House Judiciary to take up “unfunded mandate” bills

The smoke has barely cleared after Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson announced — then quickly withdrew his plan — that he would sue the state for imposing an unfunded mandate on Michigan counties that are now tasked with enforcing Michigan’s new smoking ban in workplaces, including bars and restaurants.

Today, the State House Judiciary Committee is expected to take up a package of bills that would amend the Revised Judicature Act, which lays out the procedure for taxpayer lawsuits brought under the Headlee Amendment. Such suits argue that the state “has failed to adequately fund an activity or service required of local governments by state law,” according to a House Fiscal Agency analysis of the bill.

Under HB 5800, “taxpayers would file an action with the state Court of Appeals … The bill would create the position of special master for assisting the Court of Appeals in carrying out its responsibilities in these cases. …

“The bill is expected to be tie-barred to House Bill 5797, which would create a new act that, among other things, establishes a fiscal note process to be conducted by a Local Government Mandate Panel, in order to determine if new legislation would require of local units any new or increased level of activities and services and, if so, the costs that would be imposed on local units as a result. Local units would not have to provide a new activity or service or an increased level of activity or service unless the state had prepared and publicized a fiscal note and provided for the funding of necessary costs to the local unit.”

The impact on the state budget is indeterminate, according to the analysis. But it’s (obviously) anticipated that local government would “experience a positive fiscal impact under provisions of the bill.”

Read the analysis of the bill here.

2 thoughts on “House Judiciary to take up “unfunded mandate” bills

  1. Seems like the impact on local government budgets would be positive if they don’t have to carry out unfunded mandates from the state, while the state budget would be negatively impacted if it has to pay for additional services, yes?

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