LANSING, Mich. — Legislation that would outline Michigan’s role to formally establish — and permanently mark — the border between Michigan and Indiana was approved by the state Senate during Thursday’s session.
The bills, sponsored by Sen. Kim LaSata, R-Coloma, would establish a commission within the state’s regulatory department that would be tasked with meeting with representatives from a similar body in Indiana to make recommendations, which must receive final approval from each state.
“The borderline between the two states has not been revisited since the early 1800s,” LaSata said. “Most of the wooden markers have not survived the years in the harsh Midwestern climate — one was even found underwater. My bills would create a joint effort between both states to clearly outline and mark the borderline.”
While the survey is not expected to make major boundary movements, LaSata says several issues have come to light over the years because of the unclear lines — leaving uncertainties to be dealt with in an inconsistent, case-by-case basis.
“Things like traffic accidents and crimes being committed in areas that do not clearly belong to one state or the other have created jurisdiction issues, leaving those involved in a difficult legal predicament trying to determine which state’s laws are applicable,” LaSata said. “State responsibilities regarding invasive species and Great Lakes preservation, along with land development issues and other property disputes, have been complicated by the lack of a traceable borderline between the states.”
The senator added that Michigan’s borders with Ohio and Wisconsin have been revisited, so there is both precedent and a need for this project.
“My legislation outlines Michigan’s survey obligations and, once completed, will give our state the tools to establish a clear line and each state’s legal jurisdictions and respective responsibilities,” LaSata said.
LaSata’s bills continue the efforts former Sen. Ron Jelinek, who also represented Southwest Michigan and introduced the original bills to resurvey and establish a clear border — though the state of Indiana did not join those efforts at the time, leaving them unfinished. Funding to move forward with the survey and cover Michigan’s responsibilities was negotiated between the Legislature and governor in the fiscal year 2022 state budget. Similar funding was approved in Indiana.
Senate Bills 627 and 628 now go to the House of Representatives for consideration.