Capital News Service Budget – Feb. 27, 2015
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From: Perry Parks & Sheila Schimpf
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SIBLINGSEPARATION: At 14, Tiana Randolph called the police on her mother and stepfather in an attempt to protect her four younger siblings. Four years later three of the five children remain in foster care with the other two adopted out. State law allows for the adoptive families to limit or refuse contact with biological families, and Tiana has been cut off from two siblings. Sibling separation is a problem plaguing Michigan’s foster care system, child advocates say. Bob Wheaton, communications manager for the Department of Human Services, said around half the siblings who enter the system end up being split into different homes across the state. With commentary from children’s advocates and state officials. By Caitlin McArthur. FOR ALL POINTS
w/SIBLINGSEPARATION_PHOTO_Tiana_Randolph: Photo of Tiana Randolph, 18, who has been separated from her siblings after their adoption.
GRAYWOLVESSCIENCE: In all the political debate about the fate of the gray wolf, the scientists who actually study the animals have largely been overlooked. This story explores areas of scientific consensus and disagreement on the gray wolf’s recovery, including the central question of whether ending federal protection should revolve around the numbers of wolves, or the extent of their range. With scientists from the Department of Natural Resources, Olivet College, and around the Great Lakes states. By Brooke Kansier. FOR MARQUETTE, SAULT ST. MARIE, ST. IGNACE, PETOSKEY, MANISTEE, TRAVERSE CITY, ALPENA, ALCONA, BAY MILLS, LEELANAU, HARBOR SPRINGS, BIG RAPIDS, ALL POINTS
UBERLAW: The app-based taxi service Uber has grown quickly across Michigan with hubs in Kalamazoo, Ann Arbor, Lansing, Grand Rapids and Metro Detroit. A state lawmaker has reintroduced a bill that would set statewide standards for transportation network companies like Uber. But some legislators are not thrilled with removing local control from cities that have already set up rules for cabbies. By Cheyna Roth. FOR LANSING CITY PULSE, GRAND RAPIDS BUSINESS, AND ALL POINTS.
WINTERTOURISM: Since 2013, Traverse City Tourism has reshaped its promotional activities to reflect all the area has to offer winter tourists, which is much more than outdoor recreation. Local ski hills and culinary businesses make up the bulk of this area’s attractions. These local businesses attribute an increase in visitors to both Traverse City Tourism and Travel Michigan’s promotional strategies. We hear from state and local tourism officials, and two wineries about their new events that pair outdoor recreation with indoor tastings. By Elizabeth Ferguson. FOR TRAVERSE CITY, CADILLAC, PETOSKEY, CHEBOYGAN, HARBOR SPRINGS, MANISTEE, LUDINGTON, LAKE COUNTY, BIG RAPIDS, GRAND RAPIDS BUSINESS, AND ALL POINTS.
DISABILITYFRAUD: The State of Michigan has been looking at ways to prevent people from committing disability fraud, including an organization that works mainly to prevent these types of crimes to save taxpayers money. State officials say it is difficult to nail down a specific way of deciding what is and isn’t fraud since judges and doctors decide these issues on a case-by-case basis, and they do not have a set type of disabilities that would allow someone to qualify. By Josh Thall. FOR ALL POINTS
SNOWMOBILESAFETY: A recent state law has lowered the blood alcohol content level allowed for snowmobilers, contributing to the state’s 15-year effort to reduce snowmobile accidents linked to alcohol consumption. We hear from the executive director of the Michigan Snowmobile Association, the Alger County Sheriff, and an Eastern Upper Peninsula DNR recreation specialist about the continuous effort to keep snowmobile trails and snowmobilers safe. By Elizabeth Ferguson. FOR MARQUETTE, SAULT STE. MARIE, BAY MILLS, GRAND RAPIDS BUSINESS, TRAVERSE CITY, PETOSKEY, CHEBOYGAN, ST. IGNACE, ALPENA, GRAYLING, LUDINGTON, CADILLAC, LAKE COUNTY, BIG RAPIDS, GLADWIN, AND ALL POINTS.
DEGREEDEBATE: The debate surrounding the benefits of a two-year degree versus a four-year degree has heated up in recent months. As graduating high school students struggle with deciding on career paths, Michigan officials are sending mixed messages on whether they should focus on a two year or a four year degree. The real answer is it depends. With comparative employment statistics and comments from the university Presidents Council, higher education experts. By Cheyna Roth. LANSING CITY PULSE, GRAND RAPIDS BUSINESS, AND ALL POINTS.
BUDGETWINNERS: Not many areas are in line for a funding increase in Gov. Snyder’s austere 2016 budget, but some departments and programs are being singled out as priorities, including sexual assault investigations, third grade reading, and children’s dental health. This is an in-depth look at areas of the budget that enjoyed spending increases, and how that money will be spent. By Collin Krizmanich FOR ALL POINTS
ADULTEDGRANTS: A previously discontinued grant for those unable to finish their community college degree could be renewed under Gov. Snyder’s 2016 budget proposal. This could drive many adults to go back to school, giving them a boost in the job market. With comments from Mid Michigan Community College, Kellogg Community College, and the Michigan Community College Association. By Brooke Kansier. FOR PETOSKEY, CHEYBOYGAN, ST. IGNACE, TRAVERSE CITY, LANSING CITY PULSE, GLADWIN, AND ALL POINTS
HEROINUSE: Heroin-related deaths across the state is continuing to rise. Kent County, Manistee and Traverse City are identified as areas seeing an increase in overdoses. An upcoming forum will include a panel of experts discussing what they say is an epidemic for the state. Comment from university experts, a mental health worker in Traverse City, and the Department of Community Health. By Caitlin McArthur FOR TRAVERSE CITY, MANISTEE, GREENVILLE, AND ALL POINTS.
ABSENTEEVOTING: Michigan has fallen behind many other states in terms of how easy it is to vote and different ways that people can vote. A recent bill to allow no-reason absentee voting was defeated by Senate Republicans, but advocates are still pushing for reform. With reaction from state senators, a political science professor, and the Secretary of State’s office. By Josh Thall. FOR HOLLAND, LANSING, BLISSFIELD, STURGIS, THREE RIVERS AND ALL POINTS.
FISHHEADS: New research at MSU is using a stone found in the ears of Chinook salmon to identify what stream the fish was born in. The discovery may help scientists better understand how many salmon move from Lake Huron to Lake Michigan and, therefore, help fisheries managers may stocking decisions. By Eamon Devlin. FOR ALPENA, ALCONA, ST. IGNACE, SAULT STE. MARIE, MARQUETTE, BAY MILLS, TRAVERSE CITY, LEELANAU, PETOSKEY, HARBOR SPRINGS, LUDINGTON, MANISTEE, HOLLAND & ALL POINTS.
w/ FISHHEADSPHOTO: Young boy and father catching a Chinook salmon on Lake Michigan. Image: Eamon Devlin
THIRDGRADEREADING: Gov. Rick Snyder recently proposed funding for a statewide third grade reading initiative. We talk to experts on education and childhood learning to determine the scientific and sociological rationale behind the Governor’s initiative. By Collin Krizmanich. FOR ALL POINTS