Michigan Public Radio Network

MT. PLEASANT, MI (MPRN)--   Attorney General Dana Nessel is seeking legal experts to advise the state on pursuing legal action on opioids and on PFAS chemicals that are being found in water around Michigan. 

In a statement Nessel said that “manufactured chemicals -- both opioids and PFAS -- are having a devastating effect on our residents.”

Kelly Rossman-McKinney is a spokesperson for the Attorney General. She says they are looking for experts to aid with investigations and possible legal action.

Farmers suffering under tariffs against China, lawmaker says

May 13, 2019

DETROIT, MI (MPRN)--   Some Michigan members of the U.S. Senate say they fear the Trump administration’s increased tariffs on Chinese imports will hit U.S. farmers especially hard. 

Democratic lawmakers say farmers will face higher prices at a time when they can least afford it.

President Trump is imposing 25 percent tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods.    He says China is reneging on agreements it had already committed to.

China vows to retaliate.

LANSING, MI (MPRN)--   Governor Gretchen Whitmer has signed a new law that says police departments cannot keep assets seized as part of an investigation unless the owner is convicted of a crime. 

Prosecutors have used civil actions to seize assets as part of a strategy to combat drug dealing. But critics says the seizures violate due process rights.

Governor Whitmer is a former county prosecutor who says it was a solution that became a problem.

LANSING, MI (MPRN)--   Governor Gretchen Whitmer says she would veto both versions of Republican plans to overhaul the state’s auto insurance system. 

She says House and Senate plans adopted this week don’t do enough to ensure that people are charged rates based on their driving history, and not where they live.

“I’ve been very clear I’m not going to sign a bill that preserves a corrupt system where insurance companies are allowed to unfairly discriminate in setting rates.”

Whitmer says the bills also don’t guarantee permanent and immediate rate rollbacks.

LANSING, MI (MPRN)--   The state Senate Tuesday approved a bill to change the rules governing how auto insurance is sold in Michigan. 

The bill would place new caps on medical benefits for people who don’t buy additional coverage.

Critics say the Republican plan would leave drivers who would be hurt the most by high medical bills with the least protection.

Senator Adam Hollier of Detroit agrees, but was still one of only two Democrats to vote for the bill. He says his city has some of the highest insurance rates in the country, and it’s past time to do something.

MT. PLEASANT, MI (MPRN)--   A new report shows three times as many PFAS contamination sites across the country than was previously reported.

The report, from the Environmental Working Group, found roughly 610 PFAS contaminated sites across the country.

In July of 2018 the group reported 172 sites. Researchers say the new report drew from a new source - meaning the data isn’t directly comparable.

PFAS, or perfluoroalkyl substances, are a family of chemicals that have been found across the state and are linked to health problems including cancer.

LANSING, MI (MPRN)--   Controversial bills to outlaw a certain type of abortion procedure are scheduled for a state House committee hearing this week. 

The bills would ban the “dilation and evacuation” or D-and-E procedure. The bill has been moving steadily through the state House. That’s despite a likely veto by Governor Gretchen Whitmer.

Republican Senator Tom Barrett sponsored similar legislation in the state Senate. He says he’ll keep fighting for this ban despite Governor Whitmer saying she’ll veto anti-abortion bills.

INTERLOCHEN, MI (MPRN)--   American Transmission Company is replacing some electrical cables in the Straits. 

Last year they were severed and leaked coolant oil.

A state proposal would put new cables in a tunnel with the Line 5 oil pipelines.

But Alyssa Braatz with ATC says that plan is risky.

“Essentially co-locating gas and electricity in the same pipeline is a proposal that hasn’t been particularly vetted,” she says.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer has said she is open to a tunnel in the Straits.

Kamala Harris speaks in Detroit

May 6, 2019

DETROIT, MI (MPRN)--   Several Democratic presidential candidates are barnstorming through the battleground state of Michigan.  

Presidential hopeful Kamala Harris told a crowd of thousands in Detroit over the weekend Democrats need to do a better job of targeting voters of color in the Midwest.

Donald Trump turned blue states like Michigan red in 2016.

Democrats vow that won’t happen again. Some point to Joe Biden as a candidate who could win back working class voters in the Midwest.

LANSING, MI (MPRN)--   Michigan students are a signature away from getting four snow days forgiven after a brutal winter left some schools closed for weeks. The state Senate sent the bill to Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s desk Thursday. 

This comes after a dust-up between Republicans and Democrats on details of the bill. Earlier this week, Democrats prevented the bill from getting immediate effect – which would have effectively killed the bill.