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Politics & Government
10:15 am
Sun May 18, 2014

Michigan Senate eyes bigger gasoline tax increase

The talk of pumping more money into transportation infrastructure comes on the heels of a House vote to gradually allow Michigan's 19-cents-a-gallon gas tax to go as high as 32 1/2 cents over time.
Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Michigan senators are considering whether to significantly increase gasoline taxes over five years to mend roads and bridges.

The talk of pumping more money into transportation infrastructure comes on the heels of a House vote to gradually allow Michigan's 19-cents-a-gallon gas tax to go as high as 32 1/2 cents over time.

It would initially generate $450 million a year, mostly by diverting money from elsewhere in the budget.

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Politics & Government
2:57 pm
Thu May 15, 2014

Conyers joins suit to get back on ballot

Credit Photography Courtesy of www.conyers.house.gov

DETROIT (AP) - Longtime Congressman John Conyers has joined a federal lawsuit taking aim at the requirement that petition collectors be registered voters.

Conyers joined the suit Thursday, two days after Wayne County Clerk Cathy Garrett determined he doesn't have enough signatures to appear on the Aug. 5 Democratic primary ballot.

The suit was filed against Garrett and Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson by the ACLU on behalf of two petition circulators and others. The signatures they gathered weren't counted because they hadn't complied with state voter registration requirements.

Conyers first was elected to the House in 1964. He represents Michigan's 13th district, including Detroit and several suburbs.

The ACLU also asked the court to order Garrett and Johnson to stop enforcing the law the group deems unconstitutional.

Johnson's office declined comment.

Law
11:16 am
Wed May 14, 2014

Former Kent County Commissioner reaches plea deal with prosecutors in sex case

Gary Rolls (file photo)
Credit File photo / Kent County Sheriff

A former Kent County commissioner will be sentenced next month after pleading guilty this week to fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct charges.

As part of the agreement, prosecutors dropped four counts of first degree criminal sexual conduct against former Kent County Commissioner Gary Rolls. He could’ve faced life in prison if convicted on those more serious charges.

Instead, Rolls pleaded guilty to a lesser charge plus illegal use of a computer and tampering with evidence.

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Politics & Government
6:36 pm
Tue May 13, 2014

Agency: Michigan state government to collect less tax revenue than expected

In January, economists agreed the state had a $1 billion surplus over three fiscal years.
Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

LANSING – Economists are projecting that the state of Michigan will collect about $873 million less in revenue this budget year and next than was projected earlier in the year.

Tuesday's estimate is one of three that Gov. Rick Snyder's administration and budget experts will use to reach a consensus later in the week. But it's not good news for lawmakers hoping to finalize the next budget in coming weeks.

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Law
8:05 pm
Sat May 10, 2014

2 cameras to monitor Father Marquette statue

The statue has been at its current site for about a century. It first was erected in Marquette in 1897.
Credit Einar Einarsson Kvaran/Flickr

MARQUETTE – Officials in Marquette have installed security cameras in hopes of preventing further vandalism of the Father Marquette statue in the Upper Peninsula city.

The Mining Journal of Marquette reports two cameras have been placed on the Lake Superior Community Partnership building along Front Street. The cameras cost $2,000.

The statue has been at its current site for about a century. It first was erected in Marquette in 1897.

Someone put red paint on the statue in November 2012. After several months of restoration, green paint was found on it last June.

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Law
10:22 am
Thu May 8, 2014

Kashi settles class-action suit over All Natural

NEW YORK (AP) - Kellogg says it will no longer use the "All Natural" or "Nothing Artificial" labels on certain Kashi products as part of an agreement to settle a class-action lawsuit.

The company, based in Battle Creek, Michigan, says it will also pay $5 million to settle the suit.

In an emailed statement, Kellogg Co. says it stands by its advertising and labeling practices but that it would change its formulas or labels nationally by the end of the year.

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Transportation
11:54 am
Wed May 7, 2014

Michigan House panels OK $450 million for roads

Credit user nirbhao / Flickr

LANSING – Michigan lawmakers have taken a step toward spending $450 million a year more on deteriorating roads, mostly by redirecting existing tax dollars. A House committee on Wednesday voted to permanently shift money from Michigan's general fund to transportation spending.

Another panel approved legislation bringing the diesel tax in line with the gasoline tax and taxing fuels on price instead of a flat per-gallon basis. Fuel taxes would grow with inflation.

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Weather
11:01 am
Tue May 6, 2014

Report: Climate change is a challenge now for Michigan farmers

The new National Climate Assessment concludes that the harms of global warming will become more and more disruptive across the nation throughout this century and beyond.
Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Climate change is making Michigan farmers more vulnerable to dramatic weather shifts, according to a new report.

The U.S. Global Change Research Program released a report this morning claiming climate change is no longer a future threat but is a reality now.

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Offbeat
12:56 am
Sun May 4, 2014

Group works to fill empty pews in old Detroit churches

The Mass Mob visited St. Hyacinth church in April and boosted Mass attendance that day by 100 - and helped the collection plate, too. Parish secretary Darlene Zabrzenski says the pastor was delighted and didn't want to end Mass.
Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

DETROIT (AP) - Catholics trying to support Detroit's oldest churches are encouraging people to fill the empty pews.

The latest effort comes Sunday at the 11 a.m. Mass at St. Charles Borromeo church on Detroit's east side. The group has a Facebook page called the Detroit Catholic Mass Mob.

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Education
4:48 pm
Sat May 3, 2014

Graduation caps campus career of Mary Sue Coleman at U of M

Pres. Mary Sue Coleman leaves the Ann Arbor campus this summer after 12 years. She mentioned students who have inspired her, including football player Denard Robinson and Chris Armstrong, an openly gay student government president.
Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) - Mary Sue Coleman has spoken to graduates for the last time as president at the University of Michigan.

Coleman got a standing ovation from graduates Saturday at Michigan Stadium. She says they're off to pursue their first job or an advanced degree while she is ending 45 years in higher education.

Coleman leaves the Ann Arbor campus this summer after 12 years. She mentioned students who have inspired her, including football player Denard Robinson and Chris Armstrong, an openly gay student government president.

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Transportation
10:55 am
Thu May 1, 2014

Michigan considers aviation fuel tax increase

A typical Air BP fuel truck fills a Beechcraft Baron.

DETROIT – Michigan airport executives are seeking an aviation fuel tax increase to help make improvements and repairs at the state's 235 public airports.

The state House-approved plan would help general aviation and commercial airports avoid falling far short of more than $730 million needed for fixes in the next five years. The Detroit News reports (http://bit.ly/1pS2G1Y ) it's stuck in the Senate in part amid concerns by Delta Air Lines.

About $190 million in runway and taxiway reconstruction, as well as demolition work at the Smith and Berry terminals at Detroit Metropolitan Airport, is at stake as part of the state's five-year plan. Other major projects are planned in Grand Rapids, Flint and elsewhere.

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Politics & Government
8:45 pm
Wed April 30, 2014

Conyers says he has enough signatures for ballot

DETROIT – U.S. Rep. John Conyers says he has enough signatures for his name to appear on the August primary ballot despite a report that two circulators weren't registered voters when they gathered signatures.

The longtime Detroit Democrat said in a statement Wednesday that he's "pleased" the Wayne County clerk determined his campaign collected a sufficient number of signatures. The primary is Aug. 5.Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan RadioEdit | Remove

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Environment & Science
5:44 pm
Wed April 30, 2014

More Michigan officials seek assurances on pipeline in Straits of Mackinac

Enbridge Line 5 under the Straits of Mackinac.
NWF screenshot from YouTube video

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) — Michigan's attorney general and chief environmental regulator have asked the company that owns two oil pipelines stretched beneath an ecologically sensitive area of the Great Lakes for evidence that the 61-year-old lines are properly maintained and in good condition.

Attorney General Bill Schuette and Dan Wyant, director of the state Department of Environmental Quality, posed a lengthy series of questions and requested stacks of documentation in a letter sent Tuesday to Enbridge Inc. and made public Wednesday. They said the pipelines, which run beneath the Straits of Mackinac — the waterway linking Lakes Huron and Michigan — pose a unique safety risk.

"Because of where they are, any failure will have exceptional, indeed catastrophic effects," their letter said. "And because the magnitude of the resulting harm is so great, there is no margin for error. It is imperative we pursue a proactive, comprehensive approach to ensure this risk is minimized, and work together to prevent tragedy before it strikes."

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Politics & Government
2:24 pm
Wed April 30, 2014

Michigan Senate votes to use tobacco taxes for Capitol and governor's mansion

The Michigan Governor's mansion in Lansing.
Credit State of Michigan

LANSING – Yearly funding for building maintenance on the Michigan Capitol and the governor's Lansing residence has passed the state Senate.

The legislation unanimously approved Wednesday would redistribute revenue from taxes on cigarettes. It allocates $3 million to the Capitol fund and between $50,000 and $200,000 to the official residence.

The money comes from the state's general fund and would be adjusted for inflation each year.

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Law
12:15 pm
Wed April 30, 2014

July trial scheduled in Renisha McBride shooting case

Renisha McBride.
Credit Family photo

DETROIT – A July trial is scheduled for a Detroit-area man who fatally shot an unarmed woman last fall on his porch.

Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Dana Hathaway on Wednesday set Theodore Wafer's trial for July 21. It's expected to last about three weeks.

A final conference is June 20.

Last week, Wayne County Circuit Chief Judge Pro Tem Timothy Kenny removed Judge Qiana Lillard from the case. Hathaway was drawn to take over.

There's no dispute that Wafer shot Renisha McBride in the face on Nov. 2 in Dearborn Heights. His lawyers insist he opened the front door and fired in self-defense, fearing that the drunken 19-year-old was trying to break into his home before dawn.

Prosecutors, however, say he should have called 911 and kept the door shut.

Politics & Government
7:42 pm
Tue April 29, 2014

Congressman John Conyers' nominating petitions challenged

The 84-year-old Conyers first was elected to the U.S. House in 1964. He represents Michigan's 13th district, which includes Detroit, Ecorse, Romulus and Westland.
Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

DETROIT (AP) - A rival's challenge to U.S. Rep John Conyers' nominating petitions could keep the veteran Detroit Democrat from seeking another term in Congress.

The staff of the Rev. Horace Sheffield III filed a challenge Tuesday with the Wayne County clerk's office after a WDIV-TV  report that two Conyers' petition circulators weren't registered voters when they gathered signatures.

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Law
10:44 am
Tue April 29, 2014

Michigan gay marriage appeal will follow usual track

Credit user Tyrone Warner / Flickr

DETROIT – A federal appeals court won't give special treatment to Michigan's dispute over gay marriage.

The court says the state's appeal of a decision overturning a ban on same-sex marriage will follow the usual course. The case will be heard by a three-judge panel, probably later this year.

Attorney General Bill Schuette wanted the full court to leapfrog the panel and take the appeal. But there's no interest from judges at the Cincinnati-based court.

A brief order unanimously rejecting Schuette's request was filed Monday.

More than 300 same-sex couples were married in March after a Detroit federal judge said Michigan's ban on gay marriage is unconstitutional. The appeals court has suspended the decision while the appeal is pending.

Politics & Government
2:17 pm
Sat April 26, 2014

Retirees' committee will back Detroit pension cuts

Detroit skyline
Credit Peter Martorano / Flickr

DETROIT (AP) - A committee representing Detroit retirees has agreed to endorse the city's plan to cut pensions in bankruptcy. The committee is supporting deals struck last week that would cut the pensions of general retirees by 4.5 percent and eliminate cost-of-living payments. Police officers and firefighters would see a cut only in their annual inflation allowance. Detroit also wants to recover certain generous annuity payments made since 2003.

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Transportation
11:05 am
Sat April 26, 2014

Detroit-Windsor Tunnel shutting down Sunday for drills

US/Canadian border in the Detroit/Windsor tunnel
Credit Fritzmb Flickr

DETROIT (AP) - The tunnel linking Detroit and Canada will close on Sunday so police can hold drills.

   According to MLive.com, the Detroit-Windsor tunnel will be shut down for three hours in the morning.

   The Detroit Department of Homeland Security calls it an "annual tunnel exercise."

   Thousands of vehicles cross between Detroit and Windsor via the tunnel each day.

   The next two nearest Canadian border crossings are the Ambassador Bridge in Detroit and the Blue Water Bridge in Port Huron.

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Politics & Government
10:00 am
Sat April 26, 2014

Tax cut plans dim as focus at the state capitol shifts to potholes

Legislative leaders aren't ready to give up on tax cut discussions but acknowledge that road funding could ultimately be a higher priority. New revenue estimates for the next budget in mid-May could prove crucial.
Credit Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - An income tax cut seemed inevitable just two months ago, as Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder and Republican lawmakers offered up and even began passing rival plans to use some of a budget surplus for tax relief before the 2014 elections.

Now plans for a tax reduction are waning and shifting instead to addressing pothole-ridden roads.

   Snyder says he's open to dropping his tax plan to set aside more money for transportation. He attributes the shrinking interest in tax relief among legislators to drivers who voiced frustration with crummy roads.

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