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.