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State Briefs

By the Associated Press • Sep 21, 2017 at 9:00 AM

Michigan trooper dies from injuries after motorcycle crash

PLAINFIELD TWP. (AP) — A state police trooper has died from his injuries after crashing his motorcycle in West Michigan.

The state police said 28-year-old Trooper Timothy O'Neill of the Rockford Post died following the crash at about 7:45 a.m. Wednesday.

The three-year veteran was on patrol when the crash occurred near Rockford, about 12 miles north of Grand Rapids. It said no one else was injured, and the crash remains under investigation.

MSP Director Col. Kriste Kibbey Etue issued a statement saying, "It is with a very heavy heart that I confirm the death of one of our own." Gov. Rick Snyder posted on Twitter that O'Neill's "loss will be felt throughout our state."

O'Neill was due to be married on Oct. 7.

Snyder signs super PAC bills, cites improved reporting rules

LANSING (AP) — Gov. Rick Snyder has quickly signed into law contentious regulations for independent expenditure committees whose footprint in elections has grown since U.S. Supreme Court decisions seven years ago.

Democrats and campaign-finance watchdogs opposed the Republican-sponsored legislation, partly for letting candidates solicit unlimited donations for super PACs backing their campaigns.

But the Republican governor said the bills signed Wednesday — a day after lawmakers approved them — give the secretary of state "clear statutory authority" to regulate independent expenditure committees with reporting requirements and enforcement penalties. He cited confusion over the 2010 Citizens United ruling's effect on Michigan law.

Snyder said the law now aligns with federal decisions protecting free-speech rights.

Critics say the law improperly lets super PACs running ads use the same attorney that a candidate committee employs.

Betsy DeVos attends opening of Michigan State research center

GRAND RAPIDS (AP) — U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos joined Michigan State University officials and other dignitaries to mark the official opening the school's Grand Rapids Research Center on Wednesday.

The Lansing State Journal reported a couple dozen people protested DeVos' visit to her hometown. A similarly sized group gathered in support.

Critics say she's hostile to public education and indifferent to civil rights. They cite her push for school choice and decision to end the Obama administration's rules for investigating allegations of on-campus sexual violence.

DeVos and her backers say the previous administration's rules denied the due process of those accused.

The West Michigan medical research center will work on Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases along with autism, pediatric cancers and women's health. The $88 million facility is eventually expected to employ 44 research teams.

'Emotion' not fact: Court overturns child abuse conviction

MOUNT CLEMENS (AP) — The Michigan appeals court has overturned the child-abuse conviction of a woman whose 11-month-old daughter died after swallowing a morphine pill.

The court said there was insufficient evidence to show that Kim Murphy committed a reckless act that led to Trinity's death in Macomb County. Judge Elizabeth Gleicher said it's a case "built on emotion rather than fact or law."

Gleicher said no one really knows how the little girl got the morphine. Her late grandmother had a prescription for pain management, but the vial was out of reach.

Prosecutors claimed that Murphy failed to clean the home to ensure the morphine pills were removed. The appeals court said that might be "inaction,” but not a reckless act.

Murphy was sentenced to three years in prison.

FAA probes possible plane pieces found near Detroit airport

ROMULUS (AP) — The Federal Aviation Administration said it's investigating after pieces believed to be from an aircraft were found in yards near Detroit Metro Airport.

A Spirit Airlines flight from Detroit to Atlanta returned to the airport after experiencing engine failure Monday evening. The flight was able to land without incident.

The FAA said pieces from the aircraft were thought to be contained to an airport runway, but other material was found by nearby residents.

The FAA said it's "interested in collecting these pieces so we can determine if they came from an aircraft, and if so, if they came from the same aircraft."

FAA spokeswoman Elizabeth Isham Cory said the investigation could last several weeks.

An email requesting comment was sent to Miramar, Florida-based Spirit Airlines.

Developer Ross gives another $50M to University of Michigan

ANN ARBOR (AP) — The University of Michigan said Wednesday that real estate developer and alumnus Stephen Ross has donated another $50 million to the school, allowing it to surpass a $1 billion goal for student support under its Victors for Michigan Campaign.

The university said the gift from the owner of the Miami Dolphins will support career development programs for students, learning experiences such as student-run investment funds and new business ventures, and resources for attracting and developing junior faculty.

It said Ross is the single largest donor to the university and has given U-M a total of $378 million.

Ross chairs the four-year-old Victors for Michigan Campaign, which has raised more than $4 billion so far.

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