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LAME-DUCK LEGISLATURES

GOP seeks last-ditch laws in states where its power slipped

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — With their grip on power set to loosen come January, Republicans in several states are considering last-ditch laws to weaken Democrats and advance a conservative agenda.

Michigan Republicans want to water down a minimum wage law they approved before the election so it would not go to voters and now be easier to amend.

Republicans in neighboring Wisconsin are looking to dilute Democrat Tony Evers’ power before he takes over for Gov. Scott Walker. And in North Carolina, Republicans may hash out the requirements of a new voter ID law before they lose their legislative supermajorities.

Republicans downplay the tactics. But some of the steps they’re expected to take will almost surely be challenged in court, and critics say such maneuvers undermine the will of people who voted for change.

ELECTION 2018-GERRYMANDERING

Midterm elections reveal effects of gerrymandered districts

The midterm elections have provided a case study on partisan gerrymandering that shows how the drawing of district boundaries can affect who’s elected to Congress.

Earlier this year, courts in Pennsylvania and North Carolina declared their congressional districts to be unconstitutional partisan gerrymanders. Districts were re-drawn by a court in Pennsylvania, but not in North Carolina.

On Nov. 6, voters elected nine Democrats and nine Republicans under Pennsylvania’s new map — a significant shift from the 13-5 GOP majority under the old map drawn by Republican.

In North Carolina, the congressional delegation retained a 10-3 Republican majority under a map drawn by Republicans. And that’s despite an almost even split in the popular vote between Democrats and Republicans.

HUNTER SHOT

Police: Deer hunter fatally shot northwest of Lansing

BATH TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — Authorities say a 67-year-old Lansing man is believed to have been shot and killed while hunting deer in mid-Michigan.

The Bath Township Police Department says the man was pronounced dead at the scene after he was found after 10 p.m. Friday northwest of Lansing in Clinton County.

It says a preliminary investigation reveals the victim was deer hunting on public property when apparently shot by someone. The victim, who has not been identified, was wearing hunter’s orange clothing at the time.

Police says they have no immediate suspects in the shooting.

FATAL ACCIDENTAL SHOOTING

16-year-old boy dies in accidental shooting in the UP

(Information from: WLUC-TV, http://www.wluctv6.com)

MASS CITY, Mich. (AP) — An Upper Peninsula sheriff says a 16-year-old boy has died in an accidental shooting.

Ontonagon County Sheriff Dale Rantala says a 13-year-old-boy was loading a rifle at his home and weapon fired, striking the 16-year-old in the back. A 14-year-old boy who also was present called 911.

Rantala says the victim was pronounced dead at Ontonagon Aspirus Hospital.

WLUC-TV reports the shooting occurred shortly after 3 p.m. Friday in Mass City, an unincorporated community about 80 miles west of Marquette.

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1991 SLAYING

Michigan man convicted in 1991 slaying seeks commutation

IONIA, Mich. (AP) — A Michigan man who was convicted of murder nearly 30 years ago is seeking to have his life sentence commuted.

The state Parole Board had a hearing Thursday to listen to Ron Redick’s request. The 81-year-old Spring Lake resident is serving a life sentence with no parole for the 1991 murder of his business partner, 55-year-old Ken Kunkel.

Redick says he acted in self-defense. He says he’s accepted responsibility for his actions and has worked hard to change his attitude while in prison.

Parole Board member Jerome Warfield says he’ll create a summary report for the full board to consider before the group makes a recommendation to outgoing Gov. Rick Snyder.

State Assistant Attorney General Scott Rothermel says his office opposes commutating Redick’s sentence.

RUNNER INJURED-SETTLEMENT

Chelsea runner injured at practice settles lawsuit for $4.5M

(Information from: The Ann Arbor News, http://www.mlive.com/ann-arbor)

CHELSEA, Mich. (AP) — A runner who sued his high school cross-country coach after he was severely injured during a dark early-morning practice has settled the case for $4.5 million.

In 2011, Kersch Ray was a 13-year-old member of the Chelsea High School cross-country team. Runners stopped at an intersection for a “do not walk” symbol but then crossed a road. A vehicle struck Ray and another teammate.

Ray’s family blamed the coach, Eric Swager, and filed a lawsuit. The Ann Arbor News reports that Ray suffered a traumatic brain injury and is permanently disabled.

Attorney Ven Johnson says the settlement will be covered by the Chelsea district’s insurance carrier.

Ray now is 20 years old.

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HEART CENTER

$5 million gift to help create new Detroit-area heart center

ROYAL OAK, Mich. (AP) — A $5 million gift from a suburban Detroit couple will help create a new heart center at Beaumont Hospital .

The money from Orchard Lake residents Max and Debra Ernst will go to the $9 million Max and Debra Ernst Heart Center at Beaumont Hospital, Royal Oak. Max Ernst is a former Arbor Drugs executive. The center will be dedicated to consolidating cardiac care, particularly for patients with heart failure.

The gift brings the couple’s total giving to support heart and vascular care at Beaumont to $8 million. They earlier gave $3 million to open the Ernst Cardiovascular Center in Memory of Ellen Ernst.

The new Heart Center will be located adjacent to the hospital’s East Tower entrance near the Ernst Cardiovascular Center. It’s scheduled to open in the fall 2019.

INFANT SLAIN-BOYFRIEND CHARGED

Woman’s boyfriend charged in slaying of her 7-month-old son

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (AP) — A 38-year-old western Michigan man has been charged in the death of his girlfriend’s 7-month-old son.

Sonny Larson was arraigned this week on murder and first-degree child abuse charges.

The child’s mother called 911 after finding him unresponsive Wednesday in her Kalamazoo apartment, southeast of Grand Rapids. He later was pronounced dead at a hospital.

Police said an autopsy showed the infant suffered head and neck trauma.

FATHER CHARGED

Supreme Court: Dad blamed for son’s death to get 2nd trial

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (AP) — Prosecutors in southwestern Michigan have failed to stop a second trial for a man whose murder conviction was overturned in the death of his 2-year-old son.

In a 4-3 decision, the Michigan Supreme Court turned down an appeal Friday, five weeks after hearing arguments. It means an appeals court decision will stand.

The appeals court said Keith Roberts deserves a second trial in Kalamazoo County. The court said his trial attorney, Eusebio Solis, failed to line up an expert who could challenge the prosecutor’s theory that the boy’s head injury and subsequent death were the result of abuse instead of a tragic accident.

Chief Justice Stephen Markman agreed that Solis was deficient. But in a dissent, he says Roberts shouldn’t get a new trial because there was other strong evidence against him.

CHURCH ABUSE-MICHIGAN

Lansing Diocese removes accused senior priest from ministry

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — The Catholic Diocese of Lansing says it has removed a senior priest from public ministry because of what it calls a “credible allegation” of inappropriate sexual behavior with a minor dating to the 1960s.

The diocese announced Friday it had taken the action against the Rev. Joseph Aubin, who was not assigned to a parish since he was on senior status.

A residential phone listing for Aubin in the Lansing area rang busy Friday afternoon and he could not be reached for comment.

The diocese announced in September that it plans to invite an external agency to review how it handled sexual abuse allegations. Its report has not yet been published.

Catholic dioceses across Michigan have surrendered documents to state officials investigating sexual abuse by priests.