Southwest Michigan Today: Wednesday July 10, 2019

Jul 10, 2019

Michigan Supreme Court Building - file photo
Credit Cheyna Roth / Michigan Public Radio Network

The Michigan Supreme Court weighs its role in deciding a case over the Legislature amending of citizen-initiated laws. Slower economic growth is reported in West Michigan. A fire at Kalamazoo’s Latvian Lutheran Church is under investigation.

(MPRN) The Michigan Supreme Court is unsure if it can weigh in on the method used to change Michigan’s minimum wage and earned sick time laws, and it wants Attorney General Dana Nessel to weigh in. Last year the state Legislature adopted two ballot measures. The measures increased the state’s minimum wage and required certain employers offer paid earned sick time. Then the Republican-led Legislature quickly made major changes to those measures in the same Legislative session. That brought up the question of whether that “adopt and amend” move was okay. So, the state House and Senate asked the Michigan Supreme Court to issue an advisory opinion. But the state’s highest court is not sure if it can issue an advisory opinion if it chose to. There’s a 2007 Michigan Supreme Court Advisory opinion that says the court can weigh in on laws, but only if they got the request before the law went into effect. But there’s also a different ruling, from 1976, that says advisory opinions are not binding. Nessel has been given until Wednesday at 5:00p.m. to submit her briefs.

The latest report on West Michigan’s economy shows that it slowed down in June. Grand Valley State University economist Brian Long says his monthly survey conducted for the Institute for Supply Management doesn’t indicate an economic downturn is likely this year or next. Long says there are indications that the on-going trade war with China is continuing to weigh on the economy.

(WCMU) A resolution was announced Tuesday in litigation over the alleged discriminatory housing practices of a Northern Michigan summer community. Members of the Bay View community sued in 2017 over a religious requirement for anyone hoping to buy a cottage in the area. In short, property could only be owned by practicing Christians. In February, the Federal Department of Housing and Urban Development found that the community was violating the Fair Housing Act. As part of the agreement the Federal Government will monitor Bay View’s housing transactions for the next five years. In a written statement, the Bay View Board of Trustees wrote “we dedicate this summer to reconciliation in our beloved Bay View.”

(Kalamazoo Gazette) A fire that gutted the inside of Kalamazoo’s Latvian Evangelical Lutheran Church is under investigation. The fire was first reported late Monday afternoon. The Kalamazoo Gazette says that the Kalamazoo Township Fire Marshall was on the scene Tuesday along with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, but no information about the investigation was available. According to its website, the current Latvian Church was founded in 1995 when two older churches joined and pooled their assets.

(Kalamazoo Gazette) Some Kalamazoo Metro Transit bus drivers say they aren't given enough time to eat and go to the restroom. The Kalamazoo Gazette says drivers protested about working conditions outside the transit agency's building Monday. They also complained about low pay and long hours. One driver said he's making only a dollar-an-hour more now than he was ten years ago. Metro Transit issued a statement saying it's been negotiating with the drivers' union since last year without reaching a new contract agreement. The statement says its offer is "fair and reasonable."

(Interlochen Public Radio) Farmers in northern Michigan are getting some money to deal with the wet weather. The USDA is offering relief funds to farmers Up North due to record-setting winds and rainfall. The Michigan Legislature also allocated $15-million to affected farmers. Last month water levels on the Great Lakes reached record highs. And the 12 months from May of 2018 to April of 2019 included a record amount of rainfall according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The heavy rain and humidity has contributed to fruit disease.

In baseball, Kalamazoo’s six game winning streak ended with a 17-5 loss at Green Bay Tuesday night. The Growlers and the Booyah will wrap up their two game series Wednesday night.

Battle Creek jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first inning, but the Bombers gave up the next nine runs and lost at Kokomo Tuesday night 9-3. Battle Creek will wrap up its two game series with the Jackrabitts Wednesday night.