There was an odd moment on TV 7&4 News last week that indicated where
we might be headed now that the balance of power has shifted in
Greg MacMaster, who ran for office on a pledge to downsize state
government, said in an interview that he has 13 new bills in mind for
his role as the new State Rep for the 105th District.
Congratulations to Greg on his win and for representing the citizens
of Antrim County. We assume that some of his bills will be aimed at
downsizing state government.
But still, 13 new bills sounds a bit much. If all 110 State Reps and
38 State Senators show up in Lansing with similar baggage... well,
you get the picture:
Or, as a popular saying in Asia goes: Same, same, but different.
It makes you wonder, did Michigan really need the 6,000-plus bills and
resolutions which went through the State House and Senate last year?
During this tide of anti-government fervor, wouldnt this seem a good
time for our lawmakers to sit on their hands for a bit and resist the
urge to be, well, lawmakers?
One might argue that we could do without 75% of the bills and
resolutions introduced in Lansing and be better off for it. You can
see for yourself what our legislature is up to at
www.legislature.mi.gov. Last Wednesday, Nov. 3, for instance, there
were 37 bills and resolution in the works, including declarations of
November as Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month, along Lung Cancer
Month and Diabetes Awareness and Blood Glucose Control Month. Then
there were separate resolutions of tribute for the Honorable Deborah
Cherry and the Honorable Stevens T. Mason, and so on.
Its nice to know that our legislators are giving a passing thought to
pancreatic cancer, lung cancer and glucose control, and that a couple
of judges are getting a scrap of paper suitable for framing to hang on
But does Michigan really need to pay 148 lawmakers salaries of close
to $80,000 per year to fiddle around with this kind of busy-work
during such dire times? Cops and teachers are being laid off, and
kids are being denied art education and phys-ed in our schools. What
are our priorities?
We have far too many conflicting, outdated and unnecessary laws on the
books and don‘t need a raft of new ones if Michigan is going to move
As Rick Coates notes in this issue on the controversy over bringing
your own wine to restaurants, theres such a thicket of conflicting,
contradictory laws regarding this issue that neither the cops or local
restaurants seems to know which law has precedence. Some local
restaurants report that they are being driven out of business because
customers can no longer enjoy a local vintage with dinner.
Locally, some day care providers are also grappling with updated rules
from the Department of Human Services Bureau of Children and Adult
Obviously, kids must be protected in day cares, but is it really
necessary to require providers to post Exit signs on their windows
in case of an emergency? It seems unlikely that adults would need to
search for an exit sign in their own home.
One could also argue the wisdom of requiring No Smoking signs in the
homes of day care providers, since that seems a bit of a no-brainer.
Or the requirement that one must report anyone in the day care
household who is involved in breaking and entering into a tent, boat
or railroad car...
Michigan Capitol Confidential, a publication of the Mackinac Center,
posts some of the absurd laws proposed by our legislature. Their fall
issue lists these gems:
Senate Bill 1441 would Allow Spartan stores (but not competitors)
to hold wine tastings.
House Bill 6311 would Impose regulations on amateur mixed marital
arts competitors, with the addition of license fees, of course.
House Bill 5305 would increase the cost of a marriage license from
$20 to $40, with $10 of that amount going to government-funded family
Consider that Michigan, with its rapidly shrinking population base, is
one of only 11 states that have full-time legislatures. Maybe its
too much to ask in a situation where the foxes are guarding the
henhouse, but isnt this revolutionary time of downsizing government
an ideal opportunity to pass a bill that would provide Michigan with a
part-time legislature? There are 17 U.S. states whose legislators meet
on a half-time basis. Why not Michigan?