Republican lawmakers in the Michigan House tried to get cute with union and voter rights during a lame duck session earlier this month when they passed bills curtailing both. But people got wise to the move, and let elected officials know they wouldn’t stand for it. And the state Senate killed the measures.
The backdoor legislative effort is sadly nothing new for the GOP in Michigan. Back in 2012, many of the same legislators pushed through so-called right-to-work legislation that emasculated unions and curbed the collective bargaining power of workers. So of course they thought they could do so again.
They were wrong. A public outcry ensued when word came out that one bill would increase fines against picketers to $1,000 per person per day of a picket and $10,000 per day for an organization or union involved in the picket that is deemed to be an illegal mass picket. The legislation was a direct shot at citizen’s First Amendment rights.
Another would have limited the rights of voters who forgot their photo identification on Election Day, forcing them to use a provisional ballot. Their ballot would have be set aside and not counted until the person provided their identification within 10 days after an election at their local clerk's office. Currently, a legally registered voter who forgets their ID signs an affidavit swearing that they are who they say they are and their vote is counted when they vote. More than 18,000 people who forgot their ID signed affidavits and voted on Nov. 8.
These bills did little to help Michiganians. Instead, it is clear they were an attempt to further enforce an ideology held by a majority of the Legislature to ensure that continues in the years to come. Michigan loses when its citizens have less of a voice on the job and in choosing its governmental leaders.
The demise of such legislation is a win for the people. But residents must remain resolute against future attempts to limit their rights.