Tracy Samilton

Tracy Samilton covers the auto beat for Michigan Radio. She has worked for the station for 12 years, and started out as an intern before becoming a part-time and, later, a full-time reporter. Tracy's reports on the auto industry can frequently be heard on Morning Edition and All Things Considered, as well as on Michigan Radio. She considers her coverage of the landmark lawsuit against the University of Michigan for its use of affirmative action a highlight of her reporting career.

Tracy graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in English Literature. Before beginning her journalism career, she spent time working as a legal assistant at various firms in the Ann Arbor area.

The UAW and GM have a tentative contract.

The proposed four-year contract could end the longest national strike against the carmaker since 1970. But union leaders still have to sell the deal to a rank and file that's been on the picket line for a month.

As the UAW's strike against GM enters its fifth week, the two sides may finally be close to reaching a proposed deal on a new contract.

The talks have been unusually difficult, with negotiators struggling to resolve disputes over job security, temporary workers, health insurance, and wage increases. 

Five people have now died of Eastern Equine Encephalytis or EEE in Michigan. The illness is spread by mosquitos. The latest victim lived in Cass County.

Lynn Sutfin is with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

She says people should not let down their guard, even though freezing temperatures are forecast for some parts of lower Michigan Monday night.  

Michigan is experiencing its worst-ever outbreak of a sometimes deadly illness spread by mosquitoes. 

It's called Eastern Equine Encephalitis, or EEE (Triple E) for short.   

Schools in West Michigan have been rescheduling a lot of outdoor sports these days to avoid dusk. That's when mosquitoes, possibly carrying EEE, are most active.

The United Auto Workers strike against General Motors is in its third week, and it's costing a lot of people a lot of money.

"At this point, it's already quite painful in the United States, particularly in metro Detroit, says Patrick Anderson, CEO of the Anderson Economic Group.  "And our estimated wage losses are already above $400 million right out of people's paychecks that work in the automotive industry."

That $400 million estimate includes both striking GM workers and workers in the supplier industry who've been laid off because of the strike.

The United Auto Workers has rejected General Motors' latest proposal for a new four-year contract.

The union says the offer fell short on many issues, including job security.

State officials have not identified any additional cases of a new virulent strain of Hepatitis A in the past 100 days, since an outbreak began three years ago in Michigan.

The outbreak resulted in 738 people being hospitalized (so far), and 30 deaths (so far).

Going 100 days without a new case is typically the factor leading officials to call an outbreak over.

Mark VanDeWege says as a boy, he always dreamed of running for President of the United States. That dream has become a reality.

VanDeWege, a father of two kids who works from home for an architectural design company, says he figured, "why not file with the FEC to run for President? After all, it's free."  

There are a few signs that negotiators are getting closer to a deal on a new four-year contract between General Motors and the United Auto Workers, as the union's strike against the company entered its 11th day.

GM announced on Thursday it would reinstate health insurance benefits for striking workers, after suddenly canceling the benefits the week before. The automaker says the benefits will be paid for at its own expense, not the union's.

The Detroit News also reports that GM asked its delivery truck contractors if they would be ready to start up again if the strike ends, or if they will need time to get drivers and trucks ready.

DTE Energy says it is committing to achieve net carbon neutrality by the year 2050.

The term, "net carbon neutrality," means reducing carbon emissions, along with offsetting emissions by supporting outside carbon reduction efforts, in order to achieve a 100% reduction in CO2 emissions attributable to the utility.

Enbridge Energy says it will begin to immediately install 54 additional steel supports along a section of Line 5 in the Straits of Mackinac. That's after the company received a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for the work.

Mike Shriberg is with the National Wildlife Federation. He says it's a good idea to add the supports, but even so, the aging Line 5 needs to be shut down as soon as possible.

A newly introduced bill in the state House would allow people to buy shares in a solar array. The concept is called community solar. The bill was introduced by Representative Michele Hoitenga (R-Manton).

Each subscriber would pay a portion of the cost of constructing the solar array, and they would get a credit on their electric bill for the electricity produced.

Ed Rivet is with the Michigan Conservative Energy Forum. 

He says under the bill, 10 or more people or groups could support clean energy even if they can't install their own rooftop solar panels.

That could include renters and condo owners, businesses or places of worship.

The city of Troy faces a second lawsuit alleging its zoning ordinances discriminate against religious groups. 

This time, it's the U.S. Department of Justice suing.  

The justice department lawsuit says Adam Community Center bought a building in one of Troy's business districts, intending to use it as a mosque.  But the city of Troy refused to grant zoning approval for such a use. 

The government says Troy's zoning ordinances treat places of worship worse than nonreligious assemblies, a violation of federal law. 

A newcomer to the auto industry world will produce 100,000 electric delivery vans for Amazon.

Rivian, which has its design and engineering center in Plymouth, Michigan, got its start in 2009.

Amazon says the vans will help it meet its goal of becoming carbon neutral by the year 2040.

Large investors in Rivian include Amazon, along with Ford Motor Company, and Cox Automotive.

Rivian is also developing an electric sports pickup, and an electric large SUV.

The city of Detroit has installed four public fast-charging stations for electric vehicles near DTE Energy's headquarters downtown.

The project is a collaboration among DTE Energy; General Motors; Planet M, which is the state of Michigan's mobility initiative; and Blue Energy, the supplier of the stations.

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