Michigan

Chestnut Growers, Inc.

During this holiday season, we hear Nat King Cole crooning about those chestnuts again. Did you know that Michigan leads the nation in chestnut production?

Yet most of us have never eaten a chestnut. That is something Dennis Fulbright wants to change. He's a plant pathologist and professor with Michigan State University.

iRon leSs / flickr

Michigan says it wants out from under court-ordered oversight of the state’s child foster care system. The Michigan Department of Human Services filed a motion today with the U.S. District Court in Detroit.

Peter Martorano / Flickr

Michigan has taken a big step closer to putting money down on the table of Detroit's "grand bargain."

The newly formed House Committee on Detroit's Recovery and Michigan's Future approved an $11 billion package that would see the state send $194.8 million dollars to Detroit. And it would create a panel to oversee city finances for at least 13 years. The aid package now goes to the full House. 

We were joined by the chair of that House committee. State Rep. John Walsh, R-Livonia. 

*Listen to the full interview above. 

DeBoer Rowse Adoption Legal Fund

Update 8:27 am:

Rick Pluta reports from Ingham County that the first marriage there was performed at 8:05 am.

7:21 am Saturday:

Now four counties – Washtenaw, Oakland, Muskegon and Ingham – plan to open this morning to issue marriage licenses. Come back for updates from our reporters in the field.

Update 11 pm Friday:

Kate Wells / Michigan Radio

The University of Michigan has a race problem.

“Open it up! Or we’ll shut it down!” chanted half a dozen black students at the Board of Regents meeting yesterday.

Their frustrations are getting national attention. 

The Black Student union has led protests on campus and online.

Their #BBUM Twitter campaign (Being Black at U of M) has gone viral. 

They’re fed up, they say, by a school that boasts about a diverse community, yet where just roughly 5% of some 28,000 undergraduate students are black.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A proposed overhaul of Michigan’s no-fault auto insurance system has cleared its first legislative hurdle. A state House panel passed the bill on a party-line vote, with Democrats all voting "no."

Right now, people who are severely injured in an auto accident can get unlimited lifetime medical benefits.

The legislation would cap those benefits at a million dollars.

Many people who testified against the bill said people who are already injured would lose benefits they were promised.

Simon Brass / Flickr

About 400 food service state employees may soon be out of work at Michigan’s prisons.

That’s after Michigan reversed its previous decision NOT to privatize the contract.

The original company bids did not meet the state benchmark of at least 5 percent savings.

Student loan payments may be applied as tax credits if a new bill in Lansing becomes law. Democratic State Representative Andy Schor is sponsoring the legislation. 

He says “it’s the start of keeping that talent here and reversing the brain drain as we create some of the places where they want to be.”

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Minority Democrats in the Michigan House say pension income should no longer be taxed and other Republican-backed tax changes from 2011 should be repealed.

Democrats included the proposals in a list of budget priorities unveiled Monday in Lansing. House Democrats say their plan puts "families first," but it faces an uphill climb because Republicans control the Legislature.

Wikimedia Commons

MLive's Ron Fonger is reporting that Genesee County has shut down its hazardous materials response team. 

This comes as state officials are investigating potential problems with the unit.

It will be the first time the county has been without a HAZMAT team in over 10 years.  Now other counties will be asked to provide assistance when there's a hazardous materials emergency.



Almost 14,000 kids in Michigan have been taken out of their own homes by the state because of an abuse or neglect allegation.

Those kids then rely upon the state's Department of Human Services (DHS) to keep them safe and put them in an environment where they have a chance to thrive. Most of those kids end up in foster care.

Six years ago the state was sued by the advocacy group Children's Rights over treatment of kids in its care.

The state was back in court today to see where things stand. Everyone agrees things have gotten better since the lawsuit started six years ago, but the court appointed monitor said too many kids are still unsafe.

user blwphotography / Flickr

Last year, Michigan enacted a law that requires insurance companies to cover childhood autism treatments.

Today, the Michigan Department of Community Health will roll out its autism coverage plan.

There are about 50,000 people in Michigan with autism.  It’s a disorder that effects communication and social skills.

Flint, Mich.
Flint Michigan / Facebook.com

Alarm companies in Flint are refusing to pay nearly $134,000 in bills from the city of Flint related to police response to false alarm calls.

David Harris of the Flint Journal reports:

The Burglar and Fire Alarm Association of Michigan is fighting a policy in Flint that bills the alarm company directly as opposed to the customer, said Karen Majeske, the association's board director.

Courtesy: Michigan Department of Natural Resources

In a press release today, Michigan’s Department of Natural Resources says Joseph Seeberger has both a state record and now a world record-sized Great Lakes muskellunge.

The International Committee of the Modern Day Muskellunge World Record Program (MDMWRP) recognized Seeberger’s catch as the biggest ever.  MDMWRP is a committee of muskellunge scientists, industry leaders, anglers and outdoor media personalities that formed in 2006.

Prior to Seeberger's submission, there had not been a MDMWRP world-record entry verified.

Unions seek contracts ahead of new Michigan law

Feb 18, 2013
dannybirchall/flickr

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Some unions in Michigan are working to get new contracts approved before the state's right-to-work law takes effect next month to delay when they'll be affected by changes.

The Detroit News reports some see it as an effort to keep collecting dues from members until after a new contract expires. Union leaders representing teachers in Utica, Plymouth-Canton, Dearborn and Detroit school districts all are working toward new agreements.

The Lansing State Journal reports unions at Michigan State University and Lansing Community College are exploring the possibility of extending their labor contracts to delay the law's impact on them.

The law, passed last year, takes effect March 27. It prohibits requiring workers to pay union dues or fees, but contracts in place before that date are immune from the new rules.

Where do Michigan's tax dollars go?

Feb 18, 2013
John-Morgan / creative commons

Ever wonder where your Michigan tax dollars go?

MLive’s Jonathan Oosting has an article today that breaks it all out.

He notes that:

Michigan is one of eight states that levies a sales tax on fuel purchases, but it does not devote any of that revenue to road maintenance or repairs.

Michigan Businesses Have 1K Fewer Rules To Follow

Jan 10, 2013
Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs / Office of Regulatory Reinvention

Governor Rick Snyder announced today that Michigan businesses now have one thousand fewer rules to live with.

Rob Nederhood is Deputy Director of Michigan’s Office of Regulatory Reinvention.

He says they were challenged to eliminate outdated or obsolete administrative rules. 

Legislature stays up late, passes flood of lame-duck bills

Dec 14, 2012
user Steve & Christine from USA / Wikipedia

More than a few Michigan legislators are probably feeling a little fuzzy today, asking themselves the all-important question, “What happened last night?”

That’s because lawmakers were up until 4:30 a.m. this morning as part of an all-night legislative binge that saw the passage of a bundle of bills.

And as MLive reports, not everyone is happy about the way it happened:

Political circles across the state remain stunned by the very public self-destruction of former Congressman Thaddeus McCotter, from the white-collar Wayne County suburb of Livonia.

Yet it seems to me that while many people know the basic facts of his decline and fall, most don’t understand the true consequences of what he’s done. I’ll get to that in a moment.

But first consider this. A year ago, McCotter was a man with an essentially safe seat in Congress who had launched a long-shot campaign for President.

When the Declaration of Independence was signed two hundred and thirty-six years ago, Michigan was a sparsely populated place which the French considered part of the province of Quebec.

Several weeks ago, I was contacted by someone attempting to smear Congressman Hansen Clarke, who faces a tough primary race next month to try and keep his job.

The writer told me that he had uncovered the fact that the congressman’s father was from a different country and gave his son a different name, which he later changed. Well, not only had I known that, I had written about it.

Clarke has never made a secret of either that his father was from Pakistan. Nor was it a secret that the boy was named Molik Hashem, a name he later Anglicized.

governor's office

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Gov. Rick Snyder has approved loans to Michigan fruit farmers who sustained an estimated $210 million in losses following rough spring weather. 

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

 The state of Michigan is expected to reap a half billion dollars from a settlement between 40 states and five of the nation’s largest mortgage lenders.  

Michigan has been among the hardest hit states in the foreclosure crisis. The settlement will help homeowners who were in foreclosure between 2008 and 2011.

Bank of America, Ally Financial,  Wells Fargo, J.P. Morgan Chase and Citigroup are the banks in the settlement.   The deal will settle complaints the mortgage lenders wrongly foreclosed on borrowers and forged documents.

UM Law School's Human Trafficking Clinic.

Human trafficking is a growing crime in Michigan, and the U.S.

At its most basic level, even identifying victims of this crime can be difficult.

In the first of our three part series we’ll look at the challenge of providing assistance to victims.

Michigan Radio’s Jennifer White spoke with Elizabeth Campbell, Staff Attorney at the University of Michigan Law School’s Human Trafficking Clinic.

Campbell says there are mostly two categories of human trafficking.

www.caaahholland.org

According to 2010 U.S. Census data, Holland, Michigan’s black population experienced a 20 percent growth in the last decade.

This week a new Center for African American Art and History opened in Holland, Michigan. 

Ruth Coleman is the center's director. She always wanted to see her African American culture representing in her community. 

Coleman hopes people in the Holland area come to the center to learn more about black culture.

http://whitmer.senatedems.com/

Michigan State Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer (D-East Lansing) wrote an op-ed piece that appeared in today's Detroit Free Press. She writes that Senator Rick Jones' (R-Grand Ledge) comparison of a prominent female public relations professional to a "hooker" is one of many incidents of sexism that she's witnessed in Lansing.

Politically speaking, this has been the year of Rick Snyder. Since he first burst on the scene two years ago, he has had an astonishing run of success. The experts said a self-proclaimed “nerd” without any political experience couldn’t possibly win the nomination for governor, much less the general election.

 When he did both, they said the new kid would fall on his face in the rough-and-tumble world of Lansing. Instead, he got more significant legislation enacted in a few short months than his predecessor had in eight years.

At lunchtime yesterday, I got a news alert that the state’s preliminary review team found Detroit’s finances a mess.

There are a number of important debates going on in Michigan about our economic crisis, and our future.

Three of the most intense are these: 

  1. Should Detroit have an Emergency Manager?
  2. Should the Emergency Manager law itself be repealed? 
  3. And what’s the future of public education in this state, and how should we pay for it?

Virtually everyone has opinions about these issues, and I have expressed mine, on Michigan Radio and elsewhere. But it occurs to me that we may all be missing something.

The Flint School District will deliver its deficit elimination plan to the state today. But a long-time critic doubts the district’s administration will be able to make the plan work.     

State law requires local units of government that finish their fiscal year with a deficit to send a ‘deficit elimination plan’ to the Treasury Department. 

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