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Ex-lawmakers sue to block Michigan’s legislative term limits

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Eight former Michigan lawmakers are suing to challenge the state’s legislative term limits, alleging they are unconstitutional and ensure that the Legislature lacks experience.

Those filing suit in Grand Rapids federal court Wednesday include three Republicans and five Democrats. They say Michigan’s term limits law has increased the power of lobbyists, unelected “bureaucrats” in the executive branch and political dynasties.

Michigan voters enacted term limits in 1992 that allow legislators to serve 14 years, including three two-year House terms and two four-term Senate terms. They are viewed as the most restrictive among the 15 states with consecutive or lifetime legislative term limits.

The suit was brought about a month after Republican legislative leaders privately briefed their caucuses about talks to ease legislative term limits through a constitutional amendment.


Man faces murder trial for allegedly poisoning wife’s cereal

DAVISON, Mich. (AP) — A Michigan man accused of killing his wife by spiking her cereal with heroin has been ordered to trial on a murder charge.

Judge Christopher Odette on Tuesday found enough evidence to send Jason Harris to trial after a multiday hearing. The medical examiner had classified Christina Ann-Thompson Harris’ 2014 death as an accidental overdose. But investigators now believe she was poisoned at their home in Davison, 60 miles (100 kilometers) north of Detroit.

Jason Harris’ co-workers said he had been looking for a hit man. David Groshong said Harris approached him for drugs so his wife “would go to sleep and quit nagging.”

Harris has pleaded not guilty. A woman moved into his home two months after Christina’s death. Harris also collected $120,000 in life insurance payments.


House explosion, fire injures 2 people in western Michigan

EGELSTON TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — Two people have been injured in a house explosion in western Michigan.

The blast occurred Tuesday afternoon in Egleston Township, northwest of Grand Rapids. The explosion reportedly shook nearby homes.

Muskegon County sheriff’s Capt. Shane Brown tells WOOD-TV that the victims suffered second-degree burns. They were being treated at a hospital. Their conditions were not immediately available.

The cause of the explosion was under investigation.

Neighbor MaryAnn VanBergen tells WZZM-TV that she heard the noise and “it was a huge ball of fire and it was all burning” by the time she came out of her home.


Michigan issues 1st recreational marijuana licenses

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) — The state of Michigan has issued the first licenses to a business planning to grow and sell marijuana for recreational use.

Ann Arbor-based Exclusive Brands already has medical marijuana operations. It received recreational licenses Tuesday. It wants to start selling marijuana to adults age 21 and over as soon as Dec. 1.

Recreational marijuana is unlikely to be available on a widespread basis in Michigan until licensed growers can harvest the first crop, possibly in March or April.

Also getting licenses Tuesday were PSI Labs in Ann Arbor, which tests marijuana, and Real Leaf Solutions, a Kalkaska-based company that plans to organize marijuana events.


2 officers shot, wounded at Michigan apartment complex

MONROE, Mich. (AP) — Two police officers investigating an assault have been shot and wounded at an apartment complex in southeastern Michigan.

Monroe Police Chief Charles McCormick says the officers were both shot in the legs as they arrived at the complex about 9 a.m. Tuesday. The officers returned fire, striking a male resident.

State police are investigating the shooting.

The officers were responding to a call about an assault involving a vendor working at the complex and the resident, who had a holstered handgun.

One of the officers has been released from a hospital. McCormick says the second officer and the suspect are still being treated. No information has been released about their conditions.

Monroe is 38 miles (60 kilometers) southwest of Detroit and just northeast of the state line with Ohio.


Feds met with UAW official about corruption charges

DETROIT (AP) — Federal prosecutors in Detroit say they traveled to St. Louis last week to provide documents and determine if a United Auto Workers official would consider a plea deal in a corruption investigation.

The disclosure was made in a court filing Tuesday. Vance Pearson is a UAW regional director based in Missouri. He’s charged with embezzlement, fraud and conspiracy, but the September criminal complaint was a temporary step. He hasn’t been indicted.

Pearson’s attorney declined to comment. Pearson was placed on leave in October.

He was promoted to his post after his boss, Gary Jones, became UAW president in 2018. Jones is also under scrutiny: His suburban Detroit house was raided last summer, and he took a leave of absence on Nov. 3.


Michigan to mail redistricting panel applications to 250,000

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — The state of Michigan will mail 250,000 applications encouraging voters to apply to serve on a new commission responsible for drawing congressional and legislative maps.

An independent accounting firm, Rehmann, randomly selected the 250,000 registered voters Tuesday. The applications will be mailed before year’s end.

The 2018 voter-approved constitutional amendment creating the panel requires that at least 10,000 applications be mailed. Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson says she decided to send 250,000 to ensure enough people respond.

Registered voters who don’t receive an application in the mail are still free to apply at Applications are due June 1.

The 13-member commission will start meeting in the fall of 2020 and will adopt congressional and legislative district lines in 2021. The once-a-decade process was previously controlled by the partisan Legislature.


Official: Safety lacking before Uber self-driving car crash

WASHINGTON (AP) — The chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board says Uber had an ineffective safety culture when one of its autonomous test vehicles ran down and killed a pedestrian last year in Tempe, Arizona.

Robert Sumwalt said at a hearing Tuesday on the March 2018 crash that Uber didn’t continually monitor its operations and it had de-activated its Volvo SUV’s automatic emergency braking system. Uber’s own system also didn’t have the ability to brake automatically, relying on a human backup driver to do the braking.

He says all companies that test autonomous vehicles on public roads need to study the crash to prevent future accidents.

The NTSB will determine the cause of the crash at the Tuesday hearing and make recommendations.


Mayor: ‘Despicable’ move for health benefits won’t stand

WARREN, Mich. (AP) — A suburban Detroit mayor says it was “despicable” and “underhanded” for a city council to grant lifetime health insurance to some elected officials.

Warren Mayor Jim Fouts says the perk will not stand. The Macomb Daily reports it was approved in September by the council that left office last week. The mayor says it was presented to him on Sept. 13, too late for a veto.

The newspaper says the policy would grant lifetime health insurance to any current or former elected official who serves at least eight years.

Council member Ron Papandrea says he regrets voting for it, although he says he’s on Medicare and doesn’t need the benefit. He says another council member raised the plan.

Warren council members are paid $31,000 a year, among the highest salaries in Michigan for a part-time council job.


Whitmer, on 1st trade trip, signs startup memo in Israel

LANSING, M (AP) — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, who is in Israel for her first international trade trip, has signed a memorandum of understanding to identify Israeli-based companies that could expand their operations into Michigan.

Whitmer signed the agreement on Tuesday with Start Up-Nation Central, a nonprofit in Israel. She says it can offer a blueprint on using technology to improve people’s transportation options, and further strengthens Michigan’s relationship with the nonprofit.

Whitmer left for Israel Sunday and will return Saturday.

She has visited General Motors’ Advanced Technological Center in the country, met with Israel’s energy minister and spoken at a conference related to water technology. She also will visit Ford’s Regional Research Center.