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A view of the Michigan State Capitol building in Lansing

JN Editorial: Michigan Legislature is Undermining the Will of the People

The Michigan legislature is using dark of night tactics to thwart the will of the people during the lame duck session, when many of the legislators have been termed out or voted out and cannot be held accountable for their actions.

As of Dec. 5, legislators introduced and, in some cases, passed bills that would overturn citizen-led initiatives like the minimum wage increase and earned paid sick time as well as curtail the authority of Attorney General-elect Dana Nessel and Secretary of State-elect Jocelyn Benson, both elected to their offices by a majority of Michigan voters.

Here’s what lawmakers in Lansing are up to:

  • They’re changing two popular citizen-led initiatives (minimum wage increase and earned paid sick time) that received the required signatures to be placed on the 2018 ballot. In a move to keep the measures off the ballot, Republicans passed them into law prior to Nov. 6. They are now using lame duck session to gut these popular proposals. These measures, which are on their way to Gov. Rock Snyder’s desk, would slow the increase in the minimum wage to $12 by eight years, to 2030, and they would drop tipped workers’ wages from $12/hour in the bill to $4/hour and slash hours of sick leave in half from 72 to 36 hours per year as written in the original bills.
  • In a move to curtail the power of the incoming secretary of state, Senate Bill 1250, introduced by Sen. Dave Robertson, would remove oversight of campaign finance law from the Secretary of State’s office and give it to a newly created commission modeled on the failed Federal Elections Commission.
  • In a move to curtail the power of the incoming attorney general, Rep. Robert VerHeulen introduced a series of bills that allow the legislature to separately argue a defense of Michigan’s laws when and if it disagrees with the AG’s decision. This is a massive Constitutional overreach and a clear partisan attack on the separation of powers.
  • Legislation was introduced in the Senate to make changes to Proposal 2, approved by the people, which establishes a 13-member independent citizen redistricting commission to combat gerrymandering.
  • Sen. Mike Shirkey introduced legislation to expand the role of dark money in elections by making it easier for political “nonprofits” to keep their donors secret.
  • The Senate adopted a bill (SB1198) that would make it illegal for the abortion pill to be prescribed by tele-medicine. This would make it difficult for rural women, especially, to access safe abortions.

These moves clearly undermine the will of Michigan voters who made their voices heard in the recent midterm election.

Keep in mind, however, that none of these bills can come to fruition without the signature of outdoing Gov. Rick Snyder. If he signs these bills, he would be complicit in ignoring the voice of voters. Does the governor want that to be his lasting legacy along with the Flint water crisis? Or would he prefer to be remembered for overseeing economic expansion, helping to save the city of Detroit and respecting the will of the people?

To let the governor know your thoughts, call his office at (517) 373-3400 or (517) 335-7858.

 

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