SW Michigan Today: Friday, June 29

Jun 29, 2018

A worker monitors Tallmadge Creek near Marshall after a massive oil spill from an Enbridge Energy pipeline in 2010. On Friday, Governor Snyder signed legislation that will expand the role of industry in environmental rulemaking.
Credit Paul Sancya / AP Photo

Business interests will have new influence over environmental regulations in Michigan, Governor Snyder says no to looser ballast-water restrictions, a Beaver Island statue is back in its rightful place and more. 

(Detroit Free Press) Business interests will have new influence over environmental regulations in Michigan. That’s under a package of bills that Governor Rick Snyder signed today. The legislation creates a panel with representatives from industries such as oil and gas, agriculture and manufacturing.  The panel will supervise all rule-making at the Department of Environmental Quality. Supporters say the panel will let more groups give input on anti-pollution rules. Environmentalists call the laws the “Fox Guarding the Hen House Acts.”

(MPRN) Governor Rick Snyder will not lower the state’s standards for dumping ballast water in the Great Lakes. He vetoed a bill with the changes today. The governor says he vetoed the bill because he’s concerned about invasive species.

Ballast water is collected by large ships in one body of water to help stabilize the ship. Then it’s dumped into other bodies of water, along with whatever plant and animal species collected with it. The bill sat for months in the House – that’s because Snyder was hesitant to sign it. Lawmakers pushed it through on their last day of session before their summer break – and the governor still wasn’t on board.

Ari Adler is a spokesperson for the governor. “We want to make sure that those protections are solid and in place when you’re dealing with something as important as ballast water discharge in the Great Lakes," he said.

Invasive Asian carp at an exhibit in Chicago.
Credit M. Spencer Green / AP Photo

The City of Kalamazoo plans to open fire hydrants this weekend to help residents cool off. Temperatures in the nineties are expected on Saturday with a heat index as high as 106 degrees. The city plans to open hydrants at 10 corners. Residents can ask the city to open other hydrants as well. The city says water quality can be affected if people open fire hydrants on their own.

(MLive) Governor Snyder has also signed a group of bills aimed at protecting bicyclists. Drivers will have to give cyclists three feet of space when passing. When that’s impossible, drivers must pass on the right at a safe distance and speed. The Office of Highway Safety Planning has found that a quarter of car-bicycle accidents occur during passing. Several cities and townships in Kalamazoo County currently have five-foot passing rules.

(WCMU) Temperatures are expected to rise to potentially dangerous levels in many parts of Michigan this weekend. That means an increased risk of heat-related injuries with heat indexes over 100 degrees. Senior Forecaster Bob Dukesherer at the National Weather Service in Grand Rapids says temperatures in Lansing may reach a record set in 1913 on Saturday. He says pets may be vulnerable as well as people. A heat watch is in effect in the WMUK listening area until Sunday evening.

The superintendent of the Gull Lake Community Schools is stepping down. The Kalamazoo Gazette says Chris Rundle has announced that he's retiring on August 31 after ten years. Rundle served 21 years with the Michigan State Police before becoming an educator. He was the superintendent of the Harrison Public Schools in northern Michigan before coming to Gull Lake in 2008.

An attorney in Lansing says a grand jury should investigate Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette. The Detroit Free Press says Michael Nichols has asked Ingham County's prosecutor for the investigation. Nichols defended former state representative Cindy Gamrat of Plainwell when she was charged with misconduct in office after her affair with another lawmaker was revealed. The charges were later dismissed but Gamrat was expelled from the State House in 2016. Nichols says Schuette misuses staff to witness private real estate deals. He also pointed to a Free Press report last December that Schuette used public money to hire Republican activists shortly before he announced his campaign for governor. A spokeswoman for Schuette says the charges are, in her words, a "baseless attack."

The chairman of the Kent County Commission suddenly ended a meeting Thursday after it was interrupted by protestors. About a hundred people called on the county to end its contract with Immigration and Customs Enforcement to house detained immigrants at its jail. MLive says demonstrators interrupted a man speaking during public comments and unfurled a banner. Board Chairman Jim Saalfeld then suspended the meeting, saying there was a risk of violence. But another county commissioner said he's not sure Saalfeld had the authority to end the meeting by himself.

(MPRN) Three current and former judges in Michigan are on the shortlist to be the next U.S. Supreme Court justice. President Donald Trump says he has a list of 25 candidates that he will choose from. Trump appointed one of them, former State Supreme Court justice Joan Larsen, the Sixth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati last year. Carl Tobias studies the federal judiciary and is a professor at Richmond School of Law. He says Larsen doesn’t have as long of a track record on the bench as other candidates, but he says she’s still a contender. Former State Supreme Court chief justice Bob Young is also on the list. So is Raymond Kethledge, who's on the Sixth Circuit Appeals Court with Larsen.

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