Bonus Week, May 5, 2017
To: CNS Editors
From: Perry Parks, Eric Freedman and Sheila Schimpf
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THIS IS BONUS WEEK: Here is our end-of-the-semester file of stories that you may not have had space for in the past few months but remain timely.
SUMMER ENVIRONMENTAL NEWS PACKAGES: Again this summer, CNS plans to move three packages – in June, July and August — of Michigan environmental stories in partnership with Great Lakes Echo.
Here is your file:
(New story) DEERDISEASE: As the Department of Natural Resources expands educational efforts about chronic wasting disease, a bipartisan bill to raise awareness and prevent spread of the disease is moving through the House. The bill would increase the fine for importing deer carcasses or parts into the state, to $500-$2,000 from the current $50-$500. The goals are both to reduce the likelihood that chronic wasting disease will spread among Michigan deer and to raise awareness about the seriousness of the problem. The bill unanimously passed the House Committee on Natural Resources in late April. A Marquette representative is the main sponsor. We also speak with DNR officials and an Iron Mountain lawmaker. By Laina Stebbins. FOR ALL POINTS
LAWYERLAWMAKERS: Legislators work every day to make and amend laws, but how many have a background in the field? Thirteen lawmakers — of 148 in both House and Senate — have worked as lawyers, according to the Michigan State Bar. That accounts for less than 10 percent of the state Legislature. It’s a slight drop from 17 lawyer-legislators in 2013-14, and 22 a decade ago. A Shelby Township representative is one of the 13 lawyers in the current session, and he believes more lawyers should be roaming the Capitol. We talk with him, a non-lawyer lawmaker and a law professor. By Laura Bohannon. FOR ALL POINTS.
DRIVERLESSCAR: As Michigan accelerates toward leadership in emerging driverless car technology, industry experts say its workforce needs to catch up. Gov. Snyder signed legislation approving the sale and use of autonomous vehicles when they’re ready. But analysts note significant gaps in skills among workers who could be developing driverless technology. They call for big changes in education and training programs to fill looming jobs that haven’t been fully created yet. We talk with a member of the state’s autonomous vehicle task force, a robotics educator at the University of Michigan and a workforce development manager in Oakland County. By Chao Yan. FOR ALL POINTS
MICHIGANVACCINATIONPUSH: Michigan recently launched a campaign to encourage vaccinations. So far, the program has been well received by members of the medical community, although there is some dispute as to why people don’t get vaccinated in the first place. As Michigan hopes to improve its standing in immunization rates, members of the campaign, local health centers, and physician associations chime in on how to do so. By Isaac Constans. FOR ALL POINTS.
AGINGDAMS: Roads and bridges aren’t Michigan’s only infrastructure problem. Less visible – but just as hazardous if not properly maintained – are the state’s 2,600 dams. Just as deteriorating roads and bridges can cause significant damage, aging dams in high-hazard locations have the potential to do great harm to the environment and to human life. The Otsego Township Dam on the Kalamazoo River is one. Officials at DEQ and DNR say keeping up with these aging dams is a cost and logistical nightmare. By Laina Stebbins. For ALL POINTS
RELIGIOUSFREEDOM: Some religious leaders are questioning the necessity of a House bill aimed at further protecting their First Amendment rights. The bill would allow ministers, clerics and other religious practitioners to refuse to marry couples who violate their religious beliefs. We talk to the bill co-sponsor from Potterville, a youth pastor from Three Rivers, a rabbi from Kalamazoo and the executive director of a Kalamazoo LGBT resource center. By Caitlin Taylor. FOR ALL POINTS.
MIDWIFELICENSING: Midwife associations were pleased when Gov. Rick Snyder signed new midwife licensing legislation into law at the beginning of the year. The law requires midwives to apply for a license with the newly created Michigan Board of Licensed Midwifery, operating through the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs. We talk to LARA, president of Michigan Midwives Association, vice president of Friends of Michigan Midwives, president of the Michigan Affiliate of American College of Nurse-Midwives and a health policy nurse from Dorr Township. By Caitlin Taylor. FOR ALL POINTS.
PUREMICHIGAN: Long before “Pure Michigan” lured tourists and vacationers Up North, images of pristine forests and sparkling streams were doing the same thing — even if what they would see was neither pure nor pristine. The current Pure Michigan campaign echoes themes used by railroad and steamship companies and tourism promoters in the 1800s to entice urban dwellers, who arrived to a landscape changed dramatically by lumbering, mining and agriculture, a new study says. However, environmental devastation also helped create demand for environmental protection in the Northern Lower Peninsula and U.P. We talk to the author, who grew up in Grand Rapids, and to a historian at Northern Michigan University’s Center for U.P. Studies. By Eric Freedman. FOR ALL POINTS.