McBroom introduces Equal Access to Justice legislation

LANSING, Mich. — State government agencies would be responsible for paying the legal costs of those who prevail in regulatory lawsuits against an agency under legislation recently introduced by Sen. Ed McBroom.

McBroom said the bills would encourage state government to reach amicable agreements with residents and businesses to address issues instead of unnecessarily pursuing legal action. He said the bills stem in large part from the concerns of Upper Peninsula residents about permitting issues.

“Too often, instead of working through problems like most people do, state government bureaucrats go after private citizens and businesses who the government views in violation of some regulation based on their interpretation of the law or internal policy,” said McBroom, R-Vulcan. “In the end, this approach doesn’t do much other than bully people and make them spend money they don’t have or worse, it forces them to comply regardless of who is right.

“In my view, that is wrong, and this legislation seeks to avoid those unfortunate and unnecessary outcomes by encouraging state government to actually resolve problems with people instead of threatening legal action.”

Specifically, Senate Bills 245 and 246 would hold most state departments or agencies that lose in court financially accountable for the prevailing party’s legal costs unless it could make a compelling case to the court proving its position was substantially justifiable.

The bills are similar to legislation that was approved by the Senate and House last session but were vetoed by then-Gov. Rick Snyder.

SBs 245 and 246 have been referred to the Senate Oversight Committee for consideration.

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