The Grand Rapids Public Library in downtown Grand Rapids

Michigan libraries seek to stock opioid overdose meds

Opioid overdoses have increased dramatically in America over the last two decades. A pair of bills moving through the Michigan Legislature would allow librarians to store and administer opioid overdose antidotes with legal immunity, an option many are eager to have.

Proposed ban on shooting while high hard to enforce

By MAXWELL EVANS

Capital News Service

 

LANSING — A proposal to ban people high on marijuana from possessing firearms is pending in the House, but some law enforcement experts say there are too many questions around how marijuana affects the body to make such a move. Bills sponsored by Rep. Jim Lilly, R-Park Township, would criminalize possessing a firearm if a person has more than two nanograms of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) per milliliter in their blood. THC is the chemical in marijuana that makes you high. Six states and Canada have set impaired driving thresholds for THC blood levels. None have set such limits on firearm possession, although the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in 2016 that a federal ban on gun sales to medical marijuana patients does not violate the Second Amendment.

Governor, lawmakers seek school funding boost

By MAXWELL EVANS

Capital News Service

LANSING — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s 2020 budget proposal would increase school funding by more than a half-billion dollars. The boost to the School Aid Fund would come from a proposed transfer of all higher education funding — which has in part relied on K-12 education dollars for almost a decade — back to the General Fund. The increase would provide an additional $235 million to foundation allowances, which is the state’s funding of basic classroom needs and daily operations. That amounts to $120 to $180 per student, with the largest increases going to districts with the lowest foundation allowances. Whitmer’s budget proposal also calls for an additional $120 million in special education funding, $102 million for at-risk students and $50 million for career and technical education.

Proposal to ban conversion therapy in Michigan

A new proposal is making it’s way through the Capitol this week that aims to make Michigan a more accepting place. Two Democrats, State Senator Mallory McMurrow and State Representative Yousef Rabhi, have proposed a ban on conversion therapy in the state. Conversion therapy is the process of trying to convert homosexual or bisexual people to heterosexual. The bill wants to prevent mental health professionals from using this type of therapy on minors. “I think it would be affirming in saying that you don’t need to change this identify, this isn’t something you need to fix rather this is a real and legitimate identity,” Nick Royal, MSU LBGT Resource Center coordinator, said.

Only 25% of Michigan teachers recommend the job

By ZARIA PHILLIPS
Capital News Service

LANSING — Most teachers wouldn’t recommend that their students follow in their footsteps, according to a recent Michigan survey. Launch Michigan, a diverse coalition of groups that are sometimes at loggerheads but come together to advocate for education changes, reports that 75% of Michigan educators would not recommend education as a career. That contributes to the challenges of recruitment and retention, experts say. Launch Michigan is a coalition of business, teacher, administrator and other organizations seeking education reform. Their hope is to find solutions and strategies for the problems teachers face and retain more educators, said Emma White, the principal researcher at Emma White Research who did the survey.

Michigan universities hit with state shortfall for tuition waivers

By MAXWELL EVANS
Capital News Service

LANSING — The state shortfall in funding a tuition waiver program for Native American students has more than doubled over the past decade, leaving universities to make up the growing difference. The North American Indian Tuition Waiver Program waives tuition and fees for eligible students attending public universities, community colleges and tribal colleges. Participants must be at least one-fourth Native American, enrolled in a federally recognized tribe and have been a Michigan resident for at least a year. The program is “imperative for our students to move forward” in their careers and lives, said Kerstine Bennington, the higher education specialist for the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians. She would know — she’s a former program participant who used her waiver to attend Michigan State University.

Michigan experts say businesses, farmers harmed in China trade wars

By CRYSTAL CHEN

LANSING — The trade war between the world’s two largest economies has lasted for nearly one year and has already affected U.S industries and consumers, especially buyers and sellers of two items important in Michigan — soybeans and auto parts. Economists have long argued that tariffs come with real income losses. A newly published research article from the Centre for Economic Policy Research, a research network based in London, found that by the end of 2018, import tariffs were costing U.S. consumers and companies that import goods an extra $3 billion per month in added tax costs and an additional $1.4 billion per month in reduction in real income. “Everything affects everything, and everything is related to everything,” said Erkan Kocas, an international trade specialist at the Michigan State University International Business Center. Kocas said that an individual’s income and needs don’t change in spite of tariffs.

Tampon tax relief once again under consideration

By MAXWELL EVANS
Capital News Service

LANSING — Lawmakers are weighing whether to exempt feminine hygiene products from sales and use taxes starting June 30. The “tampon tax” unjustly burdens people who menstruate, supporters say. Critics point to the possibility of $6.5 million in lost annual revenue, just to save approximately $5 per person in annual taxes if they used a box of tampons per month. In the House, bills to exempt taxes on these basic health necessities are sponsored by Reps. Brian Elder, D-Bay City, and Tenisha Yancey, D-Harper Woods.