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Friday, April 18,2014

This week from Capital News Service

Inadequate bridge funding, weather hits golf courses, early-teen pregnancies are up and more

by CNS correspondents
Mackinac Trail Bridge over Chubb Creek, Mackinac County. Credit: County Road Association of Michigan.
Friday, April 16 — This week’s file from Capital News Service includes stories on inadequate state funding for bridges; a new report showing teen pregnancies are generally down, except among 10-14-year-olds; a pending state Supreme Court decision that could have implications on disclosure of personal information; and more.
  • Our bridges are falling, our bridges are falling — or at least are in serious peril of collapse. Bridge problems have closed portions of interstates in Oakland and Jackson counties, and it costs school districts, including one in St. Joseph County, money to bypass closed bridges. That’s the message from MDOT, County Road Association of Michigan and a Portage lawmaker as the legislature wrestles with how much or how little to spend on bridges. By Danielle Woodward.
  • A tougher-than-normal winter means many golf courses, especially in southern Michigan, are opening later than usual. That means a revenue loss, plus vulnerability of the grass to fungi. We hear from golf course managers in Alpena, Traverse City and Lansing, as well as the Golf Course Superintendents Association. By Nick Stanek.
  • The Department of Community Health reports that teen pregnancies are generally down in the state — except among 10-14-year-olds. That uptick may be only a one-year anomaly. We hear from the department, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and a Farmington Hills-based parent group that runs programs in high-risk areas such as Detroit, Muskegon and Saginaw. By Lacee Shepherd.
  • The Department of Community Health is pushing a pilot project to expand health centers for low-income children and youth and to provide them more mental health services. We hear from the department and School-Community Health Alliance. Senators from Ann Arbor and Saginaw are among the big supporters. By Danielle Woodward.
  • Michigan’s not the only state with road woes. However, its unusual funding formula for maintenance and construction, coupled with low diesel and fuel taxes, create some unique problems. Legislators from Traverse City and Marshall are trying yet again to raise fuel taxes. We hear from MDOT, an MSU economist, the state Chamber of Commerce and transportation officials in Indiana and Wisconsin. By Darcie Moran.
  • Little-known state agencies often affect the everyday lives of Michigan residents, ranging from boards that license cosmetologists and health professions to one that safeguards workplace health to those that promote agricultural commodities such as asparagus and dairy products. Meanwhile, the Snyder administration is working to eliminate what it considers unnecessary regulations that impede business. By Ashley Weigel.
  • The Court of Appeals is considering challenges by two U.P. townships to Tax Tribunal property tax rulings in favor of big box stores. Local governments say the Tax Tribunal position will cost them vital revenue, while the Retailers Association supports the tribunal. Legislation by Escanaba and Marquette lawmakers has stalled in committee. By Ashley Weigel.
  • Prolonged weight limits on roads are causing delays for farmers but could be lifted soon. Problems include delayed delivery of fertilizer. Also, dairy and cattle farmers haven’t been able to put their herds out on pasture as early as usual, driving up feed costs. We talk to affected businesses in Hillsdale County and Lake Odessa and the Beef Industry Commission. By Nick Stanek.
  • The state Supreme Court is considering a rule change that would prevent local courts from posting online some personal information from protection orders as federal privacy law requires. Oakland and Macomb counties already changed their practices, while Emmet and Kent counties already don’t post such information online. We hear from the court, a Kalamazoo County judge, a Macomb County court official and a board that serves victims of domestic and sexual abuse. By Darcie Moran.
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