Bumstead legislation to aid local governments sees committee approval
LANSING — The Senate Committee on Local Government Thursday afternoon approved legislation introduced by Sen. Jon Bumstead that would aid local governments with certain administrative duties.
“Elected officials should be held to a certain standard when taking office,” said Bumstead, R-Newaygo. “People place their trust in who they elect to show up to meetings and make important decisions on their behalf. When the law allows local officials to avoid handling day-to-day business in their communities, without any repercussions, it’s time for some changes.”
The village of Hesperia has been unable to hold a village council meeting since May 20, 2019 due to a lack of quorum. The village is made up of a seven-member council that includes one village president and six trustees. However, three of the village trustees resigned, leaving four members on the village council.
Additionally, one trustee has refused to attend village council meetings for personal reasons, causing a lack of quorum — meaning the village cannot officially take care of matters in the community.
Senate Bills 712 and 713 would amend current state law and give local governments the power to compel absent members to attend.
The legislation would also provide direction for local governments unable to achieve a quorum and give them tools to ensure elected officials are sufficiently conducting their duties. Under the legislation, if a local official continually fails 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 village of Hesperia is seeing a breakdown in the way the system was designed to work,” Bumstead said. “Those who remain on the council have their hands tied by our current laws. My legislation includes some much-needed changes that will help officials in my district solve a dire issue and prevent these types of abuse of power in the future.”
The bills were unanimously approved by the committee and will now go before the full Senate for a vote.