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Michigan governor pocket vetoes small claims bill
LANSING, Mich. (2/3/09)--Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm pocket vetoed Senate Bill 786, which would have increased the jurisdictional monetary ceiling for filings in small claims court to $5,000 from $3,000 by 2011. The bill was supported by the Michigan Credit Union League (MCUL). SB 786, introduced by State Sen. Wayne Kuipers (R-Holland), passed the House with the Senate concurring in December. The bill then went to Granholm, but she did not sign it by the time the legislature adjourned. Normally, a bill not signed by the governor by the deadline becomes law, but when the legislature has adjourned at the end of the session, as it had in this case, bills not signed are vetoed (Michigan Monitor Feb. 2). “MCUL was successful in advocating for passage of this bill since its introduction in the fall of 2007,” said MCUL Executive Vice President Patrick La Pine. “The bill had strong support from both the House and Senate following amendments that would gradually raise the monetary ceiling over the next three years. “Unfortunately, while the MCUL continued to advocate for the bill, last-minute opposition from district court judges resulted in the governor choosing to abstain from signing and led to the pocket veto,” he added. Granholm’s spokesperson has indicated in a public report that the governor supported smaller increases to the monetary ceiling, spread over a longer period of time. SB 786, as originally introduced, would have increased the jurisdictional ceiling for small claims court to $6,000 from $3,000. A compromise in the Senate amended the bill to $5,000. While MCUL lobbied for this level, the district court judges worked with legislators to come up with a graduated increase over several years. As numerous versions of the increases were proposed as amendments, credit unions were successful in obtaining a higher-tiered threshold, MCUL said. The final bill would have raised the Small Claims Division monetary ceiling to $4,000 on July 1; $4,500 on July 1, 2010; and $5,000 on July 1, 2011. MCUL will continue to push for legislation that would raise the Small Claims Court monetary ceiling in 2009. It would help credit unions by allowing them to more frequently use the lower-cost, small-claims alternative in district courts, La Pine said.


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