Thursday, December 13, 2012

Oops: Michigan Republicans Have Passed a Right to Work Law that may be Impossible to Implement

By: Sarah Jones/politicususa

Did Michigan Republicans even read the ALEC-Koch “Right-to-Work” legislation they just passed?
It doesn’t appear likely. Why? Because the law may not be able to be implemented as intended.
Just as the Wisconsin law violated their state constitution, so it appears the Michigan law does the same, albeit for different reasons. In addition to the violation of the state constitution, just as in Wisconsin, we also have a lawsuit filed over the violation of the Michigan Open Meetings law. But to the constitutional issue…
Michigan Senate Democrats report, “The Michigan Constitution gives clear authority to the Civil Service Commission over conditions of employment for the state’s workforce. Experts have suggested today only a vote of the Civil Service Commission could enact Right to Work policies for state workers.”
This is the sort of thing that happens when a national organization is writing your legislation for you. But one assumes that the big boys at ALEC did not count on the uber laziness of the Republicans. Surely they were meant to fine tune the bill to suit their state. But then, when you shove a bill through in a lameduck session and don’t hold it open for debate, these things tend to happen.
Senator Bert Johnson (D – Detroit) pointed out that not only the public, but also the lawmakers were not given a chance to read the bills, “The public was not given an opportunity to read these bills, legislators were not given an opportunity to read these bills, and we now know that the Governor himself either didn’t read or didn’t understand these bills himself. This process has been a complete affront to Democracy from the start and was nothing more than a political gift to the Koch Brothers and ALEC who bought and paid for this legislation.”
Over and over again, we see Republicans violating the law to pass ALEC legislation, and we also see them refusing to even read the bills they present let alone the bills of the opposition. What, exactly, are they being paid by the people to do, if not read and write legislation that actually fits the laws?
The same law that Governor Walker passed in violation of Open Meetings laws and in violation of the state constitution was struck down by the courts in September. The millions wasted on passing legislation illegally and fighting it in courts speaks to the seriousness of Republicans when they talk about deficits. There’s always money to enact a political agenda aimed at the opposition party, but there’s no money for starving kids.
Further irony is provided by Michigan State Rep. Lisa Posthumus Lyons (R-Alto), who called the passage of the “right-to-work” law “freeing” the workers. Apparently Ms. Lyons didn’t want her husband freed. He is a corrections officer and Ms. Lyons fought to have corrections officers exempted from the law. She explained, “When we talk about the brave women in police and fire we need to remember people in corrections. These guys work in conditions that we can’t even begin to imagine. It’s not financial. It’s philosophy. I am saying we need to treat our corrections officers that way we treat our police men and women and firefighter men and women.”
So, Ms. Lyons believes that we should treat our corrections officers (like her husband) the way we treat our police and firefighters, which she implies is better than we treat the other workers, because they work in tough conditions and therefor deserve or have earned the right to be treated better. And yet, she calls denying the right to collectively bargain freedom. What we have here is an admission by a Republican that when it comes to their own personal lives, they’ll take the union, please. No doubt Ms. Lyons is familiar with all that the union does to protect her husband. If she’s lucky, the law she supported will be struck down.

Ms. Lyon’s amendment was not taken up by the Michigan legislature, but then, seeing as they appear not to have read the actual bill they passed, she should take heart that it wasn’t personal. ALEC doesn’t recognize corrections officers as worthy; aka, voting Republican.

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