State

7.25.14:  Enbridge to add support for pipeline in the Straits

 

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) — Michigan officials are ordering Enbridge Energy Partners LP to install additional support structures beneath two oil pipelines at the bottom of the Straits of Mackinac, the waterway linking Lakes Huron and Michigan.

 

State Attorney Bill Schuette and Department of Environmental Quality Director Dan Wyant said Thursday the company acknowledges it’s not meeting a requirement that the pipelines have support anchors at least every 75 feet.

 

They say Enbridge agrees to add more supports this year. They say it’s a step toward protecting the Great Lakes from a catastrophic oil spill.

 

Enbridge Energy Partners is part of Calgary, Alberta-based Enbridge Inc.

 

Enbridge spokeswoman Terri Larson says engineering studies show gaps up to 140 feet are safe. She says Enbridge is taking extra precautions and will begin adding steel supports in August.

 


7.25.14:  Michigan elections board torn over minimum wage

 

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan’s elections board is torn over whether to certify a voter-initiated proposal to raise the minimum wage.

 

The four-member Board of State Canvassers adjourned for a couple of hours Thursday afternoon after asking secretary of state’s staff to review signatures that opponents of the minimum wage measure say are invalid duplicates. The measure’s supporters say the challenge came too late.

 

In an attempt to head off the ballot drive, lawmakers in May repealed the minimum wage law that would be amended by the proposal and passed a smaller minimum wage hike. The hourly minimum will rise to $9.25 by 2018 with inflationary increases after.

 

The voter-initiated law would increase the minimum to $10.10 an hour over time, with later inflationary increases and a bigger bump for tipped employees.


7.24.14:  Insurers owe nearly $13.2M in refunds in Michigan

 

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — The federal government says more than 184,000 Michigan health insurance customers will benefit from nearly $13.2 million in refunds because of a provision of the nation’s health care law.

 

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released the figures Thursday.

The law requires insurance companies to spend at least 80 percent of the premiums they collect on medical care and quality improvement or return the difference to consumers and employers.

 

The money won’t necessarily be a check in the mail. Employers can apply rebates in a way that benefits workers or take a discount on future premiums. Individual policyholders owed a rebate will either get a check, a reimbursement to their credit card account or see a reduction in future premiums.


7.24.14:  Statue series grows, to include Betty Ford in 2018

 

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) — The Grand Rapids Community Legends project has added a sixth statue to a series that will grow to include former first lady Betty Ford four years from now.

 

Organizers on Wednesday unveiled a sculpture of civil rights activist Helen Claytor. It’s part of a series that’s expected to have 25 statues before completion.

 

The project plans sculptures of boxing champion Stanley Ketchel in 2015, businesswoman Anna Sutherland Bissell in 2016 and businessman and politician Julius Houseman in 2017. The Ford sculpture will be installed in 2018, 100 years after her birth.

 

President Gerald Ford died in 2006, and Betty Ford died in 2011. They lived in Rancho Mirage, California, for decades.

 

Their hometown was Grand Rapids.


7.24.14:  Man jailed in fatal stabbing of gas station clerk

 

 

BATTLE CREEK, Mich. (AP) — Police say they’ve arrested a man in the fatal stabbing of a 27-year-old Battle Creek gas station employee.

 

Police answered a call about a robbery and shooting about 3:30 a.m. Wednesday and found the body of Nicole Gates of Battle Creek at a Citgo gas station.

 

Detective Sgt. Jim Martens says it appears that an acquaintance stabbed Gates to death before stealing money, beer, cigarettes and lottery tickets.

 

Police say they arrested 30-year-old Shawn Pike of Battle Creek about 10:30 a.m. on first-degree murder, robbery and other charges. Police also have arrested a 21-year-old man, whose name wasn’t immediately released.

 

The men are expected to be arraigned Thursday.


7.22.14:   State child poverty up, teen deaths down

 

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — The annual Kids Count survey finds child poverty rates rising during 25 years of data-gathering while fewer teens are giving birth or dying.

 

The report released Tuesday by the Annie E. Casey Foundation says Michigan ranks 32nd in overall child well-being nationally, down one slot since last year.

 

Michigan’s lowest ranking was in education, where children have struggled in math, reading and graduating on time. But since 1990, the state has seen significant improvements with its children attending preschool and having a parent or guardian with a diploma.

 

Michigan League for Public Policy says in a statement that “good public policy” has made a difference in some areas. But it’s “not acceptable” that Michigan ranks in the bottom half of the nation and more needs to be done.

 


7.22.14:   Fruit growers get new disaster relief

 

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow says fruit growers affected by extreme weather conditions in 2012 will now be able to apply for new disaster relief from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

 

The Michigan Democrat is chairwoman of the Senate’s Agriculture and says new provisions in the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program as part of the 2014 Farm Bill will extend relief to growers hit by disasters that didn’t have access to crop insurance.

 

Stabenow noted in a statement that frosts and freezes in 2012 destroyed crops such as cherries and apples in Michigan and elsewhere. Eligible producers will be able to apply for assistance beginning Tuesday through their local Farm Service Agency office.


7.22.14:  Schuette urges changes after killer’s prison break

 

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan’s attorney general is recommending numerous changes in prison security after a convicted quadruple murderer escape earlier this year.

 

Bill Schuette’s independent investigation into the February escape from the Ionia Correctional Facility flagged problems with video surveillance, fence alarms, prisoner counts and other issues. The report released Monday also says the Michigan Corrections Department should consider whether to re-station armed guards in towers and make perimeter patrol a full-time job again.

 

Schuette didn’t conclusively determine the lack of staffed towers or continuous perimeter patrols contributed to Michael Elliot’s escape. But his report may be grist for minority Democratic lawmakers and unions who blame the budget cuts.

 

Schuette says staff failures played a “significant” role. Authorities say Elliot took a woman hostage before he was caught 24 hours later in Indiana.



7.18.14:  Flags lowered for Binsfeld

 

GLEN ARBOR TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — Gov. Rick Snyder has called for the lowering of U.S. flags at state buildings in memory of former Lt. Gov. Connie Binsfeld.

 

Binsfeld died Jan. 12 at age 89. Snyder’s office says the flag-lowering begins Friday and runs through Sunday. It marks Saturday’s memorial for Binsfeld and her husband John, who also died this year.

 

The memorial is scheduled for 10 a.m. Saturday at Glen Arbor Township Hall in Leelanau County, about 20 miles west-northwest of Traverse City.

 

Snyder says in a statement that Binsfeld’s “work to support women, children and families as well as protect Michigan’s natural resources will remain a lasting legacy.”

 

The Republican Binsfeld served as lieutenant governor under Gov. John Engler in 1991-98. She also served in the state House and Senate.