Michigan News

It was standing room only at a relatively obscure state board meeting today.

The Michigan Pipeline Safety Advisory Board heard a presentation from the oil and gas company that owns Line 5 – an oil and gas pipeline that runs along the bottom of Lake Michigan near the Mackinac Bridge.

“This pipeline is in as good a condition as it was the day it was installed. Our corrosion prevention system is doing its job," Kurt Baraniecki, director for Integrity Programs for Enbridge, told the board. "Our monitoring efforts are effective.”

State Schools Superintendent Brian Whiston plans to ditch an idea to use grades to describe the performance of individual schools in Michigan, under the state's draft plan to comply with the new federal Every Student Succeeds Act.

That's after many groups protested the grades idea.

 

Chris Wigent is with the Michigan Association of School Administrators.

He says grades don't give much detail, and they can be misleading. But he likes the idea of presenting information about schools on what he calls a "dashboard."

Michigan’s major utilities have restored power to the vast majority of those who lost it after last Wednesday’s unprecedented windstorm.

Last week, House Republicans submitted their bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

The bill, which has been under intense committee debate, has drawn criticism from Democrats, some Republicans, health care organizations, doctors, and others. But it is largely supported by House Republicans and the White House.

Some of the bill’s provisions would be enacted as soon as it is put into law, including the elimination of individual and employer mandates. Others would be delayed until 2020, such as limiting the Medicaid expansion and a repeal of subsidies for out-of-pocket expenses.

What’s a Republican governor to do when his own political party is the problem?

We’re hearing a lot about the divide among Republicans in D.C. over the “repeal and replacement” of Obamacare.

President Donald Trump and the House Republican leadership have a plan. But, conservatives don’t like it. Democrats don’t like it. Interest groups like the AARP are already piling on, and let’s add to the list: Republican governors like Ohio Governor John Kasich and Michigan’s own Rick Snyder.

The heads of most of the 38 schools facing closure for low academic performance are drafting agreements that would allow the schools to stay open and collaborate with the state.

The state offered the agreements as a sort of olive branch after major backlash to the closure announcements in late January.

Michigan has a new law directing the Michigan Department of Transportation to increase speed limits to 75 miles an hour on up to 600 miles of rural highways in the state.

Russ Rader of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety says there's decades of research proving that more people will die as a result.

For every five miles' increase in the speed limit on interstates and highways, says Rader, fatal crashes increase 8%.

Two Flint water crisis figures will return to court Monday.

Stephen Busch and Michael Prysby are facing a variety of charges related to their role in the Flint water crisis. Busch and Prysby were mid-level officials in the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality during the crisis.

The two allegedly failed to make sure Flint River water was adequately treated to reduce corrosion.  The result was the river water damaged pipes which leached lead into the drinking water. 

State lawmakers will discuss a bill this week to give financial incentives to build grocery stores in Michigan’s "urban food deserts."

Lansing Representative Andy Schor wants to use about 5% of the Michigan Strategic Fund to bring grocery stores to downtowns and commercial corridors in urban areas, which have seen other types of economic development in recent years.  

“The use is to help revitalize a community,” says Schor, “and right now grocery options are probably one of the bigger pieces lacking.”

A battle is brewing in the state legislature over government transparency for the governor and legislature.

 

A storm that hammered the entire state with hurricane-force winds has left behind an unprecedented number of downed poles and power lines. And that poses a new danger for people still without power with the onset of freezing temperatures.

A coalition of more than 145 environmental, conservation, and outdoor recreation groups is speaking out against the Trump administration's widely reported plans to propose massive funding cuts to the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.

Reports say Trump's proposed budget would slash funding for Great Lakes Restoration programs by 97% from $300 million to $10 million.

Michigan's wind-generated power woes are not over yet. 

Major energy providers Consumer's Energy and DTE Energy announced Thursday that more than 800,000 homes and businesses were still without electricity, and many in the dark about when they can expect to get their power back. 

Consumer's Energy spokesperson Terry DeDoes says crews have been working tirelessly throughout the week to restore power to the over 320,000 customers facing interruptions, routinely logging 16 hour days. He says while there has been progress, full power is still a few days away.

The U.S. EPA is making long term revisions to the 25-year-old Lead and Copper Rule. The new rules are expected to come out this year. A top EPA official says one of the biggest changes could be an expensive one.

Because of the water crisis in Flint, city officials now know there are more than 20,000 lead service lines, the water pipes connecting homes to a water main, still buried underground in Flint.

Because of Flint, we know that other cities are now at least trying to figure out how many lead service lines they have and where they’re located.

A group of gun control advocates was at the state Capitol to lobby against a proposal to allow people to carry concealed weapons without a permit.

               

Michigan is on its way toward sweeping changes in its criminal justice system. The state House passed a large package of legislation Wednesday. 

In 2014 and 2015, Genesee County saw the largest outbreak of Legionnaires' disease in at least a decade. The outbreak coincided with the city of Flint's switch from Detroit city water to water from the Flint River (and the subsequent lead exposure crisis).

 

If you're trying to understand what the heck this new Republican health care bill would mean for you, you’re not alone.

Let’s do a quick recap: Medicaid is health insurance for really low income people. Under the Affordable Care Act, states including Michigan expanded their Medicaid programs. Suddenly single adults making $16,600 a year were eligible, or a family of four making about $34,000 a year.

Since then, 650,000 Michiganders have signed up for that Medicaid expansion, called “Healthy Michigan.” Researchers say most of those people didn’t have insurance before this.

The state says 38 schools with persistently low test scores might not have to close by the end of the year. At least, not yet. These schools now have 60 days to come up with a turnaround plan using what the state calls a "partnership" model. We wanted to know a little bit more about what that partnership strategy might entail, so we took a trip to Dearborn to find out. 

The Michigan Supreme Court is considering making changes to rules about how complaints against judges are handled. 

And critics say some of the changes would make it harder to go after judges accused of violating the judicial code of conduct.

The Court proposed the changes for consideration on August 11, 2016, and since then has been accepting written comments from the public. The court held a public hearing on the proposal on January 17, 2017.

There are fewer school districts in severe financial peril, according to a quarterly report compiled by the Michigan Department of Education.

 

Michigan uses more tax breaks than most other states

Mar 8, 2017

Michigan uses more tax incentive programs than the average state, according to a new study by the Upjohn Institute.

The report shows that Michigan gives more tax breaks to businesses than most neighboring states. Michigan's total incentives in 2015 were also higher than the national average.

New Michigan roadways may soon be getting the green light. 

This comes after the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) released a report earlier this year, announcing pilot projects to test better and longer-lasting road construction.

The report was presented to legislators this month. Gov. Snyder signed a $1.2 billion road improvement bill in 2015 that recommended the state study new ways to build roads.

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder opened a conference on water infrastructure by pointing to Flint’s water crisis as a “warning signal.”

More than 300 water quality experts and water system vendors are in Flint for this week’s conference. The city’s lead-tainted tap water crisis has spurred concern about aging water systems across the country. 

In his keynote address, Gov. Snyder says Flint is not the only bellwether for infrastructure problems.

On Wednesday, a state Senate committee takes up a package of bills to legalize online gambling in Michigan.

Online gambling is currently only legal in two states, Nevada and New Jersey. But several states are considering legalizing it. Supporters say legalizing online gambling could generate more tax revenue, though the difference seen in Nevada and New Jersey has been slight. 

Hundreds of experts and vendors will be in Flint this week to talk about the nation’s problems with aging municipal water systems.  

Gov. Rick Snyder and Flint Mayor Karen Weaver will open the three-day Flint Water Infrastructure Conference on Tuesday.   

Flint’s lead tainted water crisis has raised awareness of problems in municipal water systems around the world.

Extremely high winds will cause massive waves on Lake Michigan tonight.

The National Weather Service has issued a gale warning that predicts wind gusts with speeds up to 52 miles per hour, which could create up to 20-foot-tall waves.

The gale warning is in effect until Tuesday morning, and includes all of Lake Michigan 5 miles off shore and beyond.

The largest waves are expected overnight, and will range from seven to 20 feet. The best views of the waves will likely be in Ludington and Muskegon - as long as you are a safe distance from the shore.

Fifty-nine percent of Michiganders would say they prioritize the environment over the economy, according to a new study from Michigan State University.

“The results are somewhat counterintuitive,” Daniel Bergan said, given President Donald Trump's November win in Michigan. Bergen was a researcher on the study.

Michigan’s congressional delegation is showing bi-partisan opposition to reports the Trump administration plans to slash funding for the Great Lakes.

Published reports say the White House wants to slash spending on the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative by 97%, from $300 million to $10 million.  The initiative is part of an Environmental Protection Agency program for funding that pays for pollution cleanup. 

Organizers expect thousands of Michiganders will take part in rallies across the state tomorrow in support of President Trump.

Anti-Trump protests have dominated the news for months.

Michigan rally organizer Meshawn Maddock says this weekend’s events are intended to show the president is “loved."

“If you watch nothing but mainstream media, it does feel like overwhelmingly people are dissatisfied,” says Maddock, “and those of us who support the president, and walk every day among each other, know that that’s not true.”

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