Dec 282015
 December 28, 2015

michigan marijuanaKathleen Gray of the Detroit Free Press has uncovered a potentially earth-shattering story from the Michigan legislature.  Lawmakers have passed a measure that bans using public funds or resources to educate the public on any proposal appearing on a ballot within 60 days of the election; SB 0571 was approved by both the House and Senate in some late-night legislative wrangling before lawmakers skipped out of town for Christmas break. It was presented to the Governor for his signature at 10:52 on December 28.

This story of ambush is all-too-familiar to Michigan’s civil rights organizations: This was ”the final bill passed before the legislature adjourned… started out as a fairly innocuous campaign finance bill… was totally changed at the last minute in the House…that provision was added without any public hearings or notice to the parties that will be most affected… the revamped bill grew from 25 to 53 pages during the late-night session… Democrats objected to the bill, primarily because it wasn’t shared with them until moments before a vote was taken…  the bill passed, mostly along party lines…”

The exact language of the Bill reads:

Sec. 57 (3) EXCEPT FOR AN ELECTION OFFICIAL IN THE PERFORMANCE OF HIS OR HER DUTIES UNDER THE MICHIGAN ELECTION LAW, 1954 PA 116, MCL 168.1 TO 168.992, A PUBLIC BODY, OR A PERSON ACTING FOR A PUBLIC BODY, SHALL NOT, DURING THE PERIOD 60 DAYS BEFORE AN ELECTION IN WHICH A LOCAL BALLOT QUESTION APPEARS ON A BALLOT, USE PUBLIC FUNDS OR RESOURCES FOR A COMMUNICATION BY MEANS OF RADIO, TELEVISION, MASS MAILING, OR PRERECORDED TELEPHONE MESSAGE IF THAT COMMUNICATION REFERENCES A LOCAL BALLOT QUESTION AND IS TARGETED TO THE RELEVANT ELECTORATE WHERE THE LOCAL BALLOT QUESTION APPEARS ON THE BALLOT.

A Republican Representative said these issues have been talked about for quite some time and called the changes “minor.” Democrats, who do not have the numbers to stop legislation in either the Michigan House or Senate, complain that the enemies across the aisle “are not allowing us to read and understand the changes” before calling the issue for a vote.

The responses from representatives of the local governments and their employees gagged by this bill’s order are predictably outraged. Christian Hackbarth of the Michigan Municipal League is quoted in the Free Press article as saying, “You’re telling these officials they can’t even respond on their computer or phone, to a question from a constituent.”

Dana Gill, director of governmental affairs for the Michigan Association of Counties, said, ”The new language does not allow any communication between local governments and their citizens within two months of an election.”

“There is no compelling public interest served by this restriction.”

Hackbarth observed that the ban would prevent government officials from speaking on public access television stations or even in public meetings like City Council sessions about issues their constituents need to know. He added that the bill’s proposal would essentially be “blocking access to unbiased, objective communication on the local issues that matter most to the residents in every community in Michigan.”

Uncertain at this stage is if Police Chiefs and Sheriffs would be gagged and prevented from discussing any marijuana-related ballot proposals for the two months before an election like city officials are.

This process of government is exactly the kind of thing we in the marijuana rights community complain about all the time, including last-minute changes, votes without debate and far-reaching ramifications that favor the empowered.

If Hackbarth’s observations are correct it significantly favors the business and financially established players in the lawmaking game. If media wants a comment on a fracking issue appearing on the ballot, they can no longer turn to an elected official and get answers. In many places there is no organized citizen spokesperson, meaning the only voice available for media to interview is that of industry representatives.

Advantage, rich people. Again.

When you silence the voice of government and allow only the rich to get out their message via expensive media advertising, you alter the course of elections.

…And speaking of altering the course of elections, that same SB 0571 also contains a provision to allow campaigns to not report their financial contributions until after the elections. This changes the rules for PACs and other election-influencing organizations, who can convert last-minute (and therefore questionable) contributions into direct mail campaigns and television ads without answering to the voters until after the issue is decided.

“Millions of dollars pouring into special campaigns will go unreported until long after an election is held,” Gray wrote.

The Koch Brothers couldn’t have done it better if they had written the rules themselves. Or perhaps they did. Michigan Republicans are good soldiers.

Source: The Compassion Chronicles

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About Rick Thompson

"Rick Thompson was the Editor in Chief for the entire 2-year run of the Michigan Medical Marijuana Magazine, was the spokesman for the Michigan Association of Compassion Centers and is the current Editor and Lead Blogger for The Compassion Chronicles. Rick has addressed committees in both the House and Senate, has authored over 200 articles on marijuana and is a professional photographer."Rick Thompson Is An Author At The Compassion Chronicles and focuses on all things Michigan.
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  14 Responses to “Michigan Legislature Gags Local Officials On Ballot Proposals”

  1.  

    There are days that I’m ashamed and embarrassed to admit that I’m a Michigan resident. I do write my state senator and representative (both drink that tea I don’t like at parties I don’t get invited to) on a very regular basis so they ALWAYS know my opinion :)

  2.  

    More GOP corruption. This is just par for the course. Note the political party that pushed this through, and sweep them out of power in November.

  3.  

    All they have to do is to arrest these criminals of the political (dis)order, throw em in jail and keep em there for a few weeks or months until they…see things our way. Otherwise, like we see here, these bullies will be relentless. Michigan is a great place…to be from. And news articles like this prove it almost everyday.

  4.  

    Does this really surprise anyone. All I can say is I didn’t vote for any republicans here in Michigan.

  5.  

    As long as law enforcement is also held to keeping their mouths shut and not able to bash pot (with unlimited funds from civil forfeiture) for the 2 months prior to the election it may actually help the movement.

    Law enforcement have a lot more money to through at bashing pot than the potheads have to promote wellness.

    The may actually backfire on the idiots.

    With no public body/person able to bash pot we will gain ground through educating friends and neighbors.

    The worst thing for the movement would be a shitload of negative pot ads just before election so with law enforcement out of the bashing scene we stand a better chance.

    Shitty politics done in the wee hours are wrong. Period. But, we might just luck out with this one!

    “A PUBLIC BODY, OR A PERSON ACTING FOR A PUBLIC BODY,” sounds like Sheriff’s AND Sheriffs’ Association as well.

    Federal, State and Local Law enforcement, county and state prosecutors and the Attorney General and his entire department have a GAG also!

    You know, I think the haters may have fuc*ed up with this one.

    •  

      You should know by now that police and sheriffs hold themselves above the law .

    •  

      That’s what I said when I read it. I thought, well they just FUCKED themselves in this one. They just put a gag order on ALL Sheriff’s, Prosecutors and County Attorneys 60 days before an election. That move should actually HELP the movement imho. If I read it right? They just FUCKED themselves!

  6.  

    The citizens of motor city are getting a royal fuckin on this one!!! The local government might as well say that they make the rules all you little people have to follow and we don’t care what issues are bothering or harming you neither do we want to hear about your woes!!! Republicans are TAKERS!!!!!!!

  7.  

    This state is becoming a nightmare.

  8.  

    Why gosh, I sure would like to hear what Bil Schuette has to say about the regulated re-legalization of cannabis a few days before the election.

    I admit it….I don’t get why people on his side of the table are aghast over this. One of the major factors in winning in Oregon was being able to make the prohibitionist parasites suckling at the State government teats to shut the fuck up. It’s not as if the politicians are on our side. So far 70% of local governments in Oregon have either opted out of allowing retail and/or wholesale vendors or sent it to the ballot for a vote. Oregon politicians are by and large much more friendly to our side of the debate than Michigan authorities.

    Here’s some homework. Familiarize yourself with the Federal Hatch Act. Then let’s talk. Considering that Michigan has among the worst enemies of freedom willing to monkey wrench this issue by hook or by crook using every trick in the book of any State in which th citizenry has approved any significant cannabis law reforms would somebody please ‘splain to me why the heck we would want to see those politicians lobbying against Michigan re-legalization on the taxpayers nickel? Public authorities are supposed to implement and enforce the will of the citizenry, not manipulate it to their own whimsy.

  9.  

    text us NOW….707 385 7950…….plannasd00@gmail.com top quality

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