State Roundup


Conyers lawyers argue to get him back on the ballot
DETROIT (AP) — A Detroit judge is sharply questioning lawyers in a dispute over whether one of the country’s longest-serving congressmen gets on the summer primary ballot.
Several nominating petitions turned in by U.S. Rep. John Conyers have been thrown out because people gathering signatures weren’t registered voters or put a wrong registration address on the petition.
It means the Detroit Democrat lacks 1,000 signatures needed for the ballot.
Conyers’ lawyers asked federal Judge Matthew Leitman on Wednesday to throw out a Michigan law that puts restrictions on circulators. But the judge questioned why critics would claim the law is an illegal burden when the Conyers campaign believed it had followed it.
State attorneys say it’s unfair to attack the law when others have followed it.
Conyers has been in Congress since 1965.
State moves ahead on pilot computer security efforts
LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan is starting a pilot group that will lead to the creation of a rapid-response team to help the state and its businesses in the event of a major computer attack, officials announced Wednesday.
The Cyber Civilian Corps will allow government, education and business technology professionals to get more training through the Michigan Cyber Range, which is designed to help protect computer systems and sensitive data. A training exercise is planned for July 23.
“We are on our way to realizing the vision of the Cyber Civilian Corps and the vital role they will play in defending Michigan against cyber attacks,” David Behen, Director of the Michigan Department of Technology, Management and Budget, said in a statement.
Gov. Rick Snyder in October announced plans for the team, which involves state government, the National Guard and other public and private partners.
Data theft and security breaches can be costly, both to businesses and the government. According to the state, the Michigan government suffers more than 500,000 computer attacks each day, including spam, web browser attacks and network intrusion.
Senate panel OKs $450M increase in road funding 
LANSING, Mich. (AP) — A Michigan Senate committee has voted to raise around $450 million more to maintain deteriorating roads but stopped short of significantly hiking gasoline taxes.
The Senate Infrastructure Modernization Committee voted 4-3 Wednesday for a bill shifting calculation of per-gallon fuel taxes to one based on price. The taxes could gradually rise to keep pace with construction costs.
But whether senators will change the legislation to significantly raise taxes at the pump in the next four or five years remains in doubt. Republican Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville could unveil a plan in the afternoon.
The House voted to spend $450 million a year more on transportation. Richardville wants to triple the additional investment in roads.
Supporters say the public is supportive of paying more to avoid driving on shoddy roads.
Tahquamenon Falls trail closed due to high water
PARADISE, Mich. (AP) — A popular hiking trail at Tahquamenon Falls State Park has been closed temporarily because of high water on the Tahquamenon River.
The Michigan Department of Natural Resources said Wednesday the 5-mile-long River Trail connecting the park’s upper and lower falls is impassable.
Park supervisor Craig Krepps says sections are underwater and some bridges are washed out. He says it won’t reopen until the water recedes and staffers repair damage and deal with safety hazards.
Some of the park’s other trails are partially submerged as well, including the Giant Pines, Wilderness, and Clark Lake trails.
The U.S. Geological Survey says the Tahquamenon River is running three times higher than its average level for May. The Upper Falls is measuring a flow of approximately 40,000 gallons per second.
Grand Rapids
Library workers protest budget cut, layoff plans
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) — Library workers in Grand Rapids say plans to cut 18 jobs this summer will mean less service for area residents.
The Grand Rapids Press reports union members protested Tuesday in front of the Grand Rapids Public Library’s main branch. Librarian Marie Mulder, whose job is at risk, says she doesn’t think officials considered “creative solutions” to avoid job cuts.
James Botts, library board president, says the board didn’t want to close branches or cut hours.
The library this year faced a $914,000 budget deficit caused by decreasing revenue, mostly from declining revenue from taxes and the cost of benefits. An $11.1 million budget recommended by the library board replaces some jobs and cuts others.
The budget is up for approval June 10 by the City Commission.
Equipment stolen from art gallery at Eastern Market
DETROIT (AP) — Officials say thousands of dollars of equipment was stolen from an art gallery in Detroit’s Eastern Market area.
The Detroit Free Press reports the theft took place the weekend of May 10 at the Red Bull House of Art. Project Manager Karolina Biernacka says the theft, which was recorded by video surveillance, was a “major blow” to the gallery.
The House of Art launched in 2012 and also serves as a work space for artists. Biernacka says the man seen on surveillance had been in the gallery before.
Biernacka says no art was stolen, but the man nearly cleaned out the gallery’s tool shop. 
Corn growers balk at paying double for marketing plan
LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan corn producers have rejected a proposal to pay more for a program that promotes their industry.
The plan called for boosting the assessment rate from 1 cent per bushel to 2 cents per bushel to generate revenue for research, education and marketing.
The April referendum was the first that asked growers to boost their payment rate since the corn  program was created in 1993.
President Mark Kies says the program’s operators are disappointed with the vote results and will talk with growers around the state about what to do next.
He says a strong and sophisticated marketing program is needed to answer criticism of the industry. 
Authorities: Power loss caused 2012 crash of aircraft
MANCELONA, Mich. (AP) — Authorities say a small plane crash in 2012 that killed a pilot in Antrim County likely occurred because of power loss to an engine during takeoff.
The Traverse City Record Eagle reports, however, that investigators couldn’t determine why the power cut out on Nov. 21, 2012.
Deputies and state police found the body of 68-year-old Roger Crawford in Mancelona, about 30 miles northeast of Traverse City, on Nov. 23, 2012. Relatives contacted deputies after Crawford didn’t show up at a family gathering on Thanksgiving a day earlier.
The plane plunged into a wooded area about a mile from the Lakes of the North community airstrip.
Authorities: Money missing from local library accounts
ALBION, Mich. (AP) — Authorities say they’re conducting an investigation into missing money at the Albion District Library.
The Battle Creek Enquirer reports the Calhoun County sheriff’s department is assisting police in the southern Michigan city. Detective Sgt. Jason Kern says search warrants were executed Monday at the library and a home.
Kern says a request for charges is expected to go to the Calhoun County prosecutor’s office after materials seized on Monday are reviewed.
Public schools must make up 3-10 days of classes
DETROIT (AP) — Public school students in Detroit will need to make up between three and 10 days of classes due to the harsh winter and repeated problems with the city’s municipal power system.
The Detroit Public Schools announced Wednesday that schools will be required to make up the days to meet state requirements, extending the school year.
Superintendent of Academics Karen Ridgeway says the district “exhausted all avenues” to minimize the number of days needed beyond the originally scheduled end of the school year. Letters have been provided to parents with details on individual schools.
The extensions also affect the summer school schedule.