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Politics
1:03 pm
Tue March 22, 2011

Forcing government workers to pay more for health care

The State Senate Reforms, Restructuring and Reinventing committee tomorrow will discuss a bill forcing government workers to pay between 20% to 25% of their health care costs.

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Environment
12:38 pm
Tue March 22, 2011

Household trash burning measure on hold

Burning materials like plastics, foam and furniture can release toxins into the air, soil and water.
flickr.com

A bill that would ban trash burning in rural communities has been snuffed out for the time being.

A newspaper story last weekend incorrectly reported  the ban would take effect April 1.

That drew complaints from rural residents, and sponsors of a House measure to stop the ban said they would push it through.

Brad Wurfel is with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality.

He says the agency will regroup and once again take public comments.

But Wurfel says restrictions on outdoor burning are necessary to protect public health.

Economy
12:31 pm
Tue March 22, 2011

Michigan loses $300 million in sales tax annually to online shopping

Businesses without physical stores in Michigan can't be required to collect sales tax from customers.
ehow.com

Michigan’s budget problems could be helped if the state were able to collect taxes on things people buy online. But federal rules limit the state’s powers.

The U.S. Supreme Court says states can’t force a business to collect sales taxes unless it has a physical store in the state.

Terry Stanton is with the Michigan Department of Treasury.

He  says that’s costing Michigan big money.

"We estimate that's more than $300 million a year that the state will miss out on because there's no requirement for sellers to collect the sales taxes," Stanton says.

Auto/Economy
12:01 pm
Tue March 22, 2011

Wyoming approves plans to demolish huge former GM Stamping Plant

Former GM Stamping Plant in Wyoming, MI.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

A 2-million-square-foot former General Motors stamping plant in the Grand Rapids suburb of Wyoming will be demolished this year. Monday night Wyoming’s city council approved plans to destroy the 75-year-old building and redevelop the site.

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Politics
10:42 am
Tue March 22, 2011

State House might vote on domestic partner benefits today

Your state reps may vote on domestic partner benefits today.
Danny Hammontree Flickr

Last January, the Michigan Civil Service Commission approved domestic partner benefits for state employees. The benefits were scheduled to go into effect on October 1st.

The ruling went against the Snyder administration's wishes, and the state legislature has been working to overturn the ruling. The State Senate passed a resolution against the domestic partner benefit ruling earlier this month.

Today, the State House is expected to vote on a resolution which would overrule the MCSC's January decision.

Todd Heywood wrote about the resolution in today's Michigan Messenger:

If the House approves the measure, it will be the first time in the history of the MCSC that a decision by the body was overturned by the legislature. Republicans are also seeking a ballot initiative to remove the MCSC from the state constitution, and in the meantime has been working to strip the body of much of its power.

Heywood reports "the House currently has a 63 member GOP majority. But approving this resolution requires a two-thirds super majority, which means 74 votes, so 11 Democrats need to cross party lines in order for the bill to pass."

As MPRN's Rick Pluta reported, the Snyder administration said it objected to MCSC's decision because of the cost - estimated at around $6 million.

The rules were expected to cover 70% of all state employees. Their unmarried partners and dependents who have lived with them for a year or more would be eligible for the benefits. The eligibility is the equal for gay and heterosexual couples.

The benefits had to be equally available to gay and heterosexual couples because 59% of Michigan voters passed a ban on same-sex marriage in 2004. The "defense of marriage amendment" is now part of the Michigan Constitution.

Afghanistan
9:47 am
Tue March 22, 2011

Marine from Midland survives sniper's shot in Afghanistan

The 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit of the 6th Marines in Afghanistan in 2004.
USMC Gunnery Sgt. Keith A. Milks U.S. Navy

We're coming up on the tenth anniversary of the U.S. led war in Afghanistan.

So far, there have been 1,429 U.S. deaths from Operation Enduring Freedom, according to icasualties.org.

Marine Sgt. Paul Boothroyd III of Midland is lucky not to be one of those.

Andrew Dodson of Booth Mid-Michigan has a piece on Boothroyd's remarkable story.

A sniper's bullet hit Boothroyd's Kevlar helmet while on patrol in southern Afghanistan.

Boothroyd thought the helmet stopped the bullet, but the bullet was later found lodged behind his right ear - millimeters away from a main artery and his spinal cord.

From the article:

Boothroyd III travels back to Midland this week with his wife Ashley Boothroyd from Maryland. Their 2-year-old son, Paul Boothroyd IV, is with his grandparents waiting for his parent’s return to Michigan.

He enlisted in the Marines following high school. After acing a linguistics test, the Marines sent him to school, where he learned to speak modern and traditional dialects of Arabic, including Iraqi.

After his time off in Midland, Boothroyd III plans to return to Camp Lejeune in North Carolina awaiting his next tour of duty. He says he appreciates his time off, but wants to return to the Middle East.

Boothroyd says he looks forward to "get back to the fight."

News Roundup
9:00 am
Tue March 22, 2011

In this morning's news...

Winter's not over yet

Much of Michigan is under a winter storm warning as cold air and moisture head our way. The storm, which will bring snow, sleet, ice, and rain, is expected to start tonight around 7 or 8pm. The National Weather Service (NWS) says the winter storm warnings and watches are in effect until Wednesday night:

Significant icing of power lines and tree limbs is possible tonight and Wednesday. Roads will likely become ice covered...making travel dangerous by the Wednesday morning commute.

City leaders react to Governor Snyder's revenue sharing plan

Governor Rick Snyder unveiled his ideas for sharing state revenue with local governments yesterday. As Michigan Public Radio's Rick Pluta reported, Snyder's plan would "withhold some state aid to local governments unless they make plans to consolidate services and make their finances more open."

Snyder also called for labor negotiation and pension reforms at the local level.

The Detroit Free Press has reaction from some local leaders:

Robert Cannon, supervisor of Clinton Township, said his community has made some of the changes Snyder recommends. But he doesn't like linking revenue sharing to the outcome of bargaining with employee unions...

Royal Oak City Manager Don Johnson said his city has accomplished some of what Gov. Rick Snyder wants to see in trimming the cost of government...

"Some of our groups have been very cooperative, others not so much, but more and more they're coming to terms with economic realities," Johnson said.

Although he agrees with most of Snyder's plan, he said it may be difficult for some to achieve the results the governor wants.

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing said the reduction would be "a serious impediment to our progress," noting that the city has whittled down an accumulated deficit of $330 million to $150 million.

"I recognize the need for shared sacrifice. However the state must step up to provide local governments like Detroit the tools we need to make the fundamental changes necessary," Bing said in a statement.

Automakers feeling ripple effect from Japan disaster

A new report from IHS Global Insight says every major automaker will be affected by the disaster in Japan in the coming month.

From the Detroit News:

"It is not a matter of if, but when," said Michael Robinet, IHS's Director of Automotive Forecast, in an analysis of the impact of the disaster that halted domestic vehicle production and affected the parts supply chain.

The ripple effect is already being felt at plants around the world but Robinet expects the impact to grow in the coming weeks and months because many automakers rely on Japanese-sourced components such as semi-conductors, integrated circuits, sensors and LCD displays.

Many of those parts were in short supply before the disaster.

Politics
8:16 am
Tue March 22, 2011

Bing to discuss progress on Detroit's downtown

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing.
Kate Davidson Changing Gears

The Downtown Detroit Partnership is holding its annual meeting and luncheon today from noon to 1:30 p.m..

Mayor Dave Bing and others are expected to highlight progress made in developing Detroit's downtown.

From the Associated Press:

Mayor Dave Bing and Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano are scheduled to discuss the progress made over the past year in improving Detroit's downtown.

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Auto/Economy
7:59 am
Tue March 22, 2011

Michigan auto insurance rates among the nation's highest

Opps. A fender bender in Ann Arbor. Michiganders spend a lot for auto insurance.
Steve Carmody Michigan Radio

In one study, Michigan had the highest auto insurance rates in the nation. In another, Michigan ranked 11th in the nation.

That's according to a piece from Dawson Bell at the Detroit Free Press. Bell writes both studies cited "the state's unique mandate for unlimited coverage for personal injuries as a primary cause for high rates."

From the article:

Michigan auto insurance rates led the country -- $2,541 a year for a hypothetical 40-year-old man with a clean driving record -- in an annual survey released last week by the consumer insurance information site insure.com.

The Michigan rate jumped more than 21% from the same survey a year earlier, overtaking Louisiana, which topped the list last year.

Vermont, at $995 a year, was the cheapest place to buy auto insurance, the survey found.

Weather
7:11 am
Tue March 22, 2011

March going out with a "Wintry Mix" storm

The spring warm up is on hold as cold weather and moisture head our way.
National Weather Service

We got a taste of it, so no worries, spring will be here soon enough. Winter just isn't ready to say goodbye yet.

The region will see colder than normal temperatures for the next week, and rain, snow, ice - you name it - is coming with those cold temperatures.

Here are the forecasts from the National Weather Service:

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Politics
5:03 pm
Mon March 21, 2011

Detroit officials talk Project 14

Detroit officials say a plan to lure police officers back to the city is being implemented and will likely expand.

The city rolled out what it calls Project 14last month, and briefed the Detroit City Council about it Monday.

The goal is to lure Detroit cops living in the suburbs back to the city with housing incentives in two neighborhoods.

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Politics
4:48 pm
Mon March 21, 2011

Michigan will get detailed census data tomorrow

Census data is in the mail
(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

The state of Michigan will formally recieve its 2010 U.S. Census data tomorrow .   We already know that the data will show Michigan was the only state in the union to lose population between the 2000 and 2010 census.  We should also learn where that population loss will be felt the most. 

The Associated Press reports that the census data will get very specific.  Among the data will be population summaries by race, Hispanic origin and voting age for jurisdictions such as counties, cities and school districts.

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Arts/Culture
4:20 pm
Mon March 21, 2011

49th Ann Arbor Film Fest shines a spotlight on experimental films

AAFF films are screened at the Michigan Theater in Ann Arbor
user: Otzberg creative commons

The 49th annual Ann Arbor Film Festival kicks off Tuesday, March 22 at the Michigan Theater in Ann Arbor.

It's the longest running independent and experimental film festival in the country.  

So while you won’t see a George Clooney flick at the festival, you could catch a documentary about industrial music, or a two minute short about London street life filmed using an iPhone.

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Sports
4:00 pm
Mon March 21, 2011

Update: Jalen Rose responds to ongoing controversy over "The Fab Five" documentary

Jalen Rose discusses comments he made about Grant Hill and Duke University in ESPN's "The Fab Five" documentary

Update:

Last Friday, Jalen Rose defended some of the comments that he made in the documentary "The Fab Five." Rose claims that Duke did not and would not recruit players like him, and also addresses his use of the term "Uncle Tom," which Rose used in the documentary and which has been a source of ongoing controversy.

Here is Rose, talking about the things he said in the documentary:

"As a seventeen-year old recruit, that's exactly how I felt."

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Economy
3:44 pm
Mon March 21, 2011

Analysts predict a boost to Michigan's tourism industry this year

A lighthouse, silhouetted against a pinkish horizon, overlooking Lake Michigan
(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

Michigan’s tourism industry is expected to see a boost in business this year.  Michigan State University tourism experts are predicting a 4% increase tourism spending this year, thanks in part to an expected increase in business travel. 

 MSU researcher Sarah Nicholls says Michigan's tourism industry will build on improving conditions seen last year.

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Politics
3:19 pm
Mon March 21, 2011

Update: Gadhafi's momentum halted following strikes

Johan Jonsson Flickr

The progress made by forces loyal to Col. Moammar Gadhafi has been halted, according to a U.S. official. CNN reports:

Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi's momentum has been stopped and rebels have been able to hold onto areas that Gadhafi's forces had been poised to take over, a U.S. official said Monday.

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Commentary
2:26 pm
Mon March 21, 2011

Shortchanging the Future

Macomb County Commissioner Phil DiMaria is angry about Gov. Rick Snyder’s proposal to tax pension income, and he’s doing something about it. He’s launched a statewide petition drive to oppose the tax, which is key to the governor’s proposed budget.

DiMaria, who has been on the county commission for twenty years, thinks the governor is badly out of touch. “He’s rich. He’s never going to be an old person who has to pinch pennies to try and get by, try and buy milk and bread,” he told me yesterday.

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Environment
1:40 pm
Mon March 21, 2011

Michigan's planned trash burning ban snuffed out

The fire's getting low. Throw more trash on the fire.
(Flickr mcav0y)

Last year state officials approved a ban on burning trash starting April 1st, 2011.  But with the date drawing near, it appears backyard burning appears safe, at least legally, for now.    

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Sports
1:28 pm
Mon March 21, 2011

Insult to (metaphorical) injury: Duke's Smith performs stunning crossover on Michigan's Tim Hardaway Jr.

Above: Duke's Nolan Smith performs a crossover on Michigan's Tim Hardaway Jr.

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Macomb County
1:18 pm
Mon March 21, 2011

Is a casino in Macomb County's future?

(flickr blueeyes)

Macomb County executive Mark Hackel says a privately owned casino could boost business along the county's waterfront on Lake St. Clair.  The Macomb Daily reports: Mark Hackel said he plans to reach out to local communities to see who might be interested.

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