Northern Michigan pioneers effort to reduce food waste

By BRIDGET BUSH

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

Bills would add time to driver’s ed

BY ALEXANDER SMITH

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

New push aims to close skills gap between graduates and jobs

By BRIDGET BUSH

Capital News Service

LANSING – Michigan lawmakers, university officials and local school systems have taken up the fight to improve how well the state’s students learn to be high tech producers and consumers.

Just this fall, Michigan State University redesigned a course that will teach 175 student teachers to incorporate computational thinking into curriculum. And the university is offering a new graduate certificate in creative computing to about 250 teachers for professional development.

Aman Yadav, MSU associate professor of counseling, educational psychology and special education and director of its Masters of Arts in Educational Technology program, sees the greater purpose of this new approach to be “moving students from consumers of technology to creators and producers.”

Meanwhile,  lawmakers are considering a bill that would allow computer programming to count as a foreign language or arts requirement. The bill was approved by the House in May and is in the Senate Committee on Education. Continue reading

Analysis offers free export opportunities

By JASMINE WATTS
Capital News Service

LANSING — Michigan growers and processors can gain access to market research without paying thousands of dollars, thanks to a new, free export opportunity analysis.

Euromonitor International and the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development’s International Marketing Program developed the analysis. Euromonitor International provides strategic market research.

“The analysis gives companies additional information of where new export opportunities are and the top export markets for their products,” said Jamie Zmitko-Somers, international marketing program manager for the department.
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Statewide unemployment drops below 5 percent but northern counties still struggle

By JOSH BENDER
Capital News Service

LANSING- The percent of unemployed Michigan workers dropped below five percent last January for the first time since 2001, the  Department of Technology, Management & Budget reported recently.

But many workers in the northern part of the state didn’t fare as well as the rest of the state.

Montmorency, Presque Isle and Schoolcraft counties all have double the state’s unemployment rate. Cheboygan and Mackinac counties have triple, according to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics.

That may be due to which industries are leading the state’s economic growth.
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Clean energy can produce jobs, economic growth, study says

By JASMINE WATTS

Capital News Service

LANSING — Thousands of Michigan jobs in the clean energy industry could be created in coming years, according to a recent report.

The Michigan Energy Innovation Business Council and Clean Energy Trust report that more than 87,000 Michigan residents already work in that industry.

And Michigan leads 12 Midwestern states in clean energy transportation jobs, is second in renewable energy jobs and third in overall highest number of clean energy jobs, according to the study.
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Regulation of medical marijuana could generate millions for state

By JASMINE WATTS
Capital News Service

LANSING — Medical marijuana could generate up to $63.5 million in revenue for Michigan, according to a recent study.

Hillsdale College economist Gary Wolfram’s analysis shows how a proposed regulatory framework for medical marijuana could boost the economy by getting more patients registered for medical marijuana and allowing more forms of use.

“In 2008 medical marijuana became legal in Michigan,” said Wolfram. “This analysis is a matter of what would happen if it was regulated and taxed.”
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Lawmakers seek permanent ban on funding Planned Parenthood

By JOSHUA BENDER

Capital News Service

LANSING – A new bill would make permanent last year’s ban on state funding for abortion providers.

Many proponents of the bill want measures ensuring state funds aren’t used to violate what they believe is the public’s consensus on abortion in Michigan.

“This bill does not close a single Planned Parenthood or outlaw abortion,” said Genevieve Marnon, public affairs associate at Right to Life of Michigan’s Mid-Michigan Resource Center. “It only addresses the use of state taxpayer dollars.”

Some opponents of the bill argue it would harm the ability of agencies receiving state funds to fulfill their obligations to the public.
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Vocational, technical programs draw more student interest

By STEPHANIE HERNANDEZ McGAVIN

Capital News Service

LANSING — The education pendulum that directed so many students toward college degrees is swinging the other way, education experts say, now pointing students more toward skilled trade training as well as college.

The push for young students to attend college, which negatively affected those who weren’t interested in it, went too far during former Gov. Jennifer Granholm’s administration, said Steven Cook, president of the Michigan Education Association (MEA).

The MEA is the state’s largest union of teachers and other school employees.
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Outdoor activities can boost tourism economy, influence Great Lakes restoration, study says

By COLLEEN OTTE & ERIC FREEDMAN

Capital News Service

LANSING — Ecosystem assets in the Great Lakes region, such as sport fishing, boating, beach use, park visits and birding, contribute significantly to the tourism economy of shoreline communities and can help shape restoration priorities for the lakes, according to a new study that incorporates highly detailed maps.

Such “cultural ecosystem services” are valuable to society and have “great potential for benefiting natural resource management and conservation,” it said.

Those services or activities vary in where they take place, and so do stressors, threats, to the Great Lakes, said the lead author of the study, David Allan, a professor emeritus at the University of Michigan’s School of Natural Resources and Environment.
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