For Immediate Release
March 12, 2015

Contact: Craig Thiel

or Eric Lupher

CRC Report Looks at the Use of Immediate Effect for State Laws and Suggests Reforms

The 2015-16 legislative session is underway and the Michigan legislature is again up to the standard practice of granting immediate effect to almost every law enacted. A new Citizens Research Council of Michigan (CRC) report examines this practice in context of the provision of the 1963 Constitution for the effective date of state laws. CRC’s analysis identifies the need for reform – either of the Constitution to reflect legislative practice or of legislative practice to reflect the Constitution.

“The original intent behind the immediate effect provision in our Constitution was for immediate effect to be the exception, as opposed to the standard practice,” said Craig Thiel. “However, legislative practice over the years has made immediate effect more of the rule than the exception.”

The CRC report found that from 2000 through 2014, the legislature granted immediate effect to 94 percent of the laws it passed. Going back to the adoption of the Constitution, nearly 90 percent of all laws received immediate effect.

The CRC report suggests that they should consider either proposing a constitutional amendment so that the effective date provisions reflect longstanding legislative practice or honor the spirit of the Constitution by treating immediate effect as an exception rather than the rule in the law making process.

The report highlights some of the reasons why the legislature has relied so heavily on immediate effect for the effective date of laws, including the shift to the full-time legislature following the adoption of the 1963 Constitution, advances in communication technology, and practical and political considerations. The report also points out some of the concerns raised with the current legislative practice, specifically the complicating effects on the referendum process whereby citizens are able to have a direct say in a law.

“While the reasons for the legislature’s expanded use of immediate effect may be meritorious and make sense,” said Craig Thiel, “CRC believes that Michigan citizens served by the state constitution should be able to read the document and understand the process of government lawmaking. The wording, along with the framers intent, is for immediate effect to serve as the exception. If the wording is obsolete, as legislative practice would suggest, change the wording.”

The full report can be found here.

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