This week Michigan legislators passed a package of bills dubbed “The Grand Bargain” that will help our state’s largest city, Detroit, get back on its feet. Missing from that package was a bill that would have prevented regional municipalities from renewing the existing voter-approved 10-year millage or the levying a new millage to fund the Detroit Institute of Arts. (Details about that bill can be found HERE.)
In killing the bill, Senate Republican Leader Randy Richardville had this to say:
It’s kind of strange that the Legislature would say we’re not going to let local governments make their own decisions or have a vote of their own people. And so I think that was the part we all had problems with.
They should have had problems with that. As Senator Richardville indicates, voters across the state should have the right to vote on the issues that impact their communities and our state as a whole. Which makes Richardville’s legislation to stop a vote on a citizen-initiated referendum to raise the minimum wage a display of raw hypocrisy.
My friends at Progress Michigan spell it out for us:
In an act of stark hypocrisy, Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville said today that voters should have the right to vote on the Detroit Institute of Arts millage. His statement comes only a week after a bill he sponsored was signed by the governor in an effort to silence the voices of over 300,000 voters who want to vote on the Raise Michigan Coalition’s ballot measure to increase the minimum wage to $10.10.
“This type of blatant hypocrisy is sickening, but is surprisingly common from the conservative leadership in Lansing,” said Lonnie Scott, executive director of Progress Michigan. “Sen. Richardville cannot pick and choose when voters should have the right to vote. Today he is saying people should have the right to vote on important issues, but only last week he pushed through a bill that aims to silence the voice of hundreds of thousands of Michiganders.
“Democracy shouldn’t be a matter of convenience — following the will of the voters should be standard practice.”
It was Richardville’s own bill, S.B. 934, that was signed into law last month that raised the state’s minimum wage to a lower level than the ballot initiative would have and which did not give wage parity to tipped workers. That move, according to most analysts’ assessment, effectively killed the citizen-initiated referendum.
It’s clear example, one of many, how the drunk-with-power, patriarchal Republicans see themselves as the arbiters of when voters can have democracy and when they can’t. If you like having these sorts of decisions made for you, Michigan Republicans are the right choice for you.
On the other hand, if you think that democracy — as spelled out in our Constitution that Republicans claim to worship with such reverence — should be allowed to flourish unimpeded and without partisan interference, you may wish to give second thought to supporting Republican candidates.
Republicans complain bitterly about the so-called “Nanny State”, their derisive label for government regulation to protect our land, air, health, and safety. What they have created in Michigan is a “Daddy State” where father knows best and you shouldn’t worry your pretty little heads about complicated things like a living wage and dignity for workers at the low end of the wage scale. They have it all figured out for you.
Now, just run along and let them do your thinking and voting for you.