Friday Morning State News Summary
Fri, 07 Dec 2012 01:12:07 EST
Over angry and noisy protests from labor and other groups gathering at the
Capitol Thursday, the Michigan House of Representatives and then the Senate
approved controversial "right to work" legislation, which prohibits labor
contracts from requiring workers to be a member of a union or to pay any fees to
The Senate approved similar legislation, although approval of a final version
won't happen until next week, according to Ari Adler, spokesperson for House
Speaker Jase Bolger.
Governor Rick Snyder, who earlier said this issue was not on his agenda, now
supports the bill fully, and promises to sign it into law if and when it gets to
Labor unons and most Democrats say the legislation is an attack on workers and
nothing else. Republican sponsors disagree, saying it will restore workplace
fairness and equality, and it does not prohibit labor unions from seeking
Hundreds of angry protestors demonstrated both inside and outside the State
Capitol on Thursday to voice their anger over legislation to enact a
right-to-work law in Michigan.
Eight protestors were maced by State Police troopers as they attempted to rush
the Senate chamber on the second floor of the building.
The protesters were arrested for disobeying lawful command.
New Emergency Manager legislation advanced to the State House floor after
getting approval 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It replaces Public Act 4 of 2011 that was repealed by voters last month.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.
Attorney General Bill Schuette has voiced his opposition to legislation
governing the proposed conversion of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan due to
concerns regarding potential negative impacts on hundreds of thousands of
Michigan seniors who rely upon Blue Cross for Medigap coverage.
The bills approved by both chambers of the state legislature and sent to the
Governor would permit the conversion of the Blues from a charitable health care
corporation to a non-profit mutual insurance company.
Schuette claims the changes to address the impact on Michigan seniors who rely
upon Medigap coverage were not strong enough.
More than 200,000 Michigan seniors currently rely upon the Bluess medigap
The Attorney General says once the five-year Medigap rate freeze expires in
August 2016, the seniors it protects could face what Schuette has called a
senior cliff: an immediate, 66% rate increase for seniors covered by the Blues
Schuette says future rate increases to Medigap plans offered through the Blues
will not be subject to Attorney General oversight and the legislation permits
the Blues to halt its Medigap policies altogether in 2016.
State Representative Roy Schmidt may have created a furor over his switch to the
Republican party earlier this year, but he won't be dealing with any campaign
finance law violation charges.
A Secretary of State review of the evidence came up lacking on assertions by
Kent County Prosecutor William Forsyth that Schmidt may have violated the
Michigan Campaign Finance Act by transferring money from his campaign account to
pay a family friend to file as a fake Democrat in the 76th House District that
includes Grand Rapids.
According to a letter from the Secretary of State's Bureau of Elections to
Schmidt's attorney, the dismissal of this complaint must not be misconstrued as
condoning Schmidt's actions. It says had the Department discovered evidence
establishing that Matt Mojzak actually received money from Schmidt's candidate
committee as an inducement to run for office, it would have pursued enforcement.
Schmidt will not be returning to the state House anyway after losing to
Democratic challenger Winnie Brinks in the November 6th election. He made a
humble and public apology in the House on Thursday, saying his political party
switch in May was his fault.
(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
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.
(MI-Commercial Seat Belt Use)
A new study shows the use of seat belts by drivers of commercial vehicles in
Michigan has jumped to nearly 85 percent.
According to the survey conducted by the Wayne State University Transportation
Research Group, commercial vehicle driver seat belt use in the state has risen
to 84.9 percent, up from 73.6 percent in 2006, the last time a study was
conducted for this group of vehicles.
The survey was funded by the Michigan Truck Safety Commission and the Federal
Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
A similar study conducted by Wayne State researchers determined Michigans
passenger vehicle belt use rate is 93.6 percent.
The survey found that as age increases, the tendency for drivers and passengers
to use seat belts increases from 83 percent for ages under 29 to 86.4 percent
for drivers and passengers over age 60.
Drivers and passengers of tractor-trailer type trucks had an 87.7 percent seat
belt usage rate compared to 81 percent for those in smaller single unit trucks.
According to researchers, this is expected since drivers or passengers of
smaller trucks may be getting in and out of their vehicles several times
throughout their shift as compared with long-haul tractor-trailer type trucks.
(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
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
A final pretrial date has been set for February 28th.
(Grand Rapids-Marijuana Lawsuit Protest)
Dozens of demonstrators gathered 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 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
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.
(Marquette-Red Wings U.P. Game)
One of the most famous hockey games in Upper Peninsula history is being turned
into a movie.
Canadian sports television network T-S-N has a crew in Marquette working on a
documentary about a visit by the Detroit Red Wings in February of 1954.
The Wings faced a team of inmates from the Marquette State Prison in the first
outdoor hockey match ever played by an Natiuonal Hockey League team. The Red
Wings also played an indoor exhibition against the semi-pro Marquette Sentinels.
The TV crew interviewed former Sentinel Bucky ONeill about the game, and has
also talked with Ted Lindsay, who was Detroits captain in 1954. None of the
prisoners who played in the game are still alive.
T-S-N hopes to have the film ready to show on or around New Years Day in place
of this years N-H-L Winter Classic, which has been canceled because of the
ongoing labor dispute.
The Red Wings were supposed to play the Toronto Maple Leafs in the game at
University of Michigan stadium in Ann Arbor.
(Rick Allen, WCCY/WOLV, Houghton)
Tonight's (Fri) Mega Millions jackpot is worth $20 (m) million dollars.
The winning numbers for the midday 3 lottery on thursday were: 5-1-7.
The winning numbers for the midday 4 lottery were: 7-7-7-1.
The winning numbers for the evening 3 lottery were: 0-9-8.
The winning numbers for the evening 4 lottery were: 9-3-7-8.
The winning numbers for the Fantasy 5 lottery were: 04-19-30-32-34.
The winning numbers for the Keno lottery were: 02, 06, 10, 12, 13, 18, 23, 30,
32, 39, 42, 43, 47, 48, 54, 59, 66, 71, 73, 77, 78, 79.
Saturday's Classic Lotto jackpot is projected to be one-point-nine-five (m)