Southwest Michigan Today: Thursday May 10, 2018

May 10, 2018

The state looks to finalize licensing businesses for medical marijuana. The GOP candidates for governor say they don't want recreational pot legal in Michigan. Kalamazoo College names a new athletic director. WMU faces elimination from the MAC softball tournament. 

A state board is stepping up its efforts to finalize business licenses to grow, transport, test, and sell medical marijuana. The Michigan medical marijuana licensing board added three meetings to its schedule between now and the end of the year. Part of the bottleneck has been the slow pace of completing background checks. David Harns with the state medical marijuana agency says some of the applications require delving into thousands of pages of financial information, and deal with companies that plan to employ dozens of people. He says at least some applications will be completed in time to meet the June 15th deadline to approve the first round of licenses.

Marijuana was a topic during last night’s Republican gubernatorial debate in Grand Rapids. All of the GOP candidates for governor say they oppose legalizing marijuana in Michigan. But each said they would respect the will of the voters if the question is approved in November. The Legislature also has the option of adopting the petition initiative before it goes to the ballot. Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley was the only candidate to say he supports Michigan’s medical marijuana law. Attorney General Bill Schuette, State Senator Patrick Colbeck and Doctor Jim Hines were also part of the first debate to include all four Republicans running for governor. The debate was hosted by WOOD TV in Grand Rapids

A new study says term limits in Michigan have not lived up to promises made when voters approved them 25 years ago. Wayne State University conducted the study for the Citizens Research Council. It’s president, Eric Lupher, says Michigan still has plenty of career politicians. But he says they're now more focused on getting elected to new positions. Supporters of the term limits say the study misrepresents the promises they made about them. And they say it’s conclusions are based on faulty data.

A proposal in the State House would protect bees and butterflies in Michigan. Among other things, it would set up a pollinator protection fund for habitat restoration projects. Representative Tom Cochran sponsored one of the bills. He says bees and butterflies play a vital role in the state’s agricultural industry. The bills are now in a House committee. (WCMU

Vicksburg High School Principal Keevin O’Neill has been named the district’s superintendent. The Kalamazoo Gazette says O’Neill was appointed during Tuesday night’s Vicksburg Community Schools Board meeting. O’Neill has been principal of the high school for the last eight years. Current Vicksburg Superintendent Charles Glaes will retire at the end of June.

Michigan’s Bureau of Elections has rejected challenges to Democratic candidate Abdul El-Sayed’s eligibility to appear on the ballot for governor this year. Fellow Democratic gubernatorial candidate Shir Thanedar, and others, filed a challenge to El-Sayed’s name appearing on the ballot for the Democratic primary. At issue is whether El-Sayed’s time in New York where he was a registered voter made him ineligible. The Michigan Constitution says a requirement for governor is being a registered elector in the state for four years before the general election. MLive reports that the Bureau of Elections found that El-Sayed has been registered to vote in Michigan since 2003, and was not removed from voter rolls during his time in New York.

Federal housing authorities say a resort in northern Michigan has failed to prove it can restrict home ownership to Christians. In 2016 more than fifteen people filed complaints against Bay View Association near Petoskey with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.They argue Bay View is violating the federal Fair Housing Act, which prohibits things like religious discrimination. Bay View argues it can limit homeownership to Christians because it is exempt from fair housing rules as a religious organization. But now HUD says Bay View has failed to prove it is exempt. HUD says it will investigate the allegations against Bay View. These complaints are separate from a federal lawsuit which will go before a judge in July. (Interlochen Public Radio)

Kalamazoo College has named a new athletic director. Becky Hall comes to K-College from Oglethorpe University in Georgia, she’s been athletic director there for the last six years. Hall has also coached softball and worked in athletic administration at Wittenberg. Kristen Smith stepped down as Kalamazoo College Athletic Director last year.

Western Michigan lost its first game in the Mid-American Conference softball tournament yesterday 3-2 to Kent State. The Broncos will face Miami this morning in an elimination game. The MAC’s double-elimination tournament is being played in Akron, Ohio.