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Attorney Calls Metros Amendment Unconstitutional
LANSING — A legislative effort to allow Metropolitan Hospital to relocate under terms outlined in an amendment added to an appropriations bill is unenforceable because it violates Michigan's Constitution, an assistant state attorney general says.
The state constitution requires that any language added to a budget bill have a direct correlation to the appropriation, Assistant Attorney General Todd Cohan told the state Certificate of Need Commission.
An amendment attached June 28 to a Department of Community Health $8.5 billion appropriations bill, "does not appear to have any connection or correlation to the intent of the bill," Cohan said.
"They would certainly run afoul of the constitution," Cohan said of the Metro amendment attached to the budget bill, as well as a separate measure added last May to require the CON Commission to revise standards to allow for the licensing of more PET scanners in Michigan.
State Reps. Jerry Kooistra, R-Grand Rapids, and Mark Jansen, R-Gaines Township, added the amendment to the department's appropriations bill for fiscal year 2002 in an attempt to exempt Metro from CON standards that prohibit a hospital from relocating outside of a 2-mile radius in communities that are considered to have an excess of beds. The amendment sought to require the CON Commission to take the "necessary steps" to grant an exemption to the existing regulation, provided that certain narrow criteria are met.
The amendment, added by Kooistra and Jansen during a conference committee meeting to reconcile differences between House and Senate versions of the budget bill, angered organizations working to revise CON hospital relocation standards, as well as members of the commission, who viewed the move as an end run around the regular policy review process.
Jack Smant, a Grand Haven resident who represents West Michigan on the CON Commission, said his reaction to the move was "extreme displeasure."
"That does not sit well with this commission," Smant said at the panel's July 18 meeting in Lansing. "It damages our ability to proceed in the manner with which the Legislature has charged this commission to proceed."
Metro President and CEO Mike Faas has since asked Gov. John Engler to line-item veto the amendment out of the Department of Community Health budget bill that passed the state House and Senate on July 11.
Metro is now committed to working through the CON Commission to revise hospital relocation standards so it can move to a new campus it wants to develop in Wyoming.
"We would prefer to work through the process," Faas told CON commissioners.