Amendment to election law would allow prisoner registration

PRISON VOTING: A group of mostly Detroit-area lawmakers is proposing that prison inmates be allowed to vote. If the amendment is signed into law, Michigan would join Maine, Vermont and Washington, D.C. to allow people to vote while incarcerated, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. By Kyle Davidson. FOR DETROIT, LANSING CITY PULSE AND ALL POINTS.

Beach safety enforcement: too much or too little?

BEACH SAFETY: Two pieces of legislation are making waves with different approaches to beach safety in Michigan state parks. One would stop the Department of Natural Resources from enforcing temporary swim bans when water and current conditions are dangerous. The other would expand that authority to ban use of beaches near dangerous or polluted water. By Danielle James. FOR HOLLAND, LUDINGTON, TRAVERSE CITY, PETOSKEY, SAINT IGNACE, MARQUETTE, CHEBOYGAN, MANISTEE, OCEANA, BENZIE COUNTY, ALCONA, SAULT STE. MARIE, LEELANAU, HARBOR SPRINGS AND ALL POINTS.

Medicaid proposal would allow private health plans to cover mental illness

INTEGRATED HEALTH: Michigan lawmakers are considering integrating mental and physical health care to make it more affordable, accessible and dependable for the state’s poorest citizens.
The proposal builds on Medicaid programs and has been the subject of two recent state senate hearings. Advocates want to reduce the stigma of receiving mental health treatment and increase follow-up treatments. But critics worry that allowing private health insurers to provide services will channel some of Michigan’s $3 billion Medicaid mental health budget into the pockets of for-profit businesses. By Cameryn Cass. We talk to an administrator of a Muskegon County mental health program, the former directors of the Michigan Department of Community Health and of the state mental health department and a state health plan association executive. FOR LUDINGTON AND ALL POINTS.

Protestors rallied on the capital lawn Wednesday against the proposed Michigan Cannabis Safety Act.

Michigan caregivers protest proposed marijuana limits

CAREGIVER RIGHTS — Michigan’s medical marijuana caregivers say proposed legislation supported by licensed growers would hurt their patients. A group representing licensed growers would require testing of cannabis products for unlicensed growers and reduce how many patients they can serve. Caregiver advocates from across the state recently rallied at the Capitol against the proposed Michigan Cannabis Safety Act. Interviews with Grand Rapids caregiver and patient. By Emerson Wigand. For GRAND RAPIDS, DETROIT and ALLPOINTS.

Michigan’s growing hemp industry faces roadblocks

INDUSTRIAL HEMP: Michigan’s hemp industry could get up to $100 million in federal funds to help it compete globally under a proposal pushed by a nationwide growers association.
The state is one of four with emerging hemp industries targeted by the National Hemp Association, along with Oregon, New York and Florida. The funding would be for developing a “regional super site” in each state to aid in the industry’s growth, said Geoff Whaling, the association’s chair. We interview farmers in Saranac and Spring Lake, association officials and a state agriculture spokeswoman. For IONIA, HOLLAND and ALL POINTS.

Decriminalization of magic mushrooms introduced in state Senate

MAGICMUSHROOMS: Ann Arbor’s EntheoFest on Sept. 19 will celebrate the one-year anniversary of the local decriminalization of psychedelic plants and fungi. Meanwhile, Michigan senators are sponsoring a bill to move this measure statewide, which would drop the punishment for possessing and using entheogenic plants. We interview Detroit and Ann Arbor senators, Marquette sheriff and the Michigan Association of Chiefs of Police. By CAMERYN CASS. FOR DETROIT, MARQUETTE and ALL POINTS.

Crimes committed by human trafficking victims would be forgiven under bill package 

HUMANTRAFFICKING: Police have made arrests this year for human trafficking in Oakland County and more recently in Mecosta County. Yet legislation that would keep victims of human trafficking from being arrested, charged and jailed when they are coerced to commit crimes has not moved since legislative hearings were held in early March and the end of April. Interviews with Attorney General Dana Nessel, DeWitt and Casco Township lawmakers and an MSU task force leader. BY BARBARA BELLINGER For LANSING and ALL POINTS.

Local health departments in Michigan acknowledge threat of climate change to public health 

CLIMATE ON HEALTH: 77% of local health department officials surveyed across Michigan agree climate change will impact their jurisdiction in the next 20 years, according to a recent U-M study examining local departments’ readiness and perception of climate change on public health. There was a discrepancy between health officials’ views on the impact of climate change and how they prioritize climate change. We also hear from the state Department of Health and Human Services, which identifies five adverse health effects of climate change: heat illness, respiratory diseases due to change in air quality, waterborne diseases, vector- borne diseases, and injury and carbon monoxide poisoning. Includes references to Macomb and Kalamazoo counties. By Elaine Mallon. FOR DETROIT AND ALL POINTS.

Farmers could benefit from easing trade relations between the U.S. and Cuba, experts say

CUBA AGRICULTURE: During the 2020 campaign, presidential candidate Joe Biden said he would reverse Trump administration policies that limit trade between the U.S. and Cuba. However, the administration has yet to make specific comments about increasing exports. A U.S. Senate bill would lift the embargo. Michigan farmers, especially dry bean growers, could benefit from higher sales to Cuba. Huron, Tuscola, Sanilac, Bay and Saginaw counties are the biggest dry bean producers. We talk to the director of the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development and to the Michigan Bean Commission, Farm Bureau and Agri-Business Association. For news and agriculture sections. By Brandon Chew. FOR MICHIGAN FARM NEWS, GRAND RAPIDS BUSINESS, CORP! AND ALL POINTS.