Cheyna Roth

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The Michigan Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on a case affecting how the state handles juvenile life without parole cases.

The court will determine who should get to decide if a juvenile is sentenced to life without parole – judges or juries.

   The courts have gone back and forth on this decision. At one point a special panel put together by the Michigan Court of Appeals said judges should decide. 

   Juvenile inmate advocates say juries should make the ultimate decision.

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Michigan lawmakers seem to be making voting laws a priority.  Lawmakers in both chambers have now introduced legislation they say will make voting easier.

The legislation would allow for no-reason absentee voting, electronic submission of voter registration applications, and let people pre-register to vote starting at sixteen years old.

Democratic Senator Steve Bieda is a bill sponsor. He says they’re “common sense” reforms. 

 

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Michigan Senators are making a big push for prison and parole reform this year.

Over twenty of the 52 bills introduced during session last week were about criminal justice reform.

   Several of the bills focus on probation and parole violations. They would change penalties for probationers that commit technical probation violation and discontinue services to parole absconders.

   Republican Senator Rick Jones is the main sponsor of a couple of the bills. He says they have been working on the package for a while.

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The Michigan Department of Education released the state’s School Score Cards and the Top to Bottom list today. The Top to Bottom list is used by the School Reform Office to identify low-performing schools.

The “Priority List” is made up of the lowest-performing five percent of schools in the state and schools that were previously in the five percent and haven’t improved enough to get off the list.  Schools on the list for three years, could be subject to closure.

While 38 schools are on “Priority List” this year, 79 schools were taken off.

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       The state Attorney General has filed a brief in a discrimination case that could be headed for the United States Supreme Court

This is the third brief Attorney General Bill Schuette has filed in the case going back to 2011.

Angelo Binno is legally blind. He is suing the American Bar Association for disability discrimination.

       Binno  says he was rejected from every law school he applied to because he couldn’t draw diagrams for the logic games portion of the L-SAT and scored too low on the test.

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A state department is not in compliance with regulations on bottled water inspections. That’s the result of a state audit released today.

The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development is in charge of registering and inspecting water bottles and water dispensing machines in the state.

       The audit found the department did not fully comply with its policy on routine inspections of bottles and dispensaries.

Snyder focused much of the annual address on his achievements as governor, while also, insisting there is more work to be done. Unlike last year, when the Flint water crisis took center stage, this year, Snyder did not address Flint until halfway thru his speech.

During the short time he did spend on Flint, he spoke about the work that has been done.

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Governor Rick Snyder will give his seventh State of the State address this evening. Elected officials and lawmakers are putting together wish lists of what they hope the governor will cover.

During last year’s address, Snyder spent a considerable amount of time talking about the Flint Water Crisis. He said, quote – “I’m sorry and I will fix it.”

       It’s a year later and many in Flint are still unable to drink their water with confidence.

Kerry Nelson is the President of the Flint City Council. He says the governor needs to again focus on Flint.

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With President-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration just days away, some Michigan Congress members are speaking out about his latest Twitter feud.

       Georgia Congressman John Lewis called Trump an illegitimate president during an interview with NBC News. Then, days before Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Trump fired back at the civil rights hero on Twitter saying he was – quote – “all talk”.

       Now Lewis and over twenty members of Congress are speaking out against Trump by boycotting his inauguration.

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Michigan Democrats are pushing for voter reform in the early weeks of session.

Lots of bills were introduced during the second day of session. The sponsors say they are aimed at making voting easier for everyone.

       The bills would create no-excuse absentee voting and allow automatic voter registration when you apply for or renew a driver’s license or ID card.

State Representative Abdullah Hammoud is a bill sponsor. He says this is just the beginning for voter reform in Michigan.

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