Feb. 24 2014 12:00 AM

Special courts for the mentally ill; more snowmobiling but not more fatalities; second-parent adoption and more

Courtesy photo
Monday, Feb. 24 — Each week, City Pulse runs a series of stories produced by Capital News Service correspondents at Michigan State University’s School of Journalism. This week’s topics include a pilot program for specialty courts for the mentally that is showing success; second-parent adoption in the spotlight; the rising trend of prescription drug abuse; and more.
  • Lawmakers are expanding special courts for the mentally ill after a pilot program shows that they provide better treatment for offenders who are also less likely to offend again. It also saves taxpayer dollars. By Danielle Woodward.
  • Near record snowfall has resulted in a banner year for snow sports, but it hasn’t resulted in any more snowmobile deaths than usual. In fact, fatalities are down a bit. Accidents may be down because there are more trails with snow. Meanwhile, a state lawmaker is trying to make the legal standard for drunken snowmobiling consistent with drunken driving laws. By Darcie Moran.
  • Proposed state legislation, a federal lawsuit and growing community pressure may soon resolve the question of whether two unmarried people can adopt the same child in Michigan. The issue has significant implications for adoptions by gay people who cannot legally marry in Michigan. By Becky McKendry.
  • Michigan lawmakers may give security guards at nuclear power plants the right to use deadly force so that they are better able to deter terrorist attacks. By Danielle Woodward.
  • A recent state audit of an agency that handles veterans benefits and services indicates little improvement from a similar audit a decade ago. By Darcie Moran.
  • The same cold and snow causing havoc on Michigan roads offers a promising future for some of Michigan’s endangered species. The Karner blue butterfly and the ciscoe are among the creatures to benefit. By Lacee Shepard.
  • Prescription drug use rose 6 percent in Michigan during 2013. That continues a rising trend that has health authorities worried that increased availability leads to increased abuse. By Nick Stanek.
  • State officials are looking at scrubbing mental retardation from Michigan laws as an offensive phrase. By Nick Stanek.
  • Two exits off I-75 helped fuel sprawling and explosive growth around Gaylord. By Heather Hartmann.