By Robert M. Meisner, Esq.

As a practicing attorney for 47 years, I have seen the Michigan Legislature, particularly in the last four or five years, totally undermine the ability of the consumer to get a fair break. Particularly, this insurance industry-financed legislature has torn the heart out of the rights of consumers in the community association arena.

Senator Kowall, representing District 15, promoted egregious changes to the Michigan Nonprofit Corporation Act which have now become law. Legislators who voted against the changes, especially those that are attorneys, recognized that allowing paid directors to be free from liability, even if they are grossly negligent, is preposterous and makes it even more difficult to pursue a nonprofit director than would be the case if you were pursuing a government official. This is only one example of the many irresponsible changes made by the Michigan legislature and signed by Governor Snyder in the 2014 lame duck legislative session.

Now, with SB 610 signed into law (effective 9/21/16), they are trying to undermine the rights of people in condos who have been granted the right by legislation to have an interest in their own common elements when the developer fails to complete his condominium project within ten years from the date the project began. While that wasn’t enough for the legislature, they and their special interest groups have now made it difficult for associations to gain and obtain the ownership rights which in many instances have already accrued to them, since the legislation made the statute retroactive under our noses.

Very few attempt to publicize these changes, and few in the community association industry seem to have the effective voice to deal with these situations. We need people to rise up, and we need legislators who care about people and not insurance companies, the Chamber of Commerce or other special interest groups who have no interest other than pocketing money. It is only when people rise up and raise hell that changes will be made. There are enough other negative marks for this legislature, including roads, Detroit Schools, the Flint water crisis, and a panoply of other issues that are more publicly discussed, which demand the bums be thrown out. We worry so much about Congress – what about our own legislature? Times need to change, and people need to be held accountable for their self-serving actions propelled by big-money interests and fat cat lobbyists.

It’s no wonder that Michigan was ranked dead last by the Center for Public Integrity in its 2015 State Integrity Investigation. Michigan communities are facing real consequences due to the lack of transparency and oversight in our state.

If you are interested in joining me in this effort, contact me by email or by phone at 248.644.4433.