The Associated Press

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - A plan to create a pilot roadside drug-testing program in five of the state's counties will soon be on its way to Gov. Rick Snyder.

  The Legislature approved bills Thursday that would allow law enforcement officers who are trained to recognize impairment due to drugs or alcohol to test drivers' saliva.

  The state police would choose five counties to start the yearlong pilot program.

  A bill analysis says the results of the roadside saliva test could be allowed as evidence in criminal prosecutions or administrative hearings in some cases.

A bike painted white in memory of a cyclist
Matthew Peoples / Creative Commons

A Michigan prosecutor has charged 50-year-old Charles Edward Pickett Jr. with five counts of second degree murder after a pickup truck crashed into a group of bicyclists and killed five people.

Kalamazoo County Prosecutor Jeffrey Getting also charged him Thursday with four counts of reckless driving resulting in serious injury to four others near Kalamazoo.

The bicyclists were part of a group that called themselves "The Chain Gang," who ranged in age from 40 to 74.

Children walking together
Public domain

Legislation requiring child-placing agencies to make reasonable efforts to keep siblings together in the foster care and adoption systems is going to Gov. Rick Snyder for his signature.

The bills say if siblings could not be placed together due to safety or other concerns, agencies should prioritize sibling visitation and interaction.

The state already places siblings together when feasible under provisions of federal court oversight of Michigan's child welfare system.

Authorities say they were searching for the driver of a blue pickup truck in the minutes before he plowed into a group of adults bicycling near a western Michigan Park.

  Kalamazoo Prosecutor Jeffrey Getting said at a news conference Tuesday night that five of the nine bicyclists struck were pronounced dead at the scene of the crash in Cooper Township.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Aggregate funding for Michigan's public universities in the next state budget will still be less than it was before a major cut five years ago, despite Gov. Rick Snyder's initial proposal to bring them back to levels in place when he took office in 2011.

  Spending will rise roughly $40 million to $1.4 billion, a 2.9 percent increase, under a spending plan up for final legislative votes this week. The Republican governor and lawmakers had hoped for a $60 million, or 4.4 percent, boost.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) - Emails obtained by a newspaper show the University of Michigan has repeatedly requested delays in turning over thousands of documents sought by federal investigators looking into sexual assault complaints on campus.

  The documents obtained by the Detroit Free Press  through a Freedom of Information Act request also indicated the university has sought to limit the scope of the ongoing investigation by the U.S. Department of Education by asking investigators to review fewer incidents than requested.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - People addicted to opioids in the remote Upper Peninsula city of Escanaba have a rare group of people to turn to for treatment: the police.

  Escanaba Lt. Robert LaMarche, the soon-to-be director of the Escanaba police, says they won't arrest people seeking addiction treatment if drug possession is their only crime.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

DETROIT (AP) - President Barack Obama has shaved years off a Detroit-area man's sentence for a drug crime.

Kareem Martin has been in prison since 2007. His 23-year sentence now will expire in 2018. Obama commuted the sentence Friday along with the sentences of 41 others.

In 2006, Martin pleaded guilty to possession with intent to deliver cocaine. Federal Judge Lawrence Zatkoff noted a "long history of criminal conduct" and said a "significant sentence" was appropriate.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. - The chairman of a legislative committee investigating Flint's water crisis says it will take longer than initially projected to produce a report with recommendations.

Republican Sen. Jim Stamas of Midland had hoped to issue findings by now. But he announced Friday that discussions continue, and the report will be issued "in the future."

Simon Brass / Flickr

Michigan is closing one of its 32 prisons to save $22 million in the next fiscal year.

The Pugsley Correctional Facility in Grand Traverse County will close in September. The minimum security prison has more than 1,300 beds and 230 employees. It’s been open since 1956.

The corrections department made the announcement Tuesday, a day before a legislative committee is expected to endorse the closure in the next state budget.

Joe Gratz / Flickr -

A judge has issued a temporary restraining order preventing the state School Reform Office from appointing a chief executive officer to oversee four academically low-performing East Detroit Public Schools.

Macomb County Circuit Judge Joseph Toia ruled Friday there is a risk that allowing a takeover would cause the school district "irreparable harm." He has scheduled a hearing on the issue for June 13.


LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Auto-centric Michigan is preparing for the advent of self-driving cars by pushing legislation to allow for public sales and operation - not just testing only.

While the widespread use of driverless cars may be years away, lawmakers and transportation leaders say the technology is progressing so rapidly that Michigan must stay ahead of the curve or risk losing automotive research and development to other states.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

FLINT, Mich. (AP) - A report obtained by a newspaper says replacing water pipes due to the lead-tainted crisis in Flint could be at least twice the price of previous estimates.

The Detroit Free Press reports  that engineering company Rowe Professional Services told the state that the average cost for replacing a service water line through a completed pilot project was $7,500.

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality previously estimated it would cost $4,000, but the company's report said costs could be higher if average permit fees of $2,400 per site are included.


OTTAWA, Ohio (AP) - Whirlpool Corp. says it's installing wind turbines to help power two more of its factories in Ohio.

  The appliance maker based in Benton Harbor, Michigan, says it will spend $13.5 million to bring wind energy to its plants in Ottawa and Marion.

  Whirlpool says the 1.5-megawatt turbines are the same design as those built at its Findlay factory.

  The company says anticipates the wind turbine should help offset electricity consumption by 34 percent at its Ottawa plant that makes freezers.


ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) - A Washtenaw County man has a real heart - after 555 days without one.

Stan Larkin received a heart transplant on May 9 at University of Michigan hospital and soon plans to return home to Ypsilanti.

Larkin's story is remarkable. Before the transplant, the 25-year-old carried a backpack with an artificial heart that pumped blood. The Ann Arbor News  says he was diagnosed with a disease that causes irregular heartbeats and can lead to sudden death.

A brother, Domonique Larkin, also needed a heart transplant.


ESCANABA, Mich. (AP) - An Upper Peninsula city has won a key ruling in a legal dispute over how to value big-box stores for tax purposes.

Value has been a hot issue in Michigan, especially in the U.P. where communities have been forced to give refunds based on decisions by the Michigan Tax Tribunal.

But Escanaba successfully argued that the Tribunal used the wrong standard to determine the value of a Menards store. In a 3-0 decision released Friday, the Michigan appeals court sent the case back to the Tribunal for more work.

detroit symphony orchestra

DETROIT (AP) - The Detroit Symphony Orchestra says it has received a roughly $3 million donation for its music education programs.

The ensemble on Friday announced the $2.9 million gift from the estate of Dr. Clyde and Helen Wu. Orchestra officials say the bequest is the second largest in its 129-year history.

The DSO says the money will help sustain programs through its Wu Family Academy for Learning & Engagement.

The orchestra plans to honor the couple's legacy with a portrait-hanging and dedication Saturday evening before a concert at Orchestra Hall.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

ROMULUS – An Associated Press investigation has found that people crashed cars into or otherwise breached the security fencing at Detroit Metropolitan Airport more than authorities have disclosed. In all, there were 14 intrusions from 2004 through mid-February.

Officials cited four incidents when AP revealed problems with airport defenses last year.

Federal records showed another five the airport had not told AP about. There also were four breaches in 2015 - the most in any year in Detroit - and one in February.


DETROIT – The Michigan Supreme Court has announced amendments to state rules aimed at keeping people from jail time because they can't pay court fines or fees.

The Detroit News reports changes announced Wednesday take effect Sept. 1. The court says job status, available cash, basic living expenses and other special circumstances can be considered.

Earlier this year, a Detroit-area judge accused of sending poor people to jail if they couldn't immediately pay fines agreed to end so-called pay-or-stay sentences after an American Civil Liberties Union challenge.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

LANSING – Michigan is paying criminal defense bills for two state employees charged amid Flint's crisis with lead-tainted water.

The state Department of Environmental Quality is paying fees for Stephen Busch and Mike Prysby, who are charged with evidence tampering, misconduct in office and safe drinking water violations.

The Detroit Free Press reports Michigan must provide or pay for defense for state employees sued in connection with their jobs, but not those facing criminal charges.

Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

TOLEDO – Ohio's plan to take a big bite out of what's feeding the toxic cyanobacteria in western Lake Erie leans heavily on programs put in place over the last few years.

The strategy obtained by The Associated Press calls for additional water monitoring and more oversight of existing programs, but no new money toward targeting the blooms threatening drinking water.

The plan being rolled out Wednesday is the state's blueprint for reaching a 40% reduction in the phosphorus runoff that fuels the cyanobacteria in the lake's western end.

LANSING – Coercing a woman to have an abortion would be a misdemeanor in Michigan, under a bill sent to Gov. Rick Snyder.

The Senate approved the legislation, 26-11, Wednesday with all Democrats and one Republican voting against it. The bill would make coercion a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $5,000; $10,000 if the accused is the father of the embryo or fetus.


DETROIT – Charges have been filed in two shootings that killed a child and injured another in Detroit.

Prosecutor Kym Worthy defended her decision to charge relatives of victims who shot themselves after finding unsecured guns at home. She says adults who "adopt, bear or look after children" must be held responsible.

Five-year-old Mariah Davis shot herself in the neck after finding a gun under a pillow on May 11. Her grandparents were charged Wednesday with involuntary manslaughter and other crimes.

LANSING – A Michigan senator has introduced legislation that could stop transgender students from using bathrooms that don't match their "biological sex."

Sen. Tom Casperson, a Republican, unveiled a bill Wednesday that would offer accommodations to transgender students with parental consent. But the accommodation can't include a bathroom, locker room or shower used by students "of the opposite biological sex."

Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof says the legislation is not a priority for the Senate. It's been assigned to a committee.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

GRAND RAPIDS – Michigan's attorney general says his office is investigating allegations of mistreatment at a state-run nursing home for veterans and is encouraging potential victims or witnesses to come forward.

Courser/Gamrat websites

LANSING – Two Michigan lawmakers who were forced from office in a sex scandal face a key hearing on charges that they committed felony misconduct in office.

The preliminary exam scheduled to begin Wednesday in a Lansing courtroom will determine if there is probable cause to go to trial. Todd Courser resigned last September and Cindy Gamrat became the fourth legislator to ever be expelled.

The conservative Republicans had an extramarital affair.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Cancer patients and survivors are lobbying lawmakers to make Michigan the latest state to require equal insurance coverage of chemotherapy regardless of whether the drugs are given by needle or taken orally.

The bill addresses the tendency for chemo pills to cost patients much more out of pocket than IV chemo.

Activists form a bucket brigade to carry water from the state Capitol.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Activists came to the state Capitol today to dramatize the need for tens of millions of dollars to fix Flint’s damaged water system.

A line of people passed little buckets of water from a faucet inside the Capitol building to a 20-gallon drum outside. 

Ryan Bates with Michigan United says they wanted to show what it’s like to live in Flint without tap water people can trust. 

Bates says state lawmakers should be doing more to help.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The Michigan Senate has approved spending another $128 million to address the water crisis in Flint, where residents have to use faucet filters or bottled water because of lead contamination.

The emergency aid legislation that passed 34-3 Wednesday next goes to the House for consideration.

It's the fourth round of funding being considered by lawmakers since the health disaster was confirmed seven months ago.

Gov. Rick Snyder and legislators previously authorized $67 million for the emergency – mostly state money but also federal funds.

Governor Rick Snyder
Rick Snyder for Michigan / Facebook Page

FLINT, Mich. - Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder will greet President Barack Obama at a Flint airport and talk to him about efforts to solve the city's drinking water mess.

Spokesman Ari Adler says the Republican governor is pleased to try to seek more federal support for Flint during Obama's visit Wednesday.