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In the news
March 31, 2013 - Chris Tomassucci
A few disturbing news items in our state over the past couple of days.
Prolonged high unemployment
Michigan's unemployment rate is still stuck at historically high levels. Although it recently fell by 0.1 percent according to the state, unemployment is still up at 8.8 percent. In the Upper Peninsula, it’s well over 10 percent.
Here, from the Associated Press, are Michigan's unemployment rates by region in January, 2013. You'll notice the U.P.’s rate soared from 9.4 percent to 10.3 percent from December 2012 to January 2013.
Michigan's major labor market areas, their seasonally unadjusted jobless rates for January, followed by December:
Michigan is number five in outdated gas lines
According to a report in the Detroit Free Press today, when it comes to which state has the most outdated, leaky cast-iron and wrought-iron natural gas pipes, we are number five.
3,153 miles worth of these leaking pipes need to be replaced in the state. And they’re dangerous.
From the report:
Only four other states have more old iron gas mains than Michigan. These pipelines don't just increase the chances of a leak -- they're already leaking.
DTE seems to be the worst offender.
In 2010, the PSC expressed "great concern" about DTE's "ability to provide safe and reliable service" because of its significant amount of aging pipelines and lack of action to replace them. A report noted that DTE Gas had 23.8 gas leaks per 100 miles of main in 2008 -- more than 10 times the 2.3 leaks experienced by Consumers Energy, the state's largest gas utility, with 1.7 million customers.
With the above in mind, let us check in on Lansing and see what the Republican led Michigan Legislature is working on. Maybe they are working on a bill to attract good, high-paying jobs back to the state for their unemployed constituents.
Perhaps they are already hard at work on a bill to handle those thousands of miles of leaking gas lines. At least a panel or commission.
Oh, I see. They’re pushing through a contentious abortion bill that will actually cost the taxpayers money.
One issue is whether the state has enough money to do licensing and annual inspections. While the Legislature allocated more funding to inspect all outpatient facilities, it is only enough to do them once every three years — not yearly — according to the House Fiscal Agency.
It’s not the most thoughtfully formed piece of legislation either:
The law has a glaring loophole.
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