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Thu Dec 13, 2012, 04:51 PM

Michigan’s GOP Extremism Goes Far Beyond Attacking Unions

In passing the anti-union legislation the Republicans also came up with $1 million in instant appropriation to put the law beyond the reach of a voter referendum.


Clearly, with a much less right-wing legislature set to be seated in 2013, state Republicans have decided that now is the time to reward their extreme backers — like the Koch Brothers and Amway founder Rich DeVos — who do business in the state under the cloak of groups like Freedom to Work, the Mackinac Institute, and Americans for Prosperity.


Right after the GOP passed “Right to Work,” they went to work on a series of bills that will, according to Planned Parenthood’s Cecile Richards, make it “one of the most regressive states in the nation on women’s health.”

“One bill would likely shut down many health care providers that provide abortion by enacting unnecessary and burdensome licensing rules,” Richards wrote, in a blog on the Huffington Post. “Another would ban all insurance coverage for abortion. And one of the bills would allow medical providers to refuse to provide any medical service — from birth control to blood transfusions.”


This extreme legislation would make sense in a bright red state, not a state where Democratic senator Debbie Stabenow was just re-elected by a 20 percent margin.

Pro–'Right to Work' Groups In Michigan Outspend Union Counterparts


In the last few years, conservatives have made significant contributions to political organizations that have pushed the state to the right on core economic issues, and explicitly pushed right to work as a top goal (see the graph above):

• Americans for Prosperity–Michigan, the group founded by the billionaire Koch brothers, has a relatively new chapter in Michigan that has produced pamphlets extolling right-to-work reforms. This week, the group set up a heated tent outside the capital to support Snyder’s law and bused activists to Lansing to counter labor protesters.

• The Mackinac Center is a right-wing think tank in Michigan that issues pro-“right to work” reports, sponsors an anti-labor legal foundation and produces an array of other content, from a Pininterest page to short videos explaining why Michigan should adopt right-to-work. The center has gone on a media tour, touting Snyder’s move this week on CNN, Fox Business and much of the Michigan press. Notably, the group recently started two of its own media outlets, Michigan Capitol Confidential and Watchdog Wire Michigan.

These organizations are part of a more aggressive political force that is adept at controlling the twenty-four-hour news cycle and managing coalitions. Unlike ordinary business lobbies that simply support right-to-work, these advocacy groups go out and shape public opinion through broad messaging and content development, which in turn is used for organizing around policies.

Both AFP and the Mackinac Center are backed financially by the billionaire DeVos family, which has sought to control public policy debates through state-level nonprofits. Donors Trust, the nonprofit foundation used by wealthy conservative donors to anonymously finance activism on the right, has heavily funded AFP and Mackinac in the last three years. Doug DeVos chairs a nonprofit that has mobilized influential executives in the state to support right to work in Michigan.

Michigan GOP Push Through Anti-Union, Elite-Backed "Right-to-Work" Law (in lame duck session) Before House Majority Shrinks
(emphasis my own)


And what they also did throughout this process is put a nominal appropriation in the bill. The Michigan constitution does not allow any bill that has an appropriation in it to be subject to voter referendum. And this is a trick that they’ve been pulling in the Michigan Legislature lately to deny voters the right to weigh in on whether they ultimately want to have a law enacted. They’ve done that. They put this through without any committee hearings, no debate. The governor held a press conference at 11:00 last Thursday. By 3:00, we were voting on a bill that we’d never seen. We weren’t allowed to offer amendments. We weren’t even allowed to really speak to the bill. We were allowed to do a couple floor statements, and that was it, not any real debate. The governor said there would be thoughtful discussion on this, and apparently the only thoughtful discussion is when he’s on the phone with Dick DeVos and other billionaires who are pushing him to do this.(more)

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Reply Michigan’s GOP Extremism Goes Far Beyond Attacking Unions (Original post)
Bill USA Dec 2012 OP
LeftishBrit Dec 2012 #1

Response to Bill USA (Original post)

Fri Dec 14, 2012, 12:09 PM

1. Urrggghhhh.

I'm a few thousand miles away, but I still don't understand how a state could vote for President Obama twice, have two Democratic senators, and yet accept such MADNESS.

This sounds like the sort of thing that could have happened in the 19th or early 20th centuries. Totally anti-democracy.

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