Thursday Afternoon State News Summary
Thu, 06 Dec 2012 12:20:04 EST
Snyder and Republican legislative leaders today rolled out their plans for the controversial legislation at a press roundtable held inside a Romney Building swarmed by union protestors.
The Governor says Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville and House Speaker Jase Bolger today will pursue right to work for both public and private workers and he will sign both pieces of legislation.
Snyder described the concept as being one of fairness and equality, and called Right To Work "pro-worker." Addressing why it is being addressed now after not being on his agenda since taking office, the Governor said he felt there were other issues of importance to tackle first.
He added that the unions put the issue on the agenda with Proposal 2 and that since Indiana is seeing economic success with its new Right to Work policy, it's time for Michigan to follow suit to stay competitive.
At least eight people protesting against the move to enact a right-to-work law in Michigan have been arrested in the state Capitol.
Reports say the protestors were arrested and maced by State Police troopers as they attempted to rush the Senate chamber on the second floor of the state Capitol.
Those individuals were apparently detained.
(MI-Capitol Building Closed)
The State Capitol Building is closed over safety concerns and apparently a lawsuit has been filed to force the building opened back up.
Michigan State Police Inspector Gene Adamczyk says that protesters are getting a little unruly and the building can only hold so many people.
The protestors are voicing their opposition to Right to Work legislation.
Adamczyk says while the building isn't yet over capacity, there is concern that the bulk of people are in one area.
As soon as the State Police believe it is safe to let people in again, the building will be reopened.
Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer has made a motion on the floor of the Senate to recess pending a lawsuit Democrats filed to force the building open but it was rejected by Republicans.
New Emergency Manager legislation advanced to the State House floor after getting approval today (Thursday) by the Local, Intergovernmental and Regional Affairs Committee on a 9-5 partyline vote.
Under the plan, struggling local governments would have four options to get out of financial distress: emergency management; a consent agreement; mediation; or Chapter 9 bankruptcy.
The legislation was substituted into a bill which passed the Senate last year. It replaces Public Act 4 of 2011 that was repealed by voters last month.
The Senate has concurred with House changes to legislation that would change the governance of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan allowing the state's largest health insurer to transform into a nonprofit mutual insurance company.
The bills moved on largely party-line votes, with a few Republicans joining Democrats in opposing the bills.
In making the change, the upper chamber required that Blue Cross packages make abortion coverage opt-in rather than opt-out. In addition, $120 million is now slotted to subsidize Medigap coverage, and the bills also feature a complete ban on most favored nation clauses starting in 2014.
The bills now go to Governor Rick Snyder for his signature. Snyder proposed the legislation this fall to help the Blues deal with changes under the federal Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare.
Fire investigators say a space heater may be to blame for a deadly fire at a mobile home park in Taylor near Detroit.
The fire broke out around 3:30 a.m. this morning (Thursday) at a home in the Robbinwood Trailer Park. Taylor Fire Chief Robert Tompos said the fire started in one home, but spread to others.
The fire was contained, but not before three homes were damaged.
Officials say a 73-year-old woman from Alabama, who was in town visiting family for the holidays, was killed in the fire. Her name and hometown werent immediately released. One other person was injured.
Tompos said based initial information they are pretty sure the cause of the fire is a space heater.
(MI-Meningitis Outbreak Cases)
The number of cases in Michigan continues to rise as a result of the national meningitis outbreak stemming from tainted steroid injections for neck or back pain.
The Michigan Department of Community Health says there are now 208 total cases in the state. 64 cases of meningitis including ten deaths, 128 epidural abscess, one stroke and 14 joint infections.
Health officials say three southwestern Michigan residents who died are being counted as Indiana cases since that's where their treatment occurred.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says nationwide there are 541 cases in 19 states and 36 deaths.
The tainted steroids came from a Massachusetts pharmaceutical company that is now the subject of congressional investigations.
(Battle Creek-Body Found)
A man was found dead in the driveway of a home in Battle Creek early this morning (Thursday).
Police say they found the victim dead when they responded to reports of gunfire at around 1:40 a.m. Police have not yet identified the man who was killed, describing him only as a white male.
Anyone with information is asked to call Battle Creek Police or Silent Observer.
(WBCK, Battle Creek)
(Oakland Co-Grandmother Trial)
An Oakland County judge has tentatively ordered a trial for the 74-year-old woman accused of killing her 17-year-old grandson in May.
Sandra Layne is scheduled to be tried on March 4th. Her attorney says he is waiting for evidence in the case and says his client's health is "deteriorating."
Layne allegedly shot Jonathan Hoffman multiple times after the two had argued. She told police she feared the boy who had been in trouble with the law over drug issues.
A final pretrial date has been set for February 28th.
(Detroit-Wrong Way Fatal)
Michigan State Police say a man who was driving the wrong direction on I-96 in Detroit collided head-on with another vehicle, instantly killing the other driver.
Investigators say the accident happened around 12:30 a.m. this morning (Thursday) on westbound I-96 near the Southfield Freeway. Witnesses told police they saw a vehicle traveling eastbound in the westbound lanes shortly before the collision.
The wrong-way driver was taken to Sinai Grace Hospital where he was last reported in critical condition. The other driver, whose name has not been released pending notification of family members, was pronounced dead at the scene.
Alcohol is believed to have been a factor in the crash. An investigation is ongoing.
(St. Clair Co-Murder Verdict)
A Detroit man has been convicted in the shooting death of another man in Port Huron last summer.
A Saint Clair County Circuit Court jury on Wednesday found 34-year-old Cidney Ingram guilty of first-degree premeditated murder and felony firearms.
23-year old Jason Williams was found shot to death outside the Village Manor Townhomes on Port Huron's south side June 15th.
Ingram will be sentenced on January 17th. He faces mandatory life in prison without parole.
A co-defendent, 28-year old John Little, also of Detroit, pled guilty to tampering with evidence, as well as accessory after the fact to murder. He's set for sentencing on January 7th.
(WPHM, Port Huron)
(Grand Rapids-Marijuana Lawsuit Protest)
Dozens of demonstrators gathered this (Thursday) afternoon outside the office of Kent County Prosecuting Attorney William Forsyth to protest his lawsuit challenging a measure decriminalizing marijuana in Grand Rapids.
The city would have implemented the voter-approved charter amendment today making the possession and use of small amounts of marijuana civil infractions, rather than criminal offenses.
However, Forsyth's lawsuit filed earlier this month resulted in a temporary restraining order from the Kent County Circuit Court, blocking the amendment's implementation until a judge rules.
A preliminary injunction hearing is scheduled for January 9.
(WOOD, Grand Rapids)
The Lake Michigan car ferry S.S. Badger suffered a defeat today (Thursday) when the U.S. House passed a Coast Guard reauthorization bill taking away language requiring the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to allow the Badger to keep operating.
An identical bill passed earlier in the U.S. Senate and now goes to President Obama for his signature.
The Badger is the last coal burning steamship on the Great Lakes and dumps coal and ash into Lake Michigan during trips between its home port of Ludington and Manitowoc, Wisconson.
The vessel is currently authorized to operate under the 2008 vessel general permit until December 19th.
Company officials say they are still confident the Badger will be making the trek across Lake Michigan in 2013.
(Holland-Power Plant Approved)
Construction could be underway by the end of next year on a 182-million dollar natural gas power plant in Holland.
The City Council in the West Michigan community voted to build the facility last night (Wednesday), though they have not decided where it will be built.
The Holland Board of Public Works currently operates a coal-fired DeYoung Power Plant, which has been in operation for over 60 years and would be replaced by the 114-megawatt natural gas plant. Some boilers at the current facility would eventually switch over to natural gas power, while others would be gradually decommissioned.
Environmentalists are opposed to the natural gas option due to concerns over fracking, and claim that the city and the utility havent fully considered renewable energy alternatives.
City officials hope to have the new plant online and generating power by the end of 2016.
(Help from: Metro Source)
(Norton Shores-Standoff Suspect Dies)
Police are confirming that the gunman who turned the weapon on himself during a Muskegon County standoff with authorities has died of his injuries.
Norton Shores Police Lieutenant Jon Gale says 51-year old Charles Byer died early Wednesday morning. He had been in intensive care at Mercy Health Partners, Hackley Hospital since being admitted Tuesday after shooting himself, ending the standoff with police.
Norton Shores officers were called by family members who expressed concern for Byer's well-being and wanted officers to check his home. Byer was spotted near the house carrying a handgun as police arrived.
The Muskegon County Emergency Response Team was summoned to the scene and began negotiations after Byer refused to drop his weapon. The two and a half hour impasse ended when Byer turned the handgun on himself while sitting near a shed on the property.
Byer was a registered sex offender who, according to police, had missed scheduled appointments with his probation officer.
(Walt Zerlaut, WGHN, Grand Haven)