By Paul J Sniadecki, MLSA Board Director
The Michigan Legislature has been busy removing criminals from your lake. How did they do it? With legislation, of course!
HB 4149 and HB 4151 were introduced back in February 2021. HB 4149 sought to amend the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act (NREPA) to specify that an individual who failed to attach his or her name and address to tip-ups, or fished with more than the authorized number of lines would be responsible for a state civil infraction instead of a misdemeanor. HB 4151 would amend Part 435 (Hunting and Fishing Licensing) of the NREPA to specify that an individual who failed to exhibit a hunting, fur harvester’s, or fishing license in violation of a requirement to do so would be responsible for a state civil infraction instead of a misdemeanor. The civil fines can be up to $150 per citation. The bills worked their way through the Michigan House and Senate, and where signed into law by the Governor on February 23, 2022.
There are no doubt practical reasons for dropping the criminal misdemeanor consequences that can result in jail time. For one thing the standard of evidence in a civil infraction is only a “preponderance.” Also, revenue collected from civil fines is used to support local libraries. Additionally, $10 of each civil fine is deposited into the State Justice System Fund. This fund supports justice-related activities across state government in the Departments of Corrections, Health and Human Services, State Police, and Treasury.