Michigan Supreme Court Grants Order for Leave

posted Jul 3, 2020, 4:55 PM by Taxpayers for Michigan Constitutional Government

On July 1, 2020 the Michigan Supreme Court granted the TMCG application for leave to appeal. See the order below.

TMCG files application for Leave to Appeal

posted Jan 16, 2020, 10:47 AM by Taxpayers for Michigan Constitutional Government

In December the TMCG legal team filed an application for Leave to Appeal to the Michigan Supreme Court on Counts I and II in our case against the State.

As you may recall, The Michigan Court of Appeals granted judgment in our favor on our claim that payments by the State to fund mandates could not be counted as payments in the form of aid to local governments. However, the Court ruled in favor of the State on our claims involving State payments to charter schools and Prop A payments. 

After careful consideration, the TMCG legal team determined the best course of action moving forward is to appeal the ruling on these two counts.

Shortly after TMCG filed for Leave to Appeal on Counts I and II, the State of Michigan Department of Technology, Management and Budget filed an application for Leave to Appeal on Count IV of our complaint, regarding payments made by the State to fund State mandates.

At this time, we await a decision from the Michigan Supreme Court on our application for Leave to Appeal.  Should the Court grant leave, it can be expected that a number of months will be needed before the appeals process is completed and the Court renders its decision.

Court of Appeals issues decision in TMCG lawsuit

posted Jul 31, 2019, 3:37 AM by Taxpayers for Michigan Constitutional Government   [ updated Jul 31, 2019, 3:43 AM ]

The three judge panel of the Michigan Court of Appeals has rendered its opinion in our Headlee lawsuit. The Court ruled in our favor that payments by the State to fund mandates could not be counted as payments in the form of aid to local governments. Further, it ordered the state to prepare a report on the extent of those payments that are currently being wrongfully counted. Two of the three judges ruled that charter schools are local governments and payments to them may be counted. The dissenting judge agreed with our argument that they are not and we firmly believe that he is right. Lastly, the Court rejected our claim that Prop. A payments to school districts could not be counted. Our legal team is reviewing the opinions, which you can read here and here, for the purpose of considering an appeal to the Michigan Supreme Court.

July 24, 2019 Update

posted Jul 24, 2019, 2:38 PM by Taxpayers for Michigan Constitutional Government

On Tuesday, July 23 attorneys for Taxpayers for Michigan Constitutional Government filed a statement of supplemental authority with the Michigan Court of Appeals, following a ruling by the Michigan Supreme Court that affects our lawsuit against the state. 

In Paquin v City of St Ignace, the Court considered whether, under the Michigan Constitution, a tribal government is properly considered a local government. The Attorney General argued “that, because the Tribe functions as a local government, the Tribe is a local government.” The Court rejected this argument finding that functional equivalency is an improper test for determining the meaning of the phrase ‘local government’ under the State Constitution, writing “Nowhere in our Constitution does it state that local-government equivalency suffices; the provision simply states ‘local . . . government.’”

Similarly, in our lawsuit, the Attorney General argues that charter schools, incorporated as 

private nonprofit corporations, carry out functions similar to that of local governments such as school districts and therefore, charter schools are equivalent to local governments. However, the Michigan Supreme Court’s recent decision in Paquin determinative and conclusively rejects this argument. 

The Michigan Supreme Court’s decision is welcome news and bodes well for our lawsuit against the state. We are still awaiting a decision from the Michigan Court of Appeals. Your continued support is appreciated and we will update you with additional information as it is available.

Awaiting Court of Appeals Decision

posted Jun 22, 2019, 11:01 PM by Taxpayers for Michigan Constitutional Government

We continue to expect the decision in our lawsuit to be rendered by the Court of Appeals very soon.  No further word has been received by our legal team, since the hearing before the Court on January 22nd.  The case raises complex State Constitutional issues and the Court's careful consideration of them can be expected to take time.  The TMCG team continues to believe that we will prevail on the merits. 

Hearing at Michigan Court of Appeals

posted Feb 6, 2019, 7:41 AM by Taxpayers for Michigan Constitutional Government

The TMCG legal team appeared before the Michigan Court of Appeals in Lansing to argue in support of the claims in our Headlee lawsuit on Tuesday, January 22.
The legal team included, John Philo, Legal Director of the Sugar Law Center, Attorney Tracy Peters and Wayne Law professors John E. Mogk and Robert Sedler. The Court of Appeals panel was comprised of Judges Peter Meter, Douglas Shapiro and Stephen Borrello. While our legal team and the Attorney General's legal team were each given 30 minutes to present their arguments, the Court relaxed the rules and allowed each as much time as desired. 
At the end of the hearing the Presiding Judge Stephen Borrello announced that the panel would attempt to render its decision within 30 days. We eagerly await their decision.

Debriefing Lunch following Court of Appeals Hearing

Pictured (from back left): John Philo; Steve Duchane; 
John Mogk; Bill Mathewson; Sara Kandel and Robert Sedler

Organizations Join Motion to File Brief in Support of TMCG Headlee Lawsuit

posted Feb 14, 2018, 5:30 PM by Taxpayers for Michigan Constitutional Government

Four organizations have joined in a motion to file an amici brief in support of our lawsuit against the State: The Michigan Municipal League’s (MML) Legal Defense Fund; The Michigan Association of Counties (MAC); the Government Law Section (GLS) of the State Bar of Michigan; and the Michigan Townships Association (MTA).

The MML is a non-profit Michigan corporation whose purpose is the improvement of municipal government and administration through cooperative effort. Its membership is comprised of 521 Michigan local governments, of which 478 are also members of the MML, Legal Defense Fund. The purpose of the Legal Defense Fund is to represent the member local governments in litigation of statewide significance.

MAC is a non-profit corporation that represents all of Michigan’s 83 counties. Its purpose is to advance education, communication and cooperation among county government officials, represent the interests of counties at the state and federal level and provide legislative support on key issues affecting counties.

The GLS, which was formally known as the Public Corporation Law Section (PCLS), is comprised of approximately 636 attorneys who generally represent the interests of government corporations, including cities, villages, townships and counties, boards and commissions, and special authorities. The GLS provides education, information and analysis about issues of concern to its membership and the public. The GLS is also committed to promoting the fair and just administration of public law, and in furtherance of this purpose, participates in cases that are significant to governmental entities throughout the State of Michigan.

The MTA is a non-profit corporation whose membership consisting of over 1,230 townships within the State, joined together for the purpose of providing education, exchange of information and guidance to and among township officials to enhance the more efficient and knowledgeable administration of township government services.

The State of Michigan responded by questioning the timeliness of the amici brief and requested that the Court place limits on the length and subject matter in the brief to which Amici responded. The court granted the Amici motion and limited its brief to plaintiffs' three remaining claims to be discussed in no more than 50 pages and filed by February 15, 2018.

Our legal team withdrew without prejudice the major trunkline road claim in the lawsuit, which required further factual investigation, in order to allow the other three claims — regarding spending from Proposal A revenue, State spending paid to charter schools and State mandates — to move forward without delay, so that Michigan local governments can get relief as soon as possible.

May 13, 2017 - Lawsuit Update

posted May 13, 2017, 3:03 PM by Taxpayers for Michigan Constitutional Government   [ updated May 13, 2017, 3:06 PM ]

On May 9 the Court of Appeals denied the State’s motion to peremptorily dismiss the case by rejecting all of the State’s procedural defenses and ordered that we proceed to a full hearing on the merits. The Court’s order is attached below. 

If you recall from our last update, the State made three main arguments for dismissal: that we failed to meet the burden imposed by the Michigan court rules relating to unfunded mandate claims, that our claims were barred by the doctrine of res judicata, and that TMCG did not have standing to bring a mandamus claim. 

First, the court held that the heightened pleading standards in the court rules for unfunded mandates are inapplicable to our Art. IX, Sec. 30 claim. It is important that the court recognized the distinction between these Constitutional sections and that our argument rests on the overall funding of local governments, not on any single unfunded mandate. 

Next, the court held that our claims are not barred by the doctrine of res judicata which, as discussed in our previous update, applies when a claim or issue has already been decided by a court on the merits or if a claim or issue should have been brought forth in a previous case decided on the merits. The Court specifically noted that our case has a different identity than cases previously brought under the Headlee amendment, specifically Durant and Adair

Finally, the Court held that the Court of Appeals has the power to enforce the implementing legislation of the Headlee Amendment. The State argued that TMCG does not have standing to enforce the reporting obligations imposed by the Headlee Amendment’s associated legislation. The Court rejected this argument, holding that the implementing legislation clearly falls within their jurisdiction under Art. IX, Sec. 32. 

Although this is very good news for TMCG, there is still a long road ahead. We are over the first hurdle. Each side will now prepare motions for Summary Disposition, which make the arguments for why each side thinks that they are correct in their legal reasoning. Our legal team will meet very soon to sharpen winning arguments. 

We greatly appreciate your continued interest and support!

December 23, 2016 - Lawsuit Update

posted Dec 23, 2016, 8:25 PM by Taxpayers for Michigan Constitutional Government   [ updated Dec 23, 2016, 8:37 PM ]

Our lawsuit against the State of Michigan continues to move forward. On Nov. 1, 2016 the Attorney General filed an answer to our complaint.

After carefully reviewing the AG’s response, our legal team found that the AG’s arguments mischaracterized our claims and contained factual errors and inconsistencies with the rights provided to the People of Michigan in the State Constitution. We filed a motion for leave to file a reply brief limited to the new issues raised by the State, which the court granted, and on Dec. 21, 2016 we filed the reply brief. For your information, we’ve included a summary of the AG’s answer and our reply brief. Both documents are attached below.


The AG’s answer raised a number of legal arguments, however, there were three that we felt we needed to address before the court reached the merits: that we have standing to bring a mandamus claim, that we did not fail to meet the burden imposed by the Michigan court rules relating to unfunded mandate claims, and that our claims are not barred by the doctrine of res judicata.

The State argues that we do not have standing to request a mandamus relief, which requires the state to perform a statutory duty. However the Michigan Constitution provides taxpayers with an explicit right to enforce the provisions of the Headlee amendment and we believe that this also includes its statutory implementing legislation. The State argued that because the production of certain reports relating to payments to local governments and unfunded mandates are owed to the legislature, they cannot be enforced by taxpayers. Our legal team determined this as inconsistent with the intent of the People when they passed Article 9, Section 25-34 of the State Constitution.

The State’s second argument attempts to mischaracterize our claims as falling under Article 9, Section 29 as opposed to Article 9, Section 30. This would impose additional pleading requirements that do not apply for Section 30 claims. We thought it imperative to make clear this distinction before the court decided any of the legal issues.

The State also argues that our claims should be barred under the doctrine of res judicata, which applies when a claim or issue has already been decided by a court on the merits or if a claim or issue should have been brought forth in a previous case decided on the merits. There have been a handful of Headlee cases over the years; however, there has not been a Section 30 case in over 30 years. We believe the State has failed to meet their burden of showing the applicability of res judicata to our claims with respect to these previous cases. In the reply brief, our legal team detailed the State’s failure to show applicability and pointed out that none of the previous cases mentioned in the State’s res judicata argument were brought under Section 30.

Have a wonderful holiday weekend and a happy New Year.

SEPTEMBER 13, 2016 — TMCG on the Radio

posted Sep 13, 2016, 11:06 AM by Taxpayers for Michigan Constitutional Government   [ updated Sep 13, 2016, 11:07 AM ]

Check out the link below to hear TMCG President Joh Mogk discuss our lawsuit against the State of Michigan on WDET 101.9. 

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