Thursday Morning State News Summary
Wed, 26 Aug 2015 23:11:18 EDT

(Scandal-Text Messages)
There's a new twist in the sex scandal involving two state lawmakers.
MLive reports the person who bought a throw away phone that sent text messages to State Representatives Todd Courser and Cindy Gamrat is named Todd Courser.
He denies buying the phone.
MLive, who hired a private investigator to find the owner of the phone, notes a person doesnít have to show an ID when buying a throw away phone so someone could have given Coursers name.
Last week a spokesperson for Gamrat said she hired a private investigator to find out who bought the phone.
Justin Near says it wasnít Courser or Gamrat or any of their former staffers.
He pledged to release the name once they were able verify it through a second investigator however her camp has been quiet since.


(Capitol-Net Metering Concession)
A concession from Michiganís two largest utilities as a Senate committee considers energy reforms.
Consumers Energy and DTE Energy want to eliminate the stateís net metering program that allows solar panel users to swap their excess power for credits from their utility.
But Irene Dimitry of DTE says they are open to grandfathering in current participants to keep it fair for those who have made the investment in solar.
Consumers Energy also says it supports grandfathering current net metering.
Under proposed reforms, solar users would sell all the power they generate at wholesale prices to their utility, which would then resell it at retail rates.


(Ann Arbor-U of M Public Policy Survey)
A public policy survey of local leaders across Michigan shows less than half feel the state is headed in the right direction.
Tom Ivacko (EYE-vock-OH), program coordinator at the Center for Local, State and Urban Policy at the University of Michigan, which conducted the survey says - surprisingly - Republicans led the way.
He says their support fell the most compared to last year.
As a whole, Governor Rick Snyderís approval rating held steady from last year but the legislatureís approval rating dipped.
38 percent of those surveyed say lawmakers are doing a poor job.
Recent tax policy decisions and the ongoing road funding debate are cited as reasons respondents donít think Michigan is headed in the right direction.
72 percent of the local leaders surveyed responded.
The survey has a margin of error of 1.4 percent.


(UP-Teacher Shortage)
Two vacant teaching jobs Ė one month goes by Ė and not a single person applies.
Thatís the reality facing Upper Peninsula school superintendents and itís only going to get worse.
Lou Steigerwald (STIGER-wald), superintendent of Norway-Vulcan Area Schools, surveyed other U.P. superintendents and found most expect to lose 25 percent of their teachers in the next five years and donít think theyíll be able to fill the vacancies.
One reason, he says schools can no longer rely on college students wanting to teach.
Thatís because many wonít make enough to pay down their student loans.
Established teachers with families have had trouble making the move north too because their spouses havenít been able to find work in the tight U.P. job market.
Steigerwald says he and other superintendents expect to have the toughest time filling vacancies in math, science, special education, career tech education and the fine arts.


(Lansing-Peters Iran Deal)
A small group of people gathered in front of U-S Senator Gary Peters downtown Lansing office today (Wednesday) in hopes of convincing him to back the Iran nuclear deal.
Heís one of a handful of Democratic U-S Senators on the fence.
Rabi Michael Zimmerman says the deal is essential for world peace and would create a safer climate in the Middle East.
The group also dropped off signed petitions hoping it would be enough to sway Peters to support the deal.
Peters has been hesitant to back the deal noting how complex it is.
He also fears Iran would pick up where it left off 10 or 15 years down the road.


(Capitol-Fantasy Sports Bill)
As an estimated one million Michigan citizens begin drafting their fantasy football teams, a state senator is pushing legislation to ensure the game stays legal in the state.
While fantasy sports betting is not illegal in Michigan, Senator Curtis Hertel (hur-TELL) says it falls in a gray area of law.
Betting on unregulated games of chance is against the law in Michigan.
Hertel (hur-TELL) says his bill would define fantasy sports as a game of skill, making sure it remains legal.
Hertel (hur-TELL) says about 57 million people in the U-S play fantasy sports, himself included.
He says the industry generates about $3 to $5 billion every year.


(GVSU Scholarship)
A scholarship has been created at Grand Valley State University in memory of an alumnus who died battling a wildfire in Washington state.
The university says the scholarship was formed in honor of 31-year-old Richard Wheeler, a South Haven native, who was one of three firefighters who died last week when flames consumed their crashed vehicle.
Wheeler graduated from Grand Valley in 2013 with a bachelor's degree in natural resources management.
The scholarship is now available for applicants.
It is open to students who are dependents of fallen first responders, including firefighters, paramedics and police officers.
(Mike Arney, WSJM, St. Joseph)


(MI Biz Tax Rates Vary)
A new report shows tax rates on business in Michigan vary greatly, depending on the business they're in. The report from the Tax Foundation says the state has the 39th lowest tax rate on independent retail stores, but 10th lowest rate on labor-intensive manufacturing.
Rounding out the list, Michigan had the 38th lowest rate on corporate headquarters, 32nd lowest rate on distribution centers, 31st lowest on research and development, 16th lowest on call centers and 15th lowest on capital-intensive manufacturing.


(MI ACT Scores are Average)
High school graduates in Michigan this year had an American College Test score of 20-point-one.
That's considered average when compared to other states, where students are expected to take the exam, although it's nearly a point below the average composite nationwide.
Michigan is one of only 13 states where students are expected to take the ACT.
The newly released results are for English, math, reading and science.
The top score for the ACT is 36.
22 percent of Michigan students this year achieved college-ready scores of at least an 18 in English, a 22 in math and 23 in science.
Nationwide, 28 percent of the students were considered college-ready.
Next year, the state switches to the SAT.


(MI Crash Costs)
Repairs to highways in Metro Detroit as a result of three tanker crashes are costing the state of Michigan a lot of money.
The Michigan Department of Transportation is estimating the total costs of the work to be over $1 million.
The full price tag for repairs done last week on Interstate 75 following a tanker explosion has not yet been calculated.
Other crashes were on I-75 at I-375 in May and on I-94 near U.S. 12 in March.
(24/7 News Source)


(Wayne Co-West Nile)
Mosquitoes have tested positive for the West Nile virus in Wayne County.
The virus was found during routine testing in a pool of mosquitoes found in Redford Township.
While there have been no confirmed cases this year of the virus in humans, residents are urged to limit outdoor activity between dusk and dawn, avoid shaded and wooded areas where mosquitoes are most active, cover up when outdoors and use insect repellent that contains DEET.
West Nile was also found earlier this month in neighboring Oakland County.


(Study-Unused Auto High Tech)
Despite billions of dollars being spent by automakers to add advanced technology in their new vehicles, a new J-D Power and Associates study shows much of that technology going unused.
The study surveyed 42-hundred new vehicle owners and lessees. It found that just one of five owners has never used half of the 33 technology features in their new vehicles,
Those include safety devices to seamless connectivity of smartphones and iPods to semi-autonomous driving with sensors and controllers in driver-assist technologies that steer, brake and accelerate to
avoid a collision if the driver fails to act. Other services going unused include mobile routers, automatic parking systems, head-up displays and built-in apps.
The owners say, in many cases, they failed to find the features useful, and opted instead to use their smartphone or tablet since it was more familiar to them and more accurate.
The study found millennials are the most resistant, with one in five accepting 23 new high tech features in their vehicle, most related to entertainment and connectivity systems.


(Ford Ranger Return)
The Ford Ranger could be making a comeback, and the renewed production of the compact pickup could be headed to Michigan.
The automaker won't comment on a report in "The Detroit News" that the Ranger could return to production at the Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne later this decade.
The report stems from promises by Ford not to close the Wayne, Michigan facility and build "unidentified products" there. That followed an announcement to move production of the Focus compact and electric cars, C-Max hybrid and C-Max Energi plug-in hybrid from that plant, which currently employs 45-hundred workers, to Mexico in 2018.
Ford ended production of the Ranger because of low-volume sales, opting for changes in the F-150 full-size pickup, but a resurgence in the small pickup segment could change that.
The renewed interest is also fueled by General Motors' decision to enter the market again with the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon. Toyota also is launching the next generation of its Tacoma, which has dominated the segment since Ford pulled out.
The Nissan Frontier also competes in the segment.


(Wed-Lottery)
There were no jackpot winners in Wednesday's Powerball game meaning Saturday's jackpot has risen to $110 million. The Powerball numbers from last night: 02, 22, 32, 45, 56. The Powerball number was 12. Multiplier: 5X
There was no winner in Wednesday's Classic Lotto 47 increasing Saturday's jackpot to $1,900,000.
The numbers drawn Wednesday were: 02, 07, 26, 34, 41, 43.
The winning numbers for the Midday 3 lottery were: 8, 9, 4.
The winning numbers for the Midday 4 lottery were: 6, 2, 5, 5.
The winning numbers for the Evening 3 lottery were: 8, 0, 0.
The winning numbers for the Evening 4 lottery were: 9, 9, 6, 9.
The winning numbers for the Fantasy 5 lottery were: 06, 08, 22, 29, 35.
The winning numbers for the Keno lottery were: 01, 05, 07, 09, 16, 18, 19, 23, 29, 32, 35, 36, 39, 40, 41, 44, 46, 49, 61, 64, 65, 71.

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