March 24, 2017 CNS Budget

March 24, 2017

To: CNS Editors

From: Perry Parks and Sheila Schimpf

http://news.jrn.msu.edu/capitalnewsservice/

For technical problems, contact CNS technical manager Pechulano Ali, (517) 940-2313, pechulan@msu.edu.

For other issues contact Perry Parks, perryrobertparks@gmail.com, (517) 388-8627.

FREE ENVIRONMENTAL JOURNALISM WORKSHOP: Reminder: You and your staff are invited but seats are limited. MSU’s Knight Center for Environmental Journalism will host a free all-day workshop in Grand Rapids on Saturday, April 1. The topic is “Covering the Grand River – Covering Any River” and includes presentations by experts from DNR, DEQ, Annis Water Resources Institute, Environmental Health News and the Grand Valley Metropolitan Council. It’s at Grand Valley’s L.V. Eberhard Center from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. Free lunch and free parking.  Register by email to Barb Miller at mille384.msu.edu Continue reading

Wetlands mitigation may get cheaper for local governments

By CHAO YAN

Capital News Service

LANSING — A new partnership of state and local agencies is working to set aside state land to make it easier for public entities with expansion needs to fulfill wetlands replacement requirements.

Because wetlands play a vital role in the health of the state’s environment and its tourism economy, the Wetlands Protection Act requires damage to wetlands that happens under a permit be compensated by creating a wetland someplace else.

The Michigan Municipal Wetland Alliance (MMWA) is developing a wetlands mitigation bank system using Department of Natural Resources (DNR) property as bank sites.

“By us using state-owned lands, we are saving on the purchase of lands for the development sites and restoration sites,” Stephen Shine, the wetland mitigation bank administrator for the DNR, said. “And we are creating an added benefit for those state-owned lands by enhancing recreational opportunities for a whole variety of enthusiasts — everything from birdwatchers, people who like to hike, hunters.” Continue reading

Criminal justice bills would define problems to help solve them

By LAINA STEBBINS

Capital News Service

LANSING — Michigan’s recidivism rate is significantly higher than the national average. Or is it?

No one knows for sure, supporters of a criminal justice revamp package say, thanks to a lack of agreement among state agencies about which measurements to use in defining how often convicted criminals go on to commit future crimes. And that’s just one part of the problem.

A piece of legislation defining recidivism and how to calculate a rate is one of 20 bills in a package that supporters say would enhance the efficiency of Michigan’s criminal justice system. The package awaits approval from Gov. Rick Snyder after clearing the House and Senate with bipartisan support.

The bills would institute changes throughout the system: Reforms to data tracking, prison time, probation and parole policies, and reentry approaches are included. Continue reading

Medical officials applaud new state vaccination campaign

By ISAAC CONSTANS

Capital News Service

LANSING –  Michigan, with vaccination rates that put it near the bottom of a list of all states, has launched a new campaign — I Vaccinate — that it hopes will boost rates up to 90 percent.

Currently, 67.6 percent of Michigan children aged 19 to 35 months have received all of their recommended vaccinations, according to a 2016 United Health Foundation report.

The program, which was launched in late March, has an “innovative” multi-platform structure that will educate and encourage Michigan residents, according to state officials.

I Vaccinate combines a social media, web and TV presence to convey the importance of vaccinations for communities by focusing on parents’ concerns. Its website offers vaccination schedules, links to the immunization registry and answers questions that parents and guardians typically have. Continue reading

Productivity boost offsets acreage, price declines of corn

By CARL STODDARD

Capital News Service

LANSING — Soon Michigan farmers will start planting millions of acres of corn, cultivating what has become a billion-dollar business in the state.

Farming is one of the top three industries in Michigan, and corn one of the top crops.

“Agriculture in Michigan has been a growing industry, contributing a great deal to the state’s economy,” said Kate Thiel, a field crop specialist for the Michigan Farm Bureau and its 46,500 member farmers.

One of the largest crops in Michigan is corn, Thiel said. Michigan farmers grew about 2.4 million acres of corn for grain in 2016, generating $1.1 billion last year – despite a price drop.

“While corn growers have seen a decrease in value of their product in recent years due to decreased commodity prices, they still play a large role in Michigan’s economy,” she said. Continue reading

Cemeteries protect biodiversity amidst death

By ERIC FREEDMAN

Capital News Service

LANSING — Four white-tailed deer graze atop a rise, oblivious to Jay P Lee and GW Palen, and other folks named Stowell and Whitehead and Slayton and Potter interred there. It’s afternoon — an uncommon feeding time for deer that usually prefer dawn and dusk — on a fall day at Mount Hope Cemetery in Lansing.

The deer browse amongst the graves, apparently unperturbed by the writer, photographer, and ecologist walking at the foot of their hill, discussing varieties of lichen on tombstones, the food value of non-native honeysuckle for wildlife and the evils of invasive buckthorn.

The ecologist is Brian Klatt, director of the Michigan Natural Features Inventory, and we’re exploring the cemetery, which was farmland until 1873. It sits at the intersection of two busy roads about three miles from the classic white-dome state Capitol and backs into the floodplain of Sycamore Creek. Continue reading

Rain, evaporation make predicting lake levels tricky

By STEVEN MAIER

Capital News Service

LANSING — Predicting water levels in the Great Lakes isn’t as straightforward as it would seem.

A warm winter has led to lower ice coverage — just 5 percent of the Great Lakes was covered with ice as of March 1. The average coverage at this time for the last 40 years has been 43 percent, according to the Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory in Ann Arbor.

Less ice means less protection from evaporation and, theoretically, lower water levels, said Jacob Bruxer, a senior water resources engineer with Environment and Climate Change Canada.

But it’s not quite that simple. And not the case now.

That’s because water levels are a function of many factors, Bruxer said.

“Everyone wants to make that into a big story — about how ice cover is affecting water in the lakes,” Bruxer said. “I would just stress that evaporation is very complicated.” Continue reading

March 17, 2017 CNS Budget

To: CNS Editors

From: Perry Parks and Sheila Schimpf

http://news.jrn.msu.edu/capitalnewsservice/

For technical problems, contact CNS technical manager Pechulano Ali, (517) 940-2313, pechulan@msu.edu.

For other issues contact Perry Parks, perryrobertparks@gmail.com, (517) 388-8627.

FREE ENVIRONMENTAL JOURNALISM WORKSHOP: Reminder: You and your staff are invited but seats are limited. MSU’s Knight Center for Environmental Journalism will host a free all-day workshop in Grand Rapids on Saturday, April 1. The topic is “Covering the Grand River – Covering Any River” and includes presentations by experts from DNR, DEQ, Annis Water Resources Institute, Environmental Health News and the Grand Valley Metropolitan Council. It’s at Grand Valley’s L.V. Eberhard Center from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. Free lunch and free parking.  Register by email to Barb Miller at mille384.msu.edu

Here is your file:

HEALTHCAREMICHIGAN: The Michigan League for Public Policy projects that some 2.5 million people in Michigan could lose their insurance under the Republican proposal for replacing the Affordable Care Act. Advocates say the bill could be particularly devastating for low-income and disabled populations in Michigan. State health officials say they are still trying to convince federal authorities that the Healthy Michigan initiative is worth saving. We talk to MDHHS director Nick Lyon, a former Clinton administration health official, the head of advocacy group SAIL in Marquette, and the Michigan League for Public Policy. By Isaac Constans. FOR LANSING CITY PULSE, MARQUETTE, GRAND RAPIDS, SAULT STE. MARIE, TRAVERSE CITY & ALL POINTS.

MARCHFORSCIENCE: Advocates in 10 Michigan cities plan to participate in the national “March for Science” on April 22, calling attention to the value of science and the protection of the Great Lakes. The event has taken on new urgency since Trump unveiled his first budget plan on March 16, proposing cutting Environmental Protection Agency spending by 31 percent and eliminating climate change programs and the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. March towns include Petoskey, Marquette, Sault Ste. Marie, Grand Rapids and Lansing. We talk to organizers in Petoskey, Lansing and Detroit. By Chao Yan. FOR LANSING CITY PULSE, GRAND RAPIDS BUSINESS, MARQUETTE, SAULT STE. MARIE, PETOSKEY & ALL POINTS. Continue reading

Trump’s budget cuts could devastate Great Lakes restoration

By LAINA STEBBINS
Capital News Service

LANSING — Eliminating the $300 million Great Lakes Restoration Initiative could lead to devastating natural and economic effects on coastal Michigan communities, defenders of the program said.

President Donald Trump has proposed killing the initiative, along with the Michigan Sea Grant and nearly a third of the funding for the Environmental Protection Agency.

The possible elimination of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative has compelled Michigan lawmakers, environmentalists, scientists and business owners to make a case for the program.

“It has benefited Muskegon greatly, hugely. We’ve received millions in dollars in federal funding to clean up White Lake and Muskegon Lake,” said Bob Lukens, Muskegon County community development director. Continue reading

Fewer Michigan parents seek vaccination waivers

By LAURA BOHANNON

Capital News Service

LANSING — The percentage of Michigan parents opting out of vaccinating their children has continued to drop since the state changed its waiver rules, Health and Human Services Director Nick Lyon said.

“We’ve changed the way the waivers worked for parents to basically ask for an exemption for vaccinations for their children,” he said. “We’ve seen those waiver rates drop from 4.6 percent in November 2014 to 2.9 percent in 2016.”

Now, Michigan parents must speak with a public health provider to obtain a nonmedical waiver. In 2015, the year the changes were implemented, statewide waiver rates dropped to 3.1 percent.

The changes were prompted by the large number of Michigan parents waiving vaccines for their children. Michigan has one of the highest immunization waiver rates in the country, with some counties reporting rates as high as 12.5 percent, according to the state Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS). Continue reading