Author Archives: Rick Pluta

Anti-fracking group challenges petition limits


The petition campaign to outlaw fracking in Michigan is asking the state Court of Appeals to overturn a 180-time limit on gathering signatures. The campaign is asking the court to strike down a law signed in June by Governor Rick Snyder.

Lu Ann Kozma is with the anti-fracking campaign. She would like the court to rule soon so the campaign can decide whether to continue gathering signatures. Continue reading

Clinton says her campaign will take high road

Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton addresses a voter registration rally at Wayne State University in Detroit.

Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton addresses a voter registration rally at Wayne State University in Detroit.

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton stopped by Detroit today (Mon.), where she addressed a voter registration rally. Tomorrow (Tue.) is Michigan’s deadline to register.
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Lawmakers say first responder health fund should cover breast cancer


Some Democrats in the Legislature say a state health care fund for firefighters and other first responders should cover breast cancer treatments.

State Senator Curtis Hertel (East Lansing) says firefighters are commonly exposed to benzene and other chemicals linked to breast cancer. He says it’s only fair that breast cancer is covered by the first responders fund.

“Those that protect us should always be protected,” he said.

Detroit Senior Firefighter Elizabeth Szmrecsanyi says women in her profession are three times more likely than the average woman to develop breast cancer.

“We put our lives on the line, just like our brethren do in the fire department,” she said, “and I don’t see why females – why our parts shouldn’t be covered just as the gentlemen already are.”

Unions for police, firefighters and other first responders support the expansion.

Hertel says policymakers were slow to recognize the risk to female firefighters, in part, because there are so many more men in the profession. But he says new studies show the dangers to female first responders.

“Some of it’s just common sense,” he said. “We know that dangerous chemicals like benzene lead to breast cancer, and that’s what people in a fire are fighting. So, oftentimes, people are going to have exposure and we should make sure they’re protected.”

Michigan’s first responder health care fund already covers 10 types of cancer – including prostate and testicular cancer. It was created in 2014, but it wasn’t funded by the Legislature until this year.

Governor Snyder elevates chief medical executive


Governor Rick Snyder is boosting the position of Michigan chief medical executive to his official inner circle. The governor says he wants to streamline how critical public health information reaches him. That was one of the problems identified by a task force that looked into how the Flint water crisis occurred.

In the-not-too-distant past, chief medical executive in the Snyder administration was a part-time job. Now, the governor is elevating it to a cabinet-level position reporting directly to him. Continue reading

Trump booed on Flint visit

Donald Trump campaigning in Pella, Iowa on January 23, 2016.

Donald Trump campaigning in Pella, Iowa on January 23, 2016.

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump kept a promise today Wednesday to visit Flint. But he was not greeted warmly in a city that’s struggling with a water crisis caused by government dysfunction.

Trump toured Flint’s water treatment plant and then traveled to an inner city church. Continue reading

State House remembers late Rep. Peter Pettalia

State Rep. Peter Petallia (R-Presque Isle)

State Rep. Peter Petallia (R-Presque Isle)

There are now two desks on the floor of the state House draped with black ribbon and bedecked with flowers.

Lawmakers returned to the state Capitol Tuesday to the news that state Representative Peter Pettalia (R-Presque Isle) was killed Monday evening in a motorcycle crash. The desk of state Representative Julie Plawecki (D-Dearborn Heights) also remains vacant after she died this summer from a heart attack. Continue reading