Study Concludes Michigan Charter School Enrollment Increased During Pandemic

Student enrollment for Michigan charter schools increased each year during the pandemic while traditional public-school enrollments dropped.

Data compiled by the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools tracked three years of enrollments during the pandemic and show Michigan’s charter schools had a 2.14% increase, or 3,147 students, between 2019 and 2022. NAPCS researchers relied on available public records for its study of 41 states, concluding charter school enrollment increased in 39 of the 41 states covered by the study during the three years of the pandemic.

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Whitmer Appoints Kyra Bolden to Michigan Supreme Court

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said she will appoint Kyra Harris Bolden to fill a seat on the Michigan Supreme Court, making her the first Black woman to serve on the state’s high court.

Justice Bridget McCormack resigned this year, leaving an open seat. Bolden, a current state Representative, was a Democratic pick for a seat on the Michigan Supreme Court during the Nov. 8 election but lost.

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DOE Rejects Funding for Palisades Nuclear Plant

The Department of Energy has rejected the Palisades nuclear plant’s application for federal funding.

Palisades was sold to Holtec Decommissioning International in June 2022, which applied for a federal Civil Nuclear Credit on July 5 to reopen Palisades.

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Court Orders Michigan Park to Repay $750,000 Loan

An Ingham County Circuit Court ordered Detroit-based Recovery Park to repay $750,000 in Michigan Strategic Fund loans.

A May 2022 lawsuit filed by Michigan assistant attorneys general says the nonprofit Recovery Park and its subsidiary for-profit Recovery Park Farms failed to reach a third milestone of hiring six additional employees for loan forgiveness.

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Ridership Reports of $147.5 Million Taxpayer-Funded Suburban Detroit Transit Agency Kept from Public

SMART officials in suburban Detroit say they won’t release ridership figures for the $147.5 million taxpayer-funded bus operation for fear of misinterpretation. 

“We are currently operating at 65% service levels and ridership is trending back to approximately 70%,” said Brandon Adolph, the acting assistant vice president of marketing and communications for Suburban Mobility Authority for Regional Transportation. “Thus, any ridership data wouldn’t be accurate due to the fact we aren’t at our 100% levels prior to the pandemic.”

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Incoming Michigan Democratic Leadership Mostly Mum on Line 5

Lansing’s crop of newly elected and reelected officials is mostly mum on the fate of Line 5, or more specifically, the five-mile dual pipeline spanning the lakebed of the Straits of Mackinac.

The 2022 midterm election delivered majorities for Michigan Democrats in the state House and Senate, and the governor’s office – a trifecta for the first time in 40 years. State public policies and litigations could be significantly impacted by both chambers and the reelection of two key Democrats, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Attorney General Dana Nessel.

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Michigan Jobless Agency to Replace Troubled Computer System

The Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency has chosen a vendor to design and install a new $78 million computer system to replace its previous system, which was riddled with flaws.

Deloitte will build the new system for filing UIA claims for workers and employers.

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Advocate Warns About Consequences of Repealing Michigan’s Right-to-Work Law

Advocates for the right-to-work law in Michigan warn that repealing the law that has been in effect since 2013 would hurt the state economy.

For the first time since 1984, Democrats hold a trifecta in the Michigan state legislature with control of the House and Senate and the governor’s office. Democrats have talked about repealing the right-to-work law since it was passed in 2012.

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University of Michigan Hires Five ‘Inequality and Structural Racism’ Professors to ‘Impact Society’

The University of Michigan recently hired five faculty members under its Anti-Racism Faculty Hiring Initiative who have “expertise in inequality and structural racism,” campus officials announced.

The faculty will deepen the university’s expertise “on issues of race and racial justice and tangibly impact education and society,” according to an Oct. 28 statement by the university.

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Michigan Democrats Want to Repeal Third-Grade Reading Law, Reform or Repeal Standardized Testing

Democrats seized a political trifecta in Lansing for the first time in 40 years, and now two legislators are suggesting changing the state’s education policies.  

State Sen. Dayne Polehanki, D-Livonia, tweeted possible policy priorities, including repealing right-to-work, providing “adequate funding” for schools, and repealing the retirement tax.

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FBI Official Who Headed Whitmer, Jan. 6 Probes Set to Retire Ahead of GOP’s Control of House

Steven D’Antuono, the FBI agent in charge of the investigations into both the Gov. Gretchen Whitmer kidnapping plot and the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, is set to retire at the end of the month, just weeks before the Republican Party is projected to take the House and likely apply increased scrutiny to those probes.

An internal FBI memo, written by FBI Director Chris Wray and circulated on social media, revealed that D’Antuono will be retiring at the end of the month from his role as assistant director of the bureau’s Washington field office, to be replaced by Agent David Sundberg. 

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Michigan Mayor Sued After Shouting Down Residents During Public Comment

When Eastpointe residents criticized Mayor Monique Owens in a Sept. 6 city council meeting, she claimed the residents were “assaulting” her.

Now, the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that defends free speech, filed a federal lawsuit accusing Owens of “abuse of authority.”

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Michigan Taxpayers Shell Out $5 Million for Lansing Concert Venue

Michigan taxpayers will pay at least $7.75 million for a new entertainment venue in Downtown Lansing.

The Michigan Strategic Fund on Wednesday approved $5 million of taxpayer dollars for the venue. The Center Square reported the planned $21 million venue in February.

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New Legislative Majorities Likely Put Target on Back of Right-to-Work

With control of the state legislature and Governor’s office for the first time since 1983, the Democrats will likely try to repeal the state’s right-to-work law, the signature accomplishment of Michigan’s Republican party.

In January 2019, the Michigan House Dems introduced two bills to repeal the right-to-work law. If a current effort is successful, it would only impact union members in the private sector. That’s because the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2018 in the Janus decision that public sector unions can’t require non-members to pay agency fees. The Supreme Court ruled the Constitution prohibits it.

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Citing ‘Potential Bias,’ Prosecutors Drop Case Against Michigan CEO Accused of Storing Election Info in China

Prosecutors in California dropped charges this week against an election software CEO who was accused of improperly sending election-related information to China, with officials citing potential “bias” in the presentation of the case. 

The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office said concerns about both the “pace of the investigation” and “potential bias in the presentation” of the charges led them to drop their case against Eugene Yu, the CEO of election software company Konnech. 

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Republican John James Wins House Seat in Michigan’s Newly Created 10th Congressional District

Republican businessman John James has won the race for Michigan’s newly created 10th Congressional District seat, narrowly defeating Democrat former judge and prosecutor Carl Marlinga in the hotly contested election. With 100 percent of precincts reporting, James had 49 percent of the vote to Marlinga’s 48 percent, according to Click on Detroit.

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Michigan Voters OK ‘Extreme’ Pro-Abortion Constitutional Amendment

Voters on Tuesday approved the pro-abortion Proposal 3, an amendment to the Michigan Constitution that will enshrine a “right” to kill unborn children.

With 52% of the vote counted, Proposal 3 had garnered the approval of 53.4% of voters and was rejected by 46.6%, according to election results posted by 12:40 a.m. Wednesday, Bridge Michigan reported.

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Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer Defeats GOP Challenger Tudor Dixon

Republican challenger Tudor Dixon fell short Tuesday night as Democrat Gretchen Whitmer won a second four-year term as governor.  

With 68% of the vote counted, Whitmer was leading with 51.7% to 46.6% for Dixon, The Associated Press reported. Fox News, among others, called the race for Whitmer.

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Federal Court to Ann Arbor Public Schools: Stop Gagging Student Speech on Proposal 3

A federal court has ordered Ann Arbor Public Schools to stop gagging conservative students’ political speech about Proposal 3.

The court order follows Skyline High School officials’ refusal to read a conservative senior’s and Republican Club President’s statement during announcements, citing its political nature.

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Michigan Supreme Court Approves New Election Challenger Rules

Less than a week before the election, the Michigan Supreme Court approved allowing local clerks to follow Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson’s election challenger rules enacted this year.

Last month, a Court of Claims ruling struck the election challenger rules, saying they violated state election law because they didn’t go through the rulemaking process.

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Michigan County Reneges on $32 Million Small Business Fund

When in the spotlight at the Mackinac Policy Conference, Wayne County committed $32 million of federal COVID relief to small businesses in impoverished areas.

The New Economy Initiative, a nonprofit that helps small businesses develop, added $22 million of private donations for a total of $54 million. But six months later, the county pulled the plug on the three-year initiative, Crain’s Detroit first reported.

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Dixon Narrows Polling Gap with Michigan Gov. Whitmer, Notches Significant Statewide Endorsement

Less than a week before Election Day, Michigan Republican gubernatorial candidate Tudor Dixon received two pieces of good news.

First, her poll rankings against Democratic incumbent Gov. Gretchen Whitmer have tilted significantly in Dixon’s favor. Second, she garnered the endorsement of the Michigan Chamber of Commerce.

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Michigan Schools’ COVID Recovery Includes Support Dogs and Massage Chairs

Michigan schools are spending $6 billion of federal COVID relief to recover from pandemic learning loss with solutions ranging from summer school to support dogs to even a new amphitheater.

Spending records obtained by more than 90 records requests show schools deploying a range of recovery mechanisms, including smaller class sizes, more tutoring, facility improvements and new heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems.

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Michigan Voters Could Create One of the Nation’s Largest School Choice Programs

Michigan voters will have the chance to create one of the largest school choice programs in the country on Nov. 8.

The Let Michigan Learn Proposal on the Michigan ballot starts with a $500 million cap for school vouchers, one of the largest in the country, and can increase by 20% each year. All students age 5 and older are eligible to apply, but low-income families and students with disabilities would be prioritized.

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Michigan State Suspends Four Players After Ugly Post-Game Altercation

Michigan State football coach Mel Tucker suspended four players Sunday night after police began investigating a postgame altercation with opposing Michigan players in the locker room tunnel.

Starting defensive back Angelo Grose, starting defensive end Zion Young, backup defensive end Tank Brown and backup defensive back Ky Crump were suspended indefinitely, the coach said.

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Michigan Father and Three Children, Two Others Indicted in $1M COVID-19 Fraud Scheme

A federal grand jury has indicted six people from Benton Harbor on fraud charges.

They are accused of defrauding taxpayers by $1 million via unemployment insurance fraud and small business loans.

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Flint Buick City Site Redeveloper Seeks $15 Million from Taxpayers

Taxpayers might foot $15 million for a private-public deal to redevelop the former Buick City brownfield site in Flint. The partnership hopes to create 3,000 jobs.

Real estate investment company Ashley Capital is contracted to purchase the 350-acre former Buick City site from Revitalizing Auto Communities Environmental Response Trust and plans to develop an industrial park.

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Michigan Supreme Court Could Decide Warrantless Government Drone Spying Lawsuit

An appeal filed with the Michigan Supreme Court says the government must get a warrant before it can surveil private property for evidence.

The Institute for Justice, a public interest law firm, says the government violated the Fourth Amendment when it used warrantless drone surveillance to snap pictures of Todd Maxon’s 5-acre property in Long Lake Township where he repairs cars, as proof of zoning violations.

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Flint Water Prosecution to Appeal Felony Dismissals

Flint Water prosecutors will appeal a court order dismissing felony charges against seven defendants in the Flint criminal prosecution.

In June, the MSC clarified that a one-man jury could investigate and issue subpoenas and arrest warrants but not indict someone – the tactic used in the Flint charges.

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Michigan Jury Finds Three Guilty of Supporting Terrorist Act in Whitmer Kidnapping Plot

Three men accused of supporting the plan to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer were found guilty Wednesday of providing “material support” for a terrorist act as part of a paramilitary group.

A Jackson, Michigan, jury also convicted Pete Musico, his son-in-law Joe Morrison and Paul Bellar of a firearms crime and being members of a gang, the Wolverine Watchmen, The Associated Press reported.

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Michigan Students’ Scores Fall in Nation’s Report Card

The grades reported on Michigan’s 2022 education report card have fallen considerably since the last time the tests were administered in 2019.

The National Assessment of Educational Progress ranked Michigan’s fourth-grade reading scores at 43rd in the nation, a significant drop from the state’s 32nd ranking in 2019. The state’s eighth graders ranking dropped to 31st in the nation from its 28th berth in 2019.

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Michigan’s Democratic Governor Is Rapidly Losing Ground to Her GOP Opponent: Poll

Republican candidate Tudor Dixon is now polling within one percentage point of Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan in the state’s gubernatorial race, per a new poll.

Dixon received 47.9% support while Whitmer received 48.4%, a difference of 0.5%, according to a poll from The Trafalgar Group. The small margin between them is a marked difference from earlier in the year when, in August, Whitmer was ahead by up to 15%, according to RealClearPolitics.

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Detroit Drug Raids Decline 95 Percent Due to Cannabis Legalization, Changing Priorities

Drug raids in Detroit have fallen 95% since a peak in 2012, largely as a result of voters’ decision to legalize recreational marijuana and shifting other police priorities. 

Detroit police conducted 3,462 drug raids in fiscal year 2012. Nearly every year since then, that number has declined. Last year, police conducted 186 drug raids, according to the city’s annual financial report.

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Michigan Representative, GM Stump for Electric Vehicles Despite Environmental Impacts

A Michigan politician talked about how to boost electric vehicle adoption in a brief chat sponsored by General Motors and hosted by Axios.

Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-Ann Arbor, Michigan’s 12th Congressional District member who serves on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, touted subsidies via the Inflation Reduction Act and said that EVs are the “vehicle of the future.”

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Republicans Win Major Election Integrity Ruling Against Michigan Secretary of State

The Republican Party has won an election integrity lawsuit against Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson over restrictions she imposed on poll challengers.

Benson, per the Republican National Committee, had imposed restrictions on poll challengers, including a new credential form, an “artificial deadline” for appointing them, and limiting the poll workers with whom the challengers may communicate.

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Michigan Agrees to Spend $20 Million to Settle False Unemployment Fraud Cases

Part of the many woes plaguing Michigan’s Unemployment Insurance Agency since before the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic may be resolved but may cost state taxpayers $20 million.

The Michigan attorney general’s office announced Thursday the state has reached a tentative $20 million settlement to resolve a class-action suit against the UIA that claimed the agency falsely accused unemployment recipients of fraud and seized private property without due process.

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Lansing Public Schools Plans $19 Million of COVID Relief for Air Conditioners

How does a district of 10,000 students recover from a pandemic that disrupted learning for longer than a year?

Lansing School District received more than $100 million of federal COVID relief. The third tranche of Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief was $67 million.

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Gov. Whitmer Wields Vetoes on Emergency Power Limit, Deer Harvesting Bills

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer vetoed two GOP plans over the weekend.

Whitmer vetoed an eight-bill package that aimed to limit the governor’s emergency powers more than two years after she triggered a 1945 law to declare a state of emergency for as long as she thought necessary.

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Michigan Republican Candidate for Secretary of State Kristina Karamo Scorches Dearborn School Board for Sexually Graphic Content

Republican candidate for Michigan Secretary of State Kristina Karamo joined her fellow parents at a Dearborn school board meeting to condemn sexually explicit materials and lessons in school libraries when academic achievement should be the focus of education.

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Fired Physician Assistant Sues Michigan Health Claiming Termination over Religious Beliefs

A physician assistant who claims she was fired after seeking a religious exemption from referring patients for transgender care and using their preferred personal pronouns has filed a federal lawsuit against the University of Michigan Health-West.

In September, The Center Square reported Valerie Kloosterman’s claims that diversity program director Thomas Pierce called her “evil” and blamed her for gender dysphoria-related suicides after she cited her Christian faith as a reason to avoid specific procedures.

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Juror Dismissed in Gov. Whitmer Kidnapping Trial for Alleged Flirting with a Defendant

A female juror was dismissed during the trial of three defendants charged in an alleged plot to kidnap the Democratic governor of Michigan, Gretchen Whitmer. The juror was allegedly flirting with one of the defendants, Fox News reports.

Jackson County Judge Thomas Wilson made an announcement on Friday that the female juror was removed from the jury because attorneys raised concerns over too much “nonverbal communication” with defendant Paul Bellar, according to the Jackson Citizen Patriot.

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Michigan Bill Would Classify Gender Transitions as First-Degree Child Abuse

Michigan legislators are considering a bill that would classify gender transitions for minors as first-degree child abuse.

The bill, introduced Tuesday, would classify knowingly consenting to or assisting in a gender transition procedure for a minor as first-degree child abuse punishable by life in prison. Several Republican-led states have pushed to restrict transgender-related procedures for children, which can include therapy reinforcing a minor’s transgender identity, puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones and surgeries.

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Michigan’s Prop 3 Allows Children to Obtain Trans Hormones and Surgeries Without Parental Consent

Democrat Governor Gretchen Whitmer and her allies at Planned Parenthood have been marketing Michigan’s Proposal (Prop) 3 as an abortion amendment that would codify Roe v. Wade, but the measure would also allow children to obtain “gender affirming” hormones and surgeries without parental consent under the banner of “reproductive care.”

“Michigan is hiding a children’s constitutional right to genital amputation in its abortion amendment,” Margot Cleveland, senior legal correspondent at the Federalist, warned Wednesday.

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Michigan Governor, Health Department Silent on $50 Million Request, Abortion

A request for $50 million in Michigan taxpayer funding of family planning services is as notable for what it does not say as what it does.

Abortion services were not included by name, and an emailed request for clarification from The Center Square to those making the announcement – Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Director Elizabeth Hertel – was unsuccessful.

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Detroit to Spend COVID Relief Luring Back Long-Term Unemployed

The city of Detroit plans to spend federal COVID relief to pay groups to identify qualified individuals to enroll in training and return them to the workforce.

Applications are now open through early November for the new “In Detroit Organizations” program to identify long-term unemployed residents and enroll them in a JumpStart education or training program. The Center Square has asked for the total program cost but has not yet received an answer.

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GOP Challenger Tudor Dixon Catching Up with Gretchen Whitmer as Election Day Approaches

Republican gubernatorial candidate Tudor Dixon has narrowed the polling gap with Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan by over 30 points since May, per a new survey released on Sunday.

The poll shows Dixon behind Whitmer by 6 percent, garnering 47 percent to her 53 percent support, per YouGov Research, which conducted the survey for CBS News. The single-digit margin is significantly narrower than earlier in the year when some polls showed Whitmer in the lead by as much as 37 percent.

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Michigan Gubernatorial Candidates Spar over Electric Vehicle Subsidies

After Michigan agreed to spend $951 million of taxpayer money on two electric vehicles companies – Our Next Energy and Gotion Inc –  the question remains: what do taxpayers get?

Politicians get election fodder, companies get money but taxpayers are left paying $951 million to create up to 4,460 jobs, or a per-job cost of $213,133. The deal is meant to last decades, with one tax break lasting 30 years.

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Michigan’s Voter Records a ‘Mess,’ Says Man Who Received Multiple Ballot Applications for Someone Else

Mike Pashby and his family have lived in their single-family home in Kalamazoo, Michigan, for over seven years and never met a man named Larry Hodge. 

But starting in 2020, Pashby regularly began getting absentee ballot applications and voting notices addressed to Hodge in the mail. Despite his notifying election officials with the Kalamazoo Township, Kalamazoo County, and the Michigan Secretary of State’s Office, the notices kept coming. 

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