Dec. 2, 2011 CNS Budget

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DRIVERFEES – Motorists caught driving without a license or proof of insurance may soon catch a break. Lawmakers recently approved a bill that kills an extra penalty on such violations that was implemented in 2004 to help balance the state budget. Critics say the penalty placed an undo hardship on motorists and often resulted in them losing their licenses. By Courtney Culey.  FOR ALL POINTS
CHARTER SCHOOLS – Michigan lawmakers are at odds over how to expand charter schools. While Republicans push to remove a state cap on them, Democrats are pushing for a constitutional amendment that would limit any expansion to schools run by non-profit organizations. By Alex Mitchell. FOR ANN ARBOR AND ALL POINTS
HEALTHWEB – State officials are scrambling to meet an end-of-year deadline to begin developing a website for shopping for health insurance. The site for individuals and small employers is required by federal health care reform to spur competition. If plans aren’t in place, federal officials could impose a system, a situation business groups and others want to avoid. By Shannan O’Neil.  FOR ALL POINTS
FILMS – Lawmakers are considering a new attempt to encourage filmmakers to return to Michigan with grants instead of tax breaks. The $25 million program would provide funds to filmmakers who employ Michigan production crews and other workers. By Nick McWherter. FOR ALL POINTS
WASTETOFUEL – Lawmakers are investigating if Michigan could produce more energy from burning trash. But environmental groups say such an effort undermines recycling programs. By Alex Mitchell. FOR GRAND RAPIDS, DETROIT AND ALL POINTS
SEXUALHARASSMENT – Sexual harassment of students by students is a significant problem according to national studies and Michigan experts. But little is done to fight the activity that can include unwanted touching, sexual comments or harassment based on sexual orientation. Experts say it causes students to lose sleep, have eating problems and struggle with academics. By Sam Inglot. FOR ALL POINTS.
OCCUPYMICHIGAN – Organizers of the state’s Occupy protests plan to stick it out through Michigan’s winter, but whether they all will continue to camp in outdoor parks varies by city. By Sam Inglot. FOR LANSING, GRAND RAPIDS, DETROIT AND ALL POINTS
CONSOLIDATION – Gov. Rick Snyder and other state officials are pushing local governments to save money by consolidating services. But some local officials say they already do that while others say it doesn’t necessarily lead to savings and could harm service delivery. By Jacob Kanclerz. FOR CADILLAC, MARQUETTE AND ALL POINTS
YOUTHCURFEWS – Studies show that youth crime goes down when city curfews are enforced. But some experts question whether they do much good as most youth crime occurs between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. By Courtney Culey. FOR ALL POINTS
LOANSCAMS – State officials including the attorney general are marshaling their forces against those who con mortgage holders out of thousands of dollars by promising relief they cannot deliver. The state has racked up an impressive conviction rate on cases originating mostly in southeastern Michigan and promises more. Mortgage holders in need of free help can turn to the Michigan State Housing Development Authority. WITH SIDEBAR detailing types of loan scams. By Jacob Kanclerz.  FOR DETROIT, MOUNT CLEMONS, ROYAL OAK AND ALL POINTS
YOUNGFLIGHT – Michigan’s bleak economy and gloomy winters continue to drive young graduates away. The U.S. Census recently reported that the state lost 16,700 residents in 2010. Some were looking to retire to warmer climes, but many of them are young people. The only age demographic in Michigan that is growing is among people 50 years or older. By Nick McWherter. FOR GRAND RAPIDS AND ALL POINTS
HEALTH&EDUCATION – State and national studies indicate the higher level of your education the less likely you are to be obese. Health experts say that’s likely because education often correlates to income and people with more money have greater access to healthy food and more time to exercise. By Sam Inglot. FOR ANN ARBOR AND ALL POINTS
VULNERABLEADULTS – Older Michigan residents could get extra protection from financial scams. Bills in the legislature target the financial abuse of vulnerable adults – those who cannot protect themselves because of physical or mental impairments. Financial institutions would be required to train employees to recognize financial scams that victimize them. By Shannan O’Neil. FOR DETROIT AND ALL POINTS

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