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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.

News Roundup
7:19 am
Mon November 29, 2010

In this morning's news...

Thousands Stand to Lose Benefits

The extension of federal unemployment benefits expires on Wednesday. If Congress doesn't vote to extend the benefits, some tens of thousands of Michiganders will lose their benefits. Congressional Democrats are expected to push for a vote this week, Republicans oppose the extension unless the cost is covered by cutting other federal spending.

Lawmakers Return to Lansing

State lawmakers return to the Capitol this week as the 2009-2010 legislative session comes to an end. The AP reports, "Lawmakers will continue their so-called lame duck' session held before a new Legislature and incoming governor Rick Snyder take office in January." Both the House and Senate are scheduled to be in session.

Red Kettle Giving

The Salvation Army's red kettle campaign is underway. And, this year, you can donate via text message, Lindsey Smith reports. "We certainly want to make it as easy for people to give as possible," said Major Robert Thompson, Divisional Commander for Wisconsin and Northern Michigan. "Younger people tend to be more electronic than they are cash or check so we've set up this texting opportunity just to reach a younger population." The Salvation Army has also unveiled some kettles that can take credit cards.

News roundup
7:09 am
Fri November 19, 2010

In this morning's news...

GM Stock Sale

General Motors' stock was back on the New York Stock Exchange yesterday, the first time since the company filed for bankruptcy last year. GM stocks closed at $34.19 per share, up from the IPO price of $33. As The Detroit Free Press reports, "ending 16 months of majority ownership by U.S. taxpayers GM becomes a public company once again with the government holding a 33 percent stake." President Obama said, "American taxpayers are now positioned to recover more than my administration invested in GM, and that's a good thing."

Unemployment Extension Fails

The U.S. House of Representatives failed to pass a bill yesterday that would have extended unemployment benefits. As The Detroit News reports, "an estimated 2 million jobless Americans are on track to lose benefits under the bill, which would extend payments for up to 99 weeks of unemployment until the end of February 2011. Some 180,000 people in Michigan would be affected." Yesterday, Governor Granholm sent a letter to House and Senate leaders urging them for action on the measure.

Liquor Bill Signed

Governor Granholm has signed a bill that allows for alcohol sales on Sunday mornings and Christmas. The bill also allows grocers and retailers to offer customers beer, wine and spirit tastings. The governor said it's time to update the state's old alcohol regulations.

Flint Murder Rate

Flint has recorded its 60th murder of the year, that's just one away from its record for murders in one year, Steve Carmody reports. The news comes as the city struggles to maintain staffing in its police department. Mayor Dayne Walling says too many of the city's residents have turned to drugs and violence.

News roundup
7:24 am
Thu November 18, 2010

In this morning's news...

Big Day for GM

General Motors' stock will be sold on The New York Stock Exchange for the first time since June 2009, when the company was seeking bankruptcy protection. GM common stock sold for $33 per shared and raised  $23 billion.

Statewide Layoffs

Kent County Commissioners are expected to adopt a budget for next year that would eliminate 56 full time positions. As Lindsey Smith reports, the cuts are part of an overall plan to keep county spending in line as revenue from property taxes decline. The Kent County sheriff's department will see most of the proposed cuts. Meanwhile, the city of Flint plans to send out layoff notices to some city employees next week. Flint Mayor Dayne Walling says the exact number of layoffs will depend on how many unions agree to wage and benefit concessions.

MI Unemployment Rate

Michigan's unemployment rate continues its slow, but steady, decline. The state's jobless rate dropped to 12.8% in October. That is the first time since March 2009 that the rate has been below 13%, according to the Associated Press. Michigan's unemployment rate for October of last year was 14.4%. The national unemployment rate for October was 9.6%.

News Roundup
8:08 am
Wed November 17, 2010

In this morning's news...

Benefit Extension

Without a new extension of jobless benefits, 45,000 long-term unemployed people in Michigan will lose their unemployment benefits on December 1st, Rick Pluta reports. State unemployment officials hope Congress will act in the next two weeks to extend the benefits. Michigan's unemployment rate is 13%, the second-highest in the country.

Volt Already Winning Awards

General Motor's Volt has been named the 2011 Car of the Year by Motor Trend Magazine. The Volt will hit select showrooms in California, Texas, New York and Washington, D.C. next month. The Volt can go up to 40 miles on battery power and then a gasoline generator works to power the electric motor. The editor in chief of Motor Trend Magazine says on its website that the Volt has, "some of the most advanced engineering ever seen on an American production car."

Hamtramck To Seek Bankruptcy

The Detroit News reports, "the city of Hamtramck, awash in debt, has asked the state for permission to take the unprecedented step of filing for bankruptcy." Hamtramck's city manager says the city is facing a $3 million debt and could run out of money in January. The Detroit Free Press says, "a city cannot declare bankruptcy, but a state-appointed emergency financial manager can." A state Treasury Department spokesman told the Detroit News that no Michigan municipality has ever declared bankruptcy before.

News Roundup
7:10 am
Tue November 16, 2010

In this morning's news...

Snyder Picks Chief of Staff

Governor-elect Rick Snyder announced Dennis Muchmore as his Chief of Staff in Lansing yesterday. Rick Pluta reports Muchmore, "owned a multi-client lobbying firm before retiring eight years ago. He is also an avid outdoorsman who served briefly as the interim president of the Michigan United Conservation Clubs." Snyder said he chose Muchmore because of his knowledge of how Lansing politics work.

Job Vacancies in Lansing

Because of early retirement incentive packages, some 4,800 state employees will leave their jobs by next month. That means it's likely that Governor-elect Rick Snyder will have to figure out how fill those vacancies come January when he is sworn in. Reporter Jennifer Guerra spoke with Gary Olson with the Michigan Senate Fiscal Agency. Olsen, "points out that the number of state employees has declined 13% over the past decades, so if Snyder replaces only two-thirds of the job vacancies some services will suffer." Olson says the state is projected to save around $81 million because of the early retirements.

Going Hungry in Michigan

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's annual Food Insecurity' study finds about 13.4% of people in Michigan have trouble getting enough food and 5% go hungry. Both of those numbers have increased since the mid 1990's. Nationwide, about 14.7% of households were "food insecure."

News Roundup
7:26 am
Mon November 15, 2010

In this morning's news...

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Talks Continue on 'Pure Michigan'

State tourism officials are hoping to get the Pure Michigan tourism campaign back on the air-waves. The campaign was stopped earlier this year when the state ran out of money to pay for the ads. As Rick Pluta reports, Governor Granholm has asked the legislature to tap into a projected budget windfall as a short-term solution to pay for the ads. A study commissioned by Travel Michigan found the Pure Michigan' campaign generated $2.30 in tourism-related activity for every dollar spent on the campaigns.

The Hunt is On

Firearms deer hunting season is underway in the state. It began today and runs through November 30th. As of late last week, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources & Environment said more than one million deer licenses had been sold in Michigan. The state sold more than 1.5 million hunting licenses for firearm and bow seasons last year.

Hyundai Reaches Milestone in U.S.

Hyundai, the Korean automaker, expects to break the 500,000 vehicle sales mark for the first time in the U.S. this week, Tracy Samilton reports. John Krafcik, CEO of Hyundai's American division, says the recession helped the company because customers focused less on brand and status and more on quality and value. Hyundai has facilities in California, a manufacturing plant in Alabama, and a Technical Center in Ypsilanti.

News Roundup
7:31 am
Fri November 12, 2010

In this morning's news...

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Nader: Postpone GM Stock Sales

Ralph Nader has sent a letter to President Obama asking him to postpone the government's sale of General Motors stock. The Detroit News reports, "the government plans next Thursday to sell about a third of the 61 percent majority stake in GM that it swapped for $40 billion of its $49.5 billion bailout." Nadar and two other consumer advocates say by postponing the initial public stock offering the government would increase the taxpayer's investment in GM. There's been no response from the Obama administration or General Motors to the letter.

Judge To Hear Arguments in Medical Marijuana Case

A federal judge in Grand Rapids will hear arguments today in a case that challenges the firing of a medical marijuana patient. The patient, Joseph Cassias, was fired from a Walmart in Battle Creek after he tested positive for marijuana. Cassias was registered in Michigan to use the drug for pain relief. Attorneys for Walmart want the case dismissed.

Snyder Inaugural Events Take Shape

The Detroit News is reporting that Governor-elect Rick Snyder's transition team will announce his inaugural planning committee today. It's expected that Michigan Grocers Association President and CEO Linda Gobler and Patricia Mooradian, president of The Henry Ford, will co-chair the committee. The theme of the inauguration: The Power of Michigan.

News Roundup
7:06 am
Thu November 11, 2010

In this morning's news...

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Liquor Bill Passed in Lansing

Lawmakers in the state House and Senate passed a bill yesterday that would allow for liquor sales in Michigan on Sunday mornings and on Christmas Day. A previous bill that would have allowed for the sales was vetoed by Governor Granholm last month. Now, it appears lawmakers have reworked the bill for the governor's approval.

GM Profits in 3rd Quarter

General Motors made a $2 billion profit in the 3rd quarter of this year. As Tracy Samilton reports, it's a healthy result for a company that's planning an initial public stock offering next week. In a conference call, GM CEO Dan Akerson sas the company needs to keep streamlining operations to keep costs down, fix its European division, and increase marketing efforts for GM's remaining core brands.

Army Corps to Study Asian Carp

The Army Corps of Engineers is working on a study that will try and figure out the best way to keep Asian Carp and other invasive species out of the Great Lakes. It could, however, take the Army Corps five years to make a recommendation. There's concern that the voracious Asian Carp could invade the Great Lakes and dramatically change the make-up of species currently living in the waters.

News Roundup
8:27 am
Wed November 10, 2010

In this morning's news...

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New Leaders in Lansing

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News Roundup
7:07 am
Tue November 9, 2010

In this morning's news...

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Andrew Shirvell Fired

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News Roundup
7:20 am
Mon November 8, 2010

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Snyder Filling Positions in New Administration

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News Roundup
7:25 am
Fri November 5, 2010

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Allegations Against Shirvell

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News Roundup
8:11 am
Tue November 2, 2010

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Election Day

Michigan voters will elect a new Governor, Secretary of State, Attorney General and two state Supreme Court justices today. All of the state's fifteen U.S. Congressional seats are also up for election. State elections officials estimate a little less than 4 million of the state's 7 million registered voters will cast ballots. At least 575,000 people have already voted absentee.

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News Roundup
7:30 am
Mon November 1, 2010

In this morning's news...

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Gubernatorial Campaigns in Final Stretch

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News Roundup
7:14 am
Fri October 29, 2010

In this morning's news...

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GM to Rehire Workers

General Motors plans to rehire workers to build a new small Cadillac at the company's Grand River Assembly plant in Lansing. CEO Dan Ackerson says that will mean the brand will have a small car to compete head-to-head with other smaller cars built by Mercedes and Lexus. 600 workers will be rehired at the plant; the automaker will invest $190 million to accommodate the new production.

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News Roundup
7:31 am
Mon October 18, 2010

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Kalamazoo State Representative Robert Jones Dies

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