9.16.14:  Michigan House to vote on forfeiture legislation


LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan lawmakers plan to proceed with a bill making it easier for the government to seize property linked to suspected illegal activity.


The legislation up for a vote Tuesday in the state House allows for the forfeiture of homes, cash and other assets in home invasion and rape cases. It’s designed to crack down on human trafficking.


The bill lets law enforcement take property and not give notice of forfeiture for 56 days. The current deadline is seven days.


Supporters say police are facing budget constraints and changes in the law would give them more time to investigate intricate human trafficking cases. Critics say innocent people could go a long time without the use of a car and house while wondering if police will return the items or seek forfeiture.

9.9.14:  Michigan lawmakers return for pre-election session


LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan lawmakers are returning for a four-week session before the November election.


Legislators are waiting to see if the Michigan Supreme Court reconsiders a ruling that could cost the state more than $1 billion. If the court doesn’t change its mind, lawmakers are likely to introduce legislation designed to keep the decision from affecting 134 other cases.


The July ruling involves a dispute over how IBM had to calculate taxes in past years.


It’s unlikely that the Republican-led Senate will tackle the big issue of road funding before the election. A plan to significantly increase Michigan’s gasoline tax stalled in June.


Both the House and Senate will begin meeting Tuesday.

7.30.14:  Michigan to hold hearing on new standardized test


LANSING, Mich. (AP) — The public will get a chance to weigh in on what Michigan’s next standardized test for students should look like.


The state Education Departments plans a public hearing about the issue on Wednesday in Lansing.


The state is moving away from the Michigan Educational Assessment Program exams that have been around for more than 40 years. The state Education Department planned to administer the Common Core-aligned Smarter Balanced test next school year but ran into resistance from the Legislature.


Lawmakers ordered the state to come up with a revised MEAP test for next school year and to issue a request for proposals from testing companies for a new test in the 2015-16 academic year.


A two-week public comment period expires next Tuesday.

7.17.14:  Bill protects soldiers in child custody cases


LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan legislation would protect military members in child custody cases while serving overseas.


The bill proposed Wednesday responds to a Lenawee County judge’s decision to order a sailor to come to court despite him being aboard a U.S. submarine.


The legislation generally would prohibit judges from modifying parenting time if a motion is filed to suspend the case while the military member is away.


Republican Sen. Rick Jones of Grand Ledge says his bill shouldn’t “even be necessary.”


Lenawee County Judge Margaret Noe says she didn’t know Matthew Hindes was in the Pacific Ocean when he was supposed to appear or have someone bring his 6-year-old daughter to court.


Hindes’ ex-wife Angela Hindes lost custody of their child in 2010 amid allegations of neglect but seek to regain custody.

7.16.14:  Michigan lawmakers return for committee meetings


LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan lawmakers are returning to Lansing for a day of committee meetings.


No attendance is being taken at House and Senate sessions, where more minor business is expected to occur such as the introduction of legislation.


Legislators have scheduled few meeting days this summer while preparing for the August primary.


Committees on Wednesday plan to consider medical marijuana bills and legislation related to school districts with budget deficits. Another panel will look at bills to require the licensing of genetic counselors and allow for-profit nursing homes to directly employ physicians.


Gov. Rick Snyder and Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville met Tuesday to discuss Snyder’s concerns with electronic cigarette legislation that lawmakers approved in June but stopped short of sending to his desk.


7.15.14:  Lawmaker plans bill to reinstate fireworks ban


LANSING, Mich. (AP) — A lawmaker is planning to introduce legislation this week that would reverse Michigan’s decision to legalize louder, more powerful fireworks.


State Sen. Glenn Anderson says the 2011 law was a “monumental mistake” and he heard countless complaints after the July 4th holiday. The Westland Democrat’s bill would reinstate Michigan’s ban on commercial-grade fireworks.


In response to complaints, the Legislature last year gave local governments power to restrict the use of fireworks on the day before, during and after a national holiday. But Anderson says municipalities have struggled to do so, and police departments can’t address noise and safety problems.


The law’s defenders say it’s meant no more clandestine trips out of state. Legislators figured since the fireworks wind up here anyway, Michigan should benefit from increased jobs and tax revenue.


7.8.14:  Michigan school chief tightening charter oversight


LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan’s top education official says he will suspend the power of some institutions to authorize the opening of charter schools because of questions about whether they’re doing an adequate job of overseeing the publicly funded but independently run schools.


The office of state schools Superintendent Mike Flanagan says he’s notifying charter school authorizers “that he will be exercising his statutory authority to end their ability to authorize future charter schools.”


Monday’s announcement says “a recent series of news articles has raised enough questions regarding the appropriate oversight by charter school authorizers.” The Detroit Free Press has run stories questioning Michigan’s charter school oversight.


Flanagan’s office says the Michigan Department of Education will establish rigorous measures of the “the transparency, academic, and financial practices of the charter schools of each authorizer.”

7.3.14:  Officials pick where $115 million for roads goes


LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan officials have announced how $115 million of extra funding for shovel-ready road and bridge projects across the state will be spent.


About 125 “priority” state and local construction projects were listed Wednesday on Michigan’s website. The additional funding was set aside by legislators when they approved a mid-year budget bill in March.


The state Transportation Department chose state projects, while lawmakers selected local ones in consultation with county road agencies.


It’s the second time this fiscal year $115 million extra was allocated for road projects.


Republican House Speaker Jase Bolger says about $40 million is going to districts represented by Democrats. House Democrats’ spokeswoman Katie Carey says that’s an improvement from the first go-around, but spending is still lopsided to majority Republicans’ districts.


The additional funding will include the following project improvements:

-Fruit Ridge Avenue

-Myers Lake

-Alden Nash Avenue

-Wilson Avenue

6/17/14:  Michigan and Israel sign deal for partnership


LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan and Israel have signed an agreement to jointly support industrial research and development projects.


The deal signed Monday by Gov. Rick Snyder and Israel’s Midwest Consul General Roey Gilad  calls for issuing a request for proposals from for-profit business collaborations between Michigan and Israeli companies.


Joint projects approved by the Michigan Economic Development Corp. and the Israel Office of the Chief Scientist will receive an unspecified amount of government funding. The request for bids is expected to be issued by November.


Snyder says the deal is a “breakthrough opportunity,” and Gilad says he expects partnerships in cyber security, autos, defense and water technology.


The governor made a trade trip to Israel last year and signed a letter of intent that’s the basis of the new agreement.

6.13.14:  State lawmakers pass budget plan on to Gov. Snyder


LANSING, Mich. (AP) — A $37.5 billion general spending plan for everything from state aid to local governments to prisons is headed to Michigan Governor Rick Snyder.


The state House on Thursday approved the bill 100-10 and the Senate followed with a 24-12 vote in favor. The votes came a day after lawmakers passed a $15.8 billion budget for schools, universities and community colleges.


Key provisions of the general budget include an overall 7 percent boost in revenue-sharing payments to municipalities. Michigan’s film incentives program will get $50 million, the same as this year.


There’s also money to train 100 new state police troopers and hire 25 more conservation officers. Democrats oppose cuts in aid to a Detroit hospital and not covering dental care in the state’s biggest counties.