LANSING, Mich. — Both chambers of the state Legislature on Tuesday gave final approval to legislation introduced by Sen. Jon Bumstead that would hold local elected officials accountable.
“The legislation arose from an issue in my district that has been going on for nearly a year,” said Bumstead, R-Newaygo. “The residents of Hesperia are not being duly represented by their local officials and the community is struggling as a result. Proposed ordinances are awaiting approval, resignations are waiting in limbo and unfortunately, it’s time something be done.”
The village has a seven-member council that includes one village president and six trustees. Three of the Hesperia village trustees have now resigned, leaving four members. One trustee refuses to attend meetings, further lowering the number to three active members. The remaining members can informally discuss matters, but without a quorum, the council has been unable to appoint temporary trustees, process the three resignations from previous members, or conduct any official business.
“It’s unfortunate that we’ve reached this point, but the time to do something is now,” Bumstead said. “Local governments are an imperative part of conducting village, city or township business and making sure everyday services are uninterrupted. We cannot continue allowing individuals who are taking advantage of the system to keep getting away with it. Residents and other council members who choose to show up to work deserve better than that.”
Senate Bill 712 would amend the General Law Village Act to give local governments certain tools to help resolve situations like the one currently happening in Hesperia.
Under Bumstead’s legislation, villages would have the general power to compel absent members to attend. The legislation would also provide guidelines to ensure local elected officials are held to their duties.
If a village does not have an ordinance compelling absent members to attend already in place, the legislation would allow a council’s presiding officer to require absent members to attend a regular or special meeting if the village is unable to achieve a quorum for 60 consecutive calendar days. If a village fails to compel an absent member to attend a meeting under ordinary circumstances, the absent member shall be guilty of gross neglect of duty, which is a precursor for the governor to consider removal.
Bumstead’s legislation now moves to the desk of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer for consideration.