Latest Michigan news, sports, business and entertainment at 11:20 a.m. EDT

TERM LIMITS

Term limits plan would be tied to ‘good government’ changes

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — A potential plan to ask Michigan voters to ease legislative term limits would likely be paired with “good government” changes aimed at addressing the state’s feeble transparency and accountability grades.

No proposal has been finalized. But the fact that Republican legislative leaders have privately briefed their caucuses about talks with two political heavyweights — the Voters Not Politicians ballot committee and the Michigan Chamber of Commerce — is a sign that there is serious interest.

The constitutional amendment would need Democratic votes for the GOP-led Legislature to put it on the 2020 ballot.

The measure may be tied to pending bills. Those include requiring officeholders to fill out financial disclosures, subjecting the Legislature and governor’s office to public-records requests, and instituting a waiting period for public officials to become lobbyists.

TEEN SLAIN-SENTENCE

Man sentenced to at least 31 years in Flint teen’s killing

(Information from: The Grand Rapids Press:MLive.com, http://www.mlive.com)

FLINT, Mich. (AP) — A judge has sentenced a man to at least 31 years in prison for the fatal shooting of a 16-year-old Flint boy.

Twenty-four-year-old Emilio Cortes-Lloyd was convicted last month by a Genesee County jury of second-degree murder in Shaun William LaBelle’s December 2018 killing.

MLive.com reports that a judge sentenced Cortes-Lloyd on Tuesday to serve 31 to 62 years in prison in LaBelle’s slaying.

LaBelle was fatally shot in the back outside his home and was pronounced dead at the scene.

LaBelle’s mother, Teresa Hiller, told Cortes-Lloyd during Wednesday’s sentencing hearing that he shot her son “in cold blood” and that his 11-year-old sister witnessed the killing.

Cortes-Lloyd offered his apologies to LaBelle’s family during the hearing but added, “I maintain my innocence.”

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DETROIT UNIVERSITY-FREE TUITION

School offers free tuition to Detroit high school graduates

DETROIT (AP) — Wayne State University has launched a scholarship promising free tuition to full-time, first-year students starting next fall who have graduated from a Detroit high school.

The Detroit university on Wednesday announced the Heart of Detroit Tuition Pledge, which is designed to fill the gap after financial aid to cover tuition and fees. There are no restrictions on family income.

To be eligible, students must live in the city and have graduated from any Detroit high school.

University officials say the program expands on one launched in 2017 that’s enabled roughly 2,300 students statewide to enroll with no cost for tuition and fees.

Many schools, including University of Michigan, offer free tuition to students whose families fall below a certain income threshold.

GAY COUPLES-ADOPTION

Michigan judge denies request to halt LGBT adoption ruling

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) — A federal judge has denied Michigan’s request to halt his preliminary injunction that preserved a Catholic adoption agency’s ability to refuse to place state wards with LGBT couples.

Judge Robert Jonker in Grand Rapids declined the stay Tuesday. It had been sought by state Attorney General Dana Nessel and the state Department of Health and Human Services, while the case is appealed.

Jonker says state attorneys “offered nothing new” and “failed to come to grips” with the factual basis supporting an inference that Nessel engaged in “religious targeting.” Nessel has denied having hostility toward faith-based agencies that contract with the state.

She says Michigan law allows child-placing agencies to turn away families in private cases based on their sincerely held religious beliefs, but not when they place state-supervised children.

HIGH-SPEED INTERNET

Whitmer: Nearly all K-12 districts meeting broadband goal

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer says nearly all Michigan school districts are meeting a minimum bandwidth target of internet access, and she wants to focus next on expanding broadband to 450,000 households.

Whitmer said Tuesday that 98% of K-12 districts are at the Federal Communications Commission’s goal of 100 kilobits per second (kbps) per student. She says since 2015, schools in Michigan have used $90 million in federal funding to upgrade their Wi-Fi and internal networks.

Whitmer, who helped the nonprofit EducationSuperHighway announce nationwide progress connecting classrooms to high-speed internet, says broadband access is a “huge part of our kids’ education.” She says it is important to ensure that they also can do their schoolwork at home, while online.

PROFESSOR SURVEY-RACIST COMMENTS

Professor’s survey in Michigan criticized for racist remarks

(Information from: Lansing State Journal, http://www.lansingstatejournal.com)

EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) — A survey by a Michigan State University professor to determine how people respond to derogatory online comments has sparked outrage because it included racist statements.

Saleem Alhabash, an associate professor of public relations and social media, sent his survey to select students Monday. It was posted on a Michigan State website and later removed.

The Lansing State Journal reports the survey asked students to rate statements taken directly from social media and other online sites. Several students told the newspaper that the statements targeted blacks, Asians, Muslims and the LGBTQ community.

Alhabash apologized for the survey, adding it wasn’t meant to hurt anyone.

Michigan State President Samuel Stanley said in a letter to students, faculty and staff Tuesday that “building inclusive communities is at the core of” the school’s values.

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GM STRIKE-VOTE

Workers at large GM plant in Michigan approve contract

DETROIT (AP) — Workers at one of the largest General Motors factories have voted to ratify a new contract with the company, an indication that a five-week strike could be coming to an end.

United Auto Workers Local 598 at a pickup truck plant in Flint, Michigan, approved the contract Wednesday. The local’s Facebook page says 60.9% voted in favor, while 39.1% were against. The local did not post the number of votes, but about 5,000 union members work at the plant.

Workers across the nation are voting on the new four-year deal. Voting ends Friday.

The Flint local is the second-largest in the nation, so its approval is a strong sign of passage.

Workers went on strike Sept. 16, crippling GM’s U.S. factories and costing the company an estimated $2 billion.

EARNS-FORD

Ford 3Q profit falls nearly 60% on restructuring costs

DEARBORN, Mich. (AP) — Ford Motor Co.’s third-quarter net income tumbled nearly 60% as the company booked $1.5 billion in charges mainly for restructuring, and Chinese and U.S. sales fell.

The Dearborn, Michigan, automaker knocked a half-billion dollars off its pretax earnings guidance for the full year. Ford now says it will make $6.5 billion to $7 billion.

Ford’s net income from July through September was $425 million, or 11 cents per share. But excluding restructuring charges, the company made 34 cents per share. That soundly beat Wall Street estimates that averaged 26 cents per share.

Its revenue fell 2% to $36.99 billion, partly because the company bungled the launch of the new Ford Explorer SUV. Explorer sales were down 48% for the quarter as quality problems forced Ford to hold shipments to dealers.

AP-US-UNION-AUTOS-CORRUPTION

Feds get 10th conviction in union corruption probe

DETROIT (AP) — A former union official has pleaded guilty to accepting more than $120,000 in bribes and kickbacks from contractors with business at a United Auto Workers training center.

Jeff Pietrzyk’s plea agreement calls for federal prosecutors in Detroit to seek no more than two years and three months in prison.

Pietrzyk of Grand Island, New York, pleaded guilty Tuesday to conspiracy. He’s the 10th person to be convicted in an investigation of corruption inside the UAW and the auto industry.

Pietrzyk was accused of taking payments to steer contracts to vendors for watches, jackets and backpacks for union members. He was an administrative assistant who worked closely with Joe Ashton, now retired as a UAW vice president.

The government says 58,000 watches still are in storage five years later.

CARING FOR KIN

Ohio plans to increase payments to relatives caring for kids

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio plans to increase payments to approved relatives caring for children who were taken from their parents even when the family members aren’t licensed caregivers.

The move is meant to close a gap between non-licensed relatives such as grandparents who receive a basic payment for caring for children, and relatives who become licensed and often earn hundreds of dollars more per month.

The issue has taken on new significance because the opioid crisis has seen a huge increase in the number of children taken from homes because of parents’ or guardians’ addictions.

A 2017 federal court ruling said the so-called foster care maintenance payments must be paid to relatives recognized by children services offices as caregivers, regardless of whether they are licensed.