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MICHIGAN WEATHER-FLOODING

Michigan governor declares flood emergency in Wayne County

DETROIT (AP) — Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has declared a state of emergency in Wayne County in response to widespread flooding resulting from this week’s heavy rainfall.

Whitmer acted Thursday after Wayne County Executive Warren Evans issued a similar declaration. Evans pointed out about 3,000 homes in the county including Detroit have been damaged and local resources are inadequate to deal with it.

With her declaration, Whitmer is making available state resources in cooperation with local response and recovery efforts in the designated area.

The National Weather Service says about 3.6 inches (9.1 centimeters) of rain fell from 12:53 p.m. Tuesday until 3:53 a.m. Wednesday.

The rain swamped homes and closed a stretch of the Southfield Freeway in both directions.

The weather service says a flood watch remains in effect through Friday morning in a six-county area including Wayne.

Sandbags were being stacked in Detroit’s Jefferson-Chalmers neighborhood to curb flooding.

TAX FORECLOSURE PROGRAM-DETROIT

Program helps keep Detroit homes from tax foreclosure

DETROIT (AP) — A report shows that more than 4,300 families in Detroit avoided losing their homes last year through a program designed to prevent properties from entering a county tax foreclosure auction.

The Quicken Loans Community Fund says Thursday that its 2018 Neighbor to Neighbor initiative involved help from 32 community groups and other organizations and focused on door-to-door outreach to 60,000 families living in tax-delinquent properties.

The report shows that 21% of homeowners canvassed were unaware their property was behind on property taxes. More than 60% of people renting tax-delinquent properties were unaware of the home’s tax status.

The Neighbor to Neighbor initiative gave residents information about property tax foreclosure, how to connect to resources and provided property tax exemption workshops.

Quicken Loans Community Fund strategic investments vice president Laura Grannemann says the effort is “stabilizing housing in Detroit, preventing future blight and helping homeowners and occupants find sustainable, long-term solutions for their property tax burdens.”

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.

KIRTLAND’S WARBLER TOURS

Tours planned this month to see elusive Kirtland’s warbler

MIO, Mich. (AP) — Bird watchers, take note: The U.S. Forest Service is offering guided tours this month for people interested in seeing the elusive Kirtland’s warbler.

The ground-dwelling songbird nests almost exclusively in young jack pine forests of northern Michigan. It was on the brink of extinction but has bounced back after a recovery campaign by government agencies and private groups.

Tours in the Huron-Manistee National Forests will be conducted daily from May 15-31. They start at 7:30 a.m. at the Mio Ranger Station.

Each begins with a short video that tells the history of the Kirtland’s warbler and conservation efforts. Afterward, a Forest Service expert leads participants on a visit to jack pine stands where the birds live.

The tours cost $10 for adults and are free for children.

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.

ELECTION 2020-KLOBUCHAR

Klobuchar releases $100B substance abuse, mental health plan

CHICAGO (AP) — Democratic presidential candidate Amy Klobuchar (KLOH’-buh-shar) has released a plan to spend $100 billion over a decade to improve mental health care and fight substance abuse.

It’s an issue the Minnesota senator has faced firsthand as the daughter of an alcoholic who struggled with addiction for years before getting sober.

The wide-ranging plan unveiled Friday includes funding for early intervention of mental health disorders and drug use, a national suicide prevention campaign and better access to opioid addiction and other types of treatment.

Klobuchar says that as president she would prioritize mental health and substance abuse treatment over incarceration for nonviolent offenders.

The $100 billion would come largely from opioid manufacturers through a new fee on drug makers and a massive legal settlement that’s not yet in the works.

BELLE ISLE-SPRING CLEANUP

Plastic, other trash removed from Belle Isle waterways

DETROIT (AP) — More than 1,200 pounds of disposable plastic and other litter has been removed from canals, lakes and lagoons on Belle Isle in Detroit.

The Belle Isle Conservancy says 1,400 volunteers took part Saturday in an annual spring cleanup at the nearly 1,000-acre (400-hectare) island park in the Detroit River. The event supports the Keep Belle Isle Beautiful anti-litter campaign.

Belle Isle became Michigan’s 102nd state park in 2014. Michigan’s Department of Natural Resources manages the park.

The Belle Isle Conservancy is responsible for generating funds for improvement projects and cultural programs throughout the island.

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.

TESLA-RAISING CAPITAL

Tesla to raise money after painful 1Q, and Musk is buying in

PALO ALTO, Calif. (AP) — A week after posting a huge first quarter loss and saying the company needs to raise cash, Tesla is doing just that and CEO Elon Musk will buy $10 million worth of stock in an $1.5 billion offering of shares and convertible notes.

Tesla said Thursday that it’s offering $650 million of common stock and $1.35 billion in convertible senior notes due in 2024 in two separate offerings.

The company anticipates gross proceeds of about $2.3 billion, before discounts and expenses.

Last week, Tesla reported its cash balance at the end of the first quarter shrunk by $1.5 billion since December, to $2.2 billion. Musk said during a conference call that Tesla might need to raise capital again.

Shares of Tesla Inc. jumped 5 percent before the opening bell.

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.