LaFave supports making state departments more accountable

State Rep. Beau LaFave said Monday that he fully supports a plan to require most state government departments to pay the court costs of those who prevail in court against a state department or agency.

LaFave said the plan, sponsored by Sen. Tom Casperson and approved by the Michigan House last week, would encourage state departments to work with residents and businesses to address issues instead of unnecessarily pushing them into court.

“Right now, state departments are rarely ordered to pay costs and fees when a case is contested in court, even when they lose. And citizens often face enormous costs, even when they win,” said LaFave, of Iron Mountain. “As a result, the state has little incentive to work cooperatively with residents and businesses toward settlements. These reforms should make the bureaucrats think twice about taking things to court, leading to more cooperation and better support for local residents and family businesses.”

Under Senate Bills 100 and 101, a state department that loses in court would be held financially accountable unless it could make a compelling case to the court proving its position was substantially justifiable.

LaFave said many Upper Peninsula residents expressed concerns related to permitting and tax issues that led to the introduction of the plan.

“It should come as no surprise that local families and small businesses don’t have access to the same level of financial resources as the government,” LaFave said. “They can’t afford the enormous costs that come along with fighting the government in court, and so they drop their complaints and comply with department demands – even when they know they’ve done nothing wrong. If this solution is signed into law, it will allow equal access to justice for all Michigan residents.

“I applaud the work of Sen. Casperson on this bill and all of his tremendous legislative achievements over the past 14 years.”

The plan now awaits final consideration in the Senate.