Senate approves Bumstead legislation to expand local authority

LANSING, Mich. — The state Senate on Thursday approved legislation introduced by Sen. Jon Bumstead that would aid local governments with administrative duties.

“The people of Hesperia are being held hostage,” said Bumstead, R-Newaygo. “Without a quorum, no local matters can be dealt with, meaning business is halted and issues remain unsolved. Local governments are responsible for many issues that affect residents, and, in this case, the job simply isn’t getting done.”

Three of the Hesperia village trustees have now resigned, leaving four members on the seven-member council. Additionally, one trustee refuses to attend meetings for personal reasons, causing a lack of quorum. Without a quorum, the council has been unable to appoint temporary trustees, process the three resignations from previous members, or conduct any other official business.

Senate Bills 712 and 713 amend the General Law Village Act and Michigan Election Law giving local governments certain tools to help resolve situations like this.

Under Bumstead’s legislation, villages would have the general power to compel absent members to attend. The legislation would also provide additional 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.

“The situation in Hesperia has gone on long enough and it’s time something be done. Residents simply deserve better. There’s no other way to put it,” Bumstead said. “There are several local matters going unsolved and a formal meeting has not been held in nearly a year.

“These are much-needed reforms that would help any local government throughout the state in a similar situation, and I was happy to see such a great deal of support from my colleagues. I’ll be working with my members of the House to get these bills to the governor as soon as possible.”

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