News Story

Bills Put Obsolete Laws on the Chopping Block

It is illegal to make fun of someone who doesn't accept a duel in Michigan

There are laws in Michigan pertaining to reproaching someone for not accepting a duel, the playing of the national anthem and using indecent, immoral, obscene, vulgar, or insulting language in the presence of women and children. Now there’s a package of bills that would put some of these kinds of obsolete and largely unenforced statutes out to pasture.

“I believe it is time to identify and repeal unnecessary criminal statutes and burdens currently in state law that result in over-criminalization and over-penalization of Michigan citizens,” said Rep. Chris Afendoulis, R-Grand Rapids, the sponsor of House Bill 4248, the lead bill of the package. “This bill is the initial result of a collaborative effort to bring commonsense reforms to Michigan’s penal code.”

House Bill 4250, sponsored by Rep. Rob VanHeulen, R-Walker, and House Bill 4251, sponsored by Rep. Andrea LaFontaine, R-Memphis, are the other bills in the package. House Bill 4250 would repeal an act that prohibits certain endurance contests such as walkathons. House Bill 4251 would repeal an act that prohibits the sale of dyed baby chicks, rabbits, or ducklings.

A study published by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy and the Manhattan Institute in 2014 found that Michigan has more than 3,100 laws on the books and has created an average of 45 new crimes in each of the last six years. Earlier this year a legislative work group in the House began tackling the issue and the three-bill package is the product of that work group.

The legislation is currently in the House Committee on Criminal Justice, which is chaired by Rep. Kurt Heise, R-Plymouth. According to Afendoulis, his bill has been improved while in the committee.

“I am encouraged that Rep. Heise and the committee adopted the substitute for the bill, which includes additional commonsense reforms brought forth in recent weeks by the work group,” Afendoulis said.

Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.