FRIDAY, Sept. 16 — A roundup of news from around the state, provided by our partners at Capital News Service. Follow the links for the full stories.
Seats without candidates cause problems for schools, cities: No candidates are running in more than 150 local government races in the November election, according to a state list that is still getting compiled. That includes school board races where candidates may be discouraged by lengthy six-year terms and difficult funding challenges. The Michigan Association of School Boards says its statewide campaign to recruit candidates has helped reduce races without contenders, but more are needed.
State lawmakers could stop local governments from taxing plastic bags: State lawmakers are considering banning local governments from taxing plastic bags, a source of revenue that some communities say they need to battle difficult to handle waste. Supporters say the ban is needed so that retailers aren’t faced with a hodgepodge of regulations across the state. But opponents say the move removes an important tool communities need to handle the waste.
Schools could benefit from state reform of how they can spend local tax dollars: School districts could have an easier time paying for security systems and classroom electronics if lawmakers agree to broaden the use of millage they collect. Supporters say the proposal is the best shot they’ve had in decades to better leverage what are called sinking funds as longtime opponents are reassured by provisions that limit their use. Still critical needs like replacing aging buses are not covered by the proposal.
The need for technology skills by Michigan students is getting attacked on multiple fronts: Michigan lawmakers, university officials and local school systems have taken up the fight to improve how well the state’s students learn to be high tech producers and consumers. We talk to Michigan State University officials who are creating new classes for student teachers, school officials looking to make computer programming meet a foreign language requirement while schools like Ludington have a full time technology coach.
Hefty increase in beer tax proposed, criticized: Michigan beermakers say a plan to raise the tax on beer falls flat just as the state’s craft beer industry is booming.
Bill to reduce zero tolerance policies in schools has bipartisan support - Lawmakers are considering easing mandatory expulsions from school for some offenses involving weapons other than guns and violence.
Chumming ban upsets anglers: The new state ban on scattering fish parts and eggs to lure fish in trout streams is angering many guides and anglers who argue it will damage Michigan’s fishing tourism economy. Chumming is especially helpful in fall and winter, when steelhead metabolism slows and fish are less likely to bite. The Natural Resources Commission says chumming carries the risk of spreading disease.