Lance Cohen is a correspondent for Capital News Service for fall 2018. He primary serves Cheboygan Daily Tribune, Lake County Star, Sturgis Journal, Three Rivers Commercial-News, Blissfield Advance, Montmorency County Tribune and Big Rapids Pioneer.
Michigan law enforcement officials are worried about how they will enforce driving while high laws if the recreational marijuana ballot proposal is approved this November. They say there is no good roadside test like a breathalyzer for alcohol. We talk to the Cheboygan County undersheriff and the executive director of the Michigan Association of Chiefs of Police.
LANSING — A new task force will sort through thousands of comments to help educational officials update social studies standards. The Department of Education recently selected a task force made up of volunteers to review an online survey and comments from 18 statewide hearings. The department received more than 4,000 comments both online and in person, said Bill DiSessa, a communications officer for the agency. The task force will prepare a draft of standards that will go before the state Board of Education, he said. The goal is to provide educators with better guidance on what they should teach.
LANSING — Michigan health officials now have access to national records that will help them examine disparities in life expectancy in different parts of the state. The U.S. Small Area Life Expectancy Project is the first initiative to measure life expectancy at birth for neighborhoods across the country.
This data has provided insight into community health and shows that not everyone has the same opportunity to be healthy where they live, said Bob Wheaton, public information officer for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. “There can be big differences between health outcomes even within the same county, so this narrows it down to neighborhoods and communities,” Wheaton said. “From this information we can examine the factors that might be influencing longevity whether it be access to health care, safe or affordable housing, educational opportunities and other factors as well.”
One of the largest problems with previous data is that life expectancy in counties and zip codes is not uniform, said Glenn Copeland, registrar from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Division for Vital Records and Health Statistics.
County veteran services are poised to get an additional $2 million this year that could lead to more counties opening offices and counties with offices expanding their services. The new County Veteran Service Fund will give at least $25,000 to each county that fund veteran service programs or open new offices and that apply. But some counties have suggested that the paperwork is too demanding.
Certain child-proof medicine containers could become adult-proof, too, under legislation sought by a state lawmaker and gaining local support. The idea is to limit access to opioid medicine bottles with a lock requiring a code to open. Experts say a leading contributor to opioid addiction is the theft of small amounts of pills from someone who has a prescription for a legitimate use of the medication. By Lance Cohen.
While state officials propose funding increases for the K-12 education budget, the impact is blunted by two large drains on the fund–pensions and higher education. Gov. Rick Snyder has proposed a diversion of the funds into higher education while current and legacy pension costs increase every year, school officials say.
Local school districts in October can administer an additional set of student tests to assess student performance beyond the annual M-STEP exams. Officials say the new tests can help measure growth through the year, rather than simply getting the results after it’s too late.
On Nov. 11, the Lansing Immigrant Defense group hosted a Rapid Response Training at the Foster Community Center to discuss actions to support immigrants and their families in the event of a deportation. The training discussed direct action tactics, risk and safety assessment and an overview of how rapid response fits into the larger picture of immigrant support in Lansing. In Lansing, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has made no deportations. However, group members said they believe that ICE will begin to amp up their actions in the Lansing community over the next few months.
On Nov. 5, people from the Greater Lansing community attended the Refugee Appreciation Day event hosted by the Refugee Development Center (RDC) at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Greater Lansing. A reception was held to honor refugee stories from the Center and an art show was presented by the Niagara Foundation’s youth. High school students from the area participated in the art show creating displays based on the theme “Compassion in Action.”
These displays shared the many ways that people can cultivate compassion into their daily lives and the lives of others. Mariah Shafer currently works as the senior school liaison with the Refugee Development Center and volunteers in organization since 2007.
Voters in the Lansing area are using Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to share their excitement to vote in this year’s local election. Some people shared their “I Voted” sticker while others posted motivating messages attempting to get others to head to the polls. https://storify.com/lancecohen320/lansing-voters-use-social-media-to-express-voting–5a01db7b718daf7b1b58b589
All public posts were collected using Banjo and Storify.