Feb. 24, 2017 CNS Budget

Feb. 24, 2017

To: CNS Editors

From: Perry Parks and Sheila Schimpf

http://news.jrn.msu.edu/capitalnewsservice/

For technical problems, contact CNS technical manager Pechulano Ali, (517) 940-2313, pechulan@msu.edu.

For other issues contact Perry Parks, perryrobertparks@gmail.com, (517) 388-8627.

SPRING BREAK AHEAD: There will be no CNS file on Friday, March 10, because of the MSU spring break. We will have a regular file next week and will resume on Friday, March 17.

Here is your file:

CITIZENOVERSIGHT: By restoring previously-abolished DEQ citizen oversight commissions, recently proposed legislation would provide what advocates view as a much-needed additional level of accountability over the state agency. Proponents argue these commissions could prevent another environmental crisis like in Flint by giving community members a voice in the decision-making process. We speak with a DEQ spokesperson, the executive director of FLOW, a sponsor from Flint, the Sierra Club conservation chair and the MCWC president. By Laina Stebbins. FOR BIG RAPIDS, LAKE COUNTY, OSCEOLA, GLADWIN, GREENVILLE, OCEANA, GRAND RAPIDS BUSINESS & ALL POINTS

WATERSAMPLINGBILLS: Bills in the House and Senate would tighten water sampling practices to improve detection of dangerous elements such as lead. Among the changes proposed would be to eliminate ‘preflushing’ when taking a water sample.  Opponents of the practice say running water before testing it does not match how people actually consume water day-to-day. We talk a sponsor from East Lansing, the Sierra Club and a water health expert at MSU. By Laura Bohannon. FOR ALL POINTS

AFRICANAMERICANCOMMISSION: Sen. Rick Jones has re-introduced a bill to create an African-American affairs commission focused on better serving African-Americans in the state. We talk to Jones, the chair of the Traverse City Human Rights Commission, and the president of the Metropolitan Kalamazoo Branch of the NAACP about what the bill might mean for the state’s largest minority group. By Caitlin Taylor. FOR LANSING CITY PULSE, TRAVERSE CITY, LEELANAU, HOLLAND, THREE RIVERS, STURGIS & ALL POINTS.

CYBERSCHOOLFUNDING: The governor’s proposed budget pledged more state money to education, but that doesn’t apply to all schools. Under Snyder’s proposal, online charter school funding would be reduced to 80 percent of the per-pupil subsidy that physical schools receive. About $22 million would be transferred from publiclly funded cyber schools to conventional brick-and-mortar institutes, a foundation grant exchange that has created controversy among Michigan educators. Officials from the Department of Education, advocacy groups and school personnel address the issue. By Isaac Constans. FOR MANISTEE, LUDINGTON, LEELANAU, TRAVERSE CITY & ALL POINTS.

BIRDINGTRAILS: The Northwest Lower Peninsula is a paradise for birdwatchers. Piping plovers, on the endangered species list, and the snowy owl nest there in the winter. The region is a stopover for thousands of birds on their way to breeding grounds. The Petoskey Regional Audubon Society, with local conservancies, plans to celebrate the launch the Sunset Coast Birding Trail later this year. Lisa Hoyt, membership director at the Petoskey Regional Chamber of Commerce, said the trail provides new opportunity to bird lovers. The trail starts in Mackinaw City and follows a coastal corridor through Emmet, Charlevoix and Antrim counties. It joins six existing trails in the Upper andLlower peninsulas, plus a new one planned for Southeast Michigan later this year. We speak with tourism and conservation officials in Petoskey and a representative from the Michigan Sea Grant. By Chao Yan. FOR PETOSKEY, HARBOR SPRINGS, CHEBOYGAN, ST. IGNACE, MONTMORENCY, SAULT STE. MARIE, MARQUETTE & ALL POINTS.

VETCEMETERIES: More than 640,000 veterans live in Michigan, and nearly all are entitled to a benefit reserved for them — burial at a national cemetery with military honors. But many Michigan veterans are unaware of that benefit or many others available to them. In Michigan, burials are provided at two national cemeteries operated by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs: The Great Lakes National Cemetery in Holly Township, about 15 miles south of Flint, and the Fort Custer National Cemetery in Augusta, about six miles west of Battle Creek. We talk to cemetery administrators and veterans groups around the state. By Carl Stoddard. FOR THREE RIVERS, STURGIS, GREENVILLE, HOLLAND & ALL POINTS.
w/ CEMETERY1: More than 30,000 military veterans and their spouses are interred at the Great Lakes National Cemetery in Holly Township.  Photo: Carl Stoddard/Capital News Service
w/ CEMETERY2: Volunteers place wreaths on grave markers at the Great Lakes National Cemetery in Holly Township.  Photo: Carl Stoddard/Capital News Service

COUNTYFAIRS: County fairs, which are traditional tourism and entertainment draws for 4.5 million people annually around the state, are competing for a share of $300,000 in Department of Agriculture and Rural Development grants to improve their buildings and facilities. We hear from officials at the department and from the fair in Calhoun County. By Talitha Tukura Pam. FOR GREENVILLE, GRAND RAPIDS BUSINESS & ALL POINTS.

Lawmakers want citizen oversight of environmental decisions

By LAINA STEBBINS
Capital News Service

LANSING — Bills introduced by House and Senate Democrats would establish citizen oversight commissions to restore a layer of accountability in environmental enforcement – commissions which have not existed in Michigan for a quarter-century.

The boards would allow public input and oversight over the Department of Environmental Quality’s air quality, water quality and oil and gas operations throughout the state.

Rep. Sheldon Neeley, D-Flint, the House sponsor of one bill, said high-quality oversight like this is necessary to ensure that incidents like the Flint water crisis will not happen anywhere else in the state.

Continue reading

Bills seek to tighten standards for sampling water

By LAURA BOHANNON
Capital News Service

LANSING — Bills in the House and Senate would tighten water sampling practices to improve detection of dangerous elements such as lead.

Among the changes proposed would be to eliminate “preflushing” when taking a water sample. Preflushing is the practice of leaving cold water running for a few minutes the night before taking a water sample.

Opponents of the practice say running water before testing it does not match how people actually consume water day-to-day.

Continue reading

Grants aim to spruce up Michigan county fairgrounds

By TALITHA TUKURA PAM
Capital News Service

LANSING — Julia Arian had to look hard to find great food the last time she visited a county fair.

“There was only one dingy shelter that had a line that stretched out of the door serving food,” said Arian, a longtime fair enthusiast from Lansing.

“The shelter was not appealing at all.”

But the length of the line prompted her to try the food, “which ended up being fantastic!” she said.

Continue reading

Educators debate Snyder’s proposed cyber school cuts

By ISAAC CONSTANS

Capital News Service

LANSING — Gov. Rick Snyder’s proposed budget pledged more state money to education, but that doesn’t apply to all schools.

Under Snyder’s proposal, online charter school funding would be reduced to 80 percent of the per-pupil subsidy that physical schools receive.

About $22 million would be transferred from publicly funded cyber schools to conventional brick-and-mortar institutes, a foundation grant exchange that has created controversy among Michigan educators.  

“The notion is, does it cost the same when someone is taking a class virtually compared to someone who is taking a class in a brick-and-mortar school?” Michigan Superintendent of Public Instruction Brian Whiston said in explaining the rationale for the funding differences. Continue reading

Birdwatchers celebrate two new birding trails

By CHAO YAN
Capital News Service

LANSING — The Northwest Lower Peninsula is a paradise for birdwatchers.

Piping plovers, on the endangered species list, and the snowy owl nest there in the winter. The region is a stopover for thousands of birds on their way to breeding grounds.

The Petoskey Regional Audubon Society, in partnership with local conservancies, plans to celebrate the launch the Sunset Coast Birding Trail later this year.

Lisa Hoyt, membership director at the Petoskey Regional Chamber of Commerce, said the trail provides new opportunity to bird lovers. Continue reading

Senator renews push for African-American affairs commission

By CAITLIN TAYLOR
Capital News Service

LANSING — At 14 percent, African-Americans are the largest ethnic minority group in Michigan, according to census data, but there is no state commission dedicated to the needs of this community.

“Currently in Michigan, we have a Hispanic/Latino Commission, an Asian Pacific American Affairs Commission and a Commission on Middle Eastern American Affairs, but we have nothing in terms of civil rights for African-Americans,” said Sen. Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge. “I think this is a huge oversight.”

To bridge the gap, Jones re-introduced legislation this month to create an African-American affairs commission focused on improving equality and opportunity for African-Americans in the state.

Continue reading

Veterans qualify for burial, marker at national cemeteries

By CARL STODDARD
Capital News Service

LANSING — More than 640,000 veterans live in Michigan, and nearly all are entitled to a benefit reserved for them — burial at a national cemetery with military honors.

But many Michigan veterans are unaware of that benefit or many others available to them.

In Michigan, burials are provided at two national cemeteries operated by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs:

Continue reading

February 17, 2017 CNS Budget

Feb. 17, 2017

To: CNS Editors

From: Perry Parks and Sheila Schimpf

http://news.jrn.msu.edu/capitalnewsservice/

For technical problems, contact CNS technical manager Pechulano Ali, (517) 940-2313, pechulan@msu.edu.

For other issues contact Perry Parks, perryrobertparks@gmail.com, (517) 388-8627.

Here is your file:

BEACHGRANT: The Department of Environmental Quality is seeking proposals from local governments and nonprofit groups to monitor inland lakes. Winning proposals would share  $200,000 in two-year grants. Several agencies  plan to apply for this grant later this month. Local advocates said the funds could be insufficient to cover all the lakes they want to test. Another goal is to promote more efficient test technology to help localities respond more quickly to health threats. We talk to experts based in Traverse City, Bay City and the Central Michigan Health District. By Chao Yan. FOR TRAVERSE CITY, CHEBOYGAN, PETOSKEY, HARBOR SPRINGS, LEELANAU, GLADWIN, HERALD-REVIEW & ALL POINTS. Continue reading

Private well water quality unregulated after installation

By LAURA BOHANNON
Capital News Service

LANSING — Even though Michigan has the most private wells in the nation, no state regulations control how often that water should be tested.

A quarter of Michigan’s residents rely on well water, according to Michigan’s 21st Century Infrastructure Committee’s most recent report. But the state has set no standard for monitoring the quality of water from private wells, Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) source water unit supervisor Matt Gamble said.

“Private wells get tested when they’re installed and they may never be sampled again,” Gamble said. “There is no requirement — at least no statewide requirement — for a homeowner to have their well sampled on any schedule.”

Gamble said the DEQ frequently learns of contaminated well water. When it hears of new cases, the department responds through a program that funds projects to replace contaminated wells and connect residents to municipal water.

And some local communities require well inspections when a house changes hands, similar to a lead paint inspection, Gamble said. Continue reading