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XGR-BUDGET-UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS

Michigan governor signs $106M COVID relief plan

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has signed into law a $106 million plan to provide relief to businesses and fund efforts to fight the economic impact of the coronavirus. Though the plan was a collaborative effort between the governor and the legislature, Whitmer told reporters on Tuesday that the legislature strayed from the original and the $465 million plan that was sent to her desk had been cut. Unemployment benefits will be extended from 20 weeks to 26 weeks through the end of March. But Whitmer used a line-item veto to get rid of a $220 million allocation that would have helped businesses fund unemployment benefits.

VIRUS OUTBREAK-MICHIGAN

State: About 71,000 in Michigan received virus vaccinations

About 71,000 people have received the first of two rounds of coronavirus vaccinations in Michigan, where more than 483,000 virus cases have been confirmed. Pfizer and Moderna vaccines have already been distributed to hospitals, local health departments and tribal health clinics. The state says residents and staff at skilled nursing homes began receiving the Moderna vaccine on Monday. Michigan’s Department of Health and Human Services says it has received 231,075 doses of both vaccines. On Tuesday, Michigan confirmed another 3,414 cases and 193 deaths, taking the total cases in the state to 483,922 and deaths to 12,282.

PRIVATE SCHOOLS-AID

Private schools win decision over tax dollars for safety

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — The Michigan Supreme Court has upheld a law that gives public money to private schools to comply with health and safety orders. The court’s decision was a 3-3 tie. A tie means an opinion in favor of private schools by the state appeals court will stand. At issue was whether more than $5 million approved by lawmakers during Gov. Rick Snyder’s administration conflicts with the Michigan Constitution. That document says “no public monies or property” can be used to “aid or maintain” private schools. Three Republican justices say the money is OK because it’s not for “educational services” in private schools.

POLICE CAR STOLEN-DRUNKEN DRIVER

Woman slips handcuffs, drives off and wrecks police cruiser

LOCKPORT TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — A police cruiser has been stolen and wrecked in southwestern Michigan by a 25-year-old woman who slipped from handcuffs after being arrested earlier for drunken driving. Authorities say the woman had been taken into custody about 3 a.m. Monday after a crash in Lockport Township. She was placed in the rear seat of a St. Joseph sheriff’s office vehicle. After getting free of the handcuffs, she climbed through a partition and into the driver’s seat as deputies searched her vehicle. The sheriff’s office said she drove off in the cruiser but struck a utility pole and several trees. She was caught after trying to run away. She was jailed on numerous charges. Lockport Township is north of Michigan’s state line with Indiana.

VIRUS OUTBREAK-VIOLENCE

As COVID-19 ravages US, shootings, killings are also up

DETROIT (AP) — Homicides in Detroit, New York, Philadelphia and other cities have topped 2019 numbers as violence surged while much of the U.S. struggled during the coronavirus pandemic.  Detroit Police Chief James Craig says people are failing to manage disputes and often using guns to settle them. Authorities and some experts say there is no one clear-cut reason for the spike. They instead point to social and economic upheaval caused by the coronavirus, public sentiment toward police following George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis police custody and a historic shortage of jobs and resources in poorer communities as contributing factors.

VIRUS OUTBREAK-MICHIGAN-BUSINESSES

Nonprofit helps Port Huron businesses weather pandemic

PORT HURON, Mich. (AP) — This year, it’s been about saving every business possible for Economic Development Alliance of St. Clair County. The Times Herald of Port Huron reports that the nonprofit has helped more than 350 businesses directly. It’s also aided others with answering coronavirus pandemic order questions and connecting them to grants and other resources. The alliance has helped manage $1.5 million in grants. It will be administrating two more programs with over $115,000. It also worked on different campaigns to help keep people safe during the pandemic and to encourage people to help the local economy. 

MISSING AUTISTIC WOMAN-HOMICIDE CHARGE

Man charged with homicide in death of missing autistic woman

DRUMS, Pa. (AP) — A man has been charged with criminal homicide in the death of a missing autistic woman after authorities said he told them where to find her body in northeastern Pennsylvania. Forty-two-year-old Harold Haulman III is also charged in Luzerne County with abuse of a corpse and kidnapping in the death of 26-year-old Erica Shultz, whose body was found in a wooded area in Butler Township. The (Wilkes-Barre) Times Leader reports that the victim’s sister reported her missing Dec. 6 to Bloomsburg police. Court documents don’t list an attorney for Haulman and phone numbers listed for him had been reassigned or were no longer in service.

MICHIGAN TROOPER IMPERSONATOR

Michigan State Police warn of man impersonating trooper

DETROIT (AP) — Michigan State Police are warning of a man who’s allegedly impersonated police and made traffic stops. Authorities say they received reports of a man in an unmarked car identifying himself as a state trooper and making stops around 7:30 p.m. Saturday near Interstate 96 and Davison Avenue in Detroit. The man was reportedly wearing a black uniform and driving a black car with red and blue lights. Police say troopers don’t use unmarked cars for traffic stops. Police advise anyone uncertain of being stopped by an unmarked car to slow down, use hazard lights, drive to a public place and call 911. 

MACOMB COUNTY-HEALTH DIRECTOR

Health director in Macomb County to retire next month

MOUNT CLEMENS, Mich. (AP) — The health director of one of Michigan’s most populated counties is retiring after eight years in the job. Macomb County Health Department Director William Ridella says he had planned to retire earlier in the year but he stayed because of the coronavirus pandemic. He will leave the job next month. The Macomb Daily reports that Ridella started working for the county in 1979 as a nutritionist. He also worked for the Detroit Health Department. County officials say Ridella’s replacement has been narrowed to 10 candidates. 

AP-US-AMERICA-DISRUPTED-NO-WINNERS

A divided nation asks: What’s holding our country together?

After a highly contentious, seemingly never-ending election season in 2020, many feel a sense of loss. For some folks, it’s that their candidate didn’t prevail. For others, the losses are more intangible, and heartbreakingly profound: A sense of dignity and respect for each other has waned over the past four years. And for still others, it’s the visceral realization that the very foundations of America have been shaken — not only by Washington-led rancor and partisanship, but by the deadly coronavirus pandemic, as well. If elections are meant to be a way to solve disputes and conflict, November didn’t deliver on that promise.