Latest Michigan news, sports, business and entertainment at 5:20 p.m. EDT

MEDICAL PAROLE

Medical parole measures approved by Michigan Legislature

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Legislation designed to ease Michigan’s ability to parole medically frail inmates is nearing final approval.

The Senate on Thursday overwhelmingly passed bills that earlier cleared the House, meaning they will go to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s desk.

The bills would enable some prisoners with severe and chronic physical or mental disabilities to finish their sentences at a medical facility rather than a prison, if approved by the parole board.

Lawmakers say the legislation would save the state money because the federal government covers a portion of Medicaid costs to treat inmates housed outside prison walls.

About 20 to 30 prisoners could be eligible for medical parole under the bills, but there are an additional 450 to 500 inmates who could become eligible in the future based on their chronic care needs.

SNOW DAYS

Michigan Legislature approves bill to forgive 4 snow days

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Legislation that would forgive Michigan schools from having to make up as many as four snow days is headed to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer for her expected signature.

The Senate approved the bill unanimously Thursday.

It would exclude the period from Jan. 29 through Feb. 1 from counting as snow days. That’s when an artic deep freeze shut down school.

The vote came two days after Senate Democrats refused to give the measure immediate effect over a dispute involving paying hourly school workers. Thursday, though, enough Democrats joined Republicans to ensure the bill goes into effect this school year.

State law forgives districts from making up six days canceled for emergencies, and schools can get a waiver for three additional days. Many districts have already reached or exceeded nine snow days.

DTE ENERGY-ELECTRIC RATES

Regulators approve rate increase for DTE electric customers

DETROIT (AP) — Michigan utility regulators have approved a rate increase for DTE Energy’s electric customers — amounting to roughly $6 more a month for residents — but less than what the utility sought.

The Michigan Public Service Commission on Thursday approved the $273 million increase, about $203 million less than the Detroit-based utility requested. Commissioners also denied DTE’s request to assess a charge for customers who have installed renewable energy projects.

The MPSC authorized DTE to spend $283 million through 2021 on tree-trimming efforts. DTE previously reached an agreement with regulators to clear power line hazards behind Detroit properties after a woman was electrocuted by a downed wire last year.

The rate increase — nearly 9% for residents and roughly 4% for businesses — is effective May 9.

DTE says in a statement the increase will pay for new and updated equipment and technology.

RESTAURANT SHOOTINGS

Man convicted in shooting deaths of 3 inside Detroit eatery

DETROIT (AP) — A jury has convicted a Detroit man in the fatal shootings of three other men inside a fast-food restaurant.

The Wayne County prosecutor’s office says 30-year-old William Wilbourn-Little was found guilty Thursday in circuit court of three counts of first-degree murder and two gun charges.

Police have said two men wearing masks walked up to a White Castle on Detroit’s west side just after midnight on Sept. 9 and fired shots inside the restaurant before fleeing on foot. Authorities say 25-year-old Rashawn Harrington, 24-year-old Trevaughn Anthony and 20-year-old DeShawn Gadson were pronounced dead at the scene.

Wilbourn-Little’s sentencing is scheduled for May 16.

STUDENT SUICIDE-INVESTIGATION

Report: Teachers requesteed help for bullied Lansing student

(Information from: Lansing State Journal, http://www.lansingstatejournal.com)

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — A report says a Lansing School District internal investigation following a 13-year-old student’s suicide shows the boy was bullied in school and district officials received pleas for help from the boy’s mother and a request for intervention from his teachers.

The Lansing State Journal reported Thursday that the investigation was conducted by a school public safety officer after the Everett High School eight-grader’s death in January and was submitted to school officials March 25.

The 121-page investigation report obtained by the newspaper doesn’t address what action, if any, an assistant principal took regarding the teachers’ request for intervention after they noticed a change in the boy’s behavior in the months before his death

School Superintendent Yvonne Caamal Canul said in a statement she could not discuss the report.

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PRIVATE PRISON CONTRACTS

Mississippi prison loses contract, Michigan prison to reopen

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — A private prison in Mississippi could be in danger of closing, while one in Michigan is reopening, after the federal Bureau of Prisons awarded contracts Wednesday to imprison noncitizens convicted of certain felonies.

CoreCivic says Thursday that it’s seeking other users for the 2,200-bed Adams County Correctional Center near Natchez, which employs 380 workers. Spokesman Steve Owen says the Nashville, Tennessee, company hasn’t decided yet whether it will close the prison if no other government houses prisoners there after the federal contract expires July 31.

Geo Group of Boca Raton, Florida, says it has won contracts for 5,000 beds for the next 10 years, including plans to reopen the 1,800-bed North Lake Correctional Facility in Baldwin, Michigan. The other 3,200 beds are in two Geo-managed prisons in Reeves County, Texas.

CORRECTIONS OFFICERS CHARGED

2 corrections officers charged in separate jail incidents

MOUNT CLEMENS, Mich. (AP) — Two corrections officers have been charged in separate incidents that allegedly occurred while they were on duty at a county jail in southeastern Michigan.

The Macomb County sheriff’s office says 39-year-old Sgt. James Stanley was arraigned Thursday on misdemeanor assault charges. The sheriff’s office says a Taser was used on an inmate in September. A second inmate suffered a bloody and swollen nose in July.

Stanley has been placed on leave from the sheriff’s office. Defense attorney Douglas Gutscher declined to comment Thursday pending review of the investigative reports.

A 25-year-old ex-deputy faces arraignment on a criminal sexual conduct charge after a female inmate told authorities he engaged in sexual relations with her at the jail in Mount Clemens, northeast of Detroit. She reported the incidents in March.

PRISON DEATHS-MICHIGAN

Michigan admits to errors in state prison death counts

(Information from: Detroit Free Press, http://www.freep.com)

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — The Michigan Department of Corrections has acknowledged errors in its state prison death counts after a newspaper investigation revealed the agency hasn’t been accurately or consistently tracking the deaths as it’s federally mandated to do.

The Detroit Free Press’ analysis of open records comes after Michigan reported to the federal government that 2018 saw the highest rate of deaths in Michigan prisons in 25 years.

The newspaper says state lawmakers wouldn’t know about the spike because the department’s 2018 statistical report hasn’t been published on its website yet. The investigation also found it has excluded some deaths from its reporting to the Legislature without notifying lawmakers.

Department spokesman Chris Gautz says reports submitted to the federal government are accurate, but prison death counts in its annual reports are incorrect.

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SPRING FLOODING-MISSISSIPPI RIVER-THE LATEST

The Latest: Flood reaches record level at Quad Cities

ST. LOUIS (AP) — The Mississippi River at the Quad Cities in Iowa and Illinois has reached a new record high.

The National Weather Service website on Thursday afternoon showed the river level at 22.64 feet (6.9 meters), just above the 22.63-foot mark reached on July 9, 1993.

Parts of downtown Davenport, Iowa, remain underwater after the river tore through a temporary barrier.

Several Mississippi River towns also are seeing floods that are closing in on levels reached in 1993, the benchmark flood for many areas of the Midwest.

Two Mississippi River bridges — one at Quincy, Illinois, and another at Louisiana, Missouri — have been forced to close.

In West Alton, Missouri, 20 miles (30 kilometers) north of St. Louis, the 500 or so residents were under a voluntary evacuation as the river was expected to crest a half-foot higher than the levee can hold. Officials say the levee is so long that sandbagging isn’t an option.

MICHIGAN WEATHER-FLOODING

Southeastern Michigan braces for more rain after flooding

DETROIT (AP) — Communities in southeastern Michigan are bracing for more flooding after heavy rainfall swamped homes , left some streets impassable and closed a stretch of Detroit-area freeway.

The National Weather Service says flood watches are in effect from Thursday afternoon into Friday morning in at least a six-county area. Forecasts call for more than 1 inch (2.5 centimeters) of new rain and could bring more flooding in urban and rural areas.

Heavy rains earlier brought flooding in Dearborn Heights. Flooding closed a stretch of the Southfield Freeway in both directions for a second day Thursday at Outer Drive on Detroit’s west side after water approaching 14 feet (4.3 meters) deep filled the freeway underpass.

Sandbags are being stacked in Detroit’s Jefferson-Chalmers neighborhood to curb flooding near canals off the Detroit River.