September 23, 2016 Budget

To: CNS Editors

From: Sheila Schimpf and Andi Brancato For technical problems, contact CNS tech manager Pechulano Ali (517) 940 2313, For other problems contact David Poulson,

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SHAREROAD: Passing motorists would have to give a five-foot berth to bicyclists under proposed legislation that also requires harsher penalties for causing accidents that injure or kill cyclists. We talk to a Traverse City bicycle shop owner and the manager of another one, a state representative from Portage and the secretary of state’s office. By Alexander Smith. FOR TRAVERSE CITY AND ALL POINTS.

SAMARITAN: Gov. Rick Snyder is expected to sign into law this week a bill that would prohibit criminal prosecution of people who report overdoses of illegal prescription drugs. We talk to a state representative from Stevensville, a Michigan State Police sergeant and the mother of a 16-year-old from Watervliet who died of an overdose because his friends were afraid to call for  help. By Ray Wilbur. FOR ALL POINTS

PARENTALALIENATION: Courts would have to assume that joint custody is in the best interests of children of divorced parents under proposed legislation. We talk to a Traverse City judge, a Grandville family practice attorney, state representatives from White Lake, Harrison Township and Muskegon, and the Michigan Coalition to End Domestic and Sexual Violence. By Karen Hopper Usher. FOR GRAND RAPIDS BUSINESS JOURNAL, TRAVERSE CITY RECORD EAGLE, LEELANAU ENTERPRISE AND ALL POINTS

RECYCLING: Emmet County wins recognition for its recycling program and is continuing to expand on its current offerings. Other municipalities are looking at Emmet County’s best practices to develop programs of their own but some believe that what Emmet is doing won’t work for them. Recyclers, however, say the key to a successful program is to start somewhere and continue to refine the process. By Bridget Bush. FOR PETOSKEY NEWS REVIEW AND HARBOR LIGHT, GRAND RAPIDS BUSINESS JOURNAL AND ALL POINTS

MDOTFUNDS: Michigan seniors will benefit from a $1 million federal grant for non-emergency medical transportation. This will help them get to health appointments and other places on their own, increasing their independence. We talk to the Michigan Department of Transportation and an Ottawa County senior transport coordinator.  By Anthony Harvey. FOR ALL POINTS

Federal grant aids seniors’ transportation


Capital News Service

LANSING – Seniors will be one step closer to independence with the help of a $1 million federal grant to assist them in getting to doctors’ appointments.

U.S. Sens. Gary Peters and Debbie Stabenow, both Democrats, announced that a grant to the Michigan Department of Transportation would allow more access to transportation to and from physician visits, appointments and other tasks. The grant would assist non-emergency transportation services that use buses or vans to accommodate seniors.

MDOT sponsored a grant application from the Michigan Transportation Connection, a statewide nonprofit, under a federal program called Rides to Wellness Demonstration and Innovative Coordinated Access and Mobility.

“We were the supporters of the grant for the Michigan Transportation Connection. But the Michigan Transportation Connection will implement the structure of the Rides to Wellness programs,” said Tim Fischer, director of communications for MDOT Continue reading

Northern Michigan pioneers effort to reduce food waste


Capital News Service

LANSING – Emmet County’s recycling program has been recognized as one of four model programs in the state for having a high quality service that matches the needs of the community.

The Michigan Profile of Recycling Programs and Potential Recycling studied recycling programs across the state, concluding that the level of participation among residents and businesses is a strong social cue to encourage others to recycle. The study was done by the Northeast Michigan Council of Governments with a grant from the Department of Environmental Quality.

Under a recent law signed by Gov. Rick Snyder, beginning October 1, establishments that recycle 100 tons or more per year must collect data and report their activities to the state. The law requires the Department of Environmental Quality to operate a statewide database of recycling efforts, exclusive of food waste, by the facilities, which will be published annually online. Continue reading

Legislature divides over parenting


Capital News Service

LANSING – Michigan custody law should reflect the changing Michigan family.

That’s the sentiment behind a bill in the House Committee on Families, Children and Seniors that would revise the Child Custody Act of 1970 which says parents have to be “advised” of joint custody as an option. Meanwhile, a resolution, passed by the committee, would raise awareness of parental alienation.

Under the proposed “Michigan Shared Parenting Act,” courts would presume joint custody is in the best interest of the child, unless certain conditions are met. Those conditions would include the parents agreeing not to have joint custody or a judge believing the child would be “materially harmed” by joint custody.

In a letter to the committee, the Michigan Judges Association said the new version of the bill contains provisions “in direct conflict with the best interests of children. Continue reading

Good Samaritan bill expected to be signed into law


Capital News Service

LANSING — Two pills and a night in December of 2014 changed the lives of one Michigan family and in turn spawned an effort to help families affected by drug overdose deaths across the state.

Mason Mizwicki, 16, of Watervliet, died of a methadone overdose on New Year’s Day of 2015 after a party with friends. Mizwicki took two methadone pills that had been provided by a woman hosting the party.

Methadone is an opioid medication administered to reduce withdrawal symptoms in people addicted to heroin.

When he began having a seizure, his friends did nothing. They were too afraid to call the police for fear of criminal charges.

Gov. Rick Snyder is expected to sign into law a bill that would address tragic scenarios like Mizwicki’s by exempting people who call law enforcement agencies for help in an overdose situation from facing criminal charges. Continue reading

Bills would add time to driver’s ed


Capital News Service

LANSING — Bicyclists may be safer when riding on Michigan roads if new driver’s education bills are passed by the Legislature.

The proposals would require vehicles to be at least 5 feet away when passing a cyclist and create harsher penalties for injuring or killing a rider. They would also require three hours of instruction on bicycle and motorcycle awareness as part of driver’s education.

According to the Office of Highway Safety Planning, crashes between motorists and bicyclists rose 57 percent from 2014 to 2015. Between Jan. 1 and Aug. 30  this year, 18 bicyclists died from crashes with vehicles.

Some cities have local laws about how close a car can pass a bicyclist, but according to bill sponsor Sen. Margaret O’Brien, R-Portage, a state law needs to set a uniform standard. Continue reading

September 16, 2016 Budget

Sept. 16, 2016 — Week 2

To: CNS Editors

From: David Poulson and Sheila Schimpf

For technical problems, contact CNS technical manager Pechulano Ali, (517) 940 2313,

For other issues contact David Poulson,, (517) 899-1640

CORRECTION: Editors note that a story that moved Sept. 7 called, Waters rise, gas prices drop and boats boom in summer 2016 has been updated to correct the length of the “looper” trail, the time it takes to complete it and where increased traffic was noted.

Here is your file:

Schools and local governments face elections without candidates

NOBODYRUNNING: No candidates are running in more than 150 local government races in the November election. That includes school board races where candidates may be discouraged by lengthy six-year terms and difficult funding challenges. The Michigan Association of School Boards says its campaign to recruit candidates has reduced races without contenders, but more are needed. We talk to school officials in Sturgis Public Schools, Wolverine Community Schools, Ishpeming Public School District and Sault Ste. Marie Area Schools and MSU’s Institute for Public Policy and Social Research. By Karen Hopper Usher. FOR SAULT STE. MARIE, MARQUETTE, ST. IGNACE, STURGIS, THREE RIVERS, CHEBOYGAN and ALL POINTS.

W/NOBODYRUNNINGSIDEBAR: A MSU political leadership program teaches you how to run for office. By Karen Hopper Usher. FOR ALL POINTS.

State lawmakers could stop local governments from taxing plastic bags

PLASTICBAGS: Lawmakers are considering banning local governments from taxing plastic bags, a source of revenue that some communities say they need to battle difficult to handle waste. Washtenaw County passed a tax on plastic bags set to go into effect next April. The state move, which could hit the House floor soon, would void that ordinance and tothers We talk to the bill’s co-sponsor from Midland; the chair of the House Commerce and Trade Committee from Argentine Township; Michigan Recycling Coalition; the Grocers Association a Washtenaw County commissioner and the Michigan Environmental Council. Cosponsors are from Traverse City, Clarklake, Harrison Township and Frankenmuth.By Ray Wilbur. FOR GRAND RAPIDS BUSINESS, TRAVERSE CITY, LEELANAU AND ALL POINTS.

Schools could benefit from state reform of how they can spend local tax dollars

SINKINGFUND: School districts could have an easier time paying for security systems and classroom electronics if lawmakers  broaden the use of millages they collect. Supporters say it’s the best shot they’ve had in decades to better leverage what are called sinking funds as long-time opponents are reassured by provisions that limit their use. Still critical needs like replacing aging buses are not covered by the proposal. By Alexander Smith. FOR ALL POINTS.

The need for technology skills by Michigan students is getting attacked on multiple fronts

CSLEARNING – Lawmakers, university officials and local schools have taken up the fight to improve how well students learn to be high tech producers and consumers. We talk to Michigan State University officials who are creating new classes for student teachers,  officials looking to make computer programming meet a foreign language requirement while schools like Ludington have a full-time technology coach. By Bridget Bush. FOR LUDINGTON, MANISTEE, GRAND RAPIDS BUSINESS AND ALL POINTS.

Hefty increase in beer tax proposed, criticized

BEERTAX – Michigan beermakers say a plan to raise the tax on beer falls flat just as the state’s craft beer industry is booming. By Anthony Harvey. FOR LANSING CITY PULSE, GRAND RAPIDS BUSINESS, ALL POINTS.

Bill to reduce zero tolerance policies in schools has bipartisan support

ZEROTOLERANCE – Lawmakers are considering easing mandatory expulsions from school for some offenses involving weapons other than guns and violence. By Caitlin DeLuca. FOR ALL POINTS.

Chumming ban upsets anglers

CHUMMINGBAN: The new state ban on scattering fish parts and eggs to lure fish in trout streams is angering many guides and anglers who argue it will damage Michigan’s fishing tourism economy. Chumming is especially helpful in fall and winter, when steelhead metabolism slows and fish are less likely to bite. The Natural Resources Commission say chumming carries the risk of spreading disease. We talk to fishing guides from Newaygo, as well as the Michigan and Ohio DNRs, MUCC and Trout Unlimited. By Marie Orttenberger. FOR CADILLAC, CHEBOYGAN, GREENVILLE, LUDINGTON, PETOSKEY, BIG RAPIDS, OCEANA, ALCONA, MONTMORENCY, SAULT STE. MARIE, HOLLAND, MANISTEE, LAKE COUNTY, HERALD-REVIEW, STURGIS, THREE RIVERS, BLISSFIELD, HARBOR SPRINGS, LEELANAU, MARQUETTE, ST. IGNACE, BAY MILLS, CRAWFORD COUNTY, GLADWIN & ALL POINTS.

w/CHUMMINGBANPHOTO1: Lake Erie steelhead. Credit: Wikipedia Commons  W/CHUMMINGBANPHOTO2

Book tells story of sailor’s survival of Lake Huron shipwreck

SHIPWRECK: A new book about a Lake Huron shipwreck 50 years ago explains how a sailor survived bitter cold on board a raft and a lifetime of guilt as the only one to escape alive. w/SHIPWRECKBOOKCOVERPHOTO AND SCHUMACHERPHOTO. By Natasha Blakely. FOR ALCONA, MONTMORENCY, CHEBOYGAN, ST. IGNACE, LUDINGTON, PETOSKEY, TRAVERSE CITY, MARQUETTE, SAULT STE. MARIE, HOLLAND, MANISTEE, LUDINGTON, LEELANAU, BAY MILLS, HARBOR SPRINGS AND ALL POINTS

Hefty increase in beer tax proposed, criticized


Capital News Service

LANSING – Critics say that a recent proposal to increase the tax on beer is unlikely to get much support from businesses.

The bill comes as the craft beer industry is booming in Michigan.

“I did not sign on to change horses in the midrace when I started my business,” said Matt Greff, owner and operator of Arbor Brewing Company in Ann Arbor.

Greff said craft beer brewers and those trying to capture a piece of this market would be severely crippled by the tax.

There is an existing tax climate when entrepreneurs start news businesses.
“These craft beer businesses are simply not equipped to handle the financial burden of such a dramatic increase,” Greff said.

Rep. Thomas Hooker, R-Byron Center, proposed a tax increase from $6.30 to $21.70 a barrel. That would increase wholesale prices, and in turn, would be passed on to customers.

The tax would mean an additional five cents for a 12-ounce glass. Hooker plans to use the revenue to fund programs to reduce alcohol-related violence.

“This tax is a terrible idea with this increase of almost 250 percent,” said Scott Graham, executive director of the Michigan Brewers Guild. “Increasing it further does nothing but harm the craft beer economy.”

A proposed alcohol tax increase is not a new idea for Michigan.

“We’ve been having the conversation about excise tax on beer and alcohol for at least five or six years,” said Marie Hansen, the business manager of Michigan Alcohol Policy Promoting Health and Safety. “There are so many costs associated with alcohol-related violence anytime police departments or hospitals are involved. Some form of control should have been in effect.”

The bill is in the House Regulatory Reform Committee. Its chances are unknown but Hooker is up for re-election this November.

“The bill is absolutely ludicrous,” Greff said. “(Hooker) is trying to push his idea of alcohol consumption control through this bill. But this is not the way to go about it.”

Bill to reduce zero-tolerance policies in schools has bipartisan support


Capital News Service

LANSING — A bill aimed at reducing the number of suspensions and expulsions of students in Michigan schools could move to the Senate floor soon.

In Michigan, a zero-tolerance policy covers a plethora of situations in schools, including physical violence, possession of any weapon, tobacco, alcohol and bomb or similar threats.

That means that a student who commits any of those behaviors must be suspended or expelled for at least a year. The mandatory punishment leaves the schools’ hands tied.

The bill would remove mandatory suspensions or expulsions for some of these misbehaviors. It would exclude firearms, which are included in a zero-tolerance policy mandated by the federal government.

The bill would leave the decision up to the district, where administrators would have to consider factors such as age, history of discipline, disability and intent of the action. Continue reading

Program teaches citizens how to run for office


Capital News Service

EAST LANSING – Running for office doesn’t have to be confusing. The Michigan Political Leadership Program at Michigan State University teaches you how to do it.

The fellowship teaches campaigning, policy, bipartisanship and other skills.

The application deadline is Friday, Sept. 23.

Applications are available online at You can also get more information by calling (517) 353-0891.