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Michigan car insurance fee falling to $100 a vehicle in July

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan drivers who want unlimited lifetime coverage for crash injuries will pay $100 per vehicle starting in July — a reduction from record $220 they are assessed now.

The Michigan Catastrophic Claims Association announced the 55% fee cut Wednesday, months after the passage of a new law making the mandatory benefit optional beginning next summer.

The state-created entity that reimburses insurers for claims surpassing $580,000 says those who buy less personal injury protection coverage will avoid the $100 fee altogether, unless the association is in a deficit position. Michigan has the highest average car insurance premiums in the country.


Girl, 13, dies after snowmobile crash in Oakland County

INDEPENDENCE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — Authorities say a 13-year-old girl who was a passenger on a snowmobile has died after a crash with another snowmobile.

The incident occurred Tuesday in Oakland County’s Independence Township. The sheriff’s office says the girl was riding with a 13-year-old boy when their snowmobile struck a snowmobile being driven by the boy’s father.

The boy was in stable condition Wednesday. All were riding helmets.

The girl lived in Orion Township and attended Lake Orion schools. Her name was not released.


Michigan prison museum to close at end of year

JACKSON, Mich. (AP) — A museum at a former southern Michigan prison is closing at the end of December.

Cell Block 7 in Jackson allows visitors to step into the cells and walk the corridors of what was once the largest walled institution in the world. The museum’s website invites people to “spend some time on the inside” during a self-guided tour.

The museum opened five years ago under an agreement between the state of Michigan and the Ella Sharp Museum, also in Jackson. Ella Sharp director Diane Gutenkauf says the costs are too high.

Gutenkauf says some artifacts from the prison museum will be available at the Sharp museum, including oral histories of people who worked there or were inmates.

The last day at the prison museum will be Dec. 29.


Suit seeks to block Michigan restrictions on helping voters

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — A Democratic group is challenging Michigan’s restrictions on transporting voters to the polls and helping people apply for absentee ballots, asking a federal judge to block enforcement of the laws.

The lawsuit was filed late Tuesday. It is the second voting-related suit brought in two weeks by Priorities USA, a super PAC that plans to spend millions of dollars to mobilize and turn out voters in Michigan.

The new complaint alleges that the transportation ban conflicts with federal law and the limit on who can assist with returning absentee ballot applications is not justified. The suit contends the law severely burdens voting, especially minority, disabled, senior and low-income voters.

The office of Democratic Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel, the defendant in the case, had no immediate comment Wednesday.


Michigan man clearing snow gets trapped by machinery, dies

BANGOR, Mich. (AP) — Southwestern Michigan police say a man using heavy machinery to clear snow died after he became trapped beneath part of the machinery.

The Van Buren County Sheriff’s Office says the 40-year-old man was using a skid-steer loader to move snow Tuesday morning at a business near Bangor when he became trapped beneath its bucket.

Police say the man was working under the bucket area to clean snow from near machinery pedals when the bucket lowered onto him.

Co-workers freed him and performed CPR, but police say the man died at the scene from his injuries.

Sheriff Daniel Abbot calls the man’s death “an unfortunate incident dealing with a farm implement.”

WNEM reports police say the man died while clearing snow from his marijuana grow business. His name hasn’t been released.


Volkswagen expanding electric vehicle production in US

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (AP) — Volkswagen is making Tennessee its North American base for electric vehicle production, breaking ground on an $800 million (727 million euro) expansion at its plant in Chattanooga.

Volkswagen of America CEO Scott Keogh spoke at the expansion’s groundbreaking ceremony on Wednesday, calling electric vehicles “the future of mobility.”

“Volkswagen will build them for millions, not just millionaires,” he vowed.

The company will build both internal combustion engine and battery powered vehicles on the same assembly line.

The “ID CROZZ” models — ID stands for intelligent design — will be initially be made in Germany, while Volkswagen completes a 564,000-square-foot (52,397-square-meter) addition to the Chattanooga body shop. Production will begin in Chattanooga in 2022. The plant, which employs about 3,800 people, will add about 1,000 new jobs.


Union enacts ethics reforms in wake of federal investigation

DETROIT (AP) — The United Auto Workers union will tighten financial controls, ban contributions from employers and vendors to charities run by its officers, and hire an ethics officer in the wake of a federal corruption investigation.

Acting President Rory Gamble said in a statement Wednesday that the reforms also will include a commitment to recover misused money.

The union also will ban purchases of promotional items by training programs run jointly by Detroit’s three automakers and the union.

Gamble says that he’s committed to regaining the trust of members and make sure that misconduct never happens again.


Judge allows lawsuit seeking action on Lake Erie algae

TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) — A federal judge in Ohio says an environmental group pushing for mandatory regulations to prevent toxic algae blooms on Lake Erie can move forward with its lawsuit.

The judge in Toledo issued a ruling Wednesday denying the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s request to dismiss the lawsuit.

The lawsuit says the U.S. EPA must hold Ohio accountable for reducing the polluting runoff that feeds the algae and that the state’s reliance on largely voluntary efforts aren’t working.

Howard Lerner of the Environmental Law & Policy Center said he’s pleased with the ruling and now hopes that the court will quickly decide to force Ohio to adopt enforceable regulatory standards for the lake.

A message seeking comment was left with the U.S. EPA.


Doctors: Double lung transplant recipient was teen who vaped

DETROIT (AP) — A double lung transplant recipient who severely damaged those internal organs by vaping has been identified as a Michigan teenager.

Doctors at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit described to reporters Tuesday the procedure that saved the 17-year-old’s life and pleaded for the public to understand the dangers of vaping.

The teen was admitted in early September to a Detroit-area hospital with what appeared to be pneumonia. He was eventually taken to Henry Ford Hospital and the transplant was performed Oct. 15.

The double lung transplant is believed to be first performed on a patient due to vaping.

Dr. Hassan Nemeh described the teen’s lungs as having an “enormous amount of inflammation and scarring.” The doctors did not specify what the teen vaped or how long he vaped.

Health officials declined to release the teen’s name. They say he is expected to recover.


Northwest Indiana mayor says lake waters threaten pavilion

(Information from: The Times,

PORTAGE, Ind. (AP) — A Northwest Indiana mayor said his police and fire departments want to close a city-managed lakefront pavilion that many people use to enter Indiana Dunes National Park.

Portage Mayor John Cannon said the rising waters of Lake Michigan threaten the $17 million Lakefront Park and Riverwalk.

Park Superintendent Paul Labovitz tells The (Northwest Indiana) Times that high waves on the lake breached a dune adjacent to the pavilion for the first time last week, and waves were seen rushing into the area again Monday.

Cannon says police and fire officials say they don’t have the equipment needed to reach anyone caught in the breached area,

Cannon also fears the pavilion’s foundation is at risk since the nearby dune has been breached.