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Another Michigan lawmaker tests positive for coronavirus
LANSING, Mich. (AP) — State Rep. John Chirkun said Monday he had tested positive for the coronavirus, becoming at least the 10th member of the Legislature to be infected since the pandemic hit Michigan. Also, two people in the Senate notified the business office of their positive tests. It was not specified if they are senators, employees or interns. Chirkun, a third-term Democrat from Roseville, is the sixth known lawmaker to be infected in less than a month. Meanwhile, the Ingham County health officer wrote a letter to Senate officials saying she had received complaints about audience members not wearing masks or social distancing during a recent committee hearing.
Cities ask legislators to ensure non-residents pay taxes
LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan mayors are asking the Legislature to act quickly to ensure two-dozen cities collecting income taxes don’t lose revenue because non-residents are working at home during the coronavirus pandemic. Officials warn that without the approval of bills in December’s lame-duck session, the communities could lose up to $160 million in 2020. The Michigan Municipal League also wants the Republican-led Senate and House to let public bodies meet virtually beyond Dec. 31 and tackle “unintended interactions” between a tax-limiting state constitutional amendment — known as Headlee — and Proposal 1, a 1994 overhaul of the state’s tax and school-finance systems.
Funeral home settles lawsuit that led to major LGBT ruling
DETROIT (AP) — A Detroit-area funeral home has agreed to pay $250,000 to settle a lawsuit that led to a groundbreaking decision that protects gay, lesbian and transgender people from discrimination in employment. Aimee Stephens died weeks before the U.S. Supreme Court in June said was covered by federal civil rights law. The business is paying $130,000 to Stephens’ estate, plus $120,000 in legal costs and fees. U.S. District Judge Sean Cox approved the settlement Monday. Stephens worked as an embalmer and funeral home director at R.G. and G.R. Harris Funeral Homes in Garden City. Stephens was fired when she told her boss that she no longer wanted to be recognized as a man.
Michigan nears launch of online sports betting, other games
LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan casinos could launch online sports betting and gambling games in December once state lawmakers waive the remaining time they have to review proposed licensing rules. The Joint Committee on Administrative Rules is expected to effectively bless the new regulations at a meeting Tuesday. The move will come nearly a year after the Legislature and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer legalized internet gambling and wagering on sports. Sports bettors were able to place wagers in person at casinos beginning this past spring. But mobile sports betting, internet poker and other online games have waited for licensing regulations.
Casperson, ‘titan’ of the Upper Peninsula, dies at age 61
ESCANABA, Mich. (AP) — Tom Casperson has died. Casperson was a former state lawmaker from the Upper Peninsula who cast a key vote to expand Medicaid and built alliances with labor unions. The 61-year-old Republican from Escanaba had been stricken with cancer. Casperson was a conservative voice on taxes and regulation who frequently criticized state agencies for how they regulated wetlands and forests. He cast a key vote to expand Medicaid during Gov. Rick Snyder’s administration. Casperson was praised by unions for voting against right-to-work legislation, which made union membership voluntary. The bill, however, was signed into law.
Redevelopment to follow razing of blighted UP structures
CASPIAN, Mich. (AP) — Five houses and other structures in Iron County are being demolished as part of a plan to revitalize blighted properties in a part of the Upper Peninsula. Four of the properties are in Caspian and the other is in Crystal Falls, according to the Michigan Land Bank Authority. The five properties were transferred to the state land bank after tax foreclosures. The land bank worked with local officials on plans to demolish the structures and start the redevelopment process. Emily Doerr, executive director of the land bank, says it’s an “exciting new opportunity” for growth in Iron County.
Detroit mayor: 5K residents a day could get vaccine in 2021
DETROIT (AP) — Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan says he expects 5,000 residents a day will receive vaccines once they are made widely available. Speaking on CBS’s “Face the Nation” Sunday, Duggan also discussed the logistics of vaccinating some 700,000 city residents. He says convention centers and parking areas near stadiums would play major roles. Hospital workers, first-responders, those over 65 and other groups more at risk of coronavirus infection were expected to be first in line to receive vaccinations. Duggan said he expected some vaccines to be available to the wider public early in 2021. At 5,000 vaccinations a day, Duggan said it would still likely take three or four months to complete vaccinations once they start in Detroit.
RAIL SERVICE-PANDEMIC DELAYS
COVID puts plans for test of new Michigan train line on hold
The coronavirus pandemic has forced supporters of a new passenger train service to northern Michigan to put off plans for test rides on the proposed 240-mile line. The Detroit Free Press cites backers of the Ann Arbor-to-Traverse City route as saying those test runs were slated for 2021. They are now on hold. The deputy director of a nonprofit organization leading the push for the new line, James Bruckbauer, says test runs are part of a multistep process that will also include deciding on an operating structure. But he says organizers aren’t sure when they’ll be able to do them “because of COVID-19 concerns.” Advocates say the service would give people along the line flexibility in commuting to jobs.
2 die in southwestern Michigan house fire
PORTER TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — Authorities are investigating a house fire that killed two people in southwestern Michigan over the weekend. In a Sunday statement, he Cass County Sheriff’s Department identified the two who died in the Porter Township fire on Saturday as 69-year-old Patricia Cloud and 37-year-old Brandon Cloud. The statement said the two were unable to escape from the home and died of injuries from the fire. It did not include a possible cause of the fire. The Porter Fire Department was called to the location near the state border with Indiana at just after 5 p.m. on Saturday.
GM rethinks planned stake in electric vehicle maker Nikola
NEW YORK (AP) — General Motors will no longer be taking stake in the electric vehicle company Nikola which announced Monday that it would scuttle one of its marquee vehicles, an electric and hydrogen-powered pickup that was to be called the Badger. Shares of Nikola plunged 26%. Nikola released updated terms between the companies for a supply agreement related to GM’s fuel-cell system. The new deal excludes an 11% stake in Nikola for GM. The initial agreement would also have allowed Nikola to use GM’s new battery electric truck underpinnings for the Badger. With that agreement off, Nikola said Monday that it will begin refunding all deposits made by customers for first dibs on the pickup.