11.19.14:  Nativity scene proposed for Michigan Capitol lawn


LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan officials are considering whether a Christian Nativity scene and a counter-display from a secularist group should join the state Christmas tree on the Capitol lawn this holiday season.

The State Capitol Commission on Monday agreed to contract with the Michigan attorney general’s office for a part-time staff attorney over six months for $37,000. The attorney would advise the commission on various issues, including the request to place a representation of the birth of Jesus at the state Capitol.

Commission member John Truscott says he expects the office will approve the Nativity with the same conditions as demonstrations that are frequently held on the grounds. He declined to say who made the request.

The Freedom from Religion Foundation based in Madison, Wisconsin, said Tuesday it would request a counter-display if the Nativity is approved.

11.17.14:  Capitol lowering flags for former lawmaker


LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder has ordered U.S. flags within the state capitol complex to be lowered to half-staff in honor of former state Rep. James Hadden.


Snyder’s office says a memorial service is Monday at Judson Memorial Baptist Church in the Lansing area for Hadden, who died Thursday. He was 85.


Hadden was a Lenawee County commissioner and served in the state House from 1981-1982. Survivors include his wife, Barbara; children and grandchildren.


Under the order, flags are lowered Monday and should be returned to full-staff on Tuesday. Michigan residents, businesses, schools, local governments and other organizations also are encouraged to display the flag at half-staff in honor of Hadden.


Donations may be made in Hadden’s memory to the Michigan Great Lakes Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association.

11.14.14:  Michigan Senate votes to double gasoline tax


LANSING, Mich. (AP) — The Michigan Senate has voted to double the state gasoline tax over four years to raise at least $1 billion to fix roads.

Michigan’s per-gallon gas tax is a flat 19 cents.

A bill approved 23-14 Thursday and sent to the House calls for taxing fuel on the wholesale price. The gas tax would effectively rise to 25 cents in April, 31 cents in 2016, 36 cents in 2017 and 41 cents in 2018 based on current prices.


In June, the Republican-controlled Senate balked at a similar proposal because of opposition to increasing taxes. But Republican Governor Rick Snyder and advocates of more transportation funding have made approval of a major road-funding plan a top priority in the “lame-duck” legislative session.

Now lobbying will begin in the Republican-led House.

11.13.14:  Michigan House votes to expand nuisance abatement


LANSING, Mich. (AP) — The Michigan House has voted to expand local governments’ power to file nuisance complaints against homeowners and businesses suspected of illegal activity such as gambling and human trafficking.

State law lets the attorney general, county prosecutors and residents make a nuisance complaint. A bill approved 77-33 Wednesday and headed to the Senate would expand the authority to city, township and village attorneys.

Local governments use nuisance abatement laws to improve the quality of neighborhoods by threatening to padlock buildings and vehicles, seize the contents and sell them at auction.

Supporters say making human trafficking and gun violence a trigger for nuisance complaints would get trafficking victims some money and make neighborhoods safer.

Critics oppose expanding the circumstances for seizing private property regardless of whether owners are convicted of a crime.


11.5.14:   Capitol to lower flags for former lawmaker


LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Gov. Rick Snyder has ordered U.S. flags at the Michigan Capitol to be lowered to half-staff following the death of former state Sen. Walter H. North.


Flags will be lowered Wednesday in honor of the former Republican senator from St. Ignace. He died Friday at age 81.


North was elected to the state Senate in 1994 and served the 37th District for two terms. He helped expand the St. Ignace municipal marina and several health care and public safety facilities.


He was executive secretary of the Mackinac Bridge Authority for nearly a decade and served in the Korean War with the U.S. Air Force.


A funeral service is scheduled for Wednesday at the St. Ignace United Methodist Church.

10.31.14:  Michigan lawmakers consider STEM certification


LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan lawmakers are considering approving a certification for high school students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.


The new legislation outlines the requirements for a possible certification on high school diplomas, including six credits of math and six credits of science.


Republican state Sen. John Proos of St. Joseph introduced the bills and says the certifications would help students succeed in competitive job markets.


Michigan STEM Partnership Board of Directors chairman Paul Agosta says state officials need to ensure students can apply practical learning to college study or the work place.


Republican state Rep. Amanda Price of Park Township plans to introduce matching bills in the House. She says certifications would send the message to employers that science and math education is a primary focus in Michigan.


10.16.14:  Effort aims to improve driver education for youth



DETROIT (AP) — A Michigan effort aims to improve driver education for young people and reduce the risk of crashes by offering scholarships for training courses.


The office of Secretary of State Ruth Johnson and Big Brothers Big Sisters are working together on the “Keys to Safe Driving” effort. An event Thursday where scholarships are being presented highlights the involvement of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metropolitan Detroit.


Johnson’s office says less than half of young people in the Detroit area are licensed within one year of reaching Michigan’s minimum age for licensure, and a little more than half get a license before turning 18. Officials say young people can miss out on training opportunities.


The effort also involves All Star Driver Education and the T. Wall Foundation.



10.16.14:  Officials encourage flu vaccinations in Michigan


OKEMOS, Mich. (AP) — Health officials are encouraging Michigan residents to get flu vaccinations.


The Michigan Department of Community Health, the Michigan Osteopathic Association and the Michigan State Medical Society are coming together Thursday at an event in Okemos with hopes of boosting vaccination across the state.


The peak of seasonal flu typically comes between January and April. Health officials warn that influenza is potentially life-threatening, especially for infants and the elderly. During the 2013-2014 flu season, officials say there were three influenza-associated deaths of children in the state.


Last month, the Michigan Department of Community Health announced it was partnering with colleges, universities and others to encourage young adults to get flu vaccinations.

10.16.14:  Gov. Snyder to sign anti-human trafficking bills


TROY, Mich. (AP) — Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder is planning to sign a number of bills that aim to crack down on human trafficking and help its victims.


The legislation being signed Tuesday in a Detroit suburb would let victims clear their criminal records. Minors suspected of prostitution would be presumed to be trafficking victims, and “johns” soliciting sex from minors would face stiffer criminal penalties.


The bills would eliminate the statute of limitations for exploiting children and extend it to 25 years to bring charges against suspected adult traffickers. Those soliciting sex from minors would be added to Michigan’s sex offender registry.


The legislation stem from recommendations made by a state human trafficking commission. The report says Michigan is thought to be a trafficking hot spot because of its international borders and waterways.

10.14.14:  Gov. Snyder signs legislation on overdose drugs


CLINTON TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — Gov. Rick Snyder has signed legislation requiring emergency medical responders to be trained to administer medications to stop drug overdoses aboard ambulances and other emergency vehicles.


The governor’s office says the legislation signed Monday at the Women Strengthening Michigan forum in Macomb County’s Clinton Township aims to expand the availability of so-called opioid antagonists to help save the lives of those who have overdosed.


Before the event, Snyder signed the rest of the bill package.


Under the legislation, prescribers may dispense the medication under certain circumstances to friends or family of individuals who may be at risk of experiencing a heroin-related overdose. Also, Snyder’s office says first responders and civilians are exempt from criminal prosecution or professional sanctions for administering the medications in good faith to those with immediate need.