State Briefs

Associated Press • Feb 22, 2019 at 6:00 AM

These stories are making news around Michigan today:

Ex-postal worker accused of keeping 15,000 pieces of mail

CLINTON TOWNSHIP (AP) — Authorities say they found nearly 15,000 pieces of undelivered mail at the suburban Detroit home of a U.S. Postal Service worker.

A federal criminal complaint unsealed this week charges Tiara Vann of Macomb County's Clinton Township with mail theft. Documents say Vann, who worked as a city carrier assistant for the Warren post office, told investigators that she had been bringing home mail since September.

The Associated Press sent an email seeking comment Thursday on behalf of Vann with a lawyer listed as representing her. Vann was released on bond ahead of a March 13 hearing.

The U.S. Postal Service says Vann has resigned. Court records say investigators were tipped off in January after an exterminator and property manager notice a large amount of mail in the leased home.

No-reason absentee voting option starts in Michigan

FLINT TOWNSHIP (AP) — Michigan voters can start casting an absentee ballot without giving a reason.

Thursday was the first day residents can request to vote by mail in the May election. It is the first election since voters last fall approved no-reason absentee voting as part of a ballot initiative.

Previously, absentee voters had to be at least 60 years old, be out of town when the polls are open or be unable to vote on Election Day due to a physical disability, religious tenets or incarceration.

Requests for an absent voter ballot can be submitted in writing to the local city or township clerk.

Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson and Flint Township Clerk Kathy Funk held a news conference Thursday to welcome the new era of no-reason absentee voting.

Michigan couple charged after girl ingests meth, dies

ELKHART, Ind. (AP) — Two southwestern Michigan residents face charges in northern Indiana in the death of a 10-year-old girl who died after ingesting methamphetamine.

Prosecutors say the girl and her 9-year-old sibling were taken to an Elkhart home last June by her father, 34-year-old Brandon Hobbs, and his 30-year-old girlfriend, Erica Reschke. The girl died at the home. Toxicology tests revealed high levels of the drug in her body.

Hobbs and Reschke are from Cassopolis, north of the Michigan-Indiana state line. They are charged with neglect of a dependent. Reschke also is charged with neglect of a dependent resulting in death. Their trial is scheduled to start May 6 in Goshen, Indiana.

The Associated Press was unable to reach Reschke's attorney Thursday for comment. Court documents did not list a lawyer for Hobbs.

Ex-Lion gets preliminary approval for medical pot dispensary

LANSING (AP) — Former Detroit Lions star receiver Calvin Johnson has received preliminary approval of his license application for a medical marijuana dispensary in suburban Detroit.

Michigan's Medical Marihuana Licensing Board voted 4-0 Thursday in favor of the application.

The board considered preliminary approval for 84 prospective medical marijuana companies and final approval for 17 medical marijuana business licenses.

Johnson and his wife have registered the Bloomfield Hills business as Michigan Community Collective.

He and another former Lion, Rob Sims, were denied preliminary applications in December for medical marijuana growing, processing and provisioning facilities. The licensing board cited minor traffic tickets for Johnson and problems with homes Sims owns in the suburb of Dearborn.

Johnson's spokesman says the tickets have been resolved.

Medical marijuana user loses workplace case in appeals court

LANSING (AP) — A Michigan Court of Appeals ruling could reinforce zero-tolerance workplace rules for marijuana even in cases in which a person has a medical marijuana card.

The Detroit Free Press reports Tuesday's ruling came in a lawsuit brought by Angela Eplee of Dimondale, who had said that the Lansing Board of Water and Light rescinded a 2017 job offer after she tested positive for marijuana even though she had a card allowing her to use the drug.

The board denied the test result was the reason for withdrawing the offer. The trial court's dismissal of the case was upheld by the appeals court.

Eplee's attorney is reviewing the decision.

Michigan voters approved marijuana use in 2008 for some chronic medical conditions. They voted last year to approve it for recreational use.

Michigan regulators approve DTE renewable power program

LANSING (AP) — The Michigan Public Service Commission has approved a DTE Electric Co. program that lets residential and small commercial customers designate how much of the power they use will come from renewable sources.

The commission accepted a revised version of DTE's MIGreenPower plan Thursday.

Regulators had ordered the company to make changes last October because of concerns about costs for marking and administration, customer options, an enrollment cap and other issues.

Under the revised program, customers who want their electricity generated by wind and solar resources will pay a subscription fee of 7.2 cents per kilowatt hour.

Those who want to use wind exclusively will pay a subscription fee of 2.3 cents per kilowatt hour.

DTE will submit biennial reports enabling the commission to review the costs.

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