Consumer interests are simply not a priority in our state legislature. This is readily apparent with respect to legislation affecting Michigan’s condominium communities over the past few years.
Certain well-funded special interests have backed efforts to oppose condominiums’ interests in our legislature, and our state’s lack of business interest disclosure requirements means that our legislators may have a personal stake in voting against condominiums’ interests, but nobody would ever know about it.
Extensive amendments to Michigan’s Nonprofit Corporation Act were rushed through in the 2014 lame duck legislative session without input from condominium consumer interest organizations. Changes with respect to nonprofit director liability (applicable to both compensated and volunteer directors) constitute serious detriments for Michigan nonprofits, which include condominium associations. It is now extremely difficult to hold directors responsible for wrongdoing.
Additionally, SB 610 (2015) became effective last year, which diminished condominium associations’ rights with respect to “need not be built” improvements identified by a condominium developer.
HB 4919 (2015) was a good bill that would have ensured condominium association boards of directors would have the power to initiate litigation on behalf of the association, notwithstanding any provisions in the association’s governing documents restricting that power. But it was later amended to accommodate special interests and provide a special exemption for condominium developers, and that same amended language has been reintroduced in the new session as HB 4446.
We must pursue a more transparent and accountable state government. SB 64 and its companion bill HB 4345 would require disclosure of business interests from our legislators, the Governor, and our judiciary, which would be an important first step. Why are we the only state in the nation with a full-time legislature that lacks this requirement? It’s time for Michiganders to wake up and demand that our government works for us.