Senators introduce bill to name Frank J. Kelly walkway

File this under N for “neat-o.” A bipartisan group of Michigan senators have introduced a bill to name the walkway between the Capitol and the Michigan Hall of Justice the “Frank J. Kelly Walkway,” in honor of the former Michigan Attorney General.

Here’s the bill.

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Of note in the Legislature: Divorce property divisions and COA filing fees

Statutory presumption for marital property splits proposed: Property acquired during a marriage, regardless of how the title is held, would be presumed to be marital property under HB 4672 and HB 4673.

The presumption could be rebutted by evidence to the contrary. The presumption would apply to real property and stocks.

HB 4673 also contains a list of factors courts must consider when untangling commingled marital and nonmarital assets, and another list of factors to determine how marital property should be divided.

The bills are currently in the House Judiciary Committee.

Bill would nix lower COA filing fees: Two statutory motion fees in the Court of Appeals would remain intact under HB 4731. The standard $100 motion fee and $200 fee for expedited appeals, see MCL 600.321, would have dropped to $75 and $150, respectively, on Oct. 1, 2012.

The bill is in the House Appropriations Committee. A hearing is set for June 22.

Proposed legal service tax could be nixed

Following the release of Gov. Jennifer M. Granholm’s proposed 2011 state budget, Rep. Alma Wheeler Smith, D-Salem, has indicated that a substitute bill is being prepared that would exempt legal services from the 5.5 percent service tax rate in the plan.

Granholm’s budget called for an across-the-board 5.5 percent service tax on everything from dry cleaning to estate planning, along with a reduced sales tax of 5.5 percent.

As Michigan Lawyers Weekly reported in its Feb. 22, 2010, edition, small- and mid-sized attorneys were against the surcharge, and that the State Bar of Michigan was doing hard lobbying to quash the tax for attorneys.

Elizabeth K. Lyon, director of governmental relations for the State Bar of Michigan, said it was “a misery tax,” adding that “Legal services are no more discretionary than medical services, and if medical services are exempt, so should legal services.”

Apparently, Smith feels the same way.

In their opinions

[T]he concepts of habitually and regularity are antithetical to the circumstances of homelessness. If there is anything “habitual” to the sleeping arrangements of the homeless, it is that it is customary for them not to have the security of a customary place of lodging. If there is anything “regular” about the place where a homeless person lives, it is that it is not within a home.

– The Michigan Court of Appeals, explaining to the Ingham County prosecutor’s office why a homeless defendant can’t be charged with failing to comply with the Sex Offenders Registration Act (SORA), MCL 28.721 et seq.

It seems fairly straightforward. SORA requires sex offenders to register their residential addresses, which are then published on a public Web site so you can see if one of them lives in your neighborhood.

In People v. Dowdy (On Remand) (published per curiam), Court of Appeals Judges Jane M. Beckering, Jane E. Markey and Stephen L. Borrello observed

The plain language of the statute employed by the Legislature here says the term “residence” refers to a place, a dwelling, an abode, where an individual has a “regular place of lodging.”

A “lodging” is defined to be “[a] place to live,” The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (1996), or “accommodations in a house, esp. in rooms for rent,”’ Random House Webster’s College Dictionary (1997).

The provisional location where a homeless person happens to spend the night does not fall within the ambit of these definitions.

A homeless person is not provided an accommodation by another as a place to habitually sleep or store personal items.

SORA is a “wise” idea, said the panel.

But the Legislature simply did not make provisions for convicted sex offenders to register an address when they don’t have one, and there’s no way to torture the statute to make it say otherwise.

Hang up and drive, dummy

File this under D for “duh.” Can anyone believe it’s taken this long to get this far in the debate over whether or not texting while driving is dangerous?

This from The Detroit News:

Drivers will have to keep their thumbs on the wheel and off their BlackBerrys under a texting-while-driving ban that is nearing passage in the Legislature.

The Senate passed the ban on messaging at the wheel Tuesday that is nearly identical to legislation passed by the House in December. The two versions have to be reconciled and then sent to Gov. Jennifer Granholm for her signature. She said Tuesday she’d sign the legislation.