Parking violation fines could increase at MSU
Getting caught while parking in a restricted lot for five minutes to turn in a paper could become a more costly infraction if a bill passed by the state House of Representatives on Thursday is signed into law.
Currently, parking fines at any university cannot exceed $25, far lower than the $100 maximum in the Michigan Vehicle Code, which is used by other units of government.
The bill would increase maximum fines at MSU and other colleges to $100, a $75 increase from the current fee. The fine for parking in a handicapped space would increase from $50-$100 to $100-$250.
The House passed the bill 65-34, following the Senate’s unanimous approval in September. It likely will soon reach Gov. Jennifer Granholm’s desk to be signed into law.
The bill aims to equalize universities’ ability to level parking fines with the ability of other segments of government, said state Rep. Mark Meadows, D-East Lansing, who sponsored an identical piece of legislation in the House and voted in favor of the Senate’s version.
“It was pretty clear there was difference between what was permitted in every other unit of government in Michigan except universities,” Meadows said. “So this bill simply
gives universities almost the same authority as every other unit of government.”
Increasing parking fines is important because $25 is too small of a fine to function as a deterrent, said state Rep. Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge, who also supported the bill.
“Wealthy students are simply using the small fines as a parking fee,” Jones said.
“They don’t care how many parking tickets they get. This is an abuse of the system because of their wealth.”
But not every student who receives parking tickets can afford them, and raising the fine will only hurt more, said state Rep. Justin Amash, R-Cascade, who voted against the legislation.
“I thought it wasn’t a good time to be raising fines on students when we have
increasing tuition costs,” Amash said.
However, MSU likely will not raise its parking fines to the maximum $100, Meadows said.
More likely, it will implement an early payment plan, so those receiving a ticket would pay a smaller fine if they pay their ticket within a specific time period, he said.
“I think (MSU will) raise them to $35, something like that, but I think they’ll also implement this early payment plan like the city has,” Meadows said.
“What usually happens is those individuals who don’t really reside in the area pay the higher fine. The locals pay the lower fine because they’re more able (to pay the fee sooner).”
Students already pay enough in tickets, and raising it by such a substantial margin is excessive, finance sophomore Joe Manquen said.
“It sounds kind of ridiculous,” Manquen said. “We pay for so many other things and they hand out so many of these tickets — I think they would get enough money from having it remain at $25. If anything, lower it because they hand out so many.”
In March, MSU and the MSU Police Department testified in support of the legislation, but neither the MSU Office of Governmental Affairs nor the parking division of the MSU Police could be reached for comment.