NEWS FROM AROUND THE STATE
Issue 107, January 2005

Table of Contents

  1. Help Wanted: Michigan Focuses On Filling Demand For
    100,000 Projected Health Care Jobs
  2. Governor Signs Executive Order
    Creating Council for Labor and Economic Growth
  3. State Records Center Celebrates 50th Anniversary
  4. ID Theft Bills Approved in Final Days
  5. Governor Signs Accountability Measures for Intermediate School Districts
  6. Granholm's Economic Plan Reaping Benefits Today
  7. Higher Education Report a Road Map for Fundamental Change,
    Stronger Economic Future
  8. 500 State Laws Passed
  9. Tsunami Relief Scam Warning
  10. Tobacco Quit Line Calls Picking Up
  11. Status of Electric Competition in Michigan
  12. Michigan Legislators Pass on Financial Disclosure
  13. 2005 Michigan Notable Books List Offers 20 Chances to Get Lost in a Great Read
  14. Cougers on the Prowl In Michigan?


(1) Help Wanted: Michigan Focuses On Filling Demand
For 100,000 Projected Health Care Jobs

According to a new study released jointly by the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Growth (DLEG) and the Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH), the state will need to fill more than 100,000 professional and technical health care jobs in Michigan over the next decade.

Health Care Workforce Development in Michigan Final Report prepared for the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Growth by Public Sector Associates, Incorporated. October 2004. 68pp.
“This report clearly illustrates what Michigan must do to meet the increasing demand for health care workers,” said Michigan Governor Jennifer M. Granholm. “The report projects we will have 100,000 good health care jobs that we need to fill with qualified workers to keep our economy and citizens healthy.”

Health care employment provides $17.7 billion per year in wages and benefits in Michigan. Health care employees earn an average of $34,300 per year (2001) and contribute $55,000 annually to the local economy.

The report issues several recommendations for state government to follow to increase its health care workforce ranks, including:

DLEG Director David C. Hollister said growing demand for health care workers also reflects the aging of Michigan’s baby-boom generation and an overall increase in longevity.

“Michigan’s population aged 65 and older will grow by 25 percent, from 1.2 million in 2000 to an estimated 1.5 million by 2015, and it is well known that the demand for health care services grows as the population ages,” Hollister said. “We will have some exciting career opportunities in the very near future to replace well-paid manufacturing jobs that have been lost in Michigan in recent years.”

Without additional emphasis on enhancing Michigan’s health care workforce, shortages of some health care occupations – such as nursing, pharmacy, EMTs, and paramedics – pose serious threats to the future health and safety of Michigan residents.

“We will continue to ensure that our health care workforce continues to remain strong and vibrant to protect the health and safety of Michigan’s citizens,” said Janet Olszewski, MDCH Director. “Health care also is an important part of Michigan’s economy and we need to redouble our efforts to prepare Michigan workers to enter the health care workforce.”

Olszewski said Jeanette Klemczak, the state’s newly appointed Chief Nursing Executive, will play a critical role in the state’s effort to attract, recruit, and retain health care workers in Michigan.

While 40 percent of all demand will be for registered nurses, there will also be a need for occupational and physical therapists, pharmacists, radiographers, laboratory technicians, diagnostic sonographers, EMTs and paramedics, and health information technicians.

Health care is Michigan’s largest industry in terms of employment. There are 445,000 jobs directly related to health care and another 233,000 jobs indirectly related to the field.

Source: Michigan Newswire, November 22, 2004.

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(2) Governor Signs Executive Order Creating
Council for Labor and Economic Growth

Governor Jennifer M. Granholm has announced an executive order creating the Council for Labor and Economic Growth (CLEG). The council’s work will focus on developing strategies to prepare Michigan’s workers for the 21st century.

“The Council for Labor and Economic Growth will be our guide as we strive to meet Michigan’s job needs of today while fostering the skilled and flexible workforce that Michigan businesses need to compete successfully in the future,” said Granholm. “This talented body will help us challenge the status quo on how best to develop and invest effectively in Michigan’s 21st century workforce.”

Executive Order 2004-36 creates the business-led council and replaces the current Michigan Workforce Investment Board. The council’s members include key leaders from business, labor, community colleges, universities, community-based organizations, local workforce boards, the K-12 educational community, and government. The council will recommend strategies to encourage and stimulate innovative responses to Michigan’s workforce challenges. The new council has been reorganized to comply with federal workforce law which requires a 73-member board.

“The Council for Labor and Economic Growth will help us refine and advance Michigan’s workforce and economic development strategies,” said David C. Hollister, Director of the Michigan Department of Labor & Economic Growth. “This council brings invaluable expertise to the table and will work very closely with the Michigan Economic Development Corporation’s Board of Directors and the Governor’s Council of Economic Advisors to help us more effectively reshape Michigan’s workforce and meet Michigan’s human capital needs.”

The new council will build on some of the workforce development successes already achieved this year, including the establishment of 13 Regional Skills Alliances (MiRSASM) – Michigan’s employer-led, regionally-based workforce development partnerships that address local workforce challenges. Current MiRSAsSM are targeting ways to fill openings in healthcare, construction, manufacturing, and nanotechnology industries. A MiRSASM is currently under development for the hospitality industry.

Some of the other strategic efforts the new council will help the Governor and the Michigan Department of Labor & Economic Growth tackle are:

In keeping with the council’s strong connection to industry, Sharon Wenzl, Tower Automotive’s vice president of human resources and communications, has agreed to serve as the CLEG Chair.

“It is a unique opportunity to have the expertise and experience of so many business leaders on the Council for Labor and Economic Growth,” said Wenzl. “The willingness of so many business leaders to work together shows the commitment Michigan companies have to work on an innovative strategy that ensures tomorrow’s workforce has the skills needed for the future. It is a win/win for the state, its residents, and its businesses.”

In addition to developing and maintaining Michigan’s workforce plan and providing oversight and leadership to local workforce boards and services, the Council for Labor and Economic Growth will have the broader charge of assessing human capital trends and developing strategies that will encourage and stimulate innovative public and private responses to workforce challenges.

The executive order, filed with the Secretary of State December 6, is effective immediately. A copy of the executive order creating the Council for Labor & Economic Growth is available at http://www.michigan.gov/gov.

Source: Michigan Newswire, Dec. 7, 2004.

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(3) State Records Center Celebrates 50th Anniversary

Department of History, Arts and Libraries Director Dr. William Anderson today congratulated the State Records Center staff on the facility’s 50th year of operations.

This month is the half-century mark for the center (housed at 3405 N. Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd.), which opened in 1954, less than four years after the disastrous State Office Building fire. That February 1951 fire, which burned for several days, destroyed roughly 8,000 cubic feet of the state records.

“It’s true that important pieces of our state’s history were lost in that terrible event,” said Dr. Anderson. “However, important lessons also emerged on how to manage and protect those resources for future generations. Our colleagues at the records center take that responsibility very seriously.”

Debbie Gearhart, director of the State Records Center, said that if the State Office Building fire hadn’t occurred, the current records management program might not exist as it is today. In response to the fire and a consultants’ report, the Michigan Legislature passed Public Act No. 178 of 1952 giving the Department of Administration (now Management and Budget) broad authority to conduct a comprehensive records management program.

Construction of the State Records Center was completed in December 1954, with new additions built in 1969 and 1980. Records analysts were hired in the late 1950s and 1960s to establish retention and disposal schedules, develop filing systems, design microfilm applications and conduct training sessions.

More recently, Executive Order 2002-17 transferred the Records Management program to the Department of History, Arts and Libraries, as an agency within the Michigan Historical Center, thereby consolidating all records management and archives functions within one department. “The reorganization allowed for more efficient administration,” said Gearhart, “making it easier for state and local government agencies to get guidance and direction on a variety of records-related issues.”

Today the State Records Center provides storage for approximately 368,000 cubic feet of state government records, enough to nearly fill four football fields. Gearhart noted that by storing such records in the center rather than in the state agencies’ offices (and taking up valuable office space), the center actually provides a cost savings to Michigan taxpayers.

In 2003, approximately 37,000 boxes of records were transferred to the State Records Center for secure storage, while approximately 27,000 boxes were disposed of under the contract for confidential destruction of records.

The State Records Center is responsible for the storage and control of inactive state records. The records center operation provides storage and retrieval services for security microfilm, backup tapes, optical disks, as well as paper. The cost for inactive record storage and retrieval operations is provided through annual appropriations.

For more information about the State Records Center and the services it provides, visit http://www.michigan.gov/recordsmanagement.

The Records Management Center is part of the Michigan Historical Center, an agency within the Department of History, Arts and Libraries (HAL). The department seeks to enrich the quality of life for Michigan residents by providing access to information, preserving and promoting Michigan's heritage and fostering cultural creativity. The department also includes the Library of Michigan, Mackinac Island State Park Commission, the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs and the Michigan Film Office.

Source: Michigan Newswire, Dec. 14, 2004

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(4) ID Theft Bills Approved in Final Days

Amid the flurry of legislative activity in the final days of session, work was completed on an 18-bill package dealing with identity theft that Rep. William Van Regenmorter, R-Georgetown Township, shepherded through the House Criminal Justice Committee and House of Representatives.

Michigan residents are better protected from the growing crime of identity theft under the bills that are now on the governor’s desk.

“The bills are a great accomplishment for Michigan,” said Van Regenmorter, chair of the House Criminal Justice Committee. “Never before have we had a Social Security Number Privacy Act that restricts the use of Social Security numbers.”

The package also:

Victims testified before the House Criminal Justice Committee that their Social Security numbers had been used to activate telephones, open credit cards, buy cars, and rack up thousands of dollars in debt – leaving the victims to answer to debt collectors and credit agencies.

“Victims of identity theft experience a huge financial and emotional burden,” Van Regenmorter said. “The bills are a great step toward preventing the crime and enabling victims to clear their name.”

Source: Michigan House Republicans News Release, Dec. 14, 2004.

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(5) Governor Signs Accountability Measures for Intermediate School Districts

After almost two years of investigations by the state House, the governor has signed into law the final pieces of the Accountability 102 legislative package, said state Rep. Ruth Johnson, chair of the House Subcommittee on Intermediate School District Review and sponsor of most of the measures.

The legislation ensures that taxpayer money meant for education gets to the classrooms where it can help kids learn and provides measured reforms for the state’s intermediate school district system to eliminate waste and abuse and provide oversight.

“For two years we have aggressively pursued the truth about what happened at the Oakland ISD,” said Johnson, R-Holly. “We discovered gross mismanagement, misuse of funds and excessive travel – all at taxpayer expense and the expense of our children. If it happened in Oakland County, it can happen elsewhere across the state. Our goal has been simply to ensure that taxpayer money earmarked for education gets to the kids and classrooms. I am confident that with the reform measures in place, we can protect taxpayers and make sure the money gets to where it can help kids learn.”

The bills signed today include:

Earlier this year the governor signed the House Accountability 101 legislation into law, landmark measures permitting the recall of ISD board members, authorizing school districts to remove a board member; requiring competitive bidding on construction and remodeling projects; and eliminating secret elections of ISD board members.

“Intermediate school districts, like all public organizations, have been given a great trust and must be held to a high standard,” Johnson said. “Accountability is about fiscal responsibility, honesty and transparency. Under the old laws, ISDs could skip under the radar of state government and taxpayers. With these checks and balances in place, taxpayers and the state have gained much needed oversight, which will ensure that ISDs are accountable and that funding gets to the classrooms where it can have the greatest impact on the education of our children.”

Source: Michigan House Republicans News Release, Nov. 29, 2004.

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(6) Granholm's Economic Plan Reaping Benefits Today

At the end of her second year in office, Governor Jennifer M. Granholm said that the economic plan she laid out 11 months ago is making Michigan stronger today and is laying the foundation for the state’s economic future.

“Michigan’s economic future depends on this state’s ability to diversify its economy, make its quality of life attractive for new citizens and new businesses, and prepare its workers to capitalize on those new opportunities,” said Granholm. “Our plan is laying that foundation for the future and making real changes for Michigan’s citizens right now.”

Granholm pointed to small business growth, research and development investment growth, and a double-digit increase in the number of businesses doing bio-science research as evidence that Michigan is making progress that will translate into future growth.

“Michigan is in the midst of a major economic shift from an economy traditionally driven by muscle-power to one increasingly driven by mind-power,” Granholm explained. “This administration is planting the seeds that will ensure growth in the future while at the same time we’re making real changes for our citizens right now.”

Granholm outlined four major areas of success at the mid-way point of her first term.

  1. Focused on improving the economy today and tomorrow by making half a billion dollars available to attract entrepreneurs to the state; creating Regional Skills Alliances; reducing red-tape businesses face when seeking permits from the state, and fighting for legislation to retain businesses and the jobs that go with them. And, got results: Michigan is attractive to new businesses – small businesses grew by 2,400, seven companies opened new headquarters in Michigan this year, and state support helped create or retain 130,000 jobs.

  2. Expanded affordable health care to 300,000 uninsured people by opening federally qualified health care centers in Jackson and Detroit; offered Michigan residents more affordable prescription drugs through the MIRx Card; and enrolled nearly 50,000 children in the Healthy Kids and MiCHILD programs.

  3. Put the state's financial house in order by eliminating a $3 billion deficit; trimming $220 million in contract expenses; saving $13 million by eliminating 2,500 cars from the state’s fleet; and saving $14 million in administrative costs by turning off the lights, eliminating color copying, and reducing cell phone use.

  4. Protected Education by challenging state universities to hold the line on tuition increases; funding – for the first time – K-12 education at higher levels promised by the previous administration; avoiding cuts to the per-pupil foundation grant as recently as this month; and, appointing the Commission on Higher Education and Economic Growth which has outlined a roadmap for universal education in Michigan.
Granholm’s vision for Michigan, she said, is to finally change Michigan’s image from the “buckle of the rust belt” to the “epicenter of the 21st century economy.”

“Michigan’s automotive heritage is the base on which our state’s new economy must build and expand,” she said. “But the state’s economic recovery cannot rely solely on the automotive industry’s rebound. We have to attract new industries to create new jobs.”

Granholm noted that while her administration has made progress, it has also continued to focus on problems it inherited that could not be ignored.

“There were a lot of weeds that needed to be pulled in Michigan’s garden,” said Granholm. “It’s tough to grow when you’re weighted down by debt, overspending, and broken systems. We fixed those problems and are charging forward.”

As the Governor looked forward to 2005, she called on the Legislature to work with her to restructure the state’s business tax structure and to stay the course on maintaining the state’s quality of life.

Related Documents: 2004 Year-end Accomplishments

Source: Michigan Newswire, December 16, 2004.

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(7) Higher Education Report a Road Map
for Fundamental Change, Stronger Economic Future

Governor Jennifer M. Granholm today called findings of the Commission on Higher Education and Economic Growth, which spent the last six months studying the link between post secondary education and economic growth in Michigan, a "road map" for fundamental change and a stronger economic future for Michigan.

The Governor made her remarks after accepting the report of the bipartisan Commission on Higher Education and Economic Growth, chaired by Lt. Governor John D. Cherry, Jr., that was charged with finding ways to double the number of college graduates in Michigan over the next ten years.

"If we achieve this goal, Michigan will win the race for economic growth and prosperity for decades to come" said Granholm. "This report makes it clear that our state’s path to a robust economy with good paying 21st century jobs requires all our residents to complete their education beyond high school."

The commission's recommendations call for higher standards in Michigan's high schools to prepare all students for post secondary education and a new compact between the state and its citizens to guarantee all students the opportunity to earn a college degree.

Other recommendations call on Michigan's colleges and universities to do a better job helping students complete degrees or certification, to make it easier for students to transfer from one higher education institution to another, and to bring larger numbers of adult workers who have earned college credits in the past back to campus to finish their degrees.

The 19 recommendations include a call for replacing the high school MEAP test with an assessment that can be used for college admission purposes to encourage students to pursue their education beyond high school and to measure student performance against the new Michigan standards.

The full report may be read on the commission’s web site at http://www.cherrycommission.org.

Cherry said the commission found an undeniable link between post secondary education and economic success in a changing economy.

"The days when you could earn a good living in Michigan with only a high school diploma are long gone," Cherry said. "We need to fundamentally change our thinking to match the realities of today's economy, and that means post secondary education for all."

Cherry said there is a tremendous disparity in annual earnings between people who hold a doctoral degree ($70,148) and a bachelor’s degree ($46,800) and those with a high school diploma ($28,808) and who failed to complete high school ($20,592).

Since being appointed by Granholm in July, the 41-member commission has conducted in-depth study of issues related to educational attainment and the economy. The commission held six public hearings across the state and collected public input by mail and through its website.

Granholm thanked the commission for the speed with which it had concluded its work and said her administration will act on its recommendations with equal urgency.

"We are going to move quickly to implement these recommendations," Granholm said. "Michigan's future cannot wait. The transformation of our economy demands that our workers be better educated and trained in the future."

The commission's work was supported by a federal grant program and by private sector donors including DaimlerChrysler, Ford Motor Company, General Motors, and Manulife Financial.

Source: Michigan Newswire, December 15, 2004.

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(8) 500 State Laws Passed

According to an article by Stacey Range and Chris Andrews appearing in the Lansing State Journal on December 12, 2004, "500 state laws passed despite budget woes", that is of course if Governor Granholm signs them all.

Among the most notable legislation:

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(9) Granholm and Watters Warn About New Scams
Using Tsunami Relief to Steal Money From Citizens

Governor Jennifer M. Granholm and Office of Financial and Insurance Services (OFIS) Commissioner Linda A. Watters today issued a warning to all Michigan residents to be on alert for scammers who are unscrupulously using the tsunami tragedy in South Asia as a means to cheat consumers.

“Unfortunately it’s all too common that when tragedy strikes, there are people trying to take advantage of others for their own, personal gain,” Granholm said today. “Michiganians are being generous beyond anyone’s expectations and we want to be sure their generosity has positive results for the victims rather than lining the pockets of con-artists.”

Instances of several different online scams, spam and fraud have been reported across the nation. Some online versions are putting a new twist to the ubiquitous "419" scam that authorities believe originated in northwest Africa. These emails try to capitalize on the impact of the tsunami tragedy and get money from recipients by morbidly promising a share of large bank accounts of dead relatives from the affected countries. Consumers should carefully research any requests for donations towards tsunami relief before donating.

“The vultures who hatch these schemes are truly despicable,” said Watters. “They are using a terrible tragedy to defraud Michigan citizens. I encourage anyone contacted by these people to either discard the contact, or report it to the Attorney General for prosecution.”

Charitable giving for this disaster has been very generous, and Michigan citizens are encouraged to continue with their support of victims of the tsunami. Gifts should be made to reputable charities such as the Red Cross or Salvation Army, or provided to local well-established community charities that will ensure this relief reaches the intended recipients.

Charities can be confirmed for legitimacy using independent verification websites such as GuideStar.org, which offers a number of useful tools for checking out charities. GuideStar includes listings of those groups that have registered with and met the guidelines of the U.S. Internal Revenue Service's terms for a nonprofit charity. Consumers can also check with the Office of the Attorney General to verify that a charity or non-profit organization is licensed in Michigan.

Anyone who has encountered one of these scams should file a complaint with the Michigan Attorney General. Complaints can be made toll-free at 1-877-765-8388 or online at http://www.michigan.gov/ag.

Source: Michigan Newswire, January 5, 2005.

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(10) Tobacco Quit Line Calls Picking Up

Recent evidence collected by the Michigan Department of Community Health clearly indicates that last year’s increase in the state’s tobacco tax is encouraging more Michigan citizens to stop smoking.

Between July 2004 – when the increased tobacco tax took effect – and January 1, 2005, more than 3,100 people called the Michigan Tobacco Quit Line for information on how to quit smoking. Six months prior to July 2004, only 550 people had called the Quit Line.

“This information is great news for those who smoke, for those around smokers, for health-care costs, and for the state budget,” said Dr. Kimberlydawn Wisdom, Michigan Surgeon General. “It has been clearly documented that increased cigarette taxes prompt smokers to quit and help to keep kids and adults from starting to smoke. We are seeing those benefits now as a result of the cigarette tax increase last July.”

When the state Legislature passed the 75 cent increase in the cigarette tax in July, tobacco control advocates predicted that the increase would lead to a reduction in the number of smokers by prompting smokers to quit and by helping to keep kids and adults from starting to smoke.

“Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death in Michigan. Smoking kills more people than car crashes, murders, AIDS, illegal drugs, suicides and alcohol combined,” Wisdom said. “We are very pleased to see that following the implementation of the cigarette tax increase, more smokers are trying to end their addiction to nicotine.”

Smokers interested in quitting, can call the Quit Line at 1-800-480-QUIT (1-800-480-7848). Eligible callers can receive nicotine replacement patches and gum from the Quit Line.

Source: Michigan Newswire, January 26, 2005. MPSC Releases Annual Electric Competition Report Showing a 45 Percent Increase in Choice Customers Contact: Judy Palnau (517) 241-3323

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(11) Status of Electric Competition in Michigan

The Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) released its annual report on electric competition in Michigan on February 1.

“The year 2004 marked the third full year that electric choice has been available in Michigan, and the number of customers choosing an alternative electric supplier continued to grow,” noted MPSC Chair J. Peter Lark. “The PSC made a number of changes in the Detroit Edison rate case to deal with concerns raised about electric choice in 2004. My fellow Commissioners and I believe that these changes will benefit both choice customers and customers of Detroit Edison.”

Highlights of the report include the following:

The Commission, in response to Public Act 141, issued orders that enhance the use of renewable energy in Michigan. Both Consumers Energy and Detroit Edison have been directed to establish new renewable energy options for their customers.

No new, in-state, non-utility generating capacity was added in 2004.

Several issues identified in the report need further review. The MPSC, for example, does not have explicit authority under state law to set reserve margins.

“The Customer Choice and Electricity Reliability Act has resulted in offering customers valuable options,” added Commissioner Robert B. Nelson. “This law has also led to substantial progress in the promotion of energy efficiency and renewable energy.”

“During 2004, the Commission made significant decisions that enable electric utilities to maintain the resources and capital they need to provide reliable service." said Commissioner Laura Chappelle. "At the same time, Act 141 requires the Commission to ensure that vibrant, healthy competition will continue to exist in Michigan.”

The entire report is located on the MPSC Web site: http://www.michigan.gov/documents/elec-comp05_115196_7.pdf.

The MPSC is an agency within the Department of Labor & Economic Growth.

Source: Michigan Newswire, Feb. 2, 2005.

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(12) Michigan Legislators Pass on Financial Disclosure

Ever wonder what outside financial interests a legislator in your state might have? Now you can find out with a couple of clicks of your mouse. Putting the country's government ethics laws to work, the Center for Public Integrity today made thousands of state legislators' outside interest disclosure filings available to online users.

Unfortunately, Michigan is not one of those states.

In Idaho, Michigan and Vermont, legislators file no financial disclosures at all. Repeated requests by the Center to each of the 433 legislators in these three states to file a voluntary disclosure form drew a tepid response of only 33.

Although much of these legislators' incomes are hidden, their professional backgrounds are generally widely known. That's enough to make it clear that these legislators are no less likely to work in the fields where they also earn their bread and butter.

In Michigan, a set of bills that would have helped local pharmacies compete with mail-order operations was moved out of a committee chaired by Rep. Stephen Ehardt, a pharmacist who had vocally supported them. Ehardt told the committee that opponents of the bills had been raising questions about his self-interest rather than holding a debate on the merits, according to the Associated Press. The bills would have stopped insurers from rewarding patients who obtain prescription drugs through the mail instead of at a local pharmacy with higher reimbursement rates. Ehardt is the president and CEO of Ehardt's Pharmacy Inc.

Researchers from the Center contacted each legislator in Idaho, Michigan and Vermont at least three times over the course of several months to request that they return the forms.

The "statement of economic interests form" designed by the Center reflected the basic level of disclosure required in most states. It was modeled after the forms required by law in Kansas and Indiana, which offer a simple presentation.

At least one lawmaker in each of the three states contacted the Center to express interest in passing a disclosure law in their state. The Center does not advocate legislation, but gave the callers more information and samples of laws that it has rated as strong.Center for Public Integrity, Feb. 7, 2005.

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(13) 2005 Michigan Notable Books List
Offers 20 Chances to Get Lost in a Great Read

The Library of Michigan today (Feb. 4) announced the list of 2005 Michigan Notable Books (formerly known as Read Michigan). According to acting State Librarian Nancy Robertson, this year’s crop of titles covers the spectrum and is certain to appeal to fans of all genres.

“Michigan and the Great Lakes have been home to many compelling events that have had social, emotional and historical impact,” said Robertson. “The titles on this year’s Michigan Notable Books list gives readers the chance to see that some of the best storytelling happens right here at home.”

Each year’s Michigan Notable Books list features 20 books published the previous calendar year that are about or set in Michigan or on the Great Lakes or written by a native or resident of Michigan. Selections, which include nonfiction and fiction titles, typically have a wide appeal to the audience and cover a range of topics and issues important to Michigan residents.

Said author Ingrid Hill, whose work is included in this year’s Michigan Notable selections, “In high school … it was reading Hemingway that ignited this passion in me, and to my mind, Hemingway's Michigan was as romantic as Hemingway's Paris. My novel, ‘Ursula, Under,’ was a conscious and explicit love letter to the state of Michigan, especially the Upper Peninsula, and an homage to Michigan's earlier settlers.”

This year’s selection committee included representatives from the Library of Michigan, the Michigan Library Association, Michigan History magazine, Michigan State University, the Grand Rapids Press, the Detroit News, Schuler Books & Music, Waystation Books, Archives/Curious Book Shop and Michigan Center for the Book.

Michigan Notable Books is a statewide program with roots stretching back to Michigan Week 1991, geared to pay tribute and draw attention to the many people, places and things that make Michigan so special. In that regard, Michigan Notable Books successfully highlight Michigan books and writers focusing on the Great Lakes State. Each title on the 2005 list, whether non-fiction or fiction, tells the reader something special about what it means to make your home in Michigan and proves without a doubt that some of the greatest stories are found in the Great Lakes region.

In tribute to this year’s authors, the Library of Michigan and the Library of Michigan Foundation will host the second annual “Night for Notables” and Michigan Author Day on Saturday, April 30. Michigan Author Day will provide a series of author readings and discussions by selected Michigan Notable Books authors all afternoon – free to the public – at the Library of Michigan. The “Night for Notables” reception will be held that evening at the Library of Michigan to recognize and honor all of the 2005 Michigan Notable Books authors.

Information about this and other Michigan Notable Books events happening before and during Michigan Week (May 21-27, 2005) will be updated at the Michigan Week web page as details are finalized. Questions about Michigan Author Day and Night for Notables can be directed to (517) 373-1300 or librarian@michigan.gov.

The Library of Michigan is part of the Department of History, Arts and Libraries (HAL). Dedicated to enriching the quality of life for Michigan residents by providing access to information, preserving and promoting Michigan’s heritage and fostering cultural creativity, the department also includes the Michigan Historical Center, the Mackinac Island State Park Commission, the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs and the Michigan Film Office. For more information, visit HAL's Web Page.

Click here to see the 2005 Michigan Notable Books list.

Source: Michigan Newswire, Feb. 4, 2005.

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(14) Cougers on the Prowl In Michigan?

State wildlife officials today (Feb. 3) announced that results of DNA testing on hair samples submitted to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources last November came from a cougar.

A motorist reported hitting "a large cat" on November 2, 2004, and turned over hair samples collected from the bumper to biologists at the DNR Escanaba field office. The samples were forwarded to the Wildlife Division’s pathology lab and then sent to Central Michigan University for analysis. The incident occurred in southern Menominee County.

"This is exactly the kind of information we are looking for to gain a better understanding of what animals are present in Michigan and identify potential areas for additional work," said DNR Natural Heritage Unit Supervisor Ray Rustem. "Though the information indicates the presence of a cougar it still does not confirm the presence of a breeding population in Michigan."

The DNR encourages hunters and outdoor recreationists to report any sightings of lynx, cougars, moose and wolves using the online wildlife observation report system on the DNR Web site.

Fortunately the DNR does not provide a link for reporting mangy wolverines, although one was spotted in the Thumb not long ago, and word has it there are a number in Ann Arbor!

Source: Michigan Newswire, February 3, 2005

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