FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Stephanie Van Koevering
July 9, 2014 517-974-6065
Michigan Charities Near Breaking Point
Snyder Administration Skirts Legislative, Judicial Requirements Through Obscene Abuse of Emergency Rules Process
Local Nonprofits Prepare to Reduce Services to Neighborhoods, Families, and Schools, Approach Courts Once More for Injunctive Relief
Michigan’s charities went back to court late yesterday over the Snyder administration’s continuing efforts to kill local charities’ efforts to raise funds.
After the Michigan Court of Claims ruled in May that the state could not impose harmful new rules against the charities, the state’s Gaming Control Board on Monday announced the imposition of “emergency” rules that mirror those barred by the court.
“The Governor has gone around the Court because he didn’t like the decision,” said Stephanie Van Koevering, spokesperson for the Michigan Charitable Gaming Association and other plaintiffs in the case. “The proper response to the ruling would have been to appeal the judge’s decision, but the Governor chose not to. Now he is not only going around the court, he is also going around the state Senate and House.”
Van Koevering said the state’s Administrative Procedures Act allows for the imposition of emergency rules when an actual emergency exists, not when state executive leaders dislike certain legislative and judicial outcomes. She argues that the definition of an emergency must be upheld, lest a slippery slope result in every unfavorable court decision becoming a state executive “emergency.”
“The APA requires the administration to demonstrate that public health, safety, or welfare requires promulgation of an emergency rule-and that’s a standard that hasn’t been met in this case,” Van Koevering said. “Michigan’s charities are left wondering why on earth the Governor is spending his political capital on an issue that is so small in the grand scheme of things. Charitable gaming is a tiny activity to focus on in the midst of enormous issues like statewide economic stabilization and turnaround, roads and bridges, taxation, Detroit’s bankruptcy, school performance, and so forth. What’s going on here, really?”
In granting the earlier injunction, Judge Pat Donofrio ruled that the plaintiffs had proven their claim that irreparable harm was imminent if the MGCB rules took effect.
“Indeed, as of this morning, charities are no longer able to access funds as charitable gaming venues are being denied licenses,” Van Koevering said. “It’s already begun.”
Van Koevering noted that the constant uncertainty surrounding the rules process has made operating charitable organizations and small businesses in Michigan very overwhelming.
“People have been laid off, only to be told they can return to work the next week, budgets have been passed and commitments made to charitable programs only to have their expectations dashed,” Van Koevering said. “The Senate realized that there is a lack of leadership on this issue in the Governor’s office, and they tried to address some of the state’s regulatory concerns by passing SB 878. The House needs to act and they need to act now.”
Michigan’s charitable gaming laws have been on the books for the past 41 years, and now rely on millionaire parties as a significant fundraising opportunity.
“The House needs to help the charities find a good balance that will help the state provide consistent, fair regulation over time,” Van Koevering said. “Charitable gaming provides $19 million each year to Michigan’s most vulnerable citizens-small potatoes on the Governor’s radar screen, but important for tiny nonprofits. It is not worth ignoring the real issues facing our state in an effort to go after local Kiwanis clubs and veterans’ groups.”
A copy of the Plaintiff’s new motion in their case against the State of Michigan can be found by clicking here.