3.5.15:  Organizers hope to set record at  LaughFest 


-Gilda’s LaughFest kicks off today in Grand Rapids.


The annual event will begin by trying to set a record.  This year they are hoping over 13-hundred people will participate by wearing a paper crown.

Past events have included people wearing sunglasses in the dark, fake mustaches, wearing chicken beaks, and tossing rubber chickens.


LaughFest is a 10 day event in the West Michigan area where money is raised to benefit those impacted by cancer.

There are a number of comedy event scheduled over the next several days, including several family friendly event.


Click here for more information.

3.5.15:  State House committee approves bill to end film incentives


LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan’s film incentives could be coming to an end with a bill moving through the state House.

The House Tax Policy Committee voted 8-3 Wednesday, with two members passing on casting a vote, to approve a bill to stop the film incentive program, which gives money to movies, TV and digital productions in the state.

The bill sponsored by Republican Rep. Dan Lauwers of Brockway would end the program Oct. 1, the end of the current fiscal year. Gov. Rick Snyder had proposed allocating $50 million for the program in the next fiscal year.

Supporters of ending the film incentives say the program hasn’t created enough jobs to be worth keeping.

Film incentive advocates say the program has created good paying jobs and it’s a model other states are following.

3.5.15:  Michigan bills would allow religious objections for adoption


LANSING, Mich. (AP) — A package of bills allowing religious objections for adoptions is making its way back through Michigan’s House after dying in last year’s lame-duck session.

The bills, approved by a 5-3 party line vote in the House Families, Children and Seniors Committee on Wednesday, would allow adoption agencies to refuse to provide services based on religious beliefs. The package would also prevent state or local governments from taking action against adoption agencies for such a choice, including refusing to issue a license or provide funding.

The legislation passed through the House last session but didn’t receive Senate approval before session ended.

Bill sponsors say no one will be prevented from adopting in Michigan, but some opponents say the package would allow discrimination against prospective adoptive parents for any arbitrary reason.

3.5.15:  Snyder signs bills changing concealed weapons permit process


LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Gov. Rick Snyder has signed legislation giving state officials rather than counties the authority to approve concealed weapons licenses.

The bills signed Wednesday are similar to measures Snyder vetoed in January. This time, the bills don’t include a provision allowing some people with personal protection orders against them to get concealed weapon licenses if the orders don’t contain gun restrictions.

The two bills will eliminate county licensing boards. Permitting responsibilities will be transferred to county clerks and state police effective Dec. 1.

State police will have the responsibility for verifying whether an applicant is eligible.

The law will remove the ability to deny a license to someone not explicitly disqualified by law but who still might pose a safety risk. Opponents have said an important safeguard will be taken away.

3.5.15:  Michigan officials seek comment on wolf management plan


LANSING, Mich. (AP) — The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is inviting public feedback on an updated plan for managing the state’s gray wolves.

A 30-day comment period opened Wednesday. A draft version of the revised plan is available online. It would update a policy document first adopted in 2008.

Officials say there would be no change in its primary goals. They include maintaining a stable wolf population, minimizing wolf-related conflicts and managing the predator in ways that are socially acceptable yet based on science.

The plan raises the possibility of recreational hunting and trapping of wolves if the state Natural Resources Commission approves. But a federal judge in December returned Michigan’s wolves to the endangered list, putting hunting and trapping off-limits unless the ruling is overturned on appeal.

3.5.15:  Feds: No increased Islamic State risk in Detroit area


DETROIT (AP) — Federal authorities say the risk of Detroit-area residents joining the Islamic State group isn’t amplified by the region’s large Muslim population.

U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade  says “every part of the country is concerned about this issue.”

Federal agents have encouraged community, religious and civil rights leaders to help discourage people from backing the Islamic State group.

Meanwhile, authorities are keeping an eye out for any possible recruiting. Paul Abbate, special agent in charge of Detroit’s FBI office, says “a whole spectrum of investigative techniques” is being used.

Their comments come after an Iraqi man living in Michigan was accused last month of lying about plans to train with the Islamic State group in the Middle East. He was arrested before a one-way flight to Jordan.

3.4.15:  Safety agency closes truck tire probe without seeking recall


DETROIT (AP) — The U.S. government’s highway safety agency has closed an investigation into reports of Michelin truck tire failures without seeking a recall.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration began investigating the 2014 model of Michelin’s 22.5-inch diameter XZA tires in October after getting six complaints and a police report about seven crashes involving the tires.

But in documents posted Tuesday, the agency says the failures were not the fault of the tires. They were caused by a road hazard, owners using the tires on the wrong-size rim, or a combination of violating tire load limits, letting the air pressure get too low or traveling at a higher-than-rated speed.

The investigation covering more than 32,000 tires found 16 complaints, three crashes and two police crash reports.

3.4.15:     Christianity no longer required for school chief in Michigan


McBAIN, Mich. (AP) — A northern Michigan public school district says it’s no longer asking that its next superintendent be a Christian after getting a letter from the American Civil Liberties Union.

The ACLU wrote Tuesday to the McBain Rural Agricultural School, challenging the religious criteria included in its job posting for a new superintendent.

The online posting listed “a strong Christian background and philosophy” among criteria for the northern Lower Peninsula district’s new leader.

ACLU lawyer Dan Korobkin’s letter says religious tolerance is “fundamental to American public education” and says the posting likely violates “numerous federal and state laws.”

Michigan Leadership Institute regional President Scott Crosby is coordinating the district’s job search. He tells The Associated Press that he mistakenly included the Christian criteria and says it’s being removed.

3.4.15:  Michigan panel OKs bills making it crime to assault referee


LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Bills moving forward in the Michigan Legislature would make it illegal to assault a sports referee.

A Senate committee on Tuesday voted 4-1 to send the legislation to the full Senate.

Democratic Sen. Morris Hood III of Detroit introduced the bills soccer referee John Bieniewicz was killed by a player with one punch at a Livonia park last summer.

Hood says the legislation will make sporting events safer and “encourage people to respect the game.”

Bieniewicz’s wife recently testified in support of the legislation.

It’s already illegal to assault someone in Michigan. But the bills would provide enhanced criminal penalties for attacking a sports official.

Republican Sen. Patrick Colbeck of Canton says he voted “no” because criminal sentencing should not depend on someone’s profession.

3.3.15:  Michigan pays $4.9M for membership in Common Core group


LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan is paying $4.9 million this school year to continue its membership in a group that develops standardized tests aligned with national Common Core education standards.

Lawmakers last year rejected a plan to administer the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium’s tests to third- to eighth-graders and students in the 11th grade.

State Education Department spokesman Bill DiSessa says paying the fee allows Michigan to include Smarter Balanced test items in the new M-STEP tests that are replacing the 44-year-old MEAP tests this spring.

A Missouri judge ruled last week that such fees are illegal because the Smarter Balanced Consortium is an “unlawful interstate compact” to which Congress never consented.

It’s unclear if Michigan will pay the membership fee again next year. M-STEP is one-year stopgap until a long-term assessment is chosen.