3:03 pm
Tue December 31, 2013

Murders in Flint down more than 20 percent this year

Credit Yumi Kimura / Wikimedia Commons

Flint has seen a drop of more than 20 percent in the number of murders this year compared to last year's all-time high of 67.

Unless there is a new murder on New Year's Eve, Flint will close 2013 with 52 homicides. That is the lowest number since 2009.

James Tolbert is Flint's chief of police. He attributed the decrease to increased patrolling, use of data to target hot spots of criminal activity, and increased arrests of those with outstanding warrants.

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2:00 pm
Sun December 29, 2013

Keeping tabs on lawmakers leads to fewer no-shows

Credit AcrylicArtist / MorgueFile

The men and women who make Michigan's laws have someone watching over their shoulders. 

So who's putting legislators' feet to the fire? It's the public --  with some help from a conservative think tank.

Jack McHugh is a legislative analyst for the Mackinac Center for Public Policy.

He compiles the "Michigan Votes Report,"  a searchable online database that was launched in 2003 to track lawmakers' votes  -- or lack of them.

"We had legislators missing hundreds of votes, who frankly just weren't showing up to work," McHugh says.

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5:10 pm
Thu December 26, 2013

Governor signs identity theft 'skimmers' and indefinite detention bills


Devices that can be used to steal someone’s personal information when they use a credit card are now illegal in Michigan. Gov. Rick Snyder signed legislation Thursday banning the sale, purchase, or use of so-called “skimmer” devices.

Proponents of the measure say skimmers can be installed relatively easily on ATMs and other credit card readers. Under the new law, offenders will face felony charges that could come with up to five years in prison and a $100,000 fine.

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4:20 pm
Thu December 26, 2013

Truant students could lose their driver's licenses under bill in state House

Students who repeatedly skip school could lose a shot at a driver's license under a new bill.
AdeptDrivers Creative Commons

A state lawmaker says the threat of losing driving privileges would be a good way to discourage kids from skipping school.

Families who receive state aid can lose their benefits if their child repeatedly skips school. It’s a policy some legislators want to codify in law.

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3:24 pm
Thu December 26, 2013

Bill would prohibit asset forfeiture without conviction

State Rep. Jeff Irwin (D-Ann Arbor)

A state lawmaker wants to make it illegal to seize people's assets if they have not been convicted of a crime.

Right now in Michigan, law enforcement can seize your car, your house, or other things you own as part of an investigation, even if it results in no criminal charges.

The bill’s sponsor says that runs afoul of the basic things we learn in grade-school civics.

“Innocent until proven guilty, unreasonable search and seizure, due process, all of these core constitutional principles are evoked when you're talking about a process where the government is taking a citizen's assets and there is no finding of any guilt,” says State Rep. Jeff Irwin (D-Ann Arbor).

According to a Michigan State Police report, asset seizures brought in $22.4 million for state and local law enforcement agencies in 2012.

A spokeswoman for the state police says the department is reviewing the legislation and has not yet taken a position on it.

11:21 am
Wed December 25, 2013

US judge in Iowa dismisses `popcorn lung' lawsuit

(file photo)
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) - A federal judge in Iowa has dismissed a Michigan couple's lawsuit that claimed butter flavorings in microwave popcorn left the husband with lung disease.

U.S. District Judge Mark Bennett ruled Tuesday that Michigan's three-year statute of limitations barred the lawsuit brought by David and Barbara Stults of Grand Rapids.

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7:25 am
Wed December 25, 2013

Judge fights ruling against her in custody lawsuit

(file photo)
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

DETROIT (AP) - A Detroit-area judge wants a federal appeals court to intervene in a lawsuit linked to the accidental consumption of alcohol by a child at a Detroit Tigers game.

The parents of Leo Ratte are suing Judge Judy Hartsfield. In 2008, the 7-year-old boy was temporarily removed from them when his father mistakenly gave him Mike's Hard Lemonade at Comerica Park.

5:37 pm
Mon December 23, 2013

6th Circuit puts parole hearings for juvenile lifers on hold

Mich. Atty. Gen. Bill Schuette says the Supreme Court ruling should not apply retroactively.
(courtesy Michigan Attorney General's office)

The U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals has delayed an order that Michigan make a plan to hold parole hearings for prisoners sentenced as juveniles to life in prison for murder.

A federal judge ruled last month that Michigan is taking too long to comply with a U.S. Supreme Court decision. It said automatic life without parole for juveniles is “cruel and unusual punishment.”  

Deborah LaBelle is the attorney representing a group of juvenile lifers who sued the state. She says the Sixth Circuit decision is a disappointment.

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12:49 pm
Sat December 21, 2013

2 Michigan hunters face charges for illegally killing cougar

Flickr/Art G

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - State Natural Resources officials say two Bay County men face charges after a cougar was illegally killed in Michigan's Upper Peninsula.

Officials say Friday in a release that conservation officers arrested the men after receiving a tip that the cat was killed at a hunting camp in northeast Schoolcraft County.

The case will be turned over to the county prosecutor.

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The Living Room
11:10 am
Fri December 20, 2013

Listen to these stories from those who knew what it was like in Jackson state prison

Jackson State Prison from a 1949 postcard.
Donald Harrison Flickr

Jackson, Michigan was home to one of the largest prisons in the world – the Michigan State Prison, later renamed the State Prison of Southern Michigan.

We went on a tour of the old prison with Jackson Historic Prison Tours. While there we met some former prisoners and prison staff, and decided to follow up with them afterwards.

Listen to their powerful stories above.

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6:00 am
Fri December 20, 2013

Homeowner who shot Renisha McBride will go on trial for murder

Renisha McBride
Credit Family photo

The Dearborn Heights homeowner who shot an unarmed teenager on his front porch has been bound over for trial.

Theodore Wafer will face trial for second-degree murder, manslaughter, and a felony firearms charge in 19-year-old Renisha McBride’s death.

Dearborn Heights judge David Turfe ruled Thursday the case can proceed after nearly two days of expert and witness testimony.

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2:17 pm
Wed December 18, 2013

Federal court lifts injunction blocking Lansing casino project

Artist conception of the proposed Kewadin Lansing casino
Sault Ste Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians

A federal appeals court has lifted an injunction that was standing in the way of a casino in downtown Lansing.

The Sault Ste Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians wants to build a casino next to Lansing’s convention center.

Michigan’s Attorney General asked for and got a federal court to prevent the tribe from moving ahead with its plans. The attorney general says the tribe’s casino would violate agreements between the state and Michigan’s Native American tribes.

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12:33 pm
Wed December 18, 2013

Man who shot Renisha McBride will find out if trial is next

Last month (November 15), Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy announced her office would charge 54-year-old Theodore Wafer with second degree murder in the death of 19-year-old Renisha McBride.

Wafer shot McBride in the face while she stood on his front porch in the early morning hours of November 2.

Today, there's a preliminary hearing in a Wayne County district court to determine whether there's enough evidence against Wafer for a trial. Judge David Turfe could make his determination at the end of today's hearing.

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2:56 pm
Mon December 16, 2013

Judge rules that his Detroit bankruptcy finding can be directly appealed

John Meiu Detroit Legal News Publishing LLC

The judge in Detroit’s bankruptcy case says creditors can appeal his recent eligibility ruling directly to a higher federal court.

Judge Steven Rhodes ruled earlier this month that Detroit is eligible to proceed with its historic bankruptcy case.

He also ruled that city pensions can be cut in federal bankruptcy court — despite a public pension guarantee in Michigan’s state constitution.

City unions, pension funds and retiree groups immediately said they intended to appeal both decisions.

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11:45 am
Fri December 13, 2013

Michigan moms to lead vigils against gun violence

Bells will ring and the names of victims of gun violence will be read at a series of vigils across the state on Saturday which mark the first anniversary of the school shootings in Newtown, Connecticut.
Credit Photo courtesy of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America.

On the first anniversary of the Newtown, Conn., school shootings, Michigan mothers will join moms from 34 other states in commemorating the lives lost to gun violence, and to encourage others to speak out.

It's been one year since 20-year-old Adam Lanza fatally shot 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School before taking his own life.

Linda Brundage leads the Michigan chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense and says despite some new security measures at schools, not enough has been done to prevent a similar tragedy.

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5:04 pm
Thu December 12, 2013

Trio of medical marijuana bills clear state House

A medical marijuana clinic owner offered pot to customers who also registered to vote
User Eljoja Flickr

Medical marijuana patients in Michigan would have more ways to legally obtain and consume cannabis under three bills that cleared the state House today. One bill would allow medical marijuana dispensaries to operate again in Michigan.

State Rep. Mike Callton (R-Nashville) introduced the legislation. He says it’s critical for many patients to have safe access to marijuana right away.

“If either you grow your own or a caregiver grows your own, it takes four to six months before it’s medicine,” said Callton. “Many of these people – especially if they’re cancer patients that are trying to maintain appetite – many of them may be dead by the time their medicine is ready.”

The House also approved a bill that would let patients use edible or topical forms of medical marijuana, and another that could clear the way for pharmacies to sell medical marijuana in Michigan.

All three bills now go to the state Senate.

4:50 pm
Thu December 12, 2013

'Patriot Week' could be required in Michigan's public schools

Credit taliesin / MorgueFile

Michigan's history and social studies teachers may be required to include specific topics for an annual "Patriot Week."

The Senate this week passed a trio of bills that would require public schools to focus on the U.S. Constitution and other founding documents for one week every year.

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4:21 pm
Thu December 12, 2013

Groups already considering challenge to Michigan’s new abortion insurance rider

Rick Pluta Michigan Public Radio

Wednesday's vote by the Legislature to enact a law to require people to buy separate health policies to cover abortions may not be the final word on the question.

There are meetings underway to organize a referendum challenge. Abortion rights advocates are putting together a coalition to launch a petition drive. They want to challenge the new law with a referendum on the ballot next November.

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11:12 am
Tue December 10, 2013

Ann Arbor mayor vetoes repeal of crosswalk ordinance

Credit Morguefile

Ann Arbor mayor John Hieftje vetoed last week's repeal of Ann Arbor's crosswalk ordinance. This leaves Ann Arbor's controversial crosswalk ordinance unchanged. 

The ordinance  requires drivers to yield to pedestrians waiting on the curb to enter  a crosswalk as well as to those who are already in the crosswalk.

Ann Arbor City Council voted 6-4 to repeal the crosswalk ordinance on December 2.  Eight votes are needed to override the mayor's veto.  It doesn't appear there are enough votes for that.

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4:52 pm
Mon December 9, 2013

State House bill seeks to protect late night gas station and convenience store workers

Credit Morgue File

A Michigan lawmaker wants gas stations and convenience stores to improve security for late-night workers.

State Representative Collene Lamonte (D-Montague) announced today that she had introduced a bill to require gas stations and convenience stores operating between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. to schedule at least two people to work during those hours -- or to install and maintain security cameras.

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