In discussing his decision to support turning Michigan into a “right to work” state, Governor Snyder is pretending like this is an opportunity for unions. Apparently this gives the unions the ability to present their “value case.”
Ignoring the fact that the governor has not offered this same “opportunity” to Michigan’s police and fire unions, it should be noted that the governor specifically excluded himself from the “opportunity” to present his value case to the people regarding “right to work” and many other controversial pieces of legislation.
Typically if voters disagree with a law they have the ability to challenge that law using the referendum process. This is one of the only ways voters can directly affect laws they feel do not represent their best interests. This process was used by voters in the most recent election to repeal the emergency manager law that the people decided was an overreach by the legislature.
Unfortunately the governor and the Republican legislature have decided that allowing the people to have a say in the democratic process is unacceptable and that they should be immune from the “opportunity” to present their “value case.” To accomplish this they stick a small appropriation into the legislation, making it referendum proof.
Michigan has been passing laws for nearly 200 years without needing appropriations on non-budgetary bills. At worst this tactic is an affront to the democratic process. At best it is a pathetically cowardly government overreach.
If providing unions with the “opportunity” to present their “value case” to members proves that Rick Snyder is “pro-worker,” then providing government with the “opportunity” to present their “value case” on controversial legislation to the people would prove that the governor is “pro-democracy.” Unfortunately, using the governor’s own logic, this means that this hypocritical legislative trickery proves he is “anti-democracy.”
Regardless of how you feel about any of the legislation previously passed or soon to be considered, the people should have the right to organize and directly oppose legislation. Eliminating such options suggests that the governor realizes his arguments aren’t good enough to convince the electorate of his “value case” or he simply doesn’t care about the will of the people.
Neither of these options paints a particularly endearing picture of the governor and I imagine that the first time Democrats use this same tactic Republicans will be up in arms. But given the recent precedent where retaliation is now an acceptable form of legislating, Republicans should expect Democrats to use appropriations on every single bill when they get the chance – especially on the really controversial ones.