Authorities: Icy road factor in fatal Mich. crash
ACME TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) - Authorities say an icy roadway was a factor in a crash in Michigan's northern Lower Peninsula that left one man dead.
Snow was falling across most of Michigan on Wednesday afternoon, with temperatures at 3 p.m. Eastern Time ranging from minus 2 at Ironwood in the western Upper Peninsula to 25 at Grosse Ile in Detroit's southern suburbs.
Grand Traverse County sheriff's Sergeant Jim Drogowski tells the Traverse City Record-Eagle that a heavy-equipment truck collided with a pickup truck Tuesday evening in Acme Township, near Traverse City. The crash killed the pickup's driver, whose name wasn't immediately released.
Snow also was blamed for a 30-vehicle pileup Tuesday afternoon that closed U.S. 131 north of Grand Rapids.
In southwestern Michigan, the National Weather Service says 4-8 inches of snow is possible through Thursday.
GOP LEADER-ANTI-GAY STATEMENT
Snyder condemns GOP leader's anti-gam statement
LAKE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) - Republican Governor Rick Snyder has condemned GOP National Committeeman Dave Agema's statement that gay people are seeking health insurance for same-sex partners because they are dying of AIDS and want free medical care.
The Herald-Palladium of St. Joseph reports that Agema made the statement last Thursday at the Berrien County Republican party's holiday reception at a banquet hall in Lake Township, east of Bridgman.
Agema told the group that he opposes gay marriage as a "Biblical issue," getting applause when he said that Republicans who support it are wrong.
He says gay people want "free medical care because they're dying between 38 and 44 years old" from AIDS.
Snyder spokeswoman Sara Wurfel said Wednesday that the governor considers the remarks "extreme and discriminatory."
Mich. Legislature approves abortion insurance law
LANSING, Mich. (AP) - The Republican-controlled Michigan Legislature has passed a law banning almost all abortion coverage from health insurance plans unless an additional policy is bought.
The Right to Life-backed initiative becomes law in March without Republican Governor Rick Snyder's signature. He vetoed similar legislation last year ago but has no power to do so this time.
The Senate voted 27-11. The House voted 62-47.
Employers and individuals will have to buy extra insurance to cover almost all abortions. Their primary plan won't apply in cases of rape or incest and only if an abortion is needed to save the woman's life.
Of 23,000 abortions in Michigan last year, health insurance covered 3 percent. Democrats say it's despicable to require women to buy special abortion insurance in advance of being raped.
Senate OKs expanded district for failing schools
LANSING, Mich. (AP) - The Republican-led Michigan Senate has narrowly approved legislation allowing for the expansion of a state school district for failing schools to the rest of Michigan. It now operates only in Detroit.
The bill that passed 20-18 Wednesday has substantial changes from a version that cleared the House earlier this year.
It would codify in law the Education Achievement Authority that has 15 Detroit schools now, in part to prevent legal complications that may arise if more schools are added. The legislation would prevent schools from being added until 2015.
Republican Governor Rick Snyder supports the authority as a way to turn around the bottom 5 percent of schools. Critics say it's is an experimental and unproven educational model not living up to the hype.
Mich. lawmakers vote to make Capitol historic site
LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Michigan lawmakers have given final approval to bills overhauling the Capitol building's oversight but continue working on how to ensure lasting maintenance money for the building.
Legislation OK'd Wednesday would make the 135-year-old building and its grounds a state historic site and form a new commission to decide on recommendations about repairs and maintenance.
Still pending is a related bill creating a permanent maintenance fund with tobacco tax revenue instead of leaving it to legislators to set aside annual funding for upkeep.
It's been 21 years since a major restoration of the Capitol was finished, and keeping the building in good shape has been tougher than expected.
Backers say the intent of the bills is to make decisions like painting the dome and fixing the roof less "political."
Senators want check of oil pipeline beneath lakes
TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) - Three U.S. senators have asked a federal agency to check on the safety of an oil pipeline that runs beneath Great Lakes waters.
Democrats Dick Durbin of Illinois and Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow of Michigan made the request Wednesday in a letter to the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, part of the U.S. Department of Transportation.
They say Enbridge Energy Partners recently began pumping an additional 2.1 million gallons of oil daily through the line, built in 1953 and passing beneath the Straits of Mackinac where Lakes Huron and Michigan meet.
The Associated Press left phone messages Wednesday seeking comment from Calgary, Alberta-based Enbridge.
An Enbridge pipeline rupture polluted the Kalamazoo River in 2010. The senators say a similar break in the Straits could be disastrous.
Detroit mayor touts accomplishments in last speech
DETROIT (AP) - Dave Bing says Detroit is better off now than when he was elected mayor four years ago.
Bing addressed business and civic leaders Wednesday in his last formal speech as mayor. He says that during his first and only term in office "the foundation for the true transformation" of Detroit was laid.
He was elected in 2009 and didn't seek re-election this year. Mayor-elect Mike Duggan takes over in January.
Bing says his accomplishments include persuading General Motors to keep its headquarters in Detroit, saving millions of dollars by cutting the city's payroll and demolishing close to 10,000 vacant houses.
Bing's responsibilities were reduced when Governor Rick Snyder appointed Kevyn Orr as Detroit's emergency manager in March. Orr is shepherding Detroit through the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history.
DIA now in talks with mediators in city bankruptcy
DETROIT (AP) - The Detroit Institute of Arts has been allowed into talks on how to protect city-owned pieces in its collection during Detroit's bankruptcy.
The museum said Wednesday that officials have met with federal mediators and the museum is mobilizing "its considerable public support to help implement a fundraising strategy that will satisfy the city's needs, while ensuring the well-being of the museum."
A judge let Detroit enter bankruptcy on December 3rd.
New York auction house Christie's says art purchased with city money is worth $450 million to $870 million.
Federal Judge Gerald Rosen is serving as chief mediator between the city and its creditors.
He's asked foundations and others to raise $500 million to protect the museum and assist pensioners, who are expected to lose some benefits during the city's restructuring.
Hospital chain challenges Karmanos-McLaren merger
DETROIT (AP) - The Detroit Medical Center has filed a legal challenge to the planned combination of the Detroit-based Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute and the Flint-based McLaren Health Care.
The Detroit Medical Center operates a chain of hospitals in the city and says it has an exclusive partnership with Karmanos.
Karmanos and McLaren announced October 30th that they were combining their cancer care and research systems. They say the deal will make Karmanos a member of McLaren's system, but the two organizations will "retain their names and remain as separate legal entities."
The Detroit Free Press says that the Detroit Medical Center filed its objection Friday in Oakland County Circuit Court in Pontiac.
The for-profit Nashville, Tennessee-based Vanguard Health Systems acquired the Detroit Medical Center in 2011.
Alternatives sought for I-375 configuration
DETROIT (AP) - A study on reconfiguring Interstate 375 in downtown Detroit is being planned.
The Detroit Downtown Development Authority says Wednesday that it has approved a planning contract to develop alternatives to the current configuration of the 1-mile expressway from Gratiot Avenue to Atwater Street.
The freeway corridor connects I-75 to downtown. The state Department of Transportation and other sources will pay for the $373,000 study.
Downtown Development Authority officials say the chance to reconfigure the expressway comes "at the time of substantial investments and anticipated development in the central business and waterfront districts." Bridges over I-375 also may be in line for substantial repairs in the near future.
Plans also are underway to add lanes to I-94 north of downtown Detroit and I-75 in the city's northern suburbs.
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