TUESDAY, March 7 — A roundup of news from around the state, provided by our partners at Capital News Service. Follow the links for the full stories.
In Trump era, minority anxiety up, civil rights complaints steady: The number of state civil rights complaints has not increased despite increasing anxiety among immigrant and minority populations since the November election, according to Agustin Arbulu, director of the Michigan Department of Civil Rights. West Michigan minority advocacy groups have noted the increase in anxiety and offer reasons why individuals haven’t been filing more complaints.
State, schools track bullying of minorities in Trump era: The Michigan Department of Civil Rights worried that the high-profile incidents after the election of Donald Trump would cause more racial and ethnic bias incidents in schools. In last November, the Civil Rights and the Education departments released a statement, advising schools to revise their strategy on anti-bullying policies.
Common Core defenders call out misconceptions: Recently proposed bills would repeal and replace Michigan’s Common Core state standards, but education experts believe the legislation is motivated by misconceptions about how the state’s education system actually works. Others propose initiatives they believe would be better for Michigan students than scrapping the current standards.
Debates persist on best way to assess schools: What’s the best way to measure school performance? Standardized testing? Which tests? How often? Michigan is awash in contentious disputes over whether to repeal Michigan’s Common Core standards, close failing schools, change its testing regime, and whether standardized tests have any value to being with. Education experts remain at odds over what educational success in Michigan would look like, how to best measure that success, and how to achieve it.
Environmentalists wonder about impact of brownfield bills: The newly proposed legislation on brownfields has potential consequences across the board, not least for the environment. With bipartisan backing, a package of bills could further incentivize building on previously contaminated lands, bringing sustainable growth to urban communities.
Optimism in urban communities over new brownfield legislation: In addition to exploring the environmental side of brownfield development, local communities, lobbyists and legislators weigh in on what the development of brownfields provides culturally and economically. Drawing on examples from the past, they take sides on the bill package that would seek to expand tax protections for developers who build on brownfield sites.
Bill would “level playing field” in human trafficking cases: Michigan ranks seventh nationally in reports of human trafficking, and a state lawmaker wants to give prosecutors more tools to combat it. Rep. Peter Lucido, R-Shelby Township, has introduced a bill that would allow certified experts to testify about telltale signs of deviant social behavior demonstrated by human trafficking victims. Bringing in experts to testify about a victim’s behavior allows judges and juries to have an expert opinion that the victim is, in fact, someone who has been subject to human trafficking.
Big name retailers join fight against Enbridge pipeline: The chorus of voices calling for the decommissioning of the oil pipeline under the Straits of Mackinac is more diversified now with a network of 18 businesses opposed to its operation. The Great Lakes Business Network, formed in December, is backed by the National Wildlife Federation, Groundwork Center for Resilient Communities in Traverse City and Michigan League of Conservation Voters.
Fluctuating weather complicates harvesting for farmers: As the weather continues to fluctuate around the state, farmers are forced to adapt to changing conditions for crops. This could mean crops like maple syrup come early and have a shorter season, but could also jeopardize the quality of wheat and fruit crops. Lack of snow cover over wheat allows the crop to be exposed to drastic temperature fluctuations since there is no barrier on top of the crop. Amanda Shreve, the program director for the Michigan Farmers Market Association said while it may be too early to tell the full extent of changes in the weather on farmers and their crops, it could pose a problem for farmers in the coming months if the weather continues to fluctuate.
New Adrian representative is working for her community: A profile on Rep. Bronna Kahle, the new state representative who represents the people of Lenawee County.
Hardwood trees one way to stop Detroit scars, film argues: When multi-millionaire John Hantz proposed starting the world’s largest urban farm on abandoned properties in Detroit, the idea sparked a political firestorm, including city residents’ fears of a “land grab.” Now the project is well underway on almost 2,000 once-abandoned lots with ramshackle buildings bulldozed, hardwood trees planted and widespread community support. A new documentary, “Land Grab,” tells the story.