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Michigan news roundup


FRIDAY, March 31 — A roundup of news from around the state, provided by our partners at Capital News Service. Follow the links for the full stories.

Small businesses warned against cyberattacks: Small businesses are vulnerable to a wide variety of cyber threats, like web-based attacks, scripting, phishing and ransomware. According to a 2016 report, 43 percent of cyber attacks target small businesses. They are often unsuspecting and poorly defended.

“Tampon tax” bills a move toward equity, advocates say: Legislation introduced in the House and Senate is aimed at eliminating the 6 percent sales and use tax on feminine hygiene products, and women’s advocates in the state said they felt it was about time. Advocates discuss potential economic, equity and health benefits to the proposed legislation.

New laws expand medical marijuana industry – if cities allow it: New legislation going into effect later this year will further commercialize the medical marijuana industry in Michigan, potentially allowing card-carrying patients to have easier access to care while a new tax on dispensaries provides additional revenue to the state. There are still some concerns from growers, however, that not all important issues are being addressed.

Bills would create opioid education program for schools: New bills in the Michigan legislature would provide standard health education curricula to schools struggling with the opioid epidemic. Opioid abuse, still a relatively recent phenomenon, has trickled into Michigan communities, but there is still no common procedure for instruction on the matter.

Proposed WIC cuts unclear for local health agencies: Michigan public health officials are uncertain how President Donald Trump’s proposed $150 million cut to a federal women’s food assistance program will impact local agencies. Some local health departments say they fear possible repercussions due to funding losses, while others don’t anticipate any significant changes.

Need a job? How about engineering a driverless car?: As Michigan accelerates toward leadership in the emerging driverless car technology, industry experts say its workforce needs to catch up. Governor Rick Snyder signed legislation last year approving the sale and use of autonomous vehicles when they’re ready. But analysts have noted significant gaps in skills among workers who could be developing driverless technology. They call for big changes in education and training programs to help fill looming jobs that haven’t been fully created yet.

Care centers may see more regulations for reporting injuries: Day care centers, adult care centers and foster homes would have to meet higher standards for reporting injuries for an online database, under bills introduced in the state House of Representatives. Although these institutions already face state reporting requirements, Rep. Peter Lucido said his bills would insure that patterns of more minor incidents would not be overlooked. But some daycare owners, including one in Traverse City, worry the new requirements would create more paperwork and less time to spend with children.

Future federal coastal grants iffy, but 2017 lands $1M: A popular program that helps Michigan beachfront communities improve their shorelines is jeopardized by proposed federal budget cuts.The Trump administration recently recommended a 17 percent cut in funding to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) which supports the Coastal Zone Management Program. The program awards about a dozen Michigan grants a year, and such a cut could limit the number and amount of the coastal grants.

Where people are, wrens aren’t: That short burst of tweets you hear from wrens might be the best way to tell if they’re near, but it isn’t the only way. For the most part, where you find people is where you likely won’t find wrens, according to a new study that surveyed 840 points along the Great Lakes coastlines, many of them in Michigan. Human development, including agriculture and industry, have a major adverse impact on where wrens live.

Mapper tracks E. coli levels in watersheds: The Department of Environmental Quality has a new online tool for the public to use to check their watersheds for the presence of high levels of E. coli. The E. coli bacteria come from sewage and runoff contaminated by human and animal feces and can lead to public agencies closing beaches to protect public health.


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