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Sunday, January 21 2018 @ 07:57 PM UTC

The Michigan legislature has been busy

The republican controlled state legislature in Michigan has gotten busy. They have been passing laws designed to reduce people's freedom. The Republicans who are in charge want us all to live according to their beliefs. They want to impose their religion on the rest of us. And they have attached an appropriation to most of these, because the Michigan constitution does not allow the people to hold a referendum on legislation that contains appropriations. Here is what they have passed this week.

A new emergency manager law. The old law authorizing the state to appoint an "emergency manager" to take over cities ans school districts that are losing money was voted down by the people in a referendum in November. The state wants the authority to dictate the way that cities are governed, so they didn't like that. So they made a few minor changes to the law that was struck down by the people and added an appropriation to it so that it is not subject to a referendum.

A "Right to work" law that has nothing to do with any right of the people to have work. The very name of the law is a lie. It is more like a right to break unions. It is a right to hire people for lower wages and reduced benefits.

Legislation allowing doctors to refuse medical treatment for religious reasons. The purpose is to restrict the availability of abortions. It protects health care providers against liability for civil, criminal and administrative liability. It applies to health care providers, institutions and insurance companies and it allows them to deny care based upon religious, moral or ethical objections. It might not be so bad if it applied only to people, such as doctors and nurses. Institutions and insurance companies? How can they have religious, moral or ethical objections? When was the last time you saw a hospital, a clinic or an insurance company in a church? What if the people in charge of a hospital that is associated with the Catholic church decides that birth control will not be prescribed. Will a doctor associated with that hospital be able to prescribe birth control pills to a woman? If that doctor does provide a prescription, will he be subjected to administrative sanctions? I suspect so. There is nothing in the legislation that protects a provider who provides treatment because of his beliefs. Only one who refuses treatment.

A law banning insurance companies from providing coverage for elective abortions as part of standard coverage. Additional coverage could be purchased, but unless it was, any woman who found herself with an unwanted pregnancy would have to pay the full cost of her abortion. This one is obviously an attempt to sidestep the fact that the legislature cannot outlaw abortions. It will have the effect of outlawing abortions for poor people.

All of these laws are un-American and those who passed them should be ashamed of themselves. I'm sure that, to the contrary, they are proud of how clever they are.

Michigan needs a constitutional amendment limiting or eliminating the rule that an appropriations bill is not subject to referendum. If the rule is to remain, it should only apply to a bill whose only purpose is appropriation. This business of adding a minor appropriation to legislation as a tactic to prevent the people from voting on it must stop.

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