State

12.2.16:  House panel approves stricter voter ID bill

 

 

 

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan lawmakers have advanced contentious legislation that would change the procedure for voters who don’t show photo identification at their polling place.

Voters without an ID currently must sign an affidavit before voting. Under the bill approved Thursday by the Republican-led House Elections Committee, they could vote but would have to visit the local clerk’s office no later than 10 days after the election to ensure their ballot is counted.

They would have to present a photo ID with their current address or other documentation establishing their residency, or sign an affidavit attesting to an inability to obtain an ID.

House Elections Chairwoman Lisa Posthumus Lyon says the bills are based on an Indiana law that was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court. Democrats say Republicans are trying to suppress the vote.

 


12.2.16:  Michigan board to hear Trump’s challenge to recount effort

 

 

 

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan’s elections board will consider President-elect Donald Trump’s request to block a hand recount of all 4.8 million ballots cast in the state he won by 10,700 votes over Hillary Clinton.

Arguments will be heard Friday.

A recount is already underway in Wisconsin, where the first reporting of numbers is expected Friday. In Pennsylvania, a hearing is scheduled for Monday on Stein’s push to secure a court-ordered statewide recount.

Recounts aren’t expected to flip nearly enough votes to change the outcome in any of the three states.

Lawyers for the Trump campaign argue that Green Party candidate Jill Stein can’t seek the recount in Michigan because she wasn’t “aggrieved” to the point where potential miscounting of votes could have cost her the election. She garnered 1 percent of Michigan’s vote.

 


12.1.16:  Senate adjourns without vote on teacher pensions

 

 

 

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — The Republican-controlled Michigan Senate has adjourned without voting on legislation that would close the pension system to newly hired school employees and give them a 401(k) benefit.

Amber McCann, spokeswoman for Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof, said Wednesday GOP senators have more questions about conflicting costs estimates associated with the move.

A Senate committee approved the legislation earlier Wednesday. Republican Gov. Rick Snyder’s administration voiced opposition.

The legislation would apply to school workers hired on or after July 1, 2017.

Republicans say the Michigan Public School Employees Retirement System is “unsustainable.”

Since mid-2010, new hires have qualified for a “hybrid” plan, with a blending of a traditional pension and a 401(k). Older teachers receive a pension.

Democrats are unified against the measure.

 


12.1.16:  Bills would require voters without photo ID to return later

 

 

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan Republicans are considering new legislation to change the procedure for voters who don’t show a photo ID at their polling place.

A bill up for a potential vote Thursday in the House Elections Committee would require those casting a provisional ballot to visit their clerk’s office no later than 10 days after the election to ensure it’s counted. They would have to present a photo ID with their current address or other documentation establishing their residency.

Under current law, voters without a photo ID must sign a brief affidavit before voting.

A hearing on the legislation was held Wednesday.

The liberal advocacy group Progress Michigan says it’s a “voter suppression” bill. The sponsor, Republican Rep. Lisa Posthumus Lyons of Alto, says the measure would protect the integrity of elections.

 


11.30.16:  No criminal charges against driver in school teacher death

 

 

OTTAWA COUNTY, MI (Mlive) — Authorities say no criminal charges are planned against a truck driver hauling a long pole that crashed through an SUV’s windshield, causing a Holland Christian High School teacher’s death.

Kevin Witte, 37, was critically injured Sept. 26 when the pole swung out into the SUV’s travel lane. He died the following day.

Ottawa County sheriff’s investigators said a Parkway Electric truck driven by 61-year-old Thomas Heeringa was headed south — in the left hand turn lane — when the pole swung into the nearby southbound traffic lane as the truck turned onto Garden Avenue.

Police said the truck and pole measured 43-feet, 3-inches long. Any vehicle and overhang more than 40 feet requires an escort and Ottawa County Road Commission permit.

Sheriff’s investigators say they determined the company, Parkway Electric, was only responsible for an over-length citation.

 


11.30.16:  Nativity scene removed in northern Michigan after complaints

 

 

 

MENOMINEE, Mich. (AP) — A nativity scene that’s been displayed in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula as part of a longtime Christmas tradition has been taken down following years of complaints.

Menominee City Manager Tony Graff  says the display was taken down shortly after being put up this year. He says the city attorney determined that the display was “a violation of our own policy” governing what can be put up on public property.

The Madison, Wisconsin-based Freedom from Religion Foundation had sent several complaints to the city. Ryan Jayne, an attorney with the foundation, says the group first reached out to the city in 2007 after a complaint from a Menominee resident.

Following the decision, Graff says he hopes a local church will put up the display.

 


11.30.16:  Unusual move by judge allows Snyder to pick replacement

 

 

 

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — A Michigan appeals court judge is resigning four hours before his term expires on Jan. 1, allowing Gov. Rick Snyder to pick a replacement.

Critics say the seat held by Judge Donald Owens should be eliminated based on a 2012 law aimed at saving money by reducing the size of the appeals court.

But Snyder spokesman Ari Adler says the governor has the power to pick another judge because Owens is quitting before his term ends.

Adler says Owens is quitting at 8 a.m. on Jan. 1, four hours before his term expires. He couldn’t run for re-election because of age limits.

Snyder says he’s appointing Capitol lawyer Brock Swartzle to the appeals court. Swartzle is chief of staff and general counsel for the House of Representatives.

 


11.30.16:  Michigan recount may cost $12 million

 

 

 

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan Republicans say Green Party candidate Jill Stein’s planned request for a hand recount of presidential votes could cost taxpayers up to $12 million, a dozen times what she will have to pay.

GOP attorney Eric Doster, who will help represent President-elect Donald Trump’s campaign in the recount, said Tuesday he can’t imagine the recount costing less than $10 to $12 million — the cost of a statewide election.

Republicans cite “astronomical” costs of overtime pay, training, security and travel.

Stein plans to file her recount petition Wednesday and will pay the required $973,250.

Michigan GOP Chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel declines to say if Republicans will challenge the recount or take legal action, saying Stein hasn’t yet made her request.

Trump won Michigan by 10,704 votes over Democrat Hillary Clinton.

 


11.30.16:  Unusual move by judge allows Snyder to pick replacement

 

 

 

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — A Michigan appeals court judge is resigning four hours before his term expires on Jan. 1, allowing Gov. Rick Snyder to pick a replacement.

Critics say the seat held by Judge Donald Owens should be eliminated based on a 2012 law aimed at saving money by reducing the size of the appeals court.

But Snyder spokesman Ari Adler says the governor has the power to pick another judge because Owens is quitting before his term ends.

Adler says Owens is quitting at 8 a.m. on Jan. 1, four hours before his term expires. He couldn’t run for re-election because of age limits.

Snyder says he’s appointing Capitol lawyer Brock Swartzle to the appeals court. Swartzle is chief of staff and general counsel for the House of Representatives.

 


11.30.16:  Michigan looks to close pension system to new teachers

 

 

 

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — The Michigan Senate is poised to vote to close the pension system to newly hired school employees and instead provide them solely a 401(k) in retirement.

The Republican-controlled chamber plans to approve the plan Wednesday once it clears a committee.

Republican Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof says the Michigan Public School Employees Retirement System is “unsustainable” and at some point won’t be able to finance pension benefits because of a $26.7 billion unfunded liability.

Since mid-2010, new hires have qualified for a “hybrid” plan, with a blending of a traditional pension and a 401(k). Older teachers receive a pension.

The bill is unlikely to affect current school workers or retirees.

Democrats say they’re unified against the measure. Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich says people “want more economic security, not less.”