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New law makes it easier to catch criminals, prevent them from receiving welfare benefits

Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2011

Youth employment, tax clarification bills also approved by governor

LANSING, Mich. - Criminals with outstanding felony warrants will not be able to collect welfare benefits thanks to legislation signed by Gov. Rick Snyder today.

House Bill 4721 and Senate Bill 522, sponsored by state Rep. Jon Bumstead and state Sen. Bruce Caswell, require the state to develop an automated system that will facilitate information sharing between the Department of Human Services and the Michigan State Police.  The department will then be able to cross-check the names of people receiving public assistance against a database of outstanding felony warrants in order to make sure only those who are eligible are able to receive public assistance.

It is already illegal for anyone with a felony warrant to collect welfare benefits, but the state does not currently have a good system in place to ensure it does not happen.  This change will also make it easier for police to track down and apprehend those with felony warrants who try to collect welfare benefits.

The bills, which were approved with strong bipartisan support, are now Public Acts 198 and 199 of 2011. 

The governor also signed several other bills into law today.

H.B. 4458, sponsored by state Rep. Paul Muxlow, changes the law so that a public official in a city, village, township or county with a population under 3,000 may also serve as a fire chief.  Current law prohibits public officials from holding multiple offices.  The bill is now P.A. 196.

H.B. 4732, sponsored by state Rep. Jim Stamas, amends the Youth Employment Standards Act by establishing a fixed amount of time students can work.  Currently, 16- and 17-year-old students may work and attend school for a combined 48 hours a week.  Stamas' bill changes the formula by limiting the amount of time students may work to 24 hours when school is in session.  Setting a fixed amount of time will make it easier for businesses such as restaurants that rely on student employees to plan.  The bill is now P.A. 197.

S.B. 374, sponsored by state Sen. John Moolenaar, revises the manner in which expired terms or vacant positions on a board of trustees of a public hospital or health facility are filled.  A current requirement that at least two qualified candidates be rejected can make the process burdensome, particularly in rural areas.  By making this change, health facilities will have the largest pool of qualified candidates to select from.  The bill is now P.A. 195. 

The governor also signed a dozen minor cleanup bills needed to clarify portions of the new Corporate Income Tax approved as part of the state budget agreement.  S.B.s 650, 654 and 655, sponsored by state Sen. Jack Brandenburg, are now P.A.s 183 through 185.  S.B. 660, sponsored by state Sen. Mark Jansen, is now P.A. 186.  S.B. 669, sponsored by state Sen. John Pappageorge, is now P.A. 187.  S.B.s 670 through 672 and S.B. 674, all sponsored by state Sen. Dave Robertson, are now P.A.s 188 through 191.  S.B.s 677, 679 and 680, sponsored by state Sen. John Proos, are now P.A.s 192 through 194.  Details about the individual bills may be found online at