LANSING, MI – Labor groups want Michigan to pass legislation that would extend unemployment benefits for people in job training programs and to some who were laid off as part-time workers.
The federal stimulus plan would make about $138 million available to temporarily pay the expanded jobless benefits. But Michigan would be on the hook to continue the payments once stimulus money runs out in 2011.
EAST LANSING, MI – The state Senate plans to vote this week on melding the Department of Environmental Quality with the Department of Natural Resources.
The Senate plan approved by the Appropriations Committee last week would create a new department - the Department of Conservation. The department would be similar to the Department of Natural Resources before the DEQ was created by then-Governor John Engler.
EAST LANSING, MI – Refugees with professional backgrounds often have difficulty getting re-certified to work in the United States. A national conference in East Lansing this week is addressing that problem.
Obstacles facing refugees include getting paperwork such as diplomas into the U. S. Conference organizer Linda Rabben says it's particularly tough for Iraqis.
LOS ANGELES – An American soprano singer and a Ukrainian pianist have won top honors at a competition that combines elements of "American Idol" and classical music.
Leah Crocetto, a 29-year-old first-year fellow with the San Francisco opera, won the $50,000 first prize in the vocal portion of the third annual Jose Iturbi International Music Competition at the University of California, Los Angeles.
ALLEGAN, MI – Flood warnings remain in effect for much of southwest Lower Michigan as residents clean up from damaging weekend storms.
The storms that slammed the region from late Thursday until Saturday generated three tornadoes, dumped up to as eight inches of rain in some places and knocked out power to 130,000 homes and businesses.
The tornadoes touched down Friday night in Allegan and Kalamazoo counties, destroying or heavily damaging three homes and several other buildings. No injuries were reported.
LANSING, MI – State Senators are planning to vote on budget cuts this week in Lansing.
The Senate Appropriations committee approved sweeping budget cuts for education, corrections and Medicaid last week. Committee member Roger Kahn said when the state faces a $1.7 billion deficit, lawmakers are forced to make cuts where there's a lot of money. And that often results in cuts to programs they'd rather not cut at all.
MIDLAND, MI – The Lansing Lugnuts finished out their series against the Great Lakes Loons with a victory on Sunday afternoon, closing out the first half of the Midwest League season with a close 9-8 win. The Lugnuts lost the first three games of the series. The Midwest League now breaks for its 2009 All-Star Game, held on Tuesday at Alliant Energy Field in Clinton, Iowa. Then the Lugnuts start the second half of the season at home on Thursday night with the opener of a four-game series against the Dayton Dragons.
AUBURN HILLS, MI – The Detroit Shock had a new coach and a returning All-Star, and it wasn't enough to beat the Indiana Fever.
Tamika Catchings scored 15 points Friday night and the Indiana Fever beat Detroit 66-54 in Rick Mahorn's debut as Shock coach.
"As a team, we anticipated an emotional game," said Katie Douglas, who added 13 points. "It's a big day for them having Mahorn Bill Laimbeer has been here for so long, that we knew they were going to come out with a lot of mixed emotions, and that we would have to weather the storm."
DETROIT – DETROIT (AP) Brandon Inge hit a three-run homer and Justin Verlander pitched into the eighth inning to help the Detroit Tigers sweep the Milwaukee Brewers with a 3-2 win Sunday.
Verlander (8-3), who no-hit the Brewers in his only other start against them, allowed two runs on five hits in 7 2-3 innings. He struck out eight while improving to 8-1 since April 27. Fernando Rodney pitched the ninth for his 14th straight save.
LANSING, MI – State lawmakers say struggling urban areas without grocery stores will have a hard time ever being revitalized. The state House Urban Policy Committee met Friday to hear testimony on the important role of supermarkets in cities.
EAST LANSING, MI – Michigan still has the nation's highest jobless rate.
Michigan's unemployment rate in May was 14.1%. The US Department of Labor's ranking of states says that was the again the highest jobless rate in the U-S. It's a distinction Michigan's held for 25 of the past 26 months.
LANSING, MI – The developers of a nearly completed Michigan State Police headquarters aren't happy about lawmakers'efforts to back out of the deal.
The building's private owners said Friday it sends a "terrible message to anyone doing business with this state."
The Senate on Thursday passed a version of next year's state police budget that does not include the more than $3 million needed to pay rent on the building. Some lawmakers say that's all the state has to do to avoid moving into the $40 million building in January.
(Lansing, MI) – About 900 laid-off Lansing autoworkers will be returning to work in August.
Spokeswoman Heidi Magyar says strong sales of GM's three Lansing-made crossover vehicles prompted the return of the second shift to the Delta Township plant.
"Comparing May total sales with January total sales, the three products have increased more than 60 percent," Magyar says. "So, from looking at that perspective, for the strong sales, that's what we're looking at in the market."
LANSING, MI – Today is a holiday for 37,400 state employees. It's the first of six unpaid furlough days they'll take this summer to help balance the budget. The day off means more than a day of lost pay for state workers. It's also a day of lost income for the businesses that serve them coffee and lunches, and sell them office supplies.
LAS VEGAS – LAS VEGAS (AP) - Pavel Datsyuk, Nicklas Lidstrom and Marian Hossa of the Red Wings have been named to the NHL All-Star second team.
Datsyuk also went home from last night's ceremony with his fourth straight Lady Byng Award honoring hockey's most gentlemanly player. He drew only 22 penalty minutes in 81 games.
Datsyuk also claimed his second consecutive Selke Award presented to the league's top defensive forward. He ranked second in the NHL with 89 takeaways and is considered one of the league's best two-way forwards.
MIDLAND, MI – MIDLAND, MI (WKAR) - The Lansing Lugnuts fell to the Great Lakes Loons 6-1 in the opener to a four-game series yesterday. The Lugnuts and Loons play the second game in the series tonight at 7:05 p.m.
LANSING, MI – Michigan State Police troopers will vote over the next week on whether to sacrifice some of their own pay in order to at least temporarily avoid the layoffs of 100 troopers.
The troopers' union said Thursday it will send out ballots to its members to decide whether they will accept unpaid furlough time in exchange for keeping the 100 troopers on the road until Sept. 30, the end of the fiscal year.
Each trooper would give up nearly 37 hours of pay over a six-week period, or about six hours of pay each week.
LANSING, MI – A state senator is introducing legislation that would provide some oversight for embryonic stem cell research in Michigan.
It's the first major legislative effort to address a measure approved by Michigan voters in 2008. Proposal 2 loosened the state's restrictions on the research by allowing people to donate embryos left over from fertility treatments.
Republican Sen. Tom George of Kalamazoo County's Texas Township says Thursday the bills headed to the state Legislature are not an effort to undo Proposal 2.
WASHINGTON – NASA will try to head back to the moon this afternoon.
The unmanned rocket launch marks the first such mission in a decade.
The space agency announced plans for the launch yesterday after deciding to postpone a space shuttle mission because of a hydrogen gas leak. The timing for the moon mission couldn't be set until NASA knew whether the shuttle plans would go forward.
GRAND RAPIDS, MI – Opera Grand Rapids is building a $2.25 million facility to house rehearsals, offices, special events and small performances.
A groundbreaking was scheduled for Wednesday for the 14,000-square-foot Betty Van Andel Opera Center. It also will have room for costume and property storage, educational activities and a costume shop.
UNDATED – UNDATED (AP) - General Motors has met with teams in NASCAR's top-tier Sprint Cup series about its plans to scale back financial support.
GM already has notified teams in the lower-tier Nationwide and Camping World Truck series of cutbacks. The automaker is reorganizing through Chapter 11 bankruptcy and said last week it planned to make cuts across all of NASCAR's series.
Chevrolet spokesman Terry Rhadigan wouldn't provide details of the cuts.
ARLINGTON, TX – Ivan Rodriguez has caught his 2,227th game, more than any other major leaguer.
The former Detroit Tiger set the record last night against Texas. Now with the Houston Astros, Rodriguez tied Hall of Fame catcher Carlton Fisk in Tuesday night's opener of an interleague series with the Rangers.
Rodriguez was 19 when Texas promoted him to the majors midway through the 1991 season. In 12 seasons with the Rangers, he won an AL MVP award, 10 Gold Gloves and was a 10-time All-Star.