MDTC Legislative Section
By: Graham K. Crabtree, Fraser Trebilcock Davis & Dunlap, PC
MDTC Legislative Report
As I finish this report in late June, things are pretty quiet at the State Capitol. Our legislators completed their spring session on June 9th, and are now enjoying their summer recess. They will, of course, continue their work on pending legislation and constituent matters during the summer months, but only two session days
– July 13th and August 4th
– are currently scheduled before the resumption of their normal schedule in September. The seats in the House are up for election in November, and thus, a great many of the incumbent representatives will also be doing some campaigning for re-election in this election year like no other. Our state senators are undoubtedly grateful that they are not required to run for re-election this year, when the fallout from the presidential campaign is uncertain for members of both parties.
The Legislature passed a significant volume of bills addressing a variety of subjects in a flurry of activity leading up to the summer recess. That activity included, most notably, work on the completion of the budget for the next fiscal year, legislation to save the Detroit Public Schools, and the public acts and initiatives discussed below.
2016 Public Acts
As of this writing, there are 233 Public Acts of 2016. The few that may be of interest include:
2016 PA 186 – Senate Bill 632 (Schuitmaker – R), which will amend provisions of the Revised Judicature Act defining the jurisdiction of the Court of Appeals and the probate courts to provide that the Court of Appeals will have jurisdiction over all appeals from final orders and judgments of the probate courts, and provide the statutory authority required for previously proposed court rule changes that would confer jurisdiction upon the Court of Appeals over all appeals from interlocutory orders of the probate court as well. The amendments will also replace the automatic stay provision of MCL 600.867 with new language consistent with the court rules governing other appeals to the Court of Appeals, providing for an automatic stay of enforcement of the order appealed from for a period of 21 days only, unless a motion for stay is granted.
A companion Bill –
House Bill 5503 (Tedder – R) – proposes consistent amendments to the Estates and Protected Individuals Code. It was passed by the House on June 2, 2016, and now awaits review in the Senate Judiciary Committee.
2016 PA 186 is slated to take effect 90 days after its enactment, but is tie-barred to House Bill 5503, so the actual effective date remains to be determined by the expected enactment of that bill, which may not be taken up and passed until September.
2016 PA 187 – Senate Bill 672 (Hansen – R) will amend the Estates and Protected Individuals Code, MCL 700.5109, which allows parents and guardians of minors to release sponsors and organizers of recreational activities, and paid or volunteer coaches conducting such activities, from liability for injuries sustained by the minor in the course of those activities. The proposed amendments will expand the statute's definition of "recreational activity" to include active participation in a "camping activity," defined as "a recreation activity planned and carried out by the owner and operator of a camp," in addition to "active participation in athletic or recreational sport." This amendatory act will take effect on September 19, 2016.
2016 PA 149 – House Bill 4787 (Price – R) will amend the Penal Code to create a new section, MCL 750.213, providing new criminal penalties for coercing a woman to have an abortion against her will. The new penalties will be made applicable to coercion of several specific kinds, with the severity of the penalty in each case being determined based upon the precise nature of the conduct involved. The provisions of this new section will take effect on September 7, 2016.
2016 PA 142 – Senate Bill 776 (Robertson – R) has amended the Michigan Election Law, MCL 168.472a, to provide that: "The signature on a petition that proposes an amendment to the constitution or is to initiate legislation shall not be counted if the signature was made more than 180 days before the petition is filed with the office of the secretary of state." This amendment eliminated the prior language which had required the application of a rebuttable presumption that signatures older than 180 days were stale and void. This amendatory legislation was approved by the Governor on June 6, 2016, and took effect the following day upon filing with the Secretary of State.
Old Business and New Initiatives
The pending bills of interest include:
Senate Bill 289 (O'Brien – R), which would create a new "bad-faith patent infringement claims act" to provide new protections against "patent trolls"
– individuals or entities that assert unfounded claims of patent infringement in bad faith to extort payments of royalties from businesses, which often feel compelled to acquiesce rather than bear the considerable cost of defending threatened infringement litigation. After languishing for nearly a year on the Senate Session Calendar, the bill was passed by the Senate as a Bill Substitute (S-3) on June 9, 2016, and has now been referred to the House Judiciary Committee. The same initiative has also been introduced in the House as
House Bill 4587 (Callton – R).
Senate Bill 1020 (Bieda – D) proposes the creation of a new Michigan False Claims Act, to establish procedures for pursuit of qui tam actions similar to those authorized under the Federal False Claims Act against those who present false or fraudulent claims to obtain money, property, or services from the state or a local unit of government. This bill was introduced on June 8, 2016, and referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee. The same initiative has been introduced in the House as
House Bill 4494 (Heise – R).
Senate Bill 982 (Schuitmaker – R) proposes a variety of amendments to the Uniform Fraudulent Transfer Act, MCL 566.31,
et seq. This bill was introduced on May 24, 2016, and referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee.
House Bill 5546 (Somerville – R) proposes an amendment of the Revised Judicature Act, MCL 600.5801, to increase the statute of limitations for actions seeking recovery or possession of real property in cases where the defendant asserts a claim to the property based upon adverse possession or acquiescence, from 15 to 30 years. This bill was introduced on April 13, 2016, and referred to the House Judiciary Committee.
HJR GG (Hovey-Wright – D), this House Joint Resolution proposes an amendment of the equal protection provision of the Michigan Constitution, Const 1963, art 1, § 2, to prohibit discrimination based upon sex. This joint resolution was introduced on April 12, 2016, and referred to the House Judiciary Committee.
What Do You Think?
Our members are again reminded that the MDTC Board regularly discusses pending legislation and positions to be taken on bills and resolutions of interest. Your comments and suggestions are appreciated, and may be submitted to the Board through any officer, board member, regional chairperson or committee chair.