Southwest Michigan Today: Tuesday April 16, 2019

Apr 16, 2019

Kalamazoo City Hall - file photo
Credit Sehvilla Mann / WMUK

A Kalamazoo City Commissioner plans to step down as she moves out of the city. The state House Transportation Committee explores how to fix roads. Benton Harbor’s Finance Director has resigned, but city commissioners haven’t acted to fill the vacancy.

(Kalamazoo Gazette) Kalamazoo City Commissioner Shannon Sykes Nehring says she plans to step down from the commission, probably next month. The Kalamazoo Gazette says Sykes Nehring made the announcement during Monday night’s city commission meeting. The commissioner, who won a four year term on the board in 2015, says she and her husband are closing on a house outside of the city. Sykes Nehring says she does not plan to seek another office. Kalamazoo voters will elect three commissioners in November. A new mayor will also be elected because Bobby Hopewell has said he will not seek another two year term this year.

(MPRN) The state House Transportation Committee meets Tuesday to continue hearings on fixing roads. Governor Gretchen Whitmer – a Democrat -- has called for phasing in fuel tax increases totaling 45-cents-per gallon. Republicans control the Legislature – and say they will propose their own plan. State Representative Jack O’Malley, who chairs the House Transportation Committee, says he wants the committee’s recommendations ready by the end of the summer.

(St. Joseph Benton Harbor Herald-Palladium) The status of Benton Harbor’s Finance Director remains in limbo more than a month after he submitted his resignation. The St. Joseph Benton Harbor Herald-Palladium reports that Andrew Clark e-mailed his letter of resignation to city commissioners in February saying he objected to how city income taxes were collected. The commission has not done anything about the vacancy, and some of them tell the Herald-Palladium that they are seeking more information. Benton Harbor’s finance director reports directly to the city commission.

West Michigan Congressman Fred Upton has reported raising more than $300,000 during the first quarter of the year. The St. Joseph Republican won his 17th term in the U.S. House in November. In a statement from his campaign committee, Upton says he is grateful for the support, and that the strong fundraising period in his words “puts us on solid footing.” Upton won his closest race for re-election last year. Democratic State Representative Jon Hoadley of Kalamazoo announced last week that he is running for the 6th District Congressional seat next year.

(WCMU) A new bill in the state house would allow school districts to start the school year before Labor Day. Since 2005 school districts have been required to start after Labor Day, unless they get a waiver from the state. Republican State Representative Steve Johnson introduced the legislation. He says especially with the growing number of snow days districts have had to take - it makes sense to allow schools to decide when they should start the year. Officials with the Michigan Restaurant and Lodging Association oppose the measure. They say starting school before Labor Day would hurt Michigan tourism. A spokesperson for the Michigan Department of Education said they are in support of the change.

(Detroit Free Press) A couple who have adopted five foster children has sued the state of Michigan over the question of whether faith-based adoption agencies that receive taxpayer dollars can refuse to work with same-sex couples. Attorney General Dana Nessel announced the settlement of a lawsuit last month. Part of it requires agencies that receive state money to work with same-sex couples. The Detroit Free Press reports that Melissa and Chad Buck of Holt filed the lawsuit saying they would not have been able to adopt five special needs children without St. Vincent Catholic Charities in Lansing.