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State Briefs

By The Associated Press • Jun 30, 2018 at 8:00 AM

Governor vetoes ballast water legislation

LANSING (AP) — Gov. Rick Snyder on Friday vetoed the proposed weakening of a state law that keeps oceangoing cargo ships from releasing untreated ballast water in Michigan waters, saying the bill potentially could have increased the risk for introducing new aquatic invasive species into the Great Lakes.

The legislation would have revised a 2005 law requiring saltwater vessels to use state-approved cleansing technology before discharging ballast water, which provides stability in rough seas. Scientists believe dozens of the invasive species that have reached the Great Lakes in recent decades arrived in ballast water.

The bill would have allowed compliance with U.S. Coast Guard ballast water regulations as a standard for issuing state permits to oceangoing vessels engaged in Michigan port operations.

The Republican governor said the measure was ambiguous "at best," on whether the state Department of Environmental Quality would have been required to issue discharge permits to certain vessels using ballast water management systems approved by foreign administrations.

The bill sponsor, Republican Rep. Dan Lauwers of St. Clair County's Brockway Township, said bringing the state's stringent regulations more in line with federal rules would have led to a return of shipping jobs that went to surrounding states.

Snyder OKs 3-foot distance to pass bikes on the road

LANSING (AP) — Michigan drivers will have to allow at least 3 feet of clearance or a "safe distance" while passing a bicyclist on the road under bills signed into law Friday by Gov. Rick Snyder.

The laws take effect in 90 days.

One measure requires teen drivers to learn about laws pertaining to cyclists and other vulnerable roadway users for one hour as part of their initial driver education course.

Motorists will have to pass at least 3 feet to the right or left of a bike or, if it is impracticable to do so, pass at a safe distance at a safe speed.

The 3-foot distance requirement brings Michigan in line with many other states. Motorists in violation could face a traffic ticket.

Michigan State criticized over head of complaints office

EAST LANSING (AP) — Michigan State University has hired an attorney who defended the school against sexual assault lawsuits to head the office handling sexual assault complaints, sparking pushback from victim advocates.

The university's interim president, John Engler, appointed Robert Kent this month to temporarily lead the Office of Civil Rights and Title IX Education and Compliance, the Detroit Free Press reported. The school cited his expertise in such cases as its assistant general counsel.

The move comes in the wake of the sexual abuse scandal involving former sports doctor Larry Nassar. Hundreds of women and girls have said he sexually abused them under the guise of medical treatment, including when he worked for Michigan State and USA Gymnastics.

One outspoken victim, Rachael Denhollander, said Kent's appointment is the latest in a string of insensitive moves by the university.

"At every turn, they signal an unwillingness to deal with the culture, and a message to survivors that their voices don't matter," she said.

University spokeswoman Emily Guerrant said Kent's new position is temporary while the school conducts a national search for a new head of the office.

Detroit-area man fined $100 for turkey that likes his yard

GARDEN CITY (AP) — A suburban Detroit man has been fined $100 for a turkey that's been calling his backyard home.

Mark Johnston told WXYZ-TV he hasn't gone out of his way to make the turkey comfortable since it started showing up outside his Garden City home six months ago. He said the turkey will stick around a while, then jump the fence and disappear before returning.

Johnston was recently ticketed for keeping the turkey as a pet.

Garden City Police Chief Tim Gibbons said they've been working with Johnston since April on the issue. Gibbons said the turkey likes Johnston's overgrown backyard and likely will leave if it's cleaned up.

Johnston said he's tried getting rid of the turkey, but nobody will take it. And he said he's working on clearing out his yard.

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