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No License Suspension For Low-Tier Violations; Expungement Goes To Gov

September 29, 2020

Drivers would no longer lose their licenses for low-tier violations unrelated to unsafe driving violations under a series of bills approved by the House Thursday.

“When we suspend an individual’s license for activity not involving driving offenses or for not paying fees, we stop them from going to work, we stop them from picking their kids up, and sometime we waste law enforcement time on picking up individuals and taking them to jail when they could focused on more serious things,” said House Judiciary Committee Chair Graham Filler (R-DeWitt). 
 
He noted that prosecutors and sheriffs have given their support to the bills. 
 
Rep. Mike Mueller (R-Linden) said he was “not a big fan” of his piece of the package, HB 5849, at first. He agreed philosophically with the idea, but “struggled with the practicalities” because of his years in law enforcement. But work with stakeholders came up with a good bill. 
 
“Understand, life can be challenging. And some mistakes shouldn’t define the rest of someone’s life. This bill is fair and does not hinder public safety. Additionally, this will save law enforcement resources, prosecutor resources, free up the district courts and these resources can be better used to prosecute more serious offenders,” Mueller said. 
 
Pieces of the package passed Thursday in the House had almost unanimous support. Only one bill drew a dissenting vote.

 
HB 5846, the main bill in the package sponsored by Rep. Bronna Kahle (R-Adrian), would eliminate license suspensions for having failed to answer citations for parking violations, failing to comply with a court order, failing to pay fines or fees, for some civil infractions, and failing to report a change of address, among other changes. 
 
The bill passed 104-0. 
 
HB 5847, by Rep. Luke Meerman (R-Polkton Twp.), eliminates suspensions for furnishing alcohol to a minor or being a minor in possession. It passed 103-1. 
 
HB 5850, by Rep. Rebekah Warren (D-Ann Arbor), would eliminate license suspensions for missed child support payments. It passed 104-0. 
 
HB 6235, by Rep. Cynthia Neeley (D-Flint), would eliminate license suspensions for a failure to appear in court. It passed 104-0. 
 
All together, some 20 bills make up the package, including bills aimed at ending license suspensions and decriminalizing minor offenses.

 
‘Historic’ Expungement Reform Sent To Governor 
 
Hundreds of thousands of Michigan residents could have the opportunity to clear their records of old criminal convictions, setting themselves up for new career opportunities under legislation the House sent to the governor Thursday. 
 
Filler said the changes being made with the package will make Michigan a “national leader in criminal justice reform.” It’s expected Gov. Gretchen Whitmer will sign the bills — HB 4980 – 4985 and HB 5120. 
 
“Making expungement cheaper, easier and available to more residents than ever before will remove the barriers that hold too many people back,” Filler said. “This will change lives for the better by giving people access to the well-paying jobs they have always dreamed about, financing options so they can buy a home for their family and the educational opportunities they need to better their future.” 
 
The bills expand the number of people who qualify for having their criminal record wiped clean by making most traffic tickets and some marijuana convictions eligible for expungements. 
 
Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan applauded the final action on what is being called “Project Clean Slate.” 
 
“For one Project Clean Slate client, his expungement has meant going from making $10 an hour to making $26 an hour,” Duggan said. “For others, it means going back to school to pursue a dream or career goals. For others, it might mean shedding a life-long stigma. And, for others, it could mean being able to chaperone their child on a field trip.”

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