Amicus Brief

Associated Builders and Contractors v City of Lansing

Case Year: 2015
Case Forum: Michigan Supreme Court
Keywords: ordinance, prevailing wage, state pre-emption, home rule
Amicus Counsel:

Clifford W. Taylor (P21293) | Paul D. Hudson (P69844) | James D. Boufides (P77717) | Miller, Canfield, Paddock & Stone PLC | 277 S. Rose St. Suite 5000 | Kalamazoo, MI 49007 | 269-381-7030


The Supreme Court’s decision in Attorney General ex rel Lennane v City of Detroit was decided under a prior version of Michigan’s Constitution. In the 1963 Constitution, the people broadened the language of the 1908 Constitution to leave no doubt that the grant of authority to municipal governments was a broad, “general grant of authority” to govern their own affairs. The Home Rule City Act, MCL 117.1, et seq., likewise recognizes the broad power of municipalities to govern their affairs. Lansing’s ordinance is carefully limited to apply only to City contracts, and only to contractors “employed directly on the site of work” in Lansing. It works in tandem with the State’s prevailing-wage statute, MCL 408.551 et seq., which governs wages paid on state contracts and does not apply to municipal contracts. Lansing’s ordinance by its terms does not apply to State contracts. Thus the two work alongside one another and do not conflict. The State prevailing wage statute regulates only wages paid on State contracts (it is titled, “Prevailing Wages on State Contracts”). If the Legislature wanted prevailing-wage laws to be its exclusive regulatory domain, why exempt municipalities from its regulations rather than simply include them?


Circuit Court found in favor of plaintiff. Court of Appeals reversed and remanded. Supreme Court granted leave to appeal. The Supreme Court ruled that local prevailing wage laws — which require union-rate pay and benefits on city jobs — are constitutional (5/18/16).

MSC requested LDF amicus brief? No

Defendant enacted a prevailing wage ordinance and plaintiff challenged the ordinance as unconstitutional. In deciding whether the ordinance was valid, the trial court cited Attorney General, ex rel Lennane v Detroit, and determined that defendant did not have the authority to enact the ordinance. The trial court reasoned that it was bound by Lennane despite defendant’s “compelling arguments,” and granted summary disposition to plaintiff. In light of changes to Michigan’s Constitution and caselaw, the Court of Appeals found that the reasoning employed in Lennane has been rejected.

Case Number: 2014-12
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