Items of potential interest to government documents librarians or government information managers in Michigan. For more information contact Jon Harrison at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more than a year, Flint residents have been screaming that their water wasn't OK, that it smelled bad, tasted bad, looked bad, and was making them sick.
Few listened. The state told them, again and again, that the water was safe — that contamination had been handled, and that the water was within acceptable levels.
It wasn't until last week that Gov. Rick Snyder finally acknowledged the profound problems with Flint's water. Lead, from aging water service pipes, is leaching into the water the city pumps from the Flint River, exacerbated by a local treatment plant's failure to add appropriate chemicals.
But he still won't call it an emergency.
For the full article, see Nancy Kaffer, "Avoiding tap water has become a way of life in Flint", Detroit Free Press, October 3, 2015.
Lawmakers want to revisit issues that have stalled in past legislative sessions or have already been decided.
Among the new bills reintroduced last week are proposals from Democrats to restore Michigan's tax credits for child care, homestead property tax, a waiver of the state income tax on retiree pensions and a prohibition of setting auto insurance rates based on ZIP codes. Democrats also introduced a bill to reinstate helmet laws for motorcycle riders and require moped drivers under the age of 19 to wear helmets.
Republicans are once again looking at regulating large-scale commercial dog-breeding facilities, better known as puppy mills; looking to repeal a law that provided health benefits to the unmarried partners of state employees, and requiring the state to verify that employees of state contractors are legal residents of the U.S.
For the full article, see Kathleen Gray, "Michigan Legislature: Bills on helmets, puppy mills, more", Detroit Free Press, October 3, 2015.
Local governments across Michigan say they are losing millions of dollars in taxes and facing cuts in services because "big box" retailers such as Lowe's and Home Depot are unfairly getting their property assessments slashed through appeals.
This week, lawmakers from both parties introduced bills aimed at stopping the reduced assessments, which rely on what's known as the "dark store" theory of determining the value of big, purpose-built, owner-occupied stores.
The controversy was highlighted by the Free Press in April. Big box store owners argue that since they wouldn't sell their stores to other retailers, assessors trying to determine their stores' values for tax purposes should look at sales of stores that have gone out of business and are vacant, since that's the only way they would ever come on the market.
For the full article, see Paul Egan, "Bills target property tax cuts for 'big box' stores", Detroit Free Press, October 3, 2015.
The most obscene incidents of gun violence usually do not make the mainstream news at all. Why? Because their definition is incorrect. The mainstream news meaning of "Mass Shooting" should more accurately be described as "Mass Murder".
The old FBI definition of Mass Murder (not even the most recent one) is four or more people murdered in one event. It is only logical that a Mass Shooting is four or more people shot in one event.
Here at the Mass Shooting Tracker, we count the number of people shot rather than the number people killed because, "shooting" means "people shot".
For instance, in 2012 Travis Steed and others shot 18 people total. Miraculously, he only killed one. Under the incorrect definition of mass shooting, that event would not be considered a mass shooting! Arguing that 18 people shot during one event is not a mass shooting is absurd.
The only requirement is that four or more people are shot in a spree or setting, likely without a cooling off period. This may include the gunman himself (because they often suicide by cop or use a gun to kill themselves to escape punishment), or police shootings of civilians around the gunman. The reasoning behind the latter being that if the shooter is arrested, he will often be charged with injuring people the police actually shot, as that is a foreseeable result of a shooting spree.
Besides the plain-reading value of tracking mass shootings this way, another benefit is that it removes medical care (which affects the outcome) from the action (shooting a bunch of people). The gun lobby benefits from our ability to save those who would otherwise die, even though those gun shot victims are still just as shot and will never be the same. The NRA evades the gigantic costs of gun injuries to society and shifts the burden to taxpayers who often pay the costs for the medical care of the wounded.
Maintaining a list like this also punches a hole in the NRA argument that if mass shootings are televised, more mass shootings will occur via copycats. In fact, many of these shootings do not receive more than a day's worth of local coverage. Yet mass shootings continue to occur anyway. We actually think mass shootings should receive more publicity, not less.
We refuse to ignore the victims of gun violence who survive mass shooting sprees, and we believe the media does a disservice to mass shooting victims by virtually ignoring them unless large numbers are killed.
For the full article and data, see Mass Shooting Tracker
Two fired aides to former state Reps. Todd Courser and Cindy Gamrat — whose affair and cover-up of the matter led to historic proceedings to expel them from office — are suing their former bosses for wrongful termination and violation of whistle-blower protection laws.
Former aides Keith Allard and Ben Graham say they were fired because they refused to engage in a cover-up of the affair, including sending out an anonymous e-mail authored by Courser that accused the Lapeer County Republican of being a drug addict and sexual deviant. Court records show Allard and Graham filed a joint lawsuit Friday in Ingham County Circuit Court against the two former representatives, both tea party conservatives who are running for re-election for their same House seats.
For the full article, see Matt Helms, < href="http://www.freep.com/story/news/local/michigan/detroit/2015/10/03/aides-sue-courser-gamrat-wrongful-termination/73297970/'>"Aides sue Courser, Gamrat for wrongful termination", Detroit Free Press, October 3, 2015.
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