By Laura Weber/Rick Pluta, Michigan Public Radio Network
LANSING, MI – The state Legislature will delay its winter break by at least one day as lawmakers try to wrap up a deal on school reforms. The reforms would qualify the state to compete for up to $400 million in federal "Race to the Top" funds.
Lawmakers say they are close to a compromise. But they say there is still work to be done, with much of the disagreement centering on how charter schools should be regulated.
STERLING HEIGHTS, MI – State welfare workers have rallied in Macomb County to protest low staffing levels that left them overwhelmed by mounting caseloads and threatened by angry clients.
About 50 Michigan Department of Human Services workers gathered early Friday afternoon outside a department office in Sterling Heights. They say insufficient staffing is leading to long waits and even acts of violence by clients, including one who threw a piece of concrete through an office window.
LANSING, MI – The manager of General Motors' two Lansing manufacturing facilities is leaving after only a few months on the job. Company officials say Alisha Boler-Davis is being tapped to oversee GM's small car development unit.
Boler-Davis became manager of Lansing's Delta Township and Grand River plants in October. She will stay in Lansing until a replacement is named--probably early next year. GM spokesperson Heidi Magyar says the change will not have any impact on production in Lansing.
LANSING, MI – Hundreds of Tennessee autoworkers planning to follow jobs to Lansing began getting acquainted with their future hometown Thursday. About two dozen Lansing-area companies and municipalities held a relocation fair in Spring Hill, Tennessee to offer options in housing and transportation for migrating GM workers.
Denise Maurer is Director of Referral Services for Coldwell Banker Hubbell real estate in Lansing. She says some people making the move won't be putting down roots in Lansing.
DETROIT – The Detroit Lions' game against the Arizona Cardinals at Ford Field won't be shown on local TV.
Lions spokesman Bill Keenist confirmed Thursday the team did not reach a sellout for Sunday's game by the NFL's deadline. That means the game between Detroit (2-11) and NFC West leader Arizona (8-5) will be blacked out in the Detroit, Lansing, Saginaw-Flint and Toledo, Ohio, markets.
DETROIT – Jimmy Howard made 30 saves for his first NHL shutout in the Detroit Red Wings' 3-0 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday night
Drew Miller, Todd Bertuzzi and Patrick Eaves scored for Detroit, and Brian Rafalski had two assists. But the Red Wings lost yet another player when center Henrik Zetterberg left the game because of an upper-body injury with 1:43 left in the first period after a crushing hit by Tampa Bay defenseman Mattias Ohlund.
LANSING, MI – Governor Granholm is planning to sign the statewide ban on workplace smoking on Friday at a downtown Lansing brewpub.
AUDIO: The Legislature sent the smoking ban to Governor Granholm last week following nearly 10 years of wrangling on the question. The state seemed close to approving a smoking ban a year ago, but the legislation stalled as lawmakers argued over to include cigar bars and casinos on the ban.
LANSING, MI – The state House has voted to use a portion of sales taxes paid by hotels, restaurants and other tourism-related businesses to fund the Pure Michigan ad campaign. The state had to cancel a winter ad buy because it ran out of money. Tourism officials credit the program with keeping tourism afloat during its first full-year run.
The program has wide bipartisan support. Democratic state Representative Dan Scripps.
LANSING, MI – The Legislature is expected to meet into the night as negotiations continue on reforms that would help the state compete for federal education reform money.
AUDIO: The talks have been stop-and-go all day as Democrats and Republicans failed to agree on many details - including rules for allowing new charter schools to compete against public schools with high dropout rates and low test scores.
LANSING, MI – Lawmakers in the state Senate are expected to vote Thursday on legislation that would bar Michigan drivers from text messaging while driving. State Senator Buzz Thomas sponsored one of the bills.
"Who has not seen someone driving poorly on the road and when you get up by them by the window and you see them on the phone, looking down away from the road," he says. "And that type of distraction is reckless, it's irresponsible and we have to ban it.