Confirmed: Another earthquake in West Michigan 

WEST MICHIGAN (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - The USGS has confirmed a 3.3 magnitude earthquake centered near Union City, Mich. Tuesday morning.

DEVELOPING NEWS

Legislators need to repair Michigan roads

Updated: Thursday, March 13, 2014
Legislators need to repair Michigan roads story image
KALAMAZOO, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - Already there are potholes out there that seem more like sinkholes, with some of them seemingly large enough to swallow a city.

And it's only getting started.

Just wait until the ice starts to dramatically thaw, and expansion gives way to contraction.

Tonight in Tom's Corner, Tom Van Howe says maybe, at long last, it's time for legislators to put aside their aspirations for re-election and start spending some real money to, once again, make driving in Michigan a tolerable experience.

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If you're in the business of fixing cars beaten up by our crumbling roads and bridges, you might have financial reason to think things are okay just the way they are.

And why not?

According to news reports, the average yearly cost of fixing each one of our state's 7 million vehicles is $536. That's the annual cost per car for added fuel consumption, tire wear and tear, shocks, axles, and other repairs--not to mention lower trade-in values--for a total of more than $2 billion.

That's twice as much as the Governor and all his horses are hoping to cobble together to attack the problem this year.  The State of Michigan, its counties, townships and cities, have all gone over-budget this year just trying to cope with all the record-setting cold and snow.

There's pretty much nothing left.

But its not as though this problem snuck up on us--we've been in a patch, patch, patch mode for decades. This state, with its illustrious automotive history, the state that still puts the nation on wheels, has many of the worst roads  in the country.

They're not just ugly, uncomfortable and costly--they're dangerous.  And the only way to change that is to replace them.

This is where the governor and the legislature have got to stand up and be counted. No one likes new taxes--particularly elected officials who's number one priority is to get reelected.

Nonetheless, new roads and bridges aren't free. And we need more money to get the job done. And no, we can't take any more away from education.

The  idea most widely discussed is a percentage tax on fuel--that way when the price of gas goes up, so does state revenue.

No, its not fun to pay more for anything these days. But the money has to come from someplace. And its not going to come from the feds.

In fact, just today federal transportation officials said the highway trust fund will be insolvent by next year, and that unless Congress allocates billions more dollars for road construction, there won't be much going on anywhere.

To give you an idea where we stand on spending per capita among states a lot like us:
  • In Minnesota its $315.
  • In Ohio its $235.
  • In Wisconsin, $231.
  • And here in Michigan: $174.
Not enough.

Look--we are, all of us, already paying out tons of money to fix our cars because we have terrible roads.

For me, I'd be willing to pay a little more now so I can pay a little  less in the future.

In Lansing, it's going to take some political fortitude in this election year to make that happen.

But isn't that why people run for office in the first place? To get things done? To make things happen? To do the right thing? Is that too much to ask?

We need new roads and bridges. And we need to get started right now.

In this corner, I'm Tom Van Howe.

Business News

Last Update on June 30, 2015 17:39 GMT

GREECE-BAILOUT

ATHENS, Greece (AP) -- Greece's European creditors have been assessing a last-minute proposal from Athens for a new two-year rescue deal, but German Chancellor Angela Merkel is ruling out further negotiations before the country holds a referendum.

The country's international bailout program expires midnight central Europe-time. If no deal is reached, Greece will lose access to billions of euros in funds it needs to make a debt repayment to the International Monetary Fund.

Greece's prime minister Alexis Tsipras called the referendum on creditors' reform proposals for Sunday. If Greeks vote against the proposal, the country could slide into bankruptcy and be forced to leave Europe's common currency.

Earlier today, Greece's finance minister said the country would not make its debt payment due to the International Monetary Fund by midnight.

CONSUMER CONFIDENCE

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Consumer confidence showed a solid gain in June following a modest increase in May, supporting the view that strong job gains are giving a boost to the overall economy.

The Conference Board says its consumer confidence index rose to 101.4 in June, up from a May reading of 94.6. The June level matches the level in March before the index took a tumble in April.

The index is now 17.4 percent higher than it was a year ago, evidence that the economy is poised to enjoy stronger growth in coming months.

HOME PRICES

WASHINGTON (AP) -- U.S. home prices increased at a solid clip in April, led by double-digit jumps in Denver and San Francisco.

The Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller 20-city home price index rose 4.9 percent in April from 12 months earlier, roughly the same annual pace as March.

Strong job growth and low mortgage rates have prompted greater demand for housing, boosting home values. The continued gains are at roughly double the pace of wage growth, but current levels appear more manageable than the double-digit home price increases seen during parts of 2013 and 2014.

Prices in Denver climbed 10.3 percent, while home values in San Francisco rose 10 percent.

The Case-Shiller index covers roughly half of U.S. homes. The index measures prices compared with those in January 2000 and creates a three-month moving average. The April figures are the latest available.

SUPREME COURT-UNION FEES

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Supreme Court will consider limiting the power of government employee unions to collect fees from non-members in a case that union officials say could threaten membership and further weaken organized labor.

The justices said Tuesday they will hear an appeal from a group of California teachers who say it violates their First Amendment rights to have to pay any fees if they disagree with the union's positions.

The teachers want the court to overturn a 38-year-old precedent that said unions can require non-members to pay for collective bargaining costs as long as the fees don't go toward political purposes. Public workers in half the states are required to pay "fair share" fees if they are represented by a union, even if they are not members.

ELECTRONIC BOOKS-ANTITRUST LAWSUIT

NEW YORK (AP) -- A federal appeals court in New York says Apple violated antitrust laws by colluding with publishers to raise electronic book prices in 2010.

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan ruled 2-to-1 Tuesday that a lower court judge was right to find Apple violated the laws to upset Amazon.com's control of the market.

The appeals court also agreed that Judge Denise Cote (koht) was right to order injunctive relief to ensure the Cupertino, California-based company didn't commit additional violations of antitrust laws.

An Apple lawyer did not immediately return a message for comment.

Cote ruled against Apple after a civil trial in summer 2013. She ordered the technology giant to modify contracts with publishers to prevent price fixing and appointed a monitor to review the company's antitrust policies.

FRANCE-PORT STRIKE

CALAIS, France (AP) -- Striking ferry workers invaded the railroad tracks leading to the Eurotunnel linking France and England, and train service across the Channel was suspended until further notice on Tuesday.

Torching tires and blocking traffic, the French workers were protesting expected job cuts in the French port city of Calais linked to Eurotunnel's sale of its ferry service. Both freight and Eurostar passenger trains suspended service until further notice.

The Eurostar train service carries about 10 million people a year across the English Channel, with summer marking the height of tourist season.

An Associated Press photographer saw the striking workers swarm the tracks on Tuesday afternoon.

FRANCE-UBER

PARIS (AP) -- Two Uber France managers have been ordered to stand trial on behalf of the San Francisco-based company on charges including "deceptive commercial practices" and complicity in illegal activities linked to its low-cost ride-hailing service.

The Paris prosecutor's office said Tuesday that Thibault Simphal and Pierre-Dimitri Gore-Coty were taken into custody on Monday after a police sweep at Uber France headquarters. They will appear in a Paris court on Sept. 30.

French authorities say the low-cost UberPop service is illegal and are frustrated that Uber doesn't pay the same taxes and social charges as traditional taxis. Uber calls the French system outdated and says it needs reform to keep up with technological changes.

Claiming unfair competition, taxi drivers staged a violence-marred strike on the issue last week, blocking many French roads.

JAPAN-NUCLEAR-ROBOT

YOKOHAMA, Japan (AP) -- A new robot that raises its tail like a scorpion is scheduled to look at melted nuclear fuel inside one of the three wrecked reactors in Japan.

Toshiba Corp. is co-developer of the "scorpion" crawler that was demonstrated Tuesday. The company says the robot will venture into Unit 2 reactor's primary containment vessel in August.

Officials hope the robot can get a glimpse of fuel in the pressure vessel in the middle. The fuel hasn't been located exactly and studied because of the fatally high radiation levels nearby.

The difficult work of decommissioning the Fukushima plant damaged by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami will take decades.

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