Wednesday, March 03, 2004

A Case for a part-time Legislature in Michigan

Brian Dickerson in the Detroit Free Press makes a case for a part-time legfislature for Michigan.

He states that the Legislature has been rather timid for the first two months of this session, only debating a few rather contentious issues including

"Debating a proposal to turn the state law barring gay marriage into a state constitutional amendment barring gay marriage. ". Yep, even in Michigan the issue of gay marriage is heating up.

Dickerson bemoans the lack of activity on the part of the Legislature and holds it up as a reason for turning it into a part time affair. I believe the lack of activity would be a positive result of a part-time legislature. I would not mind less activity, less laws being passed and a part time legislature so less invasive, cumbersome and annoying, and dumb laws can be proposed. Not to mention the tax savings in only having to pay part-time salaries.

How annoying you ask? Asan example, a law recently pased in Michigan that has motorists fuming - if you do not have your proof of insurance with you while driving, or cannot find it, the fine is the same as if you did not have any insurance period, and you cannot bring proof of insurance to the court to demonstrate that you were in fact insured. After an uproar, this law looks to be modified.

Another interesting proposal seems to be the effective creation of a debtors prison. Ok, not exactly, but the effect of HB 5369 and HB 5371, if they are both passed together, would have parents that are delinquent in child support not only be sent to jail, but continually be guilty of new non-child support felony offenses when they fail to pay child suport while imprisoned. In fact, a deadbeat parent could be jailed forever as they could continuously rack up felonies for non-payment of child support while serving time for the earlier felony of non-payment of child support.

While I do not countenance people not paying their child support obligations, sending them to prison forever would not address the needs of the child as the parent is unlikely to be able to earn enough in prison to pay the child support obligation.

In short a part-time legislature would hopefuly do less damage and have less time to propose more inane laws, thus providing a net benefit to the people of Michigan.

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