National Teen Driver Safety Week stresses safe habits behind the wheel

BY JESI MUNGUIA

This week is the 8th annual Teen Driver Safety Week. Driving experts said teen drivers are faced with far too many distractions than they realize.

According to state crash data many teen accidents happen after school or at night. Last year more than 15,000 people were involved in a crash with a teen driver from 3-6 pm.

Richard Backs is the Director of the CMU Center for Drivers Evaluation Education and Research said, the problem is people get away with using their cell phone while driving so often that they don’t realize how distracting and dangerous it really is until something bad happens.

“When we have other distractions that are in the vehicle like peers and friends goofing around and so forth. We just don’t realize how dangerous that is because most of the time we get away with it. In the great proportion of the cases in which we are distracted at makes us much more susceptible to unanticipated events and other vehicles that are running a red light or something, we fail to see that.”

Backs went on to say that, the driver has to take charge of the vehicle and everything that happens inside of it.

Report: Teachers leaving field

BY JESI MUNGUIA

More and more Michigan teachers are leaving the field. This according to a recent study done by Bridge Magazine. It shows that about 10 percent of teachers are leaving their first year. As many as 40 percent leave within four years.

The Michigan Education Association said the problem is even worse in high-poverty school where the students need the experienced teachers most.

Thomas Morgan is the MEA spokesman said, the teaching profession has been under attack by people who want to privatize and make profits off of children being educated.

“I think it’s time we start treating teachers and other school employees with the respect they deserve. Instead of attacking them and constantly going after their already low pay and benefits and start investing in things like basic classroom supplies. Start investing in our school buildings and start investing in our local communities to insure not only school employees get what they need to do their job but kids get the resources they need to succeed in college and the workplace.”

Morgan went on to say that in the end the children are the ones who are suffering.

Taiwan University establishes campus at SVSU

BY JENNIFER WEINGART

Saginaw valley State University has approved the creation of an office that will be leased to Taiwan’s Ming Chuan University.

The renovations, which are expected to cost $650,000, will create office space and a conference room for Ming Chuan.

SVSU spokesman J.J. Boehm said Ming Chuan is a sister university of SVSU and a relationship between the two has existed for several years. “We know that it’s an increasingly shrinking world and our students are going to need to interrelate with people from all different kinds of cultures and this will be one more opportunity for them to expand their cultural understanding.”

Boehm said the hope is that the space will increase relations between the two universities. giving students from both more opportunities for international experiences.

MDOT Director: Roads getting worse as lawmakers argue over funding

BY JAKE NEHER
Michigan Public Radio Network

Michigan’s top transportation official said the state Legislature cannot wait much longer to boost funding for roads.

Michigan Department of Transportation Director Kirk Steudle said the state’s infrastructure continues to crumble while lawmakers debate the issue. He testified Wednesday in front of a joint House committee studying the issue.

“They’re going to continue to get worse every year,” Steudle told reporters after the hearing. “So the worst part is, the longer we wait, the more it’s going to cost us to go forward.”

He said history is repeating itself.

“In (1994), ’95, people were screaming, saying we need to fix these,” said Steudle. “It got so bad that the general public said, ‘do something, raise the gas tax, do whatever, these roads are terrible.’ So we did. So we spent the next 20 years getting them into good condition, and now we’re just going to let them all deteriorate because we can’t take care of them.”

Officials said the state needs to boost funding for roads by more than a billion dollars a year just to keep them from getting worse. State lawmakers have been debating ways to raise that kind of money for two years.

But Steudle said he’s optimistic a deal can be reached.

“I was encouraged by the fact that we had a meeting,” he said. “This is good, everybody’s back, they’re here, they’re engaged. We’re not so much talking about, ‘boy you really don’t need this.’ I think even lawmakers said, ‘yeah, we need this, we need to do this.’ Now it’s, how do we do this?”

Earlier this year, Governor Rick Snyder proposed increasing the state’s gas tax and vehicle registration fees to raise the money. That plan did not get support in the Legislature, and talks seem to have stalled.

Copyright 2013, MPRN

Michigan House members showered with fake million dollar bills

 

BY RICK PLUTA
Michigan Public Radio Network

Protest1023-foto

“We want to end corruption!” shouted protesters from the state House gallery Wednesday as they showered Michigan lawmakers with hundreds of fake million dollar bills.

“When do we want it?” – “Now!”

The group Represent.Us said Michigan has one of the worst records of government corruption in the nation. It cites a report by the State Integrity Investigation that gave Michigan a failing grade in that area.

State Rep. Pete Lund said the protest was out of line.

“The idea of starting to throw things around, it’s just… it’s arrogance thinking that they’re more important than everybody else,” Lund told reporters immediately after the demonstration.

“There’s a process in place. I assume, if they are from Michigan, they get a vote, they can talk to their representative.”

The protesters peacefully left the House chamber after the display, escorted by House sergeants.

Copyright 2013, MPRN

Governor wants no-fault overhaul before end of ’13

BY RICK PLUTA
Michigan Public Radio Network

Governor Rick Snyder said he’d like to see an overhaul of Michigan’s no-fault insurance law accomplished before the end of the year. Efforts to make auto coverage less expensive have stalled in the Legislature, largely over the issue of Michigan’s unlimited medical benefits for injured people.

Right now, Michigan is the only state to offer unlimited lifetime medical care to people injured in car accidents. Some lawmakers have been looking to cap those benefits. But the governor said there may be other ways to find savings that would bring down rates.

“I think there’s an opportunity to hopefully have people come back to the table, and be more open-minded on finding common ground and getting a solution in place,” he said. “I think almost everyone agrees the current system doesn’t work well.”

Bringing down auto rates in urban areas is considered one of the elements necessary to make Michigan cities more attractive.

The governor said he’s trying to bring together attorneys, hospitals, doctors and insurance companies in hopes of finding a consensus. The prospects for accomplishing a potentially controversial no-fault overhaul diminish in 2014 because it’s an election year.

A no-fault overhaul bill that includes a $1 million benefits cap is languishing on the state House calendar.

Copyright 2013, MPRN

Unemployment drug testing bill headed to Governor Snyder’s desk

 

BY JAKE NEHER
Michigan Public Radio Network

State lawmakers have approved a plan to cut off unemployment benefits if a person fails or refuses to take a drug test as part of a job search.

“They know what the rules are,” said bill sponsor state Rep. Ken Goike. “And they have to be willing and able to work. And if you’re going to be doing that, and drug testing is required for your job, and you know it. So, it’s just common sense.”

But opponents of the bill said it’s nothing more than a political statement that serves to stigmatize people on unemployment.

“They wanted to get this passed so the Republicans can go home in their district and say, ‘we’re holding everybody accountable who’s collecting unemployment benefits,’ when, in reality, it’s just smoke and mirrors and nothing more than aimed at the election in 2014,” said state Rep. Jon Switalski.

Critics of the legislation are also concerned that it does not exempt licensed medical marijuana patients.

House Bill 4952 is one of several bills passed Tuesday that seek to crack down on fraud and abuse in the unemployment system. Many of the other changes are meant bring the state in line with new federal unemployment rules.

The legislation now goes to Governor Rick Snyder for his signature.

Copyright 2013, MPRN