Michigan Legislature Wants to Pass Bill To Fine Citizens Up To $1k Per Day For Picketing

Michigan Tea Party Legislature Passes Bill To Require Judges To Fine Citizens Up To $1K For Picketing

Bye-bye First Amendment rights, Michigan GOP and Tea Party reps pass a law requiring judges to fine citizens up to $1k per day, for picketing an employer. Image: Kheel Center

This week, the Michigan House of Representatives took up HB 4643, legislation which was introduced by Republican Tom McMillin, that imposes massive fines against citizens who exercise their basic first amendment rights.

Under this law, citizens can be fined up to $1,000 per day for picketing.

Michigan’s extreme right wing Governor, Rick Snyder, along with the state’s predominately GOP/tea party legislature, have passed some of the most controversial laws in the country. From the state’s insane Emergency Manager law, which grants the governor power to remove any elected official and replace that official with a hand picked lackey of the governor himself, to the much hated Right To Work legislation that was passed by the legislature only after the voters were locked out of the capital, to the state’s extreme anti-abortion legislation and it’s widely condemned ‘rape insurance‘ bill, the fanatical right wing politicians that have seized hold of Michigan have made it all too clear that what the voters want is of no consequence to them.

As if all of that were not enough, however, this week the Michigan House of Representatives took up a bill that will require judges to impose a fine of up to $1,000 a day for picketing workers. An additional fine of up to $10,000 a day is also to be levied against any labor organization found to be leading or organizing a strike.

Not only is this law a direct attack on labor, but a direct attack on rights guaranteed to all citizens under the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.

Here’s a video from the House Floor. Representative Jim Towsend (D) introduced three amendments to the proposed house bill, in order to protect citizen’s constitutionally guaranteed right to peaceful assembly. At the end of the video the Speaker of the House can be heard to say “Amendments not adopted.”

Are Michigan workers making too much money?

What’s up with all of these anti-worker bills in Michigan? Why would the state’s representatives be launching attacks against workers? Are Michigan’s super high wages keeping employers from opening businesses in the state? Not hardly. In fact, Michigan workers are not earning anything close to super high wages.

In 2012 Michigan average income ranked 35th in the nation. What’s even more telling, however, is that between 1980 and 2000 (the last year figures were available) the income of the poorest families in Michigan increased $1,465, or 8.9 percent, and the income of Michigan’s middle class citizens increased $4,186 or 8,8 percent. During the same time period, however, the income of Michigan’s wealthiest citizens increased $66,799, or 48 percent.

Between 2000 and 2010, Michigan personal income increased 18.5 percent, while the personal income for people living in the rest of the country increased 45.2 percent. And most telling of all, Michigan personal income growth ranked 50th out of 50 states and Puerto Rico, over a thirty year period.

Who is writing the laws in Michigan?

So while the statistics tell us that Michigan wages are not keeping pace with the rest of the country, that the rate of inequality between the rich and the poor is steadfastly growing for the past several decades, and the average income for Michigan’s working class citizens is all but stagnant, Michigan republicans keep crying that high wages are keeping businesses out of the state. Still, the facts say something very different.

A 73 page report from Progress Michigan asks the all important question “Who Is Writing Our Laws In Michigan?” The answer is not surprising. The detailed report shows the extent of ALEC’s activity within the state. Michigan is also home to the right wing think tank known as the Mackinaw Center For Public Policy. Both organizations are deeply entrenched in the state’s legislative and policy making decisions.

It’s obvious the policies being herded the Michigan legislature have little to do with helping the people of the state or even of addressing problems that actually exist in Michigan. Instead the legislation is being written by right wing think tanks and pushed through by the state’s right wing legislature, who are all too happy to do the bidding of their corporate benefactors, at the expense of citizens and workers.

HB 4643 which is now in its third reading before the House, must also be signed by Michigan’s right wing governor, before it becomes a law. There is little chance that a bill given this much attention by the state’s legislature will not pass the House. Given Rick Snyder’s track record on signing extreme right wing bills into law, my guess is that the citizen’s of the state will yet again be suing their government in federal court, over a clear violation of constitutional rights.