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'Right to work' bill for lawyers delayed while court reviews State Bar membership

Picture of the Lansing capitol building
Lester Graham
Michigan Radio
The capitol building

State lawmakers are holding off on a bill that would allow attorneys to end their membership with the State Bar of Michigan. That’s happening while a state Supreme Court task force reviews whether mandatory State Bar membership is appropriate.

Some are calling Senate Bill 743 a “right to work” bill for lawyers.

The sponsor of the legislation is applauding the court’s decision to weigh in.

“Because it’s better suited to be handled by the Supreme Court – the Bar is underneath their jurisdiction – they should look at those questions,” said Sen. Arlan Meekhof, R-West Olive. “I’m glad that I prompted them to ask the question, but that’s why I did it.”

The State Bar of Michigan, which opposes the legislation, asked the Supreme Court to conduct the review earlier this month.

Meekhof did not rule out pursuing the bill again if the task force says attorneys should be required to pay membership dues. He says lawyers shouldn’t be forced to pay membership dues because the State Bar has become largely a political organization.

The State Bar was recently at odds with Meekhof over a bill he sponsored that protected the identities of people who bankroll political “issue ads” in Michigan. That legislation also doubled the amount of money an individual could give to political candidates.