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State Briefs

by the associated press • Jun 25, 2019 at 8:00 AM

Whitmer signs $28.8M mid-year budget bills, vetoes audit

LANSING (AP) — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has signed a $28.8 million mid-year spending bill to help ensure an accurate 2020 census count, implement voter-approved laws and combat lead in drinking water.

The law enacted Monday also expands a program enabling people on food assistance to buy more fresh fruits and vegetables, and replenishes a compensation fund for exonerated inmates. The measure includes funding to implement marijuana legalization and expanded-voting ballot initiatives, and for the state's investigation of sexual abuse by clergy.

The Democratic governor line-item vetoed a provision that would have directed the auditor general to immediately review the rollout of automatic voter registration and no-excuse absentee voting requirements. She said such an audit must wait until after the fiscal year ends Sept. 30.

Florida inmate charged with murder in 1986 Michigan slaying

PAW PAW (AP) — A Florida prison inmate has been charged with murder in the strangling of a woman in southwestern Michigan more than three decades ago.

Prosecutors charged Robert James Waite, 49, last week in the killing of 59-year-old Wilda Wilkinson of Bangor during a home invasion in July 1986.

Michigan State Police told WOOD-TV that they matched partial DNA found on Wilkinson's clothes to Waite. Detectives said Waite confessed to killing Wilkinson when they interviewed him in April. Authorities said Waite knew specific details about the slaying.

Waite is imprisoned in Florida on unrelated kidnapping and sexual battery charges. He will be extradited to Michigan.

In March, prosecutors charged another man who police said confessed to killing Wilkinson, but they dismissed the charge without prejudice when investigators confirmed Waite's DNA match.

Passengers in fatal Alaska airplane crash were from West Michigan

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Alaska State Troopers have released the names of two Michigan residents killed in a weekend small airplane crash on the Kenai Peninsula.

Troopers said the passengers killed in the crash of the private plane Friday night have been tentatively identified as 42-year-old Michael John Timmer and 43-year-old Traci Pauline Timmer of Hopkins, Michigan.

The pilot, 63-year-old Kem Sibbitt of Fairbanks, Alaska, also died.

The Helio Courier airplane went down on land near Little Johnstone Lake, which is near Johnstone Bay and about 30 miles southeast of the city of Seward.

All three bodies were recovered Saturday.

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the crash.

Additional parts of Michigan school collapse; no injuries

WYOMING (AP) — Additional portions of a school in the Grand Rapids area have collapsed about two weeks after a roof collapsed into a classroom.

The collapses occurred at Lee Middle/High School in Wyoming. It is part of the Godfrey-Lee school district.

No one was hurt.

Superintendent Kevin Polston told WOOD-TV a portion of the outside wall and second-story floor crumbled in the same area as the roof collapse. That section of the school was built in 1925.

Polston told The Grand Rapids Press that the damaged section was already scheduled for demolition and there was "no additional damage outside of the affected area." He said it remains unlikely the section that includes seven classrooms will be repaired before classes resume in August.

Anti-ICE graffiti painted on Michigan GOP headquarters

LANSING (AP) — Anti-government graffiti was painted on the Michigan Republican Party headquarters amid debate over a possible nationwide immigration sweep to deport people living in the country illegally.

State party officials said they discovered the graffiti, which included an expletive and the acronym for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, on the front of the Lansing building Saturday evening. They reported it to Lansing police, who said it's believed to have been painted early Saturday.

The Michigan Republican Party said the vandalism may have been a personal attack on Chairwoman Laura Cox, who served a portion of her career as an I.C.E. agent. She posted Sunday on Twitter about the vandalism, saying she and her staff won't be intimidated by the "criminal act."

Police are soliciting tips from the public in the investigation.

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