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DRUG LISTING

Michigan lists pain drug Gabapentin as controlled substance

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan is listing a drug commonly used to treat nerve pain and seizures as a controlled substance, a step intended to fight the opioid epidemic.

The state Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs says Gabapentin, also known as Neurontin, can have potentially harmful effects when combined with other opioids.

A number of states have designated it as a controlled substance. The Michigan Board of Pharmacy supported the move.

The Michigan licensing department also is revising training standards for those who prescribe and dispense opioids and other controlled substances.

They will be required to learn about matters such as alternative pain management treatments and counseling patients on the effects and risks associated with opioids.

ELECTRIC VEHICLES-MICHIGAN

Michigan approves Consumers Energy EV charging program

JACKSON, Mich. (AP) — Michigan’s Public Service Commission has approved Jackson-based Consumers Energy’s PowerMIDrive electric vehicle charging program.

The three-year, $10 million pilot program supports the state’s growing electric vehicle market through new rates, rebates and customer education.

The program includes a Nighttime Savers Rate to encourage drivers to charge their electric vehicles between 7 p.m. and 6 a.m. Residential drivers who sign up for the nighttime rate will be offered a $500 rebate for each electric vehicle. Consumers Energy also will offer $5,000 rebates for chargers installed in public areas such as workplaces and multi-unit dwellings.

Natural Resources Defense Council senior attorney Mark Nabong says the “program can help more people access electric cars as a clean, cheaper alternative to gasoline cars.”

CONVICTIONS VACATED

After new look, Detroit prosecutor wants to drop convictions

DETROIT (AP) — The Wayne County prosecutor’s office says it will ask a judge throw out convictions in two cases, including the case of a man who was in prison for 21 years.

Prosecutors say they want to dismiss criminal sexual conduct convictions against Kevin Lackey. Prosecutors now say he was charged based on “profoundly invalid dog tracking evidence.” The case was reopened by the conviction integrity unit.

Records show Lackey was convicted in 1993 and released from prison in 2014.

In another case, prosecutors want to set aside the second-degree murder conviction of Michael Powels. He was sentenced to at least 45 years in prison in 2008. Prosecutors say they’re convinced a key witness gave false testimony.

A judge will hold a hearing in both cases Thursday.

FORD-EUROPE

Ford to shake up European business, cut jobs

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — Ford Motor Co. says it is cutting jobs in Europe in a wide-ranging restructuring as it focuses on its most profitable models and shifts production towards electric cars.

In a statement, the company said Thursday that “structural cost improvements will be supported by a reduction of surplus labor,” both hourly and salaried.

The Dearborn, Michigan-based company didn’t reveal how many jobs would be cut and said reductions would be achieved as far as possible through voluntary departures negotiated with unions and employee representatives.

The move follows plans announced last year to reduce white-collar jobs across the company’s global business.

MICHIGAN SINKHOLE

Officials: Human error led to 2016 suburban Detroit sinkhole

FRASER, Mich. (AP) — Officials say a sinkhole north of Detroit that damaged homes and cost $75 million to fix was caused by human error that allowed the quick release of waste and water into a sewer line.

Macomb Public Works Commissioner Candice Miller said Wednesday that an assessment determined the surge fractured the pipe in Fraser which drew in sand and created a void in the surrounding soil.

The pipe collapsed and caused the Dec. 24, 2016, sinkhole which grew to football field-size.

But the problem started in 2014 when a gate was closed to hold back sewage for pipe maintenance. Miller said the gate was supposed to be gradually raised to allow the flow’s release over several hours. She said that wasn’t done properly on a number of occasions.

She said an insurance claim will be filed to recover some costs.

MIDDLE SCHOOL-STABBING

Girl, 13, wounds classmate with scissors at Michigan school

BERKLEY, Mich. (AP) — Authorities say a seventh-grader wounded a classmate with a pair of scissors at a suburban Detroit middle school.

Berkley Police say the incident Tuesday afternoon in an Anderson Middle School classroom involved a girl stabbing a boy in the back. Both are 13.

Principal Michael Ross said in a message to parents that Berkley Public Safety officers classroom responded within minutes. He says the wounded student was taken to a hospital for treatment and is expected to recover. Ross says the girl was taken into custody.

Details about what may have led to the stabbing weren’t immediately released.

Ross asked parents to remind their children “that if they ever hear or see anything suspicious or unsafe, to immediately report it to a trusted adult.”

PARTY DISAPPEARANCE-DEATH

Conviction stands after appeal in Halloween party death

MONROE, Mich. (AP) — The Michigan appeals court has affirmed a first-degree murder conviction in the case of a woman who disappeared from a Halloween party, rejecting arguments that DNA was illegally used.

Daniel Clay was convicted of killing a woman in Monroe County in 2014 and stashing her body in woods. Chelsea Bruck’s body was found after six months.

Clay made several arguments on appeal. He said his rights were violated when investigators matched his DNA on Bruck’s clothing to a sample obtained by police in another case in 2016. He says the sample should have been destroyed when the previous charge was dismissed.

But the appeals court says a DNA sample would have been available again when Clay was charged in yet another case.

At trial, Clay claimed Bruck’s death occurred during aggressive sex and wasn’t intentional.

FORD-NEW EXPLORER

Ford revamps Explorer SUV for 1st time since 2011 model year

DETROIT (AP) — Ford’s aging Explorer SUV is getting a major revamp as it faces growing competition in the market for family haulers with three rows of seats.

The company unveiled the new version Wednesday night at Ford Field, home of the NFL’s Detroit Lions. It comes just before next week’s press days at the Detroit auto show, where the SUV will be on display.

The Explorer gets a top-to-bottom update that includes a switch from front- to rear-wheel-drive, as well as upgraded engines and transmissions, some nice standard safety features and even high-performance and gas-electric hybrid versions. The switch to rear drive will boost towing capacity and off-road performance, Ford says.

The Explorer hasn’t been updated since the 2011 model year. Sales dropped 3.5 percent last year to just under 262,000.

NEW LEGISLATURE-FIRST BILLS

House leader, AG get behind bills to limit asset forfeiture

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Republicans and Democrats in the Michigan House want to make it tougher for law enforcement to take ownership of property seized in drug cases that don’t result in convictions.

The first bills introduced in the 100th Legislature Wednesday relate to asset forfeiture. Republican House Speaker Lee Chatfield joined Democrats, including Attorney General Dana Nessel, to back the legislation.

One bill would prohibit prosecutors from permanently confiscating assets thought to be associated with criminal activity unless a defendant is convicted of a drug crime, has entered into a plea agreement or no one claims any interest in the assets.

The measure wouldn’t apply in seizures of property and cash worth more than $50,000, excluding the value of contraband. The House passed similar legislation last year, but it died in the Senate.