news roundup

News Roundup
7:58 am
Thu January 6, 2011

In this morning's news...

Michigan Lawmakers Take Oath of Office

All 15 members of Michigan’s U.S. House delegation were sworn in yesterday by new Republican House Speaker John Boehner. Speaker Boehner swore in lawmakers en masse at the Capitol. However, newly elected Republican Representative Justin Amash from the Grand Rapids area was sworn in individually. Also sworn-in individually was Michigan’s new Democratic Congressman Hansen Clarke of Detroit.

New Chief Justice

Michigan’s seven Supreme Court Justices have elected a new Chief Justice. Republican Robert Young Junior was selected yesterday in a closed-door meeting to lead the court. The selection reflects the results of November’s election that flipped control of the court from Democrats to Republicans. Young says budget cuts and reducing the size of the judiciary will be his top priority, Rick Pluta reports. Young has served on the court since he was appointed by Governor John Engler in 1999.

Get Ready for Snow

Forecasters are predicting quite a bit of snow will fall in parts of West and Mid Michigan throughout the day and into tomorrow. Holland and Kalamazoo could see up to 12 inches of snow fall by the end of Friday. Parts of Mid Michigan are expected to get 8-10 inches by the end of the day tomorrow.  The Southeast is expected to get up to four inches by Friday evening. A lake effect snow advisory will go into effect this afternoon for parts of West and Mid Michigan.

Goodbye RichRod

After days of speculation about the future of University of Michigan football coach Rich Rodriguez, it was announced yesterday that he was fired. U of M Athletic Director David Brandon made the announcement yesterday afternoon at a press conference in Ann Arbor. The firing came after the U of M football team struggled on the field and violated NCAA rules off the field, Steve Carmody reports. Brandon says he’ll work quickly to find a replacement.

News Roundup
8:39 am
Wed January 5, 2011

In this morning's news...

New Faces in D.C.

All of Michigan's 15 U.S. Congressional Representatives will take the oath of office today in Washington, D.C. Five of the members are new to Congress: Republicans Dan Benishek, Bill Huizenga, Justin Amash, and Tim Walberg, and Democrat Hansen Clarke. Representative Tim Walberg, though, could be considered a 'second year freshman' as he won a seat in Congress in 2006 but lost it in 2008.  He won back the seat in this past November's election.

Splitsville for the DNRE

Governor Rick Snyder issued the first executive order of his administration yesterday.  The order splits up the state Department of Natural Resources and Environment into two departments: the Department of Natural Resources and the Department of Environmental Quality.  The split will take effect on March 13th. In a statement released yesterday, Snyder said:

Michigan is blessed with an abundance of natural resources and we need to be a leader and innovator in protecting these resources. Recreational fishing, hunting and boating activities alone contribute more than $3 billion annually to our economy.  Separating the DEQ and DNR means we can better address these key priorities.

RichRod Rumors

Whether or not you care about the story, it's no doubt that you, at the very least, heard rumblings about the possible firing of the University of Michigan football coach Rich Rodriguez... that is, unless, you were ONLY listening to Michigan Radio.  The station decided not to report yesterday's swirling rumors about Rodriguez's job.  You can read more about the station's decision to wait to cover the story here.

News Roundup
7:45 am
Tue January 4, 2011

In this morning's news...

Governor Snyder Gets to Work

Governor Rick Snyder met yesterday with his budget chief, John Nixon, and other members of his senior staff. Snyder is working on a six month plan for the state and wants to re-organize government, reform business taxes, and have a two-year budget completed by July 1st, Rick Pluta reports. Snyder is also expected to name more members of his cabinet this week, including state Supreme Court Justice Maura Corrigan as head of the state Department of Human Services.

Auto Sales Numbers Released Today

December auto sales numbers are due out later today and it’s expected to be another good month for Detroit’s automakers, Steve Carmody reports. It’s predicted that December will be the third straight month of strong domestic auto sales. Carmody spoke with one analyst who expects the new numbers will show vehicle sales topped 12 million last year and predicts an improving economy could push sales to 13 million vehicles this year.

Report: Homicides Dropped in Detroit in 2010

Detroit police are reporting that homicides and non-fatal shootings decreased in Detroit in 2010. Unofficial numbers show there were 308 homicides last year. That’s a 15.4 percent drop from 2009, the Associated Press reports. Non-fatal shootings dropped 10.5 percent. Reuters reports that Detroit Police Chief Ralph Godbee said:

…a focus on deploying officers to higher crime areas based on daily trends contributed to the murder decline. To build on those gains, Detroit must "continue to address systemic issues that contribute to violent criminal acts," Godbee said in a statement.

News Roundup
7:17 am
Mon January 3, 2011

In this morning's news...

Snyder Begins New Job

Governor Rick Snyder begins his first full week on the job. Snyder became Michigan’s 48th Governor on Saturday after a swearing-in ceremony in Lansing. Snyder is expected to begin signing his first executive orders to reorganize state government as soon as this week, Laura Weber reports.

Changes to Food Stamp Distribution Begin Tomorrow

Beginning tomorrow, Michigan will spread its food stamp distributions throughout the month. Currently, the state’s 1.9 million food stamp recipients get their benefits in a lump sum at the beginning of the month. Most food stamp purchases are made at that time, which can lead to long lines at the checkout counter and a shortage of fresh produce at some stores, Jennifer Guerra reports. The hope is that those problems will decline with the new distribution system.

Powerful Republican Wants to Repeal Health Care Law

Republican Congressman Fred Upton, who represents Michigan's 6th District, says his fellow GOP lawmakers will go after President Obama’s health care law piece by piece. Upton made the comments yesterday on "Fox News Sunday." The Associated Press reports that such a vote could come early in the new year after Republicans take control of the House. Upton will be Chairman of the  powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee in the new legislative session.

News Roundup
7:01 am
Thu December 23, 2010

In this morning's news...

Retailers Optimistic About Holiday Sales

New data show Michigan retailers are optimistic that they’ll see increased sales during the holiday season. The Michigan Retail Index showed November had the best monthly year-over-year sales increases since 1999.  The Index is put together by the Michigan Retailers Association and the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago. The National Retail Federation predicts holiday sales will improve by 3.3% this year, Steve Carmody reports.

Snyder Announces Directors for State Police, Transportation

Governor-elect Rick Snyder announced yesterday that he’ll keep Kirk Steudle, current Director of the Michigan Department of Transportation, on the job in his new administration. Steudle has been director of the department since 2006. Snyder also announced that he will appoint State Police Lt. Col. Kriste Etue to be the Director of the Michigan State Police. Etue is currently the department’s deputy director and, when she begins the new job in January, will be the first woman to hold the post.  As The Detroit Free Press reports, Snyder:

…still needs to make several key cabinet additions. Still unfilled are director positions for the departments of human services, corrections and labor and economic growth.

Snyder takes the oath of office on January 1st, 2011.

Number of Homeless Kids Rise

The state has released its latest count of homeless children (grades K-12) in Michigan.  The state counted 23,000 in 2009-2010, up from 7,500 kids two years ago, Kyle Norris reports. Shereen Tabrizi, with the Michigan Department of Education’s office of field services, says the state’s high unemployment rate and foreclosures are some of the reasons for the increase.

News Roundup
7:50 am
Wed December 22, 2010

In this morning's news...

Census Numbers Released

The 2010 U.S. Census numbers were released yesterday and the news wasn’t great for the state. Michigan was the only state in the country that lost population in the past decade.  That means Michigan will lose a U.S. Representative in the House and lose some federal funding.  We can be sure that we’ll be hearing a lot about redistricting (that’s the re-drawing of legislative and Congressional districts that is done every 10 years after a census) in the coming years as Michigan will go from 15 U.S. House seats to 14. Michigan is one of 10 states that will lose at least one House seat.

Detroit Crime Drops

There are new FBI crime figures out and they show that violent crime in Detroit dropped by almost 8% in the first half of the year. The biggest reduction was in homicides (28%), which fell from 202 to 146. Robberies were also down by about 9%, Sarah Cwiek reports. However, the city did see a jump in the number of rapes and arsons.  Nationwide, violent crime was done about 6%.

Snyder Wants 2-Year Budget

Governor-elect Rick Snyder says he will propose a 2-year state budget once he becomes Governor.  Snyder also says he wants the legislature to pass the budget by July of next year.  The state is constitutionally mandated to pass a balanced state budget every year.  In past years, the legislature has gone down to the wire to pass a state budget on time. As The Associated Press reports:

Although Snyder has until March 14 to present a proposal for the budget year that starts Oct. 1, he plans to do it earlier. He also plans to deliver his first State of the State address in mid-January rather than at the more traditional end of the month. The Republican governor-elect already has told lawmakers and his staff that he wants to get a lot done in the 182 days between Jan. 1 and July 1, including passing a two-year budget, one year longer than normal for the state Michigan faces a shortfall of up to $1.7 billion in the next fiscal year, something Snyder will have to address in his budget proposal.

News Roundup
7:22 am
Fri December 17, 2010

In this morning's news...

U.S. House Passes Tax-Deal

Late last night, the U.S. House of Representatives passed President Obama’s tax-deal that would extend Bush-era tax cuts and extend jobless benefits for the long-term unemployed.  President Obama negotiated the deal with both Republican and Democratic leaders in the House and Senate.  The Senate passed the bill earlier this week.  The measure now goes to the President for his signature.

More Charges for ‘Underwear Bomber’

Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the young Nigerian man accused of trying to bomb a Detroit-bound airliner last Christmas, was arraigned on new charges yesterday in federal court.  The charges include conspiracy to commit an act of terrorism.  As Sarah Hulett reports, Abdulmutallab’s initial indictment, filed almost a year ago, did not contain the word “terrorism.”  It’s alleged that Abdulmutallab tried to blow up Northwest Airlines Flight 253 by igniting explosives that were hidden in his underwear.

Electric Cars Getting Noticed

The North American International Auto Show doesn’t happen until next month in Detroit, but the semi-finalists in the North American Car of the Year competition are already being announced.  As Tracy Samilton reports, two of the three semi-finalists are electric cars:

The Nissan Leaf is an all-electric car and the Chevy Volt is a part-electric, part-hybrid car. Aaron Bragman is an analyst with IHS Automotive. He says, even though most people won't be buying electric cars for a long time, the selections make sense this year. It is a trend that is coming," says Bragman. "The technology is going to improve, the costs are going to come down. But it has to start somewhere and it's really starting here, and the reason these vehicles are being chosen is they are SO different."

The winner of the award will be announced during the North American International Auto Show in early January.

More Money to Fight Asian Carp

The Obama Administration announced that it will spend almost $50 million dollars more next year to try to keep the invasive Asian Carp out of the Great Lakes. Yesterday, a group of state and federal agencies released the 2011 Asian Carp Control Strategy Framework.  The money is expected to come from funds that were originally allocated from Great Lakes clean-up projects. If the Asian Carp make their way to the Great Lakes it could greatly hurt the Lakes’ ecosystems.

News Roundup
7:55 am
Thu December 16, 2010

In this morning's news...

Kwame Kilpatrick in Trouble… Again

New corruption charges have been filed against former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick.  Federal prosecutors announced the indictments of Kilpatrick and others including Kilpatrick’s father, Bernard Kilpatrick, yesterday.  At the announcement, Barbara McQuade, the U.S. Attorney in Detroit said:

The indictment charges all of them with working together to abuse Kwame Kilpatrick’s public offices. Both his position as state representative, as well as his position of mayor of Detroit, to unjustly enrich themselves, through a pattern of extortion, bribery and fraud.

As the Detroit Free Press reports,

The charges -- racketeering, extortion, bribery, obstruction of justice, mail and wire fraud, signing false tax returns and income tax evasion -- carry penalties of three to 30 years in prison.

Lawmakers Finish Session

After previously announcing that their work for the year was done, state lawmakers ended their 2009-2010 legislative session yesterday in Lansing. Lawmakers completed a bill that would allow the sale of the Michigan School for the Deaf to a private developer and approved a measure that OKs a moose hunting season in the Upper Peninsula. Legislators did not, however, take up several controversial bills that would have dealt with teacher-tenure reform or insurance coverage for autism treatments.

State Unemployment Rate Dips Slightly

Michigan’s jobless rate dropped slightly to 12.4% in November.  That means the state has now gone 11 months without an uptick in the unemployment rate.  But, as Rick Pluta reports, it’s not all good news:

… most of the drop in the jobless number was because 19,000 unemployed people stopped looking for work. They are no longer counted as part of the state’s jobless rate. When people who stopped looking are counted, along with part-timers who would like to work full-time, Michigan’s rate of unemployment and under-employment is 21.2%.

The nation’s November jobless rate was 9.8%.

Granholm Signs ‘Pure Michigan’ Funding Bill

Governor Granholm signed a measure yesterday that allows $10 million to go to the ‘Pure Michigan’ advertising campaign.  The money will go toward winter and spring ads. The campaign would most likely have been canceled if the extra funds had not been approved. Granholm had previously wanted $25 million for the campaign.

News Roundup
8:40 am
Wed December 15, 2010

In this morning's news...

Lame-Duck: The Sequel

After already calling it quits for the year, it turns out state lawmakers will be back in Lansing today.  As Laura Weber of the Michigan Public Radio Network reports, legislative leaders called back lawmakers to correct a few procedural mistakes from the earlier lame-duck session. It doesn't appear however, that either chamber will take up any controversial measures including teacher-tenure reform or insurance for autism treatments.

Law Bans Bringing Bighead Carp to U.S.

President Obama signed a bill into law yesterday that bans the importation of the bighead carp into the U.S. The bighead is one of the Asian Carp species that could damage the ecosystem of the Great Lakes.  The Associated Press reports that the measure:

...adds bighead carp to a list of wildlife that cannot be imported or taken across state lines. The only exceptions would be for scientific, medical or educational purposes and would require a permit. Bighead and silver carp have infested waterways in the Chicago area. Authorities are trying to prevent them from getting into the Great Lakes, where they would compete with native fish for food.

Successful Heart Transplant in West Michigan

Doctors in west Michigan are celebrating the first successful heart transplant to take place on the west side of the state.  As Lindsey Smith reports, “In February Spectrum Health was approved to perform heart transplants. Three other hospitals in Michigan are allowed to do the complicated procedure, but they’re all located in southeast Michigan.” A 50-year old man was the first patient, he left the Grand Rapids hospital yesterday, two weeks after his successful surgery.

Tugboat Spills Diesel into Saginaw River

The U.S Coast Guard is estimating that about 800 gallons of fuel spilled into the Saginaw River on Monday.  The spill came from a tugboat that sank near Bay City.  The Bay City Times reports that some 350 gallons have been recovered so far.  It’s still unclear what caused the boat to sink.

News roundup
7:46 am
Tue December 14, 2010

In this morning's news...

Lawmakers to Make Unexpected Trip Back to Lansing

It appears that this year’s lame duck legislative session isn’t done after all.  Though lawmakers declared an end to session on December 3rd, it turns out both the Democratic-led House and Republican-led Senate will return to the Capitol tomorrow.  But, as the Associated Press reports, neither chamber are expected to take up any controversial measures including teacher-tenure reform and insurance coverage for autism treatments.

Flint Crime Hits Horrible Statistic

The city of Flint recorded its 62nd murder of the year on Monday, that broke Flint’s previous record of 61 murders in one year set back in 1986, Steve Carmody reports. To make matters worse, the city has issued layoff notices to about a hundred employees, including 20 police officers. The layoffs are intended to help reduce the city’s projected $5 million budget deficit.  

Snyder Appoints Familiar Name to Head MEDC

Govenror-elect Rick Snyder announced Doug Rothwell will lead the Michigan Economic Development Corporation in his new administration.  It’ll be a familiar job for Rothwell as he headed the MEDC in the 1990’s when then Governor John Engler created the agency.  Rothwell is currently President and CEO of Business Leaders for Michigan, a group of 75 CEOs in the state.  In a show of bipartisanship support, outgoing Democratic Governor Jennifer Granholm stood by Snyder’s side when he made the announcement.

It’s COLD Out There

Parts of Lower Michigan will get hit with single-digit temperatures today.  National Weather Service officials say the wind chill could make it feel like 10 degrees below zero in parts of the state.  The cold temps come after Sunday and Monday’s severe winter storm that left more than 150,000 people without power.  At least eight deaths in the state are being blamed on the storm.

News Roundup
8:05 am
Mon December 13, 2010

In this morning's news...

Severe Winter Weather Hits Michigan

In case you haven’t peered out your window yet this morning… we are waking up to severe winter weather.  There are hundreds of closed schools across the state including Ann Arbor Public, Kalamazoo Public, Jackson Public and Lansing Public Schools.  As The Associated Press reports, “...at least two fatal crashes are blamed on the wintry storm that has pummeled Michigan with heavy wind-blown snow. Winds will continue to gust today as power crews restore electricity to thousands of blacked-out customers.”

Snow = Free Football Tickets?

Free general admission tickets to a football game tonight at Ford Field in downtown Detroit will be given out beginning this morning at 9 a.m.  That’s because the Minnesota Vikings’ home game against the New York Giants was moved to Ford Field after the inflated roof of the Vikings’ Metrodome collapsed yesterday under the weight of heavy snow.  As the Detroit Free Press reports, it’s the “snow’s silver lining.”

Deer Hunting Declines

There has been a steady decline in the number of hunters participating in firearm deer season in Michigan, reports the Kalamazoo Gazette.  According to the Gazette, “The final numbers won’t be out until the middle of 2011, but the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment says preliminary data show about a 4 percent decrease in both the number of hunters who came out for firearm season, which ended on Nov. 30, and the number of kill tags sold.”

News Roundup
7:47 am
Fri December 10, 2010

In this morning's news

Governor-Elect Snyder Talks Up Economic Goals

Governor-elect Rick Snyder spoke to university students yesterday in Detroit about reinventing Michigan’s economy. Snyder told the crowd of accounting students at Wayne State University that Michigan will beat analysts’ negative economic growth expectations for the state in the coming years, Sarah Hulett reports. Snyder is the state’s first certified public accountant to be elected Governor of the state. But, as The Detroit News reports, Snyder urged the students to have a career plan that focuses on more than just money.

A Switch in Congressional Roles

Two Michigan Congressmen are switching roles on the powerful House Ways and Means Committee.  Republican Congressman Dave Camp of Midland will become Chairman of the Committee in the new legislative session because Republicans took control of the House in the November election. Democratic Congressman  Sander Levin of Royal Oak currently is the Committee's chair. Levin will take over as the Committee’s ranking member, the job Rep. Camp currently holds, in the next Congress.

Oakland County Won’t Take Over Pontiac Police Patrols

The Oakland County Commission voted down a plan yesterday that would have had that county’s sheriff’s department take over police patrolling in Pontiac. Pontiac’s state-appointed financial manager had pushed for Oakland County to take over the patrols to save Pontiac money. The city faces a projected $9 million budget deficit. The city is expected to bring the issue back to the Oakland County Commission next month, Steve Carmody reports.

News Roundup
7:42 am
Thu December 9, 2010

In this morning's news...

Serial Stabbing Suspect in Court Today

Elias Abuelazam, the man accused of a series of stabbings in Genesee County will be in court today. He will face four hearings, all involving charges of attempted murder in and around the Flint area earlier this year. A judge must determine whether there’s probable cause to send him to trial. Abuelazam has already been ordered to face one murder trial.

D’Oh: Glitch in New Liquor Law

There’s a problem in the state’s new Sunday morning liquor sales law.  As Steve Carmody reports, when state lawmakers passed the Sunday morning alcohol sales bill in the final days of the legislative session, they made a small mistake: lawmakers allowed communities to ban liquor sales on Sundays, but they didn’t specify a time. That means communities have to choose between being open all day on Sundays or not allowing sales of alcohol ALL day on Sundays. We’ll have to wait and see how lawmakers plan to fix the problem when the new legislative session begins next year.

Commission Delays Vote on Benefit Extension for Live-in Partners

The state Civil Service Commission has delayed a vote on the extension of health benefits to live-in partners of state employees.  The delay most likely means that a decision won’t be made on the issue until next year when Governor-elect Rick Snyder is in office, Rick Pluta reports.  A spokesman for Snyder says the Governor-elect has not yet taken a position on the issue.

Reports: Aretha Franklin Has Cancer

Several media outlets in the state are reporting that singer Aretha Franklin has pancreatic cancer. Franklin underwent surgery in Detroit last Thursday but neither she nor her publicist would say what kind of surgery Franklin had or the nature of the illness, Jennifer Guerra reports. Franklin has cancelled all her concerts through May 2011 due to doctors’ orders.

News Roundup
7:40 am
Wed December 8, 2010

In this morning's news...

Kalamazoo River Oil Spill Sickened Residents

The Enbridge Energy oil spill that leaked more than 800,000 gallons of crude into the Kalamazoo River in mid-Michigan sickened many, but the long term effects of exposure to the oil remain unclear, according to a new report. The Michigan Department of Community Health worked with local health departments in Calhoun and Kalamazoo Counties to compile data on people who were affected by the spill, Steve Carmody reports. Hospitals, doctors and other health care providers reported 145 patients after the July spill.

Local Governments Consider Sunday Alcohol Sales

Communities across Michigan are deciding whether or not they’ll allow alcohol sales on Sunday mornings and Christmas Day.  A state law allowing the sales was signed by Governor Granholm last month.  Local governments, however, can opt out.  Zeeland’s city council has voted unanimously to ask the state Liquor Control Commission not to issue special licenses that would allow the sales, Lindsey Smith reports. Owosso, Bay City and Flint Township have, like Zeeland, decided to opt out.

MI Congressman to Chair Powerful House Committee

Republican Congressman Fred Upton of St. Joseph has been chosen by the GOP to lead the influential House Energy and Commerce Committee in the new legislative session. The appointment will be confirmed today.  Upton has sat on the committee since 1991.

Granholm Says President Obama Got ‘Good Deal’

Governor Granholm said she supports President Obama’s compromise with Congressional Republicans on tax cuts. Granholm said Obama got a ‘good deal’ by extending benefits for the long-term unemployed in exchange for the extension of Bush-era tax cuts. The Associated Press reports Granholm said residents in Michigan would have been hurt more without the compromise.

News Roundup
9:07 am
Tue December 7, 2010

In this morning's news...

Unemployment benefits deal reached

President Obama says he has reached a deal with Republican lawmakers to extend unemployment benefits. 180,000 Michiganders were going to see their benefits expire by April if a deal was not reached. In exchange for the benefit extensions, Obama agreed to extend the Bush-era tax cuts at all income levels, including the wealthy. The New York Times reports that Obama said the deal is "not perfect, but this compromise is an essential step on the road to recovery." But a battle may still remain, congressional democrats say they have not agreed to any deal yet.

City bans medical marijuana

A fourth city has banned medical marijuana. Wyoming, a suburb of Grand Rapids, passed the ban last night in a unanimous city council vote. Michigan Radio's Lindsey Smith reports that Wyoming Mayor Jack Poll says the ban is not a rebuke of medical marijuana rather "this is a vote against the way it is being dispensed."  Medical marijuana dispensaries have been popping up in different parts of the state after voters approved the medical marijuana law in 2008. The dispensaries are often in nondescript storefronts. The Detroit Free Press reports that Mayor Poll, a pharmacist himself, says medical marijuana should be dispensed like other legal drugs, presumably at mainstream pharmacies.

State to honor Pearl Harbor Day

Governor Granholm is asking Michigan residents to lower flags to half staff today to honor Pearl Harbor Day.  Sixty-nine years ago this morning, Japan attacked U.S. Forces stationed at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. 2,334 servicemen and servicewomen were killed. 1,143 were wounded. Granholm says the action also honors current  service men and women:

"We also salute the brave men and women currently stationed around the world, including those fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, who are defending and protecting the freedom our nation holds so dear." 

News roundup
7:13 am
Mon December 6, 2010

In this morning's news...

Autism Debate to Continue in Lansing

It's expected that the debate over whether insurance companies should be required to cover autism treatments for children will continue at the state Capitol next year. Legislation that would have required insurance companies to cover autism treatments stalled in the GOP-led state Senate in the final hours of the 2009-2010 legislative session. Republican Lieutenant Governor-elect Brian Calley has an autistic daughter; he says he hopes legislative leaders in the next session will once again take-up the reforms.

Medical Marijuana Stirs Debate

The city of Wyoming, a Grand Rapids suburb, will consider a ban on the state’s medical marijuana law tonight, Lindsey Smith reports.  The meeting comes just days after the ACLU announced they were taking three Detroit suburbs to court over similar bans.  The Wyoming City Council will consider medical marijuana regulations that are similar to the ones in Livonia, Bloomfield Hills, and Birmingham.

Push for Hunting, Fishing in MI

The incoming state Director of the Department of Natural Resources, Rodney Stokes, told The Detroit News that he wants more people in Michigan to hunt and fish.  Stokes said that he wants to expand the focus of the department's recruitment efforts.  He also said he has no plans to increase license fees.  Revenues from the sale of hunting and fishing licenses were $45.3 million in the most recent budget, that’s down from 2005.

News Roundup
7:27 am
Fri December 3, 2010

In this morning's news...

'Lame Duck' Comes To a Close

State lawmakers worked well into the early hours of Friday morning before finally calling it quits in the 2009-2010 legislative session. Lawmakers approved $10 million for the ‘Pure Michigan’ advertising campaign, that’s less than the $25 million that Governor Granholm wanted. Lawmakers failed to enact reforms on teacher-tenure and a measure that would require insurance companies to cover autism treatments for children.

Asian Carp Legal Setback

Michigan has lost a legal round in its effort to keep Asian Carp from reaching the Great Lakes. As Steve Carmody reports, “A federal judge in Chicago has denied a request by Michigan and several other states to order the closure of canals which link Lake Michigan to the Mississippi River basin. Asian Carp are a voracious invasive species. The carp have devastated Mississippi River fish populations.”  The states might continue the legal fight.

Some 260,000 in MI Received Unemployment Benefits

President Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers released a report that says about 260,000 people in Michigan received unemployment benefits through October of this year. The report comes as the White House is ramping up its efforts to get Congress to approve extended jobless benefits for unemployed workers. At 12.8%, Michigan has the nation’s second-highest unemployment rate.

Snyder, Bernero Released Campaign Finance Reports

Governor-elect Rick Snyder and Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero filed their campaign finance reports for the 2010 gubernatorial election.  Snyder spent nearly $11 million; $6 million of which was his own. Bernero raised a little under $2 million and qualified for a little more than $1 million in public funds. Snyder takes the oath of office on January 1st, 2011.

News Roundup
7:09 am
Thu December 2, 2010

In this morning's news...

November Auto Sales

Auto sales rose 17 % in November from a year earlier. Ford sales were up 24%, Chrysler sales up by 17% and GM’s sales were up by 11%. As Reuters explained, the numbers were, “a stronger-than-expected gain that pointed to a slow but steady return in consumer demand from the depressed levels of a year ago.” GM and Chrysler both announced earlier in the week that they were hiring new workers.

Senate Approves Teacher-Tenure Reforms

As the final days of the 2009-2010 legislative session wrap up, the state Senate has approved teacher-tenure reforms.  The reforms, passed yesterday, would make it easier for school districts to fire teachers whose students don’t receive adequate test scores.  Speaker of the House Andy Dillon says he expects the House to vote on the measure today.  Teachers unions say the bills are unfair as they focus on teachers rather than problems with education funding in the state.

Wayne County Cuts Workers' Pay

Union employees in Wayne County are taking a 20% pay cut imposed by Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano. As Sarah Hulett reports, “the move comes after two years of negotiating failed to yield an agreement. Earlier this year, Ficano instituted unpaid furlough days after the union rejected a proposed 10 percent pay cut.” Ficano called the situation disappointing.

Presidential Visit

Former President George W. Bush will be in Grand Rapids this afternoon. He'll be promoting his new book, "Decision Points" at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum. This is the former President's second visit to Grand Rapids this year.  He attended the Economic Club of Grand Rapids in June.

News Roundup
7:51 am
Wed December 1, 2010

In this morning's news...

Snyder Continues to Build Administration

Governor-elect Rick Snyder continues to name new members to his administration. Yesterday, Snyder announced that current deputy director of the Michigan Department of Agriculture Keith Creagh will take over that department as director.  The department will, under the Snyder Administration, be known as the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development. And, The Detroit News reports that Snyder is poised to name Bill McBride as the head of the Michigan office in Washington D.C.  McBride is currently chief of staff to retiring Republican Michigan Congressman Vern Ehlers of Grand Rapids.

Separating the DNRE

Governor-elect Snyder also announced yesterday that he will separate the Department of Natural Resources and Environment into two different departments: The Department of Environmental Quality and The Department of Natural Resources. Governor Granholm merged the two state departments in January in hopes of streamlining government and saving money. Previously, in the 1990’s, former Governor John Engler had split up the two departments.

DSO Cancels More Concerts

The Detroit Symphony Orchestra has canceled concerts at Orchestra Hall through December 11th as the symphony’s musicians continue to strike.  The musicians have been on strike since October 4th because they have not been able to agree on a new contract with DSO management.  The striking musicians will perform a series of holiday concerts at churches and schools in metro Detroit beginning on Friday.

New Auto Jobs

General Motors and Chrysler both announced that they’ll be hiring new workers in Michigan.  Yesterday, GM announced it will hire some 1,000 to work on developing batteries for hybrid, electric and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.  Most of the jobs will be based at a technical center in Warren, MI.  Meanwhile, Chrysler also announced yesterday it plans to add 1,000 jobs.  Most workers will be employed at the company’s headquarters in Auburn Hills, MI.

News Roundup
7:12 am
Tue November 30, 2010

In this morning's news...

Out-of-State Pick for Budget Director

Governor-elect Rick Snyder has named John Nixon, Utah’s top budget officer, as his administration’s budget director.  Nixon will take over the job from Robert Emerson.  Michigan faces a projected $1.7 billion shortfall in the budget year that begins next October.  Snyder takes the oath of office on January 1st, 2011.

“Lame-Ducks” Back Today

State lawmakers in both the House and Senate are back in Lansing today for what is likely to be the final week of the “lame duck” session.  As Rick Pluta reports, there are more issues for lawmakers to deal with than time to get them done.  The issues include, “selling off future tobacco settlement payments to create a fund for struggling schools, building a new Detroit-to-Windsor international bridge, requiring insurance companies to cover autism treatments, and enacting a statewide anti-bullying policy for schools.”

Pence Visits Detroit Economic Club

Republican Congressman Mike Pence of Indiana spoke yesterday at the Detroit Economic Club.  As Tracy Samilton reports, the club is a traditional spot for politicos testing a possible bid for the presidency.  Pence called for major tax reforms in the speech and said Democratic policies to stimulate the economy and create jobs aren't working.

Bush Back to Grand Rapids

It’s being reported by the Grand Rapids Press that former President George W. Bush will be at the Gerald R. Ford Museum in Grand Rapids on Thursday.  He’ll be promoting his new book, Decision Points.  The former president was last in Grand Rapids in June when he spoke at the Economic Club.

Pages