morning news roundup

News Roundup
7:05 am
Wed August 15, 2012

In this morning's Michigan news headlines...

Morning News Roundup, Wednesday, August 15th, 2012
Brother O'Mara Flickr

Casino Ballot Proposal

Opponents of a ballot proposal to allow 8 new casinos in Michigan are celebrating. The state appeals court ruled that the ballot proposal goes against Michigan’s constitution. Lindsey Smith reports:

A group of current casino owners said the ballot question is illegal because it isn't clear what laws it would change. So the opponents challenged it in court. "The current constitution say that if you’re going to make changes to an act or something in the constitution you have to identify for the voters what you’re changing. They did that nowhere in the proposal,” said John Truscott, spokesman for the group. Michigan’s Court of Appeals agreed. The court said the ballot initiative would change the Michigan Gaming Control and Revenue Act if voters passed it. Supporters say they will appeal to the Michigan Supreme Court.

DPS Finances

A Wayne County judge has issued a mixed ruling in a case that pits the Detroit Public Schools’ emergency manager against the district’s elected school board. “Since the emergency manager law was suspended last week, some elected officials have tried to reverse decisions made by emergency managers. That’s the case in the Detroit Public Schools, where the elected school board has moved to un-do some actions of emergency manager Roy Roberts. Roberts sued to stop that, and Judge Stephen Murphy has ruled those decisions remain in effect—for now. Murphy also ruled that Roberts is still charge of the district’s finances, but the board has control over academics,” Sarah Cwiek reports.

Tree Health

Two popular tree species are under attack in Michigan and now, state foresters are hoping to harvest some healthy trees before they’re killed off. “Forests throughout Michigan are undergoing big changes as millions of beech and ash trees are killed by pests and disease. Beech Bark Disease and the Emerald Ash Borer first arrived in Michigan around twelve years ago.  Both problems continue to spread, but many forests still have healthy trees in them. Foresters from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Michigan Tech are taking a closer look at more than 30,000 acres of state forest land. The DNR says the goal is not to remove all beech or ash trees in these forests, but to thin them to a healthier level,” Mark Brush reports.

News Roundup
8:21 am
Tue August 14, 2012

In this morning's Michigan news headlines...

Morning News Roundup, Tuesday, August 14th, 2012
Brother O'Mara Flickr

Detroit Finances

Detroit’s Financial Advisory Board met for the fourth time yesterday.The nine-member board has significant powers over the city’s budget under Detroit’s consent agreement with the state. Sarah Cwiek reports:

City officials told the board that the sweeping restructuring of city operations is largely going ahead as planned. The first major step—a 10-percent pay cut for nearly all city union employees—will go into effect within days. But Detroit City Council member Gary Brown warned that a Council fiscal analysis shows the city still running a significant deficit. Brown says the Council wants to address that debt through budget amendments as soon as possible. Detroit’s Chief Financial Officer, Jack Martin, says Mayor Bing’s office plans to submit budget amendments to Council by the end of September.

Palisades Update

Workers at the Palisades nuclear plant have found the source of a leak that caused the plant to shut down over the weekend. “The leak is inside the building that holds the nuclear reactor. The heat generated by the reactor is restrained in part by 45 control rods. A Palisades spokesman says the source of the leak is at least one of those control rods, which they will replace. He says they don’t know why the rod is leaking. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has sent a special inspector to oversee the repairs. It’s unclear how long they will take,” Lindsey Smith reports.

MI Fireworks

An ad hoc state House workgroup will review Michigan’s new fireworks law and could recommend some changes. “The law allows licensed retailers to sell high-powered fireworks.The law also forbids local governments from banning fireworks on the day before, the day of, and the day after a national holiday. State Representative Harold Haugh is the author of the law and co-chairs the workgroup. Haugh says he’s open to tweaks in the law, but considers it a success, by and large. At least one state lawmaker has called for allowing local governments to ban selling or shooting high-powered fireworks," Rick Pluta reports.

News Roundup
7:35 am
Mon August 13, 2012

In this morning's Michigan news headlines...

Morning News Roundup, Monday, August 13th, 2012
Brother O'Mara Flickr

Nuclear Power Plant Shut Down

A new water leak is forcing operators of the Palisades Nuclear Power Plant in Southwest Michigan to shut it down. Michigan Radio’s Lindsey Smith reports:

This is the second time this summer the plant has had to shut down for repairs.  The plant shut down to refuel in April, which is normal. But then a water leak caused the plant to shut back down just a few weeks later. Those repairs took a month and in mid-July the plant returned to service. But that’s when a Palisades spokesman says they discovered a different water leak – this time in the building that holds the nuclear reactor. The leak got as bad at 18 gallons an hour before operators shut it back down again this weekend.  The spokesman says there has been “no release of radioactivity in the environment.” The plant is under more scrutiny because it has one of the worst safety ratings in the country.

Voting Citizens

Michigan’s Secretary of State Ruth Johnson says she’s asked the federal government to help her purge the state’s voter rolls of non-citizens. “She says there could be a lot of non-citizens registered to vote in the state.That's because for about 3 decades, the federal government required secretaries of state to register people without asking if they were citizens. Johnson says the federal government is helping Colorado and Florida boot non-citizens off its rolls, and she hopes Michigan will be next in line,” Tracy Samilton reports.

EM for Allen Park?

The team responsible for reviewing Allen Park's finances says Gov. Snyder should appoint an emergency manager to run the city southwest of Detroit, the Associated Press reports. “The review team cited the city's deficit, $1 million in delinquent vendor payments, delayed pension payments and significant cash flow shortages. The city also had not filed an approved deficit-elimination plan for the 2011 fiscal year. The review team also determined City Council is "manifestly dysfunctional." Spokeswoman Sara Wurfel says Snyder has 30 days to make a decision,” the AP  reports.

morning news roundup
7:21 am
Wed July 25, 2012

In this morning's Michigan news headlines. . .

Morning news roundup, Wednesday, July 25, 2012
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Emergency manager law

The state Supreme Court hears arguments Wednesday on a challenge to the referendum on Michigan’s emergency manager law. MPRN's Rick Pluta reports the challenge was filed by business groups that support the emergency manager law.

It says the size of the type used on part of the petition to put the question on the ballot is too small. The referendum campaign says the printer measured the font using the industry standard and it is correct. The campaign also says, regardless, small technical errors should not stop voters from deciding the question after more than 200,000 people signed petitions to put it on the ballot.

Groups opposed to the emergency manager law are planning to bus in protesters to demonstrate outside the Michigan Hall of Justice, where the Supreme Court meets. There are seven Michigan cities and school districts that are being run by state-appointed emergency managers.

Energy emergency in parts of the U.P.

Governor Rick Snyder has signed an executive order declaring an energy emergency in parts of the Upper Peninsula. He says a pipeline rupture in Wisconsin has affected the supply of gasoline and diesel fuel to the western and central U.P.

MPRN's Rick Pluta reports that West Shore Pipeline typically carries three million gallons a day between Chicago and Green Bay, which is used to supply much of the western half of the U.P.

Governor Snyder’s order will allow truckers to drive longer hours to get to fuel supplies in Milwaukee and Madison. Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker has also lifted restrictions because to allow truck drivers to work longer hours. The pipeline resumed moving fuel – although at reduced pressure -- this past weekend, but gas and diesel remain in short supply in some parts of the U-P. That has caused a spike in the price of fuel. Governor Snyder’s emergency order remains in effect for two weeks, unless he rescinds it sooner than that," Rick Pluta reports. 

Michigan casinos

Opponents of an amendment to allow eight new casinos in Michigan say the proposal violates the state constitution. So they’re going to court in an effort to keep the question off the November ballot. The Protect MI Vote coalition is made up of business groups and the owners of casinos in Detroit and on tribal land. The coalition’s attorneys say the question is both an amendment to the state constitution and a re-write of the state’s casino gaming law. Protect MI Vote says a ballot question cannot be both.

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news roundup
7:45 am
Tue July 24, 2012

In this morning's Michigan news headlines. . .

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Special primary approved

The $650,000 special primary to replace Congressman Thaddeus McCotter will go ahead. The 11th District Republican chair says he spent the weekend trying without success to get four of the five GOP candidates to drop out. That would have allowed the state to cancel the special primary and save taxpayers that money. Instead, a state elections board finalized the Sept.5 special primary ballot, which also has one Democrat on it.

Two years after Kalamazoo oil spill

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News roundup
8:44 am
Mon July 23, 2012

In this morning's Michigan news headlines. . .

Morning news roundup, Monday, July 23, 2012
Brother O'Mara Flickr

State elections board finalize special primary today

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Politics
7:59 am
Fri July 20, 2012

In this morning's Michigan news headlines...

Morning News Roundup, Friday, July 20th, 2012
Brother O'Mara Flickr

GM Buyouts

Today's the deadline for more than 40,000 GM retirees to accept their former employer's offer of a lump sum buyout of their pensions. Otherwise, their pensions will be taken over by Prudential Insurance. “GM's Randy Arrix says the change is part of the company's efforts to create what it calls a ‘fortress balance sheet’ because getting underfunded pensions off the books strengthens the balance sheet. Some GM retirees are angry about the change, which they see as a broken promise by GM,” Tracy Samilton reports.

Lake Huron Fuel Spill

The U.S. Coast Guard says diesel fuel from a barge that sank in Lake Huron yesterday has reached Michigan’s shore. The Associated Press reports:

A 110-foot dredging barge sank early Thursday, and the tug pushing it overturned, spilling an unknown amount of diesel fuel. No injuries have been reported. The Coast Guard released photos Thursday evening showing a sheen from the spill on the shore near Lakeport State Beach, about 65 miles northeast of Detroit. The agency says waves and wind are delaying cleanup efforts. The barge's owner says it can carry 8,000 gallons of fuel and had 1,500 gallons when it sank. It's unknown how much fuel has escaped.

Health Insurance Exchanges

Governor Snyder says he hopes Republican lawmakers will act before the end of the summer to create an online place for people to comparison shop for health coverage. “The governor and Republicans in the state House have been at odds over the health care exchanges called for in the federal Affordable Care Act. GOP leaders say they wanted to wait for the U.S. Supreme Court to rule before acting. Now that the court has upheld the law, Republicans say they still have a lot of questions. House Republicans will begin hearings next week. The governor says waiting too long puts federal grants to implement the law at risk, and could force Michigan into a national exchange run by a federal agency instead of the state,” Rick Pluta reports.

News Roundup
8:50 am
Thu July 19, 2012

In this morning's Michigan news headlines...

Morning News Roundup, Thursday, July 19th, 2012
Brother O'Mara Flickr

Detroit Workers

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing has imposed new contract terms on most Detroit city workers. Sarah Cwiek reports:

Detroit’s consent agreement with the state allows for city officials to impose contract terms under certain conditions. Bing says it was a tough but necessary move. The new terms include a 10 percent wage cut and the possibility of even deeper cuts if the city deems that necessary. Furious city union leaders say they're still contemplating their next move. They’ve talked about going to court—and some have even brought up the possibility of a strike.

Capitol Protests

The Legislature’s only session day in July was a magnet that drew protesters to Lansing. “There were demonstrations to support the right of women to breast feed infants in public, and to commemorate the second anniversary of the Enbridge Energy oil spill into the Kalamazoo River. The biggest protest was about 150 people who showed up to oppose new limits on abortion providers that cleared the state House last month and are now before the state Senate.  Singing and dancing broke out in the state House gallery by demonstrators who want to keep alive the controversy over the one-day silencing of two Democrats for comments made during a floor debate,” Rick Pluta reports.

Jobless Numbers

Michigan’s unemployment rate ticked up in June. “It’s the second month in a row that more people had trouble finding work in Michigan. The state’s unemployment rate stood at 8.6 percent in June, a tenth of a percentage point higher than it was in May. Michigan’s unemployment rate remains above the national average. But the state’s jobless rate is still lower now than it was a year ago when unemployment in Michigan stood at 10.6 percent. Michigan’s unemployment rate had fallen for nine straight months until May,” Steve Carmod reports.

News Roundup
8:26 am
Wed July 18, 2012

In this morning's Michigan news headlines...

Morning News Roundup, Wednesday, July 18th, 2012
Brother O'Mara Flickr

MI Education Funding

Public discussions began yesterday on overhauling how Michigan pays for schools. Rick Pluta reports:

Governor Snyder has asked a workgroup to come up with a plan that focuses less on per-student funding and more on proficiency. The workgroup’s first hearing included suggestions from the audience on what Michigan’s education system should look like. The workgroup will revamp the state’s 30-year-old school aid act. It will also revisit key aspects of the Proposal A school funding reforms. Governor Snyder has asked for the recommendations to be done in time to include in his budget proposal next year.

Voting Rolls

Michigan’s Secretary of State will soon ask again for access to immigration records. “The intent is to find non-American citizens who may have ‘inadvertently’ registered to vote in Michigan. For years, a person applying for a driver’s license in Michigan would also be encouraged to register to vote without a check first to see if the person was actually a U.S. citizen. Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson has asked for the immigration records before….but was denied. However…last week…the Department of Homeland Security granted a similar request from Florida officials. A spokeswoman for the Secretary of State says its unclear if the review process can be completed before November’s general election,” Steve Carmody reports.

A2 Art Fairs

Visitors from all over the state – and the county – are preparing to converge on Ann Arbor for the city’s annual art fairs. “The four-day celebration kicks off Wednesday, featuring four different fairs: The Ann Arbor Street Art Fair, the Ann Arbor Summer Art Fair, the State Street Area Art Fair and the South University Art Fair. The original Ann Arbor Street Art Fair is more than 50 years old. The fairs in downtown Ann Arbor and on the University of Michigan campus typically attract hundreds of thousands of visitors,” the Associated Press reports.

Politics
10:18 am
Mon July 16, 2012

In this morning's Michigan news headlines

Morning News Roundup, Monday, July 16th, 2012
Brother O'Mara Flickr

Muskegon Heights Budget

The school board for the new charter school system in Muskegon Heights will adopt a preliminary budget later this afternoon. Lindsey Smith reports:

Muskegon Heights schools’ emergency manager hired a for-profit charter school company to run the public school system for the next five years. Mosaica Education Incorporated drafted the budget the school board will consider approving Monday.  The budget includes a couple of optimistic assumptions. Budget documents show Mosaica expects student enrollment to increase – from 1,300 students last year to more than 1,400 hundred this year. It also expects per pupil funding from the state to increase each of the next five years despite an overall decline during the last decade.The emergency manager has so far declined to say how much money the district is paying Mosaica.

Untaxed Online Sales

The state will lose about $242 million in tax revenue from Amazon and other online retailers, according to the Michigan Treasury Department. The Associated Press reports:

States have trouble collecting sales taxes from sellers that don't have a physical presence within their borders. Amazon owns Grand-Haven-based audio book publisher Brilliance Audio, but Treasury spokesman Terry Stanton says Michigan considers it a separate entity. The Detroit Free Press reports that job listings suggest Amazon is planning a software development center in Detroit. That physical presence would give Michigan greater ability to collect sales taxes on Amazon sales to Michigan residents. Laws requiring the collection of online sales taxes will take effect in California, Indiana, Nevada and New Jersey.

Juvenile Justice

Two hearings this week at the state Capitol will address problems in Michigan’s criminal justice system. “The U.S. Supreme Court last month struck down juvenile sentencing laws in Michigan and 28 other states. The laws automatically send juveniles convicted of serious crimes to prison for life with no chance of parole. A state House panel begins hearings tomorrow on what changes need to be made to the state’s sentencing law in light of the ruling. Also this week, the House Judiciary Committee opens hearings on legal representation for low-income criminal defendants,” Rick Pluta reports.

Politics
8:41 am
Wed July 11, 2012

In this morning's Michigan news headlines...

Morning News Roundup, Wednesday, July 11th, 2012

McCotter Resignation Will Cost State Hundreds of Thousands of Dollars

A special primary to fill the seat left vacant by the sudden resignation last week of Republican Congressman Thad McCotter will take place the Wednesday after Labor Day. That’s a month following the regular primary date, and it’s expected to cost taxpayers several hundred thousand dollars. Rick Pluta reports:

Lt. Gov. Calley says state law and the U.S. Constitution require the state to fill the seat for the final few weeks of the year and Congress’s “lame duck” session. Calley says the special primary could have been coordinated with the August 8th vote if McCotter had made his decision a few weeks sooner.     The special election will coincide with the regular November election. The winner of the special election will serve until the end of the year and will represent the current 11th Congressional District. The winner of the regular election will represent the newly redrawn 11th to serve the term that begins in January.

Emergency Manager for Allen Park?

The city of Allen Park is one step closer to having an emergency manager. “Allen Park city officials actually requested the state do a preliminary financial review. That review found ‘probable fiscal stress.’ So, now, Lt. Gov. Brian Calley – because Governor Snyder is on vacation - has appointed a review team to take a deeper dive into the city’s finances. After that wraps up, the city will almost certainly face some type of state intervention under the emergency manager law. Flint, Pontiac, Benton Harbor, and Ecorse already have emergency managers.  Other cities, including Detroit, are under state-mandated consent agreements,” Sarah Cwiek reports.

Federal Report Released on Kalamazoo River Oil Spill

A scathing federal report on the 2010 Enbridge oil spill has just been released but it will probably not affect the company’s plans to build a new oil pipeline in Michigan. “The new pipeline would replace the one that broke in 2010 dumping more than 800,000 gallons of oil into the Kalamazoo River.  Federal regulators say poor decisions by Enbridge are to blame for the spill. The Michigan Public Service Commission must approve a new pipeline. State regulators are expected to decide by early next year whether to approve the project.  Enbridge expects the new pipeline could be complete by the end of 2013,” Steve Carmody reports.

Politics
8:24 am
Tue July 10, 2012

In this morning's Michigan news headlines...

Morning News Roundup, Tuesday, July 10th, 2012
Brother O'Mara Flickr

Ballots, Ballots Everywhere

Yesterday was the deadline for campaigns to file to get on the November ballot. “A measure that would require two-thirds super-majorities in the Legislature to raise taxes could be one of half a dozen ballot questions decided by voters in the November election. A campaign to stop a proposed new international bridge in Detroit also filed in the final hours before the deadline – as did one to protect union rights for home health workers who are paid by Medicaid. In total, if all of them are given the OK by elections officials, there would be six proposed amendments on the ballot in November. A referendum on Michigan’s emergency manager law could also be on the ballot if it survives a court challenge,” Rick Pluta reports.

Charter Schools Coming to Muskegon Heights

A private-for-profit-charter company will run the Muskegon Heights Public School district for the next five years. Lindsey Smith reports:

The state appointed emergency manager of the Muskegon Heights Public School district announced the deal yesterday afternoon. Mosaica Education runs more than 50 charter schools around the globe. Six of those schools are in Michigan.  The contract is signed but officials would not release it until the state signs off on the deal. So there’s a lot about the deal that we still don’t know – like how much Mosaica will make running the district.  Mosaica officials began interviewing candidates for teachers and staff right after yesterday’s announcement.

Kalamazoo Oil Spill Update

Federal regulators will release a report this morning that includes the reasons why an oil pipeline broke near Marshall, MI in July 2010. “Environmentalists want to see if problems with federal oversight of the pipeline industry will be cited in the report. The National Transportation Safety Board has spent the 23 months since the pipeline break analyzing everything from the pipeline company’s records to a section of the pipeline itself trying to determine why Line 6B ruptured. Enbridge has spent $765 million dollars cleaning up more than 800,000 gallons of crude oil from the spill,” Steve Carmody reports.

Politics
7:53 am
Mon July 9, 2012

In this morning's Michigan news headlines...

Morning News Roundup, Monday, July 9th, 2012
Brother O'Mara Flickr

Ballot-Mania

Ballot campaigns have until this afternoon to turn in their petitions to get questions in front of voters in November. Rick Pluta reports:

There could be half a dozen ballot questions on this November's ballot – or more. They would outlaw a gas drilling process called “fracking,” guarantee collective bargaining rights for health care workers, ban using state resources on a new Detroit international bridge, and require two-thirds super-majorities in the Legislature for tax increases. Ballot questions to boost renewable energy targets, to ban a right-to-work law in Michigan, and to allow eight new privately owned non-tribal casinos have already turned in petitions. The petition signatures still need to be checked and approved by state elections officials before they can go on the November ballot. Meanwhile, a referendum on Michigan’s emergency manager law is being challenged in court.

Auto Supplier Profits Falling

A new study finds that profits for U.S. auto suppliers are falling because suppliers’ fixed costs have risen so swiftly. “Auto suppliers now have as many employees, machinery and other fixed costs as they had before the recession. John Hoffecker, with consulting firm AlixPartners, says suppliers need to be cautious about expanding, because demand for cars may not rise in the near term as much as some forecasts predict. Some forecasts say annual car sales will reach 17 million in just a few years. Hoffecker thinks that number is overly optimistic, and car sales will stay under 16 million at least through 2015,” Tracy Samilton reports.

More Crops Threatened

Michigan's hot and dry spring and summer are threatening the state's corn crops. “Michigan State University Professor Jeff Andresen says it would take a dramatic reversal in weather over the next two weeks to avoid permanent damage to this year's production. He says low corn production will drive up the cost of products that contain corn sweetener. Ethanol prices could also rise. Andresen says the state's sweet corn crop -- which is almost ready for market -- could be affected by the lack of rain as well,” Rina Miller reports.

News Roundup
8:37 am
Wed June 27, 2012

In this morning's Michigan news headlines...

Morning News Roundup, Wednesday, June 27th, 2012
Brother O'Mara Flickr

Snyder Signs Budget

Governor Rick Snyder has signed the new state budget for the fiscal year that begins October 1st.  “It’s a spending plan he says leaves room for an election year tax rollback. The tax cut would be a small-but-welcome pivot from last year when Governor Snyder and the Republican-led Legislature shook up the state’s tax structure. The Michigan Business Tax disappeared, along with a dozen tax breaks for seniors, homeowners, and low-income households. Governor Snyder says the revenue picture is better this year, and a tax rollback offers unspecified benefits to the state’s economy.The governor is expected to sign bills to reduce the tax rate and increase the personal exemption in the next few days,” Rick Pluta reports.

Casino Expansion?

The push to allow more casinos in Michigan moved a step closer to the November ballot yesterday. Steve Carmody reports:

The group ’Citizens for More Michigan Jobs’ turned in more than a half-million signatures to the Secretary of State’s office. That’s about 200,000  more petition signatures than it needs to put the issue on the ballot. Emily Gerkin Palsrok, the group’s spokeswoman, says eight more casinos will generate thousands of jobs and boost state tax revenues. The operators of Michigan’s two dozen existing casinos oppose adding more gaming venues. They say Michigan’s gambling industry is already at a saturation point.

Ford Market Share

Ford Motor Company is hitting, or exceeding, most of its financial and sales targets. But the company will not meet one of its goals this year, Tracy Samilton reports:

Ford said last year it would increase its market share in the U.S. in 2012. Market share is a car company's percentage of total U.S. car sales. Now the company thinks it will  actually lose market share. Ford's Mark Fields says the company was unable to meet the higher than expected demand in the first quarter of this year in part because some factories didn't have enough workers. Fields says he thinks Ford will be able to fully meet demand for its cars by the fourth quarter of this year.

News Roundup
8:33 am
Tue June 26, 2012

In this morning's Michigan news headlines...

Morning News Roundup, Monday, June 26th, 2012
Brother O'Mara Flickr

SCOTUS Rules on Juvenile Punishment

The U.S. Supreme Court has struck down state laws like one in Michigan that automatically sends some juveniles to prison for life with no chance of parole. The court’s decision says the punishment is excessive, and violates the Eighth Amendment. “Michigan has more than 350 people in state prisons serving life without parole for crimes committed as juveniles. Deborah LaBelle is an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union. She says the ruling does not prohibit life without parole for juveniles. But she says the sentence should be very rare now that courts have to take into account factors like how big a role a child played in a murder, age at the time of the crime, and life circumstances,” Rick Pluta reports.

Detroit Layoffs

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing announced yesterday that by the end of July, Detroit will have 164 fewer firefighters. “Bing said in a statement that public safety is his top priority, but the city's fiscal realities have made protecting police and fire jobs untenable. Mayor Bing says he hopes a federal grant will allow the city to call back all but 56 of the laid-off firefighters. Detroit plans to make 2,600 job cuts citywide and slash a quarter-billion dollars in spending for the fiscal year that starts next week,” Sarah Hulett reports.

Fermi 2 Shutdown

The reactor at the Fermi 2 nuclear plan in Monroe County has been shut down, the Associated Press reports. From the AP:

The Monroe Evening News reports crews idled the plant around 1:30 p.m. Monday when its steam condenser lost the vacuum that pulls steam across a series of cooling tubes. The condenser turns steam back into water after it's used to spin the plant's turbines. Plant spokesman Guy Cerullo says Fermi 2 "is in a safe, stable condition." Cerullo says plant operator DTE Energy is investigating the reason for the pressure loss, and he didn't know when Fermi 2 would be back in operation. He tells The Blade of Toledo, Ohio, that DTE "will operate once" it's "sure everything is in good shape" and it "can safely operate the plant.”

News Roundup
8:34 am
Mon June 25, 2012

In this morning's Michigan news headlines...

Morning News Roundup, Monday, June 25th, 2012
Brother O'Mara Flickr

New Oil Pipeline in Marshall?

Enbridge Energy officials will to meet tonight with people in Marshall, Michigan to lay out their plans for a new oil pipeline. Steve Carmody reports:

Two years ago, an Enbridge pipeline ruptured near Marshall leaking more than 800,000 gallons of crude oil into the Kalamazoo River. Only last week state and federal officials announced the reopening of most of the Kalamazoo River, which has been closed to the public so crews could clean up the oil spill. Now, Enbridge wants to replace the old pipeline with a larger one that will carry more Canadian tar sands crude oil. The Michigan Public Service Commission must give its approval for the new pipeline. The commission isn’t expected to make a decision until sometime late this year or early next year.

Veterans’ Jobs Fair

There’s a jobs fair for veterans in Detroit this week that’s expected to draw thousands of job-seekers and business owners from across the Midwest. “The event is sponsored by the federal Veterans Administration, and co-hosted by the Michigan Department of Military and Veterans Affairs.  Jason Allen, an organizer of the fair, says thousands of Michigan veterans are returning from duty in the Middle East, and they are natural fits for a lot of employers. More than one in 10 Michigan veterans are out of work and looking for a job. That’s higher than the overall statewide unemployment rate of 8.5 percent,” Rick Pluta reports.

Detroit Fireworks Tonight

Big crowds are expected for the annual fireworks show over the Detroit River, the Associated Press reports. “Tens of thousands of people are expected to pack Belle Isle, Hart Plaza and the riverfront in downtown Detroit on Monday as well as along the water in Windsor, Ontario. Sheriff's deputies from Wayne, Oakland and Macomb County, along with the state police, are expected to support Detroit's public safety efforts during the event,” the AP reports.

Politics
8:56 am
Thu June 21, 2012

In this morning's Michigan news headlines...

Morning News Roundup, Thursday, June 21st, 2012
Brother O'Mara Flickr

EM Repeal

Supporters of a referendum to overturn Michigan’s emergency manager law are continuing to try to make sure that a question whether to repeal the law is on the November ballot. Sarah Cwiek reports:

Supports of the repeal filed an emergency motion with the Michigan Court of Appeals Wednesday to speed the process along.

After a complicated legal process, the Michigan Court of Appeals ruled the question should go on the ballot last week, but without specifying it could take “immediate effect.” So the order could sit for as long as 42 days.

Melvin “Butch” Hollowell, a lawyer with the pro-referendum group Stand Up for Democracy, says this asks the court to act within seven days to ensure the ballot question doesn’t get bogged down in the legal system.

But Bob LaBrant, a spokesman for the group Citizens for Fiscal Responsibility—which initially managed to keep the measure off the ballot because of a dispute over petition font size, calls the move “meritless.”

LaBrant says the group will file an appeal with the Michigan Supreme Court, possibly as soon as next week.

Casino Expansion?

A drive to allow eight new privately owned casinos in Michigan says it’s gathered more than enough signatures to qualify for the November ballot. Rick Pluta reports:

Michigan already has two dozen tribal casinos and three privately owned casinos in Detroit.

Emily Gerkin Palsrok is with Citizens for Michigan Jobs. She says there’s room for more casinos, which would bring more jobs and tax revenue.

"Our signature collection has gone very well. We’ve had a very positive response. We’re going to have well more than the 322,000 – which is the minimum we need, and we’re going to be wrapping up our process in the next couple of weeks," Palsrok says.

The amendment is opposed by the existing casino operators. A spokesman for the “Vote No” campaign says people should not be allowed to buy a business opportunity by amending the state constitution.

Auto Quality

U.S. automakers have not caught up to their Asian competitors when it comes to quality  -- but American vehicles are still highly rated. 

“A company that measures consumer satisfaction says Lexus drivers reported the fewest problems during the first three months of ownership. Dave Sargent is a vice president at J.D. Power and Associates. He says Jaguar and Porsche tied for second and General Motors' Cadillac came in third in the quality survey. Sargent says Chrysler as a whole improved significantly compared with last year. Ford, however, was flat in the quality rankings. Sargent says Ford wrestled with its My Ford Touch technology, although the company has made improvements,” Rina Miller reports.

News Roundup
9:10 am
Wed June 20, 2012

In this morning's Michigan news headlines...

Morning News Roundup, Wednesday, June 20th, 2012
Brother O'Mara Flickr

Romney Stumps in Mich.

Mitt Romney wrapped up a tour of small towns in Michigan last night. “Thousands of Romney supporters in shorts and sandals rallied on a beach near Holland, Michigan. With Lake Michigan as a backdrop, Romney used his speech to focus on how important a strong American economy and military are to the rest of the world. Romney hopes to win over his native state. Michigan hasn’t gone for a Republican presidential candidate in more than 20 years,” Lindsey Smith reports.

"K2" Crackdown

On July 1, the state will launch a crackdown to clear store shelves of a type of synthetic marijuana called K2. Governor Rick Snyder signed a law yesterday that outlaws K2 and other designer drugs. “K2 is made of plants sprayed with a chemical to create a high that’s similar to marijuana – but with more dangerous side effects such as seizures and speeding heart rates. Because it’s still legal and not controlled, it can be purchased by children. The new law signed by Governor Snyder not only outlaws K2, but it also outlaws any derivative drugs that might be created by tweaking the recipe. One of those tools is to give the state Department of Community Health director and the Board of Pharmacy emergency powers to outlaw new designer drugs as they emerge.

Asian Carp DNA

Illinois officials are downplaying the recent discovery of Asian Carp DNA in a waterway a short distance from Lake Michigan. Steve Carmody reports:

Asian Carp are an invasive species that experts fear could devastate fish native to the Great Lakes. The Army Corps of Engineers routinely tests Illinois waterways for signs of the carp. One carp was caught a few years ago, just a few miles from Lake Michigan. Chris McCloud is a spokesman for the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. He says a rapid response team spent two days searching the waterways for any signs of carp. McCloud says a second round of DNA testing is underway. He notes that past positive DNA tests have not led to the discovery of live Asian Carp in the Chicago area. Three electric barriers separate Chicago area waterways from carp-infested rivers and streams to the south.

News Roundup
9:01 am
Thu June 7, 2012

In this morning's Michigan news headlines...

Morning News Roundup, Thursday, June 7th, 2012
Brother O'Mara Flickr

House Passes Tax Rollback

The state House has approved an election-year tax reduction. The measures now head to the state Senate. Michigan Public Radio’s Rick Pluta reports:

Last year, the Legislature delayed an income tax rollback. That helped balance the budget and pay for eliminating the Michigan Business Tax. This year, the Legislature wants to move up a reduction in the tax rate and increase the personal exemption. Republican Representative Jud Gilbert chairs the House Tax Policy Committee. He says it’s time for individual taxpayers to benefit from the state’s economic recovery. “I kind of take exception to the idea that this is somehow political pandering, election year politics,” Gilbert said. But, Democrats say that’s exactly what this tax cut is. And they say it’s paltry compared to the loss of a dozen deductions and exemptions last year that shifted more of the tax burden to low- and middle-income families.

Snyder Recall Over

Just two days after the failed attempt to recall Republican Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin, an attempt to recall Governor Rick Snyder has ended. In an early morning press release, the group Michigan Rising says it's ending its effort to recall Snyder after months of trying to gather signatures to put the question on the state’s November ballot. "It has become abundantly clear that Michigan Rising was not going accomplish its goal of recalling Governor Snyder.  The results in Wisconsin crystalized how difficult a task it is to recall a sitting governor,” the press release states. There has never been a successful Gubernatorial recall in the state’s history.

Ambassador Bridge Owner Ramps Up Spending

A new report from a Washington-based watchdog group finds Ambassador Bridge owner Matty Moroun is ramping up political spending as plans for a new, public  bridge from Detroit to Windsor, Ontario move forward.  Sarah Cwiek reports:

The group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington--or CREW--tracked campaign donations to members of Congress from Moroun’s family, company, and associates. It found well over a -million dollars in donations from 2004 through 2010. Melanie Sloan is executive director of CREW Executive Director. She says the Morouns are targeting Michigan members of Congress. An Ambassador Bridge spokesman dismisses the report as “misguided,” and accuses CREW of deliberately skewing facts and context.

News Roundup
8:06 am
Wed June 6, 2012

In this morning's Michigan news headlines...

Morning News Roundup, Wednesday, June 6th, 2012
Brother O'Mara Flickr

Budget Heads to Snyder

The state’s budget for schools, universities, and community colleges is on its way to Governor Rick Snyder. “This budget is a stark contrast to last year – when lawmakers passed widespread spending cuts, and many businesses saw a tax reduction. Democrats complain this budget does not make up for last year’s cuts to education. Governor Rick Snyder says he’s pleased the state put money into its rainy day savings, and was able to offer modest increases to schools and universities. The new budget will require universities to meet performance standards to qualify for their full funding. It could also penalize Michigan State University for requiring students to carry health coverage or buy it through the school. The spending plan also sets aside money for an election year income tax cut,” Rick Pluta reports.

Union Dues

A lawyer says a Detroit federal judge plans to block a new state law that stops school districts from deducting union dues from paychecks, the Associated Press reports. From the AP:

Union lawyer Mark Cousens says Judge Denise Page Hood ruled from the bench Tuesday and plans to issue an injunction today. The law took effect in late March but doesn't affect districts that still have active contracts with teachers and other union-represented employees. Unions say the law was retaliation by Republican lawmakers and GOP Gov. Rick Snyder after unions began collecting signatures to protect collective bargaining in the state Constitution. The law passed by only two votes in the House and two in the Senate. Supporters say teachers and other school employees can pay dues and fees without payroll deduction.

Bus Ridership Increases

Several cities in Michigan saw large increases in bus ridership in the first quarter of this year. But the state's largest city saw a decline. “Bus ridership on "The Rapid" jumped 12 percent in the Grand Rapids metro area. Ann Arbor's bus system saw a 9 percent increase, which officials also attribute to better service.  But in Detroit, bus ridership fell six and a half percent.  That's in contrast to almost every other major U.S. city, where bus ridership grew in the first quarter. Detroit's system is notorious for buses that don't show up or that break down,” Tracy Samilton reports.

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