in the U.S. military’s supply stream.  Some missiles even had to be stripped apart to remove counterfeit parts from China.

He says it’s dangerous – and China won’t do anything to stop it.

Levin has proposed an amendment to require inspections of parts coming from China.

He says it’s not part of a China-bashing campaign. 

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Arts/Culture
9:30 am
Thu November 10, 2011

Factories in the neighborhood; remembering Mr. Rogers factory tours

Tom Link, owner of Link Bass and Cello, glues a label into a finished bass violin in his factory.
Sarah Alvarez

Today’s American manufacturing industry is a shadow of what it once was. It’s lost millions of jobs and thousands of factories.

Many of us know what some of those factories looked like in their heyday. Not because we visited the factories ourselves, but because we watched them on T.V., with Mr. Rogers as our tour guide. Mr. Rogers’ factory videos started airing in the early nineteen seventies and ran through the late nineties.

Through these kids watched how all kinds of things in the world around them were made, like construction paper and graham crackers.

These places were full of old looking metal equipment and conveyer belts lit by florescent lights. They were also full of people, workers were busy pumping out things like trumpets and shoes and flashlights. I wanted to know if the factories in some of these video's had survived all the upheaval in manufacturing over the last few decades.

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Politics
9:03 am
Thu November 10, 2011

GOP candidates touch on manufacturing, auto bailouts at Michigan debate

CNBC

Eight contenders for the Republican Presidential nomination talked jobs and the economy last night at CNBC's "Your Money, Your Vote" debate.

The debate took place at Oakland University in suburban Detroit. But for the most part, the candidates spoke little about issues specific to Michigan or the Midwest.

One exception was the issue of whether the government should have propped up the domestic auto industry. The answer seemed to be a universal “no.”

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Environment
9:00 am
Thu November 10, 2011

States ban lead wheel weights

A collection of lead wheel weights that have fallen off cars and trucks.
Photo by Jeff Gearhart

By Julie Grant for The Environment Report

The U.S. has worked to get lead out of gas and out of paint, but the biggest source of lead in a consumer product is still on roadways. It’s in the form of wheel weights, used to balance the tires on our cars. The Environmental Protection Agency says about 1.6 million pounds of lead fall off of vehicles each year, and it winds up in the environment. A handful of states is leading the effort to ban lead wheel weights.

If you notice a wobble or vibration when you’re driving, it could mean you’ve lost a wheel weight. Jeff Gearhart is a researcher with the Ecology Center in Ann Arbor. He says wheel weights are about the size of your pinky finger, and there are usually one or two of them for each tire.

“If you look at the rubber part of the wheel, then there’s a metal part, and if you look carefully, then you’ll see a clip-on weight.”

Gearhart isn’t a traditional car guy. He cares about wheel weights because in most states, they’re made with lead. Gearhart says it’s easy to bump a curb, and lose a wheel weight. The EPA says 13% of them fall off. On the roads, the weights get crushed into dust. He says the lead winds up in the soil, in drinking water and ground water.

“Lead’s a neurotoxin, leads to learning disabilities, lower IQ. We don’t know of any safe level of lead exposure in the environment.”

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Politics
8:46 am
Thu November 10, 2011

Five things to know about workers' compensation

D.Clow flickr

Sweeping proposed changes to Michigan's Workers' Compensation law are working their way through the state government. Here's a recap on some basics about the system.

The basics

Most employers in the state must participate in the workers' compensation system.

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Economy
1:01 am
Thu November 10, 2011

New home foreclosure filings jump in October in Michigan

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

New data out this morning suggests Michigan might be feeling the start of a new wave of home foreclosures. 

It’s not like Michigan’s home foreclosure rate wasn’t already a problem. But in October, Michigan recorded a 13 percent increase in the number of new default notices. 

Daren Bloomquist is with RealtyTrac. He says it’s a nationwide trend.   

The lenders are definitely ramping back up and filing more foreclosures that maybe were delayed over the last few months," Bloomquist says.  

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Environment
5:39 pm
Wed November 9, 2011

One more project in Dow's long cleanup of Tittabawassee

Dow Chemical will begin removing pollution from a three-mile stretch of the Tittabawassee River near its Midland plant.

Dow already removed dioxin and furan contamination in the area; but there are five other chemicals that remain that can be harmful to wildlife.

The company just finished removing a dioxin-laced island in the river.

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Politics
5:30 pm
Wed November 9, 2011

Michigan Legislature considering changes to workers comp

Republicans in the state Legislature want to change Michigan’s workers compensation law. They say the changes would help Michigan businesses by reducing what business owners pay in insurance premiums.

Democrats say the changes would also reduce the amount of money given to many injured workers.       

Michael Czinski was hurt on the job as a police officer a few years ago. He broke his wrist in a fall and damaged an artery that supplied blood to the area. Three surgeries later, he has limited use of his right hand.

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Politics
5:09 pm
Wed November 9, 2011

Michigan Republicans say they will stay the course despite Scott recall

Republican leaders at the state Capitol say the recall of Representative Paul Scott will not change their approach to education or economic policy.

State Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville stated:

“You’re not going to see a loss of momentum here. I see just the opposite, that we’re going to continue – we’re not going to slow down. We’re going to keep up the same pace. Nothing is going to change about what we’re doing or how we’re going to do it.”

The election for southern Genesee County voters to choose Scott’s replacement will be February 28th of next year. The winner will serve the final seven months of Scott’s House term.

House Speaker Jase Bolger said Republicans will mount a strong effort to keep the seat.

“The voters have a chance to speak in February in a different opportunity than they had this time,” Bolger said. “This time, they had to say yes or no to recalling one person. In February, they’ll have two cases presented to them on how they want to see the future of the state go. So, they’ll have that opportunity in February and we look forward to them expressing their voice.”

The local Republican and Democratic parties must choose their candidates for the special election no more 15 days after the results of the recall are certified.

Politics
4:40 pm
Wed November 9, 2011

Inkster is the latest Michigan city in "financial stress"

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

Another Michigan city is moving toward a state takeover.   

The state Treasury Department announced today  that a preliminary review of Inkster’s books shows the city is in "probable financial stress".   

Treasury spokesman Terry Stanton says the city is having trouble solving a multi-million dollar deficit. 

"And the review also found city official have proposed unrealistic budgets and failed to make budget revisions in a timely manner," Stanton says. 

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religion
4:30 pm
Wed November 9, 2011

Detroit clergy concerned over prayer rally message

screen grab from YouTube video

Several Detroit clergy members say they plan to hold their own prayer vigil in response to Friday’s massive event billed as “The Call: Detroit.”

Organizers of The Call have booked Ford Field for a 24-hour fasting and prayer rally. But critics say they’re troubled that the event’s organizers have an anti-gay and anti-Muslim agenda.

The Reverend Alexander Bullock says the group’s message is divisive, "but it’s being couched in a kind of non-combative, let’s-come-together-it’s Christian language. So we’re really asking people to pay attention to the undertone: how sin equals Muslims. How conversion of Muslims equals redemption for Detroit."

Promotional materials for Friday’s event have said Detroit exemplifies a national crisis that includes – quote – “the rising tide of the Islamic movement.”

Messages left with the rally’s organizers were not returned.

Here's a promotional video for the event:

Politics
4:17 pm
Wed November 9, 2011

Paul Scott is first Michigan lawmaker to be recalled in three decades

Rep. Scott's official website

The vote was close, but it was not close enough to rescue Representative Paul Scott (R-Grand Blanc) from losing his job. Scott is 29 years old and once was pegged as a rising Republican star. He told a group of supporters that he and Republican reformers in Lansing are the targets of special interests.

“We took the state by storm and we made fundamental changes and we had the establishment government unions living in our community, trying to overturn the will of the voters and we just came up a little bit short in that fight,” said Scott.

All told, $225,000 or more was spent by both sides in the campaign, making this a very expensive legislative race. South Genesee County residents were bombarded since August with TV and radio ads, brochures stuffed in doors, and mailings.

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