Whitmer signs first bill into law, focus on UP

LANSING — Governor Whitmer signed her first bill into law this morning, and it directly impacts three counties in the Upper Peninsula. Senate Bill 87, which was sponsored by state senator Ed McBroom, was passed through both the state house and senate unanimously.

The bill will amend the Revised Judiciary Act and retain a judgeship in the District Court in Menominee County, ensuring that the citizens of the county have access to the state’s judicial system. Under the Revised Judiciary Act, the judgeship was slated for elimination when the Honorable Judge Jeffrey Barstow retires on March 31st, 2019..

“And so when this judge was going to retire here, next week, it suddenly became very urgent to stop this from happening,” said McBroom. “Not only would this have effected the presiding justice in Menominee county, but the  judges that would have had to cover that area from Iron and Dickinson counties. So it would have effected 3 counties and the people living there.”

The judgeship was recommended to be eliminated because of the decline in case loads it received in the late 2000’s, but since then, those numbers have gone back up. And with this bill, they can now adapt to better help the community.

“We are going to be able to leverage this court into becoming a drug court, a specialty court as well,” McBroom said. “So it will still function under it’s primary objective, but it will have this additional functionality that’s been lacking in this area of the Upper Peninsula. And it’s certainly a service that we need.”

McBroom also said that he was happy to have support from all of the Upper Peninsula representatives (Beau LaFave, Sara Cambensy, Greg Markkenan), who did a good job working on this bill, and he was pleased that the governor made it her first signing.