Michigan faces ecological debt

By KEVIN DUFFY
Capital News Service

LANSING — The nation hit Ecological Deficit Day recently, thanks in part to states like Michigan that use more resources than they can regenerate.

A report by the California-based Global Footprint Network and the Tacoma, Washington, nonprofit group Earth Economics details resource availability and the environmental footprint of all 50 states. That footprint includes the unsustainable practices that broke Michigan’s ecological budget.

It’s not just the fault of the Great Lakes State. In fact, only 16 states can boast that they use fewer resources than they renew each year.
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Detroit’s comeback might leave some residents behind

By CHEYNA ROTH
Capital News Service

LANSING – Persistent poverty and a focus on commercial developments in Detroit are raising concerns that efforts to revitalize the city are ignoring its low-income population.

“We don’t talk enough about how Detroiters who grew up in the city and are now in their 20s and 30s are concerned they won’t be able to participate in the revival of the city that made them,” said Aaron Foley, a Detroit writer whose book, “How to Live in Detroit Without Being a Jackass,” published by Rust Belt Chic, is due out this fall.

Detroit’s economic and cultural health are tied directly to Michigan’s overall fortunes. Gov. Rick Snyder has said a strong Detroit is central to revitalizing the state. Millions of dollars have been invested in moving the city through bankruptcy and rebuilding parts of the city, such as refurbishing the David Whitney Building into luxury apartments and office space.
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Dems propose tax breaks for mid-, low-income families

By BROOKE KANSIER
Capital News Service

LANSING — Michigan is still catching up after the Great Recession crashed the economy — and for most residents, the 2011 rewrite of the state tax code made things worse, Democratic legislators say.

Lawmakers recently took aim at tax changes approved by Gov. Rick Snyder that they said shifted the burden from businesses to individuals and harmed mid and low-wage workers.

“Most families in our state continue to struggle economically, and the income and equality and disparity between the wealthy and everyone else continues to get ever bigger,” Democratic House Leader Tim Greimel of Oakland County said. “A big part of that is related to the massive tax shift that Republicans in state government orchestrated in 2011.”
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Will Proposal 1 fix roads? Only the voters know

By COLLIN KRIZMANICH
Capital News Service

LANSING — By now you’ve seen the ads on TV, heard them on the radio or read the op-eds in your local paper: Proposal 1 is either a devastating tax increase on all hardworking Michiganders or a crucial investment in our crumbling infrastructure.

So what exactly does Proposal 1 do?

One of the common criticisms of the Proposal is that it’s too complicated. It does more than just fix roads. Here’s what the proposal would do if approved by voters, according to the Senate Fiscal Agency, a nonpartisan government agency that provides analysis of legislation:
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Deaf community lacks interpreters, support, advocates say

By CAITLIN McARTHUR
Capital News Service

LANSING — Continued shortages of qualified interpreters and funding mean Michigan’s deaf, deafblind and hard of hearing residents lack access to proper communication and education, and many are unclear of their rights under state law, advocates say.

Michigan has a shortage of accessible mental health services, education, employment and legal services for these residents, said Todd Morrison, director of the Michigan Deaf Association.

About a million Michigan residents experience hearing loss, and about 90,000 identify as deaf. The majority consider themselves hard of hearing or later-deafened — meaning they were deafened after adolescence, having grown up as part of the hearing population, Morrison said.
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New bills aim to close the gender-wage gap

By JOSH THALL
Capital News Service

LANSING — Employers could be required to release gender-based wage information, and the state could be required to report unequal wage data, under a package of bills aiming to close the wage gap between men and women in Michigan.

The Progressive Women’s Caucus laid out a plan for a 12-bill package on April 14, saying they aren’t content to wait for the gap to close in 2086 under current trends.

The Progressive Women’s Caucus is a group of 17 Democratic women legislators who work to make sure women’s rights and needs are not overlooked in the government.
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Explaining the gender wage gap

By COLLIN KRIZMANICH
Capital News Service

LANSING — More than 50 years after Congress first acted to address the gender wage gap, many women across the country are still earning less than their male coworkers. Democrats in Michigan recently introduced a 12-bill package aimed at eliminating this disparity.

Michigan ranked tenth worst in the nation when it comes to the gender pay gap, according to the American Association of University Women. Understanding how and why this gap exists is critical in addressing the issue.

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Career choice interruptions between men and women Source: Pew Research Center

What is the gender wage gap?

Simply put, the gender wage gap is the difference, on average, between how much money men make and how much money women make. Many people, including President Obama, often bring up the statistic that, based on median earnings, women earn 77 cents for every dollar a man earns.
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Migrant workers’ housing still unsafe, civil rights official says

By CHEYNA ROTH
Capital News Service

LANSING – Five years after a report called migrant working conditions “intolerable,” Michigan is far from addressing its problems, the state’s civil rights director says.

“The migrant farmworker situation in this state, my opinion, is not as good as it should be,” said Matt Wesaw, executive director of the Michigan Department of Civil Rights.

Wesaw, who said he worked in the fields of Southwest Michigan alongside migrant workers as a boy 40 years ago, believes housing conditions for workers are worse now than they were then.
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State pushes job opportunities for disabled workers

By ELIZABETH FERGUSON
Capital News Service

LANSING — Workers with disabilities are often overlooked, even if they have the right skills for a job, state officials say.

“There is tremendous talent out there in that segment of our community, and the opportunities to showcase that talent aren’t always there,” said Matt Wesaw, executive director of the Michigan Department of Civil Rights.

A new committee appointed by Gov. Rick Snyder is working to make sure state government is part of the solution and not the problem when it comes to identifying and working with disabled employees.
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State groups strengthen police, community ties

By COLLIN KRIZMANICH
Capital News Service

LANSING — As communities across the country confront mistrust between police and citizens, organizations across Michigan are working to build relationships that officials hope can avoid unrest when something goes wrong.

For two decades, parts of the state have formed trust-building initiatives to ensure lines of communication are open to address incidents such as police shootings in Ferguson, Missouri, or North Charleston, South Carolina.

“It’s very important that these relationships are being built and maintained, because it’s very challenging to build a relationship in the midst of a crisis,” said Patrick Miles Jr., a U.S. attorney who serves as co-chair on the Grand Rapids Advocates and Leaders for Police and Community Trust. “It can be detrimental if no relationship is there.”
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