4:35 pm
Wed January 9, 2013

Michigan Court of Appeals upholds benefits for live-in partners of state employees

Mike Russell Wikimedia Commons

A divided Michigan Court of Appeals has upheld extending health benefits to the live-in partners of state employees.

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette challenged the state Civil Service Commission agreement with public employee unions.

Among other things, the attorney general says the policy violates Michigan’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage and civil unions.

But the court’s majority said the policy makes no distinction between people in same-sex relationships and heterosexual live-in partners.        

Read more
3:13 pm
Wed January 9, 2013

Stateside: Dwindling budgets affect Michigan police departments

Police departments are shrinking and the effects on communities are noticeable.
(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

Robert Stevenson addresses recent police department cuts.

As city budgets dwindle, Michigan’s police departments are making cuts to their programs.

“Every police department in the state is smaller today than it was ten years ago,” said Robert Stevenson.

Stevenson, who is Executive Director of Michigan Association of Chiefs of Police, said this is due to a combination of a reduction in revenue and reduced property tax values.

“When there is less money coming in, there has to be reductions and typically, public safety, police and fire take up more than 50% of a city’s total expenditures, therefore they’re hit the hardest.”

He saw few immediate solutions to the cuts.

Read more
1:31 am
Wed January 9, 2013

Grand Rapids gun law may violate Michigan law, but city has “no interest” in changing it

Grand Rapids resident Jon Cipriani shares a story Tuesday night about how he and his wife were recently robbed at gun point. He was unarmed at the time.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

A debate about guns is brewing in the City of Grand Rapids.

At Grand Rapids City Hall Tuesday night, several people had pistols holstered at their hips for a commission meeting.

They’re part of Michigan Open Carry, a group that’s pressuring commissioners to change a local law. It bans loaded firearms here, or any public place in Grand Rapids.

Mayor George Heartwell says he has a “very healthy respect for guns” but he doesn’t think they belong at city hall.

Read more
3:54 pm
Tue January 8, 2013

Michigan's Attorney General more optimistic that the U.S. Supreme Court will take up casino case

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette (R)
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

The U.S. Supreme Court could be sending a signal that it may review a case involving a Native American tribe that wants to build an off-reservation casino in Michigan.

The court Monday asked the U.S. solicitor general to weigh in on whether federal courts have the authority to hear lawsuits connected to federal Indian gaming law and whether tribes have immunity from such litigation.

Read more
9:54 pm
Mon January 7, 2013

Fire at apartments in Ypsilanti leaves 12 families homeless

YPSILANTI TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) - A fire has heavily damaged a building at a Washtenaw County apartment complex, displacing 12 families.

The fire broke out Monday afternoon at the Schooner Cove apartment complex in Ypsilanti Township, east of Ann Arbor.

Township Fire Chief Eric Copeland tells that the fire started in a second- or third-floor apartment at the front of the building.

Copeland says the cause of the fire isn't yet known.

Read more
11:57 am
Sun January 6, 2013

Michigan hot dog vendor loses case, will appeal

MONROE, Mich. (AP) - After a three-year legal fight, a dispute over a Monroe hot dog stand is moving to a federal appeals court.

Owners of The Dog Pound are appealing a decision that dismissed their lawsuit against the city. They claim Monroe violated their rights by not allowing them to operate the hot dog stand in a busy downtown area.

Detroit federal Judge David Lawson recently ruled in favor of Monroe. He says The Dog Pound failed to offer evidence that an ordinance regulating transient merchants violates the U.S. Constitution.

5:31 pm
Thu January 3, 2013

New Michigan Laws Increase Arson Penalties

Arsonists face harsher penalties in Michigan.
Photo courtesy of the Project's facebook page

Four new laws are going into effect in 2013 that will dramatically increase penalties for arson in Michigan.

The laws revise sentencing guidelines to give courts more latitude to hand down longer prison terms.

Read more
4:28 pm
Thu January 3, 2013

Detroit's murder rate continues to climb

Steve Carmody Michigan Radio

Homicides are trending up in Detroit for the second year in a row.

The city recorded a total of 411 homicides in 2012, up about 9% from the previous year. That total includes killings deemed “justifiable” by police.

Detroit mayor Dave Bing says police can only do so much combat pervasive gun violence and a lack of “respect for life.”

Bing says he’s not sure adding even “1000 more police officers” to Detroit’s ranks would help.

“There are things happening in homes, and families, in the communities, and the neighborhoods, that whether a cop is there or not, it’s not gonna stop the crime.”

Detroit’s interim police chief, Chester Logan, agrees that the lack of police presence isn’t the root problem.

“America has a problem with guns, but the epicenter seems to be here in Detroit,” said Logan, adding that taking a stand against gun violence should be “the new civil rights issue.”

More than 85% percent of Detroit’s homicides were committed with guns. There were also 1263 reported non-fatal shootings in 2012.

Both Bing and Logan note that the city’s police ranks have thinned considerably in recent years, due largely to attrition. The department had about 2700 sworn officers in 2011.

Logan declined to release current manpower numbers, saying only: “We certainly don’t want to frighten anybody, but it’s sufficient.”

Police say the uptick in homicides belies a decline in some other major crimes, including a nearly 13% drop in burglaries, and a slight decrease in aggravated assaults.

According to department  numbers, “overall city-wide crime is down 2.63% in the aggregate compared to 2011.”

Bing also vowed to hold “regular press briefings” on public safety issues in the coming year.

“Future briefings will focus on a comprehensive analysis of homicide trends in the city, case closure rates, and crime reduction strategies in the Detroit Police Department,” the mayor said.

4:15 pm
Thu January 3, 2013

Michigan closes impaired-driving loophole

Credit trostle / MorgueFile

Drivers can get high on lots of things , not just drugs and alcohol. So a new Michigan law has closed a loophole that allowed some drivers to escape prosecution for impaired driving.

Read more
5:29 pm
Mon December 31, 2012

A violent year on many Michigan city streets

(file photo)
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

DETROIT (AP) - Several of Michigan's largest cities already have eclipsed last year's homicide totals.

Murders in Detroit, Saginaw and Grand Rapids are up over 2011. The 66 homicides reported through Monday morning in Flint are tied with that city's 2011 tally.

WOOD-TV reports that Grand Rapids reached its 18th homicide Saturday night. The number still is preliminary. There were 17 murders there last year, compared to nine each in 2009 and 2010. Grand Rapids recorded 23 murders in 2006.

3:28 pm
Mon December 31, 2012

Flint ties record for murders in the city

Flint, Michigan (file photo)
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

66 people were murdered in Flint in 2012. That ties a record homicide rate set two years ago.

Flint’s political, religious and civic leaders have been trying to do something about the city’s high violent crime rate. But gun violence has claimed more than 60 lives for the second time in three years.

Flint Mayor Dayne Walling issued a statement, saying “it is clear that the problem of illegal and military-style guns is widespread and is a major contributing factor to” the city’s homicide rate.

Read more
1:20 pm
Mon December 31, 2012

Judge halts contraceptive mandate for Michigan firm

(file photo)
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

DETROIT (AP) - A federal judge has ruled a property management company owned by the founder of Domino's Pizza doesn't have to immediately implement mandatory contraception coverage in the health care law.

U.S. District Judge Lawrence Zatkoff ruled Sunday in favor of Tom Monaghan and his Domino's Farms Corp. near Ann Arbor. Monaghan, a devout Roman Catholic, says contraception isn't health care but a "gravely immoral" practice.

Read more
12:38 pm
Sun December 30, 2012

New Michigan law makes it easier to erase juvenile crimes

State capitol building (file photo)
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Gov. Rick Snyder has signed a bill to make it easier for people to wipe juvenile crimes off their record.

The new law will allow people to go to court to erase up to three offenses a year after the case is closed, instead of five years. The old law allowed only one offense to be expunged.

The bill, sponsored by state Rep. Joe Haveman, R-Holland, was easily approved in the Michigan House and Senate before the Legislature's recent adjournment.

3:58 pm
Fri December 28, 2012

Michigan governor signs bill allowing community colleges to offer some bachelor's degrees

Alpena Community College
Alpena Community College

For the first time, Michigan's community colleges will be able to offer baccalaureate degrees for certain programs.

Gov. Rick Snyder has signed a bill that allows the state's community colleges to expand some of their two-year associate degree programs into four-year programs.

The bill allows these colleges to offer degrees in cement technology, maritime technology, energy production technology and culinary arts.

Michigan universities opposed the idea because it breaks their exclusive right to offer bachelor's degrees.

State representative John Walsh introduced the bill. He says the new programs will help advance a students' career and keep their talent in state.

"With a better education, a more thorough education, you can move up into management or take on other responsibilities that an Associate Degree student wouldn't be able to," he said.

Read more
3:00 pm
Fri December 28, 2012

Michigan inmate loses bid to have commutation of life sentence reinstated

DETROIT (AP) - The Michigan appeals court says it has no authority to intervene in the judgment of then-Gov. Jennifer Granholm, who agreed to change a prisoner's no-parole sentence but then changed her mind before leaving office in 2010.

The court said Friday it must respect the "clear and exclusive constitutional power" granted to Michigan governors in commutation matters.

Read more
1:19 pm
Thu December 27, 2012

Gov. Snyder signed 19 bills today

Gov. Rick Snyder
Rick Snyder for Michigan

Gov. Snyder signed several bills into law today that he says will strengthen communities and protect taxpayers.

This morning, Michigan Public Radio Network's Rick Pluta reported Rick Snyder signed an updated local emergency manager law to replace the one rejected last month by voters. 

Mr. Snyder also signed 18 other bills ranging from extending school loan programs to tracking pollution.

In a press release, the Governor said the new laws protect the Michigan economy.

Read more
9:32 pm
Mon December 24, 2012

Rethinking Michigan's public defender system

(file photo)
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

A proposed overhaul to Michigan’s public defense system will have to wait until next year for action by the state Legislature.

State lawmakers passed a flurry of bills in their “lame duck” session. But there were a number of high-profile bills that didn’t move at all.

One of those would change the way the state appoints lawyers to people who can’t afford one.

Michigan’s public defense system is considered one of the worst in the country.

Read more
2:32 pm
Fri December 21, 2012

Michigan Attorney General files terrorism charges against I-96 shooter

Livingston County Sheriff's Department

The man suspected of firing shots at more than 20 vehicles along I-96 and nearby roads faces a charge of terrorism and other felonies.

State Attorney General Bill Schuette filed the charges Thursday.

43-year-old Raulie Casteel could face life in prison if convicted. He also faces 60 counts in Oakland County related to the shooting spree.

Joy Yearout is a spokesperson for the attorney general. She said the charges are meant to send a message.

“Certainly terrorism is an unusual charge, but the facts of this case warrant it,” Yearout said.

The attorney general is consolidating cases related to shootings in Ingham, Livingston, and Shiawassee counties.

One person was injured in the shootings.

10:39 pm
Tue December 18, 2012

Lansing raising money for gun buy back program

Last week’s school shooting in Connecticut is inspiring the city of Lansing to hold a second gun buy-back program.

The capitol city’s last gun buy-back program collected nearly a hundred firearms in August.  People who turned in hand guns or semi-automatic weapons got gift cards in exchange.

The city hopes to collect ten thousand dollars in private donations for its next program.

Lansing mayor Virg Bernero says the initiative will get guns off the street and help keep the community safe.

Lansing has seen a dozen homicides this year.

6:56 pm
Fri December 14, 2012

Lawmakers find compromise, pass repeal of personal property tax

Legislation that will eliminate several hundred million dollars in taxes that businesses pay each year on equipment awaits Governor Rick Snyder’s signature. Michigan’s personal property tax applies to all kinds of things; car makers pay the tax on heavy machinery, restaurants pay it on new ovens and dishwashers.

The legislature voted early Friday morning to repeal the personal property tax and replace up to 80-percent of the lost revenue to local governments where the loss makes up more than 2.3-percent of the total tax revenue.

Read more