Why Your Presence is Necessary at the Hearing Tuesday, May 27th
Senate Bill 878 which was introduced by Senator Rick Jones of Grand Ledge, MI passed the Senate with a unanimous vote and 21 cosponsors. It now sits in the House of Representatives Committee on Regulatory Reform which is chaired by Representative Hugh Crawford of Novi, MI.
Representative Hugh Crawford has held one hearing on SB878 and has scheduled a second hearing on Tuesday May 27th. After an informal vote count the day before the first hearing, it appeared that the bill had the votes on the committee to move it to the House Floor for a vote by the entire House. However, the Chair chose not to hold a vote on the bill at the first hearing because the bill needed additional testimony. Today, he indicated he will also not hold vote at the Tuesday, May 27th hearing.
Staff of the Speaker of the House, Jase Bolger of Marshall, MI have indicated that the bill will most likely not be taken up by the House of Representatives before they leave on Summer Break, but that there is definitely support in the Republican caucus to do something to help the charities. We have implored him to act now, because once the rules are in effect, rooms will close and it will be impossible for the industry to recover. The reason for not running SB878 before Summer Break we are told is that there is not enough time to get to it with everything else the legislature is working on at the moment.
The Governor’s Office has indicated that they oppose the bill and will veto it. It is unclear at this time if there would be support in the Legislature to override the Governor’s veto.
What is also not clear is why, with all of the interest and support for SB878 by House members and the Senate, the Governor’s office refuses to “come to the table” and negotiate a legislative solution to this problem. MiCGA identified this problem years ago and has been actively trying to work with the state to ensure that the charities can continue this valuable fundraising mechanism provided to them by state law, and at the same time, make sure the state has the resources to weed out the “bad actors” which it has done successfully under the old rules themselves. The whole Bingo Act needs revised to bring it in line with current practice in the industry. It has to be done by the Legislature not a bureaucrat because the enabling statute itself is outdated–not just the rules.
There are most likely reasons completely unrelated to protecting charities that are driving why SB878 is not moving in the House of Representatives. We need to remind the Governor and the Legislators that the charities expect them to do what is right not convenient for other special interests. A strong showing from our charity members on Tuesday will deliver that message.