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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. 6177

August 5, 1983


Effect of reduction in appropriations upon duty to license and register certain occupations


Impact of reduction in appropriation upon duty to license and register certain occupations

Executive Order 1983-5, in ordering a reduction in appropriations for the Department of Licensing and Regulation for fiscal 1982-1983, did not abolish the duty of certain occupational licensing and registration boards to license and register qualified persons.

Honorable Jack Faxon

State Senator

The Senate

Lansing, Michigan

You have requested my opinion as to whether certain statutory licensing and registration requirements were abolished by Executive Order 1983-5 which was issued pursuant to Const 1963, art 5, Sec. 20 on March 30, 1983.

Executive Order 1983-5 reduced appropriations for the Department of Licensing and Regulation in the amount of $500,000. Relative to such reduction, Executive Order 1983-5, in part, stated:

'The reduction totals for (the License and Regulation) departments includes savings resulting from the elimination of funding for the following programs:

'Licensing and Regulation . . .

Board of Foresters

Board of Landscape Architects

Board of Marriage Counselors

Nursing Home Administrators' Board

Board of Polygraph Examiners

Board of Professional Community Planners

Michigan Board of Sanitarians.'

By its April 15, 1983 directive, the Department of Licensing and Regulation, in effect, terminated the activities by the enumerated entities involved, including the licensing and registration of current members and future members of the occupations involved.

Subsequent to the issuance of the April 15, 1983 directive, the Department of Licensing and Regulation revised its decision by means of a May 11, 1983 memorandum which, in part, states:

'The Executive Order eliminated the funding for the Boards of Community Planners, Foresters, Landscape Architects, Nursing Home Administrators, Marriage Counselors, Polygraph Examiners and Sanitarians.

'All seven boards have been informed that meetings can be held but, due to the Executive Order, no money for travel or per diem can be paid out. They have, also, been informed that, upon request, the Department will contact the board members as to the time and place of scheduled meetings. The Department will also insure that the meetings scheduled comply with the Open Meetings Act.

'Polygraph Examiners, Marriage Counselors and Nursing Home Administrators must be licensed in this state if they are to conduct business in their respective professions. Therefore, all licensing functions, i.e., examinations and the issuance of new and renewed licenses, will continue to be performed and will continue to be performed [sic], until amendatory language is signed into law repealing the licensing requirements of these professions.

(Please note that the philosophy of the Department for the above-three boards has been 'business as usual.' Examination and licensing functions will continue.)

'As for the other boards--Landscape Architects, Foresters, Sanitarians and Community Planners--the Department is not processing new applications or license renewals, or scheduling examinations. When applications for new or renewal licenses or for examinations are received by the Department, they are promptly returned (applications and checks to the applicant.' [Emphasis supplied.]

Executive Order 1983-5 reduced the appropriations for the Department of Licensing and Regulation in the sum of $500,000.00. The Order did not, under its plain terms, abolish any licensing and registration requirements for the occupations in question.

In a letter opinion addressed to Colonel Hough, dated December 28, 1977, the question considered was whether the Department of State Policy may decline to license and regulate alarm system contractors under 1968 PA 330, Sec. 5; MCLA 338.1055; MSA 18.185(5). The Department took the position it was not required to issue licenses to qualified alarm system contractors because the Department believed the Legislature had not appropriated the necessary funds for an effective program. The opinion stated that the Department must implement the legislative mandate to license and regulate alarm system contractors and may not decline to do so because of the belief that the Legislature has failed to appropriate sufficient funds to perform these duties adequately. This opinion is controlling here.

In King v Midland County Department of Social Services, 73 Mich App 253, 261-262; 251 NW2d 270 (1977), the Court of Appeals held that under a statute mandating a county to maintain a general assistance program by appropriating sufficient funds therefor, payments to qualified recipients may not be suspended because the original appropriation was insufficient. The court held that the county may reduce expenditures and administrative costs in discretionary areas so as to assure that availability of funds for the mandatory programs.

It is my opinion, therefore, that the Department of Licensing and Regulation and the boards involved must carry out the legislative mandate to license, register, discipline and regulate their respective occupations.

In light of the answer to your first question, your remaining questions are moot.

Frank J. Kelley

Attorney General

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