• Jul : 6 : 2018 - Medical Alert-Connect Accused of Perpetuity Billing in Violation of Deceptive Business/Trade Practices Laws
  • Jun : 20 : 2018 - SLED investigating Cole’s Towing-IATD Interview WSPA
  • Jun : 17 : 2018 - Cole’s Towing owner, employee arrested for assault and battery
  • May : 19 : 2018 - Immigrant Children Separated from Families Will Be Put in Warehouses on Military Bases
  • May : 19 : 2018 - Cops Called on Documentary Filmmaker & Other Blacks Checking out of Airbnb

The legislation was the last bill to pass the Legislature in December, growing at the last minute from a non-controversial bill that had passed the Senate unanimously at 13 pages, into a totally revamped 53 pages that was passed with no public hearings and with only Republican votes.

The bill prohibits local officials from publicly discussing ballot proposals or millage issues in the 60 days leading up to an election. It has been blasted by municipal and school district officials as an official state “gag order” and a violation of free speech.

“Anytime you have to go back to the Legislature and ask for cleanup it’s difficult to do,” said Donald Wotruba, executive director of the Michigan Association of School Boards. “Even with the idea of cleanup, this does infringe on the rights of local government to speak out and inform their residents.”

But Snyder disagreed.

The “new prohibitions were not made applicable to any of the other existing exceptions in current law, in particular, those that are grounded in First Amendment political speech protections,” he wrote in his signing letter.

He also said he didn’t think it applied to policymakers expressing their own views, or using a public facility to host debates or town halls on ballot questions.

“These are important exceptions to retain to protect free political speech and also ensure that the electorate has the opportunity to be adequately informed about upcoming ballot proposals,” he wrote.

The Michigan Freedom Fund, a pro right-to-work group funded by the west Michigan DeVos family, said Snyder put taxpayer interests over local bureaucrats.

“Thanks to Governor Snyder and state lawmakers, taxpayers can rest a little easier today knowing government bureaucrats and lobbyists won’t be spending their tax dollars to bankroll political campaigns or push for local tax hikes,” said Terri Reid, President of the Michigan Freedom Fund, in a news release.

It’s already illegal for local and school officials to advocate for ballot proposals or millage issues, and the Secretary of State has investigated a couple dozen complaints over the last three years.

Wotruba said his organization may go to the courts to get an injunction against the law until clean-up language can be passed.

“If we have districts already in the process for a March or May election, we’re already into that 60-day period. If the Legislature really wants to fix this, will the courts give us an injunction until it’s resolved,” he said. “In Pontiac, they have the 18-mill renewal up in March and they’re under a state consent agreement. Somebody should be able to communicate on that.”

Chris Hackbarth, director of state affairs for the Michigan Municipal League, said if the bill doesn’t get fixed, it will be a complete gag order on local officials.

“The way it’s signed, communication is shut down. I don’t know any community that would feel comfortable having a meeting broadcast on their public access channel,” he said. “It’s a disaster.”

Also in the bill was a provision that allows candidates to shift campaign money from one election cycle to another to pay off debt from a previous election cycle. The provision effectively doubles campaign finance limits just a year after the limits already were doubled by the Legislature.

“It’s terrible. Gov. Snyder has changed the landscape of campaign finance in the state,” said Rich Robinson, a board member of the Michigan Campaign Finance Network, which tracks election spending. “There was a time when I thought that he was doing some bargaining by signing these bills, but the Legislature isn’t doing anything that he wants, he’s just doing what they want.”

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