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Michigan Republicans' Lame-Duck Drive to Hobble Democrats Fails - Mostly
Written by <a href="index.php?option=com_comprofiler&task=userProfile&user=49854"><span class="small">Tom Perkins, Guardian UK</span></a>   
Monday, 31 December 2018 09:34

Perkins writes: "A frantic lame-duck month in which the Republican-controlled Michigan legislature floated hundreds of bills concluded with the GOP largely failing to pass controversial laws that would have stripped power from incoming Democrats."

Republican governor Rick Snyder signed laws to significantly scale back citizen-initiated measures to raise Michigan's minimum wage and require paid sick leave for workers. (photo: Al Goldis/AP)
Republican governor Rick Snyder signed laws to significantly scale back citizen-initiated measures to raise Michigan's minimum wage and require paid sick leave for workers. (photo: Al Goldis/AP)


Michigan Republicans' Lame-Duck Drive to Hobble Democrats Fails - Mostly

By Tom Perkins, Guardian UK

31 December 18


Bills to strip power from incoming officials failed or were vetoed, but the GOP still made changes that will affect liberal voters

frantic lame-duck month in which the Republican-controlled Michigan legislature floated hundreds of bills concluded with the GOP largely failing to pass controversial laws that would have stripped power from incoming Democrats.

Two bills died during the legislative process just before Christmas, and on Friday outgoing Republican governor Rick Snyder surprised his party by vetoing a bill designed to shift power from attorney general-elect Dana Nessel to the legislature. He did so after a law designed to take authority from incoming secretary of state Jocelyn Benson failed to make it out of the state House. A plan to create a “shadow” state board of education controlled by Republicans met the same fate in the Senate.

Snyder did sign several bills that reduce voters’ power. They included significant alterations to citizen-initiated laws that mandated paid sick time and raised the minimum wage, and legislation to make ballot drives nearly impossible.

“They may not have taken power from incoming electeds but they did take significant power from people and that’s important to highlight,” Democratic state representative Yousef Rabhi told the Guardian, adding that he was stopping short of praising anyone in the Republican party.

“They were planning to set the house on fire so it’s sort of weird to applaud them for not burning it down,” he said.

The legislation targeting Benson would have shifted her authority over campaign finance to a commission made up of three Republicans and three Democrats appointed by legislative leaders. With partisan gridlock baked in, that would have effectively killed enforcement of campaign finance laws. Senator Dave Robertson, who introduced the bill, has a history of campaign finance violations and his former chief of staff is under investigation for embezzlement.

The bill designed to strip power from Nessel would have given the legislature authority to intervene in lawsuits challenging unpopular legislation. Campaigning, Nessel said she would not use state resources to fight for laws she sees as unconstitutional, like one that allows adoption agencies to choose not to work with same-sex couples.

Legal experts who spoke with the Guardian said the legislation would have violated the Michigan constitution’s separation of powers clause. Snyder appeared to acknowledge that in his veto letter, stating that the executive branch is responsible for managing the “litigation position of the state as an entity”.

Snyder’s vetoes and Republican ambivalence to some more draconian bills came amid intense opposition from state residents, including some Republicans. Democratic representative Stephanie Chang said that had an impact.

“What’s great is that there were so many people paying attention,” she said. “There were people at the capitol protesting and watching what was going on … and there were definitely Republicans who decided to vote ‘no’ because of the conversation.”

Still, the GOP took some victories. They included the passage of two bills to gut citizen-initiated legislation to mandate paid sick time and raise the state minimum wage to $12 per hour, for all workers, including those receiving tips, by 2022. Instead, minimum wage will be raised to $12.05 by 2030 and tipped workers’ pay will be capped at $3.58 per hour. Republicans exempted around 1 million workers from mandated sick time and cut the number of mandated days from nine to four.

Two citizen-led groups each collected around 400,000 signatures to put the minimum wage and sick time proposals on the November ballot. The GOP made the proposals law in September before gutting them in lame duck. A legal challenge is likely as Democrats contend the state constitution prohibits changes to citizen-initiated laws in the same session.

There were five citizen-led ballot initiatives in 2018. Voters approved proposals to expand voting access, decriminalize marijuana and establish an independent redistricting commission. Republican attempts to alter those proposals mostly failed, but the legislature narrowly passed a new law that will make ballot initiatives far more difficult.

It mandates that no more than 15% of the signatures gathered during a ballot drive can come from any one of the state’s 14 congressional districts. That will make progressive ballot initiatives especially challenging since Republicans gerrymandered the congressional map, packing Democratic voters into a small number of districts. Democrats have promised a legal challenge and have said the bill is the most flagrantly unconstitutional of those passed in the lame-duck session.

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+3 # Rcomm 2018-12-31 13:24
So, if you can't poison all the voters you pass a bill to keep them from voting?