Judge issues temporary restraining order against House Republicans

Well it’s finally happened. The Republicans have lapped themselves on the race track of ridiculousness, unfortunately dragging the entire State of Michigan with them.

Today the House Dems filed suit in Ingham County Circuit Court over the Republican Party violations of the Michigan Constitution. The plaintiffs in the suit are Democratic Leader Richard Hammel, Democratic Floor Leader Kate Segal, Woodrow Stanley, Mark Meadows, Steven Lindberg, and Jeff Irwin.

“It’s very regrettable that it has come this far,” said Hammel. “Our caucus wanted to avoid this measure and we exhausted reasoning with Republicans to follow the constitution with regard to roll call votes and immediate effect. We don’t vote for ourselves in the Capitol, we vote on behalf of our constituents. When we’re denied the constitutionally guaranteed rights, hundreds of thousands of Michigan residents are being denied a fair voice in how their state is run. I only hope this matter can be resolved quickly.”

And things did move somewhat quickly. Shortly after the suit was filed, Judge Clinton Canady, III issued this order (pdf), which includes the following:

IT IS HEREBY ORDERED AS FOLLOWS:

a. Defendants are immediately enjoined from giving House Bills “immediate effect” under Article 4, § 27 of the Michigan Constitution by way of voice vote and gavel and without actually counting votes for and against “immediate effect” and recording them in the House Journal;

b. the “immediate effect” given to HB 4246, HB 5063 is immediately enjoined;

c. Defendants’ are immediately enjoined from ignoring Minority Members’ oral or written requests for a record roll call vote when it is supported by 1/5 of the Members under Article 4, § 18 of the Michigan Constitution;
MILLER, CANFIELD, PADDOCK AND STONE, P.L.C.

d. no bond need be given by Plaintiffs because the entry of this Order will not result in injury to Defendants but shall maintain the status quo and prevent further unlawful conduct until this matter can be heard; and

e. Defendants must appear before this Court on ____________, 2012, at __:__ _.m. before the Honorable _______________________ in the Ingham County Circuit Court, Ingham County, Michigan, to show cause why a preliminary injunction should not be issued.

The defendants are as follows:

SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, JAMES “JASE” BOLGER; SPEAKER PRO TEM OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, JOHN WALSH; and HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES MAJORITY FLOOR LEADER, JIM STAMAS, in their official capacities; and THE MICHIGAN HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,

And a quick rundown on the first three points. First, the defendants can no longer ram through “immediate effect” on a bill. From the state site,

No act shall take effect until the expiration of 90 days from the end of the session at which the measure was enacted. The Legislature may give immediate effect to an act by a two-thirds vote of the members elected and serving in each house. (Constitution, Art. IV, Sec. 27.)

In other words, a bill given immediate effect can take effect as soon as the bill is signed by the Governor and filed with the Secretary of State. The Republicans are giving immediate effect to bills even though they do not have the two-thirds vote required.

Next, the second point. The “immediate effect” given House Bills 4246 and 5063 is … well, confusing.

HB 4246 is the bill that prohibits Graduate Student Research Assistants from organizing. If you recall, Republicans were eager to get this bill into law toot sweet, to prevent the Michigan Employment Relations Commission (MERC) from taking action on the union drive at the University of Michigan. MERC was set to meet the week after this bill was voted on in the legislature. (MIRS, 3/8/2012)

This bill has already been signed by Snyder and it puts the whole GSRA situation into a grey area that we here at BFM like to call “what the f*^$???” No doubt that this one will be messy.

HB 5063 is the bill that would have given the (Republican) Secretary of State the authority to approve petition language prior to circulation. In other words, if you are spending 2012 trying to recall Snyder, legalize marijuana, protect your job, support green energy, or deal with the Snyder dictatorship law, this bill could have smacked you around right nice. This piece alone was a huge victory for the people of Michigan.

Next point, the roll call. If you remember a few weeks back, the House Dems were having problems with the Republicans allowing roll call votes. From a press release at the time:

LANSING – In a shameful abuse of power, the House Republicans today continued to play politics by granting record roll call votes for certain legislative items, but refusing it for others. Refusing a request for a record roll call is a clear violation of Article IV § 18 of the Michigan Constitution, which states in pertinent part, “The record of the vote and name of the members of either house voting on any question shall be entered in the journal at the request of one-fifth of the members present.”

Last week House Democratic Floor Leader Kate Segal (D-Battle Creek), backed up by signatures from 46 caucus members, notified the Speaker and the Clerk of the House that Democrats would be requesting roll call votes on all immediate effect votes. Today, Republicans seemed willing to follow the Constitution, allowing for roll calls on several bills, but then abruptly ignored further requests.

Democrats stressed that House Bill 5063, which is scheduled for passage tomorrow, is another bill for which they intend to block immediate effect. The bill would change election law by requiring an approval process before ballot initiative petition drives can begin collecting signatures. The change has been called a solution in search of a problem, since only rarely are petitions ever rejected as to form.

The March 7 edition of Gongwer has a pretty good recap of how a lot of this went down on the floor.

So for now, a judge has told the House GOP that they have to start following the rules. How much you wanna bet that the GOP introduces a bill to eliminate the Ingham County Circuit Court?

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Comments

  1. Hector Solon says:

    Very important posting on significant developments here (like you will read it anywhere else but on BFM, not).

    Like it, real thinking and clever decisive actions on the part of these courageous members.

    GOP violating the MI Constitution – their arrogance is their clear weakness, learning to redirect it is just perfect. Hope to see more of this type of tactic and strategy. Signs of a maturing opposition.

    Now just have to fix the Michigan Supreme Court in November folks!

  2. This just in from the House Democratic Caucus

    Statement from the House Democratic Caucus on the Lawsuit Over Constitutional Violations:

    “Information provided to our caucus yesterday regarding the signing of a Temporary Restraining Order was unfortunately inaccurate. An Order to Show Cause was signed and the hearing will be Monday. However, Judge Canady III is still reviewing the request for a temporary restraining order. It’s unfortunate we had to resort to legal action, and we anticipate and expect the Majority Party to fully abide by the constitutional rule of law regarding roll call votes and immediate effect. By blatantly disregarding Michigan’s Constitution, House Republicans are denying thousands of Michigan residents the voice in Lansing they deserve.”

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