Editorial

Legislators have crowned themselves as king

August 15, 2014
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The Michigan Senate last week approved legislation along party lines which, if passed by the House, will supersede a Nov. 4 state ballot question posed for voters. It marks at least the second time Michigan legislators have determined they are the only worthy deliberators on an issue and shut out Michigan voters.

The issue here is that a majority of the legislators do not trust the very citizens who elected them to make informed decisions on statewide issues. Or perhaps they don’t trust the PACs that would certainly finance extensive lobbying efforts on one side of the issue or another.

One, both, or neither of the possible reasons can be tolerated in a free society that has devoutly defended the roots of Democracy.

Grand Rapids Business Journal reminds legislators that less than two weeks ago that same electorate in all 83 Michigan counties overwhelmingly approved “a complex tax proposal” some business groups feared would “confuse the voters.”

Approval of Proposition 1 Aug. 5 ended a double tax on small businesses that required equipment purchases be taxed at the time of purchase and every year after for the life of the equipment. Some small businesses were still taxed on equipment purchased as long ago as the 1950s.

The proposal also ensured all local communities would be reimbursed for estimated loss of the Michigan Personal Property Tax revenue. The ballot language representing the proposal was more convoluted than clear, leading one PAC observer to comment that “the electorate is smarter than some would have us believe.”

In regard to the fear of PACs — which are even now super-funding politicians in election and re-election bids — the Business Journal notes the obvious frustration and anger powerfully illustrated by U.S. Rep. Justin Amash on the night of his primary victory over GOP challenger Brian Ellis. During his campaign for re-election, Amash railed against Washington lobbyists and corporate interests, many of which were funding and endorsing the Ellis campaign.

Perhaps that will embolden the young victor to write legislation in some way limiting corporate PAC contributions or provision of truth-in-advertising clauses in lieu of the U.S. Supreme Court’s inability to do so ( a point to which the majority opinion justices had pointed).

On the eve of the Aug. 5 primary vote, legislators of both houses passed new legislation in regard to existing minimum wage law, superseding the ballot proposal for Michigan voters on that date.

The Associated Press reported from the State Capitol on Aug. 13: “The Michigan Senate has passed legislation to keep intact the state’s power to allow wolf hunts. The initiated bill submitted by hunting groups would override two referendums on the November ballot.”

The House has scheduled an Aug. 27 vote on the legislation. The Michigan House of Representatives must show themselves more trustworthy than their fellows in the Senate. Moreover: “The electorate is smarter than some would have us believe.”

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