State Rep. James Lower of Cedar Lake, chair of the House Local Government Committee, voted in support of a trio of bills before the committee on Wednesday.
Lower was active in guiding House Bills 4105 and 4334 to the House floor for further consideration. The bills create two separate acts to prohibit local units of government from enacting or enforcing ordinances that prevent police from communicating with federal officials regarding a person’s immigration status.
HB 4105, introduced by Rep. Pamela Hornberger of Chesterfield Township, creates the Local Government Sanctuary Policy Prohibition Act, which applies to cities, villages, townships and charter townships.
HB 4334, introduced by Rep. Beau LaFave of Iron Mountain, applies to counties.
“We can’t have local politicians barring our police officers from communicating or coordinating with Federal Immigration officials. Police officers should be allowed to do their job.” Lower said. “This legislation simply ensures political gamesmanship won’t stand in the way of law and order.”
According to data from the Pew Research Center, in 2014 Michigan had approximately 130,000 unauthorized immigrants. In Michigan, four cities – Lansing, Ann Arbor, Detroit, and Ypsilanti have passed ordinances that limit police involvement or reporting on immigration matters. Lansing recently declared itself a sanctuary city in April, but then rescinded the resolution a little more than a week later. Other cities have considered similar measures.
Lower was also instrumental in advancing House Bill 4616, introduced by committee member Rep. Gary Howell of North Branch, to the House floor.
The bill allows individuals to act against a local government in circuit court for enacting firearms ordinances that are in violation of state law. Penalties would be levied to local officials who knowingly enforce those ordinances and would be necessary to ensure that ordinances in violation of existing state firearms laws are not adopted.
The bill provides that local governments will have 60 days after the effective date of the bill to repeal all invalid ordinances. Any local unit of government refusing or neglecting to repeal such ordinances could be sued by any state of Michigan resident in circuit court.
“This allows for citizens to bring action when this particular constitutional right is being threatened,” Lower said. “We needed to have some teeth in state law; otherwise there is no consequence for having local ordinances that do not conform with existing law. If you are not following laws that are already in place, there will be consequences.”