Local News Archives

Groups Call For Further Reform Of State Forfeiture Laws

The Mackinac Center of Public Policy and the ACLU are teaming up to call for the continued reform of Michigan’s civil forfeiture laws. The Mackinac Center’s Jarrett Skorup tells WSJM News reforms made in 2015 have helped to reign in, to a degree, how and when often the police can seize property during a criminal investigation. However, he thinks more needs to be done.. ...Read Full Story

Governor Signs Proos Organ Donation Legislation

The Michigan Secretary of State will ask people applying for a driver’s license if they want to sign up to be an organ donor under legislation signed this week by Governor Rick Snyder. The plan was introduced by State Senator John Proos. He says although 90% of Americans support organ donation, only about 30% of adults nationwide have actually signed up as donors. The plan is known as Lauren’s Law, named after Lauren Shields, who at age 9 was placed on life support while waiting for a heart transplant which she did eventually get. Lauren’s Law was brought to Proos’ attention by John Grinnell, a kidney transplant recipient from Niles.. ...Read Full Story

U.S. Employers Add Jobs In December

U.S. employers added 156,000 jobs in December, capping a year of slower but solid hiring. The Labor Department says the unemployment rate ticked up to 4.7%. Michigan News Network Business editor Murray Feldman tells us Michigan is helping to lead the way with health care jobs.. ...Read Full Story

New Law Requires Quicker Public Reporting Of Lead Levels In Water

More than 15 months after Flint’s water emergency broke open, Governor Rick Snyder has signed the first policy bill stemming from the man-made crisis. The governor signed legislation in Flint Friday requiring utilities to more quickly warn water customers if there is too much lead. The deadline is being cut to three business days instead of 30 days. Snyder and lawmakers previously allocated hundreds of millions of dollars toward the crisis. Residents continue drinking either filtered tap water or
bottled water. The last round of testing showed the 90th percentile of lead concentrations in Flint was 8 parts per billion, below the “action level” of 15 parts per billion. Experts will assess the water at a summit in Chicago next week, but the state
says no major announcements are expected.. ...Read Full Story

WMU Looking For New Football Coach

Western Michigan University is looking for a new football coach. PJ Fleck is leaving to take the head coach job at the University of Minnesota, and WMU Athletics Director Kathy Beauregard says she’s confident they can get a top notch leader, despite recruits signing letters of intent soon.. ...Read Full Story

Upton Named Chair Of House Subcommittee On Energy

Congressman Fred Upton has received his latest committee assignment. He’s going to serve as the chair of the House Subcommittee on Energy. The subcommittee, which is under the umbrella of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, works to shape the nation’s energy policy. Upton tells us Michigan has been a leader in promoting 21st century policies when it comes to energy, and he wants to do the same on the federal level. Upton has been replaced as the chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee by Congressman Greg Walden, of Oregon. Walden just gave Upton his new assignment Friday, while praising Upton for the work he did as Energy and Commerce Chair.. ...Read Full Story

Governor Declares Emergency In Southeast Michigan Due To Giant Sinkhole

Michigan’s governor has declared a state of emergency for a county north of Detroit following the collapse of a massive sewage line that – so far – has caused a football field-sized sinkhole. The disaster declaration was made Friday by Governor Rick Snyder and makes state resources available to Macomb County and communities affected by the sewer collapse. It follows a similar determination by Macomb County’s executive. The sewer collapse was discovered Christmas Eve after a family in Fraser awoke to find their home sinking. That house and two others have been condemned. Families in 19 other homes were
evacuated after water and gas services were cut. Snyder’s office says there is a threat of widespread and severe damage to 11
communities, a military base and more than 200,000 homes.. ...Read Full Story

Biden To Visit Michigan Next Week

Vice President Joe Biden is expected to stop in Michigan and Illinois next week, part of a three-state tour in his final days in office. The White House announced Friday that Biden will deliver remarks Tuesday in Detroit at an event for Motor City Match. It’s a grant program to help entrepreneurs. Biden will also travel Tuesday to Chicago, where President Barack Obama is
expected to deliver his farewell address. Obama is planning to give the evening speech at McCormick Place, a convention center in his hometown. Earlier in the week, Biden is expected to travel to California with stops in Los Angeles and San Francisco.. ...Read Full Story

Stabenow Opposes Betsy DeVos For Education Department Secretary

U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow says she will vote against Betsy DeVos as the next head of the U.S. Education Department. The Michigan Democrat says she talked to DeVos. Stabenow says DeVos’ support for charter schools has “seriously undermined public education” in the state. DeVos, the former head of the Michigan Republican Party, is in favor of giving parents more education options. Her husband, Dick DeVos, started a charter high school in the Grand Rapids area that focuses on aviation and engineering. He also ran unsuccessfully for governor of Michigan against Jennifer Granholm in 2006.. ...Read Full Story

MI Congressman To Trump: Renegotiate NAFTA

Flint area Democratic Congressman Dan Kildee doesn’t oppose everything President-elect Donald Trump has suggested. For example, he’s all for renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA. Kildee tells us Canada and Mexico should agree to tougher environmental standards. Trump promised to renegotiate NAFTA when he stumped in Michigan, but Kildee says we need real action.. ...Read Full Story

Shadowland On Silver Beach Recognized As Top Wedding Venue

Shadowland on Silver Beach has been recognized as one of the best venues for a wedding in Michigan by TheKnot.com. The Knot, which is a wedding site, added Shadowland to its “Best of Weddings” list, which recommends vendors soon-to-be-married couples should hire for their big day. It’s the only venue in southwest Michigan to show up there. Shadowland tells us The Knot looked at nearly a million reviews as it compiled the Best of Weddings list. This is the fifth year Shadowland has been on it.. ...Read Full Story

Governor Signs Bill Allowing Some Higher Speed Limits

Governor Rick Snyder has signed legislation to let Michigan motorists drive faster on at least 1,500 miles of rural highways as long as safety studies say the higher speed limits are OK. The bill enacted Thursday authorizes a 75 mph speed limit on 600 miles of freeways and a 65 mph limit on 900 miles of other roads. The limits will be raised within a year if a study shows it is safe and the new limits are no more than what 15 percent of traffic is exceeding. Proponents say speed limits are too low in rural areas.. ...Read Full Story

Unemployment Insurance System Incorrectly Accuses 20,000 People Of Fraud

The director of Michigan’s Unemployment Insurance Agency has been reassigned after at least 20,000 people were wrongly accused of fraud by the agency’s automated system. Talent Investment Agency Director Wanda Stokes said Thursday that UIA Director Sharon Moffett-Massey will now work on special projects. Bruce Noll, TIA’s legislative liaison, will serve as acting assistant director of the unemployment agency during a search for a new director to replace Moffett-Massey. A state review of unemployment fraud cases found an error rate of 93 percent in auto-adjudicated cases between October 2013 and early August 2015, according to U.S. Congressman Sander Levin. Of some 22,000 cases reviewed, fraud determinations were upheld in just 1,462 cases. Stokes says staff now are reviewing potential fraud cases and not solely relying on the software.. ...Read Full Story

Official: Great Lakes Region’s Waters Deserve More Respect

The director of Michigan’s Office of the Great Lakes says the region should be known nationally for vast water resources instead of faded industrial glory. Jon Allan says he was disappointed during the recent election campaign to hear Michigan and other Great Lakes states described repeatedly as the “rust belt.” He says they’ve worked hard to restore their lakes, rivers and streams, and should develop a reputation for durable and healthy waterways. Allan delivered his message in Michigan’s annual “State of the Great Lakes” report. It outlines progress made in the past year and challenges that remain. Governor Snyder says in the report his administration will emphasize safe drinking water, harbor investments, preventing and controlling invasive species, reducing phosphorus runoff and developing water trails.. ...Read Full Story

Patrick Miles To Resign As US Attorney For Western Michigan

The U.S. attorney assigned to Michigan’s Western District plans to step down from his post later this month. Patrick Miles Jr. has announced his resignation at the end of President Obama’s administration. It will be effective at noon on January 20. The 49-year-old Miles spent 21 years in private law practice as a business attorney in Grand Rapids. He has been U.S. attorney for western Michigan since 2012. The office covers 49 counties, including Michigan’s entire Upper Peninsula. During his tenure, the office obtained 31 federal racketeering, firearm, drug distribution and other convictions against members of the Holland Latin Kings gang.. ...Read Full Story

Upton Defends Penalties For Live Streaming House Protests

Republicans in the U.S. House this week failed to gut an ethics panel, but they did pass new rules to retaliate against Democrats for live streaming a gun control protest last year when the House was not in session and the CSPAN cameras were off. New penalties have been introduced to fine House members for live streaming such protests. Critics say the GOP retaliation against Democrats is a violation of free speech, but St. Joseph Republican Congressman Fred Upton says there’s a right way and a wrong way to hold a protest.. ...Read Full Story

LaSata, Griffin Open Lansing Offices

Kim LaSata and Beth Griffin are getting situated in Lansing. The two were elected in November to represent parts of southwest Michigan in the state House, and their offices are now up and running. LaSata represents the 79th District in Berrien County, while Griffin represents Van Buren County’s 66th District. Griffin says she plans to “take a common-sense approach to a more effective and efficient government,” while LaSata tells us she’s eager to get to work. They’ve been holding meetings in Lansing, and both say they’ll soon schedule local office hours to meet with folks. You can reach LaSata’s office at (517) 373-1403, while Griffin’s office can be reached at (517) 373-0839.. ...Read Full Story

Michigan Ranked Second Most Miserable State During Winter

Michigan is the second most miserable state during the winter, according to a list released by Thrillist. The popular rankings website says only Minnesota is more miserable this time of year. In the article published this week, the length of Michigan’s winters is noted, while recreation opportunities here are dismissed. Thrillist writes, “You actually look forward to a proper snowfall, just to cover the dirt.” Rounding out the five most miserable states for winter are Alaska, North Dakota, and Maine. The best place to be in winter? Hawaii. You can find the full article here.. ...Read Full Story

Program Aims To Monitor E-Coli At Berrien County Beaches

A program to test Berrien County waterways for E-coli contamination is utilizing dogs to help do the initial detecting. The Southwest Michigan Planning Commission’s Marcy Hamilton tells WSJM News the dogs can detect human waste in the water, and from there, the researchers take samples. Getting them helps pinpoint where runoff and leaks are causing the E-coli contamination.. ...Read Full Story