State Roundup

Ann Arbor

Records: Neighbor recorded doctor in peeping case

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) -- Records say a 65-year-old pediatrician charged in an Ann Arbor peeping case was recorded on video by a neighbor while apparently looking through a window to watch a 12-year-old girl change clothes.

AnnArbor.com on Wednesday published details from an audio recording of Howard Weinblatt's Nov. 23 arraignment that it obtained using the Freedom of Information Act. He's charged with surveilling an unclothed person and window peeping.

Court records say the girl was a patient of the Ann Arbor doctor since her birth. Authorities say Weinblatt was looking out his own window.

Defense lawyer Laurence Margolis says his client is being "prosecuted for crimes he did not commit."

Weinblatt is on leave from IHA Child Health in Ann Arbor. He's free on bond and due in court Jan. 4.

Lansing

Michigan bill would affect public PAC fundraising

LANSING, Mich. (AP) -- The Republican-led Michigan House may soon vote on legislation that would prohibit public employers from allowing paycheck deductions to make political contributions.

Democrats call it an attempt to hurt unions, some of which have used automatic payroll deductions from the public employees they represent to help raise money for political action committees.

The legislation could be voted on this week. It comes after the Michigan Supreme Court ruled this year that public school districts can't help unions by deducting political contributions from teachers' paychecks.

The court says public agencies can't use their resources for political purposes, even if the agency is reimbursed for administering the payroll deduction.

The House earlier this year narrowly approved a bill that would ban public schools from automatically deducting union dues from employee paychecks.

Lansing

Michigan lawmakers working on heating help plan

LANSING, Mich. (AP) -- Michigan lawmakers said Tuesday they'll soon come up with an agreement to fund a state program designed to protect low-income residents from utility shut-offs, particularly during winter months.

Republicans in the Senate and House have introduced separate bills for replenishing or replacing the assistance fund. Lawmakers expect a final plan to be adopted before they end voting sessions for the year, likely on Dec. 15.

"It's got to be done before we leave next Thursday," said Sen. Mike Nofs, a Republican from Battle Creek. "I think it will be."

The House plan includes using $62 million in federal funds targeted for low-income residents. The Senate plan would create a new fund of roughly $60 million that could be collected from a variety of sources, including those federal funds.

Democrats, who are outnumbered in the Legislature, want a more permanent solution than the short-term plans being discussed by Republicans.

Some sort of action is needed because earlier this year a state appeals court ruled the financing system used by Michigan's Low Income and Energy Efficiency Fund was no longer authorized. The fund is financed through a charge on customers of utilities including Consumers Energy and Detroit Edison.

The plans under consideration by Republicans could formalize an end to those charges or reduce them. The money collected from utility customers for the fund is being held in escrow while a legislative solution is sought.

Published: Thu, Dec 8, 2011