Michigan lawmakers passed a controversial measure on Wednesday that will ban all insurance plans in the state from covering abortion unless the woman’s life is in danger. The law, which takes effect in March, will force women and employers to purchase a separate abortion rider if they would like the procedure covered, even in cases of rape and incest.
Supporters of the “Abortion Insurance Opt-Out Act” argue that it allows people who are opposed to abortion to avoid paying into a plan that covers it. Opponents have nicknamed it the “rape insurance” initiative, because it would force some women to anticipate the possibility of being raped by purchasing the extra abortion insurance ahead of time.
“This tells women who were raped … that they should have thought ahead and planned for it,” said Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer (D-East Lansing) during debates. “Make no mistake, this is anything but a citizens’ initiative. It’s a special interest group’s perverted dream come true.”
The Michigan State Legislature first passed the measure last year, but Governor Rick Snyder (R) vetoed it, saying he does not “believe it is appropriate to tell a woman who becomes pregnant due to a rape that she needed to select elective insurance coverage.”
But the anti-abortion group Right to Life of Michigan was able to collect more than 300,000 voter signatures on a petition this year to force a second vote on the measure. Having been passed by both chambers, the bill automatically becomes law now, even without Snyder’s approval.
Republican official Dave Agema: "It’s ‘immoral’ to insure gays because their ‘lifestyle’ kills them" | The Raw Story
A Republican National Committee official said last week that same sex couples shouldn’t receive partner health care benefits because gay men die young and will only game the system to receive care. According to Southwest Michigan’s Herald-Palladium…
Late last week, democracy scored two important victories over a Republican plan to rig future presidential elections by changing the way electoral votes are counted in several key blue states. Two Virginia Republican state senators spoke out against the plan, effectively killing it. And Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford (R) attacked the election-rigging scheme as trying to “change the rules of the game.”
In Michigan, however, which is the bluest of the six blue states where the election-rigging plan has been discussed, state House Speaker Jase Bolger (R) appears quite open to rigging his state’s electoral college votes to benefit Republicans.
In other words, Republican voters in Michigan are upset that Democrats win elections simply because there are more of them. And Bolger wants to fix that by giving the few Republicans more votes than the majority.
Under the Republican plan, GOP lawmakers in several states that supported the Democratic candidate for president in recent elections would stop awarding all of their electoral votes to the winner of the state as a whole, and instead award most of them one-by-one to the winners of individual congressional districts. In part because of widespread Republican gerrymandering, if Republicans had implemented this election rigging plan in six key states where they currently control the state government — Florida, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Wisconsin — Mitt Romney would have won the Electoral College despite losing the popular vote by nearly four points.
Efforts are already underway in several of these six key states to enact this election rigging plan and all but ensure that the next President of the United States is a Republican — regardless of how the American people cast their votes in 2016. Seven Pennsylvania state house members introduced a bill implementing the GOP election rigging plan this week, and the plan already enjoys the support of Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett (R) and state Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi (R). A bill backed by Virginia State Senator Charles “Bill” Carrico Sr. (R) would implement the election rigging plan in Virginia. And Wisconsin Republican state Rep. Dan LeMahieu is behind an election rigging bill in his state. Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted (R) expressed support for the Republican election rigging plan, but he later backed off that support following significant criticism.
Michigan is a blue state. It supported the Democratic candidate for president in every single election for the last two decades. President Obama won the state by nearly 10 points last November. And yet, if the Republican election-rigging plan had been in effect last year, Romney would have likely won a majority of the state’s electoral votes.
Not content to push through an anti-union “right-to-work” law, new restrictive abortion policies, and an anti-Sharia law, Michigan Republicans are now pursuing a revamp of a law voters rejected at the polls barely more than a month ago.
Michigan’s House Republicans today passed a new version of the “emergency manager” law that voters repealed via ballot referendum in November. The initial version gave broader powers to state-appointed emergency managers who oversee townships that are struggling financially.
Among those powers was the ability to void union contracts and labor agreements. The new version, introduced by state Rep. Al Pscholka (R), makes small changes but still includes the provision granting the manager authority over labor contracts, as the Detroit Free Press reports:
The bill says an emergency manager will have the power to undertake “the modification, rejection, termination and renegotiation of contracts.”
The ability for an emergency manager to break or terminate collective bargaining agreements under certain circumstances was one of the most controversial aspects of PA 4.
But Pscholka said a key difference is that the new bill “gives a choice to local officials … on how to keep their heads above water.”
The new law does make changes that give localities more input with their emergency managers, and it includes a provision that gives local officials the option of choosing mediation or bankruptcy over the appointment of a manager once a financial emergency is declared. It also allows localities to remove the emergency manager a year later by a two-thirds vote from the local government.Just as they did with the “right-to-work” law, Republicans attached an appropriations measure to the bill to make it tougher to overturn with a ballot referendum.
Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R) yesterday backtracked on his previous assertion that a union-busting move to pass a so-called “right-to-work” provision into law wasn’t on his agenda, and by the end of the day, both the Michigan House of Representatives and the Michigan state Senate had introduced and passed separate pieces of legislation aimed at the state’s union workforce.
Michigan Republicans are pursuing the laws because Indiana Republicans passed “right-to-work” last year and, according to Snyder, the state needs such a law to remain competitive. In reality, though, such laws have negative effects on workers and little effect on economic growth, and Michigan Republicans are pursuing the laws without public debate:
The legislation: Both the state House and state Senate passed legislation yesterday that prohibits private sector unions from requiring members to pay dues. The Senate followed by immediately passing a law that extends the same prohibition for public sector unions, though firefighters and police officers are exempt. The state House included a budget appropriations measure that is intended to prevent the state’s voters from being able to legally challenge the law through a ballot referendum. Due to state law, both houses are prevented from voting on legislation passed by the other for five days, so neither will be able to fully pass the legislation until Tuesday at the earliest.
The process: Union leaders and Democrats claim that Republicans are pushing the legislation through in the lame-duck session to hide the intent of the measures from citizens, and because the legislation would face more trouble after the new House convenes in January. Michigan Republicans hold a 63-47 advantage in the state House, but Democrats narrowed the GOP majority to just eight seats in November. Six Republicans opposed the House measure; five of them won re-election in 2012 (the sixth retired). And Michigan Republicans have good reason to pursue the laws without public debate. Though the state’s voters are evenly split on whether it should become a right-to-work state, 78 percent of voters said the legislature “should focus on issues like creating jobs and improving education, and not changing state laws or rules that would impact unions or make further changes in collective bargaining.”
The effect: While Snyder and Republicans pitched “right-to-work” as a pro-worker move aimed at improving the economy, studies show such legislation can cost workers money. The Economic Policy Institute found that right-to-work laws cost all workers, union and otherwise, $1,500 a year in wages and that they make it harder for workers to obtain pensions and health coverage. “If benefits coverage in non-right-to-work states were lowered to the levels of states with these laws, 2 million fewer workers would receive health insurance and 3.8 million fewer workers would receive pensions nationwide,” David Madland and Karla Walter from the Center for American Progress wrote earlier this year. And right-to-work laws and the drop in union membership that follows have a significant impact on the middle class. Multiple studies, meanwhile, show that such laws have a negligible impact on economic growth. “Research shows that there is no relationship between right-to-work laws and state unemployment rates, state per capita income, or state job growth,” EPI wrote in a recent report about Michigan. And “right-to-work” laws alsodecrease worker safety and can hurt small businesses.
Union leaders are, of course, aghast at Snyder and the GOP’s right-to-work push.
Maddow’s right on with the GOP craziness in Michigan.
In a transparent attempt to punish teachers for organizing union efforts, Michigan Republicans are pushing a bill through the legislature that would prohibit public employees from sending political messages through their work emails. The bill is an attempt to stifle any union-related communication between teachers and other public employees, imposing ridiculously harsh penalties for teachers who send “political” messages:
Michigan educators could face a year in prison for conducting union or political business over public school e-mail servers under a bill advancing in Lansing.
State House Bill 4052 was reported out of committee last week, and would prohibit a public employee from using public e-mail for political campaigning, union activities, union recruitment, and fundraising.
Violators could be found guilty of a misdemeanor, which would carry a fine of up to $1,000, up to one year in prison or both in the bill’s amended version. Organizations found guilty would face up to a $10,000 fine.[…]
The bill is an example of ongoing “classic scapegoating” in Lansing against teachers, and is being used to appeal to the Republican-led Legislature’s base, said Doug Norton, former Howell Education Association president.
“I think that they hate the fact that teachers are able to join a union and collectively bargain. I think they have targeted teachers in their organization,” Norton said.
The Michigan Education Association, the largest teachers’ union in the state, says the bill is political retribution after a conservative activist lost a legal battle over the use of school districts’ email service for union lobbying efforts. The Michigan Court of Appeals ruled that teachers’ emails were not subject to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), which would’ve made all personal communications subject to public scrutiny.
Instead of abiding by the court’s decision, Michigan Republicans are determined to circumvent the law and crack down on unions by completely banning “political” communication by public employees. The Livingston Daily notes that the bill actually cannot be enforced without modifying the state’s Freedom of Information Act.