Nick Krieger (@nckrieger):
In the days leading up to the final adjournment of its 2015 session, the Michigan Legislature hastily passed several objectionable bills.
Among others, the Legislature passed Senate Bill 13, which would eliminate straight-party voting in Michigan elections. The experts agree: Senate Bill 13, if signed into law by Governor Snyder, will inevitably create longer lines at polling places, make it more difficult to vote in certain areas, and thereby dissuade Michigan voters—particularly those in congested urban precincts—from casting ballots.
The Legislature also adopted Senate Bill 571, a campaign-finance bill that quadrupled in length in the final minutes before its passage when the previously unannounced Amendment H-3 was substituted in its place. The problem? Scarcely anyone in the minority party (or the majority party, for that matter) had a chance to review the content of H-3 before it was adopted. Thus, what began weeks earlier as a relatively innocuous campaign-finance bill in the Michigan Senate became a monstrous list of new crimes, rules, and regulations, as well as an enormous giveaway to incumbent candidates and corporate fundraising committees in one fell swoop. The bill was amended at the very last moment to take away transparency in political fundraising, to allow coordination between independent expenditure groups and campaign committees in certain instances, and to make it a criminal offense for government employees such as teachers and librarians to disseminate educational information to the public regarding local ballot questions.
Yes, folks, these are the types of bills that Michigan’s current legislative majority has prioritized. These objectionable bills, including Senate Bills 13 and 571, have now been presented to Governor Snyder; he has 14 days measured in hours and minutes to consider them. There they sit, lying on his desk, awaiting his approval or rejection.
I wonder, what do you think he'll do?
Governor Snyder should know that there is no shame in exercising the executive veto. It is exclusively his power and prerogative. Const 1963, art 4, sec 33; see also Const 1963, art 5, sec 19. Albeit in the context of our nascent National Government, Alexander Hamilton wrote that the power of the executive veto “furnishes an additional security against the enaction of improper laws” and “establishes a salutary check upon the legislative body, calculated to guard the community against the effects of faction, precipitancy, or of any impulse unfriendly to the public good.” The Federalist, No. 73. Remember social studies? Remember checks and balances? That's what this is all about.
Consider Governor Engler, who routinely used his bully pulpit to set the tone and agenda for Michigan’s GOP legislators. As a strong leader, Governor Engler set the tone for the Republican Party and the Legislature; he did not let the Legislature set the tone for him.
Now consider Governor Snyder. Snyder repeatedly claimed that right-to-work legislation was not on his agenda and that he would not pursue it. But he did nothing to dissuade GOP legislators from passing a right-to-work bill; then he alacritously signed the legislation as soon as it was presented for his signature. He has signed other measures that he claimed to personally oppose as well, merely citing his alleged responsibility to sign Republican-introduced bills as the leader of the Republican Party. It's such a weak and unconvincing argument.
Governor Snyder must not continue to sign objectionable bills on the invented ground that he has no other option because he is the leader of the Republican Party. This argument is simply disingenuous. At best, such behavior makes him look like an ineffective bureaucrat who lacks the leadership to set the agenda and persuade his fellow Republicans in the Legislature. At worst, it makes him look like a liar who secretly desires the objectionable legislation while at the same time publicly claiming that he does not.
Does Governor Snyder actually believe that it should be more difficult for people to vote? Does he actually think that it should be a crime for government employees to provide information to the public concerning local ballot questions? Perhaps he does; perhaps he doesn't. I simply don't know. Either way, however, my New Year's wish is that Governor Snyder learns to robustly exercise the executive veto to advance the public good.
Did I mention that I’m not holding my breath?