The new information revealed today doesn’t absolve the Michigan House Republican majority from subverting the state constitution in wrongfully evoking the immediate effect clause and denying requests for roll call votes from the Democratic minority in the Michigan House of Representatives. Yes, Democrats did it too, so it’s not uncommon. But that doesn’t make it right and one set of numbers doesn’t tell the whole story.
If we’re to make a true comparison, we need to know if the Republicans were equally ignored on the floor and denied requests for roll call votes. And if they were, why didn’t they complain about it at the time? We need to know the vote tallies on the bills that were passed. If a bill passes with a 2/3 vote, then we can assume the same people would vote to evoke the immediate effect clause. That was definitely not the case with the three laws that are at the center of the Democratic party’s current complaint.
A comparison can be made to the use of the filibuster in the US Senate. Both sides used it routinely but it didn’t become a problem until it was abused by the Republicans to subvert, and in fact virtually shut down, the normal process of governance. It appears in Michigan, the House Republicans similarly are abusing what became a normal practice in order to impose their own agenda and deny the minority a voice. Even if the Democrats did it too, it’s still wrong.
Indeed, the overuse of the immediate effect clause should be stopped immediately. The task force that modified the state constitution so many years ago did so for a reason. They wanted to give those affected by new laws time to adjust and to give the voters time to weigh in and petition through referendum to change the law if they objected to it. Which won’t be so easy now. As I understand it, one of the other laws the current Republicans just rammed through makes it much more difficult for the voters to bring forward a citizen referendum.
Which brings up a larger issue. I’ve watched on CSPAN and seen probably thousands of votes over the years taken in DC without the benefit of a roll call as well. It’s all too common for all our politicians to take such shortcuts in passing legislation, in every level of government. It shouldn’t be allowed, not anywhere. It makes the promise of transparency in goverance a bad joke when our elected representatives can avoid going on record.
We pay these people’s salaries. We have every right to know how they voted in representing our interests. Voice votes, rising votes and even unanimous consent votes allow our politicians to hide their actions and even their attendance, or lack thereof. We could go a long way towards repairing what’s broken in system of governance and restoring real accountability by requiring every single vote to be conducted as an on the record roll call.