Fast green locomotives coming to Michigan

By KAREN HOPPER USHER

Capital News Service

LANSING — Greener trains are coming to the Great Lakes region.

Technically, they’re locomotives. That’s the part of the train that does the pushing or the pulling. The Siemens Chargers, which are due to arrive by fall, meet the Environmental Protection Agency’s “tier four” standards.

Tier four is the agency’s highest standard for emissions.

Besides leaving a smaller carbon footprint, the locomotives can get up to speed faster than older models. A 94-mile section of track between Porter, Indiana, and Kalamazoo, Michigan, for example, could see trains flying through at 110 miles per hour without a long acceleration period. Continue reading

UP scientists writes guide to fruit flies

By CARIN TUNNEY

Capital News Service

LANSING — A common ancestor of fruit flies and humans emerged about 600 million years ago, long before the formation of the earth’s continents as we know them today.

Scientists discovered the link in the early 1900s, opening the floodgates to genetic research.

Fruit flies are cheap, grow rapidly and are easy to mutate. Their genetic likeness to humans allows researchers to study diseases like cancer, diabetes and immune resistance.

That makes them a model species for genetic research, said Thomas Werner, a professor of genetics and developmental biology at Michigan Technological University.

Werner recently co-authored a book “Drosophilids of the Midwest and Northeast,” which gives fruit flies overdue accolades. Continue reading

Capital News Service Bonus Budget – May 5

Bonus Week, May 5, 2017

To: CNS Editors

From: Perry Parks, Eric Freedman 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 or Eric Freedman, freedma5@msu.edu.

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.

Wildlife officials, lawmakers fight deer-killing disease

By LAINA STEBBINS
Capital News Service

LANSING — As the  Department of Natural Resources (DNR) expands educational outreach about chronic wasting disease, a bipartisan bill to raise awareness and prevent spread of the disease is moving through the state House.

The bill would increase the fine for importing deer carcasses or parts into the state, from the current range of $50-$500 to a new range of $500-$2,000. The goals of the increased penalty 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. Rep. John Kivela, D-Marquette, is the main sponsor, as well as the committee’s minority vice-chair. Continue reading

April 28, 2017 CNS Budget

April 28, 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.

BONUS WEEK AHEAD: This is the last original file of the semester. Next week (May 5) we will move a bonus file of stories that moved previously this semester 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:

MAYDAYACTION: On May Day, workers and immigrants will rally to protest President Trump’s immigration policies under the slogan “Rise up.” The seven Michigan cities scheduled to participate are Detroit, Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, Lansing, Pontiac, Battle Creek and Rochester. The action in Michigan is primarily sponsored by Michigan United. Other pro-immigrant groups are also supporting the event. By Chao Yan. FOR LANSING CITY PULSE, GRAND RAPIDS BUSINESS & ALL POINTS.

Two stories on pay equity: Continue reading

Bills would eliminate concealed-carry regulations

By LAURA BOHANNON
Capital News Service

LANSING — Some lawmakers are working to remove the licensing requirement for concealed pistol carriers.

Rep. Triston Cole, R-Mancelona, has introduced bills to eliminate concealed pistol license, or CPL, laws.

Cole said he doesn’t want to make it easier to obtain a gun or loosen those regulations, but he wants to ensure that “law-abiding citizens” don’t need to jump through hoops to carry a concealed pistol for self-defense.

“The idea is to promote constitutional freedom,” Cole said. Continue reading

Bill seeks to reduce penalty of expired concealed pistol license

By LAURA BOHANNON
Capital News Service

LANSING — People with concealed pistols could avoid felony charges for expired licenses under a bill introduced by Rep. Shane Hernandez, R-Port Huron.

Under current law, anyone with an expired concealed pistol license who still carries his or her concealed weapon could be charged with a felony, even if it’s only been a few days since the license expired, Hernandez said.

Hernandez said he was inspired to introduce the bill after hearing about a staffer’s friend who faced such a charge because of a recently expired icense during a routine traffic stop.

The bill would reduce that felony to a civil misdemeanor with a $330 fine if someone’s license has been expired for six months or less. Continue reading

Pro-immigrant groups to rally on May Day

By CHAO YAN
Capital News Service

LANSING — On May Day, workers and immigrants across Michigan will rally to protest President Donald Trump’s immigration policies.

Under the slogan “Rise up,” the Michigan effort is a part of national action across 200 cities on Monday, May 1. The seven Michigan cities scheduled to participate are Detroit, Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, Lansing, Pontiac, Battle Creek and Rochester.

The action in Michigan is primarily sponsored by Michigan United, a statewide civil rights organization. Other pro-immigrant groups, such as the American Civil Liberties Union, Michigan Muslim Community Council and Emerge USA, are also supporting the event. Continue reading

Michigan works to bring young people back

By ISAAC CONSTANS
Capital News Service

LANSING — What do young people want? It’s a question employers, officials and educators are working overtime to answer.

A “brain drain” has leeched Michigan’s up-and-coming workforce for decades, with young professionals opting to live in other states. About a quarter of the state’s population is in the 20- to 40-year-old bracket, one of the lowest rates in the Midwest.

But state leaders say they’re beginning to siphon this demographic back in. Continue reading

$16 million federal grant targets rural opioid addiction

By ISAAC CONSTANS
Capital News Service

LANSING — The state plans to use part of an incoming $16 million federal grant to help prevent and treat opioid addiction in underserved rural areas.

The money comes through the 21st Century Cures Act of 2016, which promised funds to all 50 states to fight the growing epidemic linked to prescription painkillers.

Michigan received the seventh-largest aid package. The state’s 1,980 opioid-related deaths in 2015 were also the seventh-highest mark in the country.

In addition to rural expansion of a program that offers medicine and other treatment to opioid addicts, known as Medication Assisted Treatment, University of Michigan opioid research funding will be enhanced. The state will also prioritize educating doctors on safe opioid prescription and addiction rehabilitation.

State officials said the grant will help them tackle the epidemic from all angles. Continue reading