roundup

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
7:55 am
Tue December 21, 2010

In this morning's news...

Michigan’s Congressional Delegation to Shrink?

The U.S. Census Bureau releases new population data from its 2010 census today. The numbers will determine how many U.S. House seats Michigan is apportioned in the next decade. Brookings Institution demographer William Frey told the Associated Press that Michigan will likely lose at least one seat, reducing its delegation from 15 Representatives to 14. As the Associated Press reports, “The 2000 census put Michigan's population at nearly 9.94 million. It was estimated last year at nearly 9.97 million, an increase of less than 1 percent. Frey says that if the trend holds up, Michigan would have the lowest growth rate of any state since the previous census.”

Report: Smoking Ban Has Little Financial Impact

A new report says Michigan’s workplace smoking ban that was enacted this year has had little financial impact on bars and restaurants. Laura Weber reports:

Bars that sell liquor do seem to have been more negatively affected by the smoking ban than taverns that sell only beer and wine. But, the report from the state Department of Treasury, says tax collections from bars were neither bleak nor significant since the ban took effect… and that any financial hardships on taverns or restaurants could be just as much a result of a down economy. 

Lansing's Budget Troubles

Lansing is facing a possible $15 million budget deficit. City Finance Director Jerry Ambrose says the city is expected to spend $118 million next year on city services but Lansing’s revenue is only expected to reach $103 million. The new fiscal year begins June 30th, 2011. The news comes as other cities across the state face budget deficits. The Huffington Post reports that Michigan currently has, “68 cities on its ‘fiscal watch’ or ‘fiscal stress’ lists, meaning these communities are at risk of running through their money.”

Did You See It?

While many of us were sound-asleep in bed, Michigan Radio’s Mark Brush was up… AND, outside.  He was awaiting last night’s (well, really, it was early this morning) lunar eclipse. He filed this report at 2 a.m.: "Well, I woke up... the Earth's shadow is passing over the moon right now. NASA says it'll be in full eclipse starting at 2:41 a.m. and then the shadow will start slipping off the moon at 3:53 a.m.” If you missed the eclipse, you can check out some pictures here.

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
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.

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."

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