By Bill Hall, Chair
Following their losses in the November election, the Republican legislature moved swiftly to exploit the lame-duck session of the Michigan legislature. They proposed hundreds of bills designed to protect the interests of the Republican Party, strip incoming elected Democrats of executive power, and spend soaring tax revenues on their pet projects. Fortunately SB 1254, which would have banned all Libertarians from serving on the redistricting commission established by the recently enacted Proposal 2, was NOT one of the 340 bills sent to Gov. Snyder for signature.
On November 29 Republican State Sen. Phil Pavlov introduced SB 1254, purportedly to help implement Proposal 2 passed by Michigan voters in the November election. Proposal 2 amended the Michigan Constitution to remove from the legislature the power to perform the decennial redistricting of State and Congressional legislative districts and vest that power in a commission consisting of 4 members from each of the two “major political parties” and 5 independent members. Proposal 2 defined the major political parties as the two parties with the most representatives in the state legislature and independents as persons who affiliated with neither of the major political parties. Pavlov’s bill provided that anyone who contributed funds to ANY political party at the national, state or local level would be deemed a member of that party and anyone who applied to become an independent member of the commission must swear that they are not a member of ANY political party. By definition, this would have disqualified anyone who paid dues or contributed to their national, state or local Libertarian Party in the previous 6 years from applying to serve on the redistricting commission.
Fortunately, MIRS reported that SB 1254 was introduced, and we became aware of it on November 30. Before we could respond, it was rushed through the Committee on Government Operations and State Senate on a party line vote on the evening of December 5. Paul Connolly and I worked to prepare testimony opposing the bill and a news release. You may have seen our news release sent to our media list on December 10, posted here on our website. Scotty Boman also promoted it on our Facebook page.
SB 1254 was sent to the Michigan House of Representatives Elections and Ethics Committee for consideration. Fortunately, we were not the only ones who began to raise the hue and cry about the bill. Voters Not Politicians, who put Proposal 2 on the ballot, publicized an opinion from its attorneys concluding that the bill was unconstitutional. Voters began calling their representatives to oppose the bill.
The House Elections and Ethics Committee scheduled a hearing for early morning December 19. We were afraid they would take action to pass the bill out of committee. LPM Legislative Committee chair Will White showed up bright and early with our prepared testimony. He spoke with Committee Chair Aaron Miller and was told that he had “no plans to bring it before the committee at this time.” This confirmed reports from MIRS and Gongwer early that same morning that the bill might be dead. Fortunately, they were right; the committee never considered and passed SB 1254.
One of our important tasks as a political party is to provide a Libertarian view on proposed legislation. We did on this bill and have in the past on bills such as for no-fault auto insurance reform. If you would like to help out by following pending legislation, preparing testimony and news releases, or testifying before the legislature, please contact Legislative Committee chair Will White at firstname.lastname@example.org.