State lawmakers look to help charities now prohibited from fundraising in intersections
LANSING, Mich. (SINCLAIR BROADCAST GROUP) - Local charities say they were hit hard when the Attorney General's office declared they couldn't collect cash from drivers in intersections.
Cities across the state of Michigan have been cracking down on charities for soliciting donations on medians. Now, lawmakers are lending a helping hand.
For years, firefighters have teamed up with the Muscular Dystrophy Association for the Fill the Boot Campaign.
Street solicitations are one of the most successful ways the volunteers raise money.
So when the AG's office issued an opinion in 2016, saying charities couldn't legally solicit funds in intersections or local roadways, it hurt charities big time.
"MDA is very close to me. I personally have Becker Muscular Dystrophy," said MDA Fundraising Coordinator Brian Springett.
After the opinion, Springett says the MDA lost hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations.
"Over a couple years we went from about a little over $400,000 at least down to like $200,000 because we were having these fire departments that were saying well we have to follow the rules," Springett.
Thankfully, for Springett and the programs the MDA funds, Governor Snyder signed a bill in August that would allow the MDA and other charities to ask for money in roadways once again.
But not every charity was covered in the new law, including the Knights of Columbus that have a different status.
"Most people have seen the knights doing their tootsie roll drive, so they are very much affected and left out, so I didn't get out of church the first time without the knights coming to me, of which I'm a member, say hey here in the State House we have to fix this," said Representative Dan Lauwers (R-St. Clair)
Rep. Lauwers is introducing a new bill to allow the knights to solicit donations like just like the mda.
The reason why some cities pushed against street solicitations in the first place was because of concerns for safety and liability insurance.
In 2015, a Lansing firefighter was mowed down by an angry driver during a Fill the Boot campaign.
The legislation now requires solicitors to wear more visible clothing and to have liability insurance.
Springett says the MDA is looking forward to getting more firefighters on the streets next year, and filling the boot for a good cause.
Rep. Lauwers bill passed the State House this week, and now heads to the Senate.