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John R. Axe

Senior Counsel
fax +1 313.309.6946

John Axe guides clients through municipal law, public finance, and education cases. He frequently prepares statutory solutions to problems that cannot be solved under current law.

Examples of successful law change include:

  • In 1972 the Michigan Supreme Court ruled that an existing statute (which had authorized bond projects through building authorities for more than 25 years) was unconstitutional. He wrote creative legislation which he successfully lobbied through the Michigan legislature in four months so this type of financing could proceed again.
  • In 1978 the Michigan Constitution was amended to prohibit non-voted unlimited tax bonds. In the period between the adoption of the new constitutional provision and the effective date of the constitutional change, he wrote and successfully lobbied through the legislature a statute that permitted borrowings secured by a “Limited Tax” and the issuer’s general funds. Thereafter these bonds were known and successfully marketed as “General Obligation Limited Tax Bonds”. Because of this prompt action, municipal projects which would have been stalled by the new constitutional provision were not delayed.

John has also successfully argued a case in the Michigan Supreme Court which permitted the Michigan State Highway Commission to issue transportation bonds for mass transit and railroad purposes. Also, in 2008, in order to permit the creation of a new non-profit corporation which would permit the construction of a light rail system in downtown Detroit (and perhaps beyond), John drafted and successfully lobbied through legislature the law under which M-1 Rail is currently being constructed without any local and state support.

In addition to his experience as a practicing bond attorney and financial consultant in municipal issues, John is a co-author of Michigan Municipal Law, a two-volume work published in 1981 by the Institute of Continuing Legal Education for the University of Michigan. In 1992, he was appointed as a member of the Permanent Adjunct Faculty of the Wayne State University Law School where he teaches public finance. John also served a three-year term on the Board of Directors of the National Association of Bond Lawyers (NABL), the first Michigan lawyer ever to serve in this capacity. He has served on the Steering Committees for NABL’s Bond Attorney’s Workshop in the years 1980, 1981, 1983, 1986, 1989, and 1990. He continues to serve on the Workshop faculty.


LL.B., Harvard Law School, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1963
B.A., University of Michigan, Michigan, 1960


National Association of Bond Lawyers

Grosse Pointe Library Foundation, Active on Board

Clements Library at the University of Michigan, Active on Board

Michigan History Foundation, Active on Board

Covenant House, Active on Board

State Bar Licenses


John has prepared as either lead or co-draftsman, the following statutes which authorize the issuance of municipal bonds in Michigan:

  • The amendment to Public Act 206 of 1893 in 1975, which permitted counties to issue general obligation delinquent tax notes secured by the collection of delinquent taxes.
  • The amendment to the Municipal Finance Act in 1982, which permitted municipalities to issue bonds and notes without the prior approval of the Municipal Finance Commission.
  • The amendment to Act 34 of the Public Acts of 2001, which permitted municipalities to issue pension and retirees health care obligation bonds.
  • The amendment to Act 206 of the Public Acts of 1893, and the amendment to Act 94 of the Public Acts of 1933, adopted in April of 2016, which permitted counties to issue delinquent tax revenue notes.