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Southwest Michigan Today: Thursday February 14, 2019

Michigan House Speaker Lee Chatfield (left) and state Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey Photo by Cheyna Roth, Michigan Public Radio Network
Cheyna Roth
Michigan Public Radio Network

Republican leaders in the Michigan Legislature question how Governor Whitmer will pay for roads, education and more. Toxic chemicals made their way into the Kalamazoo River in November from Pfizer’s plant. WMU women’s basketball loses to rival CMU. 

(MPRN) Republican leaders in the state Legislature want to know how Governor Gretchen Whitmer plans to pay for several areas she wants to improve. During her State of the State address Tuesday, Governor Whitmer said Michigan has a funding crisis for education and she discussed Michigan’s crumbling roads and infrastructure problems, but she didn’t say how the state could pay for improvements. Speaker of the House Lee Chatfield and Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey both questioned how Whitmer will pay for her plans. Although Shirkey did say more revenue is needed for roads. Whitmer said she will release more details about how she plans to fund her ideas during her budget proposal presentation in March.

(MPRN) Governor Gretchen Whitmer wants to re-organize the department that enforces environmental rules. Senate Republicans are opposed to the Democrat’s executive order to do that. The Republican-led state Senate Oversight Committee has 60 days to make its recommendation on whether the Senate should accept or reject the order, one of the first signed by Whitmer since she took office. This is one of the first standoffs between the Democratic governor and Republicans in the Legislature. Business groups want Republicans to reject the order. Environmental groups back the order. With no action by the Senate, the order will take effect. The governor can also withdraw the order and send the Legislature a revised version.

(WKAR) The State Senate passed a bill Wednesday that would make major changes to civil asset forfeiture. That is when police are allowed to take property from people. In 2017 The Michigan State Police reported more than 6500 forfeitures, that netted more than thirteen million dollars. The MSP have not yet responded to a request for comment. Under the proposed legislation. Police would not have been allowed to make over half of those seizures. And, they wouldn’t be able to take assets without a conviction. The bill will now go to the House.

(Kalamazoo Gazette) Toxic chemicals from Pfizer’s plant on Portage Road ended up in the Kalamazoo River. The Kalamazoo Gazette says documents it obtained through the Freedom of Information Act show that methylene chloride made it to the river through the city of Kalamazoo’s wastewater system in November. Records say that human error caused an amount of the chemical seven times greater than the city’s standard to be released. Methylene chloride is used in adhesives, metal cleaning and other products. The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality says the amount of the chemical released could be harmful to aquatic life, but long-term effects are not known.

(Kalamazoo Gazette) Osthemo Township’s deputy treasurer has been promoted. The Kalamazoo Gazette reports township trustees this week appointed Grant Taylor as treasurer. He will serve the rest of Nancy Culp’s term through the 2020 election. Culp is leaving her job in Oshtemo Township to take a position in the Kalamazoo County Treasurer’s office.

(WCMU) A new study says when residents feel they have a say in local wind turbine projects, they are more likely to have positive opinions about wind energy. The study, out of the University of Michigan, surveyed people living near four wind turbine projects in the state. Researcher Sarah Mills says people who felt like they had input were more likely to have positive attitudes towards both wind energy and the projects themselves. Mills says research across the country is showing the perception of fairness is essential for projects. She says her research shows it’s not just important in the short term but in the long term as well.

In women’s basketball, Western Michigan lost to Central Michigan Wednesday night, 87-53. The Broncos are now 8-13 overall this season and have two wins and eight losses in Mid-American Conference play. Western will play at Ohio on Saturday.