Rick Pluta

Managing Editor, Michigan Public Radio Network
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Judge dismisses lawsuit against Michigan petition circulator law
By Rick Pluta

A bill to let out-of-state residents gather petitions signatures is awaiting Governor Rick Snyder's signature. Because of the bill, a federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed against the state.

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WASHINGTON (AP) - Rep. Dave Camp, the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, says he will not seek another term.

     The Michigan Republican said in a statement Monday that he will retire after 12 terms in the House. He was term-limited as chairman of the committee.
 
     His district is strongly Republican and the GOP is expected to hold the seat.
 
     Camp is the second senior Michigan Republican to announce his retirement. Rep. Mike Rogers said Friday he would retire.

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Congressional Democrats ask Holder to recognize MI gay marriages
Rick Pluta

Some congressional Democrats are putting pressure on Michigan to recognize more than 300 same-sex marriages performed last weekend. They sent a letter today asking US Attorney General Eric Holder to grant federal recognition of the marriages.

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Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette says the sooner the US Supreme Court settles the question of whether same-sex marriage bans are constitutional, the better. 

UPDATE 4:52 PM Rick Pluta is reporting that no decision was reached in today's hearing.  The trial is likely to go to the Supreme Court which is not likely to decide another same-sex marriage case before its next session. Attorneys seeking to overturn Michigan’s ban say holding up recognition of same-sex marriages hurts families with children. 

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  US Attorney General Eric Holder has been asked to declare that the federal government will recognize same-sex marriages performed in Michigan over the weekend, even if the state won’t. 

    

By a single-vote majority, the state House has approved a measure that allows Michigan to put some of the worst-performing schools into an alternative system. It expands a bill approved a year ago that created the Education Achievement Authority, which currently runs 15 schools in Detroit.

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Snyder: Treat e-cigarettes like tobacco

Governor Rick Snyder says he wants electronic cigarettes to be regulated in Michigan as tobacco products. E-cigarettes deliver a dose of nicotine to users in a mist. There is a bill in the Legislature to ban e-cigarette sales to minors, but would not tax them like cigarettes or subject them to other tobacco-related regulations.

The governor says it makes more sense to simply treat them as a tobacco product.

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Hearings open this week at the state Capitol on a proposal to lift Michigan's cap on electricity companies competing for customers. A 2008 law says no more than 10 percent of the state's electricity can be directly provided to consumers by an alternative to a region's major utility.  

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Wolf hunt referendum petitions filed
By Rick Pluta

The campaign to repeal Michigan's new wolf hunting law filed petitions Thursday to put their challenge on the November ballot.

The Keep Michigan Wolves Protected Campaign says it has 225,000 signatures. That's well over the 161,305 needed to qualify for the November ballot.

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Campaign to stop wolf hunt to turn in petitions

The campaign to stop wolf hunts in Michigan says it has more than enough petition signatures to get a referendum on the November ballot. This would be the second ballot challenge to a wolf hunt because the state's first wolf hunting law was blocked by a petition challenge that will also go before voters in November.

The Legislature got around that by passing a new law that's the target of this ballot drive.

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The Michigan Supreme Court will hear arguments on whether more than 350 inmates sent to prison for murder as juveniles for life without parole will get a chance someday at freedom.

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There is an effort afoot in Lansing to regulate smokeless electronic cigarettes - and ban their sale to minors. But there is a difference of opinion on how to go about it. 

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The list of Michigan school districts that have budget deficits is shrinking, and the list of districts that are getting in the black is growing. That according to the state Department of Education.  There are 46 districts on the deficit list today, compared to 50 at the end of last year.

And that was good news to state Senator Howard Walker (R-Traverse City), who chairs the Senate K-through-12 budget subcommittee. 

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MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

A campaign to increase Michigan’s minimum wage expects to file its petition language later today with state elections officials. As Michigan Public Radio’s Rick Pluta reports, the campaign wants to boost the state minimum wage to nine-50 an hour.

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About 500 people packed a Michigan State University campus hall Friday to witness President Barack Obama sign the new federal farm bill.

The Michigan Legislature has approved a petition initiative that will require people to buy a separate health insurance policy for abortion coverage. The initiative passed with commanding Republican majorities in the House and the Senate. A handful of Democrats also voted yes.

State Representative Amanda Price (R-Holland) said people who object to abortion should not be forced to help pay for it in their insurance premiums.

“No matter how one frames the issue before us, abortion is an individual choice,” she said. “I will say that again: abortion is an individual choice.”

There's a nationwide search underway to find former students who don't know they've already done all or most of the work needed to earn a credential that might help them land a better-paying job.

In Michigan, several hundred community college dropouts were recently surprised to learn they had enough credits to qualify for an associate degree. There are also ex-students who apparently didn't know they're just a few credits shy of a two-year degree.

A federal judge in Michigan could rule as soon as Thursday on a challenge to the state's ban on same-sex marriage and civil unions. The challenge comes as the U.S. Supreme Court is set to hear two cases dealing with gay marriage later this month.

In the Michigan case, a lesbian couple sued not because they want to be married, but because they want to be parents.

From Rick Pluta, Michigan Public Radio Network

Rep. Thaddeus McCotter, R-Mich., is facing the daunting prospect of running a write-in campaign to get re-elected this year, as his campaign fell far short of the number of petition signatures he needs to qualify for the August primary ballot.

Compounding McCotter's troubles: It appears election fraud may have played a part in the failure.

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RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And in Michigan, there's a fight going on over one delegate to the Republican National Convention. Rick Santorum's campaign team says its candidate is a victim of, quote, thuggery. They accuse Michigan Republican leaders of engineering an after-the-fact rules change to give Mitt Romney a slim lead in delegates from last Tuesday's state primary.

We have more from Michigan Public Radio's Rick Pluta.

GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney plays up his Michigan roots when he talks to voters in the state where he grew up.

In 2008, Romney won the Republican presidential primary in Michigan. On the campaign trail, he likes to tell stories about his father, George, who was an iconic governor of Michigan in the 1960s:

"He said, 'It sure is great to be in Mount Clemens today,' even though he was in Mount Pleasant. My mother was sitting behind and said, 'George, it's "Pleasant." ' He said, 'Yes, it's pleasant in Mount Clemens.' "

As better-known candidates trod the landscape and crowd the airwaves, pleading for votes in Michigan's Republican primary, the first openly gay GOP presidential hopeful is plotting a minor upset.

Fred Karger hopes the state's primary rules will land him a mid-Michigan miracle and a handful of delegates to the national convention.

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