Latest Michigan news, sports, business and entertainment at 9:20 p.m. EST

VIRUS OUTBREAK-AID

Michigan House ties aid to giving virus powers to counties

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — The Republican-controlled Michigan House has approved a nearly $3.6 billion coronavirus relief package. About $2.1 billion for schools would be withheld unless Democratic  Gov. Gretchen Whitmer cedes the state’s authority to prohibit in-person instruction or sports to local health officials. The bills would distribute federal COVID-19 aid that was enacted by then-President Donald Trump and Congress for vaccine distribution and other priorities. House Republicans tied education aid, however, to the governor’s unlikely signing of a bill that would let county health departments — not the state health department — close schools to face-to-face classes and bar sporting events.

VIRUS OUTBREAK-SPORTS

Michigan: Contact sports can resume Monday, with masks

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan is lifting a monthslong ban on youth contact sports that was ordered to curb rising coronavirus cases. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced the move Thursday. Competition can resume Monday, as long as masks are worn. Winter high school sports such as basketball, hockey, wrestling and competitive cheer along with youth leagues have effectively been restricted to non-contact activities only since November. If face coverings cannot be worn, athletes must be regularly tested for COVID-19 under the revised order. A 250- to 500-spectator limit will remain in place, depending on the size of a stadium or arena.

MICHIGAN REPUBLICANS

Controversy hits Michigan GOP before leadership vote

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — There’s a civil war inside the Michigan Republican Party. Laura Cox had planned to step down as chairwoman Saturday. But Cox now wants to keep the job a little longer while she accuses a possible successor of misconduct when he led the party in 2018. Cox says Ron Weiser paid $200,000 in party money to get Stan Grot out of the race for secretary of state in 2018. Weiser is a wealthy businessman whose name is on Republican Party headquarters. Weiser says Grot earned the money through legitimate work in Macomb County. Michigan Republicans will consider making Weiser chairman again when they hold a weekend convention. 

AP-US-RESULTS-FORD

Ford loses $1.28B in 2020, raises electric vehicle spending

DETROIT (AP) — Ford Motor Co. lost $1.28 billion last year as it dealt with a huge restructuring, a costly recall and a decline in the value of its pension fund. But the company said Thursday it was generating strong cash flow and will go all-in on electric vehicles. Ford said it would now spend at least $22 billion developing them through 2025, nearly double what it previously announced. Ford also lost $2.8 billion in the fourth quarter. Excluding one-time items it made 34 cents per share, according to FactSet. That beat Wall Street expectations of a 7-cent-per-share loss.

FORD-CHIP SHORTAGE

Ford to cut back F-150 production due to chip shortage

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Ford Motor Co. will cut shifts at two of its U.S. manufacturing plants next week, due to the worldwide chip shortage that has also impacted other automakers. Starting Monday, the automaker will cut two shifts at its Dearborn, Michigan, facility, going down to one shift per day. It will also cut one shift at its Kansas City, Missouri, plant, going down to two shifts per day. Both plants produce the F-150 pickup truck, Ford’s most popular model and part of the F-Series, the top-selling vehicle in the U.S. Roughly one F-150 rolls off a Ford assembly line every minute.

MICHIGAN ELECTION-THREAT

Woman indicted in Detroit-area election threats case

DETROIT (AP) — A federal grand jury has indicted a woman who is accused of threatening a Detroit-area election official after a stormy meeting to certify local results in the presidential race. Katelyn Jones was charged with making threats of violence with a phone and through social media. Investigators say Jones’ target was Monica Palmer, a Republican member of the Wayne County Board of Canvassers. Jones apparently was upset that Palmer and another Republican on the board initially refused to certify local election results in favor of Joe Biden back on Nov. 17. They subsequently changed their position after people watching the public meeting criticized them during a comment period.

AP-US-CONGRESS-GREENE-GLANCE

A glance at Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene’s incendiary words

WASHINGTON (AP) — Freshman Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia has been stripped of her committee assignments by the House Democratic majority over her past remarks. Greene is new to politics and has a well-documented history of racist remarks and of embracing conspiracy theories before her 2020 election. She has also endorsed violence against leading Democratic officials. She once floated the possibility that California wildfires were set by “lasers or blue beams of light” shot down from space. Greene was labeled  a “future Republican Star” by former President Donald Trump, whose political style she emulates. 

PRISONER RELEASED-HOUSE

Donors helping man buy home after 25 years in prison

FLINT, Mich. (AP) — A Michigan man who was released from prison after nearly 25 years plans to buy a house after his supporters raised more than $265,000. Michael Thompson is a Flint native who plans to settle in Genesee County near his family. The 69-year-old says he’s very thankful. Thompson was released from prison last week after his sentence was reduced by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. Thompson was convicted of drug and gun crimes and wouldn’t have been eligible for parole until 2038. Whitmer says Thompson had accepted responsibility and was serving an excessive sentence.

RACIAL JUSTICE-ENVIRONMENT

Pledge drive urges funding racially diverse climate efforts

DETROIT (AP) — The Donors of Color, a philanthropic group dedicated to pushing for racial equity in funding environmental projects nationwide, has launched a pledge drive challenging the nation’s top climate funders to shift 30% of their donations toward environmental efforts led by Black, Indigenous, Hispanic and other people of color. While the fight against climate change and for environmental justice has benefited in recent years from a growing push by politicians and activists, research shows funding isn’t spread equitably to communities of color, which are often hit hardest. The pledge drive, announced Thursday, aims to direct funding to groups whose boards and senior staff are at least half people of color, and whose work is focused on the most environmentally impacted communities.

AP-US-MICHIGAN-REPUBLICAN-IMPEACHMENT

Michigan Republican defends impeachment vote to upset voters

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan Rep. Peter Meijer has defended his decision to impeach former President Donald Trump amid criticism from voters. Meijer, a freshman lawmaker, was one of just 10 Republicans who voted to impeach Trump over the deadly attack on the Capitol. He said during a virtual town hall Wednesday night that Trump’s falsehoods and the resulting insurrection required a “significant response” from Congress. Two constituents who asked questions said they were deeply disappointed with the 33-year-old, who represents the 3rd Congressional District in western Michigan. One accused Meijer of betrayal and said she would work to defeat him in the 2022 primary.