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

VIRUS OUTBREAK-MICHIGAN

Michigan to begin vaccinating people 65 and older, teachers

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan will begin vaccinating seniors and frontline workers such as teachers and police against the coronavirus next week. State officials on Wednesday also announced a plan to accelerate access for people who are at least 65 years old. The state had planned to next immunize those 75 and older and essential workers including first responders, prison guards and child care providers. But residents age 65 to 74 will be included, too.

SUPREME COURT-WELCH

Michigan Supreme Court opens year with new justice

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — A new justice made her public debut as the Michigan Supreme Court heard arguments in five cases Wednesday. Election victories by Elizabeth Welch and Chief Justice Bridget McCormack give Democratic nominees a majority on the court for the first time since 2010. Because of coronavirus restrictions, the Supreme Court still is hearing cases by video conference and not in its Lansing courtroom. Welch, a Grand Rapids-area lawyer, took the seat of Stephen Markman. Markman was a conservative justice who served for 21 years but couldn’t seek re-election because of age. 

MINER STATUE

Bronze statue of miner badly damaged in UP crash

HOUGHTON, Mich. (AP) — An iconic statue that celebrates the mining heritage in the Upper Peninsula has been badly damaged by a speeding car. The bronze statue of a miner has been near downtown Houghton since 1980. The right foot and left leg were broken off in the crash Sunday night. The miner’s lunch pail was found in the snow. Houghton is looking for someone to repair it. Houghton City Manager Eric Waara says the statue is an “iconic part of the community” and a cherished piece of art. The driver in the crash wasn’t injured.

FBI-LAWMAKER’S AIDE

Tear gas talk by Michigan lawmaker’s aide leads to FBI visit

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — An FBI agent visited the home of a Michigan lawmaker’s top aide after authorities were informed that she had discussed the use of tear gas before the election. But Katie Reiter says the visit was because of a bizarre misunderstanding. Reiter says she had been on the phone 10 days earlier in October talking about legislation to ban the use of tear gas by police. State Sen. Rosemary Bayer says it’s possible an appliance repairman who was at Reiter’s home might have overheard the conversation. The FBI says it received a complaint about the “use of tear gas during the upcoming election.” Spokeswoman Mara Schneider in Detroit says the FBI didn’t know the comments were made in the context of proposed legislation.

AP-US-MICHIGAN-MINE-PERMIT

Michigan judge nullifies crucial permit for mining project

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) — A Michigan judge has overruled state regulators who approved a key permit for a proposed open-pit mine in the Upper Peninsula. The decision is another delay for a project that has been debated for nearly two decades. The judge invalidated a wetlands permit granted in 2018 to Aquila Resources for its Back Forty gold and zinc mine. The ruling issued Monday says the company provided too little information on potential damage to wetlands near the Menominee River on the Michigan-Wisconsin line. The state agency that granted the permit now says it agrees with the judge.

TAX BREAKS

Whitmer vetoes Meijer tax break, deferment of property taxes

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has pocket vetoed proposed tax breaks for retail chain Meijer. She’s done the same with separate legislation that would have let certain businesses hurt by the coronavirus pandemic defer their property tax payments without facing penalties or interest. The Republican-led Legislature passed the bills largely along party lines before adjourning last month. The Democratic governor let them die at the close of a 14-day review period Monday. She didn’t say why. But the state Treasury Department and groups representing public schools and local governments opposed the measures, citing budgetary implications.

AUTOMOBILE MILEAGE

For first time in 5 years, US gas mileage down, emissions up

DETROIT (AP) — A new government report says gas mileage for new vehicles dropped and pollution increased in model year 2019 for the first time in five years. The Environmental Protection Agency says the changes show that few automakers could meet strict emissions and mileage standards set by the Obama administration. But environmental groups contend that automakers used loopholes and stopped marketing fuel-efficient vehicles knowing that the Trump administration would roll back mileage and pollution standards. The EPA report released Wednesday says gas mileage fell 0.2 miles per gallon, while greenhouse gas emissions rose by 3 grams per mile traveled, compared with 2018 figures. Mileage fell and pollution increased for the first time since 2014. 

WORD REVIVAL

Blatteroon, snollygoster on school’s list of words to revive

A team at Wayne State University in Detroit has released an annual list of little-used words it deems worthy of resurrection. Anagapesis, blatteroon, snollygoster and footle are among the 10 words selected by Wayne State University’s Word Warriors. Unlike overused words or phrases that counterparts at Lake Superior State University in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula list each year for banishment, the Word Warriors want to dust off those that have fallen over the decades into disuse. The school says submissions come throughout the year from Detroit residents and other wordsmiths.

DRUNKEN DRIVING

Whitmer vetoes bill to let 1-time DUI offenders clear record

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has refused to sign a bill that would have let one-time drunken drivers ask a judge to set aside their conviction, despite the measure’s broad bipartisan support in the Legislature. The Democrat took no action on the expungement legislation Monday, allowing it to die when a 14-day review period expired. Her office gave no reason why. The legislation had passed easily. A key Republican who helped guide the bill through the legislative process expressed outrage. The bill was supported by top officials including Michigan Democratic Attorney General Dana Nessel and state Supreme Court Chief Justice Bridget McCormack.

NEW YEAR’S EVE-BODY

Woman missing since Dec. 31 found dead in Montcalm County

CRYSTAL TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — A woman missing since attending a family gathering on New Year’s Eve has been found dead in a marshy area in western Michigan. Police say the body of 34-year-old Jenna Evans was discovered Tuesday near Loon Lake in Montcalm County’s Crystal Township. Evans was last seen leaving her mother’s home in Stanton last Thursday. Police say the cause of Evans’ death remain under investigation.