Apr. 3, 2015 Budget

Capital News Service Budget – April 3, 2015

To: CNS Editors

From: Perry Parks & Sheila Schimpf

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SNYDERVIEWS: Rick Snyder has spent a majority of his time as governor focusing on jobs and the economy instead of social issues. This has left some activists wanting a stronger position on the causes that matter to them. We talk to Gov. Snyder, representatives from the ACLU, Right to Life, and a political science professor, to review the responses to Snyder’s history of trying to run Michigan like a business. By Cheyna Roth. FOR LANSING CITY PULSE AND ALL POINTS.

OUTDATEDSNOWPLOWS: Some county snow plows are almost 30 years old and a bill has been reintroduced to help these countries get better equipment. These old plows slow snow removal services and make it hard for municipalities to keep roads safe and convenient. We speak to Keweenaw County Road Commission engineer, Houghton City manager, and Rep. Scott Dianda, D-Calumet to hear about these local needs and this bill’s possible solution. By Elizabeth Ferguson. FOR LANSING CITY PULSE, MARQUETTE, SAULT STE. MARIE, ST. IGNACE, CHEBOYGAN, HARBOR SPRINGS, PETOSKEY, ALPENA, TRAVERSE CITY, GRAYLING, ALCONA, GLADWIN & ALL POINTS.

ABORTIONINSURANCE: A recent bill would repeal the Abortion Insurance Opt-Out Act, a controversial law that requires women to purchase additional insurance to be covered for abortions, even in situations such as rape or incest. The law was originally vetoed by Gov. Rick Snyder, who weighs in on the law’s potential repeal. While the law requires women to opt into an abortion rider, only 7 of 42 Michigan policies offer such a rider, and those 7 are only available through employers, meaning women will have to ask their boss for the coverage. By Brooke Kansier. FOR LANSING CITY PULSE & ALL POINTS

YOUTHBEHINDBARS: Michigan has some of the nation’s toughest crime laws when it comes to juvenile justice. An upcoming forum based on a report by the Michigan Council on Crime and Delinquency has placed a renewed spotlight on laws that juvenile-justice advocates say are outdated, harm children and perpetuate crime. Advocates and lawmakers are pushing a package of bills to reform juvenile justice in the state. By Caitlin McArthur. FOR ALL POINTS.

DNABACKLOG: Detroit’s DNA backlog is expected to be cleared by the end of the year, but now a lack of resources is leading to problems in prosecuting offenders. Advocates are working  to attract more funding from the local, state and federal level, but money and manpower are both needed if there is to be progress in prosecutions. By Caitlin McArthur. FOR LANSING CITY PULSE & ALL POINTS.

FIREWORKSREGULATIONS: A new bill in the Michigan House would grant local units of government the power to place ordinances and regulations on fireworks for their communities. We speak with the representative who introduced the bill, an official from the Michigan Townships Association and a representative from the Committee on Regulatory Reform which is the committee the bill was referred to. By Josh Thall. FOR LANSING CITY PULSE, HOLLAND, THREE RIVERS, STURGIS, BLISSFIELD, AND ALL POINTS.

RELIGIOUSFREEDOM-BUSINESS: Indiana recently passed Religious Freedom Restoration Act legislation, and the backlash from the business community has been strong. Michigan business leaders are concerned about a similar backlash should legislation move forward in Michigan. We talk with Grand Rapids and state business leaders, and a lawmaker, about potential impact of a bill many consider to be discriminatory against gay and lesbian residents. By Collin Krizmanich. FOR GRAND RAPIDS BUSINESS, LANSING CITY PULSE, CADILLAC & ALL POINTS

ROADS&TRANSIT: Whether or not Proposal 1 passes in May, Michigan’s roads will still need help. A 2011 legislative report says the $1.2 billion expected to be generated annually is less than needed right now and woefully below anticipated needs in a decade. One possible solution is moving forward with public and rail transit projects. We talk to MDOT and transportation advocates and explore a proposal to run a passenger train from Ann Arbor to Traverse City.  By Josh Thall. FOR LANSING CITY PULSE, TRAVERSE CITY, HOLLAND, THREE RIVERS, STURGIS, BLISSFIELD AND ALL POINTS.

STREAMMONITORING: The Michigan Clean Water Corps will  soon announce winners of grants for volunteer stream monitoring projects to survey aquatic macroinvertebrates and to inventory where railroads cross streams. Over the past 11 years, the money from DEQ has supported nearly 40 volunteer groups such as the Huron River Watershed Council gathering water quality data from more than 800 sites. By Qing Zhang. FOR ALL POINTS.

w/STREAMMONITORINGPHOTO: Volunteers collect macroinvertebrates at Traver Creek in Ann Arbor. Credit: John Lloyd

ROBOTFISH: A new generation of robot fish will soon track live fish – native and invasive species — and toxic algae blooms in the Great Lakes. MSU  engineers are testing a prototype at a Southwest Michigan lake and future tests are expected in Lake Erie and Lake Huron’s Thunder Bay. By Danielle Woodward. FOR STURGIS, THREE RIVERS, ALPENA, ALCONA, MONTMORENCY, CHEBOYGAN, ST. IGNACE, TRAVERSE CITY, PETOSKEY, HARBOR SPRINGS, LEELANAU, HOLLAND, MANISTEE , LUDINGTON & ALL POINTS.

w/ROBOTFISHPHOTO:  The first two generations of the robot fish. Credit: Danielle Woodward.


Bill would take some bang out of Michigan fireworks

Capital News Service

LANSING — Unregulated fireworks are keeping some Michigan residents up at night, and a lawmaker is moving to quiet them down.

Rep. Martin Howrylak, a Troy Republican, has introduced a bill that would give local governments more control over when fireworks can be used. Howrylak has received complaints from his constituents.

Concerns about fireworks range from their waking children to stressing out combat veterans, said Judy Allen, the director of government relations for the Michigan Townships Association.
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Advocates question Snyder’s shyness on social topics

Capital News Service

LANSING — Gov. Rick Snyder has a track record of trying to run Michigan like a business with a focus on jobs and the economy, but when it comes to tackling cultural or social justice issues, Snyder has a self-acknowledged history of staying away.

“I don’t spend much time on social issues,” Snyder said in an interview with Capital News Service correspondents. “I spend the vast bulk of my time on economic development, making Michigan better, public safety, all the other issues, because I think that’s typically what our citizens are most concerned with.”

Social issues, particularly same-sex marriage and the question of whether business owners can deny service to people with whom they have religious differences, have been in the spotlight recently.
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Rape DNA backlog clearing, but prosecutions stall

Capital News Service

LANSING — The testing of thousands of rape kits discovered in a Detroit Police Department evidence warehouse in 2009 has matched DNA to just over 1,000 people already in the Michigan State Police database, but officials now face the much bigger task of tracking down the offenders.

Advocates, state legislators and the State Police say Detroit’s backlog of 11,000 rape kits is expected to be cleared by the end of the the year, but a lack of additional resources has stalled the progress of prosecutions.

A shortage of money and manpower has advocates campaigning for more resources from local, state and federal levels.
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Bill would help counties replace failing snow plows

Capital News Service

LANSING — Keweenaw County’s 30 road commission vehicles — which include snow plows and salt trucks — average 27 years old and 130,000 miles.

The county’s oldest snow plows are from the 1970s and have over a quarter million miles on them, said Gregg Patrick, Keweenaw County Road Commission engineer.

“Most county commissions are running their equipment twice the life they used to, and these can start to fail in the winter season,” Patrick said.
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Michigan ‘religious freedom’ act concerns business leaders


Capital News Service

LANSING — Business leaders in Michigan are wary of proposed legislation that could lead to discrimination against those in the LGBT community.

The passage of a similar Religious Freedom Restoration Act in Indiana resulted in a backlash not only from gay and lesbian activist groups, but also business and even some religious leaders.

“Economically, it would not be good for Michigan,” said Jennifer Kluge, CEO of the Michigan Business and Professional Association. “It won’t be good for anybody if the economy goes in a negative direction after all the work our legislature and governor have done to move it forward.”
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Grants for stream monitoring total $50,000 in Michigan


Capital News Service

LANSING — The Michigan Clean Water Corps (MiCorps) will announce the winners of a new round of grants for volunteer stream monitoring projects by June.

Three grants worth a total of $50,000 are available to survey aquatic macroinvertebrates and to inventory where roads cross streams.


Michigan volunteers collect macroinvertebrates last October. Image: John Lloyd

“This year we received 10 applications for the stream grants. I expect about five or six of them will be funded,” said Paul Steen, the program manager for the network of volunteer monitoring projects.
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New, improved robot fish designed for Great Lakes

Capital News Service

LANSING — New and improved robot fish will soon track live fish and toxic algae blooms in the Great Lakes.

This next-generation fish, going on its second year of development, is the third model built by Xiaobo Tan, an associate professor of electrical and computer engineering at Michigan State University, and his research team.


The first two generations of the robot fish. Credit: Danielle Woodward.

“We have a deadline right now to have two of these new ones done before summer, probably May,” said Cody Thon, a research assistant and a mechanical designer of the robot. “There is an algae problem every summer in Lake Erie, so it would be wise to bring them out and see what they can do.”
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