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State Briefs

By The Associated Press • Jul 28, 2018 at 8:00 AM

Schools can ban gun-toting visitors, Michigan’s top court says

DETROIT (AP) — Public schools in Michigan can ban visitors from carrying guns, even if the owner has a permit to possess a concealed pistol, the state Supreme Court said Friday.

Under state law, local governments must defer to the Legislature on gun policy. But in a 4-3 decision, the Supreme Court said the law mentions cities, villages, townships and counties — not school districts.

The Ann Arbor and Clio districts were sued after they prohibited gun owners from bringing weapons into campus buildings. A man caused a stir in 2015 when he openly carried a gun to a concert at Ann Arbor Pioneer High School, scaring teens, staff and other spectators.

"These are straightforward cases," said Justice Bridget McCormack, whose children attended Pioneer. "The Legislature has, expressly, restricted some but not all local governments from regulating firearms. Schools in particular are not on the pre-empted list, quite possibly for reasons not difficult to imagine."

McCormack was joined by justices David Viviano, Richard Bernstein and Elizabeth Clement. Other justices dissented for various reasons, some procedural. Chief Justice Stephen Markman wrote a 24-page dissent, saying state law bars firearms in school zones but another part of the law grants an exemption to someone with a concealed-carry permit.

2 Michigan communities told to stop using contaminated water

PARCHMENT (AP) — Authorities handed out thousands of free bottles of water Friday for two southwestern Michigan communities where the discovery of contamination from toxic industrial chemicals prompted a warning against using the public water system for drinking or cooking.

Michigan and Kalamazoo County health officials announced a day earlier that tests found perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances, known as PFAS, in the water supplied to the city of Parchment and neighboring Cooper Township. About 3,000 people are on the affected water system.

PFAS have been detected in water systems in some 30 states. They are used in manufacturing, firefighting and thousands of household and consumer products. Many communities have reported high PFAS levels in water systems near military bases and factories that worked with the compounds. 

The source of the Michigan contamination is under investigation. The Parchment area has a history of paper manufacturing.

Officials announced a plan Friday to drain Parchment's water system, hook it up to the water supply in nearby Kalamazoo, then flush out Parchment's system until tests show the PFAS at acceptable levels. After that, officials will determine when affected residents can use the main water supply again.

Thanedar pumps millions more into race; Whitmer raises $3.8M

LANSING (AP) — Chemical-testing entrepreneur Shri Thanedar has poured at least another $4 million of his fortune into his campaign for Michigan governor this year, while rival Gretchen Whitmer has raised $3.8 million.

Friday was the deadline for state candidates to file campaign-finance reports showing their fundraising and spending for 2018. The gubernatorial primary is Aug. 7.

Whitmer and Thanedar are running for the Democratic nomination along with Dr. Abdul El-Sayed.

Thanedar said he has loaned his campaign more than $10 million total. Whitmer has now raised at least $6.9 million total and has nearly $2.9 million left to spend.

In the Republican race, Dr. Jim Hines gave his campaign nearly $2.1 million more. He has trailed Attorney General Bill Schuette, Lt. Gov. Brian Calley and state Sen. Patrick Colbeck in polling.

University stops Nassar victims' payments amid fraud worries

EAST LANSING (AP) — Michigan State University has halted payments from a $10 million fund it set up for counseling services for victims of now-imprisoned former sports doctor Larry Nassar amid concerns about possible fraudulent claims.

The Lansing State Journal reported the school stopped making payments Wednesday after the Healing Assistance Fund administrator's flagged the issue. MSU spokeswoman Emily Guerrant said stopping payments will allow an investigation into the issue.

Guerrant said the fund had distributed more than $1.1 million as of June 30.

Nassar worked for Michigan State and USA Gymnastics, which trains Olympians. He is imprisoned for molesting athletes and possessing child pornography.

The Detroit News reported John Manly, a civil attorney for roughly 200 victims, said fraud should be rooted out, but that he worries about how victims will cope without.

2 arraigned on charges stemming from Flint River bodies

FLINT (AP) — Two additional suspects have been arraigned on charges linked to the discovery of two bodies found under a door floating in the Flint River in eastern Michigan.

WJRT-TV reported a 16-year-old is charged with two counts of first-degree murder and using a firearm to commit a felony, and 47-year-old Melinda Kelly is charged with felony counts of tampering with evidence and being an accessory after the fact to a felony. They were arrested Sunday.

Robert Wheeler, 24, was arrested at the scene when the bodies were found July 12. He faces two counts of first-degree murder, tampering with evidence and using a firearm to commit a felony.

Police said the victims were 32-year-old Rodney Harden Jr. and 19-year-old Tedmundo Meeks, both of Flint. Police haven't said how they died.

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