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State Briefs

Associated Press • Apr 13, 2018 at 9:00 AM

Michigan Senate: Leave the pit bulls alone

LANSING (AP) — No bans on pit bulls allowed, Michigan's Senate says.

The chamber voted 22-13 on Thursday to prohibit local governments from dictating breed-specific regulations on dogs. The legislation will benefit canines that are perceived as more aggressive — mostly pit bulls, but also Rottweilers, German Shepherds and Cane Corsos.

About 30 local governments have some form of breed-specific ordinances, which supporters of the bill say encroaches on dog owners' property rights. Targeting specific breeds is also not an effective approach to dog bite prevention, they say. A 2014 American Veterinary Medical Association report says pit bulls are not disproportionately dangerous.

However, critics of the bill mention that pit bulls are behind most fatal dog bites.

At least 20 states already prohibit such breed-specific policies. Michigan's bill now heads to the House.

House approves bill allowing parental eavesdropping

LANSING (AP) — Michigan's House wants to give parents free reign in listening to their children's conversations.

In a 105-3 vote, lawmakers passed the bill that adds parental exemptions to Michigan's eavesdropping prohibition. Eavesdropping is defined as overhearing, recording, amplifying or transmitting conversations intended to be private.

Under current Michigan law, snooping on a child's phone could lead to a felony sentencing of up to two years of imprisonment.

Supporters say parents should be allowed to monitor their children's conversations until they turn 18 to best protect them. The bill would not allow parents to monitor such conversations with the child's attorney, a custody investigator or, if there's a reasonable fear of danger, the other parent.

The bill now heads to the Senate.

Mastercard Foundation ends Michigan State work over Nassar

EAST LANSING (AP) — Citing "lost confidence," the Mastercard Foundation announced Thursday it will stop supporting programs with Michigan State University as the school deals with fallout from a former sports doctor convicted of molesting athletes.

One $45 million program funds the education of students from sub-Saharan Africa. Another $13 million collaborative effort helps young people access agricultural jobs in Tanzania and Nigeria.

The Toronto-based foundation said in a release that it will honor current commitments, but plans to terminate the partnership.

"The Mastercard Foundation is dedicated to providing a safe environment for young people who participate in our programs," the statement said. "Due to extensive media reporting about issues involving Michigan State University, the foundation has lost confidence in our partnership with the university."

The foundation works to help young people in Africa lift themselves and their communities out of poverty. The foundation said it works with 27 educational partners in the scholars program.

University officials said they have notified all affected students and others, and are focused on supporting those students through graduation.

Former sports doctor Larry Nassar is currently serving decades in prison after pleading guilty to molesting patients and possessing child pornography. Nassar worked at Michigan State and also treated top Olympians for USA Gymnastics.

In January, one of Michigan State's corporate sponsors chose not to have its logo behind basketball and football coaches during news conferences. Auto-Owners Insurance spokesman Trevor Mahoney told The Associated Press at the time that the company did not deem it appropriate to showcase advertising "during discussions of serious topics that have impacted the lives of many."

Whitmer submits 30,000 nominating petitions for governor

LANSING (AP) — Democrat Gretchen Whitmer has turned in 30,000 petitions to qualify as candidate in her run for Michigan governor.

Whitmer and her campaign supporters submitted the voter signatures Thursday to the secretary of state's office in Lansing. She needed 15,000 and said the signatures were gathered and validated with volunteers.

Whitmer is the second Democrat to file petitions, joining Abdul El-Sayed. Shri Thanedar and Bill Cobbs also are running, and the deadline to file is April 24.

Standing with boisterous volunteers, Whitmer said her campaign is about making Michigan a state where "our young people stay" and people "can retire with dignity." As supporters cheered loudly, she told reporters that voters are most concerned about job opportunities, the roads and schools.

Miles, 2 Nassar victims criticize Nessel for comments

LANSING (AP) — Democratic attorney general candidate Pat Miles and two victims of former sports doctor Larry Nassar are criticizing his opponent Dana Nessel for expressing concerns about Nassar-inspired legislation that would give survivors more time to seek criminal charges in certain cases.

Days before Democrats endorse a candidate in the race, Miles held a news conference with Morgan McCaul and Jessica Ann Smith, who spoke at Nassar sentencings. Smith says "there is no opposing side to sexual abuse."

Nessel — a former prosecutor who does criminal defense work — said this week she favors giving children time to come forward once they reach adulthood but expressed concerns with people making allegations after being adults for "many, many years."

Her campaign accuses Miles of exploiting victims in "Trumpian fashion."

Michigan city approves tax breaks for Pfizer expansion plan

PORTAGE (AP) — City officials in southwestern Michigan have approved property tax breaks for a $465 million expansion project by Pfizer Inc.

Portage City Council voted this week to approve an exemption that will cut property taxes in half for 15 years, including three years during construction. Pfizer agreed to maintain 200 current employees and hire at least 450 new people before the tax break expires.

The pharmaceutical company sought the exemption for a sterile processing facility in the city just south of Kalamazoo. A total of $32.1 million in revenue will be forgone by local taxing jurisdictions during the tax break, which is set to expire in 2033.

Pfizer's manufacturing campus in Portage already includes more than 120 buildings.

Teacher pleads no contest in teen's drowning at school pool

EASTPOINTE (AP) — A Detroit-area teacher who was blamed for the death of a teenager at a high school pool has pleaded no contest to involuntary manslaughter.

A 14-year-old boy drowned at East Detroit High School in 2013. Prosecutors say Johnathan Sails was assigned to monitor a remedial swim class but was in the bleachers with his back to the pool when KeAir Swift was struggling.

Online records show Sails pleaded no contest Wednesday in Macomb County court. He'll be sentenced on May 23.

The charge against Sails was thrown out by a judge in 2015. But the Michigan appeals court reinstated the case, saying there was enough evidence to show that Sails was "grossly negligent."

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