Latest Michigan news, sports, business and entertainment at 9:20 p.m. EDT

MISSING WOMAN-ALPENA

Help sought in woman’s disappearance; still ‘on our mind’

ALPENA, Mich. (AP) — Authorities are pleading with the public for help in solving the 2012 disappearance of an Alpena County woman.

The seventh anniversary of Lisa Knight’s disappearance is Saturday. Det. Sgt. Steve Harshberger of the state police says Knight probably is dead but the case is open until investigators can learn what happened and find her remains.

Harshberger appeared at a news conference Thursday with Knight’s parents. She was 29 years old in 2012.

Mark Knight says his daughter is “on our mind every day.” He says, “We have to believe there are people out there who know something.”

Harshberger says investigators have received about 150 tips and closed all but a dozen. Anyone with information can call (800) 422-5245.

MAYORS-ASIAN CARP

Great Lakes mayors’ group endorses plan to fight Asian carp

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) — A group representing mayors of cities in the Great Lakes region wants to fortify an Illinois waterway to prevent Asian carp from invading Lake Michigan.

The Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River Cities Initiative has endorsed a $778 million plan developed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which recently sent the proposal to Congress.

It calls for installing technologies such as underwater noisemakers, electric barriers and “bubble curtains” at the Brandon Road Lock and Dam near Joliet, Illinois, about 40 miles (64 kilometers) from Lake Michigan.

The structure is a crucial line of defense between the lake and the carp-infested Illinois River.

Michelle Morin-Doyle, chairwoman of the cities group and deputy mayor of Quebec City in Canada, says people created the Asian carp problem and are responsible for solving it.

COLLEGE DEMOCRATS-VOTING

Michigan Secretary of State: New voter law unenforceable

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson says her office will take steps to promote college-age voting to resolve a lawsuit in which young Democrats challenged two laws they say discourage them from participating in elections.

A law requiring that a voter’s registration match his or her driver’s license address will remain intact. But Benson says a requirement that some first-time voters cast a ballot in person if they registered by mail or a third-party registration drive was rendered moot by a 2018 voter-approved constitutional amendment that lets voters vote absentee without giving a reason.

Benson, a Democrat, said Wednesday she will create a website dedicated to providing voting information to college students and first-time voters. She also will more frequently deploy a mobile office to boost voter registration on campuses.

MICHIGAN PIPELINE

Enbridge seeks court ruling on Great Lakes oil pipeline deal

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) — Enbridge Inc. is asking a Michigan court to rule on the legality of an agreement it reached with former Gov. Rick Snyder to build an oil pipeline tunnel beneath the channel linking lakes Huron and Michigan.

The Canadian company said Thursday that it is asking the Michigan Court of Claims to determine the constitutional validity of the deal.

The Court of Claims deals with civil actions filed against the state and its agencies.

Snyder, a Republican, was replaced in January by Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. She is pushing the company to speed up its timeline for building the tunnel in the Straits of Mackinac and wants to reach an agreement by Monday.

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel has said a law enacted in December to implement the tunnel agreement violates the state constitution.

ELECTION 2020-SENATE-MICHIGAN

James announces Senate run against Sen. Peters in Michigan

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Republican businessman John James of Michigan says he will challenge first-term Democratic U.S. Sen. Gary Peters in 2020 in a key state for President Donald Trump’s re-election chances.

James is the 37-year-old African American combat veteran and CEO of an automotive logistics company in Detroit. He lost to longtime Sen. Debbie Stabenow last year but did better than expected, considering he started as a political unknown and the race was never prioritized as a battleground by the national GOP in a successful year for Michigan Democrats.

James announced his candidacy Thursday.

He tells The Associated Press he wants to “help people” because there’s much work to be done healing the country and unifying Michigan. He says he will donate a nickel of every dollar his campaign raises to charity.

PROFESSOR-HOMICIDE

Ex-con convicted of murder in retired professor’s death

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) — An ex-convict caught with electronics stolen from a retired professor has been convicted of his murder.

A Washtenaw County judge returned the verdict Thursday against Isom Hamilton. Robert Sharp, a former chemistry professor at the University of Michigan, was repeatedly stabbed at his Ann Arbor home a year ago. His body was burned after he was killed.

Hamilton’s DNA and fingerprints weren’t found at the scene, a key point made by defense lawyers. But prosecutors claim he wore gloves and covered his tracks.

Sharp regularly ate lunch at an Ann Arbor Wendy’s where Hamilton worked. The victim’s missing electronics were found in Hamilton’s possession.

He faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison. Sharp was 76 years old and had retired from the university in 2008.

BENTON HARBOR SCHOOLS

Michigan district gets more time to avoid school shutdown

BENTON HARBOR, Mich. (AP) — Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is giving a southwestern Michigan school board a little more time to develop a plan to keep the district’s high school open.

The Democrat said Wednesday after a public meeting in Benton Harbor that she’ll look at a “viable alternative” if one is presented. The deadline had been Friday, but Whitmer says she’s giving officials another week.

The Whitmer administration, citing the district’s poor finances and weak academic performance, has said it wants the board to close the high school as part of a broader plan to improve local K-8 education. If not, the district could be shut down.

The board has accused state officials of wanting to take money out of Benton Harbor to benefit nearby white communities. Mayor Marcus Muhammad says a protest is planned Tuesday in Lansing. He says on Facebook that he’s David “looking for Goliath.”

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT DEPARTMENT

Whitmer reshapes, renames economic development department

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has restructured and renamed Michigan’s economic development department and appointed Detroit’s workforce development director to lead it.

Whitmer on Thursday signed an executive order creating the Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity (LEO), which will replace the Department of Talent and Economic Development (TED) formed by her predecessor. The move will take effect unless rejected by the Republican-led Legislature within 60 days.

Whitmer also created new appeals commissions for unemployment insurance and workers’ compensation.

Jeff Donofrio, who has worked as Detroit’s executive director for workforce development, will lead the new department. It will handle functions such as housing development, economic development, workforce development and historic preservation.

Whitmer says her move will help the state be “much more efficient and strategic” on economic and workforce development.

MICHIGAN BUDGET

House Republicans want sales tax at pump to go to roads

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Republicans who control Michigan’s House are proposing to boost road spending by dedicating the state’s 6 percent sales tax at the pump to the transportation budget.

Much of that money now goes to schools and municipalities. A House plan unveiled Thursday and given initial approval by a subcommittee would gradually earmark all of the sales tax on motor fuel to road construction.

It is House Republicans’ response to Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s call to increase fuel taxes by 45-cents-a-gallon to raise roughly $2 billion more for roads. Republicans say the move would avoid a tax increase. They are pledging to not hurt schools and municipalities that depend on the sales tax revenue, but Democrats question how that is possible and say the plan would not raise nearly enough for roads.

OFF-DUTY OFFICER-FATAL

Charges filed in fatal shooting of off-duty Detroit cop

GARDEN CITY, Mich. (AP) — A man accused of shooting a Detroit police officer in a case of domestic violence has been charged with murder.

Sgt. Elaine Williams was off duty at her Garden City home when she was killed Sunday night . Eddie Ray-Jr. Johnson was informed of the charges Thursday while in a hospital for an injury related to the incident.

Prosecutor Kym Worthy says the shooting is a “stark example” of what can happen in cases of domestic violence. After the shooting, Detroit Police Chief James Craig described Williams as a “rising star” in the department.

The 34-year-old had two children and had been an officer for 14 years. It wasn’t immediately known if the 35-year-old Johnson has an attorney who could comment on the charges.