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State Briefs

Associated Press • Oct 27, 2016 at 9:00 AM

Here’s what’s making news across Michigan today:

Snyder signs bill to require reporting on veterans homes

LANSING (AP) — A new law will require the state of Michigan to report staffing levels, patient complaints and other information about state-run veterans homes four times a year.

Legislation signed Wednesday by Gov. Rick Snyder outlines quarterly reporting requirements for state agencies that evaluate conditions at the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans and the D.J. Jacobetti Home for Veterans in Marquette.

In February, Snyder replaced the director of Michigan's veterans agency after an audit uncovered insufficient care and inadequate staffing levels at the Grand Rapids facility.

Snyder said veterans "deserve the highest standards of care available," and the law helps ensure that conditions at the two homes are evaluated and reported more consistently and effectively.

The bill was sponsored by Republican Rep. Holly Hughes of Montague.

Judge won't bend on allowing Michigan ballot selfies

GRAND RAPIDS (AP) — A judge has refused to suspend her order that allows Michigan voters to take photos of their completed ballot in the Nov. 8 election.

Citing the First Amendment, Grand Rapids federal Judge Janet Neff blocked Michigan's ban on taking so-called ballot selfies. The secretary of state is appealing.

The judge said Wednesday that she won't freeze her decision while the legal process moves to a higher court.

Joel Crookston of Portage filed a lawsuit in September. In 2012, he took a photo of his ballot while voting for a write-in candidate for Michigan State University trustee. He didn't know it was illegal.

Lawyers for the secretary of state are predicting "chaos" if voters take photos. They say it'll lead to longer lines at polling places and other problems.

Former Michigan state trooper charged in embezzlement scheme

LANSING (AP) — A former Michigan State Police trooper is accused of embezzlement for allegedly pocketing over $170,000 in vehicle fees.

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette announced felony charges Wednesday against 31-year-old Seth Swanson after an investigation into salvage vehicle inspections.

Swanson served as a state-certified salvage vehicle inspector since 2011. A vehicle with a salvage title cannot be used on public roads until it's recertified.

Authorities claim Swanson forged Secretary of State documents guaranteeing a salvage vehicle has a clean title and allegedly pocketed the $100 fee from 1,701 inspections.

He was arraigned Wednesday and released on a $10,000 personal recognizance bond. It was immediately unclear if he has an attorney.

His next court date hasn't been set.

Swanson was suspended without pay effective in February 2016. He resigned this week.

Group seeks national designation for Cass River water trail

FRANKENMUTH (AP) — A group creating a 27-mile water trail along the Cass River is seeking federal designation for the trail through the U.S. National Park Service.

Officials from Cass River Greenway, a local conservation group focused on the Cass River corridor, announced that the federal agency has agreed to help the group in its application for designation as a "National Water Trail."

The service lists more than 20 such trails running along rivers, lakes and other waterways in 22 states on its website.

The Cass River Water Trail stretches along the river and connects Bridgeport, Frankenmuth and Vassar. The ongoing project includes a series of canoe and kayak launch sites, parking and restroom facilities, as well as promotional material and informational signs along the river.

The project was given about a half a million dollars through the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund to help build a trailhead and improve facilities, in Bridgeport and Frankenmuth.

National Parks Service grants announced this week are through the agency's Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance Program.

Other trust fund grants over 550,000 announced earlier this year went toward the trailhead in Bridgeport, fishing facilities and boat launch renovations and another launch site near Bridgeport.

The Michigan program coordinator for the National Park Service, Barbara Nelson-Jameson, praised the work that has already been done to develop the water trail and looks "forward to working with the Cass River Greenway partners on an exemplary water trail with opportunities for recreation, education, and conservation that the public can explore and enjoy."

Police seeking man in connection with campus shooting

CALEDONIA TWP. (AP) — Authorities are seeking a 24-year-old Lansing man in connection with a weekend shooting that wounded a college student in West Michigan.

The Kent County Sheriff's Department said Wednesday that Paul Howard is named in a warrant.

A Davenport University student was struck by a slug that penetrated a wall Sunday morning inside a residence hall at the school in Caledonia Township.

Two students and four nonstudents were involved in an altercation when the shot was fired. The student who was shot was not involved in the fight and was later treated at a hospital.

Sheriff's officials said the warrant was authorized by prosecutors and charges Howard with discharging a firearm in a building, carrying a concealed weapon, carrying a weapon with unlawful intent and felony firearm.

Kaine to rally unionized workers in Michigan on Sunday

WARREN (AP) — Democratic vice presidential candidate Tim Kaine will campaign at a get-out-the-vote rally in Metro Detroit on Sunday, nine days before the Nov. 8 election.

The Virginia senator plans to speak with more than 500 union members and their families at the Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters and Millwrights in Warren in Macomb County.

Others planning to attend include Michigan Sen. Gary Peters and Doug McCarron, president of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Millwrights.

The rally is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. Another event with Kaine is also planned Sunday.

Michigan State University to open Bio Engineering building

EAST LANSING (AP) — A grand opening is scheduled for the Michigan State University Bio Engineering building.

The ceremony will take place Thursday at 4 p.m. at the building on the south side of the university campus in East Lansing.

Among dignitaries on hand will be Board of Trustees Chairman Joel Ferguson and President Lou Anna K. Simon, along with scientists who will do research in the 130,000-square-foot structure.

The building will play a crucial role in planned expansion of biomedical engineering research at Michigan State.

It will house the newly created Institute for Quantitative Health Sciences and Engineering, and the Department of Bio-medical Engineering.

The facility will bring together researchers from a number of disciplines and colleges, including the College of Engineering, the College of Human Medicine and the College of Natural Science.

U. of Michigan reports more minorities among undergraduates

ANN ARBOR (AP) — The University of Michigan says its undergraduates include more underrepresented minorities and more students from low-income families.

The Ann Arbor school on Wednesday announced details of its fall enrollment, saying underrepresented minorities make up 12.3 percent of the undergraduate student body, up from 11.4 percent last fall. There also are students enrolled from more Michigan high schools.

Underrepresented minorities include blacks, Hispanics, Native Americans and some other groups and make up 13.8 percent of the freshman class, up from 12.8 percent in fall 2015.

The school this month unveiled an $85 million, five-year plan to promote diversity and inclusion at the mostly white campus.

Undergraduate enrollment is 28,983 and graduate and professional school enrollment is 15,735. Overall enrollment on the Ann Arbor campus is up 2.4 percent over fall 2015.

ACLU files new complaint after hospital denies sterilization

GRAND BLANC (AP) — The American Civil Liberties Union has filed a new complaint against a Flint-area Catholic hospital that didn't allow a doctor to perform sterilization surgery on a woman who had brain tumors.

Tuesday's complaint was with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Office for Civil Rights.

It claims Genesys hospital in Grand Blanc didn't allow Jessica Mann's doctor last year to give her a tubal ligation. She wanted to prevent future pregnancies due to health risks and said she had to find a new doctor and hospital before giving birth.

The ACLU earlier tried to get Genesys to allow the surgery.

Genesys is a part of Ascension Health, which said that as a Catholic health system it follows the church's "ethical and religious directives."

People who challenged tax foreclosures now face eviction

DETROIT (AP) — People who sued Wayne County and several Detroit-area communities last year over tax foreclosures are now being evicted after losing several court cases.

Brandy Gutierrez, 32, of Lincoln Park was evicted Friday from her home while she was at work. Her attorney, Tarek Baydoun, said she didn't get proper notice related to the eviction order.

Gutierrez is among those who sued the Wayne County Treasurer's Office in December in U.S. District Court to stop their evictions. They say they didn't receive foreclosure notices.

The county sold the homes to suburban communities, including Lincoln Park and Garden City, which resold them to developers to fix up. Treasurer Eric Sabree said his office followed the law and that many homeowners were foreclosed upon when they missed payments.

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