By ALEKS TAPINSH
Capital News Service
LANSING — Do you have a favorite sports team’s sticker on your car? If so, you violate the current state law and may be subject to a $100 fine and/or spend up to 90 days in a county jail.
A 1909 law bans the use of sports teams’ insignia on a motor vehicle unless the owner is a member of the team.
A bill amending the old law is on the Senate’s agenda. It has been on the third reading since February 2002 and it looks like the Legislature will not get to it until next year.
The law is not enforced, but it is on the books.
The bill, introduced by Sen. Thaddeus McCotter, R-Livonia, would allow sports fans to show off their favorite team. It does not abolish the old law, but, instead specifically exempts nonprofit organizations.
“(The bill) protects fraternal, charitable organizations,” said Don Knapp, an aide to McCotter. It disallows the use of the symbols for any purpose other than their intended purpose.
Back in 1999, the Senate Law Revision Task Force subjected this law, together with other archaic, irrelevant laws, to major improvement and modification. The group’s purpose was “to review the state’s statues and recommend the repeal or amendment of those laws that are arcane or irrelevant to life in post-millennial Michigan,” according to the Task Force’s report published the same year.
Using the recommendations from the public, law enforcement, the Michigan Law Revision Commission, lawers, legislators, judges and prosecutors, the Task Force recommended that certain laws be repealed, eliminated or modified.
Examples of other outdated laws include a ban on a woman cutting her hair without her husband’s permission, a ban on dueling, because it is a dead practice, and a ban on prize fighting.
The 1909 law regulates the use of the names and emblems of various charitable and fraternal organizations, including sports teams. It banned the use of “an emblem or insignia of any organization, association, fraternity, lodge, club or order, on a motor vehicle unless the owner of such a motor vehicle is a member.” The measure passed the Senate and the House unanimously back in 1909. It was amended in 1929.
This law outlaws “the display of various sports-related bumper stickers, such as those issued for the Detroit Tigers, Lions (and) Red Wings,” according to the Task Force report.
© 2002, Capital News Service, Michigan State University School of Journalism
By ALEKS TAPINSH