Bill eliminates outdated state laws

Cursing in front of women or children or playing the national anthem out of tune will no longer be criminal acts punishable by jail time in Michigan, under legislation signed recently by Gov. Rick Snyder.

“Modernizing state government is an ongoing effort,” Snyder said. “I appreciate the work of the legislature in analyzing the criminal code and eliminating statutes that no longer make sense in the 21st century.”

House Bill 4248, sponsored by state Rep. Chris Afendoulis, repeals a number of outdated criminal laws, some of which are burdensome or unconstitutional. These include the aforementioned acts, as well as six crimes relating to “dueling”, or refusing to help fight a forest fire. It is now Public Act 210 of 2015.

HB 4249, sponsored by state Rep. Michael Webber, eliminates crimes related to trespassing that were made redundant by newer, broader statutes. These include trampling or otherwise injuring cranberry vines or huckleberry or blackberry bushes without the permission of the owner or occupant. The bill is now PA 211.

HB 4250, sponsored by state Rep. Rob VerHeulen, repeals a law making it a misdemeanor to promote, conduct or participate in “endurance contests,” otherwise known as walkathons. Walkathons are commonly used in Michigan to raise money for charitable organizations. The bill is now PA 212.

HB 4501, sponsored by state Rep. Kurt Heise, deletes sentencing guidelines for the felonies being repealed under the above measures. It is now PA 213.

HB 4709, sponsored by state Rep. John Bizon, replaces a reference to “deformed human being or human monstrosity” with “disabled or disfigured”. It is now PA 214.

HB 4710, sponsored by state Rep. Andrea LaFontaine, deletes criminal penalties associated with failing to post a registration card when camping on DNR land. The provision replaces the misdemeanor charge with a civil infraction so that it is does not appear on a person’s permanent criminal record. The bill is now PA 215.

HB 4711, also sponsored by Webber, eliminates the requirement that a prisoner not be released from incarceration until all fines are paid and eliminates the option for a judge to sentence a prisoner to solitary confinement or hard labor in prison or jail. The former is unenforceable due to court opinions, and the latter is enforced at the corrections level. The bill is now PA 216.

Reducing overcriminalization by identifying archaic and redundant laws on the books was asked for in Snyder’s Special Message on Criminal Justice delivered to the Legislature in May.

Snyder also signed two additional measures:

HB 4173, sponsored by state Rep. Dave Maturen, allows a real estate seller or buyer who paid tax on behalf of the seller to request a refund of the tax paid if they believe the property was eligible for exemption at the time of transfer. The bill is retroactive to June 24, 2011.  It is now PA 217.

SB 556, sponsored by state Sen. Ken Horn, extends the sunset of the Commercial Rehabilitation Act until Dec. 31, 2020. It is now PA 218.