Lawmakers prove their contempt for state’s voters

The Center for Public Integrity, in its annual November report card, said Michigan has the worst state government in the nation in terms of ethics, lobbying, political financing, transparency and accountability.

Our legislators are No. 1, and they intend to defend their title.

In just the past few weeks, they’ve made it more difficult to obtain an absentee ballot, they’ve stripped away straight-ticket voting, and they’ve enshrined the dark-money abuses of Citizens United into state law. And they’ve used a mean-spirited legislative trick to deny citizens and voters an opportunity to call a referendum on any of those.

But it wasn’t until the last day of the session that the Michigan Legislature truly displayed its contempt for democracy.

In a middle-of-the-night affront to Michigan citizens, partisans in the Legislature made it easier for wealthy corporations and secret PACs to engage in no-holds-barred campaign spending while making it more difficult for member-financed groups such as unions.

But the real slap is a provision that makes voter education illegal.

If he still believes in democracy, Gov. Rick Snyder must veto this bill.

In a bill that reeks of partisan advantage, the most foul, fetid section makes it illegal for local governments and school districts to explain to voters what is on an upcoming ballot.

For example, some of area school districts may have tax requests on the ballot soon. If they do, this measure would prevent them from telling you, in the weeks leading up to the vote, anything about those taxes.

We’re not saying they would be barred from advocating for those requests. That’s already illegal.

They would be prohibited from sharing the basic facts. They could not say how much the tax would cost. They could say how the money would be used.

A city could not tell voters something as basic as names of city council candidates.

Libraries have a long tradition of sharing election information. That information has come from neutral third parties, such as the League of Women Voters. This bill would prohibit libraries from providing neutral, factual information to help and enlighten voters.

Contact Gov. Rick Snyder at (517) 373-3400 or bwne.ws/1NHp6dk. Tell him to not sign Senate Bill 571.