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State Briefs

• Dec 7, 2018 at 8:00 AM

Rep. Lilly’s fireworks plan blasts out of the state House

LANSING — The Michigan House voted Thursday to give local communities more control over the sale, use and safety of consumer-grade fireworks after approving a bipartisan plan authored by Rep. Jim Lilly, R-Park Township.

Lilly says his plan helps resolve the growing problems plaguing communities since the legalization of fireworks in 2011. HB-5939 tightens the requirements for selling consumer-grade fireworks and for operating locations where they are sold.

“These updates simply come down to curbing the use of fireworks at all hours of the night and restoring more local control,” Lilly said. “I’ve heard many constituents (say) that the discourteous discharging of fireworks during late hours of the night is a nuisance. Local governments know what’s best for their communities, and before this reform officials struggled to enforce sensible standards.”

HB-5941 allows the governor, local fire marshals and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources to prohibit the use of consumer fireworks if weather conditions make the activity dangerous to people and property. Lilly’s plan is similar to local or regional burn bans during high winds or drought.

Both bills now move to the Senate for further consideration.

Battle Creek school board member quits amid child porn probe

BATTLE CREEK (AP) — A Battle Creek school board member has resigned after police searched his home in a child pornography investigation.

Eric Jankowski, 54, resigned by email Tuesday. He declined to comment when contacted by the Battle Creek Enquirer.

The newspaper, citing a warrant, said state police searched Jankowski's home in Springfield on Tuesday, looking for evidence of "child sexually abusive material."

Jankowski was elected to the school board in 2017.

Superintendent Kim Carter said the district is "disheartened to learn of the accusations."

State shuts down cemetery for improperly storing remains

DETROIT (AP) — A suburban cemetery has been shut down as part of an investigation into fetal remains found at a Detroit funeral home.

Michigan's Licensing and Regulatory Affairs office said Thursday that a cease-and-desist order has been issued to Knollwood Memorial Park cemetery in Canton Township due to improper storage of remains.

On Wednesday, police removed nearly four dozen fetal remains from Knollwood and a Detroit cemetery. Detroit Police Chief James Craig said Thursday there were "some discrepancies" with documents for 27 sets of remains from Knollwood and 17 from the Detroit cemetery.

The remains were handled by Perry Funeral Home in Detroit where 63 fetal remains were found in October. Perry's mortuary science license has been suspended.

Boy, 10, charged after bringing loaded gun to Detroit school

DETROIT (AP) — A 10-year-old Detroit boy has been charged after taking a loaded handgun to school.

The Wayne County Prosecutor's Office said a fellow student at Spain Middle School saw the gun Wednesday afternoon in a book bag and told school officials. The gun was confiscated.

The 10-year-old was charged as a juvenile with carrying a concealed weapon and possession of a weapon in school. He was released Thursday on bond following a preliminary hearing and is not allowed to be on any school property unless authorized by school officials.

The prosecutor's office said the boy is not subject to adult penalties and that other aspects of the case remain under investigation.

6 doctors charged in alleged scheme to prey on addicts

DETROIT (AP) — Prosecutors said six doctors have been charged in a scheme that involved millions of opioid drugs and unnecessary medical procedures in southeastern Michigan.

U.S. Attorney Matthew Schneider said it's "particularly egregious" for doctors to prey on addicts.

An indictment unsealed Thursday says the doctors prescribed opioids to induce people to visit. The indictment says patients were forced to undergo other treatments. Nearly $500 million was billed to insurers, mostly Medicare and Medicaid.

The alleged ringleader was Dr. Rajendra Bothra, who operated pain clinics in Warren and Eastpointe. He's charged with conspiracy, fraud and other crimes. He was returned to jail to await a detention hearing Friday. His attorney declined to comment.

The Detroit News reported that Bothra was honored in India for humanitarian efforts in 1999.

Poverty, homelessness drive chronic school absence, U-M study says

ANN ARBOR (AP) — A University of Michigan study finds poverty and homelessness play major roles in Michigan kids missing school — contributing to the nearly one in six students deemed "chronically absent."

The study released Thursday finds roughly 16 percent of enrolled public and charter school students missed at least 10 percent of school days during the 2016-17 school year.

The analysis finds lower-income students absent at three times the rate of their higher-income peers. Homeless students had the highest absenteeism rate at 40 percent.

Researchers say children dealing with homelessness and poverty account for about half of the state's students and represent 75 percent of those chronically absent. High absence rates are found in districts statewide.

The study's authors recommend early identification and outreach by schools to students and families.

This news is affirmative: MSU debate team gets $1.5M gift

EAST LANSING (AP) — There's no arguing over this gift.

The Michigan State University debate team has received $1.5 million from a couple who wish to be anonymous. One of the donors is a former member of the team.

The Lansing State Journal said the money will be used for travel and scholarships.

Ezra Serrins, a sophomore, said it's good to know that students don't have to scramble for money. He and partner Lena Grossman last year qualified for the national tournament. They finished second in October at a regional tournament at Wayne State University.

The team's director, Casey Harrigan, said, "We're looking for a breakout in the national tourney."

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