Lansing, Mich., March 14, 2023 – As legislative democrats push through a radical, ill-advised repeal of Michigan’s highly successful Right to Work law and re-enact the costly prevailing wage law, amendments have been added to include appropriations designed to prevent the legislation from being subject to a public referendum. The Detroit News reports:
“Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said Monday she plans to sign a repeal of Michigan’s right-to-work law even if it includes an appropriation after pledging on the campaign trail to veto bills that feature spending as a strategy to block referendum votes.
Majority House Democrats added an appropriation of $1 million to the repeal legislation last week, making the policy referendum proof if it were signed into law by Whitmer. The state Constitution bars referendum campaigns against laws that include financial expenditures.”
Numerous democrats, including Governor Whitmer have previously decried the use of appropriations in legislation as a means to circumvent the referendum process:
- Immediately after taking office in January 2019, Governor Whitmer issued Executive Directive 2019-7, stating:
- “If a department is a lead department for a bill that is not a general or supplemental appropriation bill and an appropriation is included in or added to that bill to circumvent the right of referendum reserved by the People of the State of Michigan under Article 2, § 9 of the Michigan Constitution of 1963, the department shall notify the Governor’s Director of Legislative Affairs. I intend to veto legislation that circumvents the right to a referendum.”
- Governor Whitmer issued a line-item veto on House Bill 4286 (2019), writing:
- “While this item veto underscores my strong support for referendum rights, it should not be construed as a lack of support for compensation for citizens wrongfully imprisoned,” Whitmer wrote.
- Then-Senator Whitmer, in 2012:
- So I look at what’s happened in the last week, with the Governor making an about-face on right-to-work, your 11th-hour lame duck move without any public testimony or any committee hearing, where you literally locked people out of the Capitol from seeing what you were doing and participating in the process; your efforts to stop me and my colleagues from doing our duty of being the voice for the people you locked out; and added an appropriation to that bill to keep the public from having the opportunity to have a referendum on it… It absolutely disgusts me to watch you protect yourselves after the way you’ve treated our people.
- Current Senate Majority Leader Brinks, along with now-Senators, Irwin, McCann, and Singh, in 2013 co-sponsored a resolution proposing a constitutional amendment:
- “Mr. Irwin – and the other Democrats on the committee – offered several amendments to the bill, all of which were rejected. Mr. Irwin attempted to remove the appropriation from the bill, saying it makes the policy referendum-proof and also attempted to move the effective date to after the 2016 election.” (“Gongwer, 12/8/15)
- Current Senate Floor Leader Sam Singh, in 2017:
- “They should have a right to take it to a vote of the people, and they’ve been using that now for years to circumvent the right of the people to actually petition their government,”
- Current Senator Jeremy Moss, in 2015:
- “Further – particularly egregious – the appropriation allocated in this bill is solely designed to deny citizens to subject this legislation to referendum, which they have time and time again.”
“Democrats sat on their high horse for years but their hypocrisy is now on full display with their open embrace of ‘circumventing the right of the people to actually petition their government’,” said Eric Ventimiglia, Executive Director for Michigan Rising Action. Ventimiglia continued, “Once again, the people of Michigan see that Governor Whitmer and legislative democrats have no problem breaking promises for political expediency and cannot be trusted.”