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In this morning's Michigan news headlines...

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Brother O'Mara
Morning News Roundup, Wednesday, April 18th, 2012

Personal Property Tax

A plan was unveiled yesterday at the state Capitol to phase out the tax on most manufacturing equipment. Rick Pluta reports:

Local governments collect about $400 million in revenue a year from the industrial property tax, also known as the personal property tax. Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley helped design the plan to get rid of the tax over the next several years. He says Michigan is unique in how it taxes industrial property - and he says it’s driving investments to other states and countries. But local leaders say the way the phase-out is drafted now, it would force disinvestment in schools, and city services. That’s because it does not replace all the revenue lost to local governments. The communities that would be most affected are industrial cities with the most factories.

Kalamazoo River Opens

Calhoun County Health officials are opening up a three mile section of the Kalamazoo River near Marshall this morning. It’s the first time the river has opened to the public since more than 800,000 gallons of oil spilled into the river in July 2010. “It’s just a tiny portion of the 37 total miles of the river that have been closed since the underground Enbridge pipeline ruptured. Crews have recovered more than a million gallons of oil from the river. Calhoun County Health officials say people using the river may still see small oil flecks or oil sheen. But they say an assessment of that portion of the river shows it is safe for public recreation. Health officials hope to open the rest of the river to public recreation as soon as July,” Lindsey Smith reports.

Utility Refunds

Customers of DTE Energy Co. and CMS Energy Corp.'s Consumers Energy unit are expected to get a refund soon, the Associated Press reports. From the AP:

The Michigan Public Service Commission on Tuesday ordered DTE and its gas subsidiary MichCon to refund $30.9 million to 2.1 million electric and 1.2 million gas customers. Consumers Energy must refund $25.4 million to its 6.8 million electric and gas customers. The refund is for money collected from customers to support the Low Income and Energy Efficiency Fund, which provides assistance to low-income utility customers. The Michigan Court of Appeals ruled last year that energy legislation didn't include provisions for LIEEF and that the PSC shouldn't administer the program anymore.

Zoe Clark is Michigan Radio’s Political Director. In this role, Clark guides coverage of the state Capitol, elections, and policy debates.