Michigan House of Representatives

Michigan Governor Poised to Ignore the Will of Voters and Enact a New Emergency Manager Law

Governor Snyder and Republican lawmakers are working on the details of their new Emergency Manager law to replace the one Michigan voters repealed earlier this month. The draft legislation looks and smells just like Public Act 4, but contains a little window-dressing to make it seem less dictator-ish.

Stand Up for Democracy is lobbying vigorously for the governor and legislature to respect the will of the people and not pass another Emergency Manager law during the upcoming lameduck session (starts on Nov. 27th and runs one to three weeks). More →

Case Study of Another GOP Attack on Public Education – Michigan Style!

Amy Kerr Hardin from Democracy Tree blog. It’s a tired old analogy — laws are like sausages, better not to see them made.

Yet, we should still reflect on those laws so putrid they’re simply not fit for human consumption. The Michigan legislature has churned-out plenty of tainted product recently, with most of it waiting in their unrefrigerated wings — jamming up the grind wheel in committee.

In the course of my research on some of the more outlandish bills introduced in Michigan’s 96th Legislature, I came to discover several things, starting with the obvious: GOP lawmakers appear to enjoy the combined IQ of a grapefruit — in fact, they remain delightfully ignorant of their ignorance, and thus the state’s only salvation lies in the inability of these incompetent elected officials to enact most of their legislative turds into compiled law and public policy.

Here’s just one illustrative case study of GOP tomfoolery:

A seemingly minor bill caught my attention.  The proposed law appeared simple enough on the surface — HB 4692, introduced last year by Rep. Kurt Heise (R-20), would have allowed school districts to charge students for bus transportation. The bill thoughtfully provided an exemption for students qualifying for free/reduced lunches.

Knowing that our GOP friends are largely unencumbered with even the most rudimentary higher-order “Theory of Mind” skills, it seemed that Rep. Heise didn’t fully, or even partially, consider the ramifications of such a reckless fiscal policy. (It’s a miracle on the order of fishes and loaves that these guys make it out the door every morning not wearing their underwear outside of their pants.)

So, let’s think this thing through for the good lawmaker…

Rep. Heise, a member of the House Standing Committee on Education, representing the suburban Detroit communities of Northville and Plymouth, would presumably be expected to know that Gov. Snyder was slashing K-12 funding by shifting millions to higher education, then robbing those coffers for his coprporate welfare scheme. Heise may also have been vaguely knowledgable of Snyder’s “Best Practices” for education which had a statutory requirement for school districts to attempt to privatize busing  as a qualification to receive full per pupil funding. Perhaps a dim Neanderthal awareness of the manufactured nature of the education funding crisis, particularly impacting his country cousins, crept into Heise’s mind. Rural districts are additionally burdened with a higher per pupil transportation cost due to larger geographic areas to traverse, and coupled with their lesser per pupil funding, they are increasingly teetering on the fiscal brink… So, lawmaker Heise pulled this hair-brained solution out of his ass to ease the crunch for the toothless hillbillies of Michigan’s hinterlands — he was just trying to be helpful, right?

Eh, not so much…

Heise, represents Michigan’s 20th House District where there has been an explosion in new charter schools. Although charters are, on the surface, “public schools” they tend to offer limited options comparative to real public schools. Functionally they behave like a for-profit private enterprise. In fact, many of their component services are completely privatized. They identify the cheapest demographic to educate and cater strictly to them. There is a reason charter schools don’t have many special needs students. Those kids are just too expensive — costing way more than their foundation grants provide for, so charter schools make themselves subtly, and sometimes overtly, unattractive to families looking for the best for their children. Charters attract the middle of the bell-curve.

It’s no secret that the far right holds a special contempt for our public education system, willing to do just about anything to destroy it in their privatization mania. Michigan lawmakers have taken the death-of-a-thousand-cuts approach to its public school system. To their way of thinking, what could be more American than making a handsome profit off educating the masses? After all, it’s a model that’s worked-out so well in our healthcare system…

Back to Rep. Heise’s ill-fated pay for school busing bill…remember that provision that gave a pass to those free/reduced lunch families? Well, it seems that over 46 per cent of Michigan students qualify for that program, and in rural communities that number tends to climb.   Thus, if Heise had his way he would not be helping rural districts at all, but would instead be stressing them to the point of tearing them apart at the seams. Families that were just barely above the qualifying limit for the free/reduced lunch program would be forced to bear the bulk of the cost of school transportation for their already impoverished school.

The salient question here is: did Heise know what he was doing — meaning, was his real purpose to further damage public education? Or was he just another dumb-ass legislator who can barely read the kiddie menu?

Whatever the intent, Michigan doesn’t want his brand of sausage. It should be left to rot in committee.

Michigan’s House of Horrors – A Guide to Bad Bills and Lousy Laws

Under the leadership of Republican Speaker Jase Bolger members of the Michigan House have been busy as bees destroying democratic rule, dismantling the public sector, treating women as reproductive chattel, busting unions, polluting the air and water, fostering racial tension, gutting public education, selling public assets, trampling individual rights, and wrecking havoc with the state’s fragile economy and infrastructure.

Following is a list of some of the most reprehensible, repugnant and downright laughable bills and resolutions. Luckily, the majority remain stalled in committee, but several real doosies snuck through to become law, and just like with any virulent plague, it only takes a few…but hey Michigan, it’s just a touch of Ebola, right? Walk it off!

THE ROLL CALL OF RIDICULOUSNESS IN THE 96th MICHIGAN LEGISLATURE:

Let’s start with Jase Bolger (R-63) himself. The Speaker introduced four rather innocuous resolutions and no bills or amendments because he preferred to do all his dirty work behind closed doors, with his crowning achievement being manipulating the 76th District race by helping recruit a sham candidate to run against Republican-come-lately (really lately) Roy Schmidt. A complaint was filed and the court found enough evidence of wrong-doing to appoint a one-person grand jury. Great work setting the tone for the House Jase!

While we’re talking scandal, let’s look at the legislative rap sheet of Bolger’s partner in crime, Rep. Roy Schmidt (D, er…R-76).  As a special gift for his fellow recall-facing conspirator, Schmidt introduced a bill that would repeal the constitutional right of the people to recall elected officials for “political reasons”. When the effort to recall Bolger fizzled , the bill strangely stalled in committee.

Moving on to the man responsible for the worst piece of legislation to come out of this House, let’s visit the record of Rep. Al Pscholka (R-79). His crowning achievement being the abrogation of the right to home rule for 50% of all communities of color in Michigan. It’s called the Emergency Manager Law — a legislative atrocity that’s not only racist, but is flat-out unconstitutional and in violation of both the Civil Rights and the Voters Rights Acts. Puppy-kicker Pscholka also introduced the law that restricted grad students from unionizing.

(Oh, we’re just getting started….)

Rep. Bill Rogers (R-42) and Rep. Nancy Jenkins (R-57) both introduced bills to aid and abet Emergency Managers. Just as the Detroit Public School’s Emergency Manager was putting 70 schools on the market, Rogers introduced a bill that would make those public assets a sweet deal for private land speculators, offering them a five-year exemption from property taxes –just what the battered tax-base of that community needed —freeloading speculators. Jenkins, not to be outdone, wanted to exempt government bodies from the Open Meetings Act so they could discuss the potential sale of public assets behind closed doors. Both bills remain in committee.

(In no special order, the list goes on…)

Rep. Bob Genetski (R-80) sponsored several committee-lodged gems. The first was to ban people from photographing their completed voter ballots. Hah! Tell that to Michael Moore! Another jewel in Genetski’s legislative tiara is a bill to ban hospital workers from being required to get flu shots. This lawmaker seems to know plenty about bugs ‘cuz he also introduced a bill to establish a state bug.

And there’s Rep. Bruce Rendon (R-103) who’s doing his level best to incite a pussy riot right here in Michigan. Vagina expert Rendon sponsored an over-arching abortion rights bill that takes care of all his omnibus concerns about those lady parts hidden behind panties. Thanks Bruce! But not to worry moms and unwilling would-be-moms, the good representative cares about Michigan’s kids too — he also introduced a bill to have fire arm classes taught in Michigan’s elementary schools. His pussy bill passed the House and his kids with guns bill is still shooting it out in committee.

Rep. Lisa Posthumus Lyons (R-86) is a serious fiscal hawk — she’s taken the Norquist pledge to a whole new level — the unborn. Yup, Lisa promoted a bill to authorize tax deductions for fetuses. (I’m totally carrying octuplets this coming tax season if this bill makes law). Lyons, however, did get one of her legislative initiatives into compiled law. She sponsored the bill that eliminated the requirement for retail item pricing — which has worked out so well for consumers…because the thing they crave most is lack of information.  

Rep. Greg McMaster (R-105) introduced a bill against sustainable development — are we to assume he prefers the unsustainable kind?

Rep. Joel Johnson (R-97) is a man of varied and complex interests — trucks and vaginas. He introduced a bill to waive the limit on the number of hours truckers can be on Michigan roads, and he is the bright guy who gave us the vaginal probe bill. Thanks Joel for caring about the ladies. Your’e a modern day renaissance man. Too bad your bills got stuck in committee — maybe you should probe into that….

Rep. Ken Goike (R-33) prefers his constituents to pee in to a cup — he wanted to prevent individuals from receiving unemployment benefits if they refuse to take a drug test for a job application. Rep. Jeff Farrington (R-30) felt that welfare recipients should similarly share their bodily fluids.  The first bill remains in committee and the latter passed the House but is not yet law. (Does anyone see a pattern here? Are Republicans pottyheads?)

Rep. Tom McMillan (R-45) has introduced plenty of Tea Party boiler plate items: a resolution for a right to life amendment, a bill to exempt family members from computer hacking laws, and one to ban government agencies from competing with private enterprise, and of course, a bill to ban Obamacare. He’s not all bad though — the man has a sense of humor — he introduced a bill requiring drug testing for CEOs of companies receiving corporate welfare. Tee hee hee.

It’s not all fun and games in the House, they are a spiritual lot, our lawmakers. When they’re not thinking about pee-pee and vaginas, they’re all about God and country! Rep. Kevin Cotter (R-99) introduced the law that requires our kids to recite the Pledge of Allegiance, and Rep. Edward McBroom (R-108) tried but failed to get “In God We Trust” on our license plates. (Now how will the guy tailgating you know who you trust?) 

I’ll end with Rep. Kenneth Kurtz (R-58). He offered a bill to make English Michigan’s official language ….

…. Lamentable, esto no paso.

Amy Kerr Hardin from Democracy Tree blog