Sloppy state law dealing with live-in benefits probably heading for courts

Guest Editorial
Gov. Rick Snyder last week signed a bill that prohibits most of Michigan’s public employers from offering health benefits to unrelated people who live with employees. It is a hugely controversial law — more so because of carelessness by lawmakers and Snyder himself.

Snyder last week insisted the law will not affect Michigan’s public universities, which answer to their own boards under state law. Fair enough, except that the legislation does not say that as clearly as he did.

In fact, some lawmakers insist the law indeed restricts those benefits at Michigan State University, University of Michigan and other colleges. Add this to your list of 2012 predictions: This issue will end up in the courts.

The governor and lawmakers deserve praise for tackling a full plate of issues this year and moving quickly. The state budget, for one, was done months early. They have shown themselves to be competent leaders.

This legislation is an exception. If there is this much ambiguity about who the law affects — if the governor has to say, in effect, “Trust me,” when signing it — that should raise a red flag.

The Legislature should keep up the aggressive agenda in 2012. Don’t use that as an excuse, however, for being sloppy.