October 25, 2023, Introduced by Reps. Dievendorf, Wilson, Byrnes, Paiz, Rheingans, Hood, Morgan, Tsernoglou and Whitsett and referred to the Committee on Economic Development and Small Business.

A bill to provide legal services at public expense for individuals who are parties to civil actions and to landlords of residential premises; to provide for the powers and duties of state and local governmental officers and entities; and to require appropriations.

the people of the state of michigan enact:

Sec. 1. This act may be cited as the "eviction legal services act".

Sec. 2. As used in this act:

(a) "Brief legal assistance" means individualized legal assistance provided in a single consultation to a covered individual in connection with a covered proceeding.

(b) "Court funding unit" means that term as defined in section 151e of the revised judicature act of 1961, 1961 PA 236, MCL 600.151e.

(c) "Covered individual" means an individual who is a tenant of a leased residential premises and a defendant in a covered proceeding.

(d) "Covered proceeding" means a summary proceeding under chapter 57 or 57a of the revised judicature act of 1961, 1961 PA 236, MCL 600.5701 to 600.5785, to evict an individual from the leased residential premises, including a summary proceeding to seek possession for the nonpayment of rent or from a holdover tenant.

(e) "Full legal representation" means ongoing legal representation provided to an income-eligible individual and all legal advice, advocacy, and assistance associated with the representation. Full legal representation includes, but is not limited to, the filing of an appearance in behalf of the income-eligible individual in a covered proceeding.

(f) "Income-eligible individual" means a covered individual whose annual gross household income is 200% of the federal poverty guidelines published annually in the Federal Register by the United States Department of Health and Human Services under its authority to revise the poverty line under 42 USC 9902.

(g) "Legal services" means brief legal assistance or full legal representation.

Sec. 3. (1) Subject to funding under section 4, by October 1, 2024, each district court shall establish a program to provide access to legal services for covered individuals in covered proceedings and to landlords of residential premises.

(2) The program required to be established under subsection (1) must include all of the following:

(a) Procedures to determine whether a defendant in a covered proceeding is an income-eligible individual.

(b) The preparation and maintenance of 1 or more lists of legal counsel eligible to be appointed to represent covered individuals in accordance with the plan and to provide legal advice to landlords of residential premises relating to landlord and tenant matters.

(c) Procedures for the appointment of legal counsel so that all of the following are accomplished:

(i) All covered individuals receive access to brief legal assistance not later than their first scheduled appearance in a covered proceeding in the court, or as soon after the first appearance as is practicable.

(ii) All income-eligible individuals receive access to full legal representation not later than their first scheduled appearance in a covered proceeding in the court, or as soon after the first appearance as is practicable.

(iii) Landlords of residential premises receive brief legal assistance at any time regarding landlord and tenant matters.

(d) A method for the education of income-eligible individuals about resources available to assist the individuals from community and government sources, and for the distribution of the resources to the individuals.

(3) Two or more courts may join together to establish a joint program under this section.

Sec. 4. (1) In establishing a program under section 3, a court shall consult with the court funding unit for the court.

(2) A court funding unit shall provide funding for a program under section 3 established by a court that is funded by the court funding unit. The court funding unit may, but is not required to, provide money for funding under this subsection in addition to money received by the court funding unit under subsection (3).

(3) The legislature shall annually appropriate money to court funding units in this state sufficient to provide funding for programs established under section 3 in this state.

Sec. 5. On the filing of a covered proceeding, the court shall appoint legal counsel at public expense to provide legal services to the covered individual in accordance with the program under section 3 established by the court.