Michigan News

Criminal Charges Dismissed Against Former MSU President

May 13, 2020
File Photo/MSU

DETROIT (AP) — A judge has dismissed criminal charges against former Michigan State University President Lou Anna Simon arising from the Larry Nassar sexual assault scandal. Simon was ordered to trial last year on charges that she lied to police about her knowledge of a sexual misconduct complaint against Nassar. The former campus doctor now is serving decades in prison. But Eaton County Judge John Maurer dismissed the case against Simon Wednesday, saying the evidence wasn't sufficient.

Whitmer: 31K State Employees To Take Temporary Layoff Days

May 13, 2020
Photo provided by the State of Michigan

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan says 31,000, or nearly two-thirds, of state employees will take temporary layoff days through late July as the state confronts a budget shortfall amid the coronavirus pandemic. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced Wednesday the state will participate in a federal “work share” program. It lets employees work fewer hours but collect partial unemployment benefits to make up a portion of lost wages. For many, the furloughs will be two layoff days per two-week pay period. They will start Sunday and go through July 25.

Michigan Woman At Center Of Transgender Rights Case Dies

May 12, 2020
(AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

DETROIT (AP) — Aimee Stephens, a Detroit-area transgender woman who was fired by a funeral home after she said she wanted to be recognized as female, has died. Stephens died Tuesday before the U.S. Supreme Court could make a decision about whether federal civil rights law protects transgender people. Stephens worked as an embalmer and funeral home director at Harris funeral home in Garden City, Michigan. She was fired in 2013 when she told her boss that she wanted to be known as Aimee, not Anthony, and would report to work wearing a conservative skirt suit or dress.

 

Senator Warns Of Potential 25% Cut In Michigan School Funds

May 12, 2020
Credit BES Photos / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — A lawmaker is warning of a potential 25% cut in state funding for K-12 schools due to economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic. Republican Sen. Wayne Schmidt, who chairs the Senate's education budget subcommittee, said Tuesday that 25% is "certainly the high end," but schools should brace for the worst. There is uncertainty over whether federal rescue aid can be used to help balance the budget. About 40% of the $14 billion in state revenues for the school aid fund comes from sales taxes.

Photo provided by the State of Michigan

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer says she wants 450,000 Michiganders to be tested for the coronavirus this month, an average of nearly 15,000 a day. She said Monday the goal is critical because social-distancing measures cannot go on indefinitely until a vaccine is developed. The state wants to have 30,000 tests a day in June and beyond. Deaths from COVID-19 increased by 33 to nearly 4,600. A top state physician says there are signs Michigan may have children with a mysterious illness possibly associated with COVID-19.

Panel Forms Committee To Review Issue Of Guns At Michigan Capitol

May 11, 2020
(AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — A commission that oversees the Michigan Capitol has formed a committee to study whether to ban or restrict guns inside the building. The State Capitol Commission voted Monday to seek input from the Legislature and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. The move comes after some lawmakers reported feeling intimidated by armed demonstrators protesting her orders to curb the coronavirus. Attorney General Dana Nessel says the panel can legally prohibit firearms in the Capitol. But some commission members wanted time to study the issue.

Michigan Manufacturers Begin Re-Opening Factories

May 11, 2020
(AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

The State of Michigan is allowing some plants back online today, even as it orders residents to remain at home to limit the spread of the coronavirus.

 

Michigan Reports Coronavirus Death Toll Reaches 4,551

May 10, 2020
(AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan officials have reported 25 additional coronavirus-related deaths, increasing the state's outbreak death toll to 4,551 people. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services on Sunday also reported 382 more cases of COVID-19 infections been confirmed. That brings the statewide total to 47,138 people with confirmed coronavirus cases. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Thursday extended Michigan's stay-at-home order through May 28, though manufacturers may go back to work Monday. Bars and restaurants have asked to be allowed to reopen May 29.

 

Two Great Lakes Break Water Level Records In April

May 10, 2020

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) — Water levels at two upper Great Lakes have broken records as predicted, and they're expected to get higher in coming months. The Traverse City Record-Eagle reports that Lakes Michigan and Huron set new water level records in April and were 13.4 inches higher than last year at this time and almost 3 inches higher than the record set in 1986.

Michigan Restaurants Push Governor For May 29 Reopening

May 8, 2020
Credit Jennifer Weingart / WVPE

  

Screenshot of televised news conference

Today, Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed an Executive Order to extend Michigan’s Stay Home, Stay Safe order to May 28. The governor’s order will allow manufacturing workers, including those at Michigan’s Big 3 auto companies, to resume work on Monday, May 11 as part of her MI Safe Start Plan. 

69K File For Michigan Unemployment; Pandemic Total Now 1.3M

May 7, 2020
(AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Nearly 69,000 people filed initial claims for unemployment last week, bringing Michigan's seven-week total in the coronavirus pandemic to more than 1.3 million. The number of new claims dropped for the fourth straight week but still approached the weekly high recorded in the Great Depression, according to federal data released Thursday. The state Unemployment Insurance Agency has said more than 1.1 million jobless have been paid benefits. To expedite claims for people waiting in a queue for help, Gov.

Michigan AG Says Guns May Be Banned At Capitol In Lansing

May 7, 2020
(AP Photo/Paul Sancya File)

BREAKING: Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel says guns may be banned in the state Capitol. Nessel said so in a letter today (Fri) to the Michigan Capitol Commission. The commission sets rules for the public areas of the building. The commission has an online meeting scheduled for Monday.
 

This action is being considered after a large number of people carrying guns and dressed in para-military gear were among those who gathered for a protest last week at the Capitol.    (Read more below from a press release issued by the State of Michigan.) 

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel has sent a letter to the Michigan State Capitol Commission confirming that the Commission has the legal authority to prohibit the presence of firearms in the state Capitol, if it chooses to do so. That authority is consistent with the current state of the law regarding firearms in public buildings and an informational letter sent to Speaker Chatfield in 2018. 

“The Capitol is a place for free expression of thought and debate. But the freedom of civil discourse does not imply the right to threaten others with harm or violence,” Nessel said. “In our current environment and as the chief law enforcement officer in this state, I am gravely concerned for the safety of both our legislative members and the public at large. 

“With exceptions to those tasked with protecting our Capitol, the only way to assure that a violent episode does not occur is to act in concert with the many other state legislatures around the nation that have banned firearms in their capital facilities. The employees at our Capitol and members of the public who visit are entitled to all the same protections as one would have at a courthouse and many other public venues. Public safety demands no less, and a lawmaker’s desire to speak freely without fear of violence requires action be taken.” 

The Commission, which manages the Capitol grounds and building, is made up of the Secretary of the Senate, the Clerk of the House of Representatives, two individuals jointly appointed by the Secretary of the Senate and the Clerk of the House, and two individuals appointed by the Governor.  

Nessel wrote in her letter to commissioners that the Commission has the legal authority to ensure the “safety of the visiting public, as well as those who carry out the People’s work by prohibiting firearms within the Capitol building.” 

The Attorney General notes that the regulation of firearms generally stems from state statute, but the prohibition of firearms from public spaces does not need to originate from the Legislature.  

The Michigan Supreme Court, for example, adopted an administrative order that bars firearms from any courtroom, office or other space used for official court business or by judicial employees without prior approval. That order applies to open carry of firearms as well, Nessel notes, as it was cited in a Court of Appeals decision in an open carry challenge to a school district prohibition of weapons on school grounds. 

“The concept of ‘open carry’ in Michigan law does not provide the unfettered right to bring firearms into any public space,” Nessel wrote in her letter. 

The Supreme Court also ruled that state law, which preempts regulations by local units of government, does not apply to school districts. Therefore, a non-local unit of government – such as a school district, the Supreme Court or the Michigan State Capitol Commission – may lawfully impose regulations that impact firearms. 

Nessel notes in her letter that residents are currently permitted to enter the Capitol while clad in body armor and armed with high-capacity loaded semi-automatic assault weapons. 

“This is permitted during active legislative sessions and during moments of controversial debate where emotions and passions are known to run hot,” she wrote. “At the risk of stating the obvious, this is an absurdly dangerous combination that would cause the heart of any security expert to skip a beat.” 

During recent protests at the Capitol, many residents have been carrying firearms leading lawmakers and other Capitol employees to express that they felt threatened and feared for their safety. 

Nessel’s position on restrictions to open carry and weapons possession is consistent with guidance provided to House leaders from the previous administration of the Attorney General’s office

Michigan Legislature Sues To Block Whitmer's Virus Orders

May 6, 2020
Photo provided by the State of Michigan

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — The Republican-led Legislature has sued Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, asking a judge to declare invalid and unenforceable her stay-at-home order and other measures issued to combat the coronavirus. The lawsuit, filed Wednesday, says a 1945 law giving the governor broad emergency powers governs local, not statewide, declarations like one in place since March. The suit also says a 1976 law gives Whitmer emergency authority only for a limited period that expired.

Michigan Communities Holding Largely Mail-Based Elections

May 5, 2020
(AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

WARREN, Mich. (AP) — People in about 50 Michigan communities are participating in largely mail-based local elections that might be a blueprint for the presidential battleground state in November. In a first, Democratic Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson's office automatically sent absentee ballot applications to all 740,000 registered voters in those municipalities to discourage in-person voting. More than 4,000 people in Michigan have died from coronavirus complications. Turnout for Tuesday's elections was expected to be more than twice than what is typical for May elections.

GRAND HAVEN, Mich. (AP) — Officials have closed a parking lot at a Michigan state park after crowds of visitors ignored social distancing guidelines designed to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Grand Haven State Park’s parking lot was shut down on Sunday.

Photo provided by the State of Michigan

Today, Governor Gretchen Whitmer, Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, and Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Chief Medical Executive Dr. Joneigh Khaldun will provide an update regarding the state’s response efforts to COVID-19. 

You can watch it live here.

(AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — An additional 81,000 people filed initial claims for unemployment in Michigan last week, bringing the six-week total to more than 1.2 million amid the coronavirus pandemic. The number of new filings dropped for the second straight week, according to a federal report released Thursday. Michigan has had some of the highest number of jobless claims in the country. People can get benefits for about nine months, roughly three months longer than usual. They will receive an additional $600 a week through late July under the terms of a federal relief package.

Paul Sancya / AP / File

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Protesters are back at the Michigan Capitol to denounce Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's stay-home order and business restrictions. They're try to put pressure on Republican lawmakers who are meeting to consider extending Whitmer's coronavirus emergency declaration hours before it expires.

They Will Be Remembered: Michigan Residents Lost To COVID-19

Apr 30, 2020

Families and friends that have succumbed to COVID-19 in northern Michigan will live on forever in the memories of those who loved them. 

Every passing was a blow to the tight-knit communities throughout the region. 

Interlochen Public Radio spoke with loved ones and friends of three northern Michigan residents who died from coronavirus over the last several weeks. 

Michael Watson forever lending a helping hand

One of the first to pass away from COVID-19 in Michigan, was likely Michael Watson, of Gaylord.

AP Photo/The Grand Rapids Press, Mark Copier

UPDATE:

Photo provided by the State of Michigan

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Republicans who control the Michigan Senate are urging Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to lift her five-week-old ban on nonessential medical and dental procedures, saying the decision to resume should be left to hospitals and health providers. Tuesday's resolution is the latest move by Republicans pushing the Democrat to ease restrictions she adopted to curb the spread of the coronavirus. Whitmer, who says social distancing is saving lives, wants legislators to extend an emergency declaration by 28 days.

Roadblock To Reopening Michigan Economy - Child Care

Apr 26, 2020
JENNIFER GUERRA / MICHIGAN RADIO

A new report suggests restarting Michigan’s economy will face a serious roadblock – a lack of child care.

The National Association for the Education of Young Children estimates that 41% of Michigan’s licensed child care slots will be lost....as many providers don’t have the money or staff to reopen.

Simon Workman is the director of Early Childhood Policy at the Center for American Progress. 

He says many child care operators were barely breaking even before the pandemic...

Michigan Dept. of Corrections

NEW:

COLDWATER, Mich. (AP) — A 12th inmate has died from COVID-19 complications at a southern Michigan prison where more than 50% of inmates have tested positive for the coronavirus. Lakeland prison in Branch County has a large share of Michigan's older prisoners and is the first to test everyone. The Corrections Department said 785 of roughly 1,400 prisoners at Lakeland have tested positive. Only a fraction of all prisoners have been tested statewide, but the infection rate was 56%. There has been at least 33 deaths. Separately, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit to try to force the release of immigrants with health problems at the Calhoun County jail. They're being held there by federal immigration authorities.

Michigan Lawmaker Apologizes For Wearing Questionable Mask

Apr 25, 2020
https://www.senatordalezorn.com/

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — A Michigan lawmaker has apologized for wearing a face mask that appeared to depict the Confederate flag during a vote at the state Capitol.

Republican state Sen. Dale Zorn of Ida said in a statement Saturday he was sorry for his "choice of pattern" on the face mask he wore the day before.

He says he didn't "intend to offend anyone" and that "those who know me best know that I do not support the things this pattern represents.

The face covering was a red mask with blue stripes and white stars. He says his wife made it.

 

Chicago Businessman Buys Indiana Beach Amusement Park

Apr 24, 2020
Patrick McGarvey/Flickr

MONTICELLO, Ind. (AP) — A Chicago businessman has bought a northern Indiana amusement park that abruptly closed in February and hopes to reopen the 94-year-old tourist destination's rides and other attractions this summer if coronavirus restrictions allow. White County Commissioner John Heimlich said Thursday that Gene Staples purchased Indiana Beach before its former owner, California-based Apex Parks Group, declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy on April 8.

Gov. Whitmer Extends Michigan's Stay-At-Home Order

Apr 24, 2020
Photo provided by State of Michigan

NEW: 

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has lengthened her stay-at-home order through May 15 while relaxing restrictions so some businesses can reopen and the public can participate in more outdoor activities like golf and motorized boating. The measure is designed to help combat the coronavirus pandemic. It immediately replaces one that was scheduled to expire next week. The Democratic governor's order says people are now required to face coverings in enclosed public spaces such as grocery stores if they can medically tolerate it. Landscapers, lawn-service companies, plant nurseries and bike repair shops can resume operating, subject to social-distancing rules. Big-box retailers no longer have to close off garden centers and areas dedicated to selling paint and carpet.

Michigan Food Banks Running Low, State Calls For Donations

Apr 23, 2020
AP Photo/Tony Dejak

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Businesses around Michigan are being urged to donate food to the Food Bank Council of Michigan and other nonprofits to help restock food pantries struggling to meet demand during the coronavirus pandemic. The Detroit News reports that demand is rising and food banks are operating at four times their normal capacity. The council also likely won’t receive food through a federal program until July.

Republicans Vow To Cut Gov. Whitmer's Emergency Powers

Apr 23, 2020
(AP Photo/Paul Sancya, File)

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Republicans who control the Legislature want to dilute the power of Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. They say they'll meet Friday to pass bills to rein in Whitmer's emergency powers and create a committee to oversee the state's response to the coronavirus outbreak. Republicans are unhappy with the breadth of Whitmer's stay-at-home order, though polling shows the public believes she's made the right calls. Whitmer is expected to extend it past April 30 but with modifications.

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer says she likely will extend her stay-at-home order beyond April 30 even if she relaxes restrictions to reopen parts of the economy. Whitmer said Wednesday that she hopes to talk more later this week about loosening the rules.

Michigan  has notified state employees of temporary layoffs necessitated by a drop in tax revenues due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The state will furlough 2,900, or less than 1%, of the 48,000-person workforce for two weeks to save about $5 million.

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