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State Briefs

By The Associated Press • Jul 25, 2018 at 7:00 AM

State panel OKs $270M in power rate cuts for DTE, Consumers Energy

LANSING (AP) — The Michigan Public Service Commission has approved nearly $270 million in electricity rate cuts for customers of DTE Electric Co. and Consumers Energy Co. because of utility savings from the federal corporate income tax overhaul.

The panel on Tuesday ordered DTE to reduce rates by $156.9 million annually, for a $2.46 per month savings for a residential customer using an average of 500 kilowatt-hours per month. It ordered Consumers Energy to cut its rates by $112.7 million annually, or $2.35 per month for similar residential customers.

The commission said the rate adjustments will be reflected in customer bills starting in August.

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

Minimum wage, sick time drives have enough petitions, elections bureau says

LANSING (AP) — The Michigan elections bureau said Tuesday that enough voter signatures have been submitted by proponents of ballot drives to raise the minimum wage and require employers to provide paid sick time.

The Board of State Canvassers could certify the signatures at a meeting Thursday.

Business groups have challenged the petitions, but the challenges were rejected by the bureau. A lawsuit filed by restaurants opposing the minimum wage proposal is pending in the courts.

If certified, the measures would go to the Republican-led Legislature. If it did not act, the proposals would be placed on the Nov. 6 ballot.

Proponents want to gradually raise the minimum wage to $12 an hour and require a minimum amount of earned sick time, depending on the size of a business.

Employee posts video of unsanitary restaurant, loses job

DETROIT (AP) — A Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen employee in Detroit says she lost her job after posting cellphone video showing unsanitary conditions in the food storage and preparation areas.

Shakita Shemere told The Associated Press on Tuesday that a manager told her to leave Monday night as she was live streaming the video on Facebook. It shows uncovered containers of what appears to be raw chicken in a freezer, dirty containers stacked for reuse and trash across much of the floor.

Shemere, 20, said she made the recording after the manager yelled at her for screaming when she saw a cockroach.

The AP left a voicemail seeking comment from the restaurant's manager or owner.

The restaurant was closed Tuesday. Detroit's health department said management was cooperating and following cleaning protocols, and Popeyes' corporate office said the franchise owner was working with health officials.

Southern Michigan man guilty in shooting deaths of 2 teens

JACKSON (AP) — A southern Michigan man has been found guilty of second-degree murder in the fatal shootings of two 18-year-old men near his Springport Township home.

A Jackson County jury deliberated about seven hours before returning the verdict on Tracy Lawrence on Tuesday, MLive.com reported. It also convicted him of possession of a firearm in the commission of a felony.

Lawrence, 55, is scheduled to be sentenced Aug. 29.

Lawrence shot and killed Hunter Lentz and Matthew McMillen on June 8, 2016. Prosecutors have said Lawrence first killed Lentz, who likely died instantly, and then continued firing at McMillen as he fled. A medical examiner said McMillen was shot in the back.

The defense argued Lawrence acted in self-defense or he was lawfully stopping the escape of fleeing felons.

More than 2,000 pounds of live crayfish seized at border

PORT HURON (AP) — Michigan officials said more than 2,000 pounds of live crayfish have been seized from a truck at the border between the U.S. and Canada.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources said conservation officers in St. Clair County were notified in mid-July that the red swamp crayfish were found as a truck tried to cross from the U.S. at Sarnia, Ontario. The DNR said the truck originated in Canada and had been in Maryland and Arkansas to pick up its cargo.

Border officials helped the DNR seize 55 bags of live crayfish. The Michigan DNR said that it's the agency's largest aquatic invasive species seizure.

Red swamp crayfish are prohibited in Michigan and Canada, the DNR says. They burrow and create shoreline erosion and compete with native crayfish.

Body believed to be man missing while canoeing, authorities say

ROYALTON TWP. (AP) — Authorities said a body has been found that's believed to be that of a man who was reported missing while canoeing in southwestern Michigan.

The Berrien County Sheriff's Office said 35-year-old Michael Scott of Kalamazoo was last seen canoeing Saturday on the St. Joseph River with friends.

Crews searched the river for him with no immediate success. The Sheriff's Office said high, fast-flowing water and debris made the search more difficult.

The body was spotted in a tangle of trees and debris late Monday by fisherman using high-powered lights.

The Sheriff's Office said the body matches the description of Scott, but an examination at Western Michigan University will confirm the identity and cause of death.

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