The League of Women Voters is a nonpartisan political organization encouraging informed and active participation in government. It influences public policy through education and advocacy.
Nothing has been heard about electoral college "reform".
It appears the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (HB5958) is going nowhere in the Senate. The Governor has said he would have liked it coupled with expansion of the Elliott Larsen Civil Rights Act expansion of civil rights to the LGBT community.
Al Pscholka's bill HB6074 that would prohibit Michigan's public university athletes from being classified as public employees and thus able to unionize, sailed through both houses without hearings or discussion and is on its way to the Governor's office. There are conflicting reports, from an expected signing to the need for further study.
On Sunday morning the Action Alert was on the Bolger road funding plan (HB4539). This is the bill that Mr. Bolger said would provide adequate funding for infrastructure without raising taxes. It would do this by phasing out the current 6% sales tax on gasoline that currently goes for education and local governments and replacing it with another tax just for roads. The problem is it would leave a $700 million hole in the education budget -- which Jase Bolger says would eventually be filled by increased tax receipts. The bill now goes to the Senate. Since the Senate has its own, quite different road funding plan that would increase taxes, there will be negotiations.
The second Action Alert came out today in opposition to the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (HB5958) passed by the House last week and going to the Senate. Supporters argue that the law would limit the government's ability to place a burden on the exercise of religion. They also say there is a federal Religious Freedom law and that 27 other states have similar laws. This is correct and it was the federal law that Hobby Lobby used in the Supreme Court in their succesul fight to limit contraception coverage in their employee insurance plan. Opponents argue it is a license to discriminate on a small to a large scale.
To keep up to date on what is going on the LWVMI Facebook page is a good place to go. Advocacy VP Judy Karandjeff is making regular posts.
An interesting bill, HB6074, that would prohibit student athletes from unionizing is expected to be voted on this week. It is sponsored by our own Al Pscholka District 79. Mr. Pscholka feels student athletes are in school to get an education. Never mind that they are unpaid players in a hugely profitable business, that most colleges don't care if they get an education or not and that coaches are the highest paid public employees in most states, making about four times more than college presidents.
Here are some links to articles that have appeared elsewhere on some of these bills. Write your legislators and tell them where you stand.
Bolger Plan bill: From Leader Publications, an excellent letter by Superintendent Jarpeof the Brandywine School District . Also from the Detroit Free Press, an "article by Stephen Henderson".<http://www.freep.com/story/opinion/columnists/2014/11/28/roads-michigan-taxes-bolger-potholes/19633043/>
Religious Freedom Restoration Act: An article from the Free Press
On November 13 the Republicans set the stage, before leaving Lansing until December 2 for the hunting season and Thanksgiving. The Senate voted to approve a gas tax increase for road funding, HB5477, that sent a message. See the Free Press article.
Then Rep. Pete Lund introduced his latest Electoral College bill. It was quite different from his last bill, which would have allocated Michigan's electoral votes based on the vote in Congressional districts. This time the allocation would be based on the popular vote, with the candidate who wins the statewide vote getting at least 9 of the 16 electoral votes and maybe more, depending on the margin of victory. The losing candidate could also pick up votes. Read thIs article from Bridge for a more complete explanation. Of course, it could all change as the bill works it's way through committee and the House and Senate.
Any changes in the allocation of Electoral College votes will have national implications. The Republican National Committee has selected 5 "test states" for "reform", all states in which the Republicans control all branches of government. They are also all blue states; there are no red states on the test list. And tinkering with any long-standing system could have unintended consequences.
In response to a question on the link between autism and the environment, Dean Miranda announced that her department is receiving a $1.6 million federal grant to examine the potential social and environmental links to autism.
Watch the video of this forum. The candidates for District 21 State Senate are John Proos, shown at left, and Bette Pierman, shown at right. The candidates for District 79 State House are Al Pscholka, shown below left and Eric Lester, below right.
Photos by LWVBCC member Phil DeVore.
Photos by LWVBCC member Phil DeVore.
Pictured here a group of League members posing for the camera of expert photogrpaher and League member Phil DeVore. From left to right John Ripley, Jean Sharp, Earl Bickett, Pat Lauth, Donna Dutton and Susan Gilbert.
A good time was had by all at this membership/election kick off party. Tom and Judy Burnison graciously made the Burnison Galleries available for our party and many local restaurants, food shops and caterers provided delicious treats.
The recording equipment will also be used to record various League presentations for later viewing by interested parties.
Many thanks to the Pokagon Fund for not only providing the funding for the purchase of this equipment, but also for recognizing the importance of getting candidate information out to the voters "live". It makes a difference to hear and see the candidates in a forum situation.