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OCBA’s VOICE RESONATES IN LANSING

The Legislative Committee of the OCBA may be one of our best-kept secrets. The committee provides a direct member benefit by providing the OCBA’s membership a voice with the Michigan Legislature. And, our association is the only local and voluntary bar in the state of Michigan that employs a lobbyist to assist us in this regard.

In 1994, the OCBA’s board of directors expanded the role of the Legislative Committee to allow the Association to take positions on issues concerning lawyers in particular, and legal issues within the community generally. 

The committee is composed of two co-chairs and more than 20 OCBA members.  Many individuals serve as liaisons from other OCBA committees and provide reports to the Legislative Committee concerning their committee's legislative priorities. The Legislative Committee then takes positions on proposed legislation and forwards those positions to the OCBA’s board of directors for their review and approval. The Legislative Committee may not present positions to the OCBA membership or to the Legislature without the prior approval and endorsement of the board.

Probably the most significant legislative priority for the legal profession in the last five years concerned the issue of how the Single Business Tax would be replaced. In 2008, the discussion around that issue included a proposed tax on legal services. This proposal was one that just about every attorney could rally against and the OCBA partnered not only with the State Bar of Michigan, but also other local bar associations to craft a consistent message that ultimately led to the abandonment and defeat of the tax scheme.

Current Legislative Session 2013-2014

HB 4336 – Family law; child support; expand age-of-majority provision regarding child support under certain circumstances. Amends secs. 2 & 5b of 1982 PA 295 (MCL 552.602 & 552.605b). Opposed.

HB 4120 – Family law; child custody; mandate joint custody in every custody dispute between parents except in certain circumstances. Amends secs. 5 & 6a of 1970 PA 91 (MCL 722.25 & 722.26a). Opposed.

HB 4054 – Family law; other; modify definition of eligible domestic relations order. Amends sec. 2 of 1991 PA 46 (MCL 38.1702). Supported.

SB 131 – Family law; child custody; prohibit granting of custody or parenting time for parent convicted of certain sexual offenses. Amends 1970 PA 91 (MCL 722.21 - 722.31) by adding sec. 5a. Opposed.

HB 4354 – Torts; medical malpractice; limit liability for emergency treatment rendered in a hospital. Amends 1961 PA 236 (MCL 600.101 - 600.9947) by adding sec. 2912i. Opposed.

SB 132 – Torts; product liability; rescind limitation on liability for drugs that have been approved by federal food and drug administration. Amends sec. 2946 of 1961 PA 236 (MCL 600.2946). Supported.

SB 251 – Insurance; no-fault; personal protection insurance; establish a maximum for medical and hospital expenses. Amends secs. 3104, 3107 & 3163 of 1956 PA 218 (MCL 500.3104 et seq.). Opposed.

SB 173, HB 4249 – Prevent cities and townships from enacting legislation requiring that employers within their jurisdiction provide sick leave days to their employees. Local governments would be exempt. Opposed.

The following is a report of the bills on which OCBA adopted positions and their ultimate disposition at the conclusion of the 2011-2012 legislative session.

Family Court Committee

HB 4067 – Allows paternity of a child born to a married woman to be established in a man other than the husband. Supported with modification.
BILL DIED WHEN SESSION CLOSED

SB 557 – Modifies the statute relating to revocation of paternity (and the establishment of and setting aside of such determinations). Opposed.
Became Public Act 159 of 2012

SB 167 – Provides for second-parent adoption. Supported with modification.
BILL DIED WHEN SESSION CLOSED

HB 4778 – Mandates joint custody in every custody dispute between parents except in certain circumstances. Opposed.
BILL DIED WHEN SESSION CLOSED

HB 5766 – Permits men and women to adopt all or a portion of spouse’s surname. Supported.
BILL DIED WHEN SESSION CLOSED

HB 5779 – Revises 1905 PA 299 to allow individuals in a divorce, regardless of gender, restoration of legal name used before marriage. Supported.
BILL DIED WHEN SESSION CLOSED

HB 5812 – Modifies the best-interest standards in the1970 Child Custody Act to include many of the provisions of the child neglect statute. It also mandates treatment and supervised visits, and addresses domestic violence and abuse by a grandparent. Opposed.
BILL DIED WHEN SESSION CLOSED

SB 989 – Amends 1970 Child Custody Act to prohibit custody or parenting time being granted to persons required to register under the Sex Offenders Registration Act. Opposed.
BILL DIED WHEN SESSION CLOSED

SB 1000 – Amends the 1970 Child Custody Act to prohibit the exercise of parenting time in a country not a party to the Hague Convention on the civil aspects of international child abduction, unless both parents provide written consent. Opposed.
Became Public Act 600 of 2012

SB 1001 – Amends the 1982 Support and Parenting Time Enforcement Act to provide for fees for collecting and processing child support withholdings. Supported.
Became Public Act 357 of 2012

Real Estate Law Committee

HB 5052 – Allows landlords or their non-attorney representatives to bring an action and appear before the court in summary proceedings. Opposed.
BILL DIED WHEN SESSION CLOSED

Juvenile Law Committee

SB 694 – Parental rights; Updates language, behaviors and department names and incorporates recent case law decisions:  In Re Powers. Supported.
BILL DIED WHEN SESSION CLOSED

Medical-Legal Committee

HB 4936 – Amends the insurance code. Opposed.
BILL DIED WHEN SESSION CLOSED

HB 5153 – Provides protection from civil liability to persons who provide court-appointed social services. Opposed.
BILL DIED WHEN SESSION CLOSED

SB 291 - Permits motorcycle operators and passengers age 21 or older to ride a motorcycle without a crash helmet; mandates $20,000 coverage in first-party medical benefits. Opposed. Became Public Act 98 of 2012

SB 1110 – Limits liability for medical malpractice for emergency treatment rendered in a hospital. Opposed.
BILL DIED WHEN SESSION CLOSED

SB 1115 – Modifies and clarifies procedures for entry of damage awards involving medical malpractice. Opposed.
Became Public Act 608 of 2012

SB 1116 – Enacts a physician judgment rule for medical malpractice. Opposed.
BILL DIED WHEN SESSION CLOSED

SB 1117 – Includes non-licensed health care providers to persons to whom medical malpractice provisions of the revised judicature act apply.  Opposed.
BILL DIED WHEN SESSION CLOSED

SB 1118 – Revises period of statute of limitations for survival actions and disallows prejudgment interest on attorney fees and costs involving medical malpractice.
Supported in part, opposed in part.
Became Public Act 609 of 2012

Veterans Committee

HB 5159 –provides for establishment of an advisory committee to monitor veterans treatment courts in circuit and district courts – Supported.
Became Public Act 334 of 2012

HB 5162 –provides for establishment in circuit and district courts of a veterans treatment court – Supported.
Became Public Act 335 of 2012

And while forwarding positions to the Legislature’s committee chairs, vice chairs, sponsors and committee members and leadership is important, it is critical that our legislators know who we are. In the age of term limits where legislators are constantly changing, it is an ongoing challenge to ensure that they know who we are, why the opinion of our association is relevant, and that our association and members are a meaningful resource as legislation and legislative priorities are crafted.

We are able to create relationships and serve as a resource for two reasons. First, our lobbyist, Muchmore Harrington Smalley and Associates, puts us in front of the right people, forwards our legislative positions in a professional and persuasive manner, and they help us to “build our brand.” Second, we’ve hosted receptions occasionally, and conducted a Legislative Day in June 2011 where committee members and board members met with key legislators to introduce ourselves. Relationships were forged that prove fruitful today.

OCBA members may be proud of their colleagues who track legislation, advocate for the legal profession, and advocate for those we serve.