Studies

S2014-06

Overcriminalizing the Wolverine State: A Primer and Possible Reforms for Michigan

(Editor’s note: This paper was co-authored with James R. Copland and Isaac Gorodetski and jointly published with the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research).
At present, Michigan’s vast, disorganized criminal law inherently places the Wolverine State’s residents at risk of unintentionally violating a growing array of regulatory crimes that are difficult to discover and understand. The complexity of administrating such a criminal code threatens to divert scarce resources away from the enforcement of serious violent and property crimes. This study analyzes the size and scope of Michigan’s criminal law and makes policy recommendations aimed at curbing this “overcriminalization.” … more
S2012-08

Proposal 2 of 2012: An Assessment

The Mackinac Center for Public Policy recently published “Proposal 2 of 2012: An Assessment,” which addresses Proposal 2 on the Nov. 6, 2012 ballot, also referred to as the “collective bargaining” amendment.
The study examines how the proposed constitutional amendment would enshrine collective bargaining in the state constitution, which would allow government union collective bargaining agreements to invalidate numerous state laws meant to improve the quality of public services and would likely negate a projected $1.6 billion in annual taxpayer savings.
The Policy Brief was co-authored by Vernuccio and other Mackinac Center analysts: Senior Legal Analyst Patrick J. Wright, Executive Vice President Michael J. Reitz and Assistant Fiscal Policy Director James M. Hohman. Also co-authoring was Paul Kersey, director of labor policy at the Illinois Policy Institute. … more

Loar v. Michigan Department of Human Services Brief

This booklet contains the Mackinac Center Legal Foundation’s final legal filing in a nationally known case involving the illegal unionization of Michigan’s home-based day care business owners and providers as government employees. Wright argued the case in the Michigan courts on behalf of Sherry Loar, Michelle Berry and Paulette Silverson, who each own home-based day care businesses.
The Mackinac Center Legal Foundation sued to end the DHS' illegal diversion of so-called "union dues" from state subsidy checks received by home-based day care providers who watch children from low-income families. The "dues" were funneled to a government-employee union that purports to represent more than 40,000 of Michigan's home-based day care providers, who are actually private business owners and independent contractors.
The case was ruled moot by the Michigan Supreme Court after the DHS ceased to collect the dues and the DHS director stated that these home-based day care providers are not public employees. … more
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Mackinac Center Amicus Curiae Brief in In re Complaint of Rovas Against SBC Michigan

The Mackinac Center’s brief urges the Michigan Supreme Court to hold that the judiciary need not defer to administrative agencies’ interpretations of ambiguous statutes. Alternatively, because Michigan courts (unlike federal courts) have not determined that agency rules created through formal adjudication are equivalent to rules created through notice-and-comment rulemaking, the Court could hold simply that there is no judicial deference to rules created through adjudication, leaving aside the question of deference to notice-and-comment rules.
The Michigan Supreme Court decided the case in July 2008. The justices held that the rulings of state agencies should not receive deference from the courts and that the Michigan judiciary hence plays an integral role in reviewing the legality of agency actions. The ruling places a direct check on the power of state agencies to interpret and to act upon laws passed by the Michigan Legislature.
The decision is a landmark in Michigan jurisprudence, particularly since it diverges from federal jurisprudence, which grants almost unlimited power to federal agencies in implementing laws passed by Congress. The court's ruling was substantially in agreement with the arguments presented in this brief. … more

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Mackinac Center Amicus Curiae Brief in Michigan Department of Transportation v. Tomkins

On November 16, 2007, the Mackinac Center for Public Policy filed a brief of amicus curiae with the Michigan Supreme Court in the case of Michigan Department of Transportation v Tomkins. The legal dispute involves the amount of compensation a property owner should receive from state government when the state uses eminent domain to take part of the owner’s property. Specifically, the Michigan Supreme Court asked whether a state law that limits the property owner’s compensation to so-called "special-effect" damages violates the common understanding of the "just compensation" guaranteed in eminent domain cases by the Michigan Constitution. … more
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A Model Right-to-Work Amendment to the Michigan Constitution

This policy brief discusses several foundational legal concepts and sets forth model language for a legally sound right-to-work amendment to the Michigan Constitution. … more
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The Effects of Michigan’s Prevailing Wage Law

Michigan’s prevailing wage law adds unnecessary costs to construction projects at taxpayers’ expense. … more

Proposal 3: Establishing a Constitutional Requirement Extending Mandatory Collective Bargaining and Binding Arbitration to State Government Employees

On Nov. 5, 2002, Michigan voters will consider Proposal 02-03 ("Proposal 3"), an amendment to the state constitution that, if passed, would fundamentally alter the relationship between the State of Michigan and its employees. … more
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The Effect of Right-to-Work Laws on Economic Development

The right to decide for yourself whether or not to support a union in your workplace: union officials dismiss it as "the right to starve", but for the last thirty years Right-to-Work states have been outperforming compuslory unionism states such as Michigan. This report demonstrates how individual freedom and higher productivity give workers in Right-to-Work states the edge in job opportunities, employment, and purchasing power. … more
The Michigan Union Accountability Act

The Michigan Union Accountability Act:

A Step Toward Accountability and Democracy in Labor Organizations

Unions in Michigan represent over 900,000 workers and take in more than $250 million in membership dues annually. But in spite of their expansive wealth and political power, requirements that unions disclose their financial dealings are minimal. Reform of the federal reporting system, which governs private-sector unions, is needed but unlikely in the current political climate. Michigan can take the lead by passing its own Union Accountability Act, requiring annual financial disclosure reports and independent audits of public-sector union affiliates active in the Great Lakes State. … more
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Reforming Property Forfeiture Laws to Protect Citizens’ Rights

The Framers of the United States Constitution understood that freedom depends upon the vigorous protection of private property rights and that this protection was therefore the most sacred obligation of government. However, despite Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment guarantees, recent years have witnessed a massive expansion of a legal practice known as "asset forfeiture," which allows government to violate the very property rights it is charged with protecting. Hundreds of asset forfeiture laws-many of them intended to stop illegal drug trafficking-give state and federal law enforcement agents the power to seize property even without proof of the owners' guilt in a criminal trial because, in many cases, the government considers the property itself to be the criminal. This study recommends nine reforms that will help guarantee that Michigan citizens enjoy the benefits of private property rights, limited government, and individual liberty, and remain protected from unjustified and arbitrary seizure of their personal possessions. … more

Reforming the Law of Takings in Michigan

If the state of Michigan takes from a land owner some, but not all, of the use or value of his land, the owner is not entitled to any compensation. This forces a few land owners to bear the entire cost of these takings that are intended to benefit the public as a whole. Many states have initiated reforms that would permit land owners to be more fairly compensated. This study outlines the practice of takings jurisprudence in Michigan, reviews the legislative responses in Michigan and other states, and makes specific recommendations for reform in Michigan. 40 pages. … more

The Limits of Compulsory Professionalism: Does a Unified Bar Make Sense for Michigan?

No profession other than the practice of law, in Michigan or any other state, requires membership in a professional organization to maintain a license. This practice, known as the unified bar, has been the subject of litigation in a number of states. Practicing attorney and Law Professor Bradley A. Smith and attorney Alan Falk note that nineteen states have voluntary bar associations, and compare their operation to the "unified" (involuntary) associations. They find that compulsory bar membership provides no greater benefits than those provided by voluntary bar associations. 26 pages. … more

Discrimination at Private Clubs in Michigan: Freedom of Association After Public Act 70

In recent years, a cherished American right, freedom of association, has come into conflict with laws designed to prevent discrimination by private organizations. Michigan's Public Act 70 of 1992 is one such law. Examining P.A. 70, as well as Michigan's famed Elliot-Larsen law, University of Detroit Law Professor Stephen J. Safranek finds that the act was unnecessary, misdirected, and economically harmful. Individual consumers of club services are the real losers. P.A. 70 is government intervention without regard to the right of private clubs to engage in freedom of association. 16 pages. … more

Employment-at-Will in Michigan: A Case for Retaining the Doctrine

The last two decades have witnessed an unprecedented assault on one of the last frontiers of free contract: the employment relationship. The ability of individuals to choose freely for whom they will work and who will work for them is being undermined by activist jurists and legislators and cheered on by statist academics. Skoppek traces this development in Michigan law, explains the breadth of harm it has caused, and argues strongly for change. 26 pages. … more

Litigation and the Market: Restoring the Balance Between Individual and Employer Rights

Litigation has become an expensive and prominent component of our economy. There are too many excessive damage awards and too few controls on the length and expense of court proceedings. The author examines product liability and employment contract law and recommends ten specific reforms. 5 pages. … more

Jail Overcrowding in Michigan: A Public Problem With a Private Solution?

Strapped for cash and experiencing soaring costs to maintain over crowded jails, Michigan counties are overdue for privatization. Van Eaton cites substantial cost savings in more than a dozen other states where jail operation and management has been privatized. Michigan state government should allow our 83 counties the freedom to employ this promising option. 26 pages. … more

Tort Law and the Products Liability Insurance Crisis

This report examines the theories behind the products liability insurance crisis, including the idea that the crisis is contrived by the insurance industry. Smith argues that the real source of the problem is judicial changes in tort law that undermine the predictability of risk and the independence insurance markets need to adequately measure risk. He recommends steps that governments should take to solve the crisis and bring down consumer and industry costs. 55 pages. … more

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