State of Michigan

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LGBT activists ready to “blow up” civil rights bill if it ignores gender identity

Supporters of adding LGBT protections to Michigan’s civil rights law say they have enough votes in the Legislature to pass a bill before the end of the year. But they say that’s only if Republican leaders take up a version of the bill that includes protections for gender identity.

Activists say a bill that leaves out protections for transgender people would cause more harm than good.

michigan.gov

Michigan is saying goodbye to the MEAP test this coming spring.  Washtenaw County school districts appear ready to roll out the new online Michigan Student Test of Educational Progress, or M-STEP test.

 

Naomi Norman is Executive Director of Achievement Services for the Washtenaw Intermediate School District. 

She says M-STEP is more than a bunch of multiple choice questions - students are going to have to answer some questions in writing.

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Prison reform activists see opportunity in "lame duck" for legislative overhaul

Bills that seek to reduce prison spending in Michigan seem to have momentum going into the last weeks of the Legislature's 2014 session.

Michigan spends about $2 billion every year on prisons. The legislation seeks to reduce the length of some prison stays and provide more supervision for people after they are released from prison.

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Effort to get LGBT civil rights protections pressing on after setbacks

A coalition of business and civil rights groups is still optimistic state lawmakers this year will make it illegal to discriminate against LGBT people.

http://www.milmi.org/

Michigan jobless rate falls slightly to 7.1 percent

More people were looking for work last month, but more businesses were hiring, which helped drive Michigan's unemployment rate to 7.1 percent, the lowest it's been so far this year.

That's one-tenth of a percentage point below where it was a month ago, and one-and-half percentage points below a year ago.

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Judge allows legal challenge to emergency manager law to move ahead

A federal judge in Detroit has refused to toss out a legal challenge to Michigan's emergency manager law. Judge Joseph Caram Steeh will allow a trial on the claim the law violates equal protection rights in the US Constitution.

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Governor Rick Snyder has said that the 300 or so same-sex marriages performed in Michigan back in March are void.  Local marriage equality supporters are not happy.

Sandi Smith is President of the Jim Toy Community Center. 

She says they held a community meeting Sunday night where about 50 people gathered to talk about the situation.

"It really throws them into chaos," Smith says, "and I think that the Governor ought to consider that before making sweeping statements."

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Bill to overhaul Michigan's electoral votes blasted in committee hearing

A plan to change the way Michigan awards its electoral votes for president got largely panned at a state House hearing on Monday.

The legislation would award up to seven of the state's 16 Electoral College votes to the presidential runner-up in Michigan. The number of votes they get would depend on how close the popular vote is.

Michigan Public Radio Network

DeBoer case appealed to SCOTUS

The legal team for April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse filed its appeal Monday with the US Supreme Court. They want the court to rule that Michigan's ban on same-sex marriage and others like it across the country are unconstitutional.

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Snyder says Electoral College overhaul should wait

Governor Rick Snyder says he's not on board with changing how Michigan divvies up presidential electors. A bill that was just rolled out would change Michigan from a winner-take-all state to one that divides the votes between the Democratic and Republican candidates.
    
The bill's Republican sponsor says making Michigan more competitive will mean more attention from presidential candidates.

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A debate is shaping up in the Michigan House on whether Michigan's civil rights law should be expanded to protect gays, lesbians, and bisexuals from discrimination. There's also a fight brewing on whether those protections should extent to transgender people.


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Legislation that would make changes to Michigan's regulations on non-profit organizations is stirring controversy at the state Capitol. 


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Democratic lawmakers fear another 'toxic' lame duck session

The state Legislature reconvenes Wednesday to continue its "lame duck" session between now and the end of the year.

Democrats fear Republican leaders will take up a bill that would assign the state's Electoral College votes for president by congressional district.

"Probably at the top of my list of concerns is the Republican bill to rig how Electoral College votes are allocated in this state," House Minority Leader Tim Greimel, D-Auburn Hills, told reporters last week.

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DNR adds 7 invasive species to banned list

With the addition of seven new plants and animals, Michigan now bans 40 non-native species. That means they cannot be possessed or transported in Michigan or the rest of the Great Lakes region.

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Chief justice: Michigan has more vets courts than other states

The Michigan Supreme Court hosted a training day for judges and others assigned to work in specialty veterans courts. Supreme Court Chief Justice Robert Young says veterans accused and convicted of crimes have unique issues that must be addressed if they're going to be rehabilitated.  

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Search for state Superintendent moving forward now that election is over

The state Board of Education has taken a big step toward hiring a new state superintendent. On Monday, it selected a search firm to find possible candidates.

The board still needs to iron out contract details with Iowa-based Ray & Associates. Assuming that goes smoothly, it expects to hire a replacement for retiring state Superintendent Mike Flannagan before May.

michigan.gov

Schuette, DeBoer and Rowse to cooperate in getting same-sex marriage case before SCOTUS

Attorney General Bill Schuette and the couple trying to overturn Michigan’s ban on same-sex marriage are on opposite sides of the case. But they’ve agreed they will cooperate in trying to get the case on the US Supreme Court docket during the current session.

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Local marriage equality advocates are gearing up for a petition drive.  The action follows Thursday's federal appeals court decision to uphold anti-gay marriage laws in Michigan and three other states.

Sanndi Smith is Board President of Ann Arbor's Jim Toy LGBT Community Center.  She says the court's decision is devastating to the LGBT community.

Andrew Cluley

With the elections over, attention is swinging back to an issue high on most motorists' list of concerns:  Michigan's crumbling roads.  More than 20 organizations across the state are banding together to demand Michigan legislators take action.

The Local Matters Coalition argues getting some sort of road maintenance measure passed during the lame duck session would allow major construction and repair work to start as early as next spring.

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Snyder hopes Legislature will tackle road funding in "lame duck"

Fresh of a re-election victory that also saw more Republicans elected to the Legislature, Governor Rick Snyder is developing plans for the next four years. But he says the Legislature should not wait for the new year to approve some sort of plan to raise more than a $1 billion dollars in revenue for roads and transit projects.

Michigan Public Radio Network

Eleven more Michigan cities could legalize small amounts of pot on Nov. 4

On Election Day, eleven Michigan cities will consider legalizing small amounts of marijuana. That’s the largest number of municipalities to consider the question in a single election in Michigan.

Chuck Ream is the guy working to bring a pro-marijuana law to a city near you. He directs the Safer Michigan Coalition, which is organizing all of these local ballot campaigns. He expects this to be a banner year for the proposals despite not being able to actively promote them.

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Gov. Snyder directs state agencies to eliminate hurdles for disabled employees

Gov. Rick Snyder is asking state departments to hire more people who have disabilities.

It’s part of an ongoing effort to promote employment in Michigan for the disabled. That effort has been led by Lt. Gov. Brian Calley, whose daughter has a disability. Calley says stigmas about hiring disabled people and obstructive work environments keep too many talented people out of the workforce.

  

Bob Eccles

Seniors could play an especially big role in upcoming election

Michiganders age 50 and over are expected to represent well over half of the voters that show up to the polls on November 4th.

That is pretty typical of a non-presidential election. But seniors and retirees are already playing an especially important role in this year's election.

Michigan Public Radio Network

Bill Clinton stumps for Michigan Democratic ticket in Flint

Another Clinton was in Michigan on Wednesday urging Democrats to show up to the polls on November 4th. Last week it was former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. This time it was her husband rallying Democrats to try to get out the vote.

"We don't win these races and we get this gridlock because too many people don't vote at midterm," said former President Bill Clinton in front of a crowd of hundreds of Democrats.

Michigan Public Radio Network

Snyder signs bill cementing ban on Tesla sales in Michigan

Tesla Motors, Inc. and other auto manufacturers will not be allowed to sell their vehicles directly to customers in Michigan. That's under a new law signed by Governor Rick Snyder on Tuesday.

Snyder says that part of the new law doesn't "fundamentally" change anything. He says it simply strengthens an existing law that already bans auto manufacturers from selling directly to consumers.

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