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State Briefs

By The Associated Press • Jun 12, 2018 at 9:00 AM

2 children die, 3rd hurt in southern Michigan camper fire

BRONSON (AP) — Authorities say two children, ages 2 and 5, have died after the camper they were in caught fire in southern Michigan.

The Branch County Sheriff's Office said the fire started at about 10:30 a.m. Monday at a rural campground near Bronson.

WOOD-TV reported a third child, age 7, was injured.

The three children were alone in the fifth-wheel camper when the fire started, authorities said. The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

The children's names haven't been released. Their relationship to one another wasn't clear Monday afternoon.

Unlicensed driver charged in girl's hit-and-run death

MUSKEGON HEIGHTS (AP) — Prosecutors have charged an unlicensed driver in the hit-and-run death of a 6-year-old Muskegon-area girl.

Dakota Lee Welch, 19, was formally charged Monday with operating a vehicle without a license causing death and failure to stop at the scene of a deadly crash. He also faces a habitual offender charge.

Welch is being held on $500,000 bond.

During his initial court appearance, Welch said there's no proof his vehicle struck the girl, Taylor Davis, on Sunday in Muskegon Heights.

Muskegon Heights Police Chief Joseph Thomas said Welch was arrested with the help of a man, Lamonte Wilkinson, who followed the suspect from the crash scene to a mobile home park, called authorities and waited for officers to arrive.

West Michigan man gets 40 years in prison in deaths of 5 cyclists

KALAMAZOO (AP) — A man buzzed on painkillers and other drugs when his pickup truck plowed into a pack of bicyclists, killing five, was sentenced Monday to at least 40 years in prison after he tearfully expressed regret over the rural-road tragedy.

"I'll live with this the rest of my life," Charles Pickett Jr. told a judge. "I would give my life for the people I murdered, killed and maimed, and I just want to say I'm sorry."

Nine people out on a recreational ride were members of a group called the "Chain Gang." They were hit on a two-lane road two years ago in Kalamazoo County’s Cooper Township.

Pickett, 52, of Battle Creek didn't dispute that he had ingested drugs that day. A trial witness said he had attended a cousin's funeral and swallowed a handful.

His lawyers, however, said second-degree murder charges were excessive.

A public memorial to the victims and survivors was unveiled last week. It includes the images of five bikes made with metal.

Snyder OKs bill to repeal, replace tax that funds Medicaid

LANSING (AP) — Gov. Rick Snyder has signed into law a plan to repeal and replace Michigan's tax on health insurance claims that is used to help fund Medicaid for low-income residents.

The laws enacted Monday require the state to seek a federal waiver to implement the tax change. The waiver is expected to be approved.

Under the legislation, Michigan would repeal the 1 percent Health Insurance Claims Assessment and create the Insurance Provider Assessment, a new tax.

The Michigan Manufacturers Association says the laws could lead to more than $300 million in annual savings for businesses.

The tax would be assessed on Medicaid managed care organizations, Medicaid prepaid inpatient health plans and commercial insurance. The laws would boost state resources by more than $440 million annually by early next decade.

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