Michigan News

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.”

The Mackinac Center for Public Policy is suing the University of Michigan for taking too long to comply with a Freedom of Information Act request.

Attorney Patrick Wright says his group wanted all emails sent by UM President Mark Schlissel that mentioned the word "Trump."

That's after Schissell publicly disparaged Donald Trump's campaign after he was elected, saying it was based on hate. 

Wright says the University eventually provided four emails, claiming exceptions to several others - but it took 100 days.

The public has more time to comment on a bottled water company's plan to pump more groundwater out of a West Michigan aquifer

Nestle Waters North America wants to increase the amount of water it's pumping from a well in Osceola County from 250 per minute to 400 gallons per minute.

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality says it’s waiting for Nestle to respond to a request for additional information. The state says it expects a response by March 16.

Nick Lyon, head of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, has written a letter to McLaren Hospital in Flint, demanding it provide more information on efforts to respond to hospital-acquired Legionnaires' disease, a severe form of pneumonia.

A major outbreak of Legionnaires' was linked to McLaren Hospital in 2014 and 2015, and two more hospital-acquired cases occurred at the hospital in late 2016.

President Trump called for a trillion dollar investment in infrastructure this week in his address to Congress.

The Great Lakes Commission has ideas for where some of the money should go. The Commission is an interstate compact agency that represents Great Lakes states. The agency released recommendations today for rebuilding our water infrastructure.

Starting today, people in Flint will be paying more for their tap water.     

That’s because it’s no longer being subsidized by the state. The move comes as many Flint residents fear and complain that their tap water is still not safe to drink.

A federal civil  lawsuit claims that state prison guards joked and made a bet on whether an inmate would try to kill herself before she took her own life.  

The complaint says officers at the Women's Huron Valley Correctional Facility ignored clear warning signs and 25-year-old Janika Edmonds' requests for help, including a request for a suicide prevention vest, before she hung herself. It says two of the guards placed a bet on whether Edmond would attempt suicide.

Too many people are being incarcerated with too few opportunities to better themselves when they are released. That was the message of advocates and lawmakers who gathered today in Lansing.

It was part of the first National Day of Empathy, and advocates working to reform Michigan's incarceration and criminal justice laws gathered in Lansing for panel discussions and workgroups.

Professor John Kerr wants to be really clear: It's not that he thinks MSU police aren't doing a great job, or that the administration has anything to hide in its effort to investigate Dr. Larry Nassar, a former professor and sports physician at the school.

It's just that Kerr, and at least another 150 faculty members at Michigan State University who signed a letter detailing their concerns, are worried it looks bad if the university essentially investigates itself in a massive criminal sexual abuse case.

If you work, you deserve paid sick time.

That was the message of Democratic lawmakers in Lansing today who introduced legislation that would require employers to let full- and part-time workers earn sick time.

Employees would get one hour of sick time for every 30 hours they work.

The legislation would let workers use the time off for their own illness or the illness of a close family member. It would also apply to LBGT families, grandparents raising children, and single-parent families.

The Trump administration has alarmed transgender students and their families, according to the advocacy group Stand with Trans.

The group is looking to update the Michigan transgender community and educators at an informational session on Wednesday night about transgender students' rights at schools in Michigan.

The Trump administration recently rescinded federal guidelines that made clear that Title IX protects transgender youth from discrimination in schools and colleges.

Miguel and Angel are brothers and they pretty much disagree on everything: TV shows, music, games, even the way they dress. But that stuff’s all pretty minor compared to the big disagreement they have over where they should go if their mom is deported back to Mexico.

Miguel is 14-years old and a proud mama’s boy. He says he never wants to separate from his mom and will go with her to Mexico even though he’s only visited there once, when he was three.

Big brother Angel, who's 15, says he wants to stay here in the U.S. and finish studying.

A bottled water company wants to speed up the pace of its business. Nestle is asking the state for permission to pump more water from the Muskegon River watershed.

The company has already started construction to upgrade its water bottling plant in Mecosta County.

Environmental groups are asking the state Department of Environmental Quality to slow down the approval process.

Jeff Ostahowski is with the Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation.

Michigan’s senior U.S. senator is accusing the Trump administration of siding with “special interests” by delaying the release of a new report on Asian carp and the Great Lakes.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has been studying ways to prevent Asian carp from getting into Lake Michigan through the Brandon Road Lock and Dam in Illinois. 

But the corps’ draft plan will not be released as expected this week. A corps spokesman says more time is needed to “coordinate” with other agencies and stakeholders. He wouldn’t give a new release date.

Scoring lawmakers on their environmental voting record

Feb 28, 2017

The League of Conservation Voters has released its annual National Environmental Scorecard. It shows how members of Congress voted on environmental issues. This year, the group found a deep partisan divide.

Charlotte Jameson is the government affairs director for the Michigan League of Conservation Voters. The group just published its own scorecard for the state Legislature.

Plans to overhaul how Michigan deals with struggling schools will see continued discussion this week in a state Senate committee.

 

A citizens group wants to change how political boundaries are drawn in Michigan. Right now, the Legislature draws new lines for legislative and congressional districts every 10 years following the Census.

John Hanieski is an economist who says, right now, the numbers don’t add up. He says the state is evenly divided between Republicans and Democrats. But he says the GOP wins a lot more seats. 

He says the current system allows lawmakers to put their interests ahead of their constituents.

Michigan’s maple syrup producers are hoping for a return to more winter-like weather.

Maple syrup relies on days above freezing for the sap to flow, and nights below freezing to make it sweet. 

Lately, the days and nights have been too warm for Kirk Hedding. He’s the president of the Michigan Maple Syrup Association. Hedding says this is turning into a "bitter" season for some maple syrup producers.

“As the sap flows, the sugar content will eventually start dropping if we don’t have any freezing weather,” says Hedding.

This week, Flint residents will lose a state subsidy on their monthly water bills.

The state has spent more than $40 million subsidizing Flint’s water bills, as part of the response to the city’s lead-tainted tap water crisis. However, the governor’s office says the credits are ending this month because Flint’s water quality is improving.

Ticks that carry Lyme disease have become active in Michigan with the recent unseasonably warm temperatures. The range for ticks has been expanding in Michigan for years, bringing with it a spike in Lyme disease cases. 

Jean Tsao, an associate professor at Michigan State University's Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, said that a student brought in several ticks that were found on a dog in Lansing.

"The ticks that are out now are the black-legged adults. Those usually overwinter. But they can become active if you have several days that are warmer," says Tsao.

Michigan's refugee community has some basic needs that aren't being met, according to several refugee services organizations.

Arab-American rights and service groups in metro Detroit want to find ways to better coordinate with one another to more adequately serve refugee and immigrant families.

Haifa Fakhouri, president of the Arab American and Chaldean Council, or ACC, wants these groups to fill in the holes when it comes to the services they provide.

Lawyers for Saginaw and Kalamazoo school districts say the state does not have the authority to close four of their low-performing schools.

The complaint was filed late Wednesday on behalf of the two school districts and more than a dozen parents. They argue the governor violated the state constitution when he signed an executive order in 2015 moving the School Reform Office into a department under his control, instead of the state superintendent and the education department.

The office is considering closing 38 schools.

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette is joining nine other attorneys general to oppose a bill in the U.S. Senate.

It would change how ballast water in ships is regulated. Invasive species can hitch a ride in ballast water.

The bill would create a single, national standard and pre-empt states from creating their own standards.

The shipping industry likes that. But the attorneys general are concerned about losing the ability to have stricter state standards.

For more than a decade, double crested cormorants could be killed in 24 states in the eastern U.S. In the Great Lakes, it was mainly done to protect sport fish like perch and bass.

But last spring a federal judge stopped the program, saying the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service wasn’t doing the research on cormorants necessary to justify killing them.

Sport fishing groups hoped that research would have been done by now and the program could resume.

In the first vote of the session, Republican leaders in the state House came up short.

In the wee hours of Thursday morning, the House took a roll call vote on legislation that would roll back the state income tax.

It was significantly different from its first iteration, but Republican leaders still couldn’t shore up enough votes to gain the majority.

The Flint Islamic Center held a meeting tonight to go over what the Trump administration’s immigration policies could mean for Muslim families in Michigan.

Trump had said his administration would unveil the new order this week, but a White House official says that has been delayed until next week.

The original order temporarily banning all entry into the U.S. from seven Muslim-majority nations and pausing the entire U.S. refugee program was blocked in the courts. The directive sparked confusion at airports and protests across the country.

A former sports medicine doctor for Michigan State University and the U.S. Olympics gymnastics team faces another 22 felony charges of sexually assaulting his patients.

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette announced the new charges today. He says five of the charges are related to victims who were younger than 13 years old.

“I cannot imagine the heartbreak, and the anger, and the heartache experienced by parents who took their child to a physician, seeking help, who then sexually assaulted their daughter,” Schuette said.

A girl and her dog, Wonder, are one step closer to victory in their lawsuit against her former school.

The U.S. Supreme Court said Wednesday 13-year-old Ehlena Fry can move forward with a lawsuit her family filed when officials would not let her use her goldendoodle as an aid during school.

Fry has cerebral palsy and has had Wonder since kindergarten.

When her family filed the lawsuit, the school argued Fry would have to go through an administrative process first.

Michigan could have some older judges on the bench if a measure in Lansing moves ahead.

A recently introduced resolution to eliminate the age limit for Michigan judges got a hearing this week before the House Judiciary Committee. 

Right now, the Michigan Constitution says nobody can be elected or appointed judge after reaching the age of 70.

If the resolution passes by a two-thirds vote in both chambers of the state Legislature, voters would decide at the next general election whether to amend the Constitution to get rid of the age ceiling.

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