April 18, 2014 CNS Budget

April 18, 2014 – Week 13

To: CNS Editors

From: Eric Freedman & Sheila Schimpf

http://news.jrn.msu.edu/capitalnewsservice. For technical problems, contact tech manager Andrea Raby at rabyand1@msu.edu or 616-914-96760.

MDOT AHEAD: On Monday, April 21, your correspondents will interview MDOT Director Kirk Steudle.

LAST REGULAR FILE AHEAD: Next Friday, April 25, will be our last regular file of the semester. The following Friday, May 2, will be our traditional Bonus Week file of still-timely stories you may not have had space for earlier.

All stories ©2014 by Capital News Service, Michigan State University School of Journalism. Nonmembers cannot reproduce CNS articles without written permission.

HERE’S YOUR FILE:

GOLF: A tougher-than-normal winter means many golf courses, especially in southern Michigan, are opening later than usual. That means a revenue loss, plus vulnerability of the grass to fungi. We hear from golf course managers in Alpena, Traverse City and Lansing, as well as the Golf Course Superintendents Association. For news and sports pages. By Nick Stanek. FOR ALPENA, TRAVERSE CITY, GRAND RAPIDS BUSINESS & ALL POINTS.

TEENPREGNANCIES: The Department of Community Health reports that teen pregnancies are generally down in the state—except among 10-14-year-olds. That uptick may be only a one-year anomaly . We hear from the department, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and a Farmington Hills-based parent group that runs programs in high-risk areas such as Detroit, Muskegon and Saginaw. By Lacee Shepherd. FOR MICHIGAN CITIZEN, MACOMB, ROYAL OAK, DEADLINE DETROIT & ALL POINTS.

CHILDRENHEALTH: The Department of Community Health is pushing a pilot project to expand health centers for low-income children and youth and to provide them more mental health services. We hear from the department and School-Community Health Alliance. Senators from Ann Arbor and Saginaw are among the big supporters. By Danielle Woodward. FOR MICHIGAN CITIZEN, DEADLINE DETROIT, MACOMB, ROYAL OAK & ALL POINTS.

ROADFUNDING: Michigan’s not the only state with road woes. However, its unusual funding formula for maintenance and construction, coupled with low diesel and fuel taxes, create some unique problems. Legislators from Traverse City and Marshall  are trying yet again to raise fuel taxes. We hear from MDOT, an MSU economist, the state Chamber of Commerce and transportation officials in Indiana and Wisconsin. By Darcie Moran. FOR GRAND RAPIDS BUSINESS, STURGIS, THREE RIVERS, MARQUETTE, TRAVERSE CITY & ALL POINTS.

AGENCIES: Little-known state agencies often affect the everyday lives of Michigan residents, ranging from boards that license cosmetologists and health professions to one that safeguards workplace health to those that promote agricultural commodities such as asparagus and dairy products. Meanwhile, the Snyder administration is working to eliminate what it considers unnecessary regulations that impede business. By Ashley Weigel. FOR GRAND RAPIDS BUSINESS, CITY PULSE & ALL POINTS.

BRIDGEFUNDS: Our bridges are falling, our bridges are falling—or at least in serious peril of collapse. Bridge problems have closed portions of interstates in Oakland and Jackson counties, and it costs school districts, including one in St. Joseph County money, to bypass closed bridges. That’s the message from MDOT, County Road Association of Michigan and a Portage lawmaker as the legislature wrestles with how much or how little to spend on bridges. By Danielle Woodward. FOR ROYAL OAK, MICHIGAN CITIZEN, STURGIS, THREE RIVERS, GRAND RAPIDS BUSINESS & ALL POINTS.

w/BRIDGEFUNDSPHOTO1: Mackinac Trail Bridge over Chubb Creek, Mackinac County. Credit: County Road Association of Michigan.

w/BRIDGEFUNDSPHOTO2:Bridge at Wallace Park. Roscommon County. Credit: County Road Association of Michigan.

BIGBOX: The Court of Appeals is considering challenges by two U.P. townships to Tax Tribunal property tax rulings in favor of big box stores. Local governments say the Tax Tribunal position will cost them vital revenue, while the Retailers Association supports the tribunal. Legislation by Escanaba and Marquette lawmakers has stalled in committee. By Ashley Weigel. FOR MARQUETTE, BAY MILLS, ST. IGNACE, GRAND RAPIDS BUSINESS & ALL POINTS.

FARMDELAYS: Prolonged weight limits on roads are causing delays for farmers but could be lifted soon. Problems include delayed delivery of fertilizer. Also, dairy and cattle farmers haven’t been able to put their herds out on pasture as early as usual, driving up feed costs. We talk to affected businesses in Hillsdale County and Lake Odessa and the Beef Industry Commission. For news and farm pages. By Nick Stanek. FOR BLISSFIELD, GRAND RAPIDS BUSINESS, GREENVILLE & ALL POINTS.

PROTECTION: The state Supreme Court is considering a rule change that would prevent local courts from posting online some personal information from protection orders as federal privacy law requires. Oakland and Macomb counties already changed their practices, while Emmet and  Kent counties already don’t post such information online. We hear from the court, a Kalamazoo County judge, a Macomb County court official and a board that serves victims of domestic and sexual abuse. By Darcie Moran. FOR MACOMB, ROYAL OAK, MICHIGAN CITIZEN, PETOSKEY, HARBOR SPRINGS & ALL POINTS.

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Road restrictions hamper farmers this spring

By NICK STANEK

Capital News Service

LANSING — The farming industry feels the lingering effects of the polar vortex in some parts of the state as cold temperatures continue into spring.

County governments implement seasonal weight restrictions on roads every year to reduce the impact heavy trucks can have on roads.

“By law, road agencies can enact weight restrictions on roads that are not designated as all-season routes when conditions merit,” County Road Association of Michigan says on its website.

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Golf courses face tee time delays

By NICK STANEK

Capital News Service

LANSING — Golf courses in Michigan have reopened after a prolonged winter freeze that caused damage and set revenue behind for the season.

The damage could be costly, said John Pohl, assistant shop manager at the Royal Scot Golf Course in Lansing. The season started three weeks later than usual, which also cost the course money, he said. Royal Scot reopened in early April last year.

“People don’t want to go out golfing when it’s cold out,” he said.

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It’s agreed: bridges need work, but who will pay?

By DANIELLE WOODWARD

Capital News Service

Mackinac Trail over Chubb Creek

Mackinac Trail Bridge over Chubb Creek, Mackinac County. Credit: County Road Association of Michigan.

LANSING — Officials are predicting it will take $101 million annually in additional funding to save Michigan’s deteriorating bridges.

State-owned bridges need about $70 million for repair and bridges owned by local agencies like counties, cities and villages need $31 million more, said Jeff Cranson, director of communications for the Michigan Department of Transportation.

Gov. Rick Snyder recently announced that one in eight bridges is rated structurally deficient, meaning it needs to be monitored and inspected regularly.

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Push on for more children’s health centers

By DANIELLE WOODWARD

Capital News Service

LANSING — The Department of Community Health is pushing for a program that would expand health centers for poor children to also treat mental illness.

Department and child health center officials are pushing for a $2 million expansion of the program, which has been around for 25 years.

This expansion would create new health centers that offer individual and family counseling, screening for mental disorders and prevention services for suicide and bullying, according to department officials.

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Supreme Court mulls more privacy in protection order cases

By DARCIE MORAN

Capital News Service

LANSING — After some courts failed to comply with federal law, a proposed rule by the Michigan’s Supreme Court aims to stop courts from posting individuals’ personal information on the Internet.

“The point of it is to protect individuals that might be the victims of stalking or other crimes,” said John Nevin, communications director for the court.

But some judges worry the new rule is redundant and too vague.

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Townships appeal tax breaks for big box retailers

By ASHLEY WEIGEL

Capital News Service

LANSING — The battle against a property tax advantage for big box retailers has been taken to the Michigan Court of Appeals.

Large retailers such as Meijer, Target and Best Buy can appeal to the Michigan Tax Tribunal to have their properties assessed at the “true cash value” which usually results in lower property taxes. The communities with big box stores lose tax revenue.

“True cash value” is defined by the tax tribunal as the “fair market value or the usual selling price of property.”

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Fewer teens get pregnant except for those 10-14

By LACEE SHEPARD

Capital News Service

LANSING — Teen pregnancies are on the decline in the state except among the youngest girls, a Department of Community Health (DCH) report shows.

The most recent report from 2012 shows that there was a slight increase from 2011 in pregnancies among those 10-14. After decades of steady decreases, the number increased from 94 to 105 reported teen pregnancies.

The reduction of other unintended pregnancies could be a result of the statewide goal to reduce infant mortality, said Angela Minicuci, the information director at DCH.

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How other states fund roads could fix Michigan potholes

By DARCIE MORAN

Capital News Service

LANSING — Michigan and nearby states might share road funding concerns, but the Mitten might not have access to the same solutions.

Michigan’s road funding is unique because of its comparatively low gas and diesel taxes, lower taxes for diesel than gas and an unusual funding formula that sends a disproportionate amount of money to rural areas, said Kenneth Boyer, a Michigan State University professor of economics.

Indiana has dealt with cost issues by privatizing a toll road and increasing fuel tax revenue, said Indiana Department of Transportation media relations director Will Wingfield.
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Little-known agencies affect everyday life

By ASHLEY WEIGEL

Capital News Service

LANSING — Sick of watching training videos of how to safely work in an office and how to avoid passing on a virus to your coworkers when you get a cold?

Don’t blame the governor or the Legislature. Safety and health training and education are the work of the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

In fact, many agencies you’ve never heard of have a powerful influence on Michigan residents, most of them involved in the creation and enforcement of rules and regulations.
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