Feb. 20, 2015 Budget

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Capital News Service Budget – Feb. 20, 2015
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From: Perry Parks & Sheila Schimpf
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FOSTERFEDS: In a reversal of recent efforts, the Department of Human Services has withdrawn its motion to end federal oversight of Michigan’s child welfare services, the department said on Friday, Feb. 20. Under encouragement from a judge, DHS will negotiate new terms with the advocacy agency that sued to put the state under scrutiny. With explanation from DHS communications and perspectives from a state legislator and children’s advocates, and new statistics from the 2015 Kids Count in Michigan report. By Caitlin McArthur. FOR ALL POINTS.
w/FOSTERFEDS_MAP — County totals of children in families investigated for abuse or neglect in 2013; from the 2015 Kids Count in Michigan report relying on Department of Human Services data.
SMARTSNACKS: Michigan’s response to the federal “Smart Snacks” program has meant the end of traditional bake sales during school hours due to prohibitions against selling unhealthy or unlabeled foods. State lawmakers, including a representative from Cadillac, are rallying to restore the traditional bake sale through new legislation exempting certain fundraisers from the requirements. We speak to the bill’s Senate sponsor, a consultant with the  Department of Education, and the principal of Big Rapids Middle School. By Cheyna Roth. FOR TRAVERSE CITY, LEELANAU, MANISTEE, CADILLAC, BIG RAPIDS, LANSING & ALL POINTS
ELDERLYABUSE: A package of legislation has been introduced aimed at deterring crimes against the elderly and vulnerable adults through stricter punishments. The bills are part of a broader effort among state advocates to protect vulnerable residents from people who might see them as easy targets. We spoke with a member of a Washtenaw coalition that was created to raise awareness for this issue, a senator’s chief of staff and a manager of services for the elderly. By Josh Thall. FOR ALL POINTS.
TUITIONCAP: Gov. Rick Snyder’s new budget proposal would raise funding for Michigan’s public universities — but that money would come with a catch. The proposed 2 percent increase would mean about $28 million more for higher education and raise the total state budget for universities to $1.544 billion. But in order to claim their share of the increase, universities would have to work with a limit of 2.8 percent when increasing next year’s tuition rates. With comments from the Presidents Council, State Universities of Michigan and officials at the University of Michigan, Michigan State and Saginaw Valley State. By Brooke Kansier. FOR ALL POINTS
HIGHEREDFUNDING: Gov. Snyder’s call for more higher education funding separates him from several of his Republican gubernatorial peers. We look at other states with Republican legislatures and governors and compare Michigan’s higher ed plan to these states’. We hear insight from experts on the issue to size up how Michigan’s education plan looks compared to these other states. By Collin Krizmanich. FOR ALL POINTS.
FINANCIALAIDOUTREACH: Students can apply for increasing state financial aid opportunities and two new scholarships this year. State support has increased in the last few years, but not enough to compensate for large cuts made in 2009. State and university officials are expanding their outreach efforts to educate students and families about this available funding. We speak with the financial aid offices at Grand Valley State and and Northern Michigan universities to hear about increases to university financial aid and educational resources. Michigan’s Student Finance Services Bureau is also promoting these upcoming application deadlines. By Elizabeth Ferguson. FOR GRAND RAPIDS BUSINESS, HOLLAND, THREE RIVERS, MARQUETTE, BAY MILLS, STE. SAULT MARIE, ST. IGNACE and ALL POINTS.
FISHINGHUNTINGLICENSES: Michigan got more boots on the ground, waders in the water and eyes in the field thanks to an extra $8 million earned from restructuring sales of hunting and fishing licenses. The Department of Natural Resources did away with restricted species fishing licenses and instead began offering all-species licenses for $26 last March. A change was also made to hunting licenses, requiring the purchase of an $11 base license for small game before additional licenses for other species can be purchased. By Mollie Liskiewicz FOR ALL POINTS
w/FISHINGHUNTINGLICENSESPHOTO: A smallmouth bass caught by Michigan State University fisheries and wildlife students in the Red Cedar River. Credit: Aaron Aguirre.
BEES&BIOFUEL: A new study of the impact of two potential biofuel sources on Lower Peninsula bee populations finds that bee abundance and diversity increase when perennial grasses such as prairie grass and switchgrass grow on the land, but decrease when the land is converted to annual crops such as corn and soybeans. Researchers from MSU and the University of Wisconsin say grasslands that could be used for biofuel production support more natural habitat for beneficial bees. Among the areas where converting annual crops to grassland would help bees most are  portions of Tuscola, Sanilac, Gratiot and Monroe counties. We also hear from an MSU entomologist and Minnesota DNR expert. For news and agriculture pages. By Holly Drankhan. FOR ALL POINTS.
w/BEES&BIOFUELPHOTO: A Michigan study found that perennial biofuel crops, like prairie grasses, increase native bee abundance and diversity. Credit: Holly Drankhan

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