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State Briefs

By The Associated Press • May 16, 2018 at 9:00 AM

Lawmakers OK requiring defendants to hear impact statements

LANSING (AP) — Michigan's Legislature has passed a bill requiring defendants to listen to victim impact statements, diminishing the chances the man convicted of killing Rebekah Bletsch would be able to walk away from such statements during another murder trial.

The House voted 105-3 Tuesday for the legislation created to honor Bletsch, a 36-year-old who was murdered in 2014 while jogging in Muskegon County. In December 2017, her convicted murderer, Jeffrey Willis, left the courtroom during victim statements — while blowing a kiss and flashing an obscene hand gesture.

Should Gov. Rick Snyder sign the legislation, it could become law before Willis is possibly sentenced in another trial unfolding now. He is accused of murdering 25-year-old Jessica Heeringa. Willis' attorney says no evidence connects his client with the crime.

Carbon monoxide sends 4 firefighters, 2 workers to hospital

CANTON (AP) — Authorities said four firefighters are among six people who were sickened by carbon monoxide at a home in suburban Detroit.

Canton Public Safety Director Joshua Meier said firefighters transported two workers to a hospital Tuesday, including one who was found unconscious. He said an initial investigation reveals they inhaled high levels of carbon monoxide, believed to have come from a gas-powered saw they were using in the basement of the residence. Their conditions Tuesday evening weren't available.

Meier said four firefighters, including one who was overcome by fumes, also were evaluated at a hospital, and three were released Tuesday afternoon.

The names of those sickened weren't released.

Michigan plans $35M contract with Trinity for food, software

LANSING (AP) — Michigan will continue paying a company for prison food and to use its software while transitioning back to having state workers run prison kitchens.

A state subcommittee on Tuesday approved a new $35 million, one-year contract for Trinity Services Group. The full State Administrative Board is expected to vote on it next week.

Department of Corrections spokesman Chris Gautz said companies were interested in bidding to supply the food, but could not do so on an expedited timeline. He said the agency plans to issue a request for proposals so other vendors can begin providing food in June 2019.

In February, Gov. Rick Snyder announced that an existing larger contract with Trinity would expire at the end of July and not be extended, largely due to problems with inadequate staffing levels.

Michigan high court halts OK of wage bill to consider appeal

LANSING (AP) — The Michigan Supreme Court is halting the certification of a ballot initiative that would repeal the state's prevailing wage law while the justices consider whether to hear an appeal.

The court issued a stay Tuesday. That means the state Court of Appeals' order that the elections board certify the initiated legislation is on hold.

The board canceled a Tuesday afternoon meeting at which it was going to consider certifying the measure. It previously deadlocked 2-2 after Democrats agreed with unions' concerns about paid circulators who gathered signatures.

The law requires that higher "prevailing" union-scale wages are paid workers on state-financed construction projects such as schools.

If the initiative is certified, the Republican-led Legislature will have 40 days to enact it or lawmakers could let it proceed to the November ballot.

Woman fired after cops seize laxative-laced brownies

SALINE (AP) — A Michigan engineering company employee has been fired after police determined she baked laxatives into brownies intended for a departing colleague's send-off.

Saline Police Chief Jerrod Hart said officers confiscated the tainted confections May 3 after another employee tipped off management. No one ate the brownies.

Hart said the 47-year-old woman initially denied putting laxatives in the brownies, but after learning investigators would test them, she admitted she had. Her name hasn't been released.

Other employees told police there may have been tension between the woman and the departing employee, but specifics haven't been released.

Hart said the woman faces no charges, but if anyone had eaten the brownies, it could have been considered a criminal act.

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