Requests of Governor and Senate on Constitutionality of Act No. 294 of Public Acts of 1972, In re

Decision Date18 June 1973
Docket NumberNo. 16,16
Citation389 Mich. 441,208 N.W.2d 469
PartiesIn the Matter of the REQUESTS OF the GOVERNOR AND the SENATE ON the CONSTITUTIONALITY OF ACT NO. 294 OF the PUBLIC ACTS OF 1972.
CourtMichigan Supreme Court
Frank J. Kelley, Atty. Gen., Harry G. Iwasko, Jr., Karl S. Vasiloff, Asst. Attys. Gen., Lansing, for the Governor, Legislature and Ins. Commissioner; supporting constitutionality. Senator L. Harvey Lodge, of counsel

Frank J. Kelley, Atty. Gen., Joseph B. Bilitzke, Paul J. Zimmer, Asst. Attys. Gen., Mich. Dept. of State, MVACF-Legal Secondary Complex, Lansing, for an affirmative answer to Question 2.

Tom Downs, Lansing, and Keller, Cohn Downs & Svenson, by Edward Michael Keller, Detroit, for League Gen. Ins. Co. and Michigan Credit Union League, amicus curiae.

Honigman, Miller, Schwartz and Cohn, Detroit, by Jason L. Honighman, and James K. Robinson, Detroit, of counsel, for American Ins. Assn., amicus curiae.

Daniel P. Dozier, III, Detroit, for United Automobile Workers-Community Action Program (UAW-CAP), amicus curiae.

William G. Reamon, Grand Rapids, for and in behalf of the State Bar of Mich., amicus curiae.

Robert E. Keeton, amicus curiae.

Before the Entire Bench.

COLEMAN, Justice.

FACTS:

On October 31, 1972 the Michigan Legislature enacted PA 294 'to amend the title of Act No. 218 of the Public Acts of 1956' and to add Chapter 31 to the Insurance Code of 1956. Two phrases were deleted from the title and two important ones were added, shown as follows:

'An Act to revise consolidate and classify the laws relating to the insurance and surety business; to regulate the incorporation or formation of domestic insurance and surety companies and associations and the admission of foreign and alien companies and associations; to provide their rights, powers and immunities and to prescribe the conditions on which companies and associations organized, existing, or authorized under this act may exercise their powers; to provide the rights, powers and immunities and to prescribe the conditions on which other persons, firms, corporations and associations engaged in an insurance or surety business may exercise their powers; to provide for the imposition of a privilege fee on domestic insurance companies and associations, and the state accident fund; to provide for the imposition of a tax on the business of foreign and alien companies and The provisions of the new Chapter 31 which are at issue are set forth in § 3135(1), which reads in part:

associations; to provide for the imposition of a tax on the business of surplus line agents; To modify tort liability arising out of certain accidents: to require security for losses arising out of certain accidents; to provide for the departmental supervision and regulation of the insurance and surety business within this state; and to provide penalties for the violation of this act.'

'A person remains subject to tort liability for noneconomic loss caused by his ownership, maintenance or use of a motor vehicle only if the injured person has suffered death, serious impairment of body function or permanent serious disfigurement.'

The new provisions become effective on October 1, 1973.

By an Executive Message dated November 22, 1972, Governor William G. Milliken, acting pursuant to art. 3, § 8, of the Const. of 1963, requested of this Court an advisory opinion with respect to the constitutionality of 1972 P.A. 294, submitting four questions.

By Senate Resolution 336 of November 28, 1972, the Senate also requested an advisory opinion with respect to this Act, submitting three questions.

Pursuant to an order of the Court, a preliminary hearing was held on January 16, 1973.

By order of February 2, 1973, this Court granted the requests of the Governor and the Senate with respect to a total of three questions 1 and requested the Attorney The three questions before the Court are:

General to file briefs on the affirmative and negative sides of each question and invited[389 Mich. 462] briefs amicus curiae. Oral arguments were heard on March 9, 1973.

1. Does the act embrace more than one object in violation of the following Michigan constitutional limitation: 'No law shall embrace more than one object, which shall be expressed in its title.' Const.1963, art. 4, § 24.

2. Does the 'modification or amendment by reference of any other Michigan statutory provisions with respect to the substantive law of torts by reason of section 3135' violate the following Michigan constitutional limitation: '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 reenacted and published at length.' Const.1963, art. 4, § 25.

3. Are the phrases 'serious impairment of body function' and 'permanent serious disfigurement' as used in § 3135 of the Act 'sufficient for legal interpretation?'

ISSUES:

1.

The first question posed by the court raises the issue of whether the legislation is unconstitutional as violating art. 4, § 24, which reads:

'No law shall embrace more than one object, which shall be expressed in its title. No bill shall be altered or amended on its passage through either house so as to change its original purpose as determined by its total content and not alone by its title.'

The provision has been in every Constitution since 1850.

It is the opinion of the Court that the Act does not embrace more than one object and that only one is expressed in the title.

Emphasis is given to the fact that the subject matter constitutes a code and that inherently the scope of a code must be broad enough to encompass the various facets necessary to the drafting of a unified law. If we fail to permit such a design codes may not be enacted in Michigan so long as the 'one object' limitation is present in the constitution.

The title to that which is known as 'The Insurance Code of 1956' (M.C.L.A. § 500.100 et seq., M.S.A. § 24.1100 et seq.), prior to 1972 included a number of descriptive phrases and provisions all of which related to the insurance and surety business. It was a broad and comprehensive title and was intended, as a reading of it reveals, to cover a comprehensive insurance surety code sectioned from 100 through 8302. It consists of virtually one entire volume of Michigan Compiled Laws Annotated and of Michigan Statutes Annotated.

The title of the code refers to the consolidation and classification of the insurance-surety business of Michigan, to the regulation of the incorporation of formation of insurance-surety companies, to the admission of foreign companies to do business in Michigan, to the conditions under which the insurance business may operate, to the rights, powers and immunities of businesses operating in the insurance-surety field, to the imposition of a privilege fee on domestic companies and to a tax on foreign companies, to the supervision and regulation of insurance-surety companies within the state and to penalties for violation of the act.

This code intended to and did and does regulate generally and broadly the insurance-surety business of Michigan. The 1972 legislature determined to regulate further this business in Michigan by modifying to some extent the tort liability arising out of certain accidents and to require security for losses arising out of such accidents.

In the instant case the amendatory language in the title discloses that the object of the Insurance Code is now to include a modification of accidental tort liability which is intrinsic to the 'no-fault insurance concept' or 'automobile injury reparation reform' concept. The legislature might have chosen a different statute to which to append an amendment or a new and separate statute might have been enacted--but either choice would have brought on the same criticisms which have been raised here. Almost certainly, it would then have been argued that it was the Insurance Code which should have been amended.

In any event, all possible presumptions should be afforded to find constitutionality. The amended title should be construed reasonably, not narrowly and with unnecessary technicality.

The addition of the phrases 'to modify tort liability arising out of certain accidents; to require security for losses arising out of certain accidents' relates directly to the insurance-surety business. This entails reimbursement of and security for losses, particularly in relationship to motor vehicle accidents. Much of the said business relates to losses from accidental torts. It is and was reasonable and logical for the legislature to classify the matter herein referred to as related to the Insurance Code. Such action cannot be said to have been prompted by deceit or some ulterior motive. The so-called 'log-rolling' argument may be valid in some instances, but does not apply in this case. The code was in being and had been since 1956. The amendment in question cannot be said to have allowed the passage of a law not fully understood (although the subject matter may be complex and difficult for a layman to understand), or that the amendment brought into the code subjects having no connection with the Insurance Code. The legislature and the public were well aware of the intention and context of this legislation. One is safe in assuming that probably no piece of legislation since statehood has received more attention or been more noted than the present change in the automobile injury reparation provisions.

An act may include all matters germane to its object. It may include all those provisions which directly relate to, carry out and implement the principal object. As a review of the cases will show, the purpose of this constitutional limitation is to insure that both the legislators and The provision was recently discussed in Maki v. East Tawas, 385 Mich. 151, 188 N.W.2d 593 (1971). The majority reaffirmed at p. 157, 188 N.W.2d at p. 595, the following principle as quoted in MacLean v. State Board of Control...

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