Latest Michigan news, sports, business and entertainment at 3:20 p.m. EDT


Whitmer signs $62.7B budget that funds tuition assistance

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has signed a $62.7 billion state budget hours before the new fiscal year. It will fund a new tuition-assistance program for adults and avoid major government cuts despite the economic downturn during the coronavirus pandemic. The plan, which has bipartisan legislative support, also includes a slight boost in aid for schools and a full or partial restoration of tourism and job-training funds that were vetoed amid an impasse a year ago and again when COVID-19 struck. The process was delayed this year due to uncertainty over the pandemic’s effect on tax revenues.


Man charged in racist vandalism of suburban Detroit home

WARREN, Mich. (AP) — Police say a 24-year-old white man has been charged with ethnic intimidation and other counts for firing shots into the home of a Black suburban Detroit family who put a Black Lives Matter sign in their front window. Warren Police Commissioner Bill Dwyer told reporters Wednesday that the man lives with his parents in the neighborhood and that he confessed to the shooting and vandalism targeting that family, as well as writing “pedophile” on a garage door a few blocks away. The man faces arraignment Thursday on eight felonies and one misdemeanor. His name has not been released.


Deal reached to speed up court hearings for juvenile lifers

DETROIT (AP) — The state of Michigan has settled a decadelong lawsuit over so-called juvenile lifers. The deal accelerates rehabilitation programs that could enhance their release from prison. It also puts deadlines on local prosecutors to schedule resentencing hearings and requires prosecutors to keep the attorney general informed. The case involves prisoners who were convicted of murder and automatically sentenced to life without parole for killings when they were under 18. Those no-parole punishments are no longer mandatory, and judges have much discretion to impose shorter sentences. Nearly 170 prisoners, known as juvenile lifers, are still waiting for new hearings. 


Bill sent to Whitmer would lengthen bonds for dam repairs

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — The Michigan Legislature has finalized a bill that would lengthen the financing period of inland lake projects in the wake of flooding that damaged dams and lakes in the Midland area. The legislation would extend, from 10 years to 40 years, the maximum maturity date of bonds issued to pay for lake-level control projects. Special assessments are levied on lakefront properties and “back lots” with lake access. The change would let project costs — such as restoring four dams and lakes in Midland and Gladwin counties — be spread out over more time and made more manageable for property owners. 


Another GOP challenge tries to block absentee ballot order

DETROIT (AP) — Michigan’s Democratic secretary of state is being sued by two Republican predecessors after failing to challenge a decision that orders the state to count absentee ballots days after the election. The lawsuit was filed in federal court in western Michigan. Republicans are trying to block an order from another court that could keep some races unsettled long after Election Day. A judge, citing chronic mail delays because of the pandemic, said ballots postmarked by Nov. 2 can be counted if received within 14 days of the election. Critics say Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson must defend state law, which cuts off absentee ballots on election night.


Whitmer extends coronavirus emergency through Oct. 27

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has extended Michigan’s state of emergency, continuing a declaration that is the basis for various orders designed to fight the coronavirus. The declaration, which she has lengthened many times, will now run through Oct. 27. In her order, the Democratic governor said the health, economic and social harms of the COVID-19 pandemic remain “widespread and severe.” She says state emergency operations are necessary to bring the virus outbreak under control. The emergency is the underpinning for Whitmer’s restrictions on business operations and gathering sizes along with a requirement to wear a mask in enclosed public spaces.


UP lawmaker infected with coronavirus, says he is recovering

IRON MOUNTAIN, Mich. (AP) — A state lawmaker from the western Upper Peninsula says he tested positive for the coronavirus and is isolating at home. Rep. Beau LaFave, an Iron Mountain Republican, issued a Facebook post Tuesday saying the worst of his symptoms came and went over the weekend. LaFave says before he was tested, he had been social distancing, wearing a mask and following other safety protocols. He says he is working with Capitol staff to inform people he had contact with while voting on the budget and other bills in Lansing last week. The House is not in session this week.


Fund announced to help create affordable housing in Detroit

DETROIT (AP) — Banks, philanthropies and nonprofits are working with Detroit to direct $75 million in private money for affordable housing in the city. The Detroit Housing for the Future Fund was announced Tuesday with $48 million in initial commitments, including a combined $25 million from JPMorgan Chase and the Kresge Foundation. The fund provides easier access to grants and loans to developers trying to fill the gap between redevelopment costs and the income they will receive from tenants. The fund is the privately funded part of Detroit’s affordable housing initiative announced in 2018. The city has spent more than $12 million to develop 424 units of affordable housing.


Lake Michigan drownings surge to new high in 2020

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) — A water safety advocacy group says drownings in Lake Michigan have reached record levels with at least 53 people dead so far this year. The Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project, a nonprofit that tracks Great Lakes drownings, said that compares with 48 drownings in 2019 and 42 in 2018. The previous record was 49 drownings in 2010. The project’s data shows that there has been a total of 434 drownings in Lake Michigan since 2010. Just last week, 12-year-old Lane Frame of Manchester, Tennessee drowned in the lake. The group began tracking drownings in 2010.


Unfriendly skies: Airline workers brace for mass layoffs

DETROIT (AP) — About 40,000 workers in the airline industry are facing layoffs on Thursday unless Congress comes up with another aid package. Many are worried about how they’ll pay for rents, mortgages and food, or for health insurance. A clause in the $25 billion aid package to airlines at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic prevented them from laying off workers. But that clause expires on Thursday. Some workers are holding out hope that another agreement can still be reached. Congress has been considering a second round of airline aid for weeks, but it’s hung up in the debate over a larger national relief package.