LANSING — Michigan’s 100-plus-year-old process for enacting new laws in the state will better reflect the modern work process of the Legislature under a proposal introduced this week by Rep. Ed McBroom.
House Joint Resolution FF of 2014, which was cosponsored by 96 of the 110 Republican and Democrat lawmakers, would make all bills effective 90 days after they are signed by the governor and filed with the secretary of state. Currently, the state constitution requires the Legislature to approve “immediate effect” (IE) for a bill that has been voted into new law, otherwise it may be 12 to 15 months before the new law becomes effective.
“The process is based on an antiquated structure when the Legislature met very briefly and would come back in for special sessions,” said McBroom, R-Vulcan. “Immediate effect was not often necessary as the session adjourned and made bills active well before the fall and the next fiscal year. Now, IE is given to just about every piece of legislation, which has caused some questions and procedural challenges.
“Common sense would say that when a new law is approved we want it on the books without unreasonable delay, but even now with IE on every bill there is usually a delayed enactment date of at least 90 days, but not 12 to 15 months.”
HJR FF does allow for an “immediate effect” vote should legislation need to be enacted sooner than the 90-day window, with a roll call vote of two-thirds of lawmakers in the House and Senate. “This method would mirror how the Senate already does its process,” McBroom added.
McBroom worked hard at researching this very old issue to develop new, clearer procedures with Representative Jeff Irwin (D-Ann Arbor). The two teamed up to see this done with a bipartisan, “good government” spirit.
“I applaud Rep. McBroom for his leadership on this resolution,” Rep. Irwin said. “This measure will modernize our state constitution and put an end to both parties’ practice of unconstitutionally granting immediate effect without the necessary two-thirds vote.”
Upon approval by both the House and Senate, an amendment to the state constitution would be put on the ballot for the people of Michigan to decide at the next general election.
HRJ FF has been assigned to the House Committee on Government Operations for review.