The Michigan State Legislature has been busy this year doing something very unusual. At the request of Governor Rick Snyder, they have actually been working to take laws off the books.
That like never happens, dude. Legislators almost always add on or revise, but never, ever remove.
In this case it was an effort to repeal a number of outdated criminal laws, some of which are burdensome or unconstitutional. In so doing, I must say they have made Michigan a very attractive destination for the interested vacationer.
For instance, thanks to this effort, cursing in front of women or children or playing the national anthem out of tune will no longer be criminal acts punishable by jail time. That is directly in my wheelhouse, let me tell you. I often whittle away the evening hours sitting on the porch, playing the national anthem out of tune and loudly cursing at neighborhood children and their mothers. Of course, I live in Florida where practically anything goes.
Now I can go do that in Michigan.
I really did not know that playing the national anthem out of tune in Michigan could land you in jail. Good thing that Roseanne Barr's famous scar-strangled panner rendition took place in California. She'd be in prison for the rest of her life if it had been in the Wolverine state.
On second thought, that wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing.
There are other benefits as well. HB 4249 eliminates crimes related to trespassing that were made redundant by newer, broader statutes. These include trampling or otherwise injuring cranberry vines or huckleberry or blackberry bushes without the permission of the owner or occupant.
Again, I never realized what an epidemic of anti-huckleberry fervor existed amongst Michiganites. I didn't even know they grew cranberries there. And it is a great comfort to acknowledge the state recognizes that blackberry lives matter.
Not all of the changes are positive, in my view. HB 4250 repeals a law making it a misdemeanor to promote, conduct or participate in “endurance contests,” otherwise known as walkathons. The bill is now PA 212. I remain convinced that walkathons are evil, and should remain illegal. Besides, in a state rich in automobile history, all those walkers on the road are just a nuisance.
And in all seriousness, one truly positive change is HB 4709. It replaces a reference to “deformed human being or human monstrosity” with “disabled or disfigured”. It is now PA 214.
It is very hard to conceive a time where that language was acceptable in any context.
Other notable changes:
House Bill 4248 repeals a number of outdated criminal laws, some of which are burdensome or unconstitutional. These include the aforementioned acts, as well as six crimes relating to “dueling”, or refusing to help fight a forest fire. It is now Public Act 210 of 2015.
HB 4501 deletes sentencing guidelines for the felonies being repealed under the above measures. It is now PA 213. That is good news for anyone currently awaiting sentencing for huckleberry bush trampling, or singing the national anthem off key.
HB 4710 deletes criminal penalties associated with failing to post a registration card when camping on DNR land. The provision replaces the misdemeanor charge with a civil infraction so that it is does not appear on a person's permanent criminal record. The bill is now PA 215.
HB 4711 eliminates the requirement that a prisoner not be released from incarceration until all fines are paid and eliminates the option for a judge to sentence a prisoner to solitary confinement or hard labor in prison or jail. The former is unenforceable due to court opinions, and the latter is enforced at the corrections level. The bill is now PA 216.
Clearly, life in Michigan just became a whole lot easier. Swearing tone deaf patriotic huckleberry bush tramper's who have an incredible urge to promote walkathons are probably sleeping a lot easier now.