NEWS FROM AROUND THE STATE
Issue 109, May 2005

Table of Contents


  1. Michigan Mitten, a Publication for Children
  2. State Senate Proposes Regulation of Online Dating
  3. State Demographer Says Michigan's Population May Grow More than Census Bureau Predict
  4. Task Force on Jail and Prison Overcrowding Presents Report
  5. Status of Telecommunications Competition in Michigan
  6. Attorney General Investigation Uncovers Hundreds of Criminals
    Working in Adult Residential Care Facilities
  7. New State Transportation Map Now Available
  8. Granholm Issues Executive Directive Placing Moratorium on Bottled Water Permits
  9. Farm Market and U-Pick Directory Available Online
  10. Michigan.gov Debuts Personalization and RSS
  11. Michigan Debuts Prescription Drug Pricing Website
  12. 2005 Buyers Guide to Auto Insurance
  13. Office of Community and Faith-Based Initiatives Web Site Launched
  14. Report Shows Sharp Decline in Toxic Chemical Releases in Michigan
  15. Michigan Department of Information Technology Releases Cybersecurity Website
  16. MDOT, MSU Promote Environmental Research With New Book for Archaeologists
  17. Investigation Reveals Children Have Wide Access to Violent Video Games
  18. "EnviroFlash" Expands to More Michigan Cities
  19. Sex Offender Photos Available Online
  20. 2005 Truck Operators' Map Online


(1) Michigan Mitten, a Publication for Children

In celebration of the 200th anniversary of Michigan becoming a territory, Michigan History (a part of Michigan's Department of History, Arts and Libraries) has produced a special issue of The Mitten, a publication for children.

Michigan History will provide each public library in the state with copies of the Mitten as a free giveaway for patrons, a poster, a sample copy of Michigan History magazine, and a sample copy of Michigan History for Kids. These materials will be distributed through the library cooperatives. I anticipate you will be receiving your free goodies in about 3-5 weeks.

I hope you will help celebrate this milestone by making the Mitten available to your patrons this summer.

Selected Michigan Mitten Topics.

Source: Julia Meredith, Youth Services Specialist, Library of Michigan, 702 West Kalamazoo, P.O. Box 30007, Lansing, MI 48909-7057; Telephone: 517-373-4457; E-mail: meredithj@michigan.gov.

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(2) State Senate Proposes Regulation of Online Dating

Now that you're older, your dates may have escaped the overbearing judgments of your parents, but the Michigan Legislature is ready to step in and take their places.

Associated Press writer David Eggert recently reported a bill, currently under consideration in the Michigan Senate, would require Internet dating companies to identify those clients whose backgrounds it has snooped into. Similar measures are in the works in California, Ohio, Virginia, Florida, and Texas.

Lawmakers say the measure just makes good sense, especially since research done last year showed that 28 million peopole visited online dating Web sites. Meanwhile, online dating companies and many users say it's an invasion of privacy.

The possibility that deadbeats could provide companies with false personal information is also a concern -- just like the old days when you lied to your parents about where you were going and who you'd be with. Only in this case, it's the people you could be going out with telling the lies.

Source: Lansing State Journal, Source, April 22, 2005, page 1.

Oh by the way, the online dating bill is Senate Bill 286 if you want to check it out on the Michigan Legislature web site.

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(3) State Demographer Says Michigan's Population May Grow More than Census Bureau Predict

There are many factors to consider when interpreting the new population projections released by the U.S. Census Bureau, according to Michigan’s state demographer, Kenneth Darga. The new projections suggest that Michigan’s population will increase by only 7.6 percent between 2000 and 2030, but Darga said there are many scenarios that could lead to greater growth.

Darga pointed out that population projections are based on assumptions about future births, deaths, international migration and domestic migration. “The most critical assumption in the new projections is that Michigan’s net out-migration to other states will increase to the average level experienced between 1975 and 2000,” Darga said. This assumption understates Michigan’s likely level of population growth, according to Darga, because Michigan’s current level of net out-migration is considerably lower than the levels experienced in the 1970s and 1980s.

“Migration out of Michigan was especially high during those decades,” Darga said, “because several negative factors were operating at the same time. These factors included a much larger gap in unemployment rates between Michigan and other states than we are experiencing today; out-migration of young Baby Boomers; return-migration among the large number of people who had moved to Michigan in previous decades; and rapid population declines in the city of Detroit.”

While Michigan is projected to grow by 7.6 percent between 2000 and 2030, the U.S. as a whole is projected to grow by 29 percent. Ten other states are projected to grow more slowly than Michigan, including Iowa (1 percent) and Ohio (1.7 percent). Michigan’s rank among the states is projected to drop from 8th largest in 2000 to 9th in 2019 (behind Georgia), 10th in 2020 (behind North Carolina) and 11th in 2030 (behind Arizona).

According to the projections, the nation’s fastest-growing states, in percentage terms, would be Nevada, Arizona, Florida, Texas, Utah and Idaho. Three states — Florida, California and Texas — would comprise nearly one-half (46 percent) of total U.S. population growth between 2000 and 2030. Florida, currently the fourth most populous state, would consequently edge past New York into third place by 2011.

According to the new projections, the Great Lakes State will experience a decrease in the percentage of its population under age 18 between 2000 and 2030 (from 26.1 percent to 22.8 percent of the total), and an increase in the percentage age 65 and older (from 12.3 percent to 19.5 percent of the total). By 2030, Michigan is expected to rank 32nd in the percentage of total population 65 and over. Ten states are expected to have more people 65 and over than under 18, including Florida, Delaware, Maine, Montana, New Mexico, North Dakota, Pennsylvania and Vermont. Other Midwestern states such as Iowa, Minnesota and Ohio are projected to experience similar losses in the percentage of those under 18.

According to Darga, the population projections released today do not take account of several factors that may contribute to a higher rate of population growth for Michigan:

The Library of Michigan serves as Michigan's representative in the Federal State Cooperative for Population Estimates and Federal-State Cooperative for Population Projections. For more information about Michigan census data, visit http://www.michigan.gov/census.

Source: Michigan Newswire, April 21, 2005.

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(4) Task Force on Jail and Prison Overcrowding Presents Report

Governor Jennifer M. Granholm was recently presented with the final report from the Michigan Task Force on Jail and Prison Overcrowding.

“Members of the task force have worked diligently reviewing the capacity concerns of the state’s prisons and jails and have developed strategies for a more effective and efficient utilization of jail and prison resources without compromising public safety,” Granholm said. “I appreciate their efforts and am anxious to review the task force’s solutions to Michigan’s incarceration issues.”

The task force included criminal justice professionals representing local, county and state interests. This included representatives from the Michigan Sheriffs’ Association, the Prosecuting Attorneys Association of Michigan, the Michigan Association of Counties, the Michigan Department of Corrections, the Michigan Judges Association, the Michigan District Judges Association, the State Court Administrative Office, Law Enforcement and the Defense Bar.

Michigan Department of Corrections Director Patricia L. Caruso said her department is prepared to consider many of the recommendations.

“The task force has identified strategies to stabilize and ultimately reduce the growing prison and jail populations,” said Caruso. “The report outlines the need for collaboration among the communities, state departments and local sheriffs’ departments.”

Michigan Sheriffs’ Association Executive Director Terrence L. Jungel also commented on the unique and exceptional collaboration on this issue.

“To my knowledge this is the first time that all the key stakeholders have been together to discuss this problem of mutual interest,” said Jungel. “This is not the end of the journey but rather the beginning.”

Prosecuting Attorneys Association of Michigan President Stuart J. Dunnings III praised the creation of the Task Force and the recommendations contained in the group’s final report.

“Jail and prison overcrowding and the utilization of the limited resources available for incarceration has and will, for the foreseeable future, be one of the major dilemmas confronting those entrusted with the public safety. Governor Granholm brought together disparate groups involved in the criminal justice system. These groups had never before convened to hear the perspectives and concerns of the other major participants facing the problem of prison and jail overcrowding,” said Dunnings. “I believe that we have tried to fashion remedies which may be implemented without the need for new monies.”

The Judiciary also commended the Task Force and the recommendations contained in the final report.

“The Task Force Report appears to be a comprehensive and practical outline of the options available to all of us to address our jail and prison overcrowding problem,” said Michigan Supreme Court Chief Justice Clifford W. Taylor. “Jail and prison overcrowding compromise the integrity of our criminal justice system in many ways. The Supreme Court is committed to collaborating in any way possible to alleviate the overcrowding problem while continuing to protect the safety of our citizens. We will review those Task Force recommendations that address court practices and procedures and will actively participate in the state’s efforts to reduce overcrowding.”

Michigan Judges Association President Thomas Eveland said, “I believe that most members of the Michigan judiciary are committed to utilizing treatment and community corrections programs, where appropriate, in lieu of jail and prison commitments, so that these facilities can be available for those offenders who pose the greatest risk to our communities.”

Some of the substantive recommendations from the task force include:

A final copy of the report is available at http://www.michigan.gov/documents/report_119595_7.pdf.

Source: Michigan Newswire, April 21, 2005.

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(5) Status of Telecommunications Competition in Michigan

The Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) has released its fifth annual report on the status of telecommunications competition in Michigan. The report, required by the Michigan Telecommunications Act of 2000, primarily examines the state of competition in the toll and local exchange service markets in Michigan.

“Michigan continues to be a leader in the nation in offering telecommunications choices to customers,” said MPSC Chairman J. Peter Lark. “As telephone competition has grown, customers have benefited greatly.”

“This year’s report, however, does show that the increase in competition is the smallest since the Commission has issued its annual report. My fellow commissioners and I will carefully watch what happens to Michigan’s competitive local exchange market in 2005 and beyond. The full effect of the Federal Communications Commission’s order that no longer requires local providers to offer competitors the use of a platform of their facilities at regulated rates after March 11, 2006 is not yet known. The MPSC will continue to work to preserve competition in Michigan during this transitional time and thereafter.”

Highlights of the report include:

While the MPSC does not regulate wireless providers, information gathered by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) indicates that the number of wireless subscribers in Michigan increased 11 percent from 2003 through June 2004 to 5,430,637. The FCC’s report notes that Michigan has 13 wireless carriers with over 10,000 subscribers each.

The entire report is available on the MPSC Web site at: http://michigan.gov/documents/telecomreportlegis05_126538_7.pdf.

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

Source: Michigan Newswire, May 31, 2005

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(6) Attorney General Investigation Uncovers Hundreds of Criminals
Working in Adult Residential Care Facilities

Attorney General Mike Cox announced today (June 1) the results of two studies conducted by his office that reveal almost 10% of the employees caring for Michigan’s vulnerable adults have criminal backgrounds that include homicide, criminal sexual conduct, weapon charges, and drug offenses. The findings come three years after Michigan’s first law requiring criminal background checks of prospective residential care facility employees went into effect.

AARP of Michigan’s Associate State Director of Government Affairs Bill Knox joined Cox in unveiling a new initiative to address the problems raised in the Attorney General’s report.

"Many of us have had to face the difficult decision of whether or not to place a loved one in a nursing home," said Cox. "In three years, as the first group of 78 million baby boomers begins to retire, the safety of Michigan’s nursing homes should be on all of our minds. When we place our loved ones in these facilities, we expect that our family members will receive the highest standard of care. A system that fails to meet those expectations by allowing hundreds of criminals daily contact with residents must be changed and I am committed to changing it."

"AARP has 1.5 million members in Michigan, many of whom are among the state’s vulnerable adults living in residential facilities," said Knox. "The Attorney General’s report exposes major flaws in Michigan’s current laws and we agree they need to be strengthened to provide our members with the protection they deserve."

Cox commissioned the studies to evaluate the effectiveness of Michigan’s statutes in response to a disturbing series of cases uncovered by his Health Care Fraud Division. The division, which investigates and prosecutes Medicaid provider fraud and residential care facility abuse and neglect, uncovered that 43% of individuals and 25% of employees charged for crimes against residents in the past three years had past criminal convictions.

The results of the two studies completed in 2005 were equally disturbing. The first reviewed the criminal backgrounds of a statewide sample of Michigan’s 40,000 Certified Nurse’s Aides (CNAs), the single-largest group of certified workers providing direct care to residents. Of the more than 5,500 CNAs studied, 9% had a total of 836 outstanding criminal warrants and 3%, or 170, had past criminal convictions.

The second study checked the backgrounds of entire employee populations – from CNAs to administrators – at four nursing homes in different regions across Michigan. A total of 618 employees were checked and 58, or more than 9%, had 101 outstanding warrants; 68, or 11%, of the staff had past criminal convictions.

In both studies, the criminal histories included homicides, armed robberies, criminal sexual conduct, weapons violations, drug charges, and retail fraud.

"The owners, operators, and employees of Michigan’s almost 5,000 residential care facilities are the people we entrust to care for Michigan’s most vulnerable citizens," said Cox. "When one out of ten of these employees have serious criminal histories, it is clear that we need to do more to protect Michigan seniors."

On Friday, Cox notified each of the State’s approximately 5,000 residential care facilities of the report’s findings and submitted a comprehensive proposal to the Legislature that would enhance Michigan’s criminal background statutes. In addition, the Health Care Fraud Division has requested information from facilities regarding employees with criminal histories.

"It is only through our combined efforts that we can reform the system and effectively achieve the level of protection Michigan’s most vulnerable citizens deserve and that we all expect," said Cox.

The Attorney General's Health Care Fraud Division is one of 49 federally certified Medicaid Fraud Control Units. Medicaid fraud investigations and prosecutions include false billings, unlawful delivery of controlled substances, practicing medicine without a license, kickbacks, and bribery schemes. Abuse and neglect investigations and prosecutions include physical assault, criminal sexual conduct, identity theft, theft of residents' property and funds, and harmful neglect in Michigan residential care facilities. The division also initiates civil actions, including asset forfeiture and claims for Medicaid overpayments.

In conducting its activities, the division works closely with other agencies such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Drug Enforcement Administration, Department of Justice, Michigan State Police, state regulatory agencies, local law enforcement agencies, and private health insurance companies.

To report Medicaid provider fraud or identity theft/patient abuse in a resident care facility, call the Attorney General’s 24-hour Hotline at 800 24-ABUSE (800-242-2873);e-mail hcf@michigan.gov; or visit the Attorney General’s Web site at http://www.michigan.gov/ag.

Source: Michigan Newswire, June 1, 2005.

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(7) New State Transportation Map Now Available

The newest edition of the Official Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT Map is now available in locations across the state.

Produced by MDOT and widely distributed, free of charge, through Travel Michigan Welcome Centers and MDOT offices, the 2005 edition includes several updates. For example, Michigan’s newest highway - M-6 in Grand Rapids - is shown in its entirety. Another change is an extended southeast Michigan map that includes all of Ann Arbor, Brighton and Howell. There are fewer city maps - just five - but an additional 14 city maps can be viewed and downloaded for printing on the MDOT Web site. New guidelines require that a city has a population of 100,000 or more in order to be specially featured. Another improvement was enlarging the text for state park information, making it much easier to read. In fact, nearly 200 changes were made to the map since last year.

In 2004, the map size was reduced, shaving just three inches all the way around, and saving taxpayers $378,000 in printing expenses. Two million maps were produced this year, costing 11 cents per copy.

The 2005 map marks the 86th year since MDOT began producing maps as navigational aids. Starting with this year’s map, the department will create a new cover and interior design for each annual edition. In 2005, the theme is MDOT’s centennial anniversary, featuring a timeline of historic events and photos that celebrate 100 years of transportation innovation.

To view an online version of the map, get more details, report a suspected error, or to request a copy, go to the MDOT Web site: http://www.michigan.gov/statemap or http://www.michigan.gov/mdot/0,1607,7-151-9622_11033_11151---,00.html.

MDOT: Celebrating 100 years of transportation innovation, 1905-2005

Source: Michigan Newswire, May 31, 2005.

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(8) Granholm Issues Executive Directive Placing Moratorium on Bottled Water Permits

Governor Jennifer M. Granholm today (May 27) issued an executive directive that places a moratorium on permits and approvals for new or increased bottled water operations in Michigan, until such time as the Legislature passes comprehensive water withdrawal legislation. The moratorium is designed to provide the state the opportunity to fully study the appropriateness and the impact water bottling facilities have on Michigan’s water resources.

“Michigan is blessed to be surrounded by 20 percent of the world’s fresh water supply, and we must not be reckless in protecting it,” Granholm said. “As stewards of the Great Lakes, we must ensure these facilities are not causing long term harm to our most precious natural resource.”

The directive calls on the Legislature to enact comprehensive water withdrawal legislation as outlined in the Governor’s proposed Water Legacy Act and to give definition to what constitutes a diversion of Great Lakes water. The act would give the state the necessary tools to effectively evaluate proposals for the bottling of water and monitor these operations.

“We need a comprehensive framework for managing the withdrawal of our Great Lakes water,” Granholm said. “We need to protect our water and ensure that it can be used responsibly.”

The moratorium applies only to new permit applications and does not affect existing bottled water operations or facilities with permits pending before the state. It does not apply if the bottled water operator is willing to certify that they will distribute only within the Great Lakes Basin.

The debate on this issue escalated in recent months when the City of Evart entered into an agreement with Nestle Waters North America for the sale of water from the city’s municipal water system to Nestle for bottling. The Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) today issued a permit to Nestle that contains special conditions requiring them to certify – every three months – that spring water from the Evart plant is distributed only within the Great Lakes Basin.

“The permit issued to Nestle allows the company to use our state’s resources, but ensures that they will be used responsibly,” said DEQ Director Steven E. Chester. “The Legislature now must take action to provide us with the needed path forward on this important public policy issue.”

Source: Michigan Newswire, May 27, 2005.

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(9) Farm Market and U-Pick Directory Available Online

As Michigan’s earliest crop of asparagus makes its annual debut, and signs of spring appear in the form of fragrant fruit tree blossoms and newly plowed fields, the state’s consumers look forward to selecting Michigan produce at the wide variety of farm markets and u-pick operations throughout the state.

To assist consumers in finding quality agricultural products, the Michigan Department of Agriculture (MDA) has made the 2004-2005 Farm Market, U-Pick & Ag Tourism Directory available online at http://www.michigan.gov/mda-upick, and at more than 120 locations throughout the state.

Hundreds of farm markets, farmers’ markets, u-pick operations and other agricultural tourism businesses such as cider mills, pumpkin patches and wineries are included in this popular index. Listings include business names, phone numbers, addresses, directions, operational hours, and the products and services available. Online visitors can search the listings by region of the state, county, city, farm name or crop type or can download a printable version of the directory to take on the road.

Published since 1979 and available online since 1999, the directory is MDA's most popular publication. "This directory is a valuable tool that helps make potential visitors aware of the many diverse and unique opportunities that exist across Michigan's country sides and cities to select fresh, safe and high-quality Michigan agricultural products," said MDA Director Dan Wyant.

With an increased demand for the printed directories, and a reduced budget for distribution, MDA is no longer able to accept individual requests for the free publication. Welcome centers, local visitor bureaus and Chambers of Commerce, Michigan State University county Extension offices, and many farm markets have quantities available for the public. The complete list of locations is available online at www.michigan.gov/mda-upick or by calling (517) 241-1207. Individual requests for the directory will not be accepted.

Source: Michigan Newswire, May 20, 2005.

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(10) Michigan.gov Debuts Personalization and RSS

Visitors to the Michigan.gov state portal will now be able to personalize the site with links to information they use most often and the information will automatically appear on follow-up visits to Michigan.gov.

The feature was introduced today by the Office of e-Michigan Web Development Team in the Department of Information Technology.

“We are excited about the enhanced personalization feature,” said Michael Shanahan, Director of e-Michigan. “Registration is easy for first time users and with the “remember me feature” once the visitor initially logs in, there is no need to do so again.”

Another enhancement for visitors is the Real Simple Syndication (RSS), which allows users to add selected Michigan.gov content to their sites or personal pages that they maintain on other service provider Web sites.

The RSS syndicated components on Michigan.gov sites will feature a small XML icon. Users will need to follow the instructions on the destination sites to implement this content. The feed is live and updated regularly.

Watch for these icons to appear on the portal as well as on State agency web sites within the www.michigan.gov portal.

In other news, a new area has been added to the Michigan.gov for parents and caretakers. The MI Parent Resources area is designed to be a resource center for Michigan parents and especially state employees who are parents. A great deal of information can be found, including themes for Health and Wellness, Caring for Your Child, Fitness and Nutrition, and more. For more information visit, http://www.michigan.gov/miparentresources.

Source: Michigan Newswire, May 18, 2005.

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(11) Michigan Debuts Prescription Drug Pricing Website

Governor Jennifer M. Granholm and Janet Olszewski, director of the Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH), announced that, for the first time, consumers will have online access to state pricing information for commonly prescribed prescription drugs, making decision-making and shopping easier for millions of Michigan citizens.

“This new website will provide Michigan citizens with much-needed information about prescription drug costs,” Granholm said. “From Lipitor to Nexium to Zoloft, consumers will now have direct access to the average price for the most common drugs, making prescription drug shopping easier and ultimately more affordable.”

Through the web page, found at http://www.michigan.gov/mdch, the Michigan Department of Community Health will provide consumers with the average prices for the top 25 most commonly used prescription drugs in Michigan as reported to the state by First Health Services Corporation. The prices featured on the site represent the usual and customary costs for a one-month supply of the drugs and are comparable to what a cash-paying customer without insurance would pay.

The website also contains links to three commonly used discount programs for prescription drugs: the Michigan Prescription Drug Discount Card (MiRx), the national Together Rx Access Card, and the Michigan Partnership for Prescription Assistance program.

“This information is presented to Michigan consumers in a very useful format, while at the same time presenting the information to consumers in a responsible – and ultimately safe – way,” said Janet Olszewski, MDCH director. “We want the citizens of Michigan to have access to this information so they can make informed decisions about the much-needed prescription drugs they require.”

Olszewski said prescription drug prices usually vary daily, so the price that you find at your pharmacy may not be the same price that appears on the web page.

It is always good practice for consumers to buy all their medications from the same pharmacy so that a pharmacist can keep track of the medications they are taking in order to avoid potentially harmful interactions, she said. If you do decide to shop at more than one pharmacy, be sure you tell the pharmacists all of the drugs you are taking.

Michigan continues to be a leader in providing assistance with the cost of prescription drugs. Since the MiRx card debuted in September 2004, more than 25,000 uninsured Michigan citizens have taken advantage of the program.

Source: Michigan Newswire, May 17, 2005.

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(12) 2005 Buyers Guide to Auto Insurance

Office of Financial and Insurance Services (OFIS) Commissioner Linda A. Watters today issued the 2005 Buyers' Guide to Auto Insurance. The guide contains information and tips about purchasing auto insurance. The guide also contains the results of a survey designed to provide consumers with information about rates charged by auto insurers in various areas throughout the state. It is an important part of the overall effort of the Granholm Administration to help protect and aide consumers.

"The auto buyers guide is a convenient tool for consumers to use when shopping for their best deal on auto insurance," Watters said. "Included is a list of possible discounts for consumers to ask insurance agents about, and worksheets for use when comparison shopping."

OFIS constantly stresses that consumers shop around to receive the best price for auto insurance. Consumers who renew insurance, or purchase insurance for the first time, should not assume that the first quote they receive is the best price they can get. Shopping around to many different insurance companies will allow them to choose the best available premium rate.

"Insurance rates can vary from company to company, so it's important to shop around," Watters said. "The 2005 Buyers' Guide to Auto Insurance is a valuable tool for doing that effectively."

Another important resource for consumers is the interactive version of the buyers' guide, which also can be found on the OFIS website. It allows users to choose a profile that most closely fits their situation and location to get a general idea of rates for auto insurance. The user can review sample rates for a select list of companies or review rates for all auto insurance companies in Michigan.

More information on automobile insurance also is available on the home page of the OFIS website by clicking on the "Don't Buy Auto Insurance Until You Read This" icon. This link will connect a user to many topic areas that pertain to purchasing auto insurance.

The 2005 Buyers' Guide to Auto Insurance can be reviewed and downloaded on the Internet at http://www.michigan.gov/ofis under Publications / Guides / Automobile Insurance. Hard copies of the guide also are available by contacting OFIS toll free at (877) 999-6442.

Source: Michigan Newswire, May 16, 2005.

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(13) Office of Community and Faith-Based Initiatives Web Site Launched

Governor Jennifer M. Granholm today announced community and faith-based groups across the state now have a one-stop shop for information on grants and programs they can use to maximize their role in protecting Michigan’s most vulnerable citizens. The Web site, http://www.michigan.gov/outreach, was recently launched by the Governor’s Office of Community and Faith-Based Initiatives (OCFBI).

The Web portal will provide 24-hour access to information regarding federal grants, state initiatives, and other partnership opportunities for faith-based organizations and community non-profits. Groups can also sign up for the OCFBI listserv at the Web site, which will provide them with immediate updates when new opportunities become available.

The Office of Community and Faith-Based Initiatives focuses on supporting the critical community support services that faith-based and community organizations provide. The Governor’s office has been engaged in community and faith-based outreach since 2003. Creation of this new office under Executive Order 2005-6 formalizes the effort.

Functions of the OCFBI include advising the Governor on policies, priorities, and objectives for state government activities that will assist community and faith-based organizations address the social needs in Michigan; working closely with community and faith-based organizations to promote service activities and identify and apply for grants; and promoting and sharing innovative community and faith-based programs.

Source: Michigan Newswire, May 13, 2005.

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(14) Report Shows Sharp Decline in Toxic Chemical Releases in Michigan

Department of Environmental Quality Director Steven E. Chester today announced that information on toxic chemicals, either released or managed as waste by Michigan facilities in 2003, is now available. The Toxic Chemical Release Inventory (TRI) data is reported annually to the state under the federal Emergency Planning and the Community Right-to-Know Act of 1986.

Total releases and disposal of TRI chemicals in Michigan showed a sharp decline in 2003. The data shows the total discharges in the state to be 101 million pounds for the year, a decrease of over 32 million pounds from 2002, or 24 percent. The data includes air releases, discharges to surface waters, disposal to land and to underground injection wells at the facility, and transfers off site for disposal.

“Michigan’s business community continues to reduce the amount of hazardous materials managed and released to the environment,” said Director Chester. “The Toxic Chemical Release Inventory remains a valuable tool for those citizens who want to know about toxic and hazardous chemicals used, stored, and released in their own community.”

Certain facilities must submit reports annually on specific toxic chemicals and must report the quantities released and managed as waste. The data is compiled and made available to the public who can obtain information specific to facilities in their community. In Michigan, over 900 facilities submitted reports for 2003, the most recent reporting year.

Details about Michigan’s TRI data are available on the Internet at http://www.michigan.gov/deqsara. Trends and summary reports are listed, and TRI data for 1996 through 2002 can be searched. The Environmental Protection Agency, Toxics Release Inventory Program Internet address is http://www.epa.gov/tri. This site has laws and regulations, guidance documents, and other information about the Toxics Release Inventory as well as TRI data.

Editor’s note: DEQ news releases are available on the department’s Internet home page at http://www.michigan.gov/deq.

Source: Michigan Newswire, revised May 12, 2005 by Pat Watson.

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(15) Michigan Department of Information Technology Releases Cybersecurity Website

The Michigan Department of Information Technology (MDIT) today announces the release of a new website promoting cyber security in Michigan government, businesses and private households. Available at http://www.michigan.gov/cybersecurity, the site provides critical information regarding IT security for work, home, government and business. This website was developed with federal Homeland Security grant funds in support of Michigan’s security strategies and goals.

In addition to educating Michigan citizens on best practices for IT security, this new website seeks to bolster security for Michigan’s businesses. Because a presence on the web is so vital for any business in today’s technologically-driven economy, websites and electronic transactions must be secure. MDIT’s new cyber security portal educates leaders on business continuity, personnel privacy and the physical security of IT assets. By creating secure technological environments, businesses can develop strong, healthy infrastructures and in turn bring new jobs and economic development to Michigan.

MDIT Director of Enterprise Security Dan Lohrmann, hopes the site will help to improve Michigan’s IT Security Arena. He says, “This new website touches on a broad spectrum of IT security issues. From consumer privacy to corporate best practices and secure web transactions, we are hoping to raise awareness for Michigan’s citizens and businesses regarding IT security risks.”

In addition to IT security for businesses, the website contains information for individuals, students and kids, local units of government and state employees. Paramount to state employees is the Michigan Online Security Training (MOST) portion of the site. MOST is targeted at providing state employees with a clear understanding of computer and Internet security risks and ways to prevent and protect from such risks. By developing a better informed workforce, the state hopes to continue to improve service to Michigan’s citizens and businesses.

“The Michigan Department of Information Technology is happy to release such a useful and informative website,” remarked Teri Takai, Director of the Department of Information Technology. “By educating the people of Michigan and state employees about the importance of cyber security, we hope to foster the continued growth of Michigan’s technology sector.”

Source: Michigan Newswire, May 10, 2005.

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(16) MDOT, MSU Promote Environmental Research With New Book for Archaeologists

What is a Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) logo doing on the cover of a new scholarly book about the archaeological and geological history of the Great Lakes? Margaret Barondess, manager of MDOT's environmental section, said the 278-page book is tangible evidence of a side of MDOT that is not often seen by the public.

"Environmental research is very important to what we do here at MDOT, yet it represents a side of MDOT that very few people are aware of," said Barondess. "MDOT has long been committed to environmental stewardship and applying context sensitive solutions to transportation projects."

"Our team of experts reviews projects to determine the potential for transportation projects to disrupt the natural and cultural environments. The goal is to minimize any possible impacts while meeting design standards and keeping projects on schedule," she said, adding that MDOT is responsible for a transportation system that includes 9,700 miles of state highways and more than 4,000 bridges.

Titled Modeling Archaeological Site Burial in Southern Michigan: A Geoarchaeological Synthesis, the book is published by the Michigan State University Press which is calling it "one of the most important pieces of research to be produced on Michigan archaeology."

Published as the first volume of an Environmental Research Series, the series is edited by MDOT staff Archaeologist David Ruggles. It was written by G. William Monaghan, an associate research scientist at Glenn Black Laboratory of Archaeology at Indiana University who consults on cultural resource management projects throughout the Midwest, East and Mid-Atlantic regions; and William A. Lovis, professor of anthropology at Michigan State University, and associate director for natural and social science research, and curator of anthropology at the MSU Museum.

The research in the book is intended to help MDOT, the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) and the Office of the State Archaeologist of Michigan establish guidelines, methods and minimum reporting standards for deep testing of archaeological resources in Michigan.

Uncovering Michigan's Archaeological Past

A compilation of all known information about deeply buried archaeological sites in southern lower Michigan, the book provides a model for predicting the potential impact that a road or bridge project may have on natural and cultural resources.

"In this context, an impact is either the alteration or destruction of significant cultural resources such as an archaeological site," explains Lovis. "The ability to find such significant resources in advanced stages of project planning will allow planners to avoid them or to take measures in order to preserve the information they contain."

Using a Geographic Information System (GIS) location format, the authors developed an objective tool for researchers to use in deciding when, where and under what circumstances to undertake archaeological research when planning transportation projects.

"The model allows researchers to predict the potential locations, elevations and ages of preserved sediments in southern lower Michigan that might have been previously occupied and therefore have archaeological sites in association," Lovis added. "This is a significant planning tool for resource managers who evaluate public and private undertakings that might alter or destroy buried cultural resources."

"Using this predictive model, there no longer is a need to test everything," said Ruggles, "This saves time and money and helps researchers to get to deeply buried resources as quickly as possible."

Ruggles added that the predictive model has implications for other geographic areas across northeastern North America. Copies of the book are being mailed to departments of transportation in other states.

"We're proud of this work," said Ruggles. "The book represents more than two decades of research and is the single most comprehensive source of such data available for any region of the Great Lakes."

MDOT: Celebrating 100 years of transportation innovation, 1905-2005

Source: Michigan Newswire, May 5, 2005.

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(17) Investigation Reveals Children Have Wide Access to Violent Video Games
Governor, Law Enforcement Renew Call for Legislation

Governor Jennifer M. Granholm today (May 4) unveiled the results of an undercover investigation that reveals children as young as age nine were able to purchase adult-rated video games containing violent and sexually-explicit in nearly five out of 10 attempts. The investigations were conducted in Cass, Genesee, Ingham, Lenawee, Monroe, and Wayne counties in April.

“We have clear evidence that adult-rated games are falling into the hands of children,” said Granholm. “These investigations show that children have access to inappropriate material, and relying on a voluntary system to restrict sales to minors is not enough if we want to protect our children.”

The independent investigations conducted at the request of the Granholm Administration found that children, ranging from age 9 to 16, were able to purchase adult-rated video games (rated M for Mature or NC-17) at 26 of 58 stores in the six participating counties. Among those games purchased included Grand Theft Auto, Manhunt, Doom 3, Mortal Combat, and Resident Evil.

“We should all be disturbed by the availability of these games,” Granholm said. “It wasn’t just a problem in one store or one county, and it wasn’t just a problem in large cities or rural communities. Children across the state have access to games that depict graphic violence and sexual exploitation. We must act now.”

Granholm is urging lawmakers to pass pending legislation that would make the sale or rental of mature or adult-rated video games to minors a misdemeanor under Michigan law. In the 2005 State of the State Address, the Governor singled out State Senator Hansen Clarke of Detroit for introducing legislation to make the sale of adult-rated video games to minors a crime.

Granholm has been a long-time advocate on child protection issues. As governor, Granholm has repeatedly called on the Legislature to act on legislation prohibiting minors from being able to purchase or rent adult-rated video games and just this week called on lawmakers to pass tough laws to protect children from convicted sex offenders.

As attorney general, the Governor formed the High-Tech Crime Unit in conjunction with the Michigan State Police to crack down on Internet child pornographers and child predators. Attorney General Granholm took on retailers who made alcohol and cigarettes available to children and shut down websites that sold the ingredients to make GHB, the “date rape” drug.

Granholm applauded law enforcement who conducted the undercover operations, including Genesee County Sheriff Robert Pickell, Genesee County Prosecutor David Leyton, and Wayne County Sheriff Warren Evans who attended today’s press conference in Flint. Others participating in the investigation were Cass County Sheriff Joseph M. Underwood, Ingham County Sheriff Gene Wrigglesworth, Ingham County Prosecutor Stuart Dunnings, Jr., Lenawee County Sheriff Lawrence Richardson, Jr., and Monroe County Sheriff Tilman L. Crutchfield.

Source: Michigan Newswire, May 4, 2005.

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(18) "EnviroFlash" Expands to More Michigan Cities
(Air Quality Forecasts and Advisories Provided to Subscribers)

The Department of Environmental Quality is pleased to announce the expansion of the EnviroFlash program, a service that provides air quality index (AQI) information via computer e mail or mobile text messaging. This information will allow individuals across Michigan to adjust daily activities when poor air conditions are expected.

The service is now available to those living or working in and around Detroit, Ann Arbor, Flint, Saginaw, Lansing, Kalamazoo, Grand Rapids-Muskegon-Holland, and Traverse City. Detroit was one of five U.S. pilot cities where EnviroFlash was first made available.

“Michigan is proud to be a front runner in offering this new service,” said DEQ Director Steven E. Chester. “EnviroFlash will help people make informed decisions when planning daily activities in order to stay healthy.”

Residents can enroll on-line and select the health level at which they want to receive notices. Air quality is predicted for fine particle and ground-level ozone pollution. “Action! Days” (air advisories) are included as well.

“By participating in EnviroFlash and providing air quality information to your residents, Detroit and other Michigan cities are setting an example we hope others will follow,” said Steve Page, Director of the Office of Air Quality Planning & Standards at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. “Enviroflash helps people take steps to protect their health – and it’s available free to any city that wants to sign up.”

Officials from The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced the Michigan roll out of the EnviroFlash program, which is now nationally available in 100 cities across the nation, at a “World Asthma Day” event organized by the city of Detroit Office of Health and Wellness. Asthmatics fall into the “sensitive” population group and often have a particular need to know when poor air quality is predicted.

“Thousands of Michigan citizens – especially those in sensitive populations – will benefit greatly from this groundbreaking service,” said Janet Olszewski, Director of the Michigan Department of Community Health. “EnviroFlash’s innovative use of technology provides timely, up-to-date information for people with health conditions that are affected by air quality.”

While not everyone has access to a computer or text message phone, the DEQ is working to partner with schools, businesses, local governments, community centers, medical providers, newspapers, TV, radio stations, faith-based organizations, and others to sign up for EnviroFlash and help deliver AQI information to people they serve.

For details and to sign-up to receive EnviroFlash notices go to the DEQ “Air” webpage at: http://www.michigan.gov/deqair.

Source: Michigan Newswire, revised May 3, 2005 by Pat Watson.

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(19) Sex Offender Photos Available Online

Starting May 1, the Michigan State Police (MSP) will begin posting offender photographs on the Michigan Public Sex Offender Registry (PSOR), as required by Public Act 238 of 2004. The PSOR is available online at http://www.mipsor.state.mi.us/.

PA 238 of 2004 requires the PSOR to include the photograph of each person registered under the Michigan Sex Offenders Registration (SOR) Act. To fulfill this requirement, MSP can obtain photographs from the Secretary of State (SOS). By statute, all registered offenders must maintain a Michigan driver’ s license or personal identification card and a digital image with SOS, which must be presented to law enforcement when an offender verifies or changes an address.

It is likely that a small percentage of records may not include a photograph on May 1. The MSP SOR Unit is working to add photographs to the remaining records as quickly as possible.

As of April 2005, there were 36,748 offenders on the SOR and 19,088 offenders on the PSOR. For more information about the SOR, visit http://www.michigan.gov/msp.

Source: Michigan Newswire, April 27, 2005.

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(20) 2005 Truck Operators' Map Online

For the first time ever, the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) has made the official state commercial trucking map available online. The MDOT 2005 Truck Operators' Map is a free publication MDOT produces annually for truckers to use in accordance with state highway laws governing vehicle size, weight and load.

State Transportation Director Gloria J. Jeff said, "The 2005 truck operators' map represents MDOT's high level of service to a vital sector of Michigan's economy and helps MDOT to preserve and improve Michigan's transportation system."

The map shows commercial truck drivers where and when they can and cannot operate their vehicles in Michigan and lists structures with overhead clearances of less than 14 feet, allowing truckers to better plan their route based on load height.

"The efficient movement of truck freight is vital to Michigan's economic health and a fundamental element of future growth," said Jeff. "Just-in-time delivery is critical to keeping Michigan competitive in today's global economy. Over the past decade, MDOT has made significant improvements and upgrades to state trunkline highways to support the commercial motor carrier industry."

Statistics show that commercial truck traffic on state trunklines in Michigan has increased during the past 10 years, growing from an estimated total of 3.64 billion commercial vehicle miles traveled in 1993 to an estimated total of 4.94 billion commercial vehicle miles in 2002. Michigan's international highway crossings are ranked first and fifth nationally for having the most commercial truck traffic.

The Federal Highway Administration projects that highway freight shipments to and from Michigan will increase from 463 million tons in 1998 to 672 million tons in 2010, and 836 million tons in 2020, with corresponding values of $595 billion in 1998 to 1,099 billion in 2010, and $1,737 billion in 2020.

Of the approximate 9,700 state trunkline miles, 90 percent now are classified as designated routes able to accommodate commercial vehicles with single trailers up to 53' long or 2 "twin" trailers each 28.5' long. In 1993, only 73 percent of state trunkline miles were classified as designated routes. In addition to explaining state highway laws governing vehicle size, weight and load, the MDOT Truck Operators' Map also identifies seasonal roads and minimum access to adjacent roads.

The MDOT Truck Operators' Map is available at MDOT's Transportation Service Centers, region offices, and Michigan Welcome Centers; it also is posted at state rest areas. The updated electronic version is available on MDOT's Web site at http://www.michigan.gov/mdotmaps.

To request printed copies of the MDOT Truck Operators' Map, contact the MDOT Office of Communications at 517-373-2160.

Source: Michigan Newswire, April 27, 2005.

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