Southwest Michigan Today: Thursday April 25, 2019

Apr 25, 2019

Kalamazoo School District Superintendent Michael Rice - Official photo
Credit Courtesy Photo / Kalamazoo Public Schools

Kalamazoo Superintendent Michael Rice remains a candidate for state Superintendent. Michigan’s Attorney General announces a settlement with a West Michigan fitness company. The Legislature moves on criminal justice and abortion bills. 

(MLive) Kalamazoo Schools Superintendent Michael Rice is one of three finalists still in the running to become the next state Superintendent of Michigan Schools. MLive reports that Rice and two other candidates have invited back for second interviews. The state Board of Education interviewed five semi-finalists yesterday and Monday. The second round of interviews is scheduled for May 7th. At that time the board will pick a new state superintendent. Brian Whiston died last year after about four years as superintendent of Michigan schools.

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel says a West Michigan fitness company owes up to 220-thousand dollars. She announced a settlement with Family Fitness Wednesday. The company operates fitness centers in Portage, Plainwell, Grand Rapids, and several other cities. Nessel says the company has three years to pay the fine for alleged violations of the state consumer protection act. The order comes after customer complaints and a class-action lawsuit. Nessel says $190,000 of the settlement will go to refunds for unhappy customers.

(MPRN) The Legislature held key votes Wednesday on bills that would make various changes to the state’s criminal justice system. The state Senate passed a series of bills that some lawmakers say will make the criminal justice system fairer for young people. The so-called “Raise the Age” legislation would automatically treat 17-year-olds as juveniles for certain crimes. Right now, they’re automatically tried as adults. Those bills now go on to the state House. Representatives have already been considering their own versions of bills to raise the age. Over in the Senate, lawmakers passed a bill to change when law enforcement can keep someone’s property. The measure is now a procedural vote away from the governor’s desk.

(MPRN) The fight over abortion rights has resumed in the state Legislature. A state House committee opened hearings Wednesday on legislation to ban the dilation-and-evacuation abortion procedure. Similar bills are up for a hearing Thursday before a state Senate committee. Republicans say this would be allowed under the Roe-versus-Wade US Supreme Court decision, although similar laws have been blocked by federal courts in other states. Opponents say the bills would violate medical best practices and intrude into the doctor-patient relationship. Governor Gretchen Whitmer has said she opposes new abortion restrictions. The state has ordered a Kalamazoo taxi company to pull off the road.

The Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs says Godspeed Transportation can't operate because it isn't registered as required by state law. The agency says it has also made a "criminal referral" in the case. It says operating a taxi service without a license is a misdemeanor with a fine of a thousand dollars and up to 90 days in jail. The company has 30 days to ask for a hearing on the cease-and-desist order.

(Kalamazoo Gazette) Georgia-Pacific says it's not the only one to blame for Parchment's PFAS contamination crisis. The Kalamazoo Gazette says the paper company has filed a class-action lawsuit against the state and several other businesses that it says are also at fault. It's also suing Cooper Township. In 2011, the township took over the landfill thought to be the source of the pollution. The problem caused Parchment to shut down its water system and connect to the City of Kalamazoo last year.

(Michigan Radio) Thursday marks the fifth anniversary of the beginning of the Flint water crisis. The Flint Registry is tracking the health effects of the crisis. The registry is holding sign-ups for city residents on Thursday.