By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Correspondent
Rev. Dr. Wendell Anthony isn’t taking the latest efforts by the outgoing Republican administration in Michigan sitting down.
Anthony, who’s president of the NAACP in Detroit – the Civil Rights organization’s largest branch – is leading an effort to stop several bills proposed by lame duck Republicans who lost the midterm elections.
Anthony said the actions taken by the GOP-led legislature are “more crooked than the great train robberies committed by Jesse and Frank James in the Missouri territories.”
“The only thing the legislature in Michigan lacks is a face mask and a six-shooter,” Anthony said. The outspoken Anthony listed seven bills as troublesome:
- Senate Bills 1238-1240 undercuts the Promote the Vote proposal.
- Senate Bill 1254 undercuts the anti-gerrymandering proposal.
- Senate Bill 1252 shifts the oversight of campaign finance law from the incoming Secretary of State.
- House Bill 6553 would allow the Michigan House of Representatives and the Senate to interfere with legal proceedings involving the state (traditionally the responsibility of the state Attorney General or the Governor’s office).
- Senate Bill 1175 would change the way employers provide paid sick time and the number of employers exempted by various business entities.
- Senate Bill 1171 would gut the minimum wage initiative, a measure that would assure the minimum wage would rise according to inflation. “Rogue lawmakers are already trashing the one fair minimum-wage agreement, fought for by workers across the state,” Anthony said.
- Senate Bill 1182 would change the way law suits and civil actions should be awarded to both the attorneys representing the plaintiffs and the defendants. “It is designed to discourage citizens and organizations filing civil actions against various injustices,” he said.
Anthony told NNPA Newswire that the actions are “a treacherous mean-spirited, underhanded and deceptive Republican theft of what should be a democratic process.”
“They have not gotten the memo that we won the election and they are mad, and they are upset and trying to offset the result of the election by setting themselves up to maintain power before the Democratic administration can come in,” Anthony said.
Together the proposals, which would still require the signature of outgoing Republican Gov. Rick Snyder, would essentially take away or greatly diminish the power from Governor-elect Gretchen Whitmer, Secretary of State-elect Jocelyn Benson and Attorney General-elect Dana Nessel.
The GOP-sponsored bills came within hours of similar efforts in Wisconsin, where lawmakers voted earlier to shift clout to the Republican-controlled Legislature and weaken the Democrat replacing the GOP governor.
In January, Michigan Democrats will jointly hold the governor, attorney general and secretary offices for the first time in 28 years, but the Legislature will continue to be controlled by Republicans.
A day after GOP lawmakers finalized an unprecedented maneuver to gut minimum wage and paid sick leave laws, a Senate panel passed legislation that would create the Fair Political Practices Commission to enforce the campaign-finance law rather than Benson, who ran in part on a pledge to advocate for election transparency.
Democrats called the bill a blatant power grab that would fly in the face of voters, according to NBC News.
“At no point did voters say they wanted the rules manipulated. At no point did they say they wanted bills rushed through a hasty lame-duck session,” Patrick Schuh, state director for the liberal group America Votes, told NBC News.
He, like Anthony and others, questioned the timing, saying such a commission was not proposed until a Democrat is on the verge of leading the secretary of state office for the first time in two-dozen years.
Chief among the many proposals rankling Democrats and voters alike is a proposal that requires a legislative committee rather than the Attorney General to sign off on withdrawing from federal lawsuits, now sits on the table.
In Wisconsin, it would also give the legislature oversight over Governor-Elect Tony Evers, potentially preventing him from seeking waivers for health care.
Outgoing governor Scott Walker is even backing away from his promise to ensure coverage for people with pre-existing conditions, made during the height of the recent election.
“He is hiding behind a political mask of a lawsuit filed this past February which attempts to declare the Affordable Care Act unconstitutional,” Anthony said.
Two years ago, several similar measures were declared unconstitutional in the state of North Carolina. One measure in particular was the 2016 ruling by the federal courts that ended the practice of gerrymandering in the state.
Judge James A. Wynn of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit Court indicated, “When maps are gerrymandered, the government no longer reflects the will of the people.”
The ruling questioned North Carolina’s general assembly’s “Commitment to acting constitutionally compliant, nondiscriminatory election laws.”
“One can recall the July 2016 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling indicating that North Carolina legislators, in their efforts to discriminate against black voters, had drafted a law that would target African Americans with almost surgical precision,” Anthony said.
Today, in the state of North Carolina, the election in the 9th Congressional District is still not certified. This is due to allegations of voter fraud, and the elimination or destruction of over 1000 absentee ballots, predominantly from African Americans, Anthony said.
“There has been an illegal solicitation of absentee ballots by paid individuals of a Republican operative McCrae Dowless. Why has there been no outcry of voter fraud from President Donald J. Trump? Where is the former chair of the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, Kris Kobach, when you really need him? Do you hear the crickets chirping?”
The resolution to these issues in Michigan, Wisconsin, and North Carolina is very simple, Anthony continued. “Respect the will of the people. Get better policies and you will win more voters. Don’t try to steal it, after you have lost it,” he said.
There’s little question the actions are a prelude to the general election of 2020, according to Anthony. Some lawmakers are running scared, he said while urging voters in Michigan not to be discouraged.
“Now is the time to be encouraged. We must not step back. We must all step up. Governor Rick Snyder, please don’t go off into the pages of history having turned back the page on Michigan democracy,” Anthony said.
“When these bills arrive on your desk, remember the words of the former First Lady Nancy Reagan, and ‘Just say No.’ Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. reminds us, ‘Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter. The time is always right to do what is right.’ We shall not be silent because the time is always right, to do what is right, to preserve and protect our democracy,” he said.