Michigan

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Governor Gretchen Whitmer and state lawmakers have 26 billion dollars to work with to draw up the next state budget. That number is two billion dollars more than initially anticipated as the state dealt with the impact of COVID-19 on the economy.

State Treasurer Rachel Eubanks says the economy is rebounding as more people get vaccinated, people are spending money, and the state budget’s getting a boost from federal COVID-19 recovery funds.

“I’m delighted to say we’re in a much better place today than we were a year ago.”

"Computer Code Fabric"
colleengreene / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Michigan students could learn computer coding rather than a foreign language under a bill that has passed the state House. Students currently need two credits of world language to graduate high school. In an effort to expand technological literacy in Michigan, the bill's sponsor said before the vote Tuesday that he hopes the expansion of the requirement will help students in the workforce and also still succeed at academics if they struggle with language studies. Opponents say students need both computer and tech skills and foreign language skills.

President Joe Biden stops to talk to the media as he drives a Ford F-150 Lightning truck at Ford Dearborn Development Center photo
Evan Vucci / Associated Press

Joe Biden is back behind the wheel. And now he’s gone, bolting down the track.

The self-described “car guy” took a spin in the new Ford F-150 Lightning truck during a visit to a Ford safety testing center Tuesday as part of a trip to Michigan to sell his $2 trillion infrastructure plan. The automaker showed off its new electric truck to coincide with Biden’s tour of Ford’s Rouge Electric Vehicle Center in Dearborn, where the truck will be produced.

Unemployment benefits form
Wikimedia Commons

Michigan will reinstate a requirement that people receiving unemployment benefits show they are actively searching for work, effective May 30, but it has no plan to end a $300 weekly federal supplement currently received by 816,000 jobless residents. All seven of Michigan's Republican U.S. House members have urged Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to halt the extra payment. It’s in addition to the maximum state benefits of $362 per week.

James E. White portrait
Michigan.gov

The chairman of Michigan’s Civil Rights Commission is leaving the post to become Detroit’s interim police chief, the city’s mayor announced Monday.

James White, 53. left the Detroit Police Department in August to take the civil rights post. He was named the department’s interim chief by Mayor Mike Duggan. He will assume the post on June 1, the date Chief James Craig announced last week he will retire.

“I’m humbled,” the Detroit native said during a news conference. “If this city can take a chance on me, I can take a chance on the city.”

Edenville Dam photo
Katy Kildee/Midland Daily News / Associated Press

A lawsuit that accuses the state of Michigan of failing to regulate and enforce safety regulations on a dam that failed, causing an estimated $200 million in damages and destroying 2,500 structures, may not be resolved soon, an attorney representing nearly 300 clients said Monday.

Attorney Ven Johnson joined affected residents for an update on litigation over the Edenville Dam in Midland County days before the one-year anniversary of its failure. The Edenville dam’s failure caused another dam to fail just two hours later, and damage was widespread.

Michigan Capitol Building photo
Michigan Senate / www.senate.michigan.gov

Business leaders on Monday protested House-passed cuts in funding to the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor and Wayne State University, saying the research schools are key to the state’s economic competitiveness.

The Republican-controlled House last week approved a higher education plan that would keep overall operations aid at roughly $1.5 billion but revise how it is split among 15 state universities.

Novel coronavirus graphic
PBS

A records review has added 91 previous deaths to Michigan’s COVID-19 pandemic total, state health officials said Saturday.

The state Department of Health and Human Services also reported 16 new coronavirus deaths, pushing the statewide toll to 18,607.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer, April 12, 2021 photo
Lon Horwedel/Detroit News / Associated Press

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s private round trip to Florida to see her ailing father was paid for from a fund that’s used for travel not covered by tax dollars, her chief of staff said Friday.

The cost was $27,521, with Whitmer personally paying $855 of that amount, according to the Michigan Transition 2019 website, which lists donations and expenses. The nonprofit was initially formed for inauguration events. The lack of details has dogged Whitmer since the March trip was revealed in April.

Michigan Department of Health and Human Services logo
michiganhhs / michiganhhs

People in Michigan who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 don’t need to wear a mask any longer, and people who aren’t vaccinated don’t have to wear one outdoors, officials said Friday, also declaring that the state’s indoor mask requirement will expire in July.

The announcement from Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and the state health department came a day after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention eased mask-wearing guidance for fully vaccinated people.

Michigan’s revised order will take effect at 9 a.m. Saturday.

Michigan Department of Health and Human Services logo
michiganhhs / michiganhhs

A state Senate committee has issued a subpoena to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services for documents related to its COVID-19 response.

Specifically, the Senate Oversight Committee wants documents dealing with the management of COVID-19 outbreaks in nursing homes and other congregate care facilities.

Senator Ed McBroom (R-Vulcan) is the committee chair. McBroom said he’s frustrated with foot-dragging to get documents he requested two month ago.

Republican election challenger photo
Associated Press

A Michigan Republican known for challenging the results of the 2020 presidential election has turned his attention to those who fact-check the claims of public officials.

State Rep. Matt Maddock this week introduced the “Fact Checker Registration Act,” which would force journalists and others who perform fact checks to register with the state and insure themselves with a $1 million fidelity bond. His legislation also would fine fact checkers $1,000 every day they don’t register.

$20 dollar bills photo
Creative Commons

Michigan Republicans’ lame-duck maneuver to weaken voter-proposed minimum wage and paid sick leave laws was unconstitutional, organizers of the ballot initiatives said in lawsuit filed Tuesday.

The complaint came more than 16 months after the state Supreme Court declined to issue a rare advisory opinion on the legality of the move, which could have prevented a lengthy court fight.

Michigan Capitol Building photo
Michigan Senate / www.senate.michigan.gov

Republicans who control Michigan's Senate have begun approving a $66.4 billion budget that would spend 5% more than in the current year - thanks to an influx of federal funding - but about $728 million less than what is proposed by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. Democrats voted against bills, showing a legislative deal with the Democratic governor remained weeks or months away. Legislators are required to pass spending bills by July 1, though the fiscal year will not start until Oct. 1.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer, April 12, 2021 photo
Lon Horwedel/Detroit News / Associated Press

Michigan on Monday surpassed a 55% COVID-19 vaccination rate, reaching a milestone that will lead to the automatic easing of in-person work restrictions in two weeks.

Employers currently must prohibit onsite work if employees’ jobs can feasibly be done remotely. The state anticipates lifting the rule on May 24, said COVID-19 workplace safety director Sean Egan.

The 55% benchmark is the first of four under a plan outlined by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer less than two weeks ago.

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