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WORKER COMPENSATION

Michigan Senate eyes changing minimum wage, sick time laws

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan legislators are considering changes to minimum wage increases and paid sick leave requirements months after they were enacted into law.

A Republican-controlled Senate committee is expected to vote on the revisions Wednesday, and the full Senate could follow later in the day.

It remains unclear exactly how the laws would be amended, but the business community wants them scaled back.

The laws began as ballot initiatives and were enacted by lawmakers rather than going to a public vote. Democrats are criticizing attempts to water down the laws in the same legislative session as unconstitutional and in violation of the will of the voters who backed Democrats in the election.

Lawmakers have enacted citizen initiatives seven times since approval of Michigan’s 1963 constitution but have never substantially scaled one back.

MICHIGAN PIPELINE

Michigan Senate to consider Straits oil pipeline legislation

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Legislation poised to advance in Michigan’s Senate would authorize the Mackinac Bridge Authority to help implement a deal to replace twin oil pipelines in a crucial Great Lakes channel.

The Republican-led Senate Government Operations Committee plans to pass the fast-tracked bill Wednesday, and the Senate may follow later in the day.

Gov. Rick Snyder’s administration says the bridge authority is the logical choice to oversee a proposed pipeline tunnel in the Straits of Mackinac. Opponents of the agreement say the authority’s mission should not be altered so significantly.

In October, the Snyder administration and Canadian pipeline giant Enbridge announced a deal to replace the 65-year-old oil pipes that critics describe as an environmental disaster waiting to happen. Snyder hopes to lock in the hotly contested deal before leaving office.

ECONOMIC INCENTIVES

Michigan OKs incentives it says will create 4,500 jobs

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — A Michigan board has approved tax breaks and other incentives the state says will create more than 4,500 jobs, including 2,500 at Ford Motor Co. as part of the automaker’s plan to renovate Detroit’s train depot and redevelop nearby properties for researching and developing self-driving vehicles.

The Strategic Fund board Tuesday authorized putting the Corktown properties into a Renaissance Zone, meaning Ford won’t pay $200 million-plus in property taxes over 30 years.

The board also approved $31 million in tax incentives for mobility company Aptiv to renovate a facility in Troy and hire 500 engineers and staff. Among other incentives authorized Tuesday is a $10 million grant for Samsung SDI Co. to put its first high-volume U.S. automotive battery pack manufacturing plant in Auburn Hills, creating more than 400 jobs.

MICHIGAN REEF-SANDS

Funds OKed for removing mine sands from Lake Superior harbor

DETROIT (AP) — The federal government has come up with money for removing additional waste mining sands from a section of Lake Superior off Michigan’s Keweenaw Peninsula.

The Environmental Protection Agency is providing $946,000 to dredge stamp sands from an ancient riverbed north of Buffalo Reef.

The coarse, black sands were generated in the early 1900s as a byproduct of copper processing and dumped in the lake. They’re drifting toward the 2,220-acre reef, an important fish spawning area.

EPA previously gave $3 million to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to design and carry out the dredging.

Officials say the extra funding will pay to dredge an additional 50,000 cubic yards of the sands, bringing the total being removed to 157,500 cubic yards.

The Corps says the work will be done next year.

STATE AID-PRIVATE SCHOOLS

Fight over aid for private schools moves to Supreme Court

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — A coalition of public school groups is appealing a major decision that allows Michigan tax dollars to flow to private schools.

The groups and the American Civil Liberties Union are urging the state Supreme Court to reverse an October opinion by the appeals court. The court said private schools can receive public money to help them comply with health, safety and welfare rules.

But critics say the Michigan Constitution clearly states that no public money can aid a private school. In a court filing Tuesday, lawyers say the constitution lists no exceptions. Don Wotruba of the Michigan Association of School Boards says voters settled the issue years ago.

The Republican-controlled Legislature and Gov. Rick Snyder approved $2.5 million in 2016 for state requirements at private schools.

ARETHA FRANKLIN-DETROIT MANSION

Developer plans to update home previously owned by Franklin

DETROIT (AP) — A real estate developer who recently bought the Detroit mansion owned by late singing legend Aretha Franklin plans to renovate the home.

Anthony Kellum, president of Michigan-based Kellum Mortgage, announced Tuesday that he purchased the 5,600-square-foot (520-square-meter) brick home adjacent to the Detroit Golf Club that fetched $300,000 last month.

Kellum says he plans to update the home built in 1927. He says it has been vacant for 10 years and requires “major renovations to restore its original beauty.”

The Detroit News reports Franklin bought the home in 1993 but nearly lost it in 2008 due to unpaid property taxes.

Franklin’s 4,148-square-foot (385-square-meter) Colonial-style house in suburban Detroit’s Bloomfield Township still is listed for $800,000 .

Franklin died of pancreatic cancer in August in her Detroit riverfront apartment. She was 76.

CHINA-US PRISONER

China court reduces sentence of American Wendell Brown

BEIJING (AP) — A rights monitoring group says a Chinese court has reduced the prison sentence for former football player and American citizen Wendell Brown from four years to three for his involvement in a bar fight.

Brown, a native of Detroit who played for Ball State University in Indiana, had been teaching American football in southwest China when he was arrested in September 2016 and charged with intentional assault. He denied hitting a man at a bar and said he was defending himself after being attacked.

The San Francisco-based Dui Hua Foundation said Brown will be transferred from a detention center to a prison in the southwestern city of Chongqing, from where he can then apply for early release. He is now due to be set free on Sept. 24, 2019.

AP-US-MARINE-RECRUIT-DEATH

Judge dismisses lawsuit over Marine recruit’s death

DETROIT (AP) — A judge has dismissed a lawsuit over the death of a Marine recruit from Michigan who killed himself after a confrontation with a drill instructor.

Federal Judge Arthur Tarnow expressed “strong reservations” Tuesday but said he must follow legal precedent, which bars civil litigation in military deaths.

Raheel Siddiqui (Sa-DEE’-kee) died in 2016 at Parris Island, South Carolina. The Marine Corps said the 20-year-old Taylor, Michigan, man jumped to his death.

There was evidence that drill instructors beat, choked and kicked recruits. Several Marines have been convicted for their roles in abuse at Parris Island.

Siddiqui’s family filed a $100 million lawsuit, saying recruiters never disclosed that instructors had an anti-Muslim bias. The family received $500,000 in death benefits and insurance, but the judge says it’s “woefully out of step.”

GENERAL MOTORS-TRUMP

Trump tests presidential limits by threat to General Motors

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump is testing the limits of his presidential authority and political muscle by threatening to slash all federal subsidies to General Motors because of its planned job cuts in the U.S.

Trump unloaded on Twitter on Tuesday, a day after GM announced it would shutter five plants and slash 14,000 jobs in North America. Many of the job cuts would affect the Midwest, the politically crucial region where the president promised a manufacturing rebirth.

He tweeted: “Very disappointed with General Motors and their CEO, Mary Barra, for closing plants in Ohio, Michigan and Maryland. Nothing being closed in Mexico & China.”

He says his administration is “looking at cutting all GM subsidies, including for electric cars.”

PAID UNION LEAVE

Michigan Senate OKs ban on taxpayer-paid union release time

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Legislation advancing in Michigan would prohibit school districts and other public employers from providing paid release time for employees to conduct union business.

The Republican-sponsored bill won narrow, largely party-line approval in the Senate on Tuesday, when the Legislature’s postelection session resumed. A House committee will consider similar bills later in the week, a signal that they could gain traction.

The prohibition against allowing publicly funded paid release time would not apply to labor contracts for police, firefighters, corrections officers and transit employees.

Supporters of the legislation say it would save taxpayers money. Opponents say such arrangements are collectively bargained for, and are a productive and cost-effective way to resolve labor grievances and other issues.

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