State of Michigan

Bob Eccles

More voters cast ballots in primary than expected, but turnout still low

More than 82 percent of all registered voters sat out Michigan's primary election this week.

That's not the all-time low some observers predicted before the election, but they say the number is still dismal. And many of them expect low voter turnout again for Michigan's general election in November.

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Historic low voter turnout possible in Tuesday's primary

Voters head to the polls Tuesday for Michigan's primary election. Some observers say there could be a historically low number of people casting ballots.

"I think what we're seeing is we could have an election where we have about 13% to 15.1% of the people that are going to make a decision about what happens in the state on election day," said Matt Marsden with RevSix Data Systems, which is tracking absentee ballots.

Jake Neher

Proposal One is a solution born of suspicion

Until recently, businesses in Michigan had to pay taxes on almost all their equipment. Not surprisingly, they didn't like this tax - the personal property tax.

Businesses pay the personal property tax on everything from the factory machines that build cars and trucks to desks and computers -- or, in the case of the Wee Discover child daycare center in Waterford, playground equipment and changing tables.

Michigan Pubic Radio Network

100+ show up to give input on new standardized test

Michigan education officials are in the process of finding a new standardized test… again.

More than a hundred people were in Lansing Wednesday to tell the Michigan Department of Education (MDE) what they want out of a new assessment.

MDE had already chosen the Smarter Balanced assessment three years ago. But many lawmakers were not happy with that test because it's aligned with the controversial Common Core school standards.

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$10.10/hour minimum wage petition shot down by state elections board

A state elections board has rejected a petition to raise Michigan's minimum wage to $10.10 an hour.

A bipartisan majority of the Board of State Canvassers threw out dozens of signatures after a last-minute challenge from opponents. They say the signatures were from people who signed the petition more than once, which is illegal under Michigan election law.

michigan.gov

Snyder: Pensioner approval of grand bargain sets Detroit up for faster recovery

Gov. Rick Snyder is praising Detroit pensioners for approving the city's bankruptcy restructuring plan.

The so-called "grand bargain" is designed to prevent deep cuts to retirement benefits and protect city-owned artwork at the Detroit Institute of Arts.

Snyder says the vote this week makes it more likely the city will emerge from bankruptcy soon.

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Court ruling on Obamacare tax breaks has no immediate effect in Michigan

An appeals court ruling Tuesday out of Washington DC could jeopardize tax subsidies that help nearly 240,000 Michiganders buy health coverage under Obamacare.

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AG prison report cites human, technology errors as prime cause of inmate escape

A report by the Michigan Attorney General's office has found both human and technology failures played a part in the prison escape of a convicted murderer.

Michael Elliot slipped out of the Ionia Correctional Facility last February 2 by crawling under fences during a heavy snowfall. He wore white clothes to blend into the snow. He was captured about 24 hours later in Indiana.

Michigan Public Radio Network

Henry Paulson tells Michigan to seek out Chinese investment

Former U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson says foreign investment and immigration will be critical to turning around Michigan's economy.

The former aide to President George W. Bush spoke before the Detroit Economic Club (DEC) Monday afternoon with Gov. Rick Snyder.

"Make Michigan attractive for investment, period. OK? Make it attractive," said Paulson.

michigan.gov

State could become more transparent about infection rates at hospitals

The state's top health official says Michigan could be more transparent about how many people get infections while at hospitals.

A recent MLive.com series suggests the state has withheld that information from the public. That includes infection rates at specific hospitals.
    
Jim Haveman, director of the Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH), says that information is becoming more important for many patients.

Michigan Public Radio Network

State attorney general's office unveils law guides for vets and military personnel

Michigan veterans and active duty military families now have new resources to help handle legal issues. Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette released two new legal guides Thursday.

"Sometimes trying to help veterans in transition coming back from a deployment, it can get a bit complicated," said Schuette.

michigan.gov

AG Schuette won't give details on his opposition to medical marijuana bills

The state attorney general is not saying why he opposes bills that would ease restrictions on medical marijuana in Michigan. Some top lawmakers are now urging Bill Schuette to detail his concerns.

A state House panel approved the two bills this week. House Bill 4271 would let communities allow and regulate medical marijuana dispensaries. House Bill 5104 would also allow patients to use edible and other non-smokable forms of marijuana.

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Future of medical marijuana bills uncertain after clearing state Senate panel

Two bills that would ease restrictions on medical marijuana in Michigan are one step closer to becoming law. A state Senate panel approved the legislation Wednesday.

But it is not clear what will happen to the bills now that they are going to the full Senate.

abcsemi.com

Non-union builders challenge local wage floors

An association of non-union construction companies has asked the state Supreme Court to strike down local prevailing wage laws. The Associated Builders and Contractors says a state law preempts the ordinances.

Nearly two dozen Michigan communities have their own prevailing wage ordinances. They're supposed to ensure that workers on city-financed projects are paid something close to union wages.

michigan.gov/mdch

Medicaid expansion sign-ups hit one-year target in just four months

In less than four months, Michigan has already hit its 2014 enrollment goal for the state's expanded Medicaid program.

More than 322,000 low-income Michiganders now have government sponsored healthcare through the Healthy Michigan program.

Officials with the Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH) say the dramatic jump in enrollment will help boost the state's economy.

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Another audit says Michigan has failed to protect vulnerable adults

Gov. Rick Snyder's administration is again taking heat for failing to protect vulnerable adults.

A state audit released Wednesday shows the Michigan Department of Human Services (DHS) has mismanaged its Adult Protective Services (APS) program since 2010. Among other things, it says DHS did not adequately train caseworkers and supervisors and failed to investigate complaints of abuse.

michiganlcv.org

Washtenaw County's legislative representatives continue to score highly in the Michigan League of Conservation Voters annual Environmental Scorecard.

State Senator Rebekah Warren and Representatives David Rutledge, Jeff Irwin and Adam Zemke all scored 100 percent, while Representative Gretchen Driskell received an 85 percent rating. 

Senator Warren was singled out for her support of legislation to update and increase fees for hunting and fishing licenses.

Find the complete scorecard online:

michigan.gov/mde

State superintendent predicts institutions will lose ability to charter schools

The top education official in Michigan says there's a good chance some institutions will lose their authority to create charter schools.

That statement comes a day after state Superintendent of Schools Mike Flanagan said he's ready to use his authority to revoke that ability from charter school authorizers. That's if they fail to meet new standards for transparency set by state education officials.

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High schoolers' test scores up in all areas, many still not ready for college

Michigan high school juniors are improving in all core academic subjects. That's according to standardized test results released Monday.

The Michigan Merit Exam (MME) is given to high school juniors each year. The data released by the Michigan Department of Education (MDE) includes the ACT college entrance exam.

The biggest improvements in the results were in social studies and reading. State education officials credit tougher graduation requirements approved in 2006.

http://053.housedems.com/

A local state representative is among Democrats crying "foul" in Lansing over the latest round of road funding.

The state chose projects that'll receive $115 million in funding based on request from lawmakers, and Democrats complain that most of the work is being done in districts represented by majority Republicans. 

Representative Jeff Irwin says this is what happens when road projects are funded by earmarks rather than by a set formula.

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Superintendents blast education budget

As Michigan schools begin their new budget year this week, some local superintendents are urging lawmakers to return from their summer break to boost education funding.

Gov. Rick Snyder signed a new education budget last week that boosts funding for all public schools by at least $50 per student. But Forest Hills Schools Superintendent Dan Behm says districts face new costs that wipe out that minimum increase.

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Snyder: Prison food contract troubles are "unacceptable"

Governor Rick Snyder says a deal with a private contractor to provide food for state prisons could be terminated if there are future problems with the company. Aramark Food Services was awarded the $145 million, three-year contract last December. But the arrangement has been beset by problems since then.

Aramark has been fined by the state for unapproved menu changes and running out of food. Also, 70 Aramark employees are banned from state prisons for inappropriate relationships with prisoners.

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Background checks coming for home-aid workers, state can't exclude all felons

Michigan cannot ban all felons from being caregivers in the state's Medicaid in-home care program. That's according to state officials who outlined an upcoming background check system on Monday.

People convicted of patient abuse or neglect, health care fraud, or drug-related crimes will be barred from working with in-home Medicaid patients. But state officials say federal law prevents them from excluding people based on crimes that are not related to in-home care.

Facebook.com/ShauerforMichigan

Schauer says he'd push stricter regulations on charter schools as governor

Former Congressman Mark Schauer says he would put tougher regulations on charter schools if he's elected governor. The Battle Creek Democrat says Gov. Rick Snyder has given bad charter operators a "free pass."

"We need to write into law the oversight that was left out when Rick Snyder lifted the cap on the number of charter schools," said Schauer. "It's the Wild West right now, and these schools see kids with dollar signs on their foreheads."

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Michigan economists warn against ending pensions for public employees

Some economists say Michigan failed to consider the consequences of ending pension plans for public workers.

The state stopped offering pensions to new employees in 1997. Budget officials say that decision has cut Michigan's long-term debt by about $5 billion.

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