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State Briefs

By The Associated Press • May 31, 2018 at 9:00 AM

State regulators approve $50M in customer utility bill cuts

LANSING (AP) — The Michigan Public Service Commission has approved settlements with seven utilities to pass along to ratepayers more than $50 million in total savings from the federal corporate income tax overhaul.

On Wednesday, the panel approved filings for Alpena Power Co., DTE Gas Co., Michigan Gas Utilities Corp., Northern States Power, SEMCO Energy Gas Co. and Upper Michigan Energy Resources Corp. The savings in customer utility bills take effect July 1.

The tax overhaul reduced the corporate rate from 35 percent to 21 percent and made other changes to tax rules.

The commission said rulings will be announced later for Consumers Energy Co., DTE Electric Co., Indiana Michigan Power Co. and Upper Peninsula Power Co.

Prevailing wage bill to proceed after court declines appeal

LANSING (AP) — Michigan lawmakers could begin voting as soon as next week on veto-proof legislation to repeal Michigan's prevailing wage law after the state Supreme Court on Wednesday denied an appeal filed by a union-backed group opposing the measure.

In a brief order, the justices said they were not persuaded to consider questions raised by Protect Michigan Jobs, a union-backed group opposing the initiated bill. That means an appeals court decision ordering certification of the proposal by the state elections board stands.

The bipartisan Board of State Canvassers will meet Friday. It had deadlocked in April, when Democrats voted "no" after the opposition raised objections that 18 paid circulators provided fraudulent addresses.

Once the ballot initiative is certified by the board, the Republican-controlled Legislature will have 40 days to enact it or legislators could let it proceed to the November ballot. GOP legislative leaders have indicated they want to pass the legislation, which was organized by nonunion contractors as a citizens' initiative because Republican Gov. Rick Snyder previously threatened to veto repeal bills in the House and Senate.

The 1965 prevailing wage law requires paying the local wage and benefit rate — usually union scale — on state-financed projects such as public schools.

Officer charged after gun accidentally fires at school meet

FOWLERVILLE (AP) — A police officer has been charged after his personal gun accidentally fired into the floor of a high school gymnasium as he watched a wrestling tournament in which his son was a competitor.

Mark Boudreau, 40, is charged with misdemeanor careless discharge of a firearm, WHMI-FM reported.

The shot was fired May 5 at Fowlerville High School.

Boudreau, of the Flint Police Department, will be arraigned June 7.

Defense attorney Frank Manley called the shooting "unfortunate," and Boudreau "an outstanding veteran command officer."

The Flint Journal reported that Flint police said the department "cannot comment on any potential criminal allegations until" it receives "all of the facts at the conclusion of the proceedings."

Appeal turned down for bondage fan convicted in wife's death

LANSING (AP) — The Michigan Supreme Court has turned away the appeal of a former Rotary Club president convicted in the murder of his wife because prosecutors say he wanted to devote himself to a secret sexual bondage lifestyle that involved other women.

The court issued an order Tuesday regarding the appeal from Bob Bashara. The trial revealed that Bashara hosted men and women at a sex dungeon under a bar called the Hard Luck Lounge and went by bondage nickname "Master Bob."

Bashara's wife, Jane, was strangled by a handyman in their Grosse Pointe Park garage in 2012. Her body was discovered in her Mercedes-Benz in a Detroit alley.

Wayne State University offers to erase debts to get former students

DETROIT (AP) — Wayne State University has a message for former students who owe money to the Detroit school: Come back and let's make a deal.

Wayne State says it will gradually forgive up to $1,500 in debt if a student returns and enrolls full-time. If a student successfully completes a semester, one-third of the debt will be dropped. Every successful semester will erase more debt.

The school is holding information sessions on June 28 and 30. Wayne State is calling the program "Warrior Way Back."

Dawn Medley, an associate vice president, said many students "are shut out of the path of higher education" because they owe relatively small debts. She said Wayne State is "excited to reopen that path."

Indiana pie store owner actions save strawberry festival

KOKOMO, Ind. (AP) — A central Indiana pie shop owner has saved an annual strawberry festival by driving to Michigan to pick up two tons of berries after a California vendor failed to deliver the festival fruit.

Kokomo's Strawberry Festival had no berries just days before Friday's festival in the city about 40 miles north of Indianapolis.

But Moore's Pie Shop owner, Greg Lucas, came to the rescue. He's ordered the festival's strawberries for 13 years and quickly found another strawberry vendor, in Niles, Michigan.

The Kokomo Tribune reported Lucas rented a truck, hit the road and returned Wednesday with more than 4,000 pounds of frozen strawberries.

Greater Kokomo Downtown Association Manager Susan Alexander said the festival is indebted to Lucas "for going so far above and beyond to help the community celebrate summer."

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