DEMOCRACY DENIED: Detroit-area Democrats denied permission to speak on Michigan House floor



Back in 2012 when Republican Jase Bolger was still the Michigan House Speaker, his colleagues began passing bill after bill with “immediate effect”. Immediate effect allows a bill to became law as soon as the governor signs it rather than having to wait the statuatory 90 days. However, in order to pass a bill with immediate effect, there must be, by law, a 2/3 vote of the House members to do so and, since the GOP didn’t have 2/3 of the seats, any time Democrats decided not to go with the flow and support immediate effect, there were not enough votes to do it.

But that didn’t stop Jase Bolger. He simply took a voice vote, claimed 2/3 of the members had agreed, and moved on. This is despite scenes like these where Democrats were desperately calling for a record roll call vote and being completely ignored by Republican legislative leaders:

That same year we had the silencing of Reps. Barb Byrum and Lisa Brown for having the temerity to utter the word “vagina” on the House floor. The two Democrats were given a “timeout” by Republican leadership and prohibited from speaking for several days.

Last night, we saw a return to Bolger’s technique of refusing to allow Democrats speak about pending legislation. As the House debated legislation pertaining to the saving of Detroit Public Schools, Democrat Leslie Love from Detroit was refused permission to speak. Even as her colleagues amplified her request, at one point chanting, she was ignored:

Other Detroit legislators were similarly ignored.

Democracy in America is founded on representation of citizens by their elected officials. When elected officials are denied their right to speak on behalf of their constituents, those constituents are deprived of their rights and democracy is denied to them. That’s exactly what happened again last night in our state legislature thanks to House Republicans’ heavy-handed move. Once again, thanks to the power-hungry, capriciousness of the Republicans, democracy is something that Detroiters will simply have to do without.

Meanwhile, after backroom deals were cut between Senate and House Republicans along with Gov. Snyder, the Senate passed the House version of the DPS legislation. This is hideous legislation that will allow the ongoing proliferation of for-profit charter schools and ensure that Detroit students get a second-class education as uncertified teachers will be permitted to teach there (but not in any other Michigan schools.) You can read my analysis of that package of legislation HERE. Gov. Snyder is expected to quickly sign the legislation into law.

  • chukobuk

    It’s small wonder Michigan-based businesses are quietly expanding operations outside the state and every expansion inside the state has to be paid for out of the public treasury.

  • TeacherPattiS

    The only positive thing I can say is that it at least keeps the district from going bankrupt.
    For now.
    I think that they truly intended the EAA to be the dagger that would kill DPS and make it all for profit. But they didn’t count on them being such amazing failures nor did they expect people to stand up to the shittiness. So now they have to cook something else up, so the next time the district runs out of money, they will have their for-profit crap in place and ready to pounce.

    The bad news about the uncertified teacher thing is that, honestly, there are so many open positions that many are filled with substitutes who may or may not be certified (likely not). So it is already happening :( I’m sure though they will set up some sort of two-tier pay system and/or keep the uncertifieds out of the DFT, further weakening the strongest teachers’ union in the state. (And once DFT goes–if it does–everyone else will go. Our MEA rep has said it more than once.)

    • Mike Reade

      The legislation is designed to give DPS just enough rope to hang themselves with.

      The unchecked proliferation of charters is going to destabilize DPS further by sucking away more enrollment, leading to more DPS school closures, which will lead to further DPS enrollment declines. This is the vicious cycle that has brought DPS to the brink.

      In a few years we’ll be in the same spot, and Gary Naeyert will scream “SEE! We told you those people weren’t qualified to run their own schools! Close it down and replace it all with charters.”

      • TeacherPattiS

        Yep. I think you are right :(

    • judyms9

      Allowing uncertified teachers into the classrooms opens the door for nepotism and other forms of corruption, something DPS cannot afford in light of recent events.

      There was a time when even sub teachers had to have provisional certification. Is that not happening in DPS?

  • judyms9

    The action of the legislature last night was the equivalent of spitting in the eye of Detroit, but the media has largely characterized it as a timely action to avoid bankruptcy, as though that is all that mattered. And, of course, the governor will be happy to sign this legislation. Arlan Meekof may be the actual governor with Snyder as his surrogate.

  • Note: The 2/3 requirement is not simply “by law”, it is required by Art. IV, sec. 27 of the MI Constitution. “by a two-thirds vote of the members elected to and serving in each house.”

    Not that the republicans give a rip. It doesn’t seem like they are doing anything according to the requirements of the constitution.