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Friday, December 9, 2011

Michigan GOP wage war on state workers; laws ending domestic partner benefits, political deductions drafted

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In a attempt to continue waging war against Michigan public employees in a fallout over Former State Rep. Paul Scott recall (Fmr. R-Grand Blanc); Republicans in Lansing have passed bills ending domestic partner health benefits and political contribution disbursement rights of state workers and their unions.
"We are not going to be deterred,” said Ari Adler, a spokesman for House Speaker Jase Bolger (R-Marshall) stated on Nov. 9th directly after Paul Scott's recall.
On Tuesday, December 6th, the GOP controlled state House Redistricting and Elections Committee voted 6 to 2, among party lines precluding state, county and local bodies from allowing employee to use payroll deductions for contributions to political action committees.

The bill now heads to the Republican-controlled House, were it's expected to gain passage. After the House vote, the bill would go before Michigan’s GOP super-majority led in the state Senate and, on to Gov. Rick Snyder (r) desk for signage.

In a 4-3 decision in June 2011, the Michigan Supreme Court ruled public agencies can’t distribute employee payroll deductions for political purposes. The ruling came on behalf of lawsuit filed by the Gull Lake School District against the Michigan Educational Association.
"Monetary reimbursement, paid in advance or otherwise, is simply insufficient to recover the time that is diverted from the primary obligations of the school district," Justice Stephen Markman wrote in affirming statement overturning law.
The decision was a swift reversal of a law pass six months prior by Michigan’s Supreme Court, when the judicial body in control of a Democrat majority.

State House Redistricting and Elections Committee chairman Pete Lund, R-Shelby Township, said the bills, sponsored by Reps. Mike Shirkey, (R-Clark Lake) and Paul Opsommer (R-DeWitt) were drafted under the intent to put the court's ruling into state law.
“What this aims to do is keep politics out of government operations,” Lund said after the session, where the Republican majority defeated a series of Democrat-backed amendments. “Government should not be a part of the political process,” he said to M-Live.
Rep. David Nathan (D-Detroit) said the bills seek to impact unions contributions to political candidates.
“The real goal here is to hurt unions and their ability to contribute to candidates,” he said to M-Live. “Unions tend to contribute to candidates who are Democrats.”
Michigan GOP work against state employees didn't stop at ending contributions. Measures passed the state Republican controlled House and Senate this week, to end health benefits for state workers domestic partners and their children.

Gov. Rick Snyder office stated on Thursday he'll sign a bill preventing public employers from offering health-care benefits to domestic partners but his Final approval the measure would require a specific clause excluding university employees from the ban.
“While Gov. Snyder has been focused on efforts that will most help turn around Michigan’s economy and this hadn’t been on his agenda, his intent will be to sign the bill pending a final review (like every piece of legislation that comes to his desk) that ensures Constitutionality and university autonomy,” she said.
House Bill 4770 passed by the state GOP-led Senate on Wednesday, was then quickly approved in 24 hours by Michigan‘s GOP majority-controlled House. The measure draft amended original language applying the domestic partner and children health benefit ban to employees of public universities. 

Contrasting what the end result of the legislation would be, a number of Michigan House Republicans are on the record stating the bill would continue applying to universities.

Debate on H.B. 4470 is based on a authority public universities have written in Michigan Constitution to self-determine their policies through via publically elected boards of regents or trustees.

State Rep. Jeff Irwin (D-Ann Arbor) via is Twitter and Facebook account stated that he believes the law to end state employees domestic partners benefits discriminatory and will face a long legal challenge.

House GOP revoking domestic partner benefits (is) discriminatory & unconstitutional.” Rep. Irvwin stated on Twitter. "The bad news is that this court battle is likely to cost us all more than providing the benefits," Ann Arbor.com cited he wrote on Facebook.


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