A piece of legislation passed the legislature and has been signed by the governor, but what are the laws as to when it will take effect? With some laws, the effective date can have large implications on those individuals or industries impacted. For example, if a change to a business tax is signed into law, companies need time to adjust their accounting practices and company policies, or they may need to adjust for the added cost of the tax. On the other spectrum, there may be a law on the books that created unintended consequences and an entity needs an immediate change in the law to remedy the problem. The granting of immediate effect by the legislature is common practice. According to a report by the Citizens Research Council, since the adoption of the 1963 Michigan Constitution, 90% of laws have received immediate effect.
Under the Michigan Constitution, “No act shall take effect until the expiration of 90 days from the end of the session at which it was passed, but the legislature may give immediate effect to acts by a two-thirds vote of the members elected to and serving in each house.” The state constitution does not specify if the granting of immediate effect needs to be by voice vote or a record vote. For the majority of legislation, the ambiguity of the law doesn’t create an issue. In the Senate they grant immediate effect by a record vote, however the House of Representatives grants immediate effect by a voice vote. While generally this doesn’t create an issue, in some cases the minority party will create an outcry over the voice vote practice. For example, in 2013, when Michigan passed the “Right to Work” laws, the Democratic Party was in the minority in the legislature and staunchly opposed to the law. After the legislation was passed by the House, the Democratic caucus attempted to force a record vote to grant immediate effect. When the Republican Party did not allow for such a vote they were vocally outraged. To be fair, in recent Michigan history, control of the House has switched back and forth between the parties and whichever party is in the minority at any given time uses the same tactics to attempt to force a record vote for the granting of immediate effect for legislation they are strongly opposed to. Short of amending the constitution to make the laws on granting immediate effect clear, it’s likely this fight will continue to occur from time-to-time.
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