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VIRUS OUTBREAK-MICHIGAN

Whitmer plans to further ease coronavirus restrictions

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer says her administration will announce the further loosening of Michigan’s coronavirus restrictions in coming days. She did not elaborate much in a Wednesday news conference, in which she again pressed the Republican-controlled Legislature to pass a multibillion-dollar COVID-19 relief funding plan. A state health department order limits indoor restaurant capacity to 25%, imposes a 10 p.m. curfew and restricts the size of inside residential gatherings to no more than 10 people from two households, through March 29. Whitmer says case numbers and public health metrics are trending in the right direction.

HEALTH CARE COSTS

Michigan lawmakers unveil bills to curb health care costs

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — A Republican legislative leader and other lawmakers have unveiled measures they say are designed to lower prescription drug prices, bring parity in insurance coverage of chemotherapy and improve the quality of health care. The 15-bill package would regulate pharmacy benefit managers that run drug coverage for insurers and employers, and ban the managers from profiting by charging a health plan more than what is paid to the pharmacy. Other bills would cap insulin co-pays at $50 for a 30-day supply and require insurers to count all drug rebates received for a medication toward a family’s deductible or maximum out-of-pocket costs.

FATAL SHOOTING-TEEN CHARGED

Teen charged in fatal shooting of his 10-year-old sister

LUCE COUNTY, Mich. (AP) — A 14-year-old boy has been arrested in connection with the shooting death of his 10-year-old sister at their home in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Michigan State Police announced Wednesday the shooting occurred Tuesday at the family’s residence in Luce County. Authorities say a preliminary investigation revealed the girl’s brother shot her. Troopers arrested the teen on Tuesday at the family’s home. The boy is being held at the Sault Tribal Juvenile Detention facility. His name is being withheld because of his age.

AP-US-DETROIT-ROBOCOP-STATUE

Detroit science center no longer planning for RoboCop statue

DETROIT (AP) — The largest fictional keeper of law and order in Detroit may not stand watch at one Motor City museum as planned. The Detroit News reports that the Michigan Science Center announced Wednesday that it no longer plans to be home to an 11-foot-tall bronze RoboCop statue, The Detroit News reported. The Michigan Science Center said in a statement that due to “unprecedented pressures” from the coronavirus pandemic, “resources must now be entirely focused on our core mission of serving Michigan’s students and families.” The 1987 film “RoboCop” was set — but not filmed — in a futuristic and crime-ridden Detroit. The title character, a cyborg police officer, was played by actor Peter Weller.

MICHIGAN LEGISLATURE-LAME DUCK

Michigan House approves change to lame duck sessions

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — The Michigan House has backed a proposed constitutional amendment that would require two-thirds majority votes for bills to pass during lame duck sessions of the Legislature. The resolution passed Wednesday was sponsored by Republican House Speaker Jason Wentworth. It aims to end hyperpartisanship attached to lame duck sessions and to build trust with constituents by increasing transparency. In 2018, as Republican Gov. Rick Snyder’s second term was ending and before Democrat Gretchen Whitmer assumed office, the Legislature passed bills to delay a minimum wage increase and loosen up paid sick leave requirements. If the Senate also backs the proposed amendment, it would go to voters in a referendum.

JAIL DEATH

Man dies in jail while waiting months for court hearing

DETROIT (AP) — A man accused of arson has died in a Detroit-area jail while waiting months for a court hearing. Autopsy results on Tinyko Preuitt are pending.  Police say there were no obvious signs of trauma. The 48-year-old Preuitt had been in the Wayne County jail since October when he was charged with preparing to burn a Detroit house. The Detroit News says his bond was set at $50,000. Preuitt was facing a court hearing to determine if there was enough evidence to send him to trial. Defense attorney James Humphries asked for an in-person court hearing instead of one over Zoom. A judge set one for April — months after Preuitt’s arrest.

TOWING LAW

Judge strikes down portions of Michigan towing law

DETROIT (AP) — A judge has struck down portions of a Michigan towing law. Low-income Detroit residents had shared stories of high fees and frustration about the whereabouts of their vehicles. The decision by federal Judge Judith Levy could force changes in a law that’s viewed as favorable to the towing industry. Levy last week ordered Detroit to notify the state within 24 hours after a vehicle is towed. That information then triggers a notice to the car owner. The judge says vehicle owners also can seek a waiver of paying towing and storage fees before going to court to object to a car’s impoundment.

FEMALE OWNER-NEGRO LEAGUES

Michigan woman last living owner of Negro Leagues team

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) — A woman from Grand Rapids is the last living owner of a Negro Leagues baseball team. According to WXMI-TV, Minnie Forbes joined the Negro Leagues in her mid-20s when her uncle purchased two teams and the rules only allowed him to own one. Forbes became owner of the Detroit Stars in 1956 for two years. The Negro Leagues was founded in 1920 as a way to give African American players a chance to play professional baseball during segregation. Forbes says she is proud to be an important part of American baseball history. In 2013, she was invited to the White House along with other members of the Negro Leagues to be honored by then-President Barack Obama.

LIMBAUGH-APOLOGY

Official apologizes for online mockery of Limbaugh’s death

MIDDLEVILLE, Mich. (AP) — An elected official in a western Michigan community has apologized for posting a line of online laughs about the death of conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh. More than 300 people participated by video conference during a Middleville council meeting Tuesday. Public comment about Amanda Fisk’s Facebook post lasted more than two hours. Fisk is a Middleville council member and village president. She posted a series of “HA-HA-HA” next to a news story about Limbaugh’s death last week. Fisk called it a “stupid mistake.” Her defenders say she has a right to free speech.

CONFEDERATE STATUE-MICHIGAN

Committee presents proposals for future of Civil War statue

ALLENDALE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — A committee in western Michigan has proposed replacing a statue of a Union soldier and Confederate soldier back to back with a slave child kneeling between them with an obelisk or column inscribed with phrases and viewpoints from the Civil War era. The Holland Sentinel reports that other proposals made Monday in Allendale Township include replacing the entire statue with a commemoration to Black Civil War soldier Benjamin Jones or erecting Plexiglas panes around the statue inscribed with historical context of the war. Allendale Township is west of Grand Rapids. Calls for the statue to come down began last year following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis and anti-police brutality protests around the country.