Southwest Michigan Today: Wednesday June 5, 2019

Jun 5, 2019

Democratic Representative Jon Hoadley (left) and Democratic Senator Jeremy Moss (right) are bill sponsors.
Credit Cheyna Roth / Michigan Public Radio Network

Kalamazoo State Representative Jon Hoadley and others call for expanding state discrimination protections to LGBTQ people. Benton Harbor residents rally to keep the high school open. A resolution calls for a northern Michigan state Representative to resign.

(MPRN) Democratic lawmakers and Governor Gretchen Whitmer say it’s time to expand protections for Michigan’s LGBTQ people. Some lawmakers have been trying for decades to expand the state’s Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act. New bills would add sexual orientation and gender identity as protected classes in the act. That would mean that people could not be denied housing or fired simply because they are LGBTQ. Supporters say they think this will be the year the protections cross the finish line. Senator Jeremy Moss (D-Southfield) said LGBTQ people now have a friend in the governor’s office and more Republicans are on board with the proposal than before. Last year the state’s Civil Rights commission announced that its interpretation of the law includes LGBTQ protections. However, Representative Jon Hoadley (D-Kalamazoo) says that’s not enough. Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey (R-Clarklake) has a history of opposing the expansion without protections for religious freedom in the Constitution, but he said he will let the Legislative process play out.

(MPRN) Soon minors in Michigan will no longer be able to use e-cigarettes. Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed bills Tuesday that effectively ban vaping for minors. In a statement, Whitmer said she signed the bills with, “significant reservations.” That’s because the new laws would not put e-cigarettes under the umbrella of Michigan’s tobacco control laws. Instead the laws create new categories for e-cigarettes and products. Schools across the state have called minors vaping and “epidemic.” And they’re hopeful that any new regulations will give their school regulations more teeth. The state Department of Health and Human Services opposed the bills. Whitmer also announced that she wants the department to do a study and make recommendations on how Michigan should regulate e-cigarettes and similar products in the future.

(WVPE) Benton Harbor community members and supporters gathered at Benton Harbor High school Tuesday night to protest a plan to close the high school. Students, and others at the meeting, said ‘Don’t close our school.’ The school board has asked the state to postpone a Friday decision deadline by two weeks. They also asked Governor Gretchen Whitmer to attend the meeting. She was not there but a representative from her office says another meeting will be held Wednesday where Whitmer will attend.

(Interlochen Public Radio) Lawmakers introduced a resolution in the state house Tuesday asking Representative Larry Inman to step down. Inman is a Republican from Williamsburg near Traverse City. The resolution was proposed by Republican Lee Chatfield and Democrat Christine Greig and warns of further punishment to Inman if he doesn’t resign. Last Month he was charged with extortion taking a bribe and lying to the FBI. In court Inman plead ‘not guilty’ to all charges.

(Battle Creek Enquirer) Battle Creek City Commissioners have approved a slight increase in the millage that pays for police and fire department pensions. The Battle Creek Enquirer says the 0.185-mill increase will raise about $194,000. City administrators proposed the increase in part because the city did not receive an expected reimbursement from the state for lost personal property tax revenue. It will cost the owner of a home valued at $100,000 about $9.25 a year. Mayor Mark Behnke, along with Commissioners Chris Simmons and Jim Lance voted against the millage increase. Simmons says the money could have been found in the budget without a major impact on city services.

The Comstock Public Schools are looking for a new school board trustee. The district says current board treasurer Brandy Brown is resigning because her new job doesn't leave enough time for the position. People interested in being appointed to fill the rest of her term have until June 14th to apply. The one selected will serve until the end of 2020. They would have to run in the November General Election next year to keep the position.

(WCMU) New research out of Michigan state university found that non-native plants may be more adaptive to the rising temperatures of climate change. Researchers used an infrared rig to expose plants to an increase of roughly 3 degrees celsius from baseline Michigan temperatures. Over 50 plant species, both native and non-native were tested. The research conducted in Kalamazoo County found that non-native species were more adaptable - shifting their flowering times by as by over ten days. MSU Researcher Jennifer Lau says more will need to be done to understand what a decline in native plants could mean for local ecosystems.

(Kalamazoo Gazette) Kalamazoo City commissioners say needle exchange programs are OK in the city - as long as those running them get permission first. The Kalamazoo Gazette says commissioners approved the ordinance change Monday night. Not everyone agrees with the idea, though. The head of the Northside Association for Community Development says needle exchange programs will affect some parts of the city more than others. But supporters say the programs help prevent the transmission of diseases like HIV by reducing the use of shared drug needles.

In baseball, Battle Creek lost to Kokomo Tuesday night 2-1. The Bombers have lost four straight, they will play at Kalamazoo Wednesday night. The Growlers won their fourth straight Tuesday, 5-3 over Rockford.