State Briefs

  • Grand Haven Tribune
  • 27/10/2017
State Briefs
TRAVERSE CITY (AP) Federal regulators say Michigan should increase funding and staffing of its Department of Environmental Quality and take other steps to ensure its drinking water is safe.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency made the recommendations Thursday in a report evaluating the state's overall performance but emphasizing the situation in Flint, where residents were exposed to lead-contaminated water for at least 18 months.

The federal agency says its review found numerous deficiencies in how Michigan operates its drinking water program. Among them were inadequate electronic data management and a "notable failure" to carry out its rule on lead and copper pollution.

The report covers the period from October 2013 through September 2015, when the Flint crisis was at its height.

Michigan officials say they've already dealt with many of the problems EPA identified.

LANSING (AP) Municipalities in Michigan will be prohibited from levying local taxes on food and beverages under a bill signed into law by Gov. Rick Snyder.

The Republican governor OK'd the measure Thursday after it recently won overwhelming legislative approval.

No local governments in Michigan are considering an excise tax on sugary and artificially sweetened beverages. But business groups and others that lobbied for the law pointed to soda taxes in Philadelphia and the Chicago area as reason enough to move quickly.

New law lets state help more gas stations with leaky tank costs

LANSING (AP) Gov. Rick Snyder has signed legislation so Michigan spends more to reimburse gas station owners to clean up their leaky, environmentally risky fuel tanks.

The Republican-backed measure, which was opposed by Democrats, creates a program allowing gas station operators to be reimbursed for addressing leaks from underground petroleum tanks discovered and reported before late December 2014. They currently can be reimbursed for leaks discovered after that point.

Critics say Michigan's first responsibility is cleaning up known threats at abandoned gas stations not helping owners of sites already cleaned up. Supporters counter Michigan has surplus revenue that's accumulating more quickly than can be spent solely on orphan sites.

The law signed Thursday also lets a fund be used to reimburse local governments for costs to address contaminates spilled on roads.

LANSING (AP) A bill advancing in Michigan's Legislature would require lower auto insurance premiums for all drivers while making it optional to buy unlimited medical benefits.

The Republican-controlled House Insurance Committee approved the legislation 9-5 Thursday. It moves to the House floor, where many lawmakers have concerns with the measure.

In an effort to gain more support, legislators amended the bill Thursday to provide guaranteed rate relief to all motorists, not just those who choose the lowest level of personal injury protection $250,000. Those picking $500,000 or unlimited coverage levels would see premiums reductions, too.

Seniors could refuse PIP and have Medicare or private insurance cover their care for auto injuries.

Insurers oppose government-imposed rate rollbacks, while health providers and others want to keep intact Michigan's unique mandatory unlimited medical benefits.

Two men charged after sexual assaults of women riding bikes

DETROIT (AP) Two Detroit men face criminal sexual conduct, kidnapping, unarmed robbery and other charges in connection with three attacks on women riding bicycles.

The Wayne County Prosecutor's Office said Aaron Stewart, 22, and Quentin Flemons, 19, were arraigned Thursday in Hamtramck and Highland Park, enclaves of Detroit.

A 27-year-old Hamtramck woman told police she was pulled from her bicycle on Oct. 8, forced into a vehicle, and taken to an abandoned property where she was assaulted and robbed. Prosecutors said a 31-year-old Highland Park woman was snatched from her bike in July 2016 and forced into an alley where she was sexually assaulted and robbed.

Stewart and Flemons previously were arraigned in connection with the Sept. 30 kidnapping and sexual assault on a 24-year-old woman pulled from her bike in Detroit.
  
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