Michigan News

In a letter to Governor Rick Snyder, Michigan's Democratic members of the U.S. House of Representatives asked that he stop the Michigan School Reform Office from closing 38 schools.

U.S. Reps. John Conyers, Debbie Dingell, Dan Kildee, Brenda Lawrence, and Sander Levin requested that the governor not close any schools without input and support from local communities.

The representatives cited the negative impacts of school closings, such as the burdens placed on working families that may face longer commutes.

You may have heard that the state is planning to close as many as 38 schools by this summer, the bulk of which are in Detroit. That’s a big deal for a whole lot of families, and so far, the state isn’t giving them much guidance about what to do. So let’s walk through where things stand.

A survey of local officials across the state finds wide interest in overhauling Michigan’s emergency manager law.       

The survey of officials from 1,300 cities, counties, townships, and villages was conducted by the University of Michigan’s Ford School of Public Policy.

There was no consensus on what to about financially struggling local governments, says survey director Tom Ivacko. But he says says there was general agreement that emergency managers have too much power.

Lawmakers in Lansing might not try to do away with the state income tax after all; but, they are still looking to reduce it.

A new version of the bill would gradually cut the tax from 4 point 25 percent to 3 point 9 percent.

Bill sponsor Representative Lee Chatfield says he is happy with the changes.

“Our goal all along has been to deliver on the promise made to the people back in 2007, and we think the legislation in its current form with the substitute accomplishes that goal,” he said.

2016 was a good year for Michigan home builders – just not as good as expected.

Data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows 15,176 permits were issued in Michigan for new home construction in 2016. That’s the highest since 2006 (16,538).  

But that’s 1,700 fewer permits than were forecasted.    

Bob Filka, with the Michigan Home Builders Association, says the industry should be doing better.

“When you look at the job creation numbers in the state, the unemployment level,” says Filka, “we should have more housing investment happening right now and we’re not.”

Planning your next winter excursion in Michigan could get harder this year. 

Unusually warm temperatures throughout the state, including record highs in certain areas over the weekend, have led tourism experts and representatives to question whether enough snow will stay on the ground to support outdoor activities. 

Students at Michigan State University can no longer have message whiteboards mounted on their dorm doors, starting this fall. Misuse of the whiteboards has made them more trouble than they're worth.

Kat Cooper is Director of Communications for Residential Services at MSU.  She says too often, students would scrawl offensive comments on the whiteboards. 

"Racist, sexist, anything in that category. Those have happened. There's been issues with them for a long time," says Cooper. "People write things on them that really aren't not part of our value set at MSU."

Dr. Larry Nassar, a former athletic doctor at Michigan State University and USA Gymnastics, was sentenced to 40 to 175 years in prison today.  He pled guilty to seven counts of sexual assault in Ingham County court last November.

Last summer Nassar also pled guilty to federal charges for possessing thousands of images of child pornography. More than 120 women and girls tell MSU police that Nassar sexually abused them under the guise of treatment.

Nassar was fired from MSU in September 2016. The university has hired attorneys to investigate who knew what about the allegations against Nassar.

MSU says it has no plans to release that internal review.

Meanwhile, lawsuits against Nassar and the university allege that MSU officials have been receiving reports of abuse since 1999.

State funding for higher education in the U.S. is showing continued growth overall. That's according to the results of the latest Grapevine survey, an annual compilation of data on state fiscal support for higher education.

State funding rose by 3.4% across the U.S. from the 2015-16 to 2016-17 fiscal years. James Palmer is a professor of higher education at Illinois State University and Grapevine Editor.

State House Republicans are aggressively pushing through an income tax cut and rollback, despite numerous questions raised during a committee hearing about what funding cuts could happen in other areas if the bill passes.

A bill that would cut the state income tax and eventually phase it out altogether over 40 years was voted out of committee Wednesday. This happened after an hour and a half of testimony and over requests to hold off on a vote from some Democratic members.

A federal appeals court says the Jackson County Commission regularly violated the U.S. Constitution by opening its meetings with a Christian prayer.

In a 2-1 ruling, a panel of the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals held the commission violated the Establishment Clause.  The Establishment Clause says government bodies cannot favor one religion over others.

Members of the MSU women's gymnastics team were told to say "no comment" to any reporters or police asking about sexual abuse allegations against the team physician, Dr. Larry Nassar.

That’s according to a lawsuit (which you can read here) filed by a scholarship student on the team, who also says she was repeatedly assaulted by Nassar as a child.

A team meeting in September 

The Michigan Board of Education wants Governor Snyder's School Reform Office to call off closing any schools this fall. It joins a growing chorus of protest by parents and school administrators against possible school closures.

Last month the School Reform Office announced that 38 schools are at risk of closure because of persistently low standardized test scores. The office said it was reviewing whether a closing would create "unreasonable hardship" before it reaches a final decision on closing a school.

One of Governor Snyder’s key advisors says “there’s no way in the world” the state will close 38 “failing” schools this year.

That’s what Rich Baird told the crowd at a Detroit meeting about potential school closures Monday night.

The State School Reform Office has sent letters to parents at 38 schools across the state, warning they could be shut down because of persistently low test scores. 25 of those schools are in Detroit.

A Michigan agency is seeking public comment on a recommendation creating uniform standards for public defenders in the state.

The 15-member Michigan Indigent Defense Commission created the proposal. The standards include better education and training for attorneys and mandatory interviews with defendants, along with other practices that improve legal service.

Commission Chair James Fisher says that these recommendations are necessary to improve a Michigan public defense system that, in his eyes, is failing and inconsistent in too many areas. 

After 27 years on the job, Kathie Klages is resigning as head coach of women’s gymnastics at MSU. She denies any knowledge about Dr. Larry Nassar’s alleged years-long, repeated sexual abuse of MSU gymnasts.

Two women have filed court documents claiming they told Klages about Nassar’s alleged assaults back in the 1990s. He wasn’t fired from MSU until earlier this past fall.  

Tomorrow, Flint Mayor Karen Weaver will discuss what’s next for her city, now that the governor has refused to restart state credits on Flint water bills.

Gov. Rick Snyder met with Mayor Weaver Tuesday afternoon.  Snyder described the meeting as “constructive," but the governor is not budging on the decision to end state credits on city tax bills.

MC Sports announced yesterday that the company has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, and has begun the process of store liquidation.

The Grand Rapids-based company operates 68 store locations across the Midwest, including 22 in Michigan, and employs 1,300 people.

In a statement, MC Sports President and CEO Bruce Ullery said that the sports supplier has been unable to compete with online retailers.

More from yesterday's announcement:

The state office charged with possibly closing some Michigan schools for poor performance is midway through a critical review of some three dozen schools.

The Michigan School Reform Office is spending the next few weeks studying whether schools like Saginaw High School should close.    They’ll be at the school Monday morning.    

Saginaw school district leaders are considering going to court to fight any potential move by the state to close their schools.  

State School Reform officer Natasha Baker says she’s not paying attention to the potential legal challenge.

Michigan State University says the marching band director was suspended for a week last year for violating sexual misconduct policy.

Spokesman Jason Cody says he can't discuss specific allegations against John Madden. He says the suspension was in late May and early June. The campus newspaper, The State News, reported Thursday that a band member complained after getting text messages from Madden in 2015 and 2016.

More than 600 people showed up to a town hall meeting hosted by Congressman Justin Amash Thursday night. It was his second Grand Rapids town hall in less than a month and it was the second time so many people showed up they had to close the doors and turn people away.

Some Michigan members of Congress have been criticized lately for avoiding constituents.

But town halls are not new for Amash. The Republican says he’s always felt taking unscripted questions from his constituents, in person, is part of the job. But under the new administration, the crowds have been major.

EAST LANSING, Mich. - Three Michigan State University football players are suspended from team activities and removed from on-campus housing as part of a sexual assault investigation.

The school says in a release Thursday that a staff member associated with the football program also has been suspended.

Police are expected to forward reports in the case to prosecutors for possible criminal charges.

As the state School Reform Office moves closer to potentially closing multiple schools across Michigan, a bill ending the law is being hotly debated in the Legislature.

Republican Senator and chair of the Senate Education Committee, Phil Pavlov, is sponsoring a bill that would repeal the law allowing the SRO to close consistently low performing schools.

During last week’s meeting about the new bill, the School Reform Office was criticized by school administrators and parents. They said there is not a consistent method for measuring school progress and quality.

Michigan’s elections chief says it appears there were 31 instances of people casting two ballots in the 2016 election, but it doesn’t seem to have changed any results. That was the finding of audits of the election results, as well as a separate inquiry into ballot irregularities in Detroit.

Congressman Dan Kildee, D-Flint, is proposing a ban on certain types of fish farming in the Great Lakes region.  

In Fenton today, Kildee said federal laws are needed to replace a patchwork of state laws in the region that are insufficient to regulate the aquaculture industry.    

“These fish farms create all sorts of pollution…and increase the likelihood of significant impact on habitat,” says Kildee.  

Here are Kildee’s two bills:

The state of Michigan is stopping a pair of financial lifelines that helped Flint residents through the city’s water crisis.

A year ago, Gov. Rick Snyder signed legislation reimbursing Flint residents who were charged for water they could not safely drink. The money has been critical to city efforts to encourage Flint residents to run water through their taps in hopes of facilitating efforts to heal the damage done by improperly treated Flint River water.

Detroit's Public Health Director is running for Governor in 2018.

Dr. Abdul El-Sayed made his announcement after resigning from his health position on Monday. The 32 year-old former Rhodes scholar hopes to center his campaign around inclusion and equality in Michigan communities. 

The Secretary of the Marquette County Republican Party has stepped down after he tweeted the suggestion that violent protestors at the University of California - Berkeley should be shot.

Dan Adamini says he resigned so he isn't a distraction to the work of the Republican Party.

"Whenever you join an organization, you want to do it because you can be helpful," said Adamini. "And with all the hateful messages and death threats that have been coming not just to me but to other people in the party, I thought it would be best if I stepped aside." 

In a late night vote, the Paw Paw School Board voted to keep the Redskin name and image as its mascot.

Supporters for keeping the mascot say the name is not used in a derogatory way and is a respected identifier for the community.

Paw Paw High School sophomore Morgan Dwyer says changing the name is an issue being pushed by outsiders, who she likened to school bullies.

“Ever since you’re little your parents always tell you, don’t shape who you are to please other people and I mean, I don’t know, I just feel this whole ordeal is a bigger version of that,” she said.

There’s a young couple in Washtenaw County trying to get off heroin. They say so far, they’re doing great. After 22 months in treatment, she’s going to community college and he says he’s working at a high-end grocery store.

They’re just two of the 20,000 low-income Michiganders who now have free access to drug treatment.

But because it’s tied up with the Affordable Care Act, nobody knows if it’s going to last.

By 7:00 Thursday morning, the methadone clinic is already bustling

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