WKAR

In Michigan
6:19 pm
Tue December 27, 2011

GOP leaders ready to move cyber school expansion

LANSING, MI –

There may soon be more online K-12 schools allowed to operate in Michigan. Republican leaders in the state Legislature say they want to approve a measure that would allow more so-called cyber schools when lawmakers return to the Capitol in January.

State Representative Tom McMillin chairs the House Education Committee. He says many lawmakers are impressed with the ability of cyber schools to help kids who struggle in or drop out of traditional public schools.

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In Michigan
6:18 pm
Tue December 27, 2011

Iran seeks death for Flint grad accused of spying

TEHRAN, IRAN –

An Iranian news agency says prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for a Michigan high school graduate accused of trying to infiltrate Iran's intelligence services for the CIA.

The report Tuesday by the semiofficial Fars agency says Amir Hekmati repeated a confession at a hearing that was like one aired Dec. 18 on state TV.

The report says Hekmati's lawyer rejected the accusations.

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In Michigan
5:26 pm
Tue December 27, 2011

Michigan officials caution against budget plans

LANSING, MI –

Gov. Rick Snyder's administration says it would be premature to make plans to spend a likely surplus from the budget year that ended Sept. 30.

Some estimates show the state could have more than $800 million in the general fund and school-aid fund. Final numbers won't be settled for a few weeks.

Republicans who control the Michigan Legislature say there's really not much of a surplus when spending and income projections are taken into account for the next two fiscal years.

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In Michigan
4:42 pm
Tue December 27, 2011

Fight to resume in 2012 over money to train doctors

LANSING, MI –

A fight over money to train doctors in residency programs at Michigan hospitals will carry over to 2012. As we hear from Michigan Public Radio's Rick Pluta, supporters say the money is a critical part of addressing a doctor shortage.

Laswmakers say money for training doctors was simply not a top priority to be addressed before the Legislature adjourned until next year.

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In Michigan
4:13 pm
Tue December 27, 2011

Frandor property owner confident Sears will remain open

Photo: Mark Bashore/WKAR

LANSING, MI –

The owner of Lansing's Frandor shopping center property says he's optimistic the location's Sears store will not be among those closed by the company. Pat Gillespie of East Lansing's Gillespie Group says he was reassured by Sears officials earlier this year when the retailer announced similar plans.

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WKAR Features
10:34 am
Tue December 27, 2011

New Ingham health director assesses obesity, other health challenges

Ingham County Health Officer Renee Canady and Assistant Deputy Health Officer Marcus Cheatham. Photo: Mark Bashore/WKAR

LANSING, MI –
As 2011 concludes, health issues are high on the agenda at the state capitol. Governor Rick Snyder's administration is shaping new policy recommendations in two areas considered critical: obesity and infant mortality. And the future of medical marijuana remains unclear.

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In Michigan
6:17 am
Tue December 27, 2011

DPS assurance bills most likely dead

LANSING, MI – A political battle at the state Capitol may put taxpayers on the hook to pay down the debt of Detroit Public Schools. Two bills that would assure the school district's bond insurers that it would not go bankrupt, and would allow the district more time to pay off its debt were prepared for a final vote in the state House on the last day of session for the year.

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In Michigan
6:14 am
Tue December 27, 2011

Senate could pursue cyber-bullying rules

LANSING, MI – Some lawmakers at the state Capitol say they would like to work in 2012 to provide some legal protections to K-12 students from cyber-bullying.

Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer says the Legislature should approve a measure that would require all school districts to prohibit bullying via home computers and personal cell phones. She says bullying on the internet is a fast-growing problem.

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In Michigan
6:04 am
Mon December 26, 2011

Snyder signs bills on crime victim compensation

LANSING, MI – Governor Rick Snyder has signed several new pieces of legislation, including a package of bills on compensation for Michigan crime victims.

The governor's office says Snyder signed three bills that clarify definitions and strengthens compensation requirements and programs for crime victims. The bills were sponsored by fellow Republican state Senator Tonya Schuitmaker of Lawton.

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In Michigan
6:02 am
Mon December 26, 2011

Governor: Safety, mental health priorities for 2012

Gov. Rick Snyder Photo: WKAR

LANSING, MI – Governor Rick Snyder says he expects state intervention will be necessary in the coming year to help fix the finances of struggling local governments and school districts. The governor says he hopes to avoid in most cases the extreme step of naming an emergency manager.

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WKAR Features
10:32 am
Fri December 23, 2011

MPRN's Rick Pluta looks back at 2011

Photo: Melissa Benmark/WKAR

Michigan Public Radio Statehouse Bureau Chief Rick Pluta.

LANSING, MI – WKAR's Melissa Benmark talks with the Michigan Public Radio Network's state Capitol bureau chief and managing editor, about what happened in the state Legislature this year.

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In Michigan
6:25 pm
Thu December 22, 2011

Michigan lawmakers to revisit autism coverage plan

LANSING, MI –

Michigan lawmakers plan to make another attempt at passing legislation that could prompt insurance coverage for certain autism treatments in 2012.

Republican Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville said Thursday that new legislation related to autism coverage is expected early next year.

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In Michigan
6:21 pm
Thu December 22, 2011

Tax credits for donations expiring at the end of the year

ANN ARBOR, MI –

State tax credits for charitable giving expire in about a week and a half. Governor Rick Snyder and the Republican-led Legislature got rid of the credits as part of a tax overhaul during budget negotiations earlier this year. Among the groups included in the expiring tax credit are food banks.

Eileen Spring is president of Food Gatherers - a food bank in Ann Arbor. She says she hopes the expiring tax credit will draw attention to the need for charitable giving in the coming year.

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In Michigan
6:12 pm
Thu December 22, 2011

Trade group sues over Michigan health claims tax

LANSING, MI –

A new Michigan law that will place a 1 percent tax on health insurance claims faces a court challenge.

The Self-Insurance Institute of America Inc. filed a suit challenging the law Thursday in federal court. The suit says the Michigan assessment is pre-empted by federal law.

The suit seeks to block the assessment related to self-insured group health plans.

The Michigan assessment is scheduled to begin Jan. 1 to help fund Medicaid programs. It would be paid to the state by insurers or HMOs.

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In Michigan
6:07 pm
Thu December 22, 2011

Civil disobedience possible to fight emergency law

DETROIT –

The Rev. Jesse Jackson and other religious and civil rights leaders are promising protests and possible civil disobedience against Michigan's new emergency manager law that could lead to a takeover of Detroit government.

Jackson and others announced their plans Thursday at a news conference at Detroit's Bethany Baptist Church.

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WKAR Features
9:45 am
Thu December 22, 2011

WLNS meteorologist Jake Dunne pens a novel

Stand By, WLNS-TV meteorologist Jake Dunne's new novel.

LANSING, MI –

Jake Dunne is a meteorologist who delivers the morning weather forecast on WLNS-TV and on several Lansing radio stations.

He's also a writer with a novel coming out.

WKAR's Scott Pohl talked with Jake Dunne about how his line of work lends itself to writing projects like his book, Stand By.

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In Michigan
9:27 am
Thu December 22, 2011

Nonprofit hit by fire finds temporary space

LANSING, MI – LANSING, MI (AP) - A charitable organization in Lansing that was hit by a weekend fire at its thrift store and office has found temporary space.

The Lansing State Journal reports Thursday that St. Vincent de Paul will occupy two storefronts. Sunday's fire destroyed more than six months' worth of donated
clothing and possibly two months of donated furniture.

The store will open Monday to take in donations.

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In Michigan
6:03 am
Thu December 22, 2011

Snyder signs ban on partner benefits for public employees

LANSING, MI –

Governor Rick Snyder has signed a measure that bans health benefits that cover the live-in partners of people who work for school districts and local governments. But, as we hear from Michigan Public Radio's Rick Pluta, the governor says the ban will not apply to the unmarried partners of employees of state or public universities.

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In Michigan
6:25 pm
Wed December 21, 2011

Feds list possible methods for blocking Asian carp

TRAVERSE CITY, MI –

Federal officials say they've compiled a list of possible methods for preventing Asian carp and other invasive species from migrating between the Great Lakes and Mississippi River basins.

Scientists and engineers from a number of federal and state agencies put together the report, which officials are releasing Wednesday.

Gary O'Keefe of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says the list includes more than 90 technologies and devices in 27 categories.

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In Michigan
6:14 pm
Wed December 21, 2011

Michigan State U. getting $5M to help companies

EAST LANSING, MI – Michigan State University is getting $5 million to help companies in the state better compete globally.

The East Lansing school announced Wednesday that the gift from Demmer Corp. will establish the John and Marnie Demmer Center for Business Transformation. It will bring more consulting, advisory and educational services from faculty members and student teams.

Lansing-based Demmer supplies assemblies, modules and components for defense, aerospace, transportation and commercial customers.

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In Michigan
6:11 pm
Wed December 21, 2011

Flint's mayor, council get back some duties, pay

FLINT, MI –

Flint's state-appointed emergency financial manager has restored some responsibilities and pay for the mayor and city council.

The Flint Journal reports that Michael Brown on Tuesday also decided to schedule monthly City Council meetings for public comment, conducting public hearings and addressing matters that he submits.

Brown earlier this month had ended pay for the mayor and city council.

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In Michigan
4:15 pm
Wed December 21, 2011

Detroit review finds "probable financial stress"

LANSING, MI –

Detroit could be closer to a state financial takeover by an emergency manager. Governor Rick Snyder is expected to order an intensive review of the city's books following a preliminary finding of "probable financial stress."

But, as we hear from Michigan Public Radio's Rick Pluta, state officials say they still hold out hope the city can solve its own problems without a state intervention.

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In Michigan
4:15 pm
Wed December 21, 2011

Report: homelessness and poverty on the rise

LANSING, MI –

Poverty and homelessness rates have been on the rise over the past several years in Michigan. That's according to an annual report on poverty from the Michigan League for Human Services. Michigan Public Radio's Laura Weber has more.

The report says a quarter of kids in Michigan live in poverty, and one in ten kids lives in extreme poverty. "Extreme poverty" means a family makes less than $11,000 a year. Karen Holcomb-Merrill is with the league.

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WKAR Features
7:54 am
Wed December 21, 2011

Museum curator displays private collection in "The Art of Christmas"

MSU Museum curator Val Berryman at \"The Art of Christmas\" exhibit at the Williamston Depot Museum. Photo: Courtesy Val Berryman

Williamston, MI – An exhibit by Val Berryman, called "The Art of Christmas", is on display at the Williamston Depot Museum. Berryman is curator of history at the Michigan State University Museum. He's been collecting vintage Christmas decorations, figurines and illustrations since 1984. Berryman tells WKAR's Gretchen Millich that for this exhibit, he chose some favorites from his personal collection.

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In Michigan
6:31 pm
Tue December 20, 2011

Schuette: Medical marijuana law part of a plot to legalize pot

LANSING, MI –

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette says he believes groups trying to legalize pot are using the state's medical marijuana law to push their cause. Schuette spent much of his first year in office working to close marijuana dispensaries and tighten enforcement of the law.

As we hear from Michigan Public Radio's Rick Pluta, Schuette says he does not intend to relent in 20-12.

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In Michigan
6:26 pm
Tue December 20, 2011

Snyder signs bills extending home heating help

LANSING, MI –

Michigan residents struggling to pay their heating bills will be able to get some assistance.

Gov. Rick Snyder on Tuesday signed bills that create a $58 million fund to replace the Low Income and Energy Efficiency Fund. The Michigan Court of Appeals ruled this summer that the fund program no longer was authorized.

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In Michigan
6:23 pm
Tue December 20, 2011

Congress OKs $300 million for Great Lakes cleanup

TRAVERSE CITY, MI –

Congress has set aside $300 million to continue a wide-ranging program to heal the Great Lakes environment by removing toxic sediments, improving wildlife habitat
and fighting invasive species.

The money was included in a larger spending bill that cleared the House and Senate last week and is awaiting President Barack Obama's signature.

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In Michigan
4:44 pm
Tue December 20, 2011

Report: Lansing police have suspect in CATA shooting

LANSING, MI –

Lansing police have apprehended a suspect wanted in a fatal shooting Tuesday afternoon at the downtown Lansing CATA bus station. The Lansing State Journal reports the suspect was subdued by police in south Lansing about 90 minutes after the original incident.

According to the story, the suspect fired one shot at police while being pursued in the 3900 block of Martin Luther King Boulevard. No one was struck by the shot.

Authorities have launched an investigation.

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In Michigan
4:43 pm
Tue December 20, 2011

Governor Snyder signs charter school cap elimination

LANSING, MI –

Governor Rick Snyder has signed into law a measure that lifts the limit on how many university-sponsored charter schools are allowed to operate in the state. Opponents of the law say the traditional public school model is a proven success, while the record for charters is spotty.

But Governor Snyder says more charter schools can be a valuable part of Michigan's K-12 system.

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WKAR Features
7:23 am
Tue December 20, 2011

Michigan Iraqis in bid to design, build Baghdad neighborhood

Architect's sketch courtesy of Prima Civitas

EAST LANSING, MI –

With America's military role officially over in Iraq, that country hopes to speed up its transition from "boots to suits." Already, an expanding consortium of Michigan firms is eyeing a potential windfall there. The group 'MICH Development' wants to be the nucleus of a team that would finance and build up to 100,000 housing units near Baghdad; a project valued at $5.5 billion.

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