Student loan tax credits could keep graduates in Michigan, bill sponsor says

Capital New Service

LANSING — A bill to provide tuition tax credits for people paying off student loans is designed to keep young graduates in Michigan, but not everyone is convinced the plan will work.

Sen. Curtis Hertel Jr., an East Lansing Democrat, has introduced a bill to ease college graduates’ loan burdens for up to five years after graduation if they live and work in Michigan. The bill would give qualifying graduates a tax credit up to 50 percent of the amount paid on student loans — up to $2,150 for an individual, and $4,300 for a married couple per year.

“The governor has talked a lot about talent retention,” Hertel said. “I sat down with some of our major universities, and one of the issues we have is the overwhelming number of students that are leaving the state, and not moving into our state.

“For people that are working here, staying here and investing here, we would be able to provide a tax credit for the first five years to try to get them on their feet, and try to get them back as part of the economy.”
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Activists, localities work to keep fracking rare in Michigan


Capital News Service

LANSING — Across Michigan, citizen activists and environmental groups are working together to prevent the expansion of the fracking industry, which they view as a threat to Michigan’s environment.

Hydraulic fracturing, most commonly referred to as “fracking,” is a method used by energy producers to extract natural gas and oil from wells drilled thousands of feet beneath the earth’s surface.

Environmental groups believe that the extraction of natural gas via fracking poses a significant threat to the environment. In the past year local governments have worked with environmental groups to pass ordinances that restrict the fracking industry’s ability to mine.

Cannon Township, for example, approved an ordinance that included restrictions on dusk to dawn lighting, prohibiting unshielded lighting in all zoning districts. Most fracking operations run throughout the night, using lighting for their operations; therefore this ordinance would hinder a fracking operation’s efficiency.
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Stream app turns citizens into scientists


Capital News Service

LANSING – At the bottom of Chris Lowry’s research project homepage is a bold motto: “We
are all scientists.”

It’s a mantra that Lowry, an assistant professor of hydrogeology at the University of Buffalo in New York, follows while seeking to understand how water moving through watersheds changes over time across the Great Lakes region.
Lowery can’t collect data from more than 50 places at once by himself, so he’s recruiting “citizen scientists” in Michigan, Wisconsin and New York.


Sign at the Looking Glass explains how citizen scientists can text stream readings for analysis. Credit: Chris Lowry

His new phone app, CrowdHydrology, allows anyone to send information on stream depths in specific locations with the swipe of a thumb.
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One invasive species may have found a niche

Capital News Service

LANSING – Can invasive species be good news – rather than bad – for native fish in the Great Lakes?

That sounds counterintuitive, but a new study shows that the invasive round goby has become an important food source for several native species, especially smallmouth bass, but with benefits also for yellow perch and walleye.


Credit: Michigan Sea Grant.

Even so, there are still unknowns, including whether the round goby transports contaminants up through the food chain, said Derek Crane, the lead author and a research associate at Lake Superior State University.

The study calls the round goby “one of the most successful aquatic invaders” in the Great Lakes.
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Old barns, quilt trails preserve heritage, boost economy


Capital News Service

LANSING – Preserved barns help people remember rural history, save money and boost tourism revenue.

They represent our heritage and hold a special place in our collective rural memory, said Steve Stier, former president of the Michigan Barn Preservation Network.


A sunflower quilt block at White Barn Gardens near Harrisville. Credit: Cindi Van Hurk.

Tearing down old barns or replacing them with new pole barns isn’t always wise, Stier said. Disposing of an old barn can cost several thousand dollars.

“I tell folks that usually a barn can be repaired for about as much as it would be to dispose of it properly,” Stier said.
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Jan. 23, 2015 Budget

Capital News Service Budget – Jan. 23, 2015

To: CNS Editors

From: Perry Parks & Sheila Schimpf For technical problems, contact CNS tech manager Tanya Voloshina (248-943-8979)

You can email us at

WELCOME EDITORS: We’re pleased to offer the spring semester’s first file and look forward to working with you this semester.

FAREWELL, MICHIGAN CITIZEN: We’re sorry to report that the Michigan Citizen, a longtime CNS member, discontinued weekly print publication at the end of December. Its announcement cited “the overall decline of the newspaper industry.” Michigan Citizen has announced plans for a newsletter.

All articles ©2015, Capital News Service, Michigan State University School of Journalism. Nonmembers cannot reproduce CNS articles without written permission.


$25000BUCK: The Court of Appeals has ordered a Crawford County judge to reconsider whether a man imprisoned for poaching a 21-point buck at an upscale hunting ranch in Grayling must pay $25,000 restitution to the ranch that owned the trophy deer. The court did uphold the conviction and 13-month-to-15-year sentence in the case. By Eric Freedman. FOR CRAWFORD COUNTY, GLADWIN, CADILLAC, LUDINGTON, ALPENA, CHEBOYGAN, MANISTEE, BIG RAPIDS, PETOSKEY, TRAVERSE CITY, MARQUETTE, SAULT STE. MARIE, HOLLAND, GREENVILLE & ALL POINTS.
w/$25000BUCKPHOTO: Convicted poacher John Baker Jr. Credit: Department of Corrections.

STATESURPLUS: Whether it’s a used van with a wheelchair lift from the D.J. Jacobetti Home for Veterans in Marquette or clothing left behind at Michigan airports, the items are up for sale on MiBid, an Internet auction site overseen by Michigan’s State Surplus program, which brought in $1.5 million in 2012-13. A recent report from the Auditor General’s Office criticized the program for not doing well enough in tracking items that pass through its hands. We also talk to the Department of Technology, Management and Budget and the president of the Flint medical transportation company that bought the van. By Perry Parks. FOR GRAND RAPIDS BUSINESS JOURNAL, MARQUETTE, SAULT STE. MARIE & ALL POINTS.
w/STATESURPLUSPHOTO: Marquette’s D.J. Jacobetti Home for Veterans sold this surplus 2006 Chevy Express 3500 LS van on MiBid for $10,177. Credit: MiBid

DNAPROFILING: New legislation expanding the number of suspects required to submit a DNA sample upon arrest will become effective July 1. Is the potential to solve more cases and keep up with evolving technology worth the invasion of privacy? We talk to Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker, Shelli Weisberg of the American Civil Liberties Union and Lt. Chris Barsheff of the Grand Traverse County Sheriff’s Office. By Cheyna Roth FOR TRAVERSE CITY, HOLLAND, LANSING CITY PULSE, BIG RAPIDS, HERALD REVIEW, LAKE COUNTY & ALL POINTS.

ONLINESALESTAX: New legislation requires online retailers with  physical presence in Michigan to pay the state’s 6 percent sales tax. Proponents of the legislation, including many  business owners, believe this will allow local businesses to compete more fairly with online retailers. The legislation also captures tens of millions of dollars in new revenue for the state. By Collin Krizmanich. FOR ALPENA, CADILLAC, ALCONA, CRAWFORD COUNTY, TRAVERSE CITY, MANISTEE, LAKE COUNTY, PETOSKEY, CHEBOYGEN, HARBOR SPRINGS, ST. IGNACE, GLADWIN, LUDINGTON, BIG RAPIDS AND ALL POINTS.

YOUNGEXODUS: While much of the state  is losing its young and educated resident to neighboring states, the Greater Grand Rapids region is starting to see a reversal in the trend. According to 2013 census data, Michigan recorded a statewide loss of 3.5 percent of people aged 22 to 34 with a bachelor’s degree. While the data shows much of the state following this trend, a recent survey of the Greater Grand Rapids area tells a different story. By Caitlin McArthur. FOR GRAND RAPIDS BUSINESS JOURNAL, HOLLAND, MANISTEE, LUDINGTON AND ALL POINTS

UNDERFUNDEDMANDATES: Michigan has continued to hand down unfunded and underfunded mandates to local governments since a 2010 report confirmed the state was not bearing its share of the lead. We talk to officials in affected counties of Kent, Ottawa and Marquette counties. Sen. Tom Casperson of Escanaba, plans to reintroduce legislation that would prevent unfunded mandates. By Elizabeth Ferguson. FOR HOLLAND, MARQUETTE, SAULT STE. MARIE, BAY MILLS NEWS, GRAND RAPIDS BUSINESS & ALL POINTS.

BLISSFIELDMUSEUM: The Tri-County Historical Museum board is continuing to push forward in its efforts to bring a new agriculture museum to the Blissfield area. Recently the board has secured land to place the museum on, and have moved to planning their fundraising stage of the project, with hope of starting the fundraising within the next few weeks and working through the year to raise the necessary $8 million. By Josh Thall. FOR BLISSFIELD  AND ALL POINTS

w/BLISSFIELDMUSEUMPHOTO1: Up close look at some of the hundreds of farm toys from the collection acquired by the Tri-County Historical Museum, to be built in Blissfield. Photo courtesy of Pete Durbin.
w/BLISSFIELDMUSEUMPHOTO2: Hundreds of farm toys await display at the planned farm museum in Blissfield.

ONLINECLASSES: A recent survey of Michigan adults has named online course availability as an issue of interest in K-12 education. A 2013 law now requires schools to provide online options for their students, as well as detailing how they should be paid for and what options schools have in terms of venues for such programs. State school officials and local officials from Petoskey and Traverse City discuss the benefits of these courses, as well as what these new opportunities mean for students across the state. By Brooke Kansier. FOR TRAVERSE CITY, PETOSKEY, HARBOR SPRINGS, LANSING CITY PULSE, CHEBOYGAN, ST. IGNACE, CRAWFORD COUNTY, MANISTEE, CADILLAC AND ALL POINTS.

Parents are on board with online public education, survey says

Capital News Service

LANSING — Webcams and laptops might be replacing no. 2 pencils and spiral notebooks as the school supplies of choice in Michigan.

According to a survey by online course provider Michigan Virtual University, 79 percent of Michigan adults believe online courses are a valuable tool for middle and high school students. The survey also outlined interest in the way teachers are trained for these courses, and how districts support them.

Many of the state’s educators share these parents’ sense of online importance, offering a variety of online learning opportunities. In fact, since 2013, state law has required it.
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Fundraising planned for $8 million Blissfield farm museum

Capital News Service

LANSING – Efforts to bring a new agricultural museum to the Blissfield area are now focused on the next step in the museum process — fundraising.

Pete Durbin, chair of Tri-County Historical Museum, Inc., which owns the farm toy collection that is central to the museum’s conception, said the process began late last year with the hiring of Dwyer Philanthropy from Adrian to run the campaign.

museum photo1

Up close look at some of the hundreds of farm toys from the collection acquired by the Tri-County Historical Museum, to be built in Blissfiled. Photo courtesy of Pete Durbin.

According to Frank Baker, a board member of the Tri-County Historical Museum, formal fundraising has not begun, but intensive planning is underway to raise the $7 million to $8 million the museum is expected to cost.
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New law expands DNA collection from Michigan suspects

Capital News Service

LANSING – Authorities in Michigan will soon begin collecting DNA samples when they arrest felony suspects under a new law that significantly expands the number of people required to give up such information.

The law, which will take effect July 1, aims to increase the pool of samples investigators can use to match suspects with unsolved crimes. Under current law, DNA samples are required of people arrested for a violent felony, entering prison or convicted of specific felonies or misdemeanors. The new law will require samples at the time of arrest for any felony. Refusal to supply a DNA sample will be a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000.
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West Michigan retaining young, educated residents despite statewide trend

Capital News Service

LANSING –While many of Michigan’s counties are experiencing an exodus of the young and educated, the Greater Grand Rapids region is bucking the trend.

According to 2013 census data, Michigan lost 3.5 per cent of its population of people aged 22 to 34 with bachelor’s degrees to other states.

This follows net migration losses of the young and educated of 2.2 percent in 2012 and 2 percent in 2011. In 2010 the state lost 4.4 percent of this group to outmigration.
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