Rep. Phil Skaggs, D-East Grand Rapids

Agencies, lawmakers act against child labor abuses

CHILD LABOR: Federal and state agencies have been taking action against employers who hire underage workers following news reports of child labor abuses at a Kentwood company and elsewhere. Pending legislation is intended to crack down on illegal child labor and protect whistleblowers. We hear from the lead sponsor from East Grand Rapids, Michigan Immigration Rights Center in Grand Rapids and federal and state labor agencies. The other sponsor is from Muskegon. For business and news sections. By Alex Walters. FOR CORP! GRAND RAPIDS BUSINESS, WKTV, LANSING CITY PULSE AND ALL POINTS.

Wayne State law professor Laura Bartell is a bankruptcy specialist.

Bankruptcies still ballooning amid high interest rates, drying up of pandemic stimulus money

BANKRUPTCIES: Michigan bankruptcy filings are up, a trend attributed at least in part to higher interest rates and an end to pandemic-era stimulus payments. Even some high-income people are drowning in debt. A Wayne State law professor, a credit counselor at a Farmington Hills-based firm and a Lansing bankruptcy lawyer discuss. By Owen McCarthy. FOR CORP! GRAND RAPIDS BUSINESS, DETROIT AND ALL POINTS.

Teri Dudley of Reed City’s Dairy Depot smiles after the proposed rezoning was denied by the local planning commission on Feb. 5.

Working-class Osceola County can’t afford to ignore politics, presidential election

OSCEOLA COUNTY PROFILE: Working-class, lower-income Osceola County can’t afford to ignore politics and presidential election in a local economy dominated by two major employers, a hospital and a yogurt plant, and a long tradition of voting Republican. By Archer Guanco, Daniel Schoenherr, Anna Barnes and Lauretta Sha. FOR BIG RAPIDS, CLARE, LUDINGTON, CADILLAC AND ALL POINTS.

Controversial loan program benefits Michigan colleges 

COLLEGE LOANS: Five Michigan colleges have taken advantage of a USDA loan program for rural and agricultural areas to finance new buildings and facilities. Alma College’s president says the $39.4 million it borrowed has paid off in rising enrollment. Others are Adrian University of Olivet, Glen Oaks Community College and Bay Mills Community College. The Michigan Association of Independent Colleges and Universities says the benefits are visible on participating campuses. Some rural borrowers nationally haven’t seen the expected benefits, however. By Elijah Taub. FOR ADRIAN, BAY MILLS, MARQUETTE, STURGIS, THREE RIVERS AND ALL POINTS.

Professor Alan Steinman is a water researcher at Grand Valley State University.

Salty groundwater in Michigan could hurt agriculture, business and homeowners

SALINITY: Rising salt levels in some Michigan groundwater is killing crops and tainting drinking water. The problem is especially severe in Ottawa County, which is closely monitoring the situation, and also of concern in Southwest Michigan and the Thumb. We talk to a Grand Valley State University researcher, Ottawa County’s director of strategic impact and a Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy expert. By Alex Walters. FOR HOLLAND, MICHIGAN FARM NEWS, MIDLAND AND ALL POINTS.

Undocumented new mothers need health care coverage for 12 months, advocates say

POSTPARTUM: There’s a push to extend Medicaid coverage for undocumented immigrants from two months to 12 months after giving birth. The change in policy for the Maternity Outpatient Medical Services program would cost $6 to $10 million a year, says the Michigan League for Public Policy. The Michigan Immigrant Rights Center, with offices in Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, Ypsilanti and Detroit, and an NYU expert explain. By Theo Scheer. FOR DETROIT, WKTV, LANSING CITY PULSE AND ALL POINTS.

Grants help integrate newcomers into Michigan communities

NEWCOMERS: State grants will help nonprofits serve immigrants, refugees and asylum-seekers integrate into their communities. The money comes from the Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity and the federal government. Farmworker Legal Services in Grand Rapids will use its grant to expand its education and oversight activities to the Upper Peninsula. Les Clays, also based in Grand Rapids, will provide “second step” support for immigrants coming from Africa to West Michigan. Other grants recipients include support for Burmese immigrants in Calhoun County and, Islamic Americans in Detroit, partnerships between Catholic churches and local immigrants in Northern Michigan, and Latin American immigrants in Allegan, Kent, Ottawa, and Van Buren counties. By Alex Walters. FOR MARQUETTE, GRAND RAPIDS BUSINESS, SAULT STE. MARIE, IRON MOUNTAIN, WKTV, MICHIGAN FARM NEWS, DETROIT, LANSING CITY PULSE, HOLLAND AND ALL POINTS.

Rep. Matthew Bierlein R-Vassar.

Proposal would restrict deepfake images depicting sexual content

DEEPFAKES: A Vassar lawmaker wants to crack down on deepfakes, which are photos or videos with digitally altered faces or bodies to appear to be someone else, usually used maliciously or to spread false information. The legislation raises First Amendment free speech questions. Cosponsors include representatives from Metro Detroit. An expert at Western Michigan University’s Cooley Law School discusses. By Sophia Ceru. FOR DETROIT, LANSING CITY PULSE AND ALL POINTS.

Pedestrians walk along a street in downtown East Lansing. The area boasts many restaurants and is intersected by bus lines serving Michigan State University and Lansing’s capital area.

Many Ingham County Democrats lukewarm on Biden

INGHAM COUNTY PROFILE: Ingham County leans heavily Democratic and supported Biden over Trump 65% to 33% in 2020. But it’s also a mix of rural, urban and college communities, cutting through a unique cross-section of voters in a state expected to play a pivotal role in this year’s elections. By Viet Anh Phan, Donte Smith, Jada Vasser and Campbell Berg. FOR ALL POINTS.

Dingell talks environmental priorities in election year

Dingell talks environmental priorities in election year

DINGELL: U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell, a member of the House Natural Resources Committee, discusses priority environmental issues facing Congress this election year, including the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, clean-up of contaminated waterways such as the St. Clair River and electric vehicles. Energy Secretary (ex-Gov.) Granholm was recently in Michigan promoting training standards for battery industry workers. Includes references to the St. Clair River, Deer Lake, Manistique River, Lower Menominee River, St. Marys River, Clinton River, Detroit River, Kalamazoo River, Muskegon Lake, Saginaw Bay, Torch Lake, White Lake, Rouge River and River Raisin. By Eric Freedman. FOR DETROIT, PLANET DETROIT, BAY MILLS, MARQUETTE, IRON MOUNTAIN, SAULT STE. MARIE, MIDLAND, MONROE, TRAVERSE CITY, PETOSKEY, MICHIGAN FARM NEWS AND ALL POINTS.