Southwest Michigan Today: Friday April 13, 2018

Apr 13, 2018

Indiana Michigan Power customers will begin paying more for service later this month. A lawsuit is filed over collecting blood samples from newborns. Battle Creek was among the top cities in the state for drug overdose deaths between 2013 and 2015 according to new numbers from the state. 

Two new lawsuits against the state of Michigan argue against the practice of taking blood samples from newborns and using those samples for research. A Saginaw County Attorney filed in state and federal court in February over the practice. Phillip Ellison says the state did not have consent for the testing or storage of blood samples. He says doctors give parents a consent form after the blood sample has already been taken. The blood samples are required by state law to screen for serious disorders that may require early treatment. Officials with the state health department say at least 250 disorders are found every year because of the testing. Officials also say the blood samples are destroyed upon parents request. Ellison says parents should have a say in whether samples are taken. He says he also has concerns about the state’s practice of selling blood samples to researchers around the country. (WCMU) 

The Michigan Public Service Commission has approved a $49-million electric rate increase for Indiana-Michigan Power. It will take effect April 26th. A news release from the MPSC says the increase will mean an additional $11.77 in the monthly bill for an average I and M customer. The Public Service Commission says the increase is less than the $61.4-million boost that the Fort Wayne-based company requested. Indiana Michigan Power will make short-term infrastructure upgrades. The MPSC says it will work with I and M to develop a long term plan to address aging infrastructure.

Former state Senate Democratic leader Gretchen Whitmer filed petition signatures Thursday to get her name on the primary ballot as a candidate for governor. The primary for governor isn’t until August, but Democrats will hold a convention this weekend to endorse candidates for offices such as Attorney General and Secretary of State. Whitmer is the second Democrat to file signatures to appear on the primary ballot. Doctor Abdul El Sayed was first. But he still faces questions about his eligibility to run.

Battle Creek is in the top 10 cities in the state for drug related overdose deaths from 2013 to 2015. Kalamazoo was in the top 10 in 2013, but not the next two years. The numbers are part of a report looking at 5 years’ worth of statistics from the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs and Appriss Health that provide some data on opioids in the state. Kim Gaedeke is Acting Deputy Director of the regulatory agency. She says between 2013 and 2015 drug-related overdoses statewide increased by 30%. (WDET

State and federal wildlife agencies say the Kirtland's Warbler can safely be removed from the endangered species list. The rare songbird was brought back from near-extinction. The yellow breasted songbird breeds only in young jack pines, trees found mainly in northern Michigan. It was one of the first animals given protection under the Endangered Species Act. There were only about 330 Kirtland's Warblers left in 1987. Now, thanks to a multi-group effort to expand jack pine acreage there's about 4,600. The coalition will remain active even after the bird is delisted. (Michigan Radio