Michigan News

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The Trump administration recently rescinded federal guidelines that made clear that Title IX protects transgender youth from discrimination in schools and colleges.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

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