November 5 - November 11, 2007
Volume 5 Issue 45

FOCUS: Lawyers in Pakistan Defending the Rule of Law
A Message from SBM President Ron Keefe on Support for Lawyers in Pakistan

“Like so many others, I am deeply disturbed by the recent events in Pakistan where President Pervez Musharraf has suspended the national constitution, detained eight members of the Supreme Court, and arrested thousands of Pakistani lawyers who were peacefully protesting the dismantling of their legal system.

President Musharraf seeks to justify his emergency rule by citing the threat of terrorism. In reality, by arresting non-terrorists and shutting down an independent judiciary, he empowers terrorists. An independent and unbiased court system is fundamental to the survival of a free society.

By standing up for the rule of law, the lawyers of Pakistan have won the admiration and solidarity of lawyers around the world.  Many members of the Michigan bar have contacted me asking how Michigan lawyers can express support for their colleagues across the globe. Next week, lawyers everywhere will be showing their support for Pakistani lawyers in many ways. The American Bar Association is planning a march in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday, November 14, where lawyers in black suits will gather and walk around the U.S. Supreme Court building. Parallel events will take place throughout our country on the same day.

The rule of law is the foundation of civilized society, and lawyers are the guardians of the rule of law.  Their role is never more important than when the very survival of the rule of law is at risk.

I urge Michigan residents and my fellow lawyers to show support for their Pakistani counterparts and to encourage our own government to support the release of the detained judges and lawyers and human rights activists and the restoration of the rule of law in Pakistan.”

Tomorrow at noon President Keefe will be showing his solidarity with Pakistan’s lawyers by appearing at the federal courthouse in Lansing at noon for a silent demonstration, and urges all Michigan lawyers who are in a position to do so to consider taking similar action. The federal courthouse is located at the corner of Allegan and Townsend. President Keefe will be at the north side, facing the state capitol.  All participants are asked to dress in black suits.

Information from the American Bar Association:

 

ABA President Summons Legal Profession for Solidarity March in Nation's Capitol

 

ABA President Neukom Urges Restoration of Justice to Pakistani People

FOCUS: Service Tax Repeal
Actions continued in both the Senate and House last week to repeal the service tax set to take effect December 1.

Senate actions: On November 6, the Senate Finance Committee heard testimony on SB 838, which would repeal the new service tax. The Committee referred the bill to the full chamber and passed by a vote of 23-15.

House actions: The House Tax Policy Committee met through the week to hear testimony on the impact of the service tax. The Committee voted to recommend the passage of SB 845, legislation to delay the implementation of the service tax to December 20. The Committee vote as 17-0 but the full House has not voted yet. On November 8, the Committee recommended HB 5408 to the full House, which approved the bill by a vote of 58-48 with immediate effect. HB 5408 would repeal the service tax and replace the revenue with changes to the Michigan Business Tax by creating a 32.9% surcharge on corporate MBT liability that drops to 23.7% after the first year and includes a $2 million cap. The House vote resulted in objections from Minority Leader Craig DeRoche that Republican amendments to repeal the service tax without replacement revenue were not considered.

 

Negotiations continue this week with recognition that any action must be immediate. Debate continues to center on if the revenue should be replaced, if the service tax is repealed, and if the revenue replacement should be permanent instead of having a sunset. The Governor has stated that she will only support the repeal if there is replacement revenue that is permanent.

 

See related:

House OKs Replacement for Service Tax

(Lansing State Journal, 11/9/07)

 

Michigan Senate votes to repeal new service tax

(Lansing State Journal, 11/8/07)

In the Capitol
The Michigan House and Senate will not be in session this week. Both chambers are scheduled to reconvene on Tuesday, November 20.

Committee meetings of interest for the week of 11/12
11/15 Senate Finance
Agenda: TESTIMONY ONLY - Pending Referral: HB 5408 Revise tax rates, tax credits, and refunds based on business tax revenue and repeal certain use tax exemptions and statutory appropriations; A discussion on the repeal of the service (use) tax and replace with a surcharge (32.9%) on the Michigan Business Tax and cap liability at $2 million.

Complete Committee Meeting List

New Public Acts

Legislation Introduced 11/6 – 11/8
Of Interest to the Legal Community
HJR FF Retirement; judges; age of retirement for judges; increase to 75 years of age. Amends sec. 19, art. VI of the state constitution.

HB 5419 Criminal procedure; expunction; expunction of certain felony convictions 5 years after date of conviction; allow. Amends sec. 1 of 1965 PA 213 (MCL 780.621).

HB 5431 Occupations; notaries public; requirement for record keeping of certain notarial acts; provide for. Amends sec. 25 of 2003 PA 238 (MCL 55.285).

HB 5448 Occupations; notaries public; requirement for record keeping of certain notarial acts; provide for. Amends sec. 25 of 2003 PA 238 (MCL 55.285).

Of General Interest
HB 5421 Consumer protection; unfair trade practices; application of Michigan consumer protection act to certain unfair trade practices in insurance code and certain other acts permitted by law; clarify and revise. Amends sec. 4 of 1976 PA 331 (MCL 445.904).

HB 5426 Insurance; essential; comprehensive consumer awareness program; create. Amends 1956 PA 218 (MCL 500.100 - 500.8302) by adding sec. 2128.

HB 5434 Use tax; exemptions; business-to-business transactions; exempt from service tax collections. Amends sec. 3d of 1937 PA 94 (MCL 205.93d).

SB 911 Aeronautics; other; airline passengers bill of rights; create.

In the Hall of Justice
Michigan Adoption Day to be held Nov. 20 - 5th annual event celebrates adoptive families and children

At the Bar
The State Bar of Michigan’s Public Policy, Image, and Identity Committee and Board of Commissioners will meet on Friday, November 16. For a copy of either agenda, please contact elyon@mail.michbar.org. 

Class Action Lawsuit Funds Directed to Access to Justice Fund

SBM Legal Milestone Plaque Honoring Prentiss Brown Placed in St. Ignace

 

Panel Discussion on Business Transactions and Intellectual Property Set for November 14

Sections and Committees
The Consumer Law Section submitted the following public policy reports:
Oppose: HB 4023 Trade; consumer goods and services; sale of certain consumer items without item pricing; allow under certain conditions. Amends secs. 1 & 3 of 1976 PA 449 (MCL 445.351 & 445.353) & adds secs. 3a & 3b.
Oppose: SB 702 Trade; consumer goods and services; sale of certain consumer items without item pricing; allow under certain conditions. Amends secs. 1 & 3 of 1976 PA 449 (MCL 445.351 & 445.353) & adds secs. 3a & 3b.

The Family Law Section submitted the following public policy report:
Oppose: HB 5324 Family law; personal protection orders; personal protection order to be made mutual; require. Amends secs. 2950 & 2950a of 1961 PA 236 (MCL 600.2950 & 600.2950a).

Federal News
FYI: Attorney-Client Privilege
The American Bar Association issued a legislative action alert urging attorneys to contact their local congressman regarding H.R. 3013, the “Attorney-Client Privilege Protection Act of 2007” which is expected to be voted on this week.

H.R. 3013 is a comprehensive reform measure designed to protect and restore the attorney-client privilege, the work product doctrine and employees’ Sixth and Fifth Amendment rights by reversing various federal agency policies that are undermining these fundamental protections.

Related materials from the ABA can be found online. The State Bar of Michigan’s Representative Assembly adopted positions regarding attorney-client privilege in September 2007 that are consistent with the purposes of H.R. 3013.

Find and Contact Your Elected Officials.

Senate Votes to Confirm Mukasey
(Washington Times, 11/9/07)

‘Bad’ Legal Advice and the Death Penalty
(New York Times, 11/5/07)

State News
FYI: Michigan Presidential Primary
On November 7, Ingham Circuit Judge William Collette ruled that the provision to provide voter records to the Democratic and Republican parties, included in the legislation that would allow a January 15 primary, is unconstitutional. The basis for his ruling was that because the lists were only provided to the two parties, the legislation constituted an appropriation of public property for private use that would require a two-thirds vote of the legislature under the Constitution, which the legislation did not receive. The ruling voids the primary.

The early primary may still continue if legislative or legal action is taken to address the ruling. Legislative action was taken on November 8 when the Senate voted on substitutes for HB 4506 and HB 4507. However, the Senate failed to give the bills immediate effect, therefore not allowing sufficient time for the bills to be effective to enable a January 15 primary.

See related:
Supporters of Jan. 15. State Primary to Appeal Ruling
(Lansing State Journal, 11/10/07)

Court Ruling Could Derail Jan. 15 Michigan Presidential Primary
(AP/Mlive.com, 11/7/07)

Senate Passes Bills Aimed at Fighting Mortgage Loan Problems
(AP/Mlive.com, 11/6/07)

Links of Interest
Public Policy Resource Center | Michigan Supreme Court | Michigan Legislature | MCL Search Engines