Public employers neutral under new lawPublished 6:08pm Sunday, March 4, 2012
LANSING – Gov. Rick Snyder has signed legislation to maintain public employers’ neutrality in elections by prohibiting their administration of employee contributions to Political Action Committees (PACs).
Following the interpretation of a Michigan Supreme Court decision, the legislation prohibits public employers from administering a payroll deduction plan that sends employee contributions to a PAC.
The court ruled that doing so constitutes a “contribution” on the part of the employer and thereby violates the Michigan Campaign Finance Act.
“This legislation insures the neutrality of public employers in elections while protecting the rights of individuals to make their voices heard,” Snyder said. “I appreciate the Legislature putting the Supreme Court’s decision into law.”
The package includes House Bill 5085, sponsored by state Rep. Mike Shirkey, and H.B. 5086, sponsored by state Rep. Paul Opsommer.
The bills now are Public Acts 30 and 31 of 2012.
Snyder also signed seven other bills, including six to eliminate judgeships in certain areas to reflect changes in caseloads and population shifts, based on recommendations put forward biennially by the State Court Administrative Office. These bills represent the completion of a package that will ultimately eliminate 36 trial court judgeships and save nearly $6 million annually.
n H.B. 5071, sponsored by state Rep. John Walsh, eliminates one district judgeship that covers Antrim, Grand Traverse and Leelanau counties;
n H.B. 5072, sponsored by state Rep. Kurt Heise, eliminates one district judgeship that covers Alger and Schoolcraft counties and one that covers Gogebic and Ontonagon counties;
n H.B. 5101, sponsored by state Rep. John Walsh, eliminates one circuit judgeship that covers Alcona, Arenac, Iosco and Oscoda counties; one district judgeship that covers the same four counties and one district judgeship that covers Ogemaw and Roscommon counties;
n H.B. 5102, sponsored by state Rep. Kurt Heise, eliminates one district judgeship in both Huron and Chippewa counties;
n H.B. 5103, sponsored by state Rep. David Rutledge, eliminates one district judgeship that covers Ecorse, Lincoln Park and River Rouge; one in Woodhaven; one in Royal Oak; one that covers Berkley and Oak Park; one in Bloomfield Hills and one in Pontiac;
n H.B. 5104, sponsored by state Rep. Pat Somerville, eliminates one circuit judgeship in Bay County.
The judgeships will be eliminated only by attrition – when a current judge vacates office through retirement or death, voluntarily chooses not to seek re-election or is constitutionally ineligible for re-election due to age. The bills now are P.A.s 33-38 of 2012.
The seventh signed bill – Senate Bill 525, sponsored by state Sen. Goeff Hansen – clarifies existing law about the renewal process for concealed pistol licenses (CPLs).
Under current law, CPLs expire on the holder’s birthday four to five years after issuance, but there is no provision for when holders may apply for renewal. The bill allows holders to submit a renewal application up to six months before a CPL expiration date.
If approved, the effective date of the renewal license will be the prior expiration date or the date the renewal application was approved, whichever is later.
The bill now is P.A. 32 of 2012.