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State Briefs

• Dec 1, 2017 at 9:00 AM

Ottawa County unemployment rate among lowest in Michigan

(The Holland Sentinel) — West Michigan unemployment rates for October continue to be some of the lowest in the state and are below the state and national levels.

Ottawa County ranked second in the state with an unemployment rate of 3.2 percent. Kent County (3.3 percent) and Allegan County (3.3 percent) also ranked in the top six in the state.

Livingston County has the lowest unemployment in the state at 3.0 percent.

When looking at the Grand Rapids-Wyoming area, which includes Kent, Montcalm, Ottawa and Barry counties, it shows that unemployment has declined slightly from 3.5 percent in September to 3.4 percent in October. This year’s October rate for the Grand Rapids-Wyoming area is up slightly from October 2016 when unemployment was at 3.3 percent.

Jobless rates in West Michigan continue to be well below the state average, which was at 4.2 percent in October 2017. That number has also decreased from 4.5 percent in September 2017.

Feds seek 60-year prison sentence for Michigan sports doctor

GRAND RAPIDS (AP) — Federal prosecutors on Thursday asked for a 60-year prison sentence for a Michigan sports doctor who was caught with child pornography while under investigation for sexually assaulting female gymnasts.

Larry Nassar, 54, who worked at Michigan State University and USA Gymnastics, will be sentenced for child porn crimes on Dec. 7. In the last week, he has pleaded guilty to molesting teens and younger girls with his hands in two other cases in state court.

Nassar "has led a double life," Assistant U.S. Attorney Sean Lewis said in a court filing. "On the surface, he was a respected, world-renowned expert for elite athletes. He was a medical doctor, a husband and a father. But underneath this veneer lurked a predator."

Lewis said Nassar "poses an immense risk to the community."

More than 100 mayors oppose nuclear waste storage plan

TRAVERSE CITY (AP) — More than 100 mayors and other municipal officials have urged Canada's environment minister not to allow burial of nuclear waste near Lake Huron.

Ontario Power Generation wants to permanently store low- and intermediate-level waste from nuclear plants in a rock chamber 2,230 feet underground. The proposed site is at the Bruce Power Generating Station near Kincardine, Ontario.

The company says there's virtually no chance of the waste reaching the lake. But many officials and groups in the U.S. and Canada oppose the plan.

In a letter Thursday to Catherine McKenna, minister of the environment and climate change, the mayors said it's unsafe to bury nuclear waste anywhere in the Great Lakes watershed.

Karen Weaver of Flint said her city's experience with lead-tainted water shows the danger of putting water resources at risk.

Bills end immunity for cops who have sex with prostitutes

LANSING (AP) — Police in Michigan would no longer be legally allowed to have sex with prostitutes during undercover investigations under legislation nearing Gov. Rick Snyder's desk.

The Senate unanimously approved a bill Thursday, and the House passed a related one 91-17. Both chambers had voted for the bills earlier this year.

Michigan is believed to be the last state in the U.S. that gives police immunity from prosecution in such circumstances after Hawaii made a change in 2014.

A sponsor of the legislation has said she does not believe officers are actually taking advantage of the law, but it should still come off the books.

Lawsuit over fatal shooting of teen settled for $2.4 million

CHARLOTTE (AP) — A lawsuit over the fatal shooting of an unarmed teenager by a Michigan sheriff's officer has been settled for $2.4 million.

John Fuentes, who handles finances for Eaton County, said he hopes the deal allows Deven Guilford's family to "mourn their loss privately" outside contested litigation.

Sgt. Jonathan Frost shot the 17-year-old seven times during a traffic stop in 2015. The officer had stopped Guilford for flashing his high-beam headlights.

Guilford refused to give his driver's license, registration and proof of insurance. Frost said he was being punched by Guilford and feared for his life when he began shooting, although a judge said parts of the officer's version seemed "almost inconceivable."

Guilford's family accused Frost of excessive force. Without a settlement, the case would have gone to trial.

Michigan House votes to allow year-round frog hunting

LANSING (AP) — Legislation that has advanced another step in Michigan would let hunters kill frogs year-round and lift a ban against spearing frogs by using an artificial light.

The House approved the bill 69-39 Thursday after changing a version that previously cleared the Senate.

The House also voted 84-24 to prohibit hunting reptiles or amphibians for commercial purposes.

Michigan now bans killing any species of frog between mid-November and late spring. It also bars frog-spearing — or "gigging" — which is popular among young people in southern states, according to a legislative analysis.

The bill's opponents say frog-spearing is inhumane and frogs need protection to breed.

Supporters counter that it makes no sense to prohibit frog-spearing with a flashlight because hunters already can use artificial light to net or hook frogs.

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