Bill would exterminate breed discrimination

By ALEXANDER SMITH
Capital News Service
LANSING – State lawmakers are considering a bill to eliminate dog breed discrimination by Michigan cities and towns. It would prohibit local governments from putting special regulations on particular breeds. Cities that ban dogs such as pit bulls or Rottweilers would have to find breed-neutral ways to regulate them, such as stricter leash laws for dogs above a certain weight or height. There are 29 cities that have restrictions on particular dog breeds according to the Best Friends Animal Society, which supports the bill sponsored by Sen. David Robertson, R-Grand Blanc Township. Each focuses on pit bulls.

East Lansing Historic Districts at Risk

By Chloe Kiple

Entirely East Lansing

EAST LANSING– Proposed state legislation could put East Lansing’s historic districts in jeopardy. House Bill 5232 and Senate Bill 0270, which are currently on the floor of the Michigan legislature, propose to dissolve historic districts after ten years unless opposed by a 2/3 majority of property owners in the historic districts. The bill defined a historic district as any place with one or more resources related to history, architecture, archaeology or culture within its boundaries.  East Lansing has six historic districts, Hillcrest Village, Chesterfield Hills, College Grove, Collegeville, Oakwood and Bailey. Members of the East Lansing Historic District Commission and city council have publicly opposed this legislation for a multitude of reasons.

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. Thirty states across the country compensate people who are wrongly convicted. But Michigan exonerees not only go uncompensated, they also are denied access to services available to parolees who were rightfully convicted.

Bill would require parental OK for juvenile informants in criminal investigations

By ERIC FREEDMAN
Capital News Service
LANSING – Law enforcement agencies would need parental or guardian approval to use juvenile informants in criminal investigations under a new legislative proposal. The bill by Rep. Jeff Irwin, D-Ann Arbor, would prohibit police agencies from using under-18 informants without such permission. It also would give parents and guardians the right to a court order to stop a violation. Juveniles are most often used as confidential informants after they’ve been arrested on drug charges and asked to help police in exchange for having charges dropped, Irwin said. “This is a real problem,” he said.

Right-to-Work Bills Spark Controversy

Some have described it as a ‘game changer’ while others have declared it a travesty for Michigan workers. Either way, in a matter days, a GOP majority quickly moved right-to-work legislation through a lame duck session in both the House and Senate. “In the space of 72 hours it went from ‘not on my agenda’ to ‘it’s going be a law in a couple of weeks,’ and that’s a pretty dramatic transition,” said Rick Pluta of Michigan Radio who has been following Lansing politics for more than two decades. It’s a move that marks the end of decades long “closed shop” laws in the state, meaning workers would now no longer be required to join union or pay union dues. For most of his term Gov. Rick Snyder has made it a point to steer clear of such divisive issues.

Debate raises issues for first-time voters

By Abbie Lennox
Ingham County Chronicle

LANSING — First-time voters gained perspective on the presidential election at a legislative debate by political strategists in Lansing on Sept. 19. The 2012 Michigan Chamber Foundation Legislative Reception & Annual Dinner showcased a bipartisan discussion about the perspectives on what the election will mean for America. The debate attracted many first-time voters. Robert Gibbs, senior campaign adviser for President Barack Obama, and his onstage partner Karl Rove, the GOP strategist and former adviser for President George W. Bush, debated various issues, including the role of first-time voters in the 2012 election.

Southeast Michigan Transit Authority proposed — for the 24th time

By PATRICK LYONS
Capital News Service
LANSING – Legislators are working to create an authority to oversee the development and operation of public transit in four Southeast Michigan counties. The legislation by Rep. Jim Townsend, D-Royal Oak, would create the Southeast Michigan Transit Authority. The authority would oversee all mass transit service in Oakland, Wayne, Macomb and Washtenaw counties, including Detroit. Townsend said that the goal is to unite Southeast Michigan and improve the economy in the process. “It is one regional economy,” Townsend said.

Transit officials worry about federal funding change

By SAODAT ASANOVA-TAYLOR
Capital News Service
LANSING – County transportation authorities are criticizing a federal bill they say could hurt state mass transit funding by putting it on year-to-year life cycle. They have called on U.S Rep. Dave Camp, R-Midland, to send the plan back to the drawing board. The bill would withdraw fuel tax revenue for the mass transit fund from the Federal Highway Trust Fund and allow the money to be used for general transportation purposes on an annual rather than five-year cycle. According to Camp’s office, it would provide the same funding sources for mass transit, and the change means that the account could earn more interest than now. However, as written, critics say the federal bill does not clarify whether change would generate the amount of money.