Latest Michigan news, sports, business and entertainment at 1:20 a.m. EDT
Michigan governor extends stay-at-home order through June 12
LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has extended Michigan’s stay-at-home order just over two additional weeks, through June 12. She also is keeping closed theaters, gyms and other places of public accommodation at least until that time. Whitmer also extended her emergency declaration through June 19 on Friday. She says the state is “not out of the woods yet.” She announced the steps the same bars and restaurants in northern Michigan were allowed to reopen after a two-month shutdown because of coronavirus restrictions.
Allies: Ex-Detroit mayor to be released from prison early
DETROIT (AP) — A Michigan pastor says former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick is being quarantined at a federal prison while awaiting a likely release in June, which would be years before he’s scheduled to finish his 28-year sentence for corruption. The U.S. Bureau of Prisons declined to comment about the matter, saying only that Kilpatrick remains in custody in Louisiana. But the Rev. Keyon Payton said Friday that Kilpatrick is being granted relief under a federal policy that gives officials discretion to move some inmates because of the coronavirus pandemic. It wasn’t known if Kilpatrick would have to return to prison once the coronavirus threat passed. Kilpatrick was convicted in 2013 of fraud, extortion and other crimes.
Residents, businesses sue dam operator over ruinous flooding
WEST BLOOMFIELD, Mich. (AP) — Residents and businesses in Central Michigan communities that were submerged when two dams failed this week are suing the dam operator and two state agencies charged with overseeing the structures. The lawsuit came Friday as yet more residents were forced to evacuate their homes after being overwhelmed by flooding along the Tittabawassee River and conjoining waterways. The federal lawsuit alleges the dams’ operator, Boyce Hydro, “failed to operate, fix, or repair the dams … resulting in catastrophic injury and damage.” The lawsuit also names the state Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.
Debt and coronavirus push Hertz into bankruptcy protection
Hertz has filed for bankruptcy protection, unable to withstand the coronavirus pandemic that has crippled global travel and with it, the heavily indebted 102-year-old car rental company’s business. The Florida-based company’s lenders were unwilling to grant it another extension on its auto lease debt payments past a Friday deadline, triggering the filing. By the end of March, Hertz had more than $24 billion in debt with only $1 billion of available cash. Starting in mid-March, the company lost all revenue when travel nearly shut down due to the novel coronavirus. Hertz also has been plagued by management upheaval, naming its fourth CEO in six years on May 18.
ELECTION 2020-ABSENTEE BALLOTS
Michigan suit: Count absentee ballots if mailed by election
LANSING, Mich. (AP) — A voting-rights group is challenging a century-old Michigan law that requires absentee ballots to be received by Election Day to be counted. The lawsuit filed Friday against Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson was brought by the League of Women Voters of Michigan and three voters. It says a 2018 constitutional amendment that authorizes no-reason absentee voting lets voters return their ballot by mail any time during the 40 days before an election. Disregarding ballots that are postmarked but come in late, the suit says, could disenfranchise more than 100,000 voters at a time absentee voting will rise amid a pandemic.
VIRUS OUTBREAK-HIGH UNEMPLOYMENT STATES
Pandemic job losses hit tourism-dependent states hardest
HONOLULU (AP) — The coronavirus pandemic has been particularly brutal to the tourism-dependent economies of Nevada and Hawaii. Nevada’s unemployment rate was 28.2% in April. It’s the worst any state has seen since the national jobless rate was estimated at 25% in 1933 during the depths of the Great Depression. Michigan came in second with 22.7% and Hawaii third with 22.3% In Michigan, job losses were spread across all sectors, with especially large losses in hospitality and manufacturing.
ALCOHOL BREATH TESTS
2 technicians charged in probe of alcohol-breath devices
KALAMAZOO, Mich. (AP) — Two people have been charged with forgery and other crimes in an investigation of Michigan’s desktop alcohol-breath devices. The DataMaster breath test is used to measure alcohol levels at county jails or police departments after a motorist is arrested. Earlier this year, all 203 machines were temporarily taken out of service until state police could verify that each was properly calibrated. The attorney general’s office says two technicians who were contracted to service the machines created false documents to show they completed tests on DataMasters at the Beverly Hills police department and the Alpena County sheriff’s office.
Court: Injunction blocking Michigan e-cigarette ban stands
LANSING, Mich. (AP) — The state appeals court has let stand an injunction blocking Michigan’s ban on flavored e-cigarettes, saying a lower judge did not overstep in ruling for two businesses that sued. In a 3-0 ruling released Friday, the court said Court of Claims Judge Cynthia Stephen did not abuse her discretion. Last October, she temporarily blocked the state’s weeks-old emergency rules created at the behest of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. The judge said the businesses showed a likelihood of prevailing on the merits of their contention that the rules are procedurally invalid, because state officials didn’t justify short-cutting the normal rule-making process.
MIDWEST FLOODING-SUPERFUND SITE
Flood raises fears of pollution at Michigan toxic waste site
TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) — A massive flood is raising fears of setbacks in a hazardous waste cleanup along a central Michigan river. Floodwaters overwhelmed two dams this week, chasing 11,000 people from their homes in or near Midland. The Tittabawassee River flows past Dow Chemical Co.’s headquarters plant, which for years produced dioxins. The highly toxic compounds were dumped into the river, where they became embedded in sediments and floodplains. Dow has been cleaning up the area since 2007 and has made considerable progress. The company says its projects survived a flood three years ago. But some scientists and activists fear this week’s flood could sweep the toxins downstream.
VIRUS OUTBREAK-MICHIGAN GOVERNOR
Michigan governor wins legal fight with lawmakers over virus
DETROIT (AP) — The governor of Michigan has won a high-stakes challenge by Republican lawmakers who sued over her authority to declare emergencies and order sweeping restrictions during the coronavirus outbreak. A judge says a 1945 law cited by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer can be used and is not limited to regional emergencies. The lawsuit from the House and Senate grew out of frustration with Whitmer’s one-size strategy to stop the spread of the coronavirus. People have been told to stay home, and businesses have been shut down. Whitmer has been easing the restrictions. Bars and restaurants in northern Michigan can open early Friday.