Bill would compensate wrongfully convicted prisoners

By COLLIN KRIZMANICH
Capital News Service

LANSING — There’s no way for a state to give back time — sometimes decades — to people who served in prison for crimes they didn’t commit.

Most states do offer money to compensate people who manage to prove their innocence — but Michigan isn’t one of them.

Legislation recently introduced by Sen. Steve Bieda, D-Warren, aims to change this.
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Drones are everywhere — here’s why

By COLLIN KRIZMANICH
Capital News Service

LANSING — Seems like every day we’re hearing something new about drones, whether it’s military use of drones overseas, Amazon floating the idea of creating a drone delivery system, journalists using drones to report stories — or even just a neighbor down the street who bought a drone for fun.

In Washington D.C., a drone recently crashed onto the lawn of the White House. In Michigan, lawmakers were concerned enough about drones to pass a law preventing people from using drones to hunt or to bother hunters.

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Aerial shot of MSU taken with drone by Ryan Latourette of Grand Ledge


“The future of drones is absolutely astonishing, as to what they’re going to be able to accomplish for us,” said Ryan Latourette, a recreational drone user from Grand Ledge.
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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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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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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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Michigan ‘religious freedom’ act concerns business leaders

By COLLIN KRIZMANICH

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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Gerrymandering in Michigan, explained

By COLLIN KRIZMANICH
Capital News Service

LANSING — By all accounts, 2014 was a good election year for Republicans in Michigan. They increased their majority in the Michigan House of Representatives by three seats, now holding 63 to Democrats’ 47. Out of the 14 congressional races, Republicans won nine.

You may assume Republicans across the state received substantially more votes than Democrats.

However, that assumption would be wrong.

Although Republicans won nine of the 14 congressional races, Democrats received about 50,000 more votes out of 3 million cast.

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Michigan’s 14th Congressional District: In 2014 Democrat Brenda Lawrence received more than 77 percent of the vote. Often cited as an example of gerrymandering. Source: nationalatlas.gov


“Any time you look at a result where one party gets more votes and the other party has a large majority in the legislature, it raises concerns whether the legislature is reflecting the sentiment and goals of voters,” said Rep. Jeff Irwin, D-Ann Arbor.
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Door ‘boots,’ 911 apps among uses for school security grants

By COLLIN KRIZMANICH
Capital News Service

LANSING — With $4 million to spend in grants from the Michigan State Police, school districts across the state are opting to buy a wide variety of improved school security systems and devices.

These improvements include increased door and window security, new emergency alert applications on electronic devices and reinforced classroom doors to keep out intruders.

“Each district will take a different approach. Some will use electronics, some will use the boot, some will use video cameras — they’re not mutually exclusive,” said Mike Borkovich, Leelanau County Sheriff. “All of these things add up to more security for kids.”
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Bill would speed tracking of missing people’s cell phones

By COLLIN KRIZMANICH
Capital News Service

LANSING — Turn on any crime show, such as CSI, and you’ll see a scene like this: The police identify a suspect, and within seconds a tech expert has traced the cell phone to the perp’s exact GPS coordinates.

“I’ve had several people ask me, ‘You can already do that, right?’” said Terry Jungel, executive director of the Michigan Sheriffs’ Association. “But it’s not that easy.”

While federal legislation allows cellular providers to turn over a user’s location information, it does not require them to do so, unless the police have a warrant.
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Lawmakers, agencies consider police body cameras

By COLLIN KRIZMANICH
Capital News Service

LANSING — The shooting death of Michael Brown by a Ferguson, Missouri, police officer and similar incidents across the country have led to calls to equip police officers with body cameras that can capture video of their actions.

The idea is simple: When camera-wearing police clash with civilians, there will be no debate about what happened because the footage will tell the story.

Legislation has been introduced by House Democrats that would require any law enforcement officer who carries a firearm to be equipped with a body cam. The bill is currently stalled in the Criminal Justice Committee.
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