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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. 6139

March 30, 1983


Charter--authority to enact ordinance regulating pawnbrokers

Charter townships have statutory authority to adopt ordinances authorizing the licensing and regulation of pawnbrokers.

Honorable Gary M. Owen

State Representative

The Capitol

Lansing, Michigan

You have requested my opinion whether a charter township has authority to pass an ordinance regulating the business operation of pawnbrokers within the township. Your request apparently stems from the fact that neither 1917 PA 273, as amended; MCLA 446.201 et seq; MSA 19.581 et seq, which provides for licensure and regulation of pawnbrokers, nor 1945 PA 231; MCLA 445.471 et seq; MSA 19.740(1) et seq, which prescribes procedures for reporting property purchased by pawnbrokers, include charter townships as one of the units of government authorized to administer such regulatory responsibilities. Clearly, those acts relate to pawnbroker businesses operated within cities or incorporated villages having a population in excess of 3,000.

Legislation regulating pawnbrokers has been in existence for more than three quarters of a century. The progenitor act, 1907 PA 334, granted such authority to cities. Further, incorporated villages having a population in excess of 3,000 were granted regulatory authority over pawnbrokers with the passage of 1917 PA 273.

The Legislature has authorized general law townships to license and regulate pawnbrokers. 1945 PA 246, Sec. 1, as amended by 1978 PA 590; MCLA 41.181; MSA 5.45(1), in part, prescribes the police powers of organized townships to include licensure and regulation of pawnbrokers. It provides:

'The township board of a township may, at a regular or special meeting by a majority of the members elect of the township board, adopt ordinances regulating the public health, safety, and general welfare of persons and property, fire protection, the licensing or use of bicycles, traffic and parking of vehicles, sidewalk maintenance and repairs, the licensing of business establishments, the licensing and regulating of hawkers, vendors, peddlers, solicitors, pawnbrokers, circuses, carnivals, and public amusements, and provide penalties for the violation of the regulations, and shall enforce the same . . ..' (Emphasis supplied.)

Therefore, general law townships are authorized to enact ordinances providing for the licensure and regulation of pawnbrokers.

Your question, however, is directed to the powers of charter townships rather than organized townships. Charter townships are authorized pursuant to 1947 PA 359, as amended; MCLA 42.1 et seq; MSA 5.46(1). Sections 1 thereof, in pertinent part, provides:

'Any township, having a population of 2,000 or more inhabitants according to the most recently made regular or special federal or state census of the inhabitants thereof, or to any such census hereafter taken shall have power to incorporate as a charter township which shall be a municipal corporation, to be known and designated as the charter township of ........, and each township which incorporates as a charter township shall be subject to the provisions of this act, which act shall constitute the charter of such municipal corporation. Each such charter township, its inhabitants, and the officers thereof, shall have, except as otherwise provided in this act, all the powers, privileges, immunities and liabilities possessed by townships, their inhabitants, and by the officers of townships by law and under the provisions of chapter 16 of the Revised Statutes of 1846.'

Charter townships retain the authority conferred upon general law townships. Charter townships also have general powers to enact ordinances to provide for the general peace, health and safety of the public. 1947 PA 359, supra, Sec. 15, provides:

'The township board of any charter township may enact such ordinances as may be deemed necessary to provide for the public peace and health and for the safety of persons and property therein, and may be ordinance prescribe the terms and conditions upon which licenses may be granted, suspended, or revoked; and may in such ordinances require and exact payment of such reasonable sums for any licenses as it may deem proper. The persons receiving the licenses shall, before the issuing thereof, execute a bond to the township when required by any ordinance in such sum and with such securities as prescribed by such ordinance, conditioned for the faithful observance of this act, and the ordinance under which the license is granted.'

In 1947 PA 359, supra, Sec. 17, the Legislature has provided:

'Charter townships shall have and possess and may exercise the same powers and shall be subject to the same liabilities as are possessed by cities to regulate the construction of buildings for the preservation of public health and safety, to regulate the conduct of business, and to provide for the public peace and health and for the safety of persons and property.' (Emphasis supplied.)

OAG, 1975-1976, No 5102, pp 600, 602 (September 9, 1976), reviewed the authority of charter townships and stated 'that in addition to the enumerated powers contained therein, a municipal corporation may also legislate on matters concerning the general welfare of its inhabitants.' It concluded:

'It is therefore, my opinion that charter townships have statutory authority to adopt consumer protection ordinances which would regulate business and require licensing of same within the township for the purpose of protecting the health, safety and general welfare of the township's citizens.'

It is my opinion, therefore, that charter townships have statutory authority to adopt ordinances authorizing the licensing and regulation of pawnbrokers.

Frank J. Kelley

Attorney General

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