Local government and school leaders are urging the governor to veto a bill that would block them from using public funds or resources to put out information on ballot questions within 60 days of an election. The Michigan Municipal League says the measure would gag local officials from informing voters about issues that appear on a ballot like a millage, charter changes or land transfers. Dearborn Mayor John O’Reilly is the MML president and says the legislation was written too broadly and could cause unintended problems. He says it could be interpreted that city council meetings where they discuss millage issues violate the law. Executive Director of the Michigan Sheriffs Association Terry Jungel says the legislation could also hurt public safety because fire departments, 9-1-1 centers and local law enforcement frequently seek funding through millages. The bill in question was the last measure the legislature passed in 2015 before lawmakers left for the holiday break.
There are also some Republicans in the Legislature who are joining the push for the governor to veto the bill. Representative Mike McCready of Bloomfield Hills says they had just 15 minutes to go through 41 pages of amendments to the bill before the vote was called the night of December 16. Kalamazoo County Republican Representative Dave Maturen tells the “Detroit Free Press” that many of them didn’t realize the provision, which some have called a gag order, had been slipped into the package of amendments.
Lansing’s MIRSNews.com is highlighting a comment by Representative Dave Pagel about Senate Bill 0571 as their “Quote of the Day.” The second-term Berrien Springs Republican said “It makes us look bad when we vote for something, and then a lobbyist comes out and says, ‘Do you realize what you just voted for?'”
There hasn’t been an indication from the governor’s office on which way he’s leaning regarding the bill.