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Stateside: ASL translation technology; Ingham County's first public defender; Sen. Peters on PFAS

American Sign Language for A - S - L
U.S. Air Force Photo Illustration/Airman 1st Class Kyle Johnson
MSU assistant professor Mi Zhang is working with a team at MSU to develop a tool that translates American Sign Language in real time.

Today on Stateside, Governor Whitmer announced a plan earlier this week to introduce a 45 cent gas tax by October 2020. Are there enough road workers to put all that funding to use? Plus, Ingham County is building a public defender office from the ground up. We talk about the challenges of developing a brand new governmental department. 

Listen above to the full show above or find individual segments below.

Political roundup: Fixing Michigan’s roads will take political courage

Stateside's conversation with Ken Sikkema and Vicki Barnett.

  • On Tuesday, Governor Whitmer introduced a 45 cent gas tax with her budget proposal. Will that be enough to fix Michigan's broken roads? Vicki Barnett, former Mayor of Farmington Hills and a former Democratic state legislator, and Ken Sikkema, a senior policy fellow at Public Sector Consultants and a former Republican legislative leader, joined Stateside to discuss. 

MSU team creates device to translate sign language into audio in real time

Stateside's conversation with Mi Zhang

  • Hundreds of thousands of people in the United States use American Sign Language, also called ASL. Researchers have been trying to come up with a way to translate ASL into spoken English without a human translator for years. Researchers at Michigan State University have come up with a sensory device that can do just that.
  • Mi Zhang, a Michigan State University Assistant Professor, is behind the development of the technology and he joined Stateside to tell us more about it.

Ingham County’s first public defender talks about building the system from the ground up

Stateside's conversation with Russel Church.

  • In 2018, the Snyder administration called for a review of Michigan’s approach to public defenders for people who cannot afford an attorney. The Michigan Indigent Defense Commission made recommendations and the legislature set aside $84 million to make improvements in counties around the state.
  • Ingham County got about $5 million dollars and established a Public Defenders Office. Russel Church was selected to lead that office and he joined Stateside to tell us about the changes being made.

Advocates say Great Lakes Restoration funding, Asian carp should be Congress’s top priorities

Stateside's conversation with Mike Shriberg

  • Advocates for the Great Lakes were in DC on Thursday for Great Lakes Day. They met with members of Congress to present their priorities for legislation and lobby for the appropriations needed to restore and protect the lakes. 
  • Mike Shriberg, the Great Lakes Regional Director for the National Wildlife Federation, attended the meeting and joined Stateside to fill us in. 

“We’re going to keep pressing this”: Sen. Peters calls for answers on PFAS from EPA

Stateside's conversation with Senator Gary Peters.

  • This week, four Senate Democratic leaders requested that the Trump Administration turn over any documents pertaining to the EPA's PFAS Action Plan. Among them was Michigan Senator Gary Peters. Peters joined Stateside to what they are hoping to learn, and what concerns he has about the PFAS Action Plan. 

What ice fishing can teach you about life

An essay by Tamar Charney

  • Tamar Charney, an Ann Arbor writer and the managing editor of NPR One, tells us about a connection she recently made between ice-fishing and life.

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