Rick Pluta

LANSING, MI (MPRN)--   The Michigan Senate adopted a bill Tuesday that would allow many local governments to prepare absentee ballots to be opened and processed the evening before Election Day.

Local clerks say that could shave hours off the process of tallying the ballots.

It’s an election where more absentee votes than ever will be cast – and with fewer poll workers to help count them.

Ottawa County Clerk Justin Roebuck said that creates a problem. Every vote needs to be counted, but people get suspicious if the counting drags out. 

LANSING, MI (MPRN)--   State budget director Chris Kolb and the Legislature’s Republican leaders say they’ve reached a preliminary budget deal.

A joint statement from Kolb, House Appropriations Chair Shane Hernandez and Senate budget Chair Jim Stamas says the agreement includes no funding cuts to K-12 schools nor to revenue sharing payments to local governments.

The statement does not say where there will be cuts. But cuts will be necessary because revenue has dropped during the COVID-19 crisis.

LANSING, MI (MPRN)--   Governor Gretchen Whitmer is blasting the Trump administration’s refusal to allow an additional Affordable Care Act enrollment period. It would be for people who’ve lost other insurance coverage during the COVID-19 crisis.

Whitmer and 11 other governors – all Democrats -- sent a letter to the US Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services seeking a special enrollment period of at least 30 days. The request was denied, as was a request to reconsider.

In a letter dated Sept. 1, CMMS Director Seema Verma wrote to Whitmer:

LANSING, MI (MPRN)--   Michigan’s Republicans and Democrats finalized their November tickets this past weekend with party conventions.

There was no roar of the crowds as the nominations, speeches and voting all took place online due to COVID-19. The conventions chose their candidates for the Michigan Supreme Court, three public university boards, and the Michigan State Board of Education.

It was also an opportunity for two parties to fire up the voters and volunteers in the final weeks leading up to the elections.

LANSING, MI (MPRN)--   Governor Gretchen Whitmer has set a goal of getting an additional one million people in Michigan to get a flu shot compared to last year.

Whitmer said Tuesday she and state health officials set the goal because the flu poses an additional risk this year. That’s because health clinics and hospitals could be overwhelmed if there’s a spike in COVID-19 cases during flu season.

LANSING, MI (MPRN)--   Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed an executive directive that declares racism a public health crisis in Michigan. 

The directive says systemic racism has led to higher COVID-19 infection rates in communities of color, as well as higher rates of infant mortality, asthma, and lead poisoning. It says racism has also affected the availability of safe and affordable housing, healthy food options, jobs, and transportation.

“And this reflects long-standing, deep, societal, economic and environmental disparities,” said Whitmer as she announced the directive.

LANSING, MI (MPRN)--   The state House and state Senate have canceled plans for in-person meetings this week in Lansing. 

That’s after a Republican lawmaker tested positive for COVID-19. Senator Tom Barrett (R-Charlotte) said he’s not experiencing significant symptoms, but is self-isolating.

“I have done my best to make contact with those I have been around in the past couple of weeks so that they may also seek medical advice,” Barrett said in a written statement. “I look forward to resuming my work schedule as quickly as possible.”

LANSING, MI (MPRN)--   Governor Gretchen Whitmer says she’s aware there’s a growing urgency to making back-to-school plans. But she says it’s still too early to make final decisions on a return to in-school learning. Whitmer said those decisions will depend on the rates of COVID-19 deaths and infections in different parts of the state.

LANSING, MI (MPRN)--   A liberal activist group says it will continue to seek emails from the office of former Attorney General Bill Schuette. That’s after Progress Michigan won a case before the Michigan Supreme Court. 

Progress Michigan says the communications could show conflicts of interest and Schuette aides using public resources for political purposes.

Lonnie Scott of Progress Michigan says some of the requests date back to 2016.

LANSING, MI (MPRN)--   Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed a directive Thursday to include training in how to recognize and guard against implicit bias for health care professionals.

The directive will require implicit bias training as a condition for health care professionals to be licensed or re-licensed to practice in Michigan.

Governor Whitmer said the problem is not new, but she said statistics that show differences in rates of coronavirus infections and deaths are stark proof that it exists.