News

Lansing, MI – LANSING, Mi (WKAR) - Lansing's Ottawa Street Power Station has been added to the National Register of Historic Places. The 70-year-old Art Deco building is being rehabilitated by Accident Fund Insurance.

Bob Christenson is with the State Historic Preservation Office. He says the Power Station was built to provide electricity and steam heat to city during its rapid growth early in the 20th century.

Lansing, MI – LANSING, MI (MPRN) - The House Judiciary Committee passed a package of bills Wednesday to repeal Michigan's drug company immunity law.

Representatives from drug manufacturer Pfizer testified before the committee that if the law is rescinded, drug makers and jobs would leave Michigan.

Lansing, MI – LANSING, MI (WKAR) - Starting next month, more than one million Michigan residents on the federal food assistance program will have more to spend on groceries. The boost is part of the federal economic stimulus package.

On April 1, eligible families will automatically receive a 13.6 percent increase in their food assistance benefits.

That works out to about $80 more each month for a family of four.

Lansing, MI – LANSING, MI (WKAR) - Artists and leaders of local arts groups gathered Wednesday to discuss how to lobby for greater state funding.

In her budget, Governor Jennifer Granholm proposed a cut of $7.5 million in mini-grants to arts organizations.

State representative Joan Bauer of Lansing told the group how to reach legislators on the appropriate sub-committees about restoring the mini-grants.

Lansing, MI – LANSING, Mi (MPRN) - Environmental groups are preparing to battle Governor Granholm's proposal to scrap Michigan's wetlands protection program and turn it over to the federal government. They will meet at the state Capitol today to make their case to lawmakers.

Michigan is one of just two states to issue its own permits for developing on or near a marsh or stream.

Lansing, MI – LANSING, Mi (MPRN) - Law enforcement officials and judges are pushing Governor Granholm to continue funding mental health courts. The Governor has proposed cutting the funding from Michigan's 2010 budget.

The coalition says the court pilot programs offer irreplaceable treatment for mentally ill, nonviolent offenders, at a bargain to taxpayers who would otherwise pay for their incarceration.

Lansing, MI – LANSING (WKAR) - The Michigan Office of Financial and Insurance Regulation is denying the request of seven auto insurance companies who've asked permission to enact rate increases.

The state says those companies are using discriminatory tactics. The disapproved insurers include such names as Progressive and Michigan Millers.

Insurance regulator Ken Ross says those companies use credit scoring to determine how high to set their premiums.

East Lansing, MI – A local state representative is forming a taskforce to look at the feasibility of building a Magnetic Levitation, or MagLev, train system between Lansing and Detroit.

Brighton Republican Bill Rogers says the high-speed transportation system would be the first of its kind in the United States. Rogers says the MagLev rail system would revolutionize transportation in the state.

Rogers says the system he envisions would be privately funded and operated.

Lansing, MI – LANSING (AP) - Gov. Jennifer Granholm says she is "getting close" to a deal with Michigan's public universities to provide some tuition relief for students and families headed into next school year.

Granholm wants universities to freeze tuition rates in exchange for some of the federal stimulus money headed Michigan's way.

But the Democratic governor has run into opposition because she proposed a 3% cut to university state aid for the budget year that begins in October.

Lansing, MI – LANSING (AP) - The Senate Fiscal Agency says state coffers are taking an even bigger hit than expected as tax revenues fall.

According to the agency's February report released Wednesday, tax collections for the month fell almost $100 million short of earlier estimates.

SFA senior economist Jay Wortley says the decline was "much worse than expected."

The national recession has worsened Michigan's economic woes, pushing unemployment up to 11.6% and causing residents to cut back on spending, which hurts state revenues.

Lansing, MI – LANSING (MPRN) - The cost of visiting a state park or recreation area could go down next year for Michigan residents. House and Senate leaders say the Legislature will adopt a plan soon to dump the $24 annual windshield sticker and the $6 daily entry fee.

Instead, park users would pay $10 for a license plate that gives them access to state parks, recreation areas, and boat launch sites.

Lansing, MI – LANSING (MPRN) - A state commission has recommended a 10% rollback in the salaries of the governor and other executive branch officers, and 110 state lawmakers. It's now up to the Legislature to approve the recommendation of the State Officers Compensation Commission.

Lansing, MI – LANSING (MPRN) - Former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich was in Lansing Tuesday. He testified before a state Senate committee on health care reform.

Gingrich has been working on health care reform since retiring from Congress. He says making everyone's medical records electronic is key to ensuring proper care. And he says people need to take more responsibility for their health by quitting smoking, eating well, exercising, and controlling chronic conditions.

Lansing, MI – LANSING (MPRN) - State House Democrats approved a plan to give Michigan homeowners a 90-day reprieve when facing foreclosure. Democrats say the bill will benefit borrowers and lenders.

But House Republicans say the measure would flood courts with too many new lending disputes.

Democrat Andy Coulouris sponsored the plan. He says some lenders may not like the bill, but the reprieve will help protect home values, which benefits everyone in Michigan.

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