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State Briefs

By The Associated Press • Apr 26, 2019 at 8:00 AM

Judges: Michigan must redraw congressional, legislative maps

LANSING (AP) — Michigan must redraw dozens of congressional and legislative districts for the 2020 election because Republicans configured them to unconstitutionally guarantee their political dominance and dilute the power of Democratic voters, federal judges ruled Thursday.

In a 3-0 ruling, the panel gave the GOP-led Legislature and Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer until Aug. 1 to enact new maps for nine of 14 congressional seats and 25 of 148 legislative districts. The number of newly cast seats would be higher, though, because of the impact on adjacent districts.

The judges also ordered that special state Senate elections be held in 2020, halfway through senators' normal four-year terms.

The panel said it would draw its own maps if new ones are not submitted or if those that are proposed do not comply with constitutional requirements.

The decision was the latest development in a series of lawsuits alleging unconstitutional gerrymandering in a dozen states.

GOP legislators vowed to appeal to the Supreme Court.

Michigan priest gets 2-15 years for sexual misconduct

SAGINAW (AP) — A 72-year-old Michigan priest has been sentenced to 2-15 years in prison after pleading no contest to sexual misconduct.

The Rev. Robert DeLand also will spend five years on probation under the sentence handed down Thursday.

The Saginaw County Prosecutor's Office has said the plea entered last month closed three remaining cases after he was acquitted in a different case. DeLand pleaded no contest to second-degree criminal sexual conduct causing injury and gross indecency between males. Some charges were dropped.

DeLand was accused of having inappropriate sexual contact with males ages 17 and 21.

A no-contest plea means DeLand didn't contest the evidence.

DeLand was pastor at St. Agnes Church in Freeland until his arrest in February 2018. He also regularly mixed with students at Freeland High School.

Suburban Detroit judge suspended 45 days without pay

LANSING (AP) — The Michigan Supreme Court has ordered a 45-day unpaid suspension for a suburban Detroit judge who was arrested for suspected drunken driving before being elected to the bench.

The court Thursday affirmed a decision by the Michigan Judicial Tenure Commission that determined Oakland County Circuit Judge Julie McDonald didn't observe the law and conduct herself "in a manner which would enhance the public's confidence in the integrity of the judiciary."

McDonald waived her rights before the commission and consented to a sanction no greater than the 45-day suspension without pay.

She was a judicial candidate Sept. 8, 2018, when police saw her toss something from her car and turn without signaling. Police recorded a 0.08 blood-alcohol level at which a motorist is considered intoxicated.

McDonald began a six-year term in January.

Senate K-12 budget hikes base funding, rejects new formula

LANSING (AP) — A proposed K-12 budget advancing in the Michigan Senate includes a larger increase in base funding than proposed by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, but rejects her call for a new formula to account for higher costs to teach at-risk, special education, and career and technical students.

A Republican-led panel approved the bill on a party-line vote Thursday. It would boost overall K-12 spending to $15.2 billion, or 2.7 percent. It's about $131 million less than what the Democratic governor proposes.

The Senate plan would increase the minimum per-student allowance by $270. Better-funded districts would get $135 more per student.

Whitmer proposes an increase ranging between $120 and $180 per pupil.

The Senate plan has lower funding increases than Whitmer does for districts' disadvantaged, special education and vocational students.

Universities, nonprofit group join Great Lakes partnership

ANN ARBOR (AP) — Three universities and a nonprofit group have joined a regional consortium that studies problems facing the Great Lakes and nearby communities.

The Cooperative Institute for Great Lakes Research is based at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. Its 12 members work with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on research and development activities.

The four new partners are the Cleveland Water Alliance, Lake Superior State University, Michigan Technological University and Wayne State University. Officials say each brings a critical new element to the consortium, such as expertise in fisheries, environmental health and other areas.

The Cleveland Water Alliance coordinates a network of businesses and researchers to promote growth of the water-focused "blue economy" by bringing ideas for new technologies from the drawing board to the market.

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