Sept. 12, 2014 – Week 1
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FIRST FALL FILE: This is the first file of fall 2014. We look forward to working with you, our new correspondents and our new tech manager.
MICHIGAN ENVIRONMENTAL COUNCIL AHEAD: Your correspondents will interview MEC President Chris Kolb next Monday, Sept. 15. Possible topics include alternative energy, brownfield redevelopment, environmental legislation and impact of climate change on Michigan waters.
HERE’S YOUR FILE:
CIVILRIGHTS: With elections drawing nigh, hot topics are fighting for the spotlight at the Capitol, including civil rights protection against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. While leaders of the Republican majority say there will be no vote before the Nov. 3 election, Democrats from Ann Arbor, East Lansing and Metro Detroit are among the sponsors of legislation to add sexual orientation to the state’s Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act. We hear from opponents and supporters of the measure. By Jordan Bradley. FOR MICHIGAN CITIZEN, DEADLINE DETROIT, LANSING CITY PULSE, GRAND RAPIDS BUSINESS & ALL POINTS.
COURTCOSTS: Local courts are struggling with an unexpected revenue gap – some more than $1 million this year — after the state Supreme Court ruled that judges have no legal authority to assess court costs on defendants convicted of crimes. Manistee County, which stands to lose $200,000, has cancelled pay raises and reduced health insurance coverage. The biggest losers include Ionia, Ottawa, Wayne, Kent and Allegan counties, while Missaukee County will lose only $45,000. The Association of Counties is pushing a committee-passed bill sponsored by lawmakers from Livonia, Stevensville and Brighton to fix the problem. By Michael Kransz. FOR MANISTEE, LUDINGTON, GRAND RAPIDS BUSINESS, MICHIGAN CITIZEN, GREENVILLE, HOLLAND, BIG RAPIDS & ALL POINTS.
w/COURTCOSTSTABLE: 10 counties facing the largest loss in court fees. Source: Michigan Association of Counties.
FARMLAND: More crops were planted in the northern Midwest this year than last year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and Michigan farmers planted 300,000 more acres of principal crops in 2014 than in 2013, including soybeans and corn. Major factors include weather and commodity prices. Lenawee, Allegan and St. Joseph counties are in the top 10 for corn. Soybean acreage is up in Alpena and Cheboygan counties. We hear from MSU Extension, Michigan Agri-Business Association and USDA experts. By Lacee Shepherd. FOR BLISSFIELD, HOLLAND, STURGIS, THREE RIVERS, GRAND RAPIDS BUSINESS, ALPENA, CHEBOYGAN & ALL POINTS.
w/FARMLANDCORN: Top 10 corn-growing counties. Source: Michigan Corn Producers Association.
w/FARMLANDPHOTO: Organic soybean farm. Credit: J.E. Doll, Michigan State University.
FOODBENEFITS: Michigan’s anti-fraud efforts should be ramped up to improve the integrity of the $73-billion-a-year Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly food stamps), a federal report says. States’ ability to detect, minimize and punish fraud has failed to keep up with the rapid growth of the program. Part of the study involved Detroit and Grand Rapids-area recipients. We talk to the Department of Human Services and Michigan League for Public Policy. By Eric Freedman. FOR MICHIGAN CITIZEN, GRAND RAPIDS BUSINESS, LANSING CITY PULSE, DEADLINE DETROIT & ALL POINTS.
w/FOODBENEFITSTABLE: 10 counties with the most SNAP recipients. Source: Department of Human Services.
BIRDING: If you ask about their favorite birds of the region, they almost always have one response: “That is a really hard question.” Suggestions include the Kirtland’s warbler, least bittern, Henslow’s sparrow, barn swallow and cerulean warblers. We talk to the Michigan Audubon Society, an MDOT wildlife ecologist and an MSU zoology doctoral student. For news or outdoors pages. By Chelsea Mongeau. FOR CRAWFORD COUNTY, LUDINGTON, MANISTEE, PETOSKEY, HOLLAND, BIG RAPIDS, ALCONA, ALPENA, CHEBOYGAN, GLADWIN, GREENVILLE, SAULT STE. MARIE, MARQUETTE, ST. IGNACE & ALL POINTS.
W/BIRDERSKIRTLAND’SWARBLERPHOTO: Credit: U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.
w/BIRDERSLEASTBITTERNPHOTO: Credit: U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.
w/BIRDERSCERULEANWARBLERPHOTO: Credit: U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.
LEAKINGTANKS: A Berrien County oil company, one of its officers and an affiliate owe the state more than $800,000 for failing to clean up three sites with leaking underground storage tanks. DEQ’s Southwest Michigan office says the bill may rise if the state has to do the long-delayed work. By Eric Freedman. FOR STURGIS, THREE RIVERS, GRAND RAPIDS BUSINESS, HOLLAND & ALL POINTS.
Sept. 12, 2014 – Week 1