Studies

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).
Click here for a PDF of the study.  

Executive Summary


In recent years, Michigan’s criminal law has put into legal jeopardy a woman innocently helping her neighbor’s children board a school bus; a man who unknowingly deposited spare tires with a facility lacking proper state permits; and a business owner who expanded his parking lot on land that state regulators later deemed a “wetland.”
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, if not impossible, to discover and understand. For example:
  • Michigan’s penal code contains 918 sections—eight times the number of the Model Penal Code and significantly more than that of neighboring states Ohio, Illinois, and Wisconsin.
  • Michigan has at least 3,102 crimes—1,209 felonies and 1,893 misdemeanors—and most of these (48 percent of felonies and more than 76 percent of misdemeanors) lie outside the penal code.
  • Michigan has created, on average, 45 crimes annually over the last six years, 44 percent of which were felonies and 73 percent of which fell outside the penal code.
  • More than 26 percent of felonies and more than 59 percent of misdemeanors on the Michigan books do not explicitly require the state to make a showing of intent (mens rea) on the part of the accused.

The size as well as the breadth of Michigan’s criminal law not only places citizens in legal jeopardy but also creates a serious risk that prosecutions will vary markedly from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Further, it threatens to divert scarce resources away from the enforcement of serious violent and property crimes.
To address this overcriminalization, Michigan policymakers should consider:
  • Creating a bipartisan legislative task force to conduct hearings and set guiding principles for lawmakers when creating new criminal offenses, with an emphasis on organizing and clarifying criminal laws for state residents.
  • Creating a commission, or charging the Michigan Law Revision Commission, to review the criminal law and consolidate, clarify, and optimize the state’s current criminal statutes.
  • Enacting a default mens rea provision, ensuring that to be convicted of a crime requires a showing of intent, unless the legislature clearly specifies otherwise.
 … more
S2012-04

The Shortage of Generic Sterile Injectable Drugs: Diagnosis and Solutions

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the number of times drugs were in short supply almost tripled from 61 in 2005 to 178 in 2010. The figure reached more than 250 in 2011. This means that manufacturers reported to the FDA that they were unable to meet demand for the drugs. Hospital and health-system pharmacists, as well as oncologists, anesthesiologists and other specialists have also increasingly reported difficulties acquiring drugs.

These are mostly injectable drugs for cancer and other important therapies, and they are frequently produced by generic drugmakers. These drugs are not dispensed by community pharmacies, but rather administered by health professionals in clinical settings.
Currently proposed solutions are unlikely to address the crisis satisfactorily. Congress appears ready to give more power to the FDA, but making FDA regulations more onerous will not alleviate the current shortage of crucial medicines.
A more promising approach is to make it easier for competitors to enter the market in response to forthcoming shortages. In general, this means reducing and ultimately removing the FDA’s monopoly on the approval of drugs for medical use. Shifting these medicines to Medicare Part D insurance may also stabilize supply by helping ensure manufacturers receive adequate compensation for the medicine, even as taxpayers are protected from escalating costs. … more
S2012-02

Alcohol Control Reform and Public Health and Safety

Michigan regulates the sale of beer, wine and “spirituous” (hard) liquor through state statute and rules promulgated by the Michigan Liquor Control Commission. As part of this system, state government intervenes in the spirituous liquor market as a monopoly wholesaler, a role it has filled since the end of Prohibition. The state also mandates that most suppliers of beer and wine grant exclusive sales territories to a select group of wholesalers. These and other restrictions artificially raise prices and reduce the availability of alcohol to Michigan’s consumers.

Last year, a state Liquor Control Advisory Rules Committee was charged with developing alcohol control reform proposals. Some critics, however, have cautioned that the state’s present alcohol laws are necessary to protect public health. This Policy Brief examines the health and safety effects of alcohol regulations like Michigan’s. … more
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Proposals to Further Regulate Michigan’s Electricity Market: An Assessment

More than a dozen bills are pending in the Michigan Legislature to expand regulation of the electricity industry and to impose new environmental requirements on energy production and sales. As a group, these legislative proposals assume the necessity of government intervention in the production and distribution of energy. This report details the drawbacks for consumers and the economy of substituting political forces for market forces in electricity service. … more
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Assessing Stricter Mercury Controls in Michigan

On April 17, 2006, Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm directed the Department of Environmental Quality to draft a rule under the state’s Clean Air Act to reduce mercury emissions from coal-fired power plants by 90 percent. The governor ordered the reductions to occur in two phases. The first phase is supposed to entail the reduction schedule established by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency last year. The second phase is supposed to exceed the federal requirements by reducing emissions 90 percent by the year 2015. … more
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Groundwater Regulation: An Assessment

In proposing the Water Legacy Act, Gov. Jennifer Granholm is attempting to increase state regulation of groundwater use through a costly and intrusive permit regime. If enacted, this drastic change would upend longstanding water rights and further weaken Michigan’s economy. … more
Electric Choice

Assessing Electric Choice in Michigan

Ending the regional monopoly structure in the generation of electricity was intended to provide customers with lower rates and improved service quality, while also increasing generating capacity for electricity in the state. But attempts are underway to reverse the course of this restructuring. … more
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Crossed Lines: Regulatory Missteps in Telecom Policy

An analysis of forced access in Michigan

Violation of property rights is the defining feature of current telecom policy. … more
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Energizing Michigan's Electricity Market

Michigan is about to allow customer choice in the electric power market and, by doing so, end nearly a century of monopoly protection and guaranteed profits for electric utilities. How the state makes this free market transition will impact Michigan's competitiveness and cost of living. The report reviews key decisions before the legislature; analyzes the Public Service Commission proposals; shows the technical, environmental, and economic impact of deregulation; compares Michigan to other states; and recommends ten specific actions to ensure fair, timely, and comprehensive customer choice. The effects of so-called stranded cost payments to utilities are assessed in detail. A four-page glossary of technical terms is included. 33 pages. … more

Timber Producer Certification in Michigan: Self-Regulation vs. State Regulation

Which form of regulation is better for solving problems, protecting consumers and the environment and encouraging rational economic planning-regulation by government or regulation by industry through free markets and incentives? Michigan State University Forestry Professor and Mackinac Center Scholar Dr. Potter-Witter argues for a self-certification model that could be applied to other industries. She also provides a thorough review of the Michigan timber market and a timely survey of literature on occupational licensing. 23 pages. … more

Road Map For a Michigan Renaissance

In the aftermath of the 1990 gubernatorial election, innovative proposals for a new incoming administration and legislature were needed. In a 20-point program, The Mackinac Center calls for a Michigan Grace Commission, welfare reform, trucking deregulation, privatization, repeal of the Prevailing Wage law, and specific tax and spending cuts. … more

Auto Insurance in Michigan: Regulation, No-Fault, and Affordability

Written by one of America's foremost authorities on auto insurance, this study is a thorough review of Michigan's Essential Insurance Act and No-Fault Law. Harrington examines in-depth the structure of rates in the state and explains that they are not the result of price-gouging or insufficient competition. He analyzes the effects of the state's insurance regulations, and makes suggestions that would increase competition, lower costs, and limit the interference of government in a free insurance market. 33 pages. … more

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