Author Archives: Jake Neher

Probe finds Courser, Gamrat misused public resources, Dems demand full report

Capital_Building_LansingState representatives Todd Courser and Cindy Gamrat engaged in misconduct and misused taxpayer resources. State House Speaker Kevin Cotter (R-Mt. Pleasant) says those are preliminary findings of a House Business Office investigation into a sex-and-cover-up scandal involving the lawmakers.
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Former Courser, Gamrat staffer describes “hostile, untenable work environment”

Josh Cline, a former staffer for Reps. Courser and Gamrat, spoke with reporters on Monday at his attorney’s office in Royal Oak.

Josh Cline, a former staffer for Reps. Courser and Gamrat, spoke with reporters on Monday at his attorney’s office in Royal Oak.

A former staffer for embattled state representatives Todd Courser (R-Lapeer) and Cindy Gamrat (R-Plainwell) is speaking out against his former bosses.
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New road funding plan in the works as lawmakers return from month-long break

Capital_Building_LansingState lawmakers return this week from a month-long break with hopes of passing a new road funding plan.

Action on road funding has been stalled since July when lawmakers left Lansing for a month-long break. That’s after after the state House declined to take up legislation that was narrowly approved by the state Senate.
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Committee OKs selection of former Consumers lobbyist to utility regulation panel

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The state Senate is one step closer to confirming Gov. Rick Snyder’s appointment of a former Consumers Energy lobbyist to a panel that regulates utilities.

The state Senate Energy and Technology Committee signed off on the appointment of Norm Saari to the Michigan Public Service Commission during an advice and consent hearing on Thursday. The Senate Government Operations Committee and the full Senate are expected to follow suit.

Saari told the legislative panel that he no longer has any financial connection to Consumers.

“I have no pension from Consumers Energy. I have no retiree healthcare from Consumers Energy. I have no life insurance from Consumers Energy. I don’t get a senior citizen discount on my energy bills and I pay for my light bulbs,” he said.

“I have no financial interest in any of the organizations that I will be part of regulating.”

But critics of the appointment say his background still creates a conflict of interest. They say it should disqualify him from the job.

Saari most recently served as chief of staff to state House Speaker Kevin Cotter (R-Mt. Pleasant) and former speaker Jase Bolger (R-Marshall).

Because of his former role, lawmakers on the panel quizzed Saari on what role – if any – he played in a recent scandal. Some Democrats charge that he may have ignored evidence that state Rep. Todd Courser (R-Lapeer) used state resources to cover up his affair with state Rep. Cindy Gamrat (R-Plainwell).

Saari told reporters that he believes he addressed the situation appropriately. But he declined to comment further on the scandal in front of the Senate panel.

“I do have a meeting scheduled next week with the House Business Office as part of their investigation,” he said. “And I feel an obligation to communicate through the investigation before I make any other public comments.”

Enbridge sponsors water monitoring above aging pipeline in Mackinac Straits

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Enbridge Energy is sponsoring new efforts to monitor waters above its aging pipeline in the Straits of Mackinac.

Enbridge is working with the Great Lakes Research Center (GLRC) out of Michigan Technical University to build and operate a buoy to measure currents in real time. That information will be made available for anyone to view online. Continue reading

State announces grants to help prevent campus sexual assault

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The state is asking colleges and universities to submit proposals to help prevent campus sexual assaults. It will award $500,000 in grants to help fund programs that are approved.

First Lady Sue Snyder is leading the effort. She detailed the grant process during a press call on Wednesday. Continue reading

Lawsuit says state ignores due process in tax foreclosures, could affect legislation

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A class action lawsuit claims Michigan ignores due process when overseeing tax foreclosures.

The Gongwer news service first reported on the lawsuit. Plaintiffs say the state does not hold impartial hearings so that people can appeal foreclosure decisions. Continue reading

State board says people with autism should be able to use medical marijuana

potA state board has approved adding autism to the list of conditions that can be treated with medical marijuana. The Michigan Medical Marihuana Review Panel voted 4-2 on Friday to make the recommendation.

The final decision will be made by Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs Director Mike Zimmer. Continue reading