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Gongwer News Highlights, September 13, 2017

Jon Harrison

Half-Mile Liquor License Bill Prompts Debate

Liquor store owners unanimously supported a bill in committee Wednesday that would block the Liquor Control Commission from making changes in administrative rules that would eliminate the half-mile rule for the minimum distance between liquor store licensees.

Epstein Considering Run For Trott Seat

Republican Lena Epstein announced Wednesday that she was considering giving up her U.S. Senate run to seek instead to succeed U.S. Rep. David Trott.

Committee Reports Drain Bill On Split Vote

On a party-line vote the House Local Government Committee approved legislation Wednesday giving local governments greater protection from suits involving sewage backups in homes.

Former AG Mike Cox Lends Support To Online Gaming

The House Regulatory Reform Committee took up legislation to regulate and legalize online gambling through the state's casinos with former Attorney General Mike Cox making the main pitch for the bills.

Legislators Push Quick Action On Indigent Defense Standards

Legislators pushed the Indigent Defense Commission to move as quickly as possible to implement new standards for the service after an update on the commission's work Wednesday.

Senate Passes Fix For Local Mistakes On Election Deadlines Bill

The Senate passed a bill Wednesday extending the deadline to file for office for certain communities after multiple city clerks made errors involving the filing deadline for elections.

Blanchard Endorses Whitmer For Governor

Former Governor James Blanchard endorsed Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gretchen Whitmer on Wednesday, the state's 45th governor throwing his support to the woman who hopes to become its 49th.

House Panel OKs Youth Concussion Protocol Updates

Legislation exempting 17-year-old college students from a 2012 law implementing a concussion protocol for youth athletes along with other updates unanimously cleared the House Health Policy Committee on Wednesday.

Lucido Bill Requiring LARA Database On Nursing Homes Gets Hearing

Rep. Peter Lucido on Wednesday advocated his bill requiring the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs to provide a database on its website listing health facilities in the state and complaints against those facilities.

Appeals Court Orders GR To Release Police Phone Records

Grand Rapids officials improperly refused to release phone recordings to MLive newspapers that two city officers had with a superior officer after an assistant prosecutor was found to have caused an accident by driving drunk, the Court of Appeals ruled.

House Panel OKs Call For U.S. Constitutional Convention

A measure approved Wednesday by the House Government Operations Committee would petition the Congress to call a constitutional convention to discuss a balanced budget amendment for the federal government, limit the federal government's powers and establish congressional term limits.

Unicameral Legislature

The House Government Operations Committee discussed HJR R, which would move Michigan to a unicameral legislature by eliminating the Senate. Rep. Jeff Yaroch (R-Richmond), the measure's sponsor, said it would save $50 million. He said there is no compelling reason to have a bicameral legislature other than tradition, given the requirement for more than 50 years that all legislative districts be based on population.

Whiston Reiterates Support For School Choice

Superintendent of Public Instruction Brian Whiston on Wednesday backpedaled somewhat on any negative effects school choice has had on education in the state and reasserted that he supports all the methods of choice currently active in the state.  Mr. Whiston acknowledged his comment made on Michigan Public Television's "Off the Record" last week and did not accuse media of taking the comments out of context in follow-up stories. But he said his choice of words was poor in describing the effects of choice in the state.

Unemployment Rate Rises Slightly In August

Michigan's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate rose 0.2 percentage point in August to 3.9 percent as employment and the size of the labor force fell, the Department of Technology, Management and Budget reported today.

State Taxes Bring In $2B In August, Nearly Matching Expectations

Michigan's major taxes, including Lottery revenues, netted nearly $2 billion in August, a 4.3 percent increase over what the state collected in August 2016, according to figures released Wednesday by the Senate Fiscal Agency.

Building Authority Bonds

Moody's Investor Service gave an upcoming bond series for the State Building Authority a little lower grade than the state overall. The $108.86 million to be issued later this month earned an Aa2 rating.  As with the state, which has an Aa1 rating, Moody's said the outlook for the SBA bonds was stable, but could decline if the state's rating declines or if the Legislature does not appropriate funds to cover the SBA rents that cover the bond payments. It could improve it the state's rating improves.

Ambassador Bridge

The final Michigan permits for a replacement to the privately owned bridge over the Detroit River are still in process, officials with the Department of Natural Resources said.  The DNR controls Riverside Park in Detroit, which is needed for the landing area of the new bridge that was approved by Canadian authorities last week.  DNR spokesperson Ed Golder said there had not yet been a decision on allowing the Detroit International Bridge Company access to the park.

Chronic Wasting Symposium

The departments of Agriculture and Rural Development and Natural Resources announced a free two-day symposium on the state of research on Chronic Wasting Disease.  The fatal neurological disease in deer and other cervids appears to be established in deer in the Ingham County area. An earlier finding of the disease in a private deer herd in Kent County has not shown to have spread beyond the one animal there.  The symposium will feature speakers from Michigan State University as well as from institutions in states where the disease has become established.  The event is scheduled for October 3 and 4 at the Kellogg Hotel and Conference Center, Michigan State University 219 South Harrison Drive, East Lansing. Officials said seating is limited to the first 100 enrollees but the event will be live streamed. More information is posted on the state's chronic wasting disease page.

Source : Gongwer News Service : Michigan Report, Volume #56, Report 178, September 13, 2017.

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