Public Policy Update from the State Bar of Michigan
July 7–13, 2008
Volume 6 Issue 28

FOCUS: Reform Michigan Government Now! Ballot Proposal
"Reform Michigan Government Now" Initiative Petition
Reform Michigan Government Now! (RMGN) filed nearly 500,000 signatures on July 7 to put an omnibus series of constitutional changes on the ballot in November. Because the scope of the initiative is unprecedented, challenges related to its breadth are expected.
The provisions that would particularly impact the judicial system include the following:

  • A cut of all judicial salaries by 15% effective January 1, 2009. Judges taking the bench after 2008 would have their pension and health care benefits limited to the highest amounts payable to a retired state civil servant.
  • A reduction in the size of the Supreme Court from seven justices to five, and in the Michigan Court of Appeals from 28 to 21, effective December 20, 2008, by eliminating the two most junior Supreme Court justices and the seven most junior Court of Appeals judges. The number of Court of Appeals judges could not be increased or decreased or the districts changed.
  • An increase of 10 circuit court judges.
  • Replacement of the Judicial Tenure Commission by a Judicial Performance Commission, with appeals to a 5-judge panel of the Court of Appeals, selected by random lot, and all records open to the public.
  • Court administrative documents and records made public and open to inspection.
  • A constitutional standard for judicial disqualification. Justices and judges would be disqualified from hearing a case if they had a personal bias or prejudice concerning a party; had personal knowledge of disputed evidentiary facts in the proceeding; had been consulted or employed as an attorney in the matter in controversy; had a connection, either by affinity or consanguinity within such degree as may be prescribed by the rules, with a party, a lawyer or a likely material witness in the proceeding; or if they or their spouse or minor child residing in their household had a financial interest in the subject matter in controversy or in a party to the proceeding or had any other interest that could be substantially affected by the outcome of the proceeding.

In addition to these Article 6 (Judicial Article) changes, the proposal would provide for:

  • Standing to bring suit for preliminary and permanent injunctive relief and other remedies to abate the pollution, impairment and destruction of the state's air, water, and other natural resources.

Provisions affecting other branches of government include:

  • 25% pay cut for the governor, attorney general, secretary of state, and state legislators, and limitation on officials' retiree pensions and health care.
  • Downsizing the state Senate from 38 to 28 members and the House from 110 to 82.
  • Financial disclosure of elected officials' assets, income, and other information.
  • Prohibition on lobbying by retired legislators for two years after they leave office.
  • Legislative redistricting, and an independent, nonpartisan redistricting commission.
  • No-reason absentee ballots.
  • Creation of a Michigan Office of Elections with civil service director.
  • Reduction in number of state departments from 20 to 18.
  • FOIA for legislative finances.
  • Transfer of Mackinac Bridge Authority to the state highway department.

See Related:
Mich. Constitution Proposal Cites Nonexistent Section
(Detroit Free Press, 7/11/08)

In the Capitol
Complete Committee Meeting List

New Public Acts

In the Hall of Justice
Lansing Attorney David A. Kallman Appointed to State Bar's Board of Commissioners by Michigan Supreme Court

Other Actions
2008-01—Chief Judge Appointments for the Trial Courts of Crawford, Kalkaska, and Otsego Counties

2008-01—Supreme Court Appointment of Commissioner-at-Large of the State Bar of Michigan

At the Bar
SBM Survey on Pro Bono

Bar Dues Waiver for SBM Members on Active Duty in the U.S. Armed Forces

Federal News
An Interpreter Speaking Up for Migrants
(New York Times, 7/11/08)

State News
School Aid, Roads Top Lansing Agenda
Detroit News, 7/11/08)

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