[NOTE: This story has been updated HERE.]
The Michigan Republicans in a rather remarkable display of arrogance have taken to passing bills lately and voting to give them “immediate effect”. They are, in general, allowed to do this and it bypasses the normal 90-day waiting period after the bill is signed into law by the governor. However, under the state constitution, this requires a 2/3 vote by the legislature must allow a record roll call vote on immediate effect if one-fifth of the members request it. The Republicans have decided to just ignore that inconvenience and go right to a voice vote against the wishes of the House Dems. The GOP has used this on such bills as a recent one to prevent university graduate student research assistants from forming a union.
Yesterday, Ingham County Circuit Judge Clinton Canady III responded to a lawsuit brought on by the House Dems and put a temporary restraining order (pdf) on the Republicans, preventing them from doing this.
Here’s the House Dems press release on the matter:
LANSING – House Democratic Leader Richard E. Hammel (D-Mt. Morris Township) and members of the House Democratic Caucus today announced the filing of a lawsuit in Ingham County Circuit Court over the House Republicans’ constitutional violations of giving bills immediate effect without having the necessary votes and ignoring House Democrats’ demands for record roll call votes on issues like immediate effect, even when the House Democrats have shown more than enough support under the state constitution. Leader Hammel, Democratic Floor Leader Kate Segal (D-Battle Creek), and Representatives Woodrow Stanley (D-Flint), Mark Meadows (D-East Lansing), Steven Lindberg (D-Marquette) and Jeff Irwin (D-Ann Arbor) were all named as plaintiffs on the House Dem’s motion for a temporary restraining order and show cause hearing.”It’s very regrettable that it has come this far,” said Hammel. “Our caucus wanted to avoid this measure and we exhausted reasoning with Republicans to follow the constitution with regard to roll call votes and immediate effect. We don’t vote for ourselves in the Capitol, we vote on behalf of our constituents. When we’re denied the constitutionally guaranteed rights, hundreds of thousands of Michigan residents are being denied a fair voice in how their state is run. I only hope this matter can be resolved quickly.”
House Dems File Lawsuit Over Constitutional Violations
Call lawsuit “unfortunate but necessary”
Under the constitution, the House must allow a record roll call vote on immediate effect if one-fifth of members (22) request it. The House Democratic Caucus currently has 47 members. House Republicans have ignored demands for record roll call votes to avoid counting votes when support is in doubt. Instead of allowing the legislative process to takes place as it should under the state constitution, Republicans have ignored the constitution by not being truthful about the numbers of votes they have for immediate effect. This practice denies the constitutional right to roll call votes and silences the voices of Michigan residents. The lawsuit is an attempt by House Democrats to get majority Republicans to stop trampling over rights granted to the people under the state constitution.
For a group of people that seems to nearly worship the constitution, they are awfully quick to bypass it when it serves their purpose, aren’t they. It’s hypocrisy of the highest order.
Christine Barry at Blogging for Michigan has more HERE.
UPDATE: Turns out that the restraining order has NOT yet been issued. From the Michigan House Democratic Caucus:
Information provided to our caucus yesterday regarding the signing of a Temporary Restraining Order was unfortunately inaccurate. An Order to Show Cause was signed and the hearing will be Monday. However, Judge Canady III is still reviewing the request for a temporary restraining order. It’s unfortunate we had to resort to legal action, and we anticipate and expect the Majority Party to fully abide by the constitutional rule of law regarding roll call votes and immediate effect. By blatantly disregarding Michigan’s Constitution, House Republicans are denying thousands of Michigan residents the voice in Lansing they deserve.