News Story

Unlicensed Dogs Get New Leash On Life; Taxpayers Due A Refund In Traverse City

Positive actions on behalf of citizens, canines comes about because of Michigan Capitol Confidential's reporting

Michigan residents — and their dogs — soon will benefit from actions taken in response to news stories and oversight of school officials and laws in the state.

A 95-year-old dog law that required sheriffs to kill unlicensed dogs finally is being repealed, and the secretary of state's office said taxpayers in Traverse City are due a refund on an illegal mailing the school district sent out in 2012. Michigan Capitol Confidential broke the dog law story and brought statewide exposure to the school bond mailing issue.

The Michigan House and Senate unanimously voted to put an end to the 1919 dog law. The law required county sheriffs to kill unlicensed canines and was originally written to deal with widespread problems with rabies. The law was unenforced, meaning public safety officers were technically guilty of "nonfeasance of office" (failure to do a job that one has a duty to perform).

Michigan Capitol Confidential first reported on the law in June 2011 and a bill to repeal the law was introduced shortly afterward by Rep. Margaret O’Brien, R-Portage. After the bill sat in committee, CapCon did another story about the law in April 2013 talking with people who work with animals. In May, House Bill 4168 passed unanimously in the House. The Senate passed the bill unanimously last week.

The bill has been forwarded to the governor's office for his signature.

In October 2012, Michigan Capitol Confidential reported on a local citizen filing a complaint against the Traverse City Area Public Schools for expressly advocating for a school bond. While districts may provide information, they cannot use taxpayer money to tell people to vote "yes." Jason Gillman, who lives in Grand Traverse County, filed complaints against the district and superintendent over the issue.

Gillman's complaint was about a brochure the school district sent out that read: "Traverse City Area Public Schools is asking voters to support the continuation of TCAPS' long-term capital infrastructure improvement plan by authorizing a bond proposal on November 6, 2012."

The district superintendent said lawyers saw the brochures and they felt they were in the clear, but the state announced this week that the district would be fined $25,600 for the illegal mailing.

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.