Court of Claims moves to appellate court
Less than a month ago, Governor Snyder signed a bill into law that makes several significant changes to Michigan’s judicial system. Most notably for Ingham County residents, the law moves the Court of Claims from our circuit court and – with it – up to $500,000 in reimbursement to Ingham County from the state of Michigan.
This bill met with bipartisan opposition from a wide swath: sitting judges, judicial and state policy experts, constitutional scholars, our county’s administrators, and the media. But that didn’t stop the state legislature and the governor from hastily passing the law and giving it immediate effect. Now, four Michigan Court of Appeals judges will each preside over trials brought against the state. Previously, Ingham Circuit trial judges heard these cases.
Ingham County might receive some relief from the large hole left in its circuit court budget (which was passed just weeks before the Court of Claims bill was introduced). Our circuit court has entered into an agreement to help the Court of Appeals add the new function of trial court. Ingham County will be reimbursed for the potentially considerable expense involved in making this transition.
To the non-attorney, the difference between a trial and appellate court might not seem significant. But the two levels of jurisprudence function quite differently. For example, trial courts oversee discovery – the process that the parties use to identify and share evidence. Trial judges hear testimony from witnesses. In short, they decide which facts are significant to a case. Appellate courts consider only the trial court record and the attorneys’ arguments. The appellate judges selected to preside over Court of Claims trials will undoubtedly do a competent job; it’s just that presiding over trials will be a new job for them – strictly speaking, not the job that they were elected to do.
Ingham County seeks promised pension funding from City of Lansing
Ingham County made more news recently for pursuing funding for former Lansing employees’ pensions. When the county consolidated the emergency dispatch functions of the cities of Lansing and East Lansing, the two cities agreed to transfer their dispatch employees’ pension funds to the county. East Lansing immediately transferred its employees’ funds, but the City of Lansing continues to dispute the amount of its obligation.
To temporarily fund the former Lansing dispatchers’ pensions, the Board of Commissioners approved a transfer of up to $1.5 million. Once the City of Lansing finally provides funding for its former employees, the county will move this money back to its general fund.
Volunteers, donors improve life in Ingham County
What do the Tri-County Office on Aging and the Ingham County Animal Shelter have in common? Both agencies work hard throughout the year to raise money for its services and projects, and the populations served by both reap the benefits of a multitude of dedicated volunteers. These volunteers and donors deserve our community's thanks!
As a member of TCOA’s administrative board, I had the privilege of attending its Annual Dinner and Auction last month. I was impressed by the huge turnout, the number and quality of items donated to the auction, and the generosity of donors. The dinner and auction raised $53,000 – the largest amount in the event’s 28 years. Proceeds benefit Meals on Wheels and TCOA’s other in-home services for seniors.
The Animal Shelter recently reached a first-ever milestone: 2013 was the first year that the shelter did not have to euthanize any animals because of overcrowding. This was possible because of the donated time and resources that allowed the Animal Shelter to spay or neuter animals and to provide food and vaccinations at little or no cost.
The Animal Shelter will host its Holiday Open House on Saturday, Dec. 7, from 12 noon to 4 p.m. There will be a silent auction and reduced prices for adoptions and micro-chipping. Santa will be there, and so will the shelter’s mascot, Chippy.
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Elect Kara Hope
1891 Maple Street
Holt MI 48842
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed here belong to Kara Hope. They should not be construed as representing the official or unofficial position of the Ingham County Board of Commissioners or any county department or employee. No taxpayer funds are spent on this website.