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The following opinion is presented on-line for informational use only and does not replace the official version. (Mich Dept of Attorney General Web Site - www.ag.state.mi.us)



Opinion No. 5951

August 10, 1981


Const 1963, art 4, Sec. 25


Authority to fix financial standards for general assistance programs

1980 PA 15, Sec. 54, which provides for certain increases in county shelter standards and for special shelter standards in certain counties for the general assistance program, is unconstitutional as violative of Const 1963, art 4, Sec. 25.

John T. Dempsey


Department of Social Services

300 Capitol Avenue

Lansing, Michigan

You have requested my opinion regarding the constitutionality of 1980 PA 315, Sec. 54, the Department of Social Services appropriation act for the fiscal year ending September 30, 1981. Such provision states:

'Certain county shelter standards in the general assistance program shall be increased beyond the 6% update authorized in section 1 of Act No. 110 of the Public Act of 1979. The Washtenaw county shelter standard for single individuals and couples shall be set at $155.00 per month. The Berrien and Ottawa counties shelter standard for single individuals and couples shall be set at $130.00 per month.'

General Assistance, also referred to as general relief, is a state funded public welfare program authorized pursuant to the Social Welfare Act, 1939 PA 280, Sec. 18; MCLA 400.18; MSA 16.418, which provides, in pertinent part:

'(1) The state department shall provide for the distribution of such monies as shall be appropriated by the legislature for public welfare grants in respect to general relief. . . .

(7) The state department may make arrangements to disburse amounts to general public relief recipients after determination of the recipients' needs by county. . . .'

The Legislature may include in an appropriation act any condition on appropriations which it may lawfully impose. State Board of Agriculture v Auditor General, 226 Mich 417; 197 NW 160 (1924). In testing whether the Legislature may lawfully impose the above-stated condition, it is necessary to consider the mandate of Const 1963, art 4, Sec. 25, which states:

'No law shall be revised, altered or amended by reference to its title only. The section or sections of the act altered or amended shall be re-enacted and published at length.'

This provision was before the Michigan Supreme Court in Midland Township v State Boundary Commission, 401 Mich 641; 259 NW2d 326 (1977), and was discussed in OAG, 1975-1976, No 4896, p 132 (September 9, 1975). It requires the Legislature to reenact and republish any act which is amended by the Legislature in another act in a manner which 'disposes with' or 'changes' provisions of the act amended.

1939 PA 280, Sec. 24, MCLA 400.24; MSA 16.424 provides, in pertinent part, that '[t]he state department shall establish eligibility and financial standards for all forms of general public relief. . . .' Inasmuch as this statutory provision specifically empowers the Department of Social Services to establish the financial standards for general assistance grants and since amendatory 1980 PA 315, Sec. 54 would clearly 'dispense with' or 'change' such power without reenacting or republishing the pertinent provisions of the Social Welfare Act, supra, it is my opinion that 1980 PA 315, Sec. 54 is invalid as violative of Const 1963, art 4, Sec. 25.

Since it is clear that 1980 PA 315 would have been enacted without Section 54, such invalid section is severable from the remainder of the act which remains valid.

Frank J. Kelley

Attorney General

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