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AP-US-FLINT-WATER

Ex-Michigan governor faces 2 charges in Flint water scandal

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Two years after leaving office, former Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder is facing charges of willful neglect of duty in the Flint water crisis. Prosecutors are revisiting how Flint’s water system was contaminated with lead during one of worst manmade environmental disasters in U.S. history. Two misdemeanors popped up in an online court file Wednesday night after Attorney General Dana Nessel announced a Thursday news conference. Former officials who worked in Snyder’s administration are also expected to be charged. Snyder’s attorney says there’s no evidence to support the charges against the ex-governor. 

VIRUS OUTBREAK-MICHIGAN

Whitmer: Michigan restaurants likely can offer dining Feb. 1

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer says the plan is for Michigan restaurants to reopen for indoor dining on Feb. 1, two and a half months after an order to close amid a surge in coronavirus cases and hospitalizations. The current order prohibiting indoor eating and drinking was extended Wednesday. Non-contact organized sports can resume starting Saturday. Michigan is among just a few states to allow no indoor restaurant dining and is the only one without a detailed plan on how and when reopening can occur, according to the Michigan Restaurant & Lodging Association. The state is expected to release details on the reopening next week.

VIRUS OUTBREAK-LAWMAKER

Michigan legislative leader tested positive for COVID-19

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey says he tested positive for the coronavirus two days before Christmas and recovered at home. The Clarklake Republican, who publicly announced the infection three weeks after learning of it, is at least the 13th legislator with a positive test. A 14th died from a suspected case in March. Shirkey experienced a fever and fatigue. He believes he was exposed Dec. 19, a day after the Senate ended voting for the year. He visited the House on Dec. 21, appearing to remove his mask while listening to a farewell speech.

MICHIGAN CAPITOL

Whitmer: Police monitoring ‘chatter’ about Capitol violence

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer say she is not aware of a specific threat of violence against the Michigan Capitol this weekend but law enforcement continues to monitor “chatter” after the FBI warned of plans for armed protests at all 50 state capitals. The state police has increased its visible presence at the Capitol this week following a deadly siege at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. A 6-foot fence will be installed around the statehouse on Friday. Lansing Mayor Andy Schor has asked Whitmer to activate the Michigan National Guard to provide additional security and crowd control.

MICHIGAN LEGISLATURE

Michigan’s first day of legislature gets off on a tense note

LANSING, Mich (AP) — The first day of Michigan’s new legislative session started of with tensions high as frustrations and calls for action flew over the attack on the U.S. Capitol, the certification of the presidential election and continued coronavirus restrictions. Michigan House Speaker Jason Wentworth said Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has damaged public trust due to the strict measures imposed to curb the coronavirus pandemic and that government must act to restore that trust and improve transparency. Over in the State senate, Democratic legislators tore into their Republican colleagues over their efforts to invalidate the presidential election.

AP-US-VIRUS-OUTBREAK-SHUTDOWN-DEFIANCE

Defiance of virus dining bans grows as restaurants flounder

BORING, Ore. (AP) — A growing number of restaurants nationwide are opening for indoor dining in defiance of strict COVID-19 regulations in their states, saying they are targeted unfairly and are barely hanging on. In Oregon, a movement to defy an indoor-dining ban began quietly on Jan. 1 and is gaining steam despite warnings from state inspectors and surging COVID-19 case numbers. Democratic Gov. Kate Brown has also threatened restaurants with the revocation of liquor and slot machine licenses in a standoff that’s increasingly attracting the attention of far-right groups such as the People’s Rights network. Similar revolts have also played out in places with strict COVID-19 rules, including Michigan, Pennsylvania, Washington and California.

SHYFT GROUP-CHARLOTTE PLANT

Michigan commercial vehicle company plans hundreds of hires

CHARLOTTE, Mich. (AP) — The Shyft Group, a manufacturer of commercial fleet and specialty vehicles, plans to hire hundreds of full-time employees over the next three years at its plant in mid-Michigan. The Lansing State Journal reports the planned expansion at the company’s Charlotte plant comes as demand for parcel delivery vehicles continues to rise amid the coronavirus pandemic. Chad Heminover, president of Shyft Fleet Vehicles & Services, says the new jobs that will be added will be in the hundreds but the total number remains undetermined.  The Shyft Group was known as Spartan Motors before it changed its name last year following the sale of its emergency response business.

AP-US-ELECTRIC-CARS-BATTERY-FIRES

NTSB says vehicle battery fires pose risks to 1st responders

DETROIT (AP) — U.S. safety investigators say electric vehicle fires pose risks to first responders, and manufacturers have inadequate guidelines to keep them safe. The National Transportation Safety Board also said in an 80-page report Wednesday there are gaps in industry safety standards and research on high-voltage lithium-ion battery fires, especially in high-speed, severe crashes. The agency has no enforcement powers and can only make recommendations. It called for manufacturers to write up vehicle-specific response guides for fighting battery fires and limiting chemical thermal runaway and reignition.

AP-US-FLINT-WATER-Q&A

Flint water crisis: Rooted in neglect, fallout continues

The Associated Press has learned that former Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, his health director and other ex-officials have been told they’re being charged after a new investigation of the Flint water crisis. It’s the latest twist in a scandal that began in 2014 when the source of the impoverished city’s water supply was switched to save money. It made Flint a symbol of the nation’s decaying drinking water infrastructure. The majority Black city’s water system was contaminated with lead in 2014-15. It was also blamed for a deadly outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease.