morning news roundup

News Roundup
9:12 am
Fri March 2, 2012

In this morning's news...

Morning News Roundup, Friday, March 2nd, 2012
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It’s a Delegate-Situation

The Michigan Republican Party has awarded both of Michigan’s statewide at-large delegates to the Republican national convention this summer to Mitt Romney. “The decision by the Michigan Republican Party’s credentials committee was based on Romney’s slim majority of the popular vote in Tuesday’s primary. But some people are crying foul. They say Rick Santorum’s close runner-up finish entitles him to one of the at-large delegates... A spokesman for the Rick Santorum campaign says the decision calls into question the “legitimacy” of the state’s Republican Party leadership,” Rick Pluta reports. The decision means Romney will be awarded 16 of the state’s delegates; Santorum will receive 14.

Money, Money, Money… Money

Meanwhile, a new report from the Michigan Campaign Finance Network shows Super PACS outspent the candidates in the state's presidential primary. Steve Carmody reports:

Winner Mitt Romney’s campaign spent one and a half million dollars on TV ads during the primary campaign. A pro-Romney Super Pac spent nearly two million dollars during the campaign. Runner-up Rick Santorum spent just under a million dollars, while a pro-Santorum Super Pac spent over a million dollars. Breaking down the numbers, Romney and his Super Pac spent about $8.45 for each vote the former Massachusetts governor received in the primary. Santorum and his Super Pac spent about $5.81 per primary vote in Michigan. Third place finisher Ron Paul spent a relatively frugal 48 cents per vote.

EM for Muskegon Heights Public Schools?

A review team will hold a meeting in Lansing this morning to take a look into the finances of the Muskegon Public Schools. “The district in western Michigan has a budget deficit of $8.5 million for the current year. The state says this morning's meeting is being held in accordance with Michigan's Open Meetings Act,” the Associated Press reports. The findings of the review team could lead to an emergency manager being appointed to the district. The district has run a deficit for at least six years in a row.

News Roundup
8:37 am
Thu March 1, 2012

In this morning's news...

Emergency Manager Law Gets a Challenge

Opponents are a step closer to a public vote on Michigan’s law that gives state-appointed emergency managers authority over local governments. They filed petitions yesterday that would put a referendum on the law on the state’s November ballot. “State elections officials have 60 days to determine if the ballot drive collected enough valid signatures of registered voters. To succeed, they need more than 161,000 signatures. If the petitions are certified, the law will be suspended until after the election in November. There are five Michigan cities or school districts currently under the control of emergency managers,” Rick Pluta reports.

Concerns over Michigan Nuclear Power Plant

Officials from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission answered questions about safety violations at the Palisades Nuclear Power Plant last night. Lindsey Smith reports:

Officials with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission were trying to ease the community’s concerns after 5 unplanned shutdowns last year (4 we’re reactor shutdowns). During the three hour long meeting regulators detailed safety violations and actions the agency will take this year to further scrutinize the plant. They reassured repeatedly that the plant is operating safely. Entergy officials chose not to attend this meeting hosted voluntarily by the NRC. However, the company must attend a normal, annual meeting with the NRC in South Haven on March 21st.

Winter Weather

A winter storm has left as much as 16 inches of snow in parts of the Upper Peninsula. “The storm that hit Tuesday eased by Wednesday afternoon, but not before leaving more than a foot of snow in parts of northern Michigan. The National Weather Service says 10 to 16 inches fell in the Iron Mountain area, while the Ironwood area got up to 14 inches and the Menominee area up to 13 inches,” the Associated Press reports.

News Roundup
8:54 am
Tue February 28, 2012

In this morning's news...

Morning News Roundup, Tuesday, February 28th, 2012
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Primary Day Has Arrived

After weeks of counting down the days, Michigan's presidential primary has arrived. Polls are open until 8 p.m. and Michigan voters will find eleven Republicans on the GOP presidential ballot and President Obama, uncontested, on the Democratic ballot. Rick Santorum, Mitt Romney and Ron Paul all held rallies yesterday across the state but, even with all the media attention, the Secretary of State’s office is predicting only between 15-20 percent of the state’s registered voters will turn out to the polls today.

Gas Prices Continue to Rise

Motorists are spending $4 for a gallon of regular gas in Troy and Okemos and other parts of Michigan may soon join them, Steve Carmody reports. From Carmody:

Michigan’s gasoline prices shot up 12 cents on Monday. Dustin Coupal is a co-founder of GasBuddy.com. He says increasing world demand for oil is pushing Michigan’s gasoline prices closer to record high territory. According to GasBuddy.com, Michigan’s average regular gas price is around $3.80 a gallon. The state set a record last May, when the average price hit $4.26 a gallon.

Detroit Violence

Mayor Dave Bing is pleading with Detroiters to “stop the madness” after another violent weekend in the city. Sarah Cwiek reports:

Bing’s plea comes after a shooting on the city’s east side left a six-year-old boy critically injured. Detroit Police have arrested a pair of 15-year-olds in the case. Chief Ralph Godbee says the two were on a carjacking spree when the shooting happened. Even crime-hardened Detroiters have been taken aback by the indiscriminate nature of recent violence. Two Detroit children have died violently in the past month, both in shootings that appeared to stem from petty disputes. The city is also reeling from news that a 14-year-old murdered his mother as she slept.

News Roundup
9:58 am
Mon February 27, 2012

In this morning's news...

Morning News Roundup, Monday, February 26th, 2012
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GOP Candidates Making Final Stops in MI

Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum and Ron Paul will all continue their campaigning across Michigan today ahead of the state’s presidential primary tomorrow. After a rally this morning in Rockford, Romney stops in Albion this afternoon and then travels to Royal Oak this evening where he’ll be joined by Governor Snyder. His main rival, Rick Santorum, will spend part of the morning addressing the Livonia/Farmington Hills Chamber of Commerce, then travels to Lansing for an afternoon rally and stops in Kalamazoo this evening. Meanwhile, Paul, who just began campaigning in the state this past weekend, has a visit to Detroit on his campaign schedule.

Voter Turnout

Predicting just how many voters will turn up at the polls tomorrow for the primary is tricky business, Steve Carmody reports. “We don’t have a turnout estimate at this point because it is a presidential primary and they do vary greatly from cycle to cycle,” Fred Woodhams, a spokesman for the Secretary of State’s office, told Carmody. “Woodhams says August primaries generally bring in about 18 to 20 percent of eligible voters. But then again that’s August. Adding to the uncertainty is a host of local issues which may, or may not, boost turnout. Voters in parts of Oakland and Genesee Counties are electing people to vacant state house seats,” Carmody reports.

Meeting on West MI Nuclear Power

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission will hold a public meeting to discuss safety violations at the Palisades Nuclear Power Plant in South Haven this week.  “The plant had five unplanned shutdowns last year. As a result, the NRC downgraded the plant’s safety performance rating. Now it’s one of only four plants in the country with such a bad safety rating. 'It is not a routine meeting for the agency,' said NRC spokeswoman Viktoria Mitlyng.  The meeting will run from 6 p.m. to -8:30 p.m. on Wednesday night in South Haven,” Lindsey Smith reports.

News Roundup
8:59 am
Fri February 24, 2012

In this morning news...

Morning News Roundup, Friday, February 24th, 2012
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4 Days To Go: MI Presidential Primary

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney will speak at Ford Field today in Detroit as part of a speech to the Detroit Economic Club. The Detroit Free Press has an interesting article detailing how the Romney campaign and the DEC plan to make the stadium appear more crowded for the event. Meanwhile, Rick Santorum plans to be in Walled Lake and St. Clair Shores today and then travel to Troy tomorrow. Ron Paul has announced several visits throughout the state this weekend, including a stop at Central Michigan University tomorrow. Michigan's presidential primary is Tuesday.

Highland Park

The Highland Park school board has cleared the way for Governor Snyder to quickly re-appoint an emergency manager, Sarah Cwiek reports. From Cwiek:

The board chose not to appeal the state’s finding of a financial emergency in the district. It was the second time a state review team made that finding. But the emergency manager Governor Snyder had already appointed, Jack Martin, had to step down to comply with a court ruling that voided the appointment process. So the state had to quickly re-do the whole process this week. The board fought the decision and lost the first time, but decided not to appeal this time… In the meantime, the state has approved an emergency aid package that should keep Highland Park schools open--at least temporarily--and get teachers paid, though not until next week at the earliest. But that money would also follow students if they choose to leave the district.

Winter Weather

It appears winter might finally be making an appearance in Southern Michigan. A winter storm, “is bringing wet snow, slippery roads and school closings to southern Michigan, with up to 9 inches forecast in parts of the state. The National Weather Service says winter storm warnings were in effect for much of the southern Lower Peninsula on Friday. About 5 to 8 inches was expected in areas including Grand Rapids, Lansing, Kalamazoo and Battle Creek. Parts of southeast Michigan could get up to 8 inches,” the Associated Press reports.

Morning News Roundup
7:29 am
Mon February 13, 2012

In this morning's news...

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Governor Rick Snyder to address Detroit Economic Club today
 

Governor Rick Snyder is set to address the Detroit Economic Club.  The speech scheduled for this afternoon comes four days after the release of his budget.  The first-term Republican unveiled a budget proposal on Thursday that includes increased money for public schools and universities, additional cash in tax revenue sharing payments for local governments and a push toward hiring more police officers.

Trial opens two years after feds break up militia
 

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News Roundup
8:54 am
Wed February 8, 2012

In this morning's news...

Morning News Roundup, Wednesday, February 8th, 2012
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Presidential Candidates Turn Focus on Michigan

After Rick Santorum’s sweep of last night’s primary and caucuses in Missouri, Minnesota and Colorado, the candidates running to become the next Republican presidential nominee are setting their sights on Michigan. The state holds the nation’s next primary, along with Arizona, on February 28th (Maine holds its caucus this Saturday). Mitt Romney’s campaign has announced that the former Massachusetts Governor will speak at Ford Field in Detroit four days before the primary and Santorum told a cable TV news program this morning that his campaign will “plant our flag” in the mitten-state. Meanwhile, President Obama was in Michigan on January 27th speaking about college affordability on the University of Michigan campus.

Foreclosure Settlement

Michigan is expected to reap a half billion dollars from a settlement between 40 states and five of the nation’s largest mortgage lenders, Steve Carmody reports. From Carmody:

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. Part of the deal involves helping homeowners who owe more than their homes are worth, to refinance their mortgages. The exact size of the national settlement is unclear.

Increased Sales Tax?

Michigan voters may soon decide whether the state should scrap the nineteen-cents-per-gallon tax on gas at the pump in favor of a sales tax increase of 1 percent. “The change would help generate more money for transportation funding. A proposal to put the question to voters is gaining momentum with some legislative leaders. That change would require a constitutional amendment and put the question to voters on the ballot. Republican state Senator Howard Walker sponsored the measure. He said if taxpayers are asked to pay more to fix the state’s roads, they should have a voice,” Laura Weber reports. Governor Snyder says the state needs more than one billion dollars in additional transportation funding to fix the state’s crumbling roads and bridges.

News Roundup
8:30 am
Tue February 7, 2012

In this morning's news...

Morning News Roundup, Tuesday, February 7th, 2012
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Open Meetings for EM

An Ingham County Court Judge has ruled that the state review team currently looking into Detroit’s finances must meet in public. Sarah Cwiek reports:

The ruling is a victory for opponents of Public Act 4, the state law that strengthens the powers of emergency managers in fiscally-distressed cities. The review team, led by State Treasurer Andy Dillon, is going through the review process that could lead Governor Snyder t0 appoint an emergency manager in Detroit. It’s also a victory for Robert Davis, the Highland Park school board member and union activist who filed the lawsuit just last week. Davis argued that the state review process preceding the appointment of an emergency manager violated the Open Meetings Act, because the review team meets behind closed doors.

Moroun Court Update

The Michigan Court of Appeals ruled yesterday that Wayne County Circuit Judge Prentis Edwards was, “within his rights to send the owner of the Ambassador Bridge to jail for disregarding court orders but should have made it clear what steps the 84-year-old billionaire businessman could take to win his freedom,” the Associated Press reports. On January 12th, Judge Edwards ordered, Manuel “Moroun and associate Dan Stamper to jail for repeatedly failing to follow his orders to work with the state and complete a redevelopment project on the Detroit side of the bridge to Windsor, Ontario. The appeals court ordered them freed pending its ruling. Edwards holds another hearing Thursday,” the AP explains.

Hutaree Jury Selection

Jury selection is scheduled to begin today in the case of members of a Christian militia group accused of plotting attacks on Michigan police officers. “Members of the Hutaree Militia are accused of plotting to murder a police officer. Then attack the officer’s funeral procession, in order to kill more law enforcement officers. Authorities arrested nine members of the group in March  2010,” Steve Camordy reports. The trial is expected to last six to ten weeks.

News Roundup
8:52 am
Mon February 6, 2012

In this morning's news...

Morning News Roundup, Monday, February 6th, 2012
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Homes Sales Prices Plunging

Michigan home sellers saw prices drop significantly in the last three months and one analyst predicts it’s a trend that shows few signs of stopping, Steve Carmody reports. “Clear Capitol reports Michigan home sale prices between October to January dropped by 5.3% compared to a year ago. And the overall trend is even worse. Alex Villacorta, director of Research and Analytics at Clear Capitol, says home sale prices in Detroit were down nearly 12 percent… Villacorta says other markets around the country hit hard by the foreclosure crisis are showing signs of recovery,” Carmody reports.

Open Meetings?

A hearing is planned for today over a lawsuit that claims the state-appointed team that’s reviewing Detroit’s finances should be subject to the state’s Open Meetings Act, the Associated Press reports. From the AP:

The lawsuit was filed by Robert Davis, a Highland Park school board member and union staff representative with AFSCME Council 25. He says the Detroit review team violated the Open Meetings Act by meeting in "secret." Gov. Rick Snyder's administration says the financial review teams aren't subject to the Open Meetings Act. The Detroit review team is expected to report to Snyder by month's end.

Chrysler, Detroit Ad Gets Some Love

Chrysler premiered a powerful new advertisement last night during last night's Super Bowl. Actor Clint Eastwood narrated the two minute ad that promotes a Detroit comeback. From the Detroit News:

For the second year, Chrysler took a chance, skipping traditional auto marketing to focus on a broader message to stand out and create buzz in a Super Bowl jammed with auto ads from a dozen automakers… Chrysler's halftime ad featured Eastwood talking about the challenges the U.S. faces — a follow-up to last year's ‘Born of Fire’ ad that featured Eminem and Detroit's struggles and has been seen more than 21 million times on YouTube. It coined the phase "Imported from Detroit" and sparked a surge of pride in the Motor City.

News Roundup
8:58 am
Fri February 3, 2012

In this morning's news...

Morning News Roundup, Friday, February 3rd, 2012
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Bing, Unions Reach Tentative Deal

The city of Detroit and most of its unions have reached a tentative deal over worker concessions. But, as Sarah Cwiek reports, it’s unclear whether the deal can achieve its main goal: keeping an emergency manager out of the city. Cwiek explains:

The agreement covers most of the city’s 48 unions. Detroit Mayor Dave Bing calls it ‘the first meaningful step in achieving the necessary concessions and structural changes’ to right the city’s finances—and stop the ongoing state review process that could lead to an emergency manager. It’s unclear at this point how much the deal would save the city...  Another concern for city officials is the fact that it doesn’t include the city’s police and fire unions. Public safety makes up the biggest chunk of Detroit’s budget.

MI Dems Want Ethics Reform

State House Democrats say it’s time to beef up Michigan’s campaign finance and political ethics laws. “House Democrats unveiled a set of proposals that include a constitutional amendment that would require corporations to disclose political and lobbying activity, and a measure that would prevent state lawmakers from being lobbyists in the state for two years after a political term. Democratic House Minority Leader Richard Hammel said their measure addresses one of Governor Rick Snyder’s key concerns for 2012,” Laura Weber reports.

(Another) Kalamazoo River Spill

A suspected diesel fuel spill has been found in the Kalamazoo River at Battle Creek, the Associated Press reports. From the AP:

The Battle Creek Enquirer reports the spill was found Wednesday in a drainage ditch that's fed by storm sewers. Officials in the southern Michigan city searched Thursday for the source. Brian Kelly, an on-scene coordinator for the Environmental Protection Agency, estimated that several hundred gallons of suspected diesel fuel was in the system that empties into the river. Crews responding to the spill placed absorbent material across a stream between the storm sewer and the river.

News Roundup
9:03 am
Thu February 2, 2012

In this morning's news...

Morning News Roundup, Thursday, February 2nd, 2012
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Right-to-Work in Indiana

A law signed yesterday makes Indiana the first right-to-work state in the industrial Midwest. That has stirred discussions in Michigan on the topic, Rick Pluta reports. From Pluta:

Governor Snyder was asked for his thoughts on right to work as he testified in Washington D.C. before a congressional committee yesterday… Snyder did not rule out Michigan becoming a right-to-work state sometime in the future, but says that debate should not take place in 2012. The governor says roads, public transit, and connecting the chronically unemployed to jobs are all higher priorities. But Republican state Representative Mike Shirkey says having a right-to-work state next door in Indiana could force the governor and the Legislature to confront the question. Shirkey says he hopes to have a right-to-work bill introduced before the Legislature begins its spring break in May.

Flint EM

Residents of Flint will have a chance to hear directly from their city’s Emergency Manager this evening. Steve Carmody reports:

An emergency manager has been calling the shots at Flint city hall since the beginning of December. During that time, Michael Brown has limited the power of the city’s elected leaders, fired some city employees and come up with a plan to lift Flint out of its financial crisis… Tonight is the first of nine community meetings that Brown plans to hold during the next month to share his vision and take input from Flint residents. Flint is facing an $11 million dollar deficit this year and the city’s cumulative deficit could be more than twice that.

Six More Weeks of Winter

The famous groundhog known as Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow this morning which means a prediction of six more weeks of winter. But, here in Michigan, winter has meant mild temperatures and little snow. “The groundhog made his ‘prediction’ on Gobbler's Knob, a tiny hill in the town for which he's named about 65 miles northeast of Pittsburgh. Thursday's ceremony is largely that: Phil's prediction is determined ahead of time by the Inner Circle, a group which dons top hats and tuxedos and decides in advance what the groundhog will predict,” the Associated Press reports.

News Roundup
9:04 am
Mon January 30, 2012

In this morning's news...

Snyder: No Right-to-Work Pressure

Governor Snyder says he doesn’t feel pressured to make Michigan a right-to-work state – even though Indiana appears poised to approve a right-to-work measure this week, Laura Weber reports. “Snyder says he still considers the right-to-work debate to be too divisive. Indiana could become the first right-to-work state in the industrial Midwest this week. Right-to-work supporters say once that happens, Indiana could take business and jobs away from Michigan. Those against right-to-work say it does not attract the kinds of jobs and industry Michigan wants,” Weber reports.

Kindergarten Funding Changes

Beginning in September, a new law in Michigan will mean public schools in the state must offer all-day kindergarten to receive full funding for each kindergarten pupil, the Associated Press reports. From the AP:

The Detroit News reports that the rules were approved last year by the Legislature. The state this month updated school districts about the half- and full-day options as well as the financial consequences. The newspaper says districts still may offer half-day programs but will lose half of their per-pupil funding for each student. Most districts get an average of $7,810 in state aid for each child and are struggling to make up for other cuts. Many districts changed to full-day kindergarten in recent years in anticipation of the change. But others are grappling with the financial challenges of the switch.

Want to Vote? Act Quickly.

It’s the last day to register to vote in the state’s February 28th presidential primary. “According to the office of the Michigan Secretary of State, applicants must be at least 18 years old and be U.S. citizens. Applicants must also be residents of Michigan and of the city or township in which they wish to register. Registration can be done by mail, at their county, city or township clerk's office or visiting any Secretary of State office. Those seeking an absentee ballot by mail must submit their application by 2 p.m. Feb. 25. Absentee ballots can be obtained in person anytime through 4 p.m. Feb. 27,” the Detroit News reports. And, you can find out everything you wanted to know about Michigan’s presidential primary (and more) here.

News Roundup
8:49 am
Thu January 26, 2012

In this morning's news...

Morning News Roundup, Thursday, January 26th, 2012
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Cyber Schools

The debate over K-through-12 cyber education is ramping up at the state Capitol. Laura Weber reports:

A state House panel is considering a measure that would allow more "cyber schools" to operate in Michigan. There are currently two cyber schools authorized in Michigan. Former state schools Superintendent Tom Watkins supports allowing more cyber schools to operate in the state. But he cautioned lawmakers to take careful consideration of how well individual schools are performing. Those opposed to more cyber schools in the state say not enough is known about their success rates. Governor Rick Snyder says he wants traditional public schools to incorporate more cyber-learning. But he has not called for more online-only schools.

Preparing for POTUS

President Obama is scheduled to speak about college affordability at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor tomorrow morning and “hundreds of students braved the darkness and cold weather to get tickets for President Obama's speech... Obama is scheduled to arrive in the Detroit area tonight as part of a tour promoting his 2012 economic policy goals,” the Associated Press reports. Michigan Radio will have live, special coverage of the President’s address tomorrow morning. The President’s speech is expected to begin shortly after 9:30 a.m.

That’s a WHOLE Lot of Candles

Michigan is celebrating a big birthday today… the state is turning 175. In 1837, Michigan became the 26th state to be admitted to the union. People are sending good wishes to the state via twitter using the hashtag #mibirthday and Governor Snyder has declared the day, “Michigan Statehood Day.” For a great historical read, check out Michigan Radio Political Analyst Jack Lessenberry’s piece on Michigan’s “boy governor” Stevens T. Mason.

News Roundup
8:56 am
Wed January 25, 2012

In this morning's news...

Morning News Roundup, Wednesday, January 25th, 2012
Brother O'Mara Flickr

GOP Senatorial Debate

Six Republican candidates who are hoping to unseat U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow in November attended a debate last night organized by the Ottawa County Patriots and a huge range of issues were discussed. “Immigration, abortion, gun rights, right to work laws, Medicaid and Medicare, social security, the EPA and other federal departments, President Obama’s health care law, military spending, participation in the United Nations, the federal tax code, embryonic stem cell research, Sharia Law, Supreme Court appointments, energy policy, and the recently repealed ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ military policy,” Lindsey Smith reports. Former West Michigan Congressman Pete Hoekstra; Roscommon businessman Peter Konetchy; pastor and former Kent County probate judge Randy Hekman; Chuck Marino, and Scotty Bowman all attended. Attorney Clark Durant, a charter schools advocate, could not attend.

State Income Tax Cut?

A proposal at the state Capitol would cut the Michigan income tax rate to 3.9 percent over the next five years, down from the current rate of 4.35 percent. Laura Weber reports:

Republican state Senator Jack Brandenburg sponsored the measure. He said people in Michigan were promised the reduction during messy budget and tax deals made in 2007. Brandenburg said he told his Republican colleagues about his plan earlier this month.He said an estimated $450 million budget surplus convinced him it’s a good time to propose the rollback. Republican Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville cautiously supports the proposal, but he said he’s hesitant to spend money that could be added to the state’s rainy day savings fund. Democrats say surplus should be used to restore cuts made to K-12 schools and higher education.

MI Redistricting Plans Get OK

The U.S. Justice Department has given the OK to Michigan’s new redistricting plans, the Associated Press reports. From the AP:

Michigan and 15 other states need federal approval for some or all redistricting plans. The Republican-controlled Legislature approved the plans for redrawing U.S. House and state legislative districts, and Republican Gov. Rick Snyder signed them. In November, Republican [Attorney General Bill] Schuette asked U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., to approve the plan, and the Justice Department said Jan. 12 it doesn't object. On Dec. 8, labor and civil rights groups sued to challenge new boundaries for Detroit seats in the state House. The suit says the new map forces black incumbents to run against each other and dilutes the political representation of Hispanics. That case continues.

News Roundup
8:31 am
Tue January 24, 2012

In this morning's news...

Morning News Roundup, Tuesday, January 24th, 2012
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Obama to Michigan

The White House has announced plans for President Obama to visit Detroit and Ann Arbor on Thursday and Friday. The president will talk about, “college affordability at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. The Michigan stops are part of a five-state swing by Obama following Tuesday night's State of the Union address. The president will discuss proposals from the address in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and Phoenix on Wednesday and in Las Vegas and Denver on Thursday. This is Obama's second appearance at the university as president. He was the May 2010 commencement speaker,” the Associated Press reports.

Child Welfare

The Michigan League for Human Services has released their annual report on how Michigan’s children are faring. Laura Weber reports:

About one-fourth of kids in Michigan live in poverty. That’s according to the Kids Count report from the Michigan League for Human Services. The report says the percent of kids living in poverty and “extreme poverty” has risen dramatically in the past decade, as has the rate of kids who qualify for free or reduced-price school lunches. Jane Zehnder-Merrell is with the League. She says poverty is pervasive throughout the state. But, she says, the good news from the report is teen births continue to decline. The number of teen deaths and the rate of high school dropouts are also declining.

Detroit Districts

Detroit officials are fast-tracking a process to change the way Council members represent the city, Sarah Cwiek reports. From Cwiek:

Detroit voters approved a plan in November to elect seven of nine City Council members by district, when they approved a new city charter. Currently, all nine members represent the city at-large. The City Council is scheduled to choose one of four redistricting proposals by February 17th.  Several current Council members all live in what will likely become a single district. If they seek re-election, those members will either need to face off directly against a current colleague or move to another district by May.

News Roundup
8:54 am
Mon January 23, 2012

In this morning's news...

Morning News Roundup, Monday, January 23rd, 2012
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Winter Weather

Parts of Lower Michigan are seeing some severe winter weather this morning. “The National Weather Service says freezing rain could make travel hazardous across much of Michigan's western and central Lower Peninsula as temperatures rise out of the deep freeze that has been gripping the area.  It says fog and drizzle could combine to create near-zero visibility at times in the early morning hours of Monday,” the Associated Press reports.

Detroit City Council Trying to Avoid EM

The Detroit City Council is continuing their efforts to avoid a state-appointed Emergency Manager but, as Sarah Cwiek reports, the city’s elected leaders, “are still struggling to come up with a unified plan to avoid a state takeover—even as a state review team continues work in the city. The Detroit City Council has been critical of Mayor Dave Bing’s proposal to save more than $100 million this fiscal year to prevent the city from running out of cash... The Council has its own list of suggestions. But in the end, they can do little more than offer them to the Mayor. Still, Council President Charles Pugh says both sides agree that the state should offer some kind of help to keep Detroit solvent. But he says that needs to be in exchange for a viable plan to restructure the city and wipe out its deficit.”

2012 Senatorial Debate

A tea party group in West Michigan is hosting a major Republican forum this week. Lindsey Smith reports:

All but one candidate running to become the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate are expected to appear at a debate in West Michigan this week. The nominee will face incumbent Senator Debbie Stabenow in the general election in November. Jim Chiodo, President of the Ottawa County Patriots, the group hosting the forum, says attorney Clark Durant will not attend. Chiodo admits that’s mostly his fault for not getting back to Durant promptly. The candidates will be asked to talk about energy issues, national security, and individuals’ civil rights. The audience will get a chance to ask questions too. The forum is free and open to the public.

News Roundup
8:56 am
Fri January 20, 2012

In this morning's news...

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

GM Retakes 'World's Best Seller' Title

General Motors has once again become the world’s best-selling automaker. “For those of you keeping score at home, it's GM 9,030,000 to Toyota's 7,900,000 for 2011.Those are 'round' numbers for the number of vehicles sold in 2011 by the automakers from the Associated Press,” Mark Brush reports. But, as the Associated Press explains, “being the world's top-selling automaker doesn't mean much for the bottom line. But GM retaking the title is an example of how far the company has come since its 2009 bankruptcy.”

Snyder to Address Business Leaders

Governor Snyder is scheduled to speak in front of state business leaders today in Detroit. He’s expected to address immigration policy. “Snyder announced in his State of the State address on Wednesday that he’s forged an alliance with unions and businesses to lobby Congress to relax some immigration laws. Snyder wants to keep educated immigrants in the country. Mike Finney is the CEO of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and one of the governor’s top advisors on business issues. He says right now immigration rules force out many potential entrepreneurs after they earn advanced degrees from Michigan colleges and universities,” Rick Pluta reports.

Health Insurance Exchange Hearings

The state House began hearings yesterday on the creation of federally mandated health insurance exchanges in Michigan. Laura Weber reports:

State lawmakers will decide whether Michigan should create a website that would allow people to comparison shop for health insurance. Most people who showed up used the event to voice their opinion on the federal Affordable Care Act. The online health care exchange is required under the new health care law, which is why many Republicans at the state Capitol have been hesitant to approve the website. Those who support national health care say health care is too expensive and too few people receive adequate care.

News Roundup
8:55 am
Wed January 18, 2012

In this morning's news...

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

SOS Tonight

Governor Snyder delivers his second State of the State address tonight and, as the Associated Press reports, “there’ been no shortage of proposals from groups about what needs attention. A coalition of workers' rights groups asks for less help for business, more money for schools and more weeks of unemployment benefits.” State House and Senate members, Lt. Governor Brian Calley as well as State Supreme Court justices will be in attendance. Michigan Radio will have special coverage of the address, as well as the Democratic response, beginning at 7 p.m.

Unions Unhappy with New Legislation

A package of Republican bills in the state Legislature would boost penalties for public workers who go on strike, Rick Pluta reports. “The legislation would also let employers sue striking workers who get in the way of their businesses, and make it more complicated for unions to get dues deducted from employee paychecks. The state House Oversight, Reform, and Ethics Committee opened hearings on the package yesterday. Union leaders say it’s been years since there’s been any kind of public employee strike in Michigan, and they say the measures are really just meant to harass unions. Hearings on the bills are expected to continue next week,” Pluta reports.

Flint Emergency Manager

The city of Flint now has a plan to fix its ‘financial crisis,’ Steve Carmody reports. But, the plan has several major hurdles to overcome:

Emergency Manager Mike Brown’s 10 page plan outlines Flint’s deteriorating financial condition: An $11 million budget deficit this year, long term declines in population, an eroding tax base.  The plan also charts a course out of the ‘financial crisis’ the governor declared last year. It calls for restructuring collective bargaining agreements with city unions and merging or eliminating some city departments. Emergency Manager Mike Brown calls the plan, “a work in progress”. He says implementing it will be a “most difficult challenge.”

News Roundup
8:52 am
Tue January 17, 2012

In this morning's news...

Morning News Roundup, Tuesday, January 17th, 2012

March to Snyder’s Home

Some 800-1,000 people protested outside of Governor Snyder’s neighborhood yesterday evening in Ann Arbor. They were demonstrating against the state’s controversial emergency manager law. “The rally started  on the eastern edge of Ann Arbor, and about a mile-and-a-half from Governor Snyder’s house. Protesters marched, chanted and sang, hoisted signs and lit candles. They wound in a long line through the tree-lined neighborhood of gently rolling hills spotted with the occasional large house. They were greeted outside of Snyder’s gated community by the governor’s chief of staff, Dennis Muchmore. Muchmore told the protestors that the governor wants to work with people living in financially strained communities, but that the cities must also be protected from insolvency,” Laura Weber reports.

Fuel Economy Standards

A hearing is scheduled in Detroit today to discuss President Obama’s plan to nearly double fuel economy standards for vehicles in the U.S., the Associated Press reports. From the AP:

Tuesday's hearing… is one of three being held this month in cities around the country by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Officials with the United Auto Workers union and the National Wildlife Federation plan to be in Detroit for the hearing. The administration in November formally proposed what major automakers and the White House agreed to in July. Under the plan, cars and trucks by 2025 must average 54.5 miles per gallon. Vehicles on the road last year, by contrast, averaged 27 miles per gallon.

Attendance Up at Detroit Auto Show

More people are attending the North American International Auto Show this year. Attendance is up about 10 percent. “195,000 people attended the show on Saturday and Sunday, the first two days the show was open to the public. That compares to about 180,000 people the first two days of the show last year. The North American International Auto Show ends Saturday,” Tracy Samilton reports.

News Roundup
8:46 am
Mon January 16, 2012

In this morning's news...

Morning News Roundup, Monday, January 16th, 2012

Snyder Prepares for Yearly Address

Governor Rick Snyder is preparing for his 2012 State of the State address. Rick Pluta reports:

Snyder says he will use this year’s State of the State address to report back to the Legislature and the citizens of Michigan on the state’s progress over the past year. The governor promises the speech will be a frank assessment of where his goal of ‘reinventing Michigan’ stands. The governor says people can expect fewer new initiatives for the Legislature to tackle this year in his second State of the State address. He says more of the focus will be on how he intends to manage the executive branch of state government.

Protesting MI's EM law

Reverend Al Sharpton and Michigan Congressman John Conyers are planning to protest outside of Governor Snyder’s home today in Superior Township, close to Ann Arbor. They're using the demonstration to protest the state's emergency manager law. The Associated Press reports:

Sharpton and other ministers and civil rights activists will participate. Organizers say the law seems to target black communities. Snyder has said the law isn't racially motivated. Emergency managers are in place in Benton Harbor, Pontiac, Flint and Detroit schools. Detroit's finances are under a review that could bring the city under state financial control as well.

Kalamazoo River Oil Spill Report Delayed

A report detailing the cause behind the July 2010 oil spill in the Kalamazoo River has been delayed. “The Kalamazoo Gazette says the report is expected to be released this fall, about six months later than expected. The National Transportation Safety Board attributed the delay to other investigations into separate pipeline incidents. Cleanup efforts continue this year,” the Associated Press reports. Some 800,000 gallons of oil were leaked from a pipeline owned by Enbridge Energy.

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