Campus free speech subject of new state bill

Courtesy NPR

Courtesy NPR

College students who block protesters or speakers from speaking on public colleges and universities would be penalized under a bill now in the state Senate.

The “Campus Free Speech Act” would penalize people who infringe on protester’s, speaker’s, student’s and professor’s first amendment rights.

The rules would apply to the state’s public universities and community colleges. Continue reading

Hundreds gather for mental health services, many oppose Snyder overhaul

32765504523_6672ede8e9_zThere was a big rally at the state Capitol Wednesday to support improved mental health services and to oppose Governor Rick Snyder’s plan to overhaul how those services are paid for.

The Snyder administration and publicly funded mental health agencies have been at odds over an overhaul plan. It would allow private insurance companies to manage $2.5 billion in Medicaid funds earmarked for mental health.

“When you hand over publicly funded services to a profit-driven organization, people hurt and people suffer, and taxpayers should be paying attention to this,” said Nicole Lawson is an Oakland County mental health services administrator.

Leo Rohn is a patient who also serves on several mental health advisory boards. He’s concerned that private management of mental health funds will limit access to medications.

“They’re going to have limits on levels and who qualifies and the medications they need to live and function will be taken away from them,” he said. “People’s lives will be destroyed.”

Governor Snyder says the plan’s focus is not on controlling money, but bringing together physical health care and mental health services. He says private insurance companies could help cut management costs.

Head of Nonviolent Peaceforce to speak in Midland

Tiffany Easthom, Executive Director of the Nonviolent Peaceforce

Tiffany Easthom, Executive Director of the Nonviolent Peaceforce

Next week, the executive director of an organization dedicated to creating peace will be speaking in Midland.

Tiffany Easthom has been extensively involved in efforts to create peace in places like South Sudan and Syria. She’ll be speaking to members of Midland’s chapter of the Nonviolent Peaceforce on Monday, May 15. Continue reading

State Rep. Kivela takes own life following drunk driving arrest

KivelaThere were tears and hugs on the floor of the state House Tuesday as colleagues got word that state Representative John Kivela took his life – one day after his second arrest on a charge of drunk driving.

House Speaker Tom Leonard announced that sessions today and Wednesday would be cancelled to mourn the passing of the Democrat from Marquette.

“I’m sure today is the toughest day we will experience this term together. And I truly have no words about the loss of our dear friend, John Kivela.”

Kivela’s body was found in the home he owned in Lansing. That’s after he was released from the Clinton County jail following his arrest. Kivela was 47. He is survived by his wife and two children

Petition drive to legalize pot in MI to launch

medical-marijuana-rxA petition campaign will launch soon to put a measure on the ballot to legalize marijuana for recreational use in Michigan.

The campaign submitted its petition form to state officials for approval. A spring and summer signature-gathering effort would then try to put the question on the 2018 ballot.

Former state lawmaker Jeff Irwin is the campaign’s political director. He says banning marijuana has been a waste of time and money, just like the nation’s experiment with Prohibition in the 1920s.

“We also know that alcohol prohibition was a huge failure. We know that alcohol prohibition fueled crime and violence, just like marijuana prohibition is doing today.”

Irwin says legalization would allow a new business sector, and generate millions of dollars in revenue for schools, roads, and local governments.