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Snyder pardons 35 people, reduces sentences for 26 more

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Gov. Rick Snyder has pardoned the criminal convictions of 35 people and reduced the prison sentences of 26 others.

Snyder’s office released a list of names late Friday afternoon but refused to provide any other details.

A pardon erases a criminal conviction. A commutation reduces a sentence but doesn’t get rid of the conviction. Snyder says he “took great time and care” in making decisions after cases were screened by the Corrections Department and the state parole board.

Snyder pardoned Usama “Sam” Hamama. He was the lead plaintiff in a lawsuit challenging the federal government’s effort to deport Iraqi nationals who have criminal records.

Snyder reduced the life sentence of Melissa Chapman, who has spent 30 years in prison for first-degree murder in Genesee County. She was present when a boyfriend killed another man and admits that she helped him get rid of the body. But Chapman says her boyfriend had threatened to kill her.

Patricia Trevino’s life sentence was reduced. She’s been in prison since 1980 for murder in Kent County.


Feds OK Medicaid work requirements for Michigan

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — The Trump administration has approved Michigan’s plan to require able-bodied adults in the Medicaid expansion program to meet work or job-related requirements.

The waiver was authorized Friday. The federal government has now approved work requirements in seven states, with others pending.

Starting in 2020, adults age 18 to 62 in Michigan will have to show workforce engagement averaging 80 hours a month — through work, school, job or vocational training, an internship, substance abuse treatment or community service.

Republican Gov. Rick Snyder says the plan ensures that Medicaid expansion — a top priority for him — will continue for five more years.


Emails show efforts to get new job for Snyder appointee

(Information from: Crain’s Detroit Business ,

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Emails show state officials were discussing ways to keep a doctor on the state payroll while she was facing a charge of involuntary manslaughter in the Flint water crisis.

Crain’s Detroit Business reported on the emails Friday. The state’s medical executive, Dr. Eden Wells, was appointed as a public health adviser inside the Department of Health and Human Services, a job that pays about $180,000 a year and has civil service protections. Without the new job, she likely would have been ousted by the next governor.

In a Sept. 20 email, the health department’s human resources director, Mike DeRose, told another official that “we’ll do what we can” to get Wells into an appropriate job.

Wells was officially hired on Dec. 2 for a job that was posted internally for just a week. Five days later, she was ordered to stand trial on charges related to a Legionnaires’ disease outbreak in the Flint area.



Former Henry Ford Health CEO is named MSU trustee

EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) — A former health executive has been appointed to the governing board at Michigan State University.

Gov. Rick Snyder announced the appointment of Nancy Schlichting. She fills a vacancy created by the resignation of George Perles.

In a statement Friday, Snyder says Schlichting “can be a catalyst for change” at MSU, which still is struggling with the sexual-abuse scandal of sports doctor Larry Nassar. Her appointment as trustee was announced on the same day that a special prosecutor accused MSU of stonewalling an investigation into the school’s handling of Nassar.

Schlichting was chief executive at Henry Ford Health System in Detroit. She wrote a book about leadership titled “Unconventional Leadership.”


Girl fights leukemia with Christmas wishes from thousands

(Information from: Livingston Daily Press & Argus,

BRIGHTON, Mich. (AP) — A southeastern Michigan girl who is battling leukemia has many fans — more than 4,500 so far and growing by the day.

Emma Roberts of Brighton has received that many Christmas cards in the past three weeks. It began as a social media campaign by a fellow Brighton resident who wanted to boost the 13-year-old’s morale.

Emma’s father, Tom Roberts, tells the Livingston Daily Press & Argus that he feels sorry for the mail carrier: Sometimes the mail comes twice a day. The family of five opens the cards together and reads them to each other. Cards have arrived from Iceland, South Korea, Sweden, Mexico and Australia.

Some have come from cancer survivors. Emma says, “It’s nice to know someone else fought hard and survived it.”



Michigan Legislature spares most wetlands in lame-duck bill

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) — Michigan lawmakers have rejected drastic cutbacks in legal protections for wetlands and other waterways.

The Legislature approved a scaled-back version of a bill that could have left 550,000 acres of wetlands and 4,200 lakes vulnerable to development.

The original measure previously cleared the state Senate. But the House passed a version overnight Thursday that keeps existing protections mostly intact.

Instead, it rewords the definition of wetlands requiring a permit for the owner to degrade them. It also requires the Department of Environmental Quality to take additional steps when denying a permit application or sanctioning violators.

A spokesman says the Michigan Farm Bureau supported the bill.

The Michigan Environmental Council says the final measure was better than the original, although some environmental groups called for Gov. Rick Snyder to veto it.


Michigan GOP lawmakers pass bills before Dem governor starts

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan Republicans have voted to give themselves a power to intervene in court cases that now is reserved for the state attorney general.

It is the latest measure pushed through a lame-duck period that critics say would weaken the power of Democrats or voters. Bleary-eyed lawmakers remain in session overnight in the final hours of voting, before a Democratic governor takes over in January.

The bill is criticized by opponents as an attempt to undercut Dana Nessel, who will be the first Democratic attorney general in 16 years. Republicans deny the allegation, saying the legislation would ensure that the legislative branch has a voice as more laws are challenged in the courts.

Another item on the GOP agenda is a bill that would toughen rules for citizen-initiated ballot drives.


The Latest: Former AG Kelley urges Snyder to veto bill

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Former Michigan Attorney General Frank Kelley is urging Gov. Rick Snyder to veto a bill that would automatically let the Legislature intervene in court cases.

Kelley, a Democrat and the longest-serving state attorney general in U.S. history, issued a statement Friday, hours after the Republican-backed legislation won approval in a marathon day of voting.

Kelley says it would be an “appalling abuse of power” if the Republican governor signed the bill. He says Snyder “would go down in history as being against constitutional government.”

Snyder has not said if he will sign the legislation. Republican lawmakers say the move is necessary in case Democratic Attorney General-elect Dana Nessel chooses not to defend certain laws.


Gov.-elect Whitmer announces Cabinet members, top staff

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Gov.-elect Gretchen Whitmer has announced some key members of her Cabinet along with top aides in the executive office.

The Democrat’s team was unveiled Friday. She takes office Jan. 1.

Rachael Eubanks will serve as state treasurer. She currently sits on the Michigan Public Service Commission, which regulates energy and telecommunications providers.

Chris Kolb, the leader of an environmental group and a former lawmaker, will be budget director. Whitmer named Liza Estlund Olson to head the Office of the State Employer. She most recently helmed a union that represents state employees.

Whitmer calls her team “highly skilled” and “deeply experienced.”

Aides in her office will include chief of staff JoAnne Huls, chief strategist Mark Burton, chief legal counsel Mark Totten, communications director Zack Pohl and public affairs director Jen Flood.


Michigan couple remarry after discovering illegal marriage

STANTON, Mich. (AP) — A Michigan couple learned that they broke the law when they wed two years ago, so they asked a judge to void the illegal marriage and then to do it all over again.

The Daily News of Greenville reports that 55-year-olds Philip Timmer and Trisha Stewart were remarried last week at the Montcalm County Courthouse, and this time it was valid under Michigan law.

Timmer and Stewart were both divorced with children from previous marriages when they met in 2010. They married in 2016. But then Stewart learned that her divorce hadn’t been properly finalized, meaning she was legally still married to her ex-husband.

Stewart settled her divorce, had her illegal marriage to Timmer dissolved this past summer and then asked the same judge to remarry them.