Inflamed duck — Republicans rush to complete their two-year power grab in the last five days

It IS impressive…


If you thought the speed with which Michigan Republicans went to chit chatting about making Michigan a Right to Work for Less state and actually accomplishing that was impressive, you should keep watching because they aren’t done yet, not by a long shot. The frantic pace continued yesterday, just one day after they kicked unions to the curb and brought a record number of people to the Capitol to protest.

Yesterday the legislature got busy. They:

  • Passed a bill out of House committee that will allow the carrying of concealed weapons in schools and other public places.
  • Passed legislation in the Senate that will make it onerously and unnecessarily difficult to run a clinic that offers abortion services.
  • Passed a bill out of the Senate that will allow doctors and nurses to refuse to treat you for reasons of conscience.
  • Passed a new Emergency Manager bill out of the House which at least one Democrat describtes as worse than Public Act 4.

On his Facebook page, Democratic State House Representative Mark Meadows from East Lansing said:

In House Chamber, debating the replacement Emergency Manager legislation which is even worse than the legislation rejected by the voters in November. At the other end of the building, the Senate passes the most restrictive anti choice bill in the nation. It is also on the way to the House. This Lame Duck session may go down in history as destroying more citizen rights than any other.

The concealed weapons bill is S.B. 59 which I have previously written about HERE. Since I last wrote about it, Republicans removed language that would have allowed concealed weapons to be carried in churches, bars, and hospitals:

Michigan now prohibits people licensed for concealed weapons from carrying them in schools, day care centers, sports arenas, bars, places of worship, hospitals, dorms and casinos. They can, however, openly carry their guns in schools and all other places except federal buildings, courthouses and casinos.

The bill would let CPL holders apply for an exemption so they could carry concealed guns in those gun-free zones, though they no longer could openly carry there under the legislation. They would have to get at least eight more hours of training and fire 94 additional rounds at a firing range.

However, private property owners – churches, bars, hospitals and others – would be allowed to prohibit guns from being carried on their premises. Because of their autonomy under the state constitution, public universities also could ban guns.

Public schools – currently gun-free unless someone openly carries a weapon – would have to allow concealed weapons under the bill.

The first of two anti-abortion bills that passed is one that puts extraordinary new rules in place designed to put most abortion providers out of business:

The Michigan Senate has passed legislation that would add restrictions for abortion providers.

Any facility that provides abortions would have to meet new licensing and insurance requirements. The legislation also mandates a screening process to make sure women aren’t forced to have an abortion.

Renee Chelian is with Northland Family Planning Clinics. She said the bills are a backhanded attempt to limit access to abortions.

“This is a way to make abortions more expensive by causing clinics to do all kinds of construction that’s not necessary. If you raise the cost of abortion, you make it inaccessible to women, and that’s really what they’re whole point is,” Chelian said.

The second of the two bills would allow doctors and other health care providers to simply refuse to treat patients for “reasons of conscience”:

On a straight party-line vote, the state House insurance committee voted today to approve a bill that would allow health care providers and facilities to refuse service based on a moral objection, religious reasons or matters of conscience.

The bill now moves to the full House, and if approved, would move to Gov. Rick Snyder for his signature.

The bill, which has passed the Senate, “respects religious freedom,” said the bill’s sponsor, Sen. John Moolenaar, R-Midland. “But also allows for the best medical care.”

Right to Life of Michigan, the state’s largest anti-abortion group, supports the bill and said today that it’s not intended to discriminate against any person or group.

As LGBT activist and Daily Kos writer Scott Wooledge explains, this bill would “declare gays, women strangers to health care”. A Michigander (fun fact: Scott’s dad was my shop teacher in high school), Wooledge writes, “This ‘conscience of choice’ legisation essentially declares gays, and doubtlessly impure women, as “strangers to health care. I weep for my home state.”

And, finally, the new Emergency Manager bill. This bill passed the House and now goes to the Senate. Not making the same mistake they made with Public Act 4, Republicans put a $6 million appropriation into this bill called “Local Financial Stability and Choice Act”, making it, like the Right to Work for Less laws signed by Gov. Snyder on Tuesday, immune from a citizens’ referendum. The House Democrats released a statement that brims with their outrage:

“Once again this week, Republicans are demonstrating complete contempt for the voters of Michigan,” said incoming House Democratic Leader Rep. Tim Greimel. “In November, 2.3 million Michiganders clearly demonstrated that they want transparency within their democracy and local control of their government.”

The bill would create a new act known as the Local Financial Stability and Choice Act, replacing Public Act 72 of 1990 and PA 4 of 2011, which addressed local units of government and school districts in emergency financial situations. Voters overwhelmingly rejected PA 4 at the ballot box in November.

“This bill is a slap in the face of the voters of the state of Michigan,” Representative David Nathan (D-Detroit) said. “Once again, House Republicans are aiding the Executive Branch and Department of Treasury in a complete power grab by placing an immense amount of power in the hands of one individual that is unelected and unaccountable to the people.”

It’s not just the goal of the law that’s offensive. House Republicans, stinging from a voter referendum last month that overturned the pervious emergency financial manager act, have arrogantly inserted an almost $6 million appropriation into the new emergency financial manager law. By adding an appropriation, Republicans hope to make the law immune to another voter referendum. Rather than imperiously imposing their will on the citizens of Michigan, Republicans should listen to the will of the people. Again, they refuse to hear the message the people of Michigan are sending them.

“Once again, Republicans are playing fast and loose with democracy in Michigan,” Representative Vicki Barnett (D-Farmington Hills) said. “It’s a sad day when the people who are elected into office refuse to listen to the same voices of the people who put them there. House Republicans must start heeding the will of the people.”

Note: the actual appropriation in the legislation is $780,000.

House Republicans know they won’t have the votes to do much of this after the changing of the guard next month so this absolutely astonishing flurry of last-minute activity is purely to make put their ideological stamp on Michigan before they run out of time.

Here’s the bad news: they still have four days left in session.

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