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michiganmarriagechallenge.com

(Detroit)-A University of Texas professor will face a vigorous cross-examination in the trial over Michigan's gay-marriage ban.  Mark Regnerus is returning to the witness chair this morning in Detroit federal court. He testified Monday for the state of Michigan. Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette  is defending a 2004 constitutional amendment that recognizes marriage as only between a man and a woman. 

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Michigan lawmakers are looking to remove the terms "mental retardation" and "mentally retarded" from state law.  The legislation in Lansing incorporates some recent recommendations from a mental health commission appointed by Gov. Rick Snyder. 

Michigan Public Radio Network

The state's defense of Michigan's same-sex marriage ban got off to a rocky start Monday.

Federal Judge Bernard Friedman tossed out the state's first witness in the case. He said Yale law student Sherif Girgis did not qualify as an expert witness. The plaintiffs' attorneys pointed to the fact that Girgis is still a student, and said he would only be expressing his opinion on gay marriage - not actual evidence. 

michiganmarriagechallenge.com

The final witness for two women challenging Michigan's gay-marriage ban is a Harvard University professor who has written a history of marriage in the U.S.

senatorhowardwalker.com

The list of Michigan school districts that have budget deficits is shrinking, and the list of districts that are getting in the black is growing. That according to the state Department of Education.  There are 46 districts on the deficit list today, compared to 50 at the end of last year.

And that was good news to state Senator Howard Walker (R-Traverse City), who chairs the Senate K-through-12 budget subcommittee. 

Jake Neher

Governor Rick Snyder says the state could do a better job protecting foster children if it changed the way it paid for the service.  The governor unveiled a report Thursday that says the state should pay foster care agencies based on their performance. Right now, those agencies all get paid the same regardless of their track records or the needs of individual foster children.  "Let's focus on what's best for the child," said Snyder. "And the child shouldn't have to think about, worry about, or be concerned about who's bringing those services. They just want the outcomes.

In the three years Republican Rep. David Camp has wielded the gavel of the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee, overhauling the tax code has been his abiding ambition.

The last revamping of the tax code was 28 years ago, and facing the prospect of having to relinquish that gavel at the end of this year, Camp declared today the time has come to start the debate on a new tax code overhaul.

One day last year, an engineer and I went to a pizza place for lunch. The engineer told me he wasn't very hungry, but he said he was going to get the 12-inch medium instead of the 8-inch small — because the medium was more than twice as big as the small, and it cost only a little bit more. This sort of blew my mind.

Wikipedia Media Commons

Bills would make sure local government budgets don't get slashed with tax repeal
By Jake Neher
 

Michigan lawmakers want to make sure local governments do not take a hit if voters decide to repeal an unpopular tax on business equipment.

State officials are urging voters to repeal the tax. They say it is outdated and kills jobs. But local governments depend on that tax to provide basic services to residents.

One of the few remaining gray wolves of Isle Royale National Park has been found dead after escaping to the mainland across a Lake Superior ice bridge, a scientist said Tuesday.

michiganmarriagechallenge.com

The State of Michigan’s highly anticipated gay marriage trial began Tuesday in Detroit, where a Federal judge will hear the pros and cons of raising children in same-sex families and rule on the definition of marriage in Michigan. 

Michigan Department of Natural Resources

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - The Michigan Department of Natural Resources says its license sales system will be offline for parts of Tuesday and Friday so it can be updated.  You won't be able to buy licenses online or in stores during those times. 

Gay Marriage Opposition Speaks Out in Detroit

Feb 24, 2014
Michigan Public Radio Network

Pastors rally in opposition to gay marriage ahead of federal court case in Detroit
By Jake Neher

A federal judge will hear arguments this week over whether Michigan's ban on same-sex marriage is constitutional.  The trial begins Tuesday in Detroit.

Ahead of the arguments, dozens of Michigan pastors rallied in support of the ban Monday in Detroit.

"We're not standing here against anybody. We're standing here for the biblical principle and foundation of marriage," said Ellis L. Smith, founder of Jubilee City Church in Detroit.

WASHINGTON (AP) - A person familiar with his plans says Rep. John Dingell of Michigan, the longest-serving congressman in U.S. history, will announce his retirement later today.  The 87-year-old Dingell was first elected in 1955, filling the House seat vacated by his late father. The person was not authorized to speak publicly ahead of Dingell's announcement.  He became the longest-serving member of Congress last year.  His plans were first reported by The Detroit News and The Detroit Free Press.

Lansing Seeks Long-Term Medicaid Funding Fix

Feb 21, 2014

State lawmakers look to patch Medicaid shortfall, say long-term solution criticalBy Jake Neher Michigan's Medicaid program faces a budget shortfall this year of more than $100 million dollars. That's because a new tax on health insurance claims is not producing as much revenue as state officials expected. This week, the state Senate passed a mid-year budget bill that would patch that hole in the Medicaid budget.

The city of Detroit filed a so-called exit plan with a federal bankruptcy court on Friday. The plan, intended to resolve the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history, would free up cash and allow the city to resume providing some basic services to citizens of Detroit.

The Detroit Free Press reports that the plan proposes paying retired city workers and retired policemen and firemen less money for their pension.

University of Michigan

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) - The federal government has awarded an $8.5 million, five-year contract to the University of Michigan's Kidney Epidemiology and Cost Center to coordinate the United States Renal Data System.  The national data system collects, analyzes and distributes information about patients with chronic kidney disease.   

The university announced the contract Thursday, saying that about 13 percent of Americans have chronic kidney disease. It says that each year, 100,000 Americans develop end-stage kidney disease that requires dialysis or a kidney transplant.

GOP lawmakers try to revive no-fault overhaul

Feb 20, 2014
Michigan Public Radio Network

At the state Capitol, House Speaker Jase Bolger (R-Marshall) says he still hopes to get an overhaul of Michigan's no-fault auto insurance law through the Legislature this year.  He rolled out a new plan to end Michigan's unlimited lifetime medical benefits coupled with the promise of a rate reduction. 


The state Senate has approved a plan to fix and maintain roads being ripped apart by brutal winter weather. The Senate passed a mid-year budget bill Thursday that includes $100 million of emergency money for roads.


Milliken joins effort to win parole hearings for juvenile lifersBy Rick Pluta Former Michigan Governor William Milliken says more than 350 prison inmates sentenced to life without parole as juveniles deserve a chance at freedom. Milliken - along with more than 100 law school deans and retired judges and prosecutors -- filed a brief today with the state Supreme Court. The Michigan Supreme Court holds oral arguments in the case next month. The court will decide whether a US Supreme Court decision that struck down automatic life without parole for juveniles applies retroactively - or only to current and future cases. The Milliken brief says justice demands that the decision should apply regardless of when a juvenile was sentenced.  It says juveniles sentenced before the decision have the same protections against cruel and unusual punishment as teens sentenced today. It also says Michigan's indigent defense system is particularly unfair to juveniles.   Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette says families of murder victims deserve to know the rules will not be changed in their cases.  Michigan's adult-time-for-adult-crimes law was signed 18 years ago by Governor John Engler. William Milliken served as governor from 1969 to 1983.  

Carlos Osorio / AP

DETROIT (AP) - The office Detroit's state-appointed emergency manager Kevyn Orr says the blueprint for the city's restructuring through and after bankruptcy is expected to be filed Friday in federal court.       Bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes had set a March 1 deadline for the long-awaited plan of adjustment. The plan will spell out how individual creditors will be treated as Orr reduces the city's $18 billion debt.       Spokesman Bill Nowling says Orr's office plans to file the plan with the court Friday.

Michigan Senate

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - The Michigan Senate has voted to spend more for winter road maintenance and to adjust the budget to account for a delay in the expansion of Medicaid. The legislation includes $100 million to fix potholes and help governments with higher-than-usual salting and snow plowing bills. Expanding Medicaid to more low-income adults was supposed to occur in January before senators delayed  it until April.  

Brian Jackson

DETROIT (AP) - The Nation of Islam is returning to the place it started for its annual four-day convention.

 The Chicago-based movement kicks off Saviours' Day today at Cobo center in Detroit. Organizers say it will feature workshops, spiritual renewal, fellowship and networking.

EAA no longer Only Option for Struggling Schools

Feb 19, 2014

State ends contract with the Education Achievement AuthorityBy Jake Neher This time next year, the Education Achievement Authority will no longer be the only entity that can take over failing schools in Michigan.  State Superintendent Mike Flanagan has notified the EAA that the state is ending its exclusive contract with the authority.

Lawmakers Consider Emergency Road Funding

Feb 18, 2014

Emergency road funding could be coming after nasty winterBy Jake Neher  A monster pothole season is upon us - and state lawmakers say they want to help.  A state Senate panel on Tuesday added $100 million for road repairs and maintenance to a mid-year budget bill to help communities fix potholes and plow roads. Lawmakers say local governments need the help to offset the costs of constant snow removal and efforts to fix potholes caused by the nasty winter weather. "That warming and freezing will add to the problems that our counties, our villages, and townships, and state ha

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