Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Lansing Wars: Is Rick Snyder "One Tough Jedi?" Or Will Kylo Ar-Lan Reign Supreme? SB 571 Is Telling

By Brandon Hall
(Email him at
Let's be clear: public bodies shouldn't be able to use public money to campaign, but that is already prohibited under current law.

Now, with SB 571, the "Nightmare Before Christmas," they pretty much can't say a word about anything, not even fact based information. Given the awful lack of coverage the media's budget allows to cover local politics, this law *may* prove to hurt the public and embolden big government advocates if municipalities can sneak local mileages on the ballot without anyone knowing about them.

Regardless, there is much more to this bill. And we shouldn't lock Senators in the chamber right before Christmas under penalty of arrest and pass legislation that suddenly turns a 12 page bill into a 50 page bill and gives legislators 15 minutes to read 40 pages!

That's what Senate Majority Leader Meekhof had to do to pass the bill as the chamber was distracted by the controversial straight ticket voting reform legislation...

And then, subsequently, to have some of those same legislators admit they didn't even know what they were voting for?! And they encourage Snyder to veto the bill they just voted yes on and pass clarification legislation? That is no way to run a government! A law should be clear in itself and not need another law just to explain the first one-Michigan families deserve better.

When Governor Snyder first ran in 2010, he promised to bring "transparency" to Michigan's "broken government." From the #3 plank of Snyder's 10 point plan to turn around Michigan:

"Fix Michigan’s Broken Government: It’s time we reinvent state government so that it runs efficiently and serves its citizens as customers. Rick wants to restore ethics, accountability and transparency to state and local government. Rick believes we need a new approach to governing that is not politically motivated, but solution oriented. Rick wants to replace an antiquated bureaucracy with a government that gives taxpayers results for their tax dollars.”

The way SB 571 was enacted is not consistent with that promise.

According to MLive:

"Kalamazoo County's Republican lawmakers say they didn't fully understand the ramifications of a last-minute change to an election bill now on Gov. Rick Snyder's desk, saying the governor should either veto the bill or there should be follow-up legislation to address concerns. State Sen. Margaret O'Brien and state Reps. David Maturen and Brandt Iden all voted "yes" on Senate Bill 571, which was approved in the final hours of the 2015 legislative session...

O'Brien said there may well be a need to change the current law and tighten the rules to prevent abuses by public entities in distributing information. But, she added, "there needs to be robust conversation" about what those changes might involve. "That didn't happen," she said.

Maturen, R-Vicksburg, said he has called the governor's office to urge Snyder to veto the legislation.
"I've encouraged him to take a real serious look at it, and send it back so we can do more work on it," Maturen said.

"For something this big and with these kinds of ramifications, I think we need to discuss it more, I really do," he said. "It should have a chance to go through committee and hearings so people can weigh in on it."

Like O'Brien, Maturen said the bill came before him late at night when everybody's focus was on another bill -- a controversial request to eliminate straight-party voting.

Maturen said he flipped through the changes in SB 571, but he didn't realize the implications of the new language."

Remember though, other facets of this law aren't being covered. Parts that benefit big money special interests who want to hijack Michigan's elections... According to Right Michigan:

"Now to the really devious aspect of SB 571 H-3, which our nitwit media missed. MCL 169.233(3)(a) currently requires ‘independent committees’ to report their financial expenditures on behalf of candidates and ballot questions four times a year. ‘Independent committees’ currently have to file reports on their campaign finance activities during February, April, July, and October. This is not quite a quarterly basis, but it is fairly well spaced out through the year. MCL 169.233(1) already exempts ‘independent committees’ from the regular election campaign statement reporting schedule – immediately before and after elections – required of most other committees. MCL 169.233(5) requires ‘independent committees’ to file reports of expenditures made within 45 days before a special election, but it is easy to use prepayments and accounts payable to avoid this window during most special elections. And this 45 day reporting window does not exist for regular elections. So you are only going to get quarterly reports from ‘independent committees, except in rare circumstances.

Section 33(3) of SB 571 H-3 completely eliminates the February campaign finance report for all types of committees, including independents. This creates a bastard reporting schedule consisting of two quarterly reports and one semiannual report five months after November elections.. Most political committees have to file pre and post election statements, so their campaign expenditures and sources of funds will continue to be known on a timely basis, regardless of this change. But independent committees are not required to file pre and post campaign reports for regular elections, so they will now have a six month interval after their October reports before they have to report their finances – on April 25th of the following year.

Ending the February report will have clever political strategists targeting all manner of obnoxious ballot proposals – those requiring a lot of corporate ‘independent committee’ money – for the March presidential primary elections held every fourth year. The annual May election will work almost as well, but ‘independent committees’ will just have to pay a late filing fee which is capped by MCL 169.233(7) at $ 1,000 to keep their spending confidential until after the election is over. Small change in a fight like Proposal 2015-01. Most of these ‘independent committees’ have very carefully crafted Articles of Incorporation which absolve all their officers and snuffies of all responsibility for legal violations; only the ‘independent committee’ has any legal liability and it is only a shell. Read Article VI of Michigan’s Voice Articles on page 4, here, for a typical example of these independent committees’ legally endowed irresponsibility.

Election observers will no longer be provided with campaign finance reports disclosing the rogue’s gallery behind tax & spend proposals like 2015-01. Raising your taxes by ballot proposal just got a whole lot easier for those with a lot of money to spend. You won’t ever stop a proposal like 2015-01 again."

Right Michigan spotlights VITAL info no one but WMP seems to be talking about...

Another part of the law: robocall identification requirements before an election have been repealed!

>>>Also, notice Lansing didn't include themselves in this new law. After all, almost every legislator would have been guilty of violating this legislation with  the money they spent on taxpayer funded propaganda sent out to constituents during Prop 1...

With his signature on this horrendous law, Snyder disappoints. And with three years left in his term, the Governor must be careful not to let Arlan Meekhof hijack his legacy. Is Rick Snyder still "One Tough Jedi," pissing people in both parties off trying to do what he thinks is right? Or will Kylo Ar-Lan reign supreme as he tries to bring his death march to the Governor's mansion in 2018? Stay tuned...

Brandon Hall is a lifelong political nerd from Grand Haven, and is the Managing Editor of West Michigan Politics.

>>>Email him at


Photo By Darlene Dowling Thompson

1 comment:

  1. PART TIME LEGISLATURE would send Meekhof and the rest of the Lansing sociopaths back home to terrorize the folks who voted them into office.
    “we shouldn't lock Senators in the chamber right before Christmas under penalty of arrest “
    Sociopaths are often unable to control their behavior and their expressions of annoyance, irritability and threats when faced with situations not appealing to them and they often tend to resort to threats, aggression and verbal abuse.
    Read more

    There is an epidemic in Lansing.