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VIRUS OUTBREAK-MICHIGAN

Whitmer vetoes bill to end virus rules without lawmakers’ OK

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has again vetoed a Republican-backed bill that would have required legislative approval to extend Michigan’s COVID-19 restrictions, as cases and hospitalizations continue to rise despite increasing vaccinations. The measure would have ended state health department orders after 28 days unless they were lengthened by the GOP-led Legislature. The Democratic governor vetoed nearly identical legislation in December. She said Wednesday that epidemics are not limited to 28 days. The state’s main coronavirus order requires masks, limits capacity at restaurants and other businesses, and caps gathering sizes. Michigan has loosened restrictions but has seen a surge in cases.

ASSAULT-UNIVERSITY-MICHIGAN

Michigan school accused of failing to respond to assaults

DETROIT (AP) — Eleven women have filed a lawsuit against Eastern Michigan University alleging it “turned a blind eye” to the sexual assault by students. The lawsuit also alleges the school failed to follow federal law, which bars discrimination based on sex. The lawsuit in federal court targets the university, campus police and two fraternities. It states that the assaults were committed by four men between 2015 and 2020. University President James Smith posted a letter to the community, saying sexual violence has no place at the school. Smith says an outside law firm is investigating the university’s policies and procedures.

MICHIGAN ELECTIONS

Michigan Republicans propose slew of election changes

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan Republicans are proposing a slew of election bills that would require voters to submit a photo ID, prohibit the unsolicited mass mailing of absentee ballot applications, and restrict the hours in which people could drop their ballot in curbside boxes. Democrats say the legislation introduced Wednesday would suppress voting, months after some Republican lawmakers falsely claimed the presidential election was stolen from Donald Trump. Some measures appear destined to be vetoed by Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, while others may find bipartisan support. Republican senators, citing a surge in absentee voting, say changes are needed to ensure election integrity.

FLINT WATER

More than 30,000 registrations so far in Flint water deal

FLINT, Mich. (AP) — More than 30,000 registration forms have been received from people who want to participate in a $641 million Flint water lawsuit settlement. The deadline is next Monday. Special Master Deborah Greenspan reported 33,341 registration forms were turned in by the start of the week. Flint, the state of Michigan, a hospital and an engineering firm agreed to settle a lawsuit filed on behalf of Flint residents who were exposed to lead-contaminated water or died from Legionnaires’ disease. The settlement covers people who claim injury, property damage or business loss from exposure to the water. There is information about registering at officialflintwatersettlement.com.

HEALTH CARE

House OKs bills for transparency in pharmacies, health care

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — The Michigan House has passed several bills to create more transparency in health care and at pharmacies. The bills passed Wednesday tackle drug costs and the expansion of telehealth. Bill supporters say the burden of growing drug costs should be shifted from consumers to the drug companies. The bills aim to expand accessibility to affordable medication by allowing pharmacists to talk with patients about their options. The legislation will next head to the Michigan Senate and, if approved, to the governor’s desk.

MISSING CHILD-DITCH

Boy, 4, dies after being found in a water-filled ditch

SUMMIT TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — Police say a 4-year-old child reported missing by his family died after he somehow landed in a water-filled ditch near his northern Michigan home. State police say the autistic boy’s death “doesn’t appear to be suspicious in nature.” The boy was reported missing Tuesday from his home in Summit Township, south of Ludington, in Mason County. He was pronounced dead at a Grand Rapids hospital.

REFEREE CHARGED

Prep basketball referee charged with misdemeanor assault

MUSKEGON, Mich. (AP) — A Michigan high school basketball referee has been charged with assault for putting his hands on a coach and pushing him with about a minute left in a close game. Online records show the misdemeanor charge was filed against William Ripple of Kentwood in Muskegon County District Court. Ripple couldn’t immediately be reached for comment. The incident last Friday involved Ripple and Muskegon coach Keith Guy. Video showed the referee putting his hands on Guy’s chest late in a boys basketball game against Zeeland East. The Michigan High School Athletic Association suspended Ripple. 

MICHIGAN BRUSH FIRES

Rash of brush fires reported around Michigan: DNR officials

ALPENA, Mich. (AP) — A dry winter and recent sunny skies have led to a rash of recent brush fires around the state. Since Friday, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources has responded to at least 40 such fires in the state, That’s according to Don Klingler, the DNR’s resource protection manager for the Lower Peninsula. The Alpena News reports a fast-moving grass fire Monday burned 86 acres in northeast Michigan’s Alcona County. Roger MacNeill, a forest fire officer at the Lincoln DNR office, said the fire jumped a drainage ditch and the Black River. He says it was among about 20 fires burning at once on Monday. 

SMALL SCHOOL-BIG WIN

Tiny school, big feat: First playoff win for Alba since ’55

ALBA, Mich. (AP) — A boys basketball team in northern Michigan has won its first state playoff game _ since 1955. Alba defeated Central Lake, 43-39, in a district game Tuesday night. Coach Nathan Bootz says there were many tears in the locker room. Bootz says the Alba team is like a family. There are only seven players. Alba High School only has 31 students. Alba is in Antrim County, 40 miles northeast of Traverse City. The Wildcats now will play Ellsworth, the regular season champions in the Northern Lakes Conference. It’s shaping up like the biblical David vs. Goliath.

HAIR BIAS

Michigan county bans hair bias against its workers

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — County employees in Michigan’s capital area can wear hair any way they want. Ingham County commissioners have given protections to workers who wear their hair naturally or in protective styles like braids, weaves, locks and twists. The resolution approved Tuesday cited a study that found Black women faced higher rates of hair discrimination than any other gender or race. The policy doesn’t extend to other employers, public or private, in Ingham County. State Rep. Sarah Anthony of Lansing is sponsoring a statewide bill in the Legislature.