Bill Ending Criminal Sanctions for Regulatory Mistakes is now Law

Date: December 28, 2015 Last Edit: January 07, 2016

December 22,
2015 (Lansing) – The state’s leading small business organization,
the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), praised Governor Snyder for signing legislation that would address
the problem of criminal sanctions for minor regulatory mistakes. 

House Bill
4713 sponsored by State Representative Ed McBroom (108th House District), – now Public Act 250 of 2015 – provides an affirmative defense to a person accused of a crime due to the unintentional
violation of a regulation or rule. Specifically, the legislation would
establish a default “mens rea” standard that would require the state agency
pursuing the violation to prove that the violator had criminal intent in
breaking the rule.

“This is a
serious concern for many small – family owned businesses that find themselves
facing a criminal prosecution for minor paperwork violations or running afoul
of a rule or regulation without any knowledge or intent to do wrong,” said NFIB
State Director Charlie Owens. “When you consider the absolute avalanche of
rules and regulations heaped on a business owner by federal, state and local
governments it should be no surprise that honest mistakes happen.”

Owens testified in favor of the legislation at a House committee hearing saying that small business is more susceptible to violating a rule or regulation
as they do not have the staff to keep up – and in compliance with – the rules
and regulations that seem to proliferate in today’s business environment.

As an
example of the magnitude of regulatory overload Owens said that, for 2015 Year
to Date there were 2,975 final rules published, 2079 proposed rules and 6,245
rule notices for a total of 11,319 documents added to the Federal Register
website. Owens added that this does not include the additional layers of state
and local regulation.

“In addition
to being unfair and unjust, pursuing criminal prosecution and penalties against
a small business owner for an honest mistake is a waste of taxpayer money,”
said Owens.

The legislation was passed with a unanimous vote of both chambers.

Related Content: Small Business News | Michigan

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