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)



STATE OF MICHIGAN

JENNIFER M. GRANHOLM, ATTORNEY GENERAL


CASINOS:

CONSTITUTIONAL LAW:

GAMBLING:

POLITICAL CONTRIBUTIONS:

Validity of section 3(1) of Casino Interest Registration Act regarding family members of persons holding a casino interest


Section 3(1) of the Casino Interest Registration Act, to the extent it requires spouses and children of persons holding a casino interest to register with the Secretary of State, is invalid in light of OAG, 1997-1998, No 7002, p 206 (December 17, 1998). This opinion concluded that a prohibition against political contributions by the spouse, parent, child or spouse of a child of a licensee or a person with an interest in a licensee or casino enterprise is unconstitutional.


Opinion No. 7053

May 3, 2000


Honorable Kwame M. Kilpatrick
State Representative
The Capitol
Lansing, MI


You have asked two questions concerning the Casino Interest Registration Act which requires persons who hold a casino interest and their family members to register with the Secretary of State.

Your first question asks whether section 3(1) of the Casino Interest Registration Act (Registration Act), 1997 PA 74, MCL 432.271 et seq; MSA 18.969(401) et seq, to the extent it requires spouses and children of persons holding a casino interest to register with the Secretary of State, is invalid in light of OAG, 1997-1998, No 7002, p 206 (December 17, 1998). This opinion concluded that a prohibition against political contributions by the spouse, parent, child or spouse of a child of a licensee or a person with an interest in a licensee or casino enterprise is unconstitutional.

OAG, No 7002 considered the constitutionality of certain provisions of the Michigan Gaming Control and Revenue Act (Gaming Act).1 In this opinion, former Attorney General Frank J. Kelley concluded that subsections (4) and (5) of section 7b of the Gaming Act, which prohibit political contributions by the spouse, parent, child, or spouse of a child of certain casino-related licensees or interest holders, violate the free speech provisions of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. Id., p 210. After finding that the State has a compelling interest in preventing corruption and the appearance of corruption in the casino-related political process, the opinion concluded that the prohibition against political contributions by certain specified family members of licensees or persons with an interest in a licensee or casino enterprise impermissibly extends to persons who may have no stake in the casino-related political process. Id., p 210.2

The Registration Act regulates persons "holding a casino interest" and includes in that definition, their spouse and children, requiring all to register with the Secretary of State. Section 3(1) provides that within five days of obtaining a casino interest, "the person who holds the casino interest" shall register with the Secretary of State. Section 2(g) defines a "[p]erson holding a casino interest" as:

(i) A person who holds at least a 1% interest in a casino licensee or casino enterprise.

(ii) A person who is a partner, officer, or key or managerial employee of the casino licensee or casino enterprise.

(iii) A person who is an officer of the person who holds at least a 1% interest in the casino licensee or casino enterprise.

(iv) The spouse or children of a person listed in subparagraphs (i) through (iii).

(Emphasis added.)

Section 5 of the Registration Act requires that twice a year the Secretary of State shall prepare, publish, and widely disseminate the names of persons who register. These materials would include the names of the spouse or children of persons holding a casino interest.

The Registration Act was tie-barred to the passage of 1997 PA 69, which amended the Gaming Act. Both acts were approved and filed with the Secretary of State on the same day.3 The Registration Act and the Gaming Act both regulate persons holding casino interests. Statutes which relate to the same subject matter and are tie-barred, enacted by the same Legislature, and approved and filed on the same day, are in pari materia and must be read together as constituting one system of law. People v Webb 458 Mich 265, 274; 580 NW 2d 884 (1998). Where statutes are in pari materia, reviewing courts must endeavor to give full effect to the provisions of each, if this can be done without repugnancy, absurdity or unreasonableness. State Bar of Mich v Galloway, 124 Mich App 271, 277; 335 NW2d 475 (1983), aff'd 422 Mich 188, 369 NW2d 839 (1985). Statutes which are in pari materia must be construed uniformly and consistently to achieve the intent of the Legislature. Palmer v State Land Office Bd, 304 Mich 628, 637; 8 NW2d 664 (1943).

Read together, the prohibitions against political contributions in section 7b of the Gaming Act, and the registration requirements in section 3(1) of the Registration Act, establish a comprehensive scheme of regulation of casino-related political contributions. A review of both acts demonstrates that the Registration Act's requirement that the spouse and children of persons with a casino interest register with the Secretary of State was enacted to complement and effectuate the Gaming Act's general prohibition against political contributions. OAG, No 7002 invalidated that prohibition. No provision in the Gaming Act, other than the invalidated provisions in sections 7b(4) and (5), is furthered by the registration requirement imposed upon the spouse and children of persons holding a casino interest.4 As a consequence, enforcement of this provision would lead to the unreasonable requirement that disinterested persons, such as a licensee's estranged spouse, or a licensee's minor or estranged children, who "may have no stake whatever in the casino-related political process," OAG, No 7002, id., p 210, and who are no longer prohibited from making political contributions, must nevertheless register with the Secretary of State or face criminal prosecution.5 Thus, the registration requirement imposed on family members of persons holding casino interests has no regulatory purpose.
In People ex rel Attorney General v Common Council of Detroit, 29 Mich 108, 114 (1874), Justice Cooley addressed the continued validity of a statutory requirement where the underlying purpose of the requirement has been eliminated.

[W]here such a law creates a system, and the part which is legal cannot stand by itself without the aid of the rest, or is so much affected or disturbed by the rejection of the rest that it could not be supposed the Legislature would have adopted it by itself, the whole shall be rejected, because the part cannot be regarded as the expression of the legislative will.

Application of this principle compels the conclusion that the Registration Act's spouse and child registration requirement is now invalid. The act's registration requirement is so much affected and disturbed by the invalidation of the Gaming Act's general prohibition against political contributions by these persons that "it [cannot] be supposed the Legislature would have adopted [the registration provision] by itself." People ex rel Attorney General v Common Council of Detroit, supra, p 114.

It is my opinion, therefore, in answer to your first question, that section 3(1) of the Casino Interest Registration Act, to the extent it requires the spouse and children of persons holding a casino interest to register with the Secretary of State, is invalid in light of OAG, 1997-1998, No 7002, p 206 (December 17, 1998).

MCL 8.5; MSA 2.216, a rule of statutory construction, provides that a statute is severable unless inconsistent with a manifest legislative intent that it not be severable. Avis Rent-A-Car System v City of Romulus, 400 Mich 337, 348; 254 NW2d 555 (1977). Here, there is no manifest legislative intent that the remaining valid portions of the Casino Interest Registration Act not be implemented. The other provisions of the Registration Act are capable of being carried out independently of the section at issue. Thus, section 3(1) of the Registration Act, to the extent it requires registration by spouses and children of casino interest holders, is severable from the rest of that act.

Your second question asks whether section 3(1) of the Casino Interest Registration Act, to the extent it requires spouses and children of persons holding a casino interest to register with the Secretary of State, violates Const 1963, art 4, 24, which requires that a law not embrace more than one object that must be expressed in its title.

In light of my answer to your first question, it is not necessary to address your second question.

JENNIFER M. GRANHOLM
Attorney General

1 1996 Initiated Law, MCL 432.201 et seq; MSA 18.969(201) et seq.

2 OAG, No 7002 states that "[t]his conclusion should not be misinterpreted to permit a family member to act as an agent of a licensee in making a prohibited political contribution or to permit a licensee to use a family member as a subterfuge in order to accomplish that which is otherwise prohibited by the [Gaming] Act." Id., p 210

3 Enacting section 1 of 1997 PA 74 states that, "This act does not take effect unless Senate Bill No. 569 of the 89th Legislature is enacted into law." SB 569 was enacted as 1997 PA 69. 1997 Journal of the Senate 1310. 1997 PA 74 and 1997 PA 69 were approved and filed with the Secretary of State on the same day.

4 Other provisions in the Gaming Act do regulate family members of casino interest holders. For example, section 5(1)(i) requires license applicants and their family members to disclose political contributions for a period of five years before applying for a license.

5 Failure to register results in a late registration fee of $10.00 for each unregistered day. Failure to register for over 30 days is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine up to $1,000. Sections 3(2) and (3).